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a little feel good gift guide

I’ve been in Brazil without 3 of my family members for 2 weeks. Although I miss them, I am enjoying a break from having a thousand things to do every day. I have been reconnecting with old friends, going out like a normal adult and being pampered by my parents with my baby.

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I came early for a very special wedding. My cousin who was my partner in crime when we were children married his better half. It was great timing too. After being heartbroken by the results of the elections in the U.S. and arriving to even more daily absurds in the political news in my home country, I saw two people of the same sex surrounded by 180 people who love them bursting with happiness. It reminded me that the world is in some ways a much, much better place. I am thankful for their courage, for they are making things better for my children’s generation.

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I’m pretty sure it is almost Christmas time, but other than my parents’ cute tree, it does not feel like the holiday season yet: my brother is getting married in 2 days! Perhaps also because I have become fully accustomed to hot cocoa by the fire place, Christmas tree shopping, bundling up, the whole town decorated, and a Pandora Christmas station and there’s none of that happening here in the southern hemisphere.

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But being away from all of that vibe also helped me keep my Christmas gifts ideas a little simpler. Santa is bringing one gift from the kids’ lists, we are buying a gift for both kids to play together outdoors and matching footed pajamas (because they are still wearing their summer pj’s). We will also be donating again to our kids’ Brazilian heritage school, ABRACE, a nonprofit located in Virginia which is in desperate need for funds (family and friends: you know what to do, don’t make me approach you in person and beg! Click here). Wait, we forgot the baby. Hmmm.

If less gifts seems strange to you (or you are afraid of your kids’ reaction!), try gifting them an experiences with you, preferably one-on-one, or without other siblings if possible. For Mateus’ birthday, we took him to see the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra perform the soundtrack of the first Harry Potter movie. He was ecstatic and I am pretty sure none of us will ever forget that moment.

And for your lucky friends and other family members, here are the edible gifts I recommend  (because you can’t beat a little something homemade with love):  these Brazilian fudgy brigadeiros if you feel like chocolate, or, for a coconut version, you can’t go wrong with beijinhos, and My Little Expat Kitchen has a good recipe for you. They are both festive, chewy, fudgy and heavenly. Another great gift is Smitten Kitchen’s sugar-and-spice candied nuts (made with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry) – and you can’t beat that.

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If homemade is not an option, these Minted napkin sets are the perfect gift to bring to all the dinner parties around this time of the year or to anyone who likes to entertain (or eat – i.e. myself). They come in 10 different combinations of different fabric designs for you to choose from ($48 for set of 6 napkins):

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by Kelli Hall, Rebecca Turner, and Alethea and Ruth

In warm or cold weather, ’tis the season to be loving!

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