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Collectively grieving Newtown, CT

Stephanie and I are both completely devastated by the situation in Newtown, with Stephanie being especially freaked out since she already survived one shooting last week (she and her son were at the mall in Oregon last Tuesday when three people were shot and killed). The two of us have been talking all weekend, and we just don't have much to contribute to the discussions about Newtown. That said, I do want to provide a place for Offbeat Families to support each other through the grief we're all experiencing as we emerge from the terrible events of last week…

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Flower Muse has gifts for the hard-to-shop-for totally covered

All last week we brought you gift guides for the people on your holiday gift-buying lists. If you STILL haven't found that perfect thing for those special someones, our sponsor Flower Muse has the ULTIMATE holiday gift solution: FLOWERS! We're not talking the traditional poinsettia plants and evergreen wreaths that are everywhere. Flower Muse has some truly unique flower offerings for those hard-to-shop for folks on your list. AND they're offering them at a special discount for the Homies…

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We want to make Offbeat Home better — you want to tell us how!

The Offbeat Empire's 2012 reader survey is open to ALL readers of ANY Offbeat Empire site: offbeatbride.com, offbeatfamilies.com, offbeathome.com, and offbeatempire.com. We've designed the survey to be pretty quick, although part of that depends on how many of the Offbeat Empire blogs you read. Regardless, it shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes for anyone.

UPDATE: Although the survey is now closed, we are ALWAYS open to reader feedback. Seriously. Just click here.

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Dinosaurs, octopodes, and microbes: offbeat ornaments for your Christmas, Solstice, or Whatever Tree

I'm as agnostic as they come, but I still love our winter tree. It brings a little light to the darkest time of the year and yes: it's also got little baubles of ridiculousness on it. And I do mean RIDICULOUS. I love a little weirdness on the ol' tree!

Assuming I'm not the only one whose tastes in ornaments run towards the questionable, who wants to paw over some weird baubles with me? I went prodding around the wilds of the internet looking for the retro, the ridiculous, the nerdy, and the fabulous. Who's in?