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It’s here! Mile High Mamas Holiday Gift Guide. The Baker’s Dozen.

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It’s the yearly holiday list of the baker’s dozen of clever, thoughtful and creative gifts for everyone in the family. Black Friday is over (thank goodness) and now it’s time to shop locally. Of course every product or idea on this list is Colorado-based. From coffee and chocolates to theater tickets and donations to charity, please read my favorite picks for the 2011 holiday season. I even included a couple gifts for Fido this year. I always want to include so many more ideas, but I know that I would begin to bore all of you with too long of a list. Again, I’m so inspired by the incredible local entrepreneurs and companies that call Colorado home. From their charity work to their community focus, we are lucky Mile High Mamas to be surrounded by such inspirational people.

Children’s Hospital Colorado

It’s hard not to get caught up in the holiday gift-giving hoopla. However, it’s even more important to sometimes think of others more so than yourself and materialistic items for your children. If you have a healthy child that is truly the greatest blessing there is for the holidays. Looking for a way to help share that feeling, think of the Children’s Hospital Colorado. You can give online or honor someone with an online gift. Or, purchase holiday cards designed by Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders patients, the proceeds from these cards help improve the lives of cancer patients. Last year, proceeds helped fund wigs, medical bracelets, critical equipment and research. There is also a patient holiday wish list. Shopping for another’s needs helps educate your children about the true spirit of the holidays. www.childrenscoloradofoundation.org

DazBog

Nothing like a little jolt of caffeine this holiday season! I was truly surprised to learn DazBog is a Denver-based company. Started by two immigrants from the former Soviet Union who left Russia to begin a better life, their journey took them to the Mile High City where they have flourished with their unique coffee brand and franchise stores. This holiday season, a great stocking stuffer could include bags of their Holiday blend from their Limited Edition line of coffees that are very rare. Chocolate espresso beans, assorted teas, a signature thermos and even Russian Dolls can all be found in their stores and on their website. DazBog also just released glass water bottles and travel coffee mugs. Even a gift certificate for mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, babysitter or relative can go a long way. www.dazbog.com

Celebrate Culture with Denver Center for Performing Arts (DCPA)

I couldn’t resist putting this on the gift guide again this year. Attending a show at DCPA with the family truly is holiday treat. Going downtown, viewing the spectacular holiday lights, getting dressed up . . . it reminds me of my youth and going to see the Nutcracker each with my grandparents. This year DCPA has two magnificent shows, Tom Sawyer and A Christmas Carol, splendid choices for the season. The website even has a family guide link for all the up-coming age appropriate shows. Even if you cannot make it during the holidays, it’s a wonderful treat any time of the year. www.denvercenter.org

Dream Cows

As a writer and mother myself, this original gift was one of my favorites this year. Educators and parents Kirsten Mau and Sharon Loehr Lapan have come up with an inspiration gift to help get children thinking creatively and more often. Dream Cows are handmade one-of-a-kind Highland cows inspired by the beloved “Hey Diddle Diddle” nursery rhyme. Each snugly Dream Cow comes with a special “star journal” where children can draw or write down their dreams at bedtime. “It’s an exploration of fantasy and a writing ritual for bedtime, just like storybook reading,” explains Kirsten. She adds, “Setting goals is an important part of childhood.” The Dream Cow retails for $30. You can find it on www.etsy.me/dreamcows and on their website, www.dreamcows.com

Eco Vessel

I cannot even being to express how disappointed I get with myself for buying bottled water. With a husband who works for the EPA and growing up with extremely eco-conscious parents, I kick myself every time I forget to bring water and have to purchase bottled water. PROBLEM SOLVED! I just need to invest in more water bottles so I have them everywhere. Thank goodness for Boulder-based Eco Vessel. Their philosophy fits right along with not only my family’s mentality, but also many other Mile High Mamas. Their products are safe, sturdy, made from sustainable materials, 100 percent recyclable, BPA free and the best part—the designs are unique and interesting. And, all Eco Vessels come with an extra straw. How many times do you lose the straw to a great bottle and then it’s no good!!!

For mom and dad: The Summit, an insulated flip straw bottle that has vacuum insulated technology to keep beverages cold for hours. ($24.99) For teens and tweens: The Frost, it has a 13-ounce capacity and the designs are very trendy to ensure kids will look “cool” drinking their beverages. ($19.95) For children 4 years of age and up: The Scout, perfect for lunches and designs such as the cricket are a fun surprise. ($15.95) For the wee ones: Insulated Sippy & The Gobble ‘n Go Snack Cup: A sippy for no spills in the car recommended for babies 12 months and up ($17.95) and the snack cup for children 18 months and up ($14.95) that is easily washable and transforms into a bowl on the go as well. Eco Vessel has everyone in the family covered this season. Use promo code “milehigh” for 15% discount at checkout on the web. www.ecovessel.com

Lemongrass Spa Products

Usually we don’t include lotions and soaps in our reviews, but Lemongrass Spa is well deserving as member of this holiday guide for two very good reasons. One, they are a female owned and operated Colorado business that supports our local economy and two, their charity work is incredible. This year they are donating their miniature foot kits in the polka dot organza bag to parents at the Ronald McDonald House with help from their customer’s donations. They also created Operation Freedom Feet that runs in both fall and spring to donate their foot kits to soldiers fighting the war on terror. These gals are our local heroes. Click on the “making a difference” tab on their website to read more about their Operation Freedom Feet that was featured on Channel 9.

Pick out something for everybody in the family. With extremely reasonable prices and unique scents, it’s a wonderful gift that truly gives back to our community. For mom or sister, the Chai Tea Gift Set, $14 includes a 4-ounce lotion, handcrafted soap and darling bag. Their candy cane original soap is only $6 and a great stocking stuffer or present for a night of Chanukah. For babies or new parents, the Baby on the Go gift set, $22, that includes a baby lotion, Healing Elements in a glide on stick for little boo-boos, baby massage oil, baby wash and natural baby wipes in a travel bag. And, for dad, there is a Men’s Private Reserve Collection that features a handsome blend of sandalwood and musk. www.OurLemongrassSpa.com/Jill

Monkey Toes

Oh do we love “mompreneurs” and Jenny Ford of Centennial is an inspiration. She created Monkey Toes over nine years ago and it has since blossomed into an incredible nationwide company. Creativity for the brand came from her then two children, Rosie and Ella, and now Jenny has added 2-year-old Oscar to the mix who helps bring the adorable boy creations to the forefront of her designs. Not only are the shoes beyond cute, so is the packaging, you won’t even want to throw it away. The tennis shoes retail for $29.99 and feature frogs, silly monkeys, futterflies, ladybugs and a limited edition winter snowman. The sassy line is miniature Mary Janes for girls ($29.99) with playful creatures such as buzzy bee, LUV bug and more. And, Jenny has a charity close to her heart. Visit her website to read more about her t-shirt donations and efforts for this cause. Use special Mile High Mama Code: MHMGIFT to receive 30 percent off your orders in December, thanks Jenny! www.monkey-toes.com

Playdate with Denver

This is brilliant! Kyrie Collins, you are my hero. This newly launched book has nearly 300 pages packed of every activity, event, museum, outdoor adventure and more in the Front Range, including Boulder. Kyrie includes hours, admission prices, membership options, parking information, food availability, discounts, what to expect and other destinations within five miles. This woman is a genius and we should all be honored she is a fellow Mile High Mama! It’s the perfect gift for any age child or for an adult or even an out-of-towner planning a visit to Denver. Seriously, Kyrie hasn’t missed a beat. This is by far the most comprehensive book for children’s activities I have ever seen for ANY city. Denver is lucky to have her. Local book, local author and mom, local printing press, local’s favorite for sure. Oh, and check out the publisher’s website to see where you can purchase the books locally as well. http://playdatepublishing.com/buy.php. The book retails for $22. www.playdatewithdenver.com

Sun Cups

Chocolate anyone?? Everyone needs a little chocolate love this holiday season. Sun Cups is that perfect treat, and it’s nut-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, organic and Kosher, it really covers all the bases. I know, with all these labels you worry about the actual taste—don’t! I polished off five of the cups in one day. And, this was even with all Hank the Tank’s Halloween candy lying around, they are that good. My favorite is the caramel, but I wouldn’t turn down the milk chocolate, dark chocolate or mint any day. Colorado-made, The packaging is home compostable, totally green! Log onto www.suncups.com to order and here is a special discount code for our Mile High Mamas: Momma to get 25% off all sleeves of singles and doubles for the entire month of December. Happy holidays indeed with these sweet treats.

Stinky & Sweet Pea

Last year I neglected Fido on this list. I have two dogs myself and have realized that they, too, need a little holiday cheer. Hank the Tank cherishes his pups so much; why not celebrate them as well this season? Denver-based creator and owner of the brand Stinky & Sweet Pea, Christina Skopliak, has a background in design and a heart grounded in animal love. She cherishes her three pooches and began the brand when she herself could not find affordable, fashionable collars for her four-legged children. “So I figured out how to make dog collars and then I figured out how to make unique and stylish dog collars. After strutting my mutts around town with their new collars, I began to get compliments on them and people starting asking if I would make one for their own dog. One adorable ribbon led to another and viola, Stinky & Sweet Pea was born,” explains the proud brand owner. A friend happened upon these and sent me the link and I instantly fell in love. The Oh Deer . . it’s almost Christmas and Happy Camper are my favorites this season. Use Code: MARMAR20 to get 20 percent off in December. Each collar retails for $15. www.etsy.com/shop/stinkyandsweetpea

The Help ‘Em Up Harness

It’s not just Fido on the list this year, it’s senior Fido. As my college puppy has turned into a senior citizen, he struggles getting in and out of the car and even up on my bed for some belly rubbing. Usher in The Help ‘Em Up Harness. It was created by Denver-based Blue Dog Designs to assist older dogs and those recovering from surgery get around more easily. The key feature is the hip-lift that provides padded and cushioned assistance for the pooch. The invention makes it easy for mom, dad and older children to help Fido up and down stairs, in and out of the car and onto the bed for a belly rub. There is a totally flexible and customizable 9-point adjustable strap to create the perfect fit. With three sizes available for dogs 30 – 170 pounds, Fido is in good hands. The harness retails for $100 for the medium and large and $120 for the extra large. www.helpemup.com

Tea Par Tea

Kate was born and raised in Manchester, England, but landed in Denver due to her husband’s job. Even though she is now a Colorado resident, she still brings her English charm to the Mile High City. Her line, Tea Par Tea, was influenced by her children Fynn and Poppy. It’s a children’s tea set with over 100 items for a tea party. “It’s a wonderful way to spend time as a family and the tea set can become an heirloom and passed on for generations,” explains Kate. “My mum has also put so much time and effort into the start up of the business, it’s been an incredible family effort,” notes Kate. The Tea Par Tea Children’s set includes oodles of items to create the most intricate of tea parties. From heart shaped cups with coordinating saucers, to invitations to plan for the parties, boas, purses, kids pearls, cake stands, napkins, hand fans, parasols, stainless steal teaspoons, etc., Kate didn’t miss a trinket or accessory for the ultimate tea party. She explains, “It truly is a wide variety of products and they’re also really good quality and the presentation and packaging of the items is beautiful. All of the tea party tableware is imported from England and most of the items do last forever, which is great, as the tea party never has to end!” While a bit pricey, it’s an investment for your children and future generations. $285 including shipping and handling. www.tptfun.com

Think-a-lot Toys

This darling Boulder company is all about the imagination and creative play! It seems to be a theme this holiday season. As a mom, writer and author, I couldn’t help but have a soft spot for games that challenge children to construct their own games. Think-a-lot Toys has numerous products for various aged children and is winner of many awards. This holiday, I choose Story Speller ($14.99) that helps children create, tell and spell their own storybook tales with a storyboard, element cards and other unique tools to get children using their noggins. I also ordered their Holiday Collection Think-ets ($9.99), which is a small bag filled with an assortment of tiny trinkets that helps children tell stories and play other Think-et games. And, I got a copy of their Fabulous Franko and his Fabulous Toys book ($10.99). Illustrated by a Colorado gal, it’s a colorful exploration into a child’s dreamland. www.think-a-lot.com

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson November 30, 2011

    Very unique, fun list, Julie!

    • comment avatar Julie Bielenberg November 30, 2011

      Thanks Amber! You know I love doing it! So many amazing products out there – it is hard to choose from.

  • comment avatar Christina Skopliak November 30, 2011

    What a great list Julie! Thanks so much for including me!
    Happy Howl-idays to all!

  • comment avatar Amanda November 30, 2011

    Nice! Something for the whole family too.

  • comment avatar Randy Compton November 30, 2011

    Love this list! I discovered some real gems here. And, it’s amazing to know that these are all Colorado-based companies.

  • comment avatar rajean November 30, 2011

    Very unique & comprehensive. Love the side stories to the origin of the products too. I’m sharing!

  • comment avatar Kirsten Mau November 30, 2011

    Thanks for all the awesome local ideas! Thanks for supporting our new Dream Cows and all the other amazing Colorado businesses. Happy giving.

  • comment avatar Jill Breheny November 30, 2011

    Thank you Julie! I am honored to be part of your Colorado Favorites list and all of your picks were so much fun to read. I already love DazBog Coffee and I have a few new gems to check out, thanks to you!

  • comment avatar Kate November 30, 2011

    Thank you so much Julie for including ‘tea par tea’ in your Colorado Favorites list…along with so many other fabulous products all based around the Mile High city. I am so proud to call Colorado home!

  • comment avatar Meghan December 1, 2011

    Thanks so much for including the Help Em Up Harness; so many Colorado families are getting to do a lot more with their old dogs longer.

  • comment avatar Jenny - Monkey Toes December 1, 2011

    Honored to be a Colorado company and a part of the Mile High Mamas list. Thank you!!

  • comment avatar Kyrie December 1, 2011

    What a great list! I love that you really kept true to the holiday spirit of giving by listing a donation to Children’s Hospital first! And I’m so pleased to have so many other choices to support local businesses too. Thank you for a great list.

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