2010 Holiday Gift Guide – Frugal Novice
Browsing Category

2010 Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday Gift Guide: OtterBox iPad Case Review

The Skinny: This case incorporates three layers of protection plus some advanced features. Stowing your iPad away for the night or for your commute? Simply remove the back polycarbonate cover and snap it over the face for touch screen protection.

There is a built-in stand, and when using your iPad on a flat surface, the silicone grip pads on the bottom will hold your device securely in place. This case was also designed to accommodate the optional iPad dock accessory! Take your iPad everywhere you go knowing that it is safe from the occasional drop, bump and/or scratch.

Our Opinion: We have used the OtterBox iPhone 4 Defender Series case and loved the protection it provides. This same great level of protection is provided for the iPad, which is very important to us since a) the iPad isn’t cheap and b) it’s got a relatively large screen that has the potential to be damaged.

The OtterBox iPad case has a black flexible sleeve augmented with sturdy white framing. It looks sleek and feels secure without being bulky.

There’s an easy-to-remove cover that allows access to the dock port for charging:

The polycarbonate cover can snap on the back of the iPad, letting you use the rubber feet for secure footing, or it can snap to the front to protect the screen when the device is not in use:

The case also has a built-in stand making it easy to use the iPad for viewing media, playing games, or browsing the internet.

The screen protector is almost unnoticeable once it’s in place, which is a big pro since I have had problems with other screen protectors and air bubbles before. It’s a little bit of a challenge getting it in place, but there are instructions and videos on otterbox.com to give tips or answer any questions you might have.

This case is a little pricey – $89.95 for the Defender Series. In my opinion, though, this is a good value for your money. Also, when you’re making a big purchase like the iPad, investing in something to keep it as safe as possible makes sense. We’ve already gone through one less expensive case that has fallen apart, but this case feels like it will last the long haul (and my experience with the iPhone case lends to that feeling too). It’s also stylish – we especially love the white/black combo we reviewed.

Buy it For: Any iPad owner. I think parents will especially appreciate the protection – I know Brian mentioned right off the bat that now we won’t have to worry when the boys want to play with the iPad. This case comes in five different color combination options, and there is also a Commuter Series case in black that’s available for $64.95.

Right now OtterBox is offering FREE overnight domestic shipping, with your case guaranteed to arrive by December 24. Order now and you can still have your gift ready for Christmas.

Note: I received an iPad case from OtterBox for review. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this review.

Christi

Drumroll Please…. Powermat WINNER!

Thanks to everyone who entered – it was a great turnout! The winner of the Powermat + 3 receivers is…..

Eb! Congratulations!!

Holiday Gift Guide- Powermat

The Skinny: The Powermat Wireless Charging System provides a simple, fast and efficient way to keep all of your favorite personal electronic devices charged. Enabling your devices with Powermat Receivers allows you to Drop and Charge them on any Powermat to experience wireless charging.

A magnetic attraction between every Receiver and each access point on every Mat assures that alignment is precise and the most efficient charging will occur.

Communication between the Mat and the Receiver allows the mat to deliver an exact amount of power for the proper length of time so that the transfer of power is safe and efficient and no energy is ever wasted.

Our Opinion: We love the Powermat system. For people like us who have multiple devices to charge, it makes it really simple (and less cluttered). I especially love that the Powermat monitors the charge of each device, providing just the amount of power it needs. This reduces energy waste and also strengthens the battery life of devices.

The receiver cases seem sturdy – the iPhone 3G case protected the phone well and was sleek looking, so I didn’t mind carrying that around with me. I keep the Powermat on my nightstand, and it is really easy to just set the phone down at night without even thinking about it.

At the time we received our Powermat, they did not have a case for the iPhone 4 (they do now) but I could still charge Brian’s phone by using the universal Power Cube receiver – it came with seven tips that charge a wide variety of devices.

The Powermat is reasonably priced, in my opinion. It is not an inexpensive device, but the convenience and features it provides make it worth the money.

Buy it For: Friends or family with lots of gadgets, or someone who’s on the go a lot.

Win It

One very lucky reader will win a Home & Office Powermat plus three receivers of their choice – that’s a value of up to $220! This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Thursday, December 16.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Subscribe to my RSS feed and comment here telling me you’ve done so. If you’re already a subscriber, just let me know! :)

Bonus Entries

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: Powermat provided me with a mat and receivers for review. All opinions remain honest and my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi

Winners for EZ Sox, Mertado, Oompa Giveaways

More of the giveaways ended last night, so I got the fun task of finding out who won. As always, I used random.org to select the winners. And they are…..

Congratulations, Abby!

*******************************

Congratulations, Cheryl!!

*******************************

Oompa.com $25 Gift Card

Congratulations, Jennifer!!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the giveaways. More to come later today!

Holiday Gift Guide: Bubble Talk board game

The Skinny: Bubble Talk is a new fast-paced family board game that asks players to match hilarious captions with funny pictures. A game that is as much fun if you are 8 or 80, the game begins when each player draws seven random caption cards. The judge for that round draws a picture card and players must quickly try to match the funniest caption they have to the picture. The player who makes the judge laugh the most wins that round. Each round provides comical, clever and creative results, guaranteed to keep everyone in the group laughing. Perfect for a small group of three or as many as eight players, each game includes 150 picture cards (4”x 6”) and 300 hilarious caption cards that allow for hours of game play.

Our Opinion: This is a fun party game to add to your collection. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before just HOW much we love board games, but we really do. This game encourages creativity and is a lot of fun, I think especially with a large group of people.

Buy it For: Game-loving friends or family.

Win It

One lucky reader will win their own copy of Bubble Talk! Add this to your game collection or use it for a gift. This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Monday, December 13.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Subscribe to my RSS feed and comment here telling me you’ve done so. If you’re already a subscriber, just let me know! :)

Bonus Entries

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: Techno Source provided me with a copy of the game for review. However, all opinions provided in this post are honest and are my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi

Holiday Gift Guide: Threadless.com

The Skinny: Threadless combines an online art community with a highly successful e-commerce business model. They invite anyone in the world with an idea for a t-shirt design to submit artwork, which is voted on through our community of over 1 million registered users. Each week the company prints and sells the highest-scoring t-shirt designs and rewards community members thousands of dollars for their designs, slogans and reprinted favorites.

There are shirts for men and women, hoodies, and even onesies and shirts for infants, toddlers, and kids.

Our Opinion: Well, first let’s talk about the shirt we received to review – Space Race. J thought it was really cool with all the “rocket ships & Star Wars looking things.” The shirt was great quality, printed on an American Apparel tee, and the fabric was really soft.

Now, on to Threadless in general – I have to say, we are HUGE fans. Brian discovered Threadless years ago and has amassed a collection of around 50 shirts. Which he has organized by color in our closet. I kid you not. Threadless has a great program – if users submit photos of themselves wearing their shirts, they earn credits that can then be used to buy more shirts. Here’s just one of Brian’s photos from the site, for a shirt called Gaming Revolution:

When J was about 18 months old we bought him his first set of Threadless shirts – at only $5 each. Threadless often runs sales (and are running one right now, actually) that make shirts really affordable. I always got compliments when he would wear his shirts. They’re different than what you find in the big stores locally, and they have a playfulness to them that’s perfect for kids and grown-ups alike. Here’s one of J’s first Threadless shirts, called Boynado:

At the time I was pregnant with C, and we went ahead and bought him his first shirt too, called – appropriately – Hey, Let’s Go Do Fun Stuff:

I even have several Threadless shirts myself! I can’t recommend Threadless enough, honestly. Their selection of shirts is vast, their staff is amazingly nice (both online and in their Chicago store that we got to visit once), we love that the community is involved in both designing and voting on shirts, and the prices are affordable (especially with the ability to earn credits by posting photos).

Buy It For: Infants, toddlers, kids, and any young adults on your list. We’ve gotten my college-aged brother several shirts and he loves them – and you can do gift cards, too. If you’re looking for a bigger gift, Threadless also has the 12 Club (which I’ve gotten for Brian before a couple of years ago), where the recipient gets a new shirt every month for, well, 12 months.

Note: I received a shirt from Threadless for review, but all opinions in this post remain honest and my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi

Holiday Gift Guide: Me & Goji Custom Artisanal Cereal

So here’s something you’ve probably never thought of getting for a Christmas gift: cereal. That’s probably because you’re thinking of the boxed varieties lining the grocery store aisles – Me & Goji takes cereal to a whole new level.

The Skinny: This site allows you to create your own custom blend of ingredients or choose from some of their recipes. The ingredients are all high-quality and many of them meet special dietary needs. They are the first custom cereal & granola company where you can design your own cereal from 60+ all-natural ingredients, name your creation, and upload a picture right to the label!  Cereal then arrives in a Cereal Capsule, designed for portability and keeping your mix fresh.

Our Opinion: My opinion wavered back and forth prior to receiving our cereal to try. First, I love the concept. Anything custom immediately appeals to me, because I know it’ll be JUST what I like. When I went to the site, I was initially put off a little by the pricing. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill cereal, and the prices do reflect the quality of ingredients provided. I wondered if the value of the product would be worth the cost. In designing my cereal blend, I became really excited to receive it – I got to add pistachios, pecans, cashews, dried strawberries, dried apples, dried pineapple, and more.

When we received the cereal I was completely surprised with how big the canister is. The site says that the canister holds almost twice as many servings as the typical cereal box, but I really felt like it would be even more than that.

We were really impressed with the quality and freshness of the ingredients. With everything included, I really felt like this could serve as a trail mix of sorts – in fact, I plan to order another container of cereal with that in mind. I’d love to grab a bag of it to snack on at work – I don’t think you even need milk to enjoy this. So, overall impression is this: the pricing is a little high, but the value is definitely there for your money. This is a company that seems to take pride in every aspect of the product, and it really shows.

Buy it For: Mom & Dad, any foodies you know, or anyone with special dietary needs. This could be a really fun gift especially with the customization options for packaging.

DISCOUNT CODE: Enter FRUGALNOVICE at checkout to receive a 10% discount. This discount is good through December 10.

Note: Me & Goji provided me with cereal to review, but all opinions provided in this post are honest and my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.


Winners!

This is one of my FAVORITE parts of blogging – getting to announce winners of giveaways! As you know, four of the giveaways for the Holiday Gift Guide ended yesterday. Without further ado, here are the lucky readers:

Congratulations, Amber!!!

**********************************************

Congratulations, Tara!!

**********************************************

Congratulations, Lora!!

**********************************************

Night Before Christmas Kit from

Congratulations, Christin!!

Thanks to everyone who entered – and I’ll be posting another great giveaway TONIGHT plus two more this week!

Christi

Holiday Gift Guide – Corn Dog Maker from Mertado

The Skinny: Mertado is a new way to shop with your friends and save more. Deals on Mertado are offered exclusively to members. Each deal lasts only for a limited period of time. You can browse deals to find great products for yourself, or get rewarded in Mertado Cash for making helpful recommendations to your friends.

I got to try the Smart Planet Corn Dog Maker. This device allows you to make carnival-style corn dogs, cheese on a stick, pizza on a stick, and more. Simply prepare your favorite batter, dip them in, place on the rack, and make this treat six at a time. The best part is that there is no messy frying – just plug in and go. This set includes a recipe book and 24 sticks.

Hot dogs prepped & ready to go – we cut ours in half:

Spooning batter into the device:

Corn dogs are cooking!

Finished product:

Our Opinion: We really had a lot of fun with the Corn Dog Maker. When it arrived yesterday we realized we already had everything on hand to make the corn dogs, so we had them for dinner. We had to cut the hot dogs in half to get them to fit, but that ended up working well for the kids. The batter included whole wheat flour and there was NO frying involved, so this is a much healthier corn dog – you could even use turkey dogs if you prefer. The breading still had a nice crispiness too it – these were a hit. We will have to adjust our batter amount next time  (I didn’t use enough on some of them) but other than that they turned out perfectly.

Buy it For: Families or couples, or even college-aged family members. This is a great way to make dinner a little more fun. Mertado.com is running a special on the Corn Dog Maker for Black Friday. Be sure and check it out! I did some researching at a couple of other sites and this is by far the best deal I could find. This deal will go live on Black Friday and will only be valid for 72 hours, so don’t miss out!

Win It

One lucky reader will win their own Corn Dog Maker! This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Wednesday, December 8.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Go to Mertado.com and comment telling me what item from their site you’d love to have (besides the corn dog maker, of course!)

Bonus Entries

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: Mertado.com provided me with a corn dog maker for review and one for the giveaway. Opinions provided in this post remain honest and my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi

Holiday Gift Guide – EZ Sox

The Skinny: EZ Sox are fun learning socks for children and a helpful teaching tool for parents. They help build the confidence that pre-schoolers need as they learn to dress themselves. These socks come with animal faces on them and are equipped with “handles” to help make it easier for kids to pull socks on by themselves.

Here’s a video of J in action with EZ Sox – this is his first attempt with the socks:

Our Opinion: Well, J loves these socks. And by love, I mean he doesn’t want to take them off. He’s shown his dad and his grandma and grandpa how he can put his socks on all by himself, and he likes to hop around and pretend he’s a frog.

As a mom, I love these socks too. The colors and animal faces make them really fun, and it was great seeing how proud J was of himself . We like them so much that we’re ordering some for stocking stuffers for both boys.

Buy Them For: Toddlers and preschoolers. They come in sizes 4-6 or 7-12, and there are a variety of color choices that would make these a good choice for boys or girls on your list.

Win It

One lucky reader will win a pair of EZ Sox! This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Wednesday, December 8.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Visit the EZ Sox site and then comment telling me which pair of EZ Sox you would pick!

Bonus Entries

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: EZ Sox provided me with a pair of socks for review and is providing a pair for the giveaway, but all opinions provided in this post are honest and are my own.

Christi

Holiday Gift Guide: Night Before Christmas Kit

This post is a little bit different than the rest for two reasons. First, this item is something to use FOR Christmas, and second… instead of writing out details for you, I’ve made a video review! Take a look and see what all is included in the Night Before Christmas Kit from RedEnvelope.com, and then read on for details about how you could win your own kit! If you’d like to check out other Christmas Gifts, they have a variety to pick from.

Win It

One lucky reader will win their own Night Before Christmas Kit, courtesy of RedEnvelope.com! This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Monday, November 29.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Comment here with one of the details about the kit I provided in the video. Simple!

Bonus Entries

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: RedEnvelope.com provided me with a kit for review and for the giveaway, but all opinions included in this post are my own and are honest. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi