Holiday Gift Guide #3: Lifestyle Edition!

Hey everyone!

First off — happy December you guys!!! We’ve finally made it to the final month of the year and I, for one, could not be more excited. 2020, in all honesty, has been a particularly brutal year for me and no matter what 2021 holds, I’ll be excited to put this year behind me. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s feeling a little relieved that it’s finally the last month of the year, am I right?

Anyways, I’m back with another Gift Guide this week — and this time it’s all about Lifestyle! This week’s collection of gifts are loosely themed together by the fact that they’re all cool little things that really help add to and improve the lifestyle of whomever you’re gifting for — so while the theme is less defined this week, there’s really something in this list for anyone.

As always, since shopping in person isn’t really an option this year, I’ve chosen items that can all be purchased online! While it does kind of suck to miss out on holiday shopping this year, it isn’t really a necessity to get into the holiday spirit. Even if you’re in an area that still allows in person shopping, the responsible (and easier!) thing to do is crack open your laptop, lay on the couch and send in some online orders — so let me make that even easier for you by recommending some of my favourite things that would make great gifts for just about anyone on your list!

Ouai Super Dry Shampoo

Maybe this is just me, but as someone with very fine hair who lives in a super humid climate, my hair starts feeling greasy faster than I can keep up with washing it. Even in lockdowns, when no one sees me for days on end, this dry shampoo has been a bit of a lifesaver. It’s hands down the best dry shampoo I’ve ever used — and yes, I’ve become pretty acquainted with dry shampoos over the years. (What can I say? Sometimes half an hour of extra sleep is more valuable than freshly-showered hair). Unlike so many dry shampoos, it actually works to make your hair feel cleaner and doesn’t leave a residue behind or leave your hair looking powdery. My hair always both looks AND feels cleaner after using this stuff — making it an extra-useful gift for any busy bees in your life.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Sephora!

Mini Stone Pack

This is a cute and simple gift for your friend who’s super into horoscopes, decorating, collecting, or all of the above. These stone packs from Amazon come conveniently packaged in little packs or individually, with a little information on each type of crystal included such as what it manifests in your life. Whether you believe in the power of crystals or not — they make a great decoration or addition to any gift!

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Indigo in Amethyst and Rose Quartz!

Herbivore Coconut Milk Body Polish

Okay, so if you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know all about my love of Herbivore Botanicals body scrubs. When I saw they released a coconut version earlier this year, I knew I had to give it a try. This version of their body scrub comes a little cheaper than the Crushed Amethyst body scrub, but they’re both so worth it. The amethyst scrub does seem to be a little more of a deep exfoliation, but this one is also effective, soft, and smells soooooo good. 10/10, would LOVE to receive this as a gift.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Sephora!

Dry Bar Prep Rally Detangler

This is such a universally loved, universally good-for-all hair type heat protectant. I guarantee that no matter who you buy this for, it’ll work for their hair. This next-level two-in-one detangler and heat protectant has kept my hair looking and feeling so great ever since I first received it in a FabFitFun box last winter — it really is SUCH an effective protector against blowdrying and styling heat damage. It doesn’t leave behind a residue either, making it a great gift for literally anyone on your list.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Sephora!

FOXYBAE Hair Curler

On the topic of hair styling, this hair curler I received in my latest FabFitFun box is AMAZING. It heats up well, is nice and easy to use, doesn’t seem to damage my hair and makes perfect curls. I really don’t know much about hair styling — I had short hair for most of my life — but I can tell you, this curler is by FAR the best I’ve ever owned. It makes curling your hair SO effortless and my hair has honestly looked better using this curler than it ever has in my entire lifetime of curling my hair. Basically, it’s super worth it.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at FOXYBAE!

AMIKA Hair Straightener

On a final hairstyling note, this AMIKA hair straightener (which, surprise surprise, I also recieved in a FabFitFun box) has been an absolute godsend in my life. It’s so high quality and straightens hair so effectively without damaging your hair. This was the first “fancy” hair straightener I’ve ever owned (ie. not purchased at the drugstore) and I was blown away at the difference it made — not just in terms of damage, but how fast and effectively it worked and how much better my hair looked when it was done. This straightener is a blessing.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at AMIKA!

Skincare Hairbands

This was something I purchased for myself recently on a bit of a whim, not really expecting much of it. I had seen other skincare fans using them all over social media, but I couldn’t really tell if they were going to help or simply hinder me while I washed my face and make the whole task more challenging. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to realize that these little hairbands make washing your face 200% easier. They keep all your baby hairs out of the way, and don’t get in the way themselves. I was kind of worried they would just end up getting wet and gross while I used them, but they don’t at all. They really act to solve something that you’d never realize was a large grievance until you see what life is like on the other side. Trust me.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Amazon!

Twine Cheese Board with Plate

If you have someone in your life who loves hosting wine nights or considers themselves a charcuterie enthusiast, then this is the perfect gift for them. This little board is so tiny and cute, it makes the perfect board for those with tiny kitchens or an addition to the collection of a charcuterie lover’s collection to add to a full spread. (Or, frankly, it also works well for making yourself feel a little fancier while eating cheese and crackers home alone). It’s cute, simple, small, easy to clean, and a great gift overall. I’ve been totally obsessed ever since I received this in a FabFitFun box (yes, again), and I’ve always thought it would make a great gift for anyone who loves dinner parties, or just cheese.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Amazon!

DAVID’s TEA Loose Leaf Teas

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a tea fanatic. David’s Tea, in my opinion, is THE best tea out there. I seriously drink at least 2-4 cups a day (and sometimes more). The options they offer are seriously endless, meaning that there’s absolutely a tea out there for everyone on your list. From traditional teas, to classic favourites, to crazy new flavours you couldn’t find elsewhere, David’s Tea has it all. It can be a little tricky to know where to start with all the options, but my favourites are Cream of Earl Grey, Genmaicha, Forever Nuts, Bai Hao Yin Zhen, and Butterfly Jasmine.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at DAVID’s Tea!

Lululemon Yoga Mat

With COVID likely still hanging around for the next few months, there’s really no better gift you could give than a high-quality yoga mat. Perfect for not just at home yoga sessions, these mats help make a wide variety of home workouts possible. Since yoga mats are something you only need one of and don’t often replace, it’s nice to be able to splurge on one for someone on your list — and after that, they’ll be all set to get on top of staying fit in 2021. Whether it’s for at-home use, or for yoga classes in the (hopefully not so distant) future, this mat is high quality and comes with a warranty, making sure it’ll be useful for years to come.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Lululemon!

Lululemon Massage Roller

This is another thing that’s been a real lifesaver for me in COVID. It’s hard with all the stress this year has toot feel the impacts on your body — overtime, it really wears you down. However, going for a quick massage isn’t really an option in 2020. Instead, I’ve been using this yoga roller to work out all the knots in my body where I’ve been holding all my stress. It really makes a huge difference in your overall wellbeing to be able to massage out all the kinks every so often. It’s kind of self-care, but also in 2020, very necessary.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Lululemon!

Silked Satin Pillowcase

Finally, we have the Silked satin pillowcase (which, yes, I also received in a FabFitFun box. I know this whole post probably just seems like one giant advertisement for FabFitFun, but I swear it’s not! They really just gift the best stuff). Satin pillowcases are fantastic for soooo many reasons — they don’t tug on your skin or mess with your hair, making them gentler and less damaging on both (plus they’re just cute as well). For those on your list who worry about hair damage, skincare or wrinkles, these pillowcases are extra soft on your skin and hair overnight — making them the perfect gift. The first time I ever used one, the difference I felt in my hair the next morning was like night and day — I could never go back to using regular pillow cases ever again.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Silked!

I hope you guys are all having a great week! Hopefully at this point you’ve got a good idea of what you’ll be gifting everyone on your list this year, but if not — stay tuned for my final gift guide next week! I’ll be sharing my favourite makeup items that will make universally great gifts for any makeup lovers in your life — regardless of skin tone and staples they already own.

So, again, happy December! Are you guys all still setting goals for yourself this month? Personally, I’m taking a bit of a break and riding out the last month of 2020 as easily as I can, but if you guys have some goals you’ve set for yourself I’d love to hear them! Drop a comment below and let me know what you’re hoping to manifest before the end of the year!

Stay safe and much love,

Meredith

Spend A Week With Me In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

Sailing Tour by Vallarta Adventures

Hey guys!

So, as many of you already know, I’ve been spending this week taking a (very much needed) vacation in Puerto Vallarta. This last month has been a bit of a rough one for me — between having the flu, my term papers, my job and just keeping up with life its been a lot. However, not only was I lucky enough to have this getaway planned (and right after my final papers were due!), but from here on out my life should be at least a LITTLE less hectic, so cheers to that!

Puerto Vallarta is a special place to me since this was actually the place I went away on my first ever vacation! To be fair, I was too young to remember it — but this is my first time coming back ever since, so it’s pretty exciting to take it all in. I also have to say, Puerto Vallarta makes a great vacation spot — its easy to access from just about anywhere in North America (which I know for a fact since my family flew in from Toronto while I flew in from Vancouver, and none of us had long or difficult travels). As well, the weather here is STUNNING — like seriously, every single day that we’ve been here has been sunny and warm, and there’s almost never a cloud in the sky. It’s insanely perfect — maybe it’s just that all the vacations I’ve taken in the last few years have been to places with variable weather, but I’m pretty blown away by this “constant sun” and “no fear of cloudiness and rain” concept.

My Last Trip To Puerto Vallarta!

As well, Puerto Vallarta has just about everything anyone on your trip could be interested in. Not only does it have the beach, the pool, the sun and all the typical things you’d want out of a beach getaway, it has a vibrant town and plenty of adventurous activities in the nearby area. Since I was here with my family and my main goal was to just chill out a little, I didn’t really take part in anything TOO adventurous — but there’s all kinds of activities ranging from zip lining, to snorkelling, to parasailing, to hiking and more. Oh, and our hotel came equipped with the biggest spa I’ve ever seen, so there’s that too.

The View From Our Hotel Room

Overall, I have to say — I’m pretty in love with it here. (Bonus points since our hotel even came with a little house cat — meet Mitzy!). I know I always say this, but I never wanna leave (or at least, I could use more than one week). But enough of that — let’s get into all the details of my little vacay!

Meet Mitzy!

Our Accommodations

Our Room at the Marriott

For this trip, we stayed at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa. This little resort has it all — it’s near, but not quite in town. It’s smaller and a little quiet, which I personally loved. It has a lovely, large infinity pool, it’s own private stretch of beach, multiple restaurant and bar options and a large and fantastic spa — but more on that later.

Marriott Puerto Vallarta Beach

Some of my favourite aspects of this hotel are the lovely beach and poolside chairs, the amazing hibachi restaurant, the poolside food and drink service, and the amazing little stand that makes fancy cocktails served in real coconuts. (I mean, just look at this — how much cuter does it get?)

The rooms are large and pretty comfortable — not that we’ve spent much time in them when it’s so beautiful out. There’s a good range of food options, and a VERY good range of drink options. To top it all off, our hotel comes with it’s very own cat (Mitzy!) and the view from out balcony is beyond spectacular — so overall, I’d say this place is a winner.

View From Our Room Pt. 2

Things To Do

Go On A Sunset Sail
Sunset Sail by Vallarta Adventures

So I’ll just start off by saying that no matter where I’m travelling to in the world, just about my all time favourite activity is to spend a day on a boat. Seriously, my life goal is to be able to buy a boat one day. I’ve been on plenty of boats during my travels — such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Honolulu, just to name a few — however, this one really was the best one yet. We specifically chose to do a sunset sail via Vallarta Adventures, and while boating itself is great, let me tell you — boating at sunset is better. This particular boating adventure came with all the bells and whistles too — little snack trays, music, and an open bar (!!!). The staff were beyond lovely, too. Overall, I’d say this activity was a serious 11/10, and definitely my favourite part of this trip. If you’re ever in Puerto Vallarta, you’ll seriously want to check this ride out.

Sunset Sail by Vallarta Adventures
Have A Spa Day
Marriott Spa

So, obviously, this was VERY much needed after the week I’ve had. The Marriott Puerto Vallarta Spa is unlike any spa I’ve been to before, too — it really is a whole experience. Like first of all, it’s absolutely HUGE. When you get any services done, you get full access to all their amenities as well. So, while all I really signed up for was the 80-minute Swedish Massage, I ended up getting a LOT more. We spent our day before and after enjoying everything this spa had to offer, including: a jacuzzi, a hot and cold plunge pools, a foot bath, a sauna AND a steam room — and that’s not even an exhaustive list, just the things I tried out. Overall, it was an AMAZING experience, and probably one of the most extensive and amazing spa days I have ever had (thankfully, since I needed it so much!).

Marriott Spa
Hit The Town
Me in Town, Puerto Vallarta

The town of Puerto Vallarta is so vibrant and fun — if you’re spending your time at a resort, like me, you’ll still want to take a day and go explore. The beachside town is filled with countless restaurants, bars, and a wide array of shops, which will cover all your souvenir needs. There’s also a boardwalk that stretches on for miles and miles — allowing you to explore easily. Plus, the beaches by town are gorgeous, and feature plenty of beachside bars and restaurants — which is ALWAYS a good idea.

Puerto Vallarta Boardwalk
Try A Tequila Tasting
Tequila!

This is basically a must-try if you’re in Mexico — I mean, where else would be better to try something like this? It makes for a great little afternoon activity, and it’s totally a fun experience you really can’t get anywhere else. Our hotel offered free tastings, however, with how much tequila there is in this town, you probably could try this just about anywhere. Even if you’re really not a fan of tequila, they certainly have the best tequila in the world — so it’s definitely worth a shot (or two!).

Puerto Vallarta Pier

Places To Eat (And Drink!)

Mikado
Sushi at Mikado

Maybe I’m just a sucker for Hibachi places, but this was one of my favourite places we tried on our vacation. While this restaurant was a part of the Marriot we stayed at, you can totally make a reso here even if you aren’t a guest. The restaurant features two separate areas — one Sushi, one Hibachi. While we tried both out, and the sushi WAS amazing — the Hibachi restaurant was both SO delicious and SO fun. It totally gave me throwback vibes to every birthday I ever had at Benihana as a child, so really, there was nothing not to love.

Banana Tempura at Mikado
Si Señor
Si Señor on the Beach

This bar and restaurant wasn’t just beachside — it actually had tables to sit at ON the beach (which was about everything you could ever want). We really only stopped in here for drinks, but wow were they ever good. If you go here, you HAVE to try the Palomas — maybe I’m biased since I love a good Paloma any day, but they were absolutely to die for. The drinks, the view, the beach — UGH. This place is absolutely a must-try if you’re ever in the area.

The Blue Shrimp
Arriero Style Octopus at the Blue Shrimp

This may already be obvious from the name of the restaurant, but if you LOVE shrimp, this is the place for you. It was basically all that was on the menu, and it was glorious. The appetizers were delish but the shrimp dinners (where you basically just ended up choosing which sauce and style you wanted your shrimp in) were beyond amazing. The whole restaurant had a very strong Maritimes/Canadian East Coast seafood dinner restaurant vibe, so it was also pretty nostalgic for me since I haven’t been to the east coast in years. (Have I ever mentioned that I have a farm in Prince Edward Island? I guess that’s just a story for another day!).

Portuguese Shrimp at the Blue Shrimp

And that’s it for my little getaway! I’m heading home tomorrow afternoon (or today at the time that this posts), tragically enough — I’m really not ready to leave just yet. I mean, I guess I have to head back to reality at some point, but does it need to be so soon?

Sunset Sail Tour by Vallarta Adventures

All in all, this trip was AMAZING, though, so I can’t complain. Puerto Vallarta is a stunning city with a little something for everyone and endless blue, sunny skies. Like seriously — this place had better weather than anywhere I’ve been in a while, and I couldn’t be more thankful. (I love Vancouver, but sometimes you just need a break from the rain, you know?). Puerto Vallarta even reminded me a bit of home, with the mountain and beach combination it has going on!

I hope you guys all enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you (and experiencing it!). Hopefully it inspired you to plan a little vacay of your own sometime soon — if you end up heading to Puerto Vallarta or trying out anything that I did, let me know! I’d love to hear that I inspired some ideas for some of your future travels.

As well, stay tuned next week for another — slightly different — travel post! I’m going to be sharing with you guys all my fave beach vacay style trends for this spring and summer, so stay tuned! I’ve been collecting photos of all my favourite makeup and fashion trends I’ve tried over the last week and I can’t wait to share.

Have a great week everyone, and don’t forget to take some time to relax! Even with how overwhelmed I was last week, I didn’t truly realize how stressed I had been until a few days into my getaway — so take a minute for a quick breather, a Netflix binge or some self care. It never hurts!

Much love and adios,

Meredith

Ps. Enjoy some extra bonus photos below — I had too many for one post!