Holiday Gift Ideas 2016


Before I get into any gift ideas, let me just quickly summarize about two books that I have read in the past year:

  1. Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Get rid of clutter. Keep the stuff you love. And make sure everything has a home within your home!
  2. Scott Dannemiller’s The Year Without a Purchase – Experiences are remembered more than tangible gifts. What did you get for Christmas or your birthday last year? Did you have a favorite gift? Who gave it to you? Most of us don’t remember those things because they are THINGS. But you will remember the time your family went out to eat for Christmas dinner, even though it was 6 years ago. 

With those two under my belt, I want to say that I’m not the biggest proponent of gift guides since it’s just about buying STUFF. So I have ideas for experience gifts too! I am not the best at this stuff, but I figured I’d share my ideas. And maybe there’s something that strikes your fancy!

*Any Amazon links below are affiliate links (meaning, you don’t pay extra but I get a tiny commission off of the purchase). The other links are not affiliate links!



1. Bombas Socks (they have socks for men, women, and kids). For every pair purchased, they donate a pair to the homeless! Both my husband and dad have a few pairs, and they like them a lot. 


2. Savannah Bee Company Honey Straws. I keep these in my purse! It’s just a little shot of natural energy. I kept them with me when I was in labor with Annabelle since I could finish it in just a few seconds.


3. Buck Mason Tee Shirts. My husband has 4-5 of these tee shirts (plus two of their button-down shirts). They are just nice quality and really simple – no logos or fuss. Higher quality than your standard tee. 

4. Cooking classes. You know your mom/dad/spouse/partner better than I do, BUT if this wouldn’t offend, I think it’s a great gift! Buy two spots for a cooking class (knife skills, pie making, etc.) – you learn a little and get to eat/drink and hang out with each other for a few hours! I know Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table have cooking classes available, but I bet other kitchen stores have them as well.

5. Hulu or Netflix. Any sort of short-term subscription for TV/movies is a good catch-all gift, even if the person already has a subscription! You can get a gift card at places like Wal-Mart. The pricing is about $10 for each of these, so you can get the appropriate amount depending on how many months you want to gift. Amazon Prime has Instant Video, but I don’t know if you can buy a 1-month Amazon Prime subscription. 


6. Real Simple magazine subscription. I have gifted this subscription (usually to ladies) many times in the past. A year subscription isn’t too pricey, and every issue is just packed with recipes, decor ideas, clothing stuff, life skills or tips (like etiquette questions). It’s really good for nearly any kind of personality.


7. Pour Over Ceramic Coffee Dripper. My husband has this one, and he uses it daily. If you’ve got a coffee lover, this is a nice alternative to using a coffee machine! He also has two cotton coffee filters that can be washed and reused as well as a special kettle that is made for pour over coffee.


8. Paint by Stickers. There are two adult versions (one, two) of this plus a kid version. They are so so relaxing and well done! I think the earlier versions had stickers that didn’t stick as well, but the book we have works great. This is a good gift for really anyone – male, female, old, young.


9. Squatty Potty. We all go to the bathroom. This helps you go easier! It’s got excellent reviews on Amazon, and I don’t have one. But I really want one! (There are two sizes, so make sure you pick the size you need.)

10. For an older person in your family, put together some family photos or stage a photo shoot where everyone is wearing reindeer antlers. Most of the older generation appreciates family and time over getting more stuff (especially the stuff that has “Grandma” scrawled on it!). I’m not downplaying that stuff because some people do love that sort of thing! But a safer bet is something fun for the family. You can also get a board game like Twister or Head’s Up, or play charades.



1. Large rolls of paper. We use large rolls of paper for everything. We tape it to the ground to make roads for our little cars and trucks and trains. I’ll have Alexander lie down on a large piece of paper and then draw his outline and tape it to the wall. Then he can add silly faces or clothes to himself. We tape several pieces of it to our train table so he can just scribble freely all over the table. We have gone through so many rolls of paper! 


2. Magformers. These are great for lots of ages. Older kids can use them to make large structures and young kids are just fascinated with how they stick together. Since they’re magnets, you can stick them to each other or stick them to your fridge/dishwasher/washing machine.


3. Wooden trains. Trains are an investment. But if you get a set or two each year for Christmas and for birthdays and ask relatives to give sets as well, in a few years, you’ll have a nice collection! We were lucky to inherit a large amount of train tracks and trains, so we built a train table just for them. (Here’s the DIY we used to build our table.)


4. Silly straws. Silly straws are just sort of fun. There are so many of them out there. We got a build-your-own option at the grocery store! Alexander creates a new straw nearly every day.

5. A box of random stuff. If you’re not quite sure what to get for a niece or nephew or cousin, fill a shoe box with some fun things! Here are some ideas:

  • a couple of $2 bills (or other small bills)
  • a kazoo
  • a set of dice
  • a funky pen
  • a candy bar (I’d ask the kid’s mom and dad about that first, in case of an allergy or something) or Pop Rocks
  • silly putty
  • stickers
  • chewing gum (Big League Chew is fun)
  • a stamp with their initial, plus a stamp pad
  • hair bows or clips
  • nail polish


6. A science experiment. Use a gift bag and put some science materials, plus instructions, inside! Here are a few ideas:


7. Ingredients to make something together. Make some sugar cookies. Include all the dry ingredients and stick the wet stuff in the fridge (in a cute little bag, if possible). Also include some cookie cutters if appropriate! Have a kid who loves something particular? Try making something related to it. For example, if there’s a kid who loves Harry Potter, why not make Butter Beer together (it’s not alcoholic!)? One kid loves his dog, so make some homemade dog biscuits together.

8. Tickets to the zoo (or aquarium). Be sure to get enough tickets for at least one of the parents to go too! If the tickets are expensive (which they often are), getting just one ticket forces the family to buy another one, which may not be something they can comfortably afford.


9. Highlights Magazine subscription. This magazine is great for most ages, and there are different sorts of subscriptions available!


10. A flashlight. Or a black light flashlight. From my (limited) experience, most kids really like flashlights and playing with shadows. Their very own flashlight – maybe in a cool color like silver – would be really fun and practical!


Hopefully this gave you some inspiration for this year’s holiday shopping! <3 Bethany