Crackling fires, festive time with family and friends, endless cookies, sparkling decorations, magical stories, mulled wine (or something similar), and even jingly carols – Christmas can truly be the most wonderful time of the year.
You can get completely over-stressed and dragged into an obligatory present buying bonanza complete with stressful holiday parking, endless traffic, crowded malls, over-spending, and over-consumption of stuff we just don't need.
I don't know about you, but I prefer my ‘happy place' at Christmastime.
That's why we have a family tradition to aim to keep gift giving super minimal. Occasionally – only if I feel really inspired – I will make some DIY gifts, but rather than getting obsessed over presents we focus instead of the experience of the holiday, rather than the getting and giving of “stuff.”
That said, Santa isn't a scrooge, so we've asked him to adopt a little mantra (my Christmas secret) that gets my family merrily through the holiday season. Every year my kids each get:
Something they want, Something they need, something to wear, and something to read.
So, with the spirit of ease in mind, here are some of my favorite gifts for simplify holiday gifts this year for everyone on your list. (Plus you can skip the shopping mayhem by ordering everything online!)
For the gals
Want: Organic Sheet Set – Everyone wants luxuriously comfy bedding and all the better when it is both organic and ethically made. Feel free to steal this idea from my friend, Beta, who one year bought everyone on her list a great set of sheets in the size to match their beds – easy and brilliant.
Need: A Meal Plan Subscription – Do you have a gal (or guy) in your life that struggles getting home-cooked dinner on the table? Or is so busy she doesn't have time to think? Real Plans (my love child) is the perfect gift for every busy mama because it takes to stress out of planning and shopping for meals but is fully customizable for every diet and picky eater.
Fitbit One Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker – Got a girl friend, mom, sister, or grandma that wants to kick off the new year fit and healthy? The fitbit is the perfect gift. I've been wearing mine for years and still love it to keep me motivated.
Wear: Peacock Workout Pants – These are my absolute favorite workout pants (that come in many different patterns too). With a surprisingly flattering fit – these pants are great for yoga, spinning, hiking, or just a trip to the grocery store.
Read: The Big Leap – This book was my biggest inspirational read this year. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to live a deeply inspired life.
For the dudes
Want: Remote Control Millennium Falcon – Just in time for the much anticipated Star Wars release, my grown man is obsessed with this toy and insists that every guy needs one. (The kids like it too.)
Need: Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag – Because giving a man deodorant for Christmas is a bit rude.
Wear: Mud boots – If your man doesn't already have these, he needs them and probably will never think to buy them for himself.
Read: One Thousand Beards: A Cultural History of Facial Hair – If your dude is anything like mine, he's probably been obsessing over facial hair for some time now.
For young boys
Want: Coolest Magnet Toy Ever – My kids have had these for years and will literally play with them for hours on end – Priceless.
Need: Krash Jolly Roger Mohawk Helmet – Yes, bike helmets are an essential safety item, but this bike helmet is so rad, your kid may never take it off.
Wear: Hatley Rain Coat – Holiday time is a good excuse for investing in quality outerwear. Here in California, this is also a prayer for rain.
Read: Pokemon: Essential Handbook or Minecraft: The Complete Handbook Collection – Last year my son was a newly avid reader but also was completely obsessed with Minecraft and Pokemon. This was Santa's way of making sure the naughty and nice are in check.
This year, these are his fave is anything by Rick Riordan. I especially love the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Box set which infuses Greek mythology into reading that's exciting for boys.
For little girls
Want: Mini Micro Scooter – My little one got this three-wheel scooter last year and rode it everywhere for months. I searched high and low for one that balances and maneuvers easily. THIS is the one.
Need: Girls' Butterfly Star Rain Boot – What comes after a California drought? MUD PUDDLES.
Wear: Pink, Yellow & Green Fairy Pixie Wings – Read my lips: You cannot go wrong if you buy a little girl a pair of wings. (And in the small chance that she is the 0.0001% of girls who doesn't like fairy wings, you get to wear them!)
Read: Dr. Seuss Beginner Book Collection – My little kindergartener is obsessed with sounding out the words from these tried-and-true classics, and the tattered copies on our bookshelf look ready to retire.
Books for kids (either gender):
Age 3-5: What Pete Ate from A to Z – My kindergartener has suddenly ignited an interest in reading, and this clever book is our favorite way to explore the joy of words.
Early readers: The Boxcar Children Books 1-4 – Another one of my nine year old's favorite series. First published in 1924 and continuing to be written today, there are over 100 titles for never-ending, wholesome reading adventures.
Read out loud:
The Secret Garden – This was an unexpected and forgotten treasure that I rediscovered with my kids this year. We we all enchanted with the magic of this classic.
The Chronicles of Narnia – Even though I was an obsessive reader, I somehow managed to miss this classic series. Now as I grown up, I get to enjoy it for the first time with my kids.
Roald Dahl Box Set – Another great classic kids writer that Daddy loves to read out-loud to his captivated audience. Depending on your kids' reading levels, these books can be read solo from a young age too.
Merriam-Webster Children's Dictionary – Sure, the internet has it all, but exploring words in a real, paper dictionary is a skill that should never be abandoned. We love this illustrated kids' version.
Want: Blooming Bath Baby Bath – Buying this for yourself – a bit ridiculous. Receiving this as a gift – FUN! The photo opps alone make it totally worth it.
Need: Baby Kid Safe Shower – No more tears. Nuf said.
Wear: Baby Leg Warmers – These are my absolute, all-time favorite baby clothes. For infants they simplify diaper changing (no off and on of pants), for crawlers they protect little knees, and they continue to be adorably fashionable way past babyhood. My four year old still wears hers several times a week with tutus or dresses, and my eight year old rocks them as arm warmers.
Read: Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose – This book has many renditions, but this version of the Mother Goose classic is the best I've seen. My kids love to hear these over and over and now know most of the rhymes by heart.
(Confession: My bloke and eldest son hijacked this section and added the gifts for grandma and grandpa below. Not bad, huh?)
Want: Hand Warmer – Add a touch of Zippo cool to Grandpa's pocket – even if he did give up smoking his pipe 40 years ago.
Need: Woolzies Wool Dryer Balls – Here's a great way to gently green-ify grandma and gramps.
Wear: The warmest hat EVER – I recently tested this puppy on a blustery winter holiday. It wins.
Read: Bluff your way in computers – Clearly picked out by my geeky husband – and a great selection at that.
Want: Highwin 8-Cup Doublewall Stainless Steel Mirror Finish Coffee Press – Just a touch of sophistication while pulling all-nighters.
Need: Contigo Autoseal West Loop Stainless Steel Travel Mug – My favorite, favorite travel mug for keeping water cold or tea hot. Best of all, it doesn't leak in your bag.
Wear: Noise Reducing Headphones with Phone Mic – A must-have for focused study time or just a little music break – this stylish set packs a great bang for the buck too.
Read: Millionaire Fastlane – This generation's much improved Mouse That Ate My Cheese. I can't recommend this book highly enough for students or anyone aiming to achieve financial freedom before they're too old to enjoy it.
Want: Too many good options to choose just one… These are some on my own wish list: Breville The Juice Fountain Cold Juicer and a stainless steel Instant Pot. Oh, and I really, really want this stoneware grease keeper – a must have for bacon-lovers everywhere.
Need: Programmable Slow Cooker – Real food foodies know that one slow cooker is definitely not enough.
OR… Ultra Sharp Dual Julienne Peeler & Vegetable Peeler – My new favorite little kitchen tool – an essential for making zucchini noodles a.k.a zoodles.
Wear: eBags Crew Cooler – A must have accessory for foodies on the go – This travel cooler is both space efficient and easy on the eye. Great for flying, picnics, or anytime you need to bring your own real food goodies.
Read: One Pot of the Day: 365 recipes for every day of the year – One of my favorite books for simple, seasonal inspiration.
Eat: Red Boat Fish Sauce – Skip the wine, this fish sauce is the new hot hostess gift.
AND… Alter Eco Organic Chocolate Bars – Nothing says love, thanks, or happiness like organic, sustainable, delicious chocolate.
So, there you have it. Want to read more about how to celebrate a fun but simple Christmas? Read this post.
Wishing you a joyful and easy holiday season!