Dear Diary

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Okay guys, real talk: there’s less than 10 DAYS till Christmas. Is anyone else panicking? Are we all remembering to breathe and eat occasionally?

As I’ve mentioned 1000 times before, I’m practically an elf, taking pride in finding the most perfect gifts for every single person on my list. But as I look at the calendar (how is it the end of December already?!) I’ll admit even I’m starting to panic. As hard as I’ve tried, my whole list isn’t totally “wrapped”.

Let’s be honest: there are always a few people that get left until the last minute – it’s usually the friends in my life who have everything they could possibly want, a distant relative I didn’t expect to see, a new friend who I just recently connected with or the person that just can’t be surprised no matter how hard I try.

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This is when even I, a pro gift-giver, will consult a gift guide. There’s tons and tons of guides out there (even we have a few!) but my absolute go-to this year is the Chatelaine gift guide hub. It has lots of unique gifts under $100 all picked by trusted Chatelaine editors, and thanks to some very handy organization there’s a separate guide for everyone your list. I found this Bluetooth Item tracker – which I had never even heard of before – and it’s perfect for the person that has everything, but always loses it. I also discovered the perfect gift for all the witchy women in my life – a healing crystal set that goes to a good cause (who doesn’t love the gift that keeps on giving?)

Getting names checked off the list this late in the game is a feeling like no-other, and now I can finally wrap up my wrapping!

Dear Diary

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I generally consider myself a gifting queen: I mean, not to brag, but I’m really good at taking notes all year round and scooping up the least expected surprises for the people I’m closest to.

But sometimes, with those we don’t know too well or those we don’t spend enough shopping time with (hi Grandpa!) we need a little bit of help. Chatelaine’s help!

It’s so impressive to me, a natural born elf, that Chatelaine was able to put such an extensive directory together. They’ve got everyone from your great uncle bob to the neighbour’s cat covered, and it’s really a total treat to shop through. Hostess gifts, book lover’s gifts, even gifts for the person with everything (aka me) can be found online and within the pages of the December issue, and it’s a seemingly endless treasure trove of good gifting.

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My favourite section is “20 unique gifts for the person who has everything” – what’s yours?!

Random

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Crossing the Charming Princes off of our shopping lists is always the biggest Holiday challenge, but also the most fun to take on. Whether it’s a special someone, a dad or a brother, finding the perfect gift for those on your list with a more masculine aesthetic usually takes an extra bit of elf power.

This year we teamed up to pick up some really great stocking stuffers, gift sets and bigger presents too – in all honesty we ended up wanting to keep most of the gifts for ourselves!

Check out our Charming Prince picks and shopping guide below!

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GIN KIT

Perfect for the budding alchemist, with this kit you can transform a simple bottle of vodka into an outstanding bottle of delicious homemade gin in just 36 hours.

TOOTHPICKS

In all-natural flavours like Bourbon and Ginger Honey, these toothpicks are the perfect stocking stuffer. Daneson also plants 100 trees for each one they cut, so they’re really the gift that keeps giving!

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VANS

There’s nothing wrong with sticking to the classics. Vans Sk8 Hi’s are a good go-to for anyone on your list!

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RICHER POORER

Who doesn’t need new socks and undies? Get ultra-comfy ultra-cool basics from Richer Poorer, and maybe even grab something for yourself while you’re at it!

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SAJE

Diffusers are perfect for purifying the air and look good in any space. Oh and did we mention there’s now a diffuser you can take on the road? Bye-bye pine air fresheners!

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DAVINES

All of the ingredients to give your guy soft, silky, frizz-free locks! Who says he can’t have nicer hair than you?

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SPICEBOMB

Still going strong as our absolute favourite scent for gents, Spice Bomb is a go-to gift!

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HERBIVORE BEARD STUFF

Truly natural and cruelty free, these special tonics and elixirs smell just like a forest and will keep your guy’s face super soft.

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UNIQLO / STAR REGISTRY

Christmas is so much easier now that Uniqlo is open just around the corner! Much, much further away is our very own star that we got to name after our Pastel Prince.

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YOUR PAL AL CACTI & SUCCULENTS

Concrete, succulents and just the right amount of gold from one of our very favourite Toronto artists, Your Pal Al.

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Oh so Pretty

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For years I’ve had a vendetta against red. After all red, as we so often joke, is the opposite of pastel, and so we’ve vowed the two never shall meet.

Until now.

Maybe it’s the Christmas spirit in the air, or my new neutral, more natural hair colour (more on that later I promise), but something is making me rethink red, especially when it comes to my beauty routine. Who doesn’t love a strong red lip?! The only problem is avoiding red lips my whole life has made me a little bit useless in the bold lipstick department.

With the help of a few handy youtube tutorials, tips from our favourite local makeup artists and some really great vegan, cruelty-free products (thanks Annabelle), I’ve managed to master the red lip, just in time for the holidays. It may be the opposite of all things pastel, but gosh does it look good with sequins and sparkle!

Scroll down to find out how we get red-lipped and mistletoe ready!

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Here are a few super quick and simple bold-lip lessons, and I promise they’re doable no matter how low maintenance your routine may be.

Prep // use a lip scrub for a smooth smooch, then add a thin layer of moisturizing lip chap and just a touch of makeup primer.

Line // I don’t do a full outline because I’m a little too impatient/messy, so I just stick to the bow and fill in uneven spots on my natural line, then colour everything in for ultimate stay power. I used Annabelle “Glam Red” for this step.

Fill // With lips fully lined as a base, apply your lipstick. I went with Annabelle’s “Red Carpet”, then topped it with their Big Show Lacquer in “Love Fiercely” to get that candy apple shine.

Blot // I’m a big fan of blotting, but the jury is still out in the beauty world, so this step is totally your call.

Finish // dust your lips with pressed powder to seal in the colour and head to your nearest mistletoe!

Get Creative

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When it comes to Christmas, size really doesn’t matter. I say the less space you have, the more you should decorate. More is more!

We’re lucky to have a fairly roomy apartment compared to most here in Toronto, but we’re definitely lacking when it comes to outdoor space. We use our little patio as much as possible, planting veggies in the summer and leafy greens in the fall. So we thought: why not do up the space for the holidays too? After all, people with houses shouldn’t get to have all the fun!

Determined to light up our patio so bright that it could be spotted from blocks away, we headed to Walmart and loaded up on all the lights our hearts desired. The holiday décor section was actually so sparkly it was almost blinding, and there was no shortage of magical laser projectors and flashing LED string lights.

We decided on rainbow string lights (how fun are they?!) to complement our pre-existing white bulb string lights, and a northern lights-inspired lightbulb that shoots incredible purple, green and blue patterns all over the space you point it at. We topped it all off with this laser projector, which is basically an entrancing light show that covers up to 3000 square feet! It’s the perfect way to light up your neighbourhood, no matter how big or small your home.

What do you think? Too over the top, or just the right amount of #merryandbright?

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Want more #merryandbright? Check out Walmart’s holiday lighting contest here and vote for your favourite house! Each vote means $1 gets donated to the Children’s Miracle Network, up to 25,000 – how’s that for holiday magic?

This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada as part of the #MerryandBright program. In exchange for this review, I have received special perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own. To inquire about sponsored posts, please email jess@shineinfluencers.com