I have a bunch of things to share with you today, along with a cool giveaway.

First, as many of you long-time readers know, my oldest daughter left for university this year. So I’m a partial-empty-nester. She’s doing wonderfully, but it’s hard on the rest of us (especially her younger sister) because we really miss her.

In the midst of writing papers and making friends, though, she’s decided to start a blog. And her post last week was really good (and got a lot of traffic). She’s asking, “are we more concerned with appearing to be Christian that we forget to show Christ?” Go check it out (and leave her a comment to encourage her!).

See! There’s hope for teenagers yet.

Yet teens can pose a bit of a conundrum around this time of year because they’re awfully hard to buy Christmas presents for. One of the most popular posts on the blog right now (it’s my most pinned post ever!) is Stocking Stuffers for Your Husband. I guess people really want gift ideas. Kids are much easier (just get them toys!), but once a kid hits 11 or 12 gift giving becomes more complicated.

So when Staples approached me recently and asked me to write about things you can buy your teenagers (or other kids at heart), I was excited to do it. I thought it was time my teenagers get some equal treatment, and I was hoping that, while shopping, something would occur to me.

I actually spend a lot of time in Staples stores, because I buy a lot of office supplies. But one of the reasons I like stores like Staples at Christmas is because they tend to be stand alone stores, not in a mall. And you can’t even park in our mall parking lot right about now. It’s ridiculous. I hate malls in December, but big stores I can still usually handle.

So armed with the gift card they sent me, I decided to take my youngest daughter along so that I would have a teenage “expert” and ask, “what would teens like here?”

The first thing we saw was this gumball machine. The thought of it makes my jaw hurt, but Katie agreed: kids would like this.

We found really cute organizers that any girl at least would want in a stocking:

In fact, we found a whole lot of cute things that you could use to buy for a teen, often really inexpensively.

Okay, the camera isn’t cheap. But cameras DO make a great gift (albeit not just a stocking stuffer), and they’re quite inexpensive now. The first digital camera I bought, back in 1999, was $1000. It’s hard to believe now.

Anyway, we actually decided against all that and got very practical instead. When Rebecca left for university we helped her select a new computer desk, chair, home office equipment, etc. But Katie really hadn’t gotten anything. And so while we were in Staples, she announced that what she could really use is a computer desk chair. Since we homeschool, she does all her work at her desk, all day. And she’s currently using an old dining room chair.

She tried about a bunch of chairs (checking them out for spinnability, of course).

And that’s what we settled on. I think getting something to make a teen’s home office more comfortable is a great idea for Christmas, because it’s something that will prove handy for years to come (she can take that chair with her when she goes to join her sister) and it’s something they can actually use now to make their lives better. It isn’t a fad they’ll use for a few weeks and then forget about.

Speaking of handy, one of the things that can make a huge difference in a home office setup is a quality router for your internet and wireless devices. I really need to buy one of these desperately, along with a wireless printer, because to print stuff out I have to cart my laptop upstairs, plug it in to the printer, and print, which is hassle. Katie’s even worse; her computer isn’t compatible with our printer, so she has to email a file to herself, then open her email on my computer and cart my computer up to the printer. So we’re looking at saving some money up so we can go totally wireless soon. I’m asking for a wireless printer for Christmas, and then a router like this will help the internet, and the printer, and even our Wii that hooks up to the internet, work much better.

Here’s a picture I took of one, but it’s so blurry. I seriously have issues taking pictures with iPhones. I guess I’m used to the built-in stabilizer in my camera!

So here’s a better picture with description from the Staples website:

They have a whole bunch of different routers, but they’ll likely make your internet run faster, and help you hook up all your different devices.

Staples has generously offered to give away a FREE router (under $100) to any Canadian–so only Canadians can enter. You can choose any router up to $100 from this page.

I’ll be drawing for a winner on December 10, so enter now!

For those of you who aren’t Canadian, sorry you’re excluded from this one, but we Canadians often are excluded from most giveaways, so it’s nice to have one that’s just for us.

Now, be careful at those malls, and may your Christmas shopping go quickly and easily.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received the chair that we purchased for Katie for free from Staples. Thanks, Staples!

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