BGG’s Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide 2017

With Christmas less than a month away, it’s time to put your holiday shopping into overdrive.

Still struggling to find the perfect gift for the loved ones on your list? Don’t panic, BGG’s got you covered. From personalized presents to must-have toys, we’ve rounded up the gifts that will make your friends and family shriek with delight.

Try not to keep most of them for yourself!

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IT Cosmetics It Girl Palette
With beautiful packaging and even better quality, your beauty-obsessed BFF will never want to use another brush set again. Available here, $50.

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Personalized Yankee Candle Jar
Want to instantly light up grandma’s face? Give her one of these personalized candles with a family photo—it’s guaranteed to warm her heart and make her home smell scentsational. Available here, prices start at $12.

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The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations by Oprah Winfrey
What we know for sure is that Auntie O knows her stuff. Give yourself the gift of wisdom with this book of gems. Available here, $25

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I Need A Baker Sweatshirt
This cozy sweatshirt will make you feel good as ’80s & ’90s R&B. Gift this to the girl in your squad who can’t get enough old school music. Available here, $54

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Disney Pixar Coco Spanish Edition Remember Me Game
Get your little cousins off their gadgets and into this family-friendly game. Similar to bingo, this traditional Loteria game features some of the character’s from Disney Pixar’s new animated film, “Coco,” where each player has a chance at luck. Bring on the fun! Available here, $15

 

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Google Home Mini
Know someone who needs a virtual assistant? Look no further than a smart speaker from the brand who’s been our online answer genie for nearly two decades. Available here, $30

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Bevel Shave System Starter
Guys have fully embraced the scruff and lucky for us ladies, the beard gang isn’t going away anytime soon. Keep your guy’s fuzz groomed with this ultra-luxe starter set. Bonus: It’s black-owned. Available here, $72.

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The Body Shop Strawberry Ultimate Collection
Treat your suds-loving sister to this sweet strawberry set. With a wide range of products included, she’ll be set and smelling good all season long. Available here, $50

The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Cubs: A Decade-by-Decade History

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Score a home-run for the sports fan in your family with this historical, photo-rich tome celebrating one of baseball’s most beloved teams. Available here, $25

 

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Ikuzi Dolls
Not pleased with the doll selections at your local toy store? Ikuzi Dolls to the rescue! These beautiful dolls showcase realistic facial features, hair textures and skin tones celebrating the wide range of BG shades. Your mini-me will beam with pride. Available here, $80.

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Gerber Collection 
Celebrating a new addition to the family? The proud parents on your list will appreciate the quintessential baby getup gift: the onesie. A baby can never have too many. Gerber’s sets will outfit your cuddliest family member in style. Available here, $7.

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Love OPI XOXO Holiday 4pc Set
Nail your niece’s wish list with this eye-catching collection of holiday-inspired polishes. From sultry hues to metallic, she’s sure to find something fitting to keep her fingers fab and flawless. Available here, $15.

 

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Sunbeam Renue Neck Wrap
Your hubby will thank you for this thoughtful gift of healing. Sunbeam’s neck wrap will soothe his achy neck and shoulders while providing a relaxing, comfortable fit. Available here, $50.

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Guess Women’s Gold-Tone Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch
Nothing is as timeless as a watch. Sure, our phones may be able to tell us the time, but a classic gold watch will always make a statement. Available here, $125

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Paw Patrol Sea Patroller
Got a Paw Patrol fan in your home? With flashing lights and a removable anchor, this cool and coloful vessel will make him yelp with glee! Available here, $50

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Sugarfina Candy Trunk
The candy lover in your life will flip for this chic trunk filled with gourmet goodies from around the globe. Available here, $195.

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show
Making memories with your child is always high on most parents’ lists. What better way to create a lasting impression than the gift of theater? Treat your tot to a performance of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” based on the classic children’s book of the same name for a fun afternoon in the City at DR2. The experience will stay etched in your mind for years to come. Click here for ticket information.

What are you the most excited about this holiday season?

The Trusted Remedy When Mom’s TLC Doesn’t Work

First it’s a sneeze, then a cough and finally once you get out the thermometer, you realize your little one is coming down with a cold—or even worse, the flu.

As a mom, especially the first time around, seeing your baby sick is the worst. You feel helpless because you’re unable to magically make them feel better. Our kisses and hugs are comforting, but unfortunately they aren’t the antidote to making them well. Thankfully, there are plenty of over-the-counter medicine to help us moms out.

Little Remedies® is a brand that I’ve sworn by since my daughter experienced her first bout with congestion. Founded by a father and a pharmacist, I trust that their products will provide gentle, yet effective relief for my children.

Their all-natural Stuffy Nose Kit was a godsend when she could barely breathe out her cute, button nose. The saline drops were easy to administer and the aspirator was simple and didn’t seem to cause her any discomfort. Plus, I didn’t have to worry about any harmful side effects due to its non-medicated formula.

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Little Remedies Stuffy Nose Kit available here, $5.50

Since then, I’ve used Little Remedies® throughout the years on both of my kids. From stuffy noses to gassy tummies to mild fevers, the all-natural brand has been my go-to for those not-so-good days.

My son at the doctor's office earlier this year after suffering from an ear infection.

My son at the doctor’s office earlier this year after suffering from an ear infection.

In addition to their line of medicines, the company has recently released A Little More Wisdom, a parenting resource for caring for your baby’s health and wellness from day one. The book is a easy-to-read, comprehensive guide that outlines and simplifies commons questions that all moms have like “How can I soothe my baby?” “What are some tips for that first airplane ride?” and of course, “How can I get my baby to sleep through the night?”

As a mom of two, I still get nervous and a bit out of sorts when one of my kids gets sick. Luckily, I know there are brands like Little Remedies® that will help ease my fears and get them back up and running in no time.

What’s some of your little remedies for when your child gets sick? 

Make Holiday Desserts Pop with Popcornopolis

This holiday season, ditch typical desserts like fruitcakes and pies and swap them with treats that are sure to pop. Popcornopolis’ gourmet popcorn options are the perfect hassle-free sweets that will satisfy guests while leaving you with more time to mingle.

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Popcornopolis Zebra is available at a variety of west coast retailers including: Safeway, Bristol Farm’s, Von’s and is also nationwide at Publix and Walmart.

The brand’s new Zebra line is comprised of crunchy, chocolatey kernels of goodness that are also guilt-free. With no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, surprisingly this gluten-free snack doesn’t compromise taste. Developed by the company’s Cordon Bleu-trained chef, each of the five new flavors (Chocolate Stripe, Chocolate Peanut Butter, White Chocolate Macadamia, Chocolate Candy Cane and White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice) are coated in delectable caramel and drizzled in chocolate, creating a combo that confectionery popcorn lovers crave.

From peanut butter to pumpkin spice, the new lineup has something for everyone on your holiday dinner guest list. As a dark chocolate and peppermint fan, the Chocolate Candy Cane is my favorite of the bunch. Its irresistible richness is complemented by the refreshing minty flavor, making a party in my mouth with every bite.

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Chocolate Candy Cane

If you’re looking for a wholesome, tasty and convenient dessert to serve at your holiday shindig, look no further than Popcornopolis. Pop open a bag and pour into decorative bowls for a festive cornucopia of delicious popcorn. If your guests don’t devour every kernel (we highly doubt that will be the case), don’t fret, the convenient re-sealable bag makes storing simple and easy.

Go ahead, give yourself the gift of time by serving a sweet snack this holiday season that doesn’t require any prep!

Which flavor from the new line are you the most excited to try? **GIVEAWAY**One lucky reader will get the chance to try them all!  I’m giving away the entire new Zebra line. Simply leave a comment or tweet me with your popcorn preference and a winner will be randomly selected and notified via email by November 27th. This contest is only open to U.S. residents. 

Calling All ‘Despicable Me’ Fans: 5 Minions-Inspired Gifts for All

Let the Minions mania commence!

If you’re a “Despicable Me” fan, you already know that the third installment of the popular franchise opens in theaters June 30. In celebration of everyone’s favorite banana-eating goggly-eyed, overall-wearing movie stars’ upcoming release, I’ve rounded up some must-have Minion-inspired items that are guaranteed to make your kids (or you – no judgement here!) squeal with delight.

Check them out below:

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Cult luggage band AWAY’s limited edition “Carry On” will be the envy of all travelers when they spot the eye-catching yellow roller bag. Available here (June 20), $225

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Take note, stationery lovers! This adorable Moleskine limited edition large leather bound notebook will add cheer to mundane meetings and positive vibes to never-ending to-do lists. Available here, $25

FunBites® 2-Piece Minions Goggles Food Cutter Set

This nifty FunBites® 2-Piece Minions Goggles Food Cutter Set will get your little one excited to eat just about anything as long as it can be cut into fun goggle shapes.  available here, $13.

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This Minions Sculpted Coffee Mug will give you the caffeine and a jolt of cuteness you need to start your day. Available here, $13

Despicable Me Sleepy Time Minion Bob

Your mini-me will get a kick out of the funny phrases this cuddly Despicable Me Sleepy Time Minion Bob blurts out. Available here, $40

Are you or any members of your family “Despicable Me” fans? 

Event Recap: Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

Nothing signals the start of summer in New York City like the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party.

Held the second weekend in June at Madison Square Park, the popular barbecue festival has brought some of the best ‘cue aficionados and BBQ lovers alike together for the past 15 years. With over a dozen grill masters from across the country ‘cueing up slabs of mouth-watering ribs, the two-day fest is a can’t-miss event for foodies.

My husband and I have been attending for years and this time we made it a family affair with our two kids in tow. We opted to attend on Saturday and boy am I glad we did. On Saturday Kingsford charcoal hosted a delicious brunch for members of the media, which consisted of fried chicken, waffles (with Bourbon maple syrup), corn on the cob, shrimp & grits, watermelon salad, and last but certainly not least, Bloody Mary cocktails garnished with a tender pork rib.

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After grubbing on the scrumptious southern classics mentioned above, we made our way to the main event to try even more finger-lickin’ barbecue. Throughout the park, we made our rounds visiting various booths from Alabama to Texas. Finally, we landed at our favorite, 17th Street BBQ, for their delectable baby back ribs and tangy pit beans. The perfectly grilled meat fell off the bone with the slightest bite while the sauce created a tasty blend of sweet, tang and a bit of heat. Not sure if we’re partial because this pit-master hails from our home state, Illinois.

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From spare ribs to brisket to pulled pork sandwiches, the grilled meat festival didn’t disappoint.

Next year, if you’re in the NYC area the second week of June, clear your calendar and experience the ‘cue fest for yourself. If you can’t wait that long to get your hands on some of the country’s best barbecue, take a visit to one of the vendors who has an outpost nearest you. Click here for a list of all the chefs and grill masters and their locations.

Rib road trip, anyone?

What’s your favorite BBQ spot? What makes it the best?

3 Thoughtful Things to do this Father’s Day + Hanes Gift Pack Giveaway

It’s no secret that dads tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to Father’s Day. Sure, they get the cards and other small tokens of parental acknowledgement, but we moms know that their special day pales in comparison to ours. In fact, The National Retail Federation estimates that U.S. consumers spent $23.6 billion on Mother’s Day this year. Last year, however, the NRF put Father’s Day spending at $14.3 billion. Those numbers prove that we spend our money on mom way more than on dad.

This year I’m letting my husband know how much he’s appreciated by showering him with love and items that he’ll use and won’t get tossed aside after Sunday. Being married for more than a decade, I know that expensive gifts don’t mean as much as thoughtful, practical things. That’s why I’m celebrating his contributions to our family by doing things that will have sentimental and heartfelt impact.

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Stock up on undergarments. Undershirts, underwear and socks may not be hot ticket items, but they’re always in high-demand in my household. Stocking my husband’s closet with comfy, versatile t-shirts is a simple yet practical gift that lasts all year long. Hanes® has been my go to for keeping him outfitted in super soft t-shirts and undergarments since we’ve been married. I’m sure that he’s going to love the brand’s new ComfortBlend® Superior Softness Undershirts, which are a cotton-modal blend that offers maximum comfort and includes advanced odor protection technology.

Bake a tasty treat. Nothing says “love” like homemade baked goods. I’m still no match for my mother-in-law’s scrumptious desserts, but I can make a pretty decent cake. My guess is that most men would appreciate a delicious batch of cookies, mouthwatering pie or any other sweet treat to show you care. Remember, baking always gets you brownie points. 😉

Sneak sappy snapshots. They say men aren’t sentimental, but I beg to differ. Sure, dads may not show their sappier sides as much as us moms, but they’re not robots – they have feelings too! Why not snap a few sneaky snapshots of him cuddling with the kids, reading a bedtime story or doing some other adorable thing with the kids and create a photo album or personalized present with the photographs? Trust me, your husband will be overjoyed with the sentiment even if he doesn’t fully express it. Remember, they’re all big softies underneath their tough exteriors.

In honor of dad’s big day, I’m giving you guys a chance to win a $50 Hanes Visa Card, 3-Pack of Hanes® Superior Soft T-shirts, Package of Hanes® Socks with FreshIQ™. Simply tell me how you plan to celebrate Father’s Day with either your husband, father or both by leaving a comment below or tweeting me @BrownGirlGumbo. One lucky reader will be randomly selected and notified on Thursday, June 15th.

How do you plan to celebrate Father’s Day with your husband or father this year? 

Citrus Makes Summer Dishes Come to Life

When it comes to making meals for my family, I’m no master. Sure, I can prepare the basics, but beyond the simple standard meals, I’m an amateur at best.  Plus, getting my picky 7-year-old and toddler to eat anything remotely unfamiliar is a feat. That’s why I’m always trying new seasonings, spices, and cooking oils that will subtly introduce new flavors to their favorite dishes.

This month, I’ve added a lemon-flavored extra virgin olive oil and a citrus seasoning to my cooking repertoire. The olive oil, sold exclusively at Stop and Shop is a game-changer. My kids and I believe citrus makes just about any dish taste better and this olive oil delivers. Its subtle hint of lemon provides a slight acidity that typical olive oils don’t offer. I’ve used it to sauté spinach, drizzle on baked salmon and toss with pasta.

My daughter at the Limoncello promotion stand at our local Stop & Shop in Brooklyn.

My daughter at the Limoncello promotion stand at our local Stop & Shop in
Brooklyn.

Speaking of pasta, that brings me to my other culinary discovery: True Lime’s crystallized Lime, Garlic and Cilantro. This perfect blend of citrusy seasonings, brings my pasta dishes to life—earning it a permanent spot in my spice rack. From linguine to bow tie to penne, this blend perks up ordinary pasta in an instant. I also sprinkle it over rice and seafood for extra flavor. There’s also True Orange with Ginger that adds a wow factor to Asian-inspired meals. Plus, none of the True Citrus spiced blends contain any artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, or gluten, and they’re also non-GMO.

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I prepared this pesto bow-tie pasta dish with Stop & Shop’s Limoncello Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprinkled True Lime Cilantro & Garlic seasoning on top.

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In addition to the olive oil, Stop and Shop has an entire lineup of limited edition limoncello-inspired creations that will be perfect for summer dining while True Citrus also offers delightful flavored lemonade mixes. True Citrus products are available in 37,000 stores nationwide such as Target and Walmart, and Amazon.com.

If you love lemon and lime, you’ll love these citrus-inspired offerings. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you!

What’s the one seasoning (excluding salt and pepper) that you can’t cook without?