I used to spend the week of Thanksgiving racing the clock to put up all of my Christmas decor by Thanksgiving day. Then, the day after Thanksgiving, I’d run around like a mad women on a mission to scratch gifts for everyone off the list. All in the name of finishing early so I could enjoy the holiday season, except that I didn’t; the stress of the holiday at its highest as I wrapped Christmas presents in the car on the way to my family’s house.
My focus was all wrong.
Last Spring, our friend Troy and his daughter Faith Marie stayed with us for a few days. One day when we were visiting, Faith Marie told me about a gift she’d given her mom one year, incorporating song lyrics from a song her mother used to sing to her into a personalized gift.
I can’t remember exactly what the gift was, but Faith Marie’s story reminded me that the best gifts come from the heart and are born out of relationship.
So this year, I’m using this time leading up to Thanksgiving to ponder my people, my heart for them as well as their interests, to prepare thoughtful gift guides.
A Holiday Gift Guide for (almost) everyone on your list
An (*) asterisk denotes affiliate links to my favorite stores and brands.
For my Teen Girl
- Bath bombs. Lush is all the rage, but if I have the time and confidence to make them, I might try my hand at DIY bath bombs.
- iTunes gift card. For downloading new singles by her favorite artists such as Selena, Arianna and others whose names escape me.
- Kylie Lip Kits. She can’t stop talking about them.
- Ipsy box subscription. My girl is a product junkie and being the good mom I am, I want to support her habit.
- Sketch pad. She is very talented and has been showing an interest in sketching again. I’m all about supporting and encouraging healthy hobbies.
- Journal. Every time we’re in Target, she comments on all the cute journals and how she could by every one of them. Momma’s been listening and just might have to put one in her stocking.
- Pretty pens. A little surprise to go with the cute journal and to have a fun reason to go to Anthropologie.
All of my nieces and nephews are teenagers, too. And the boys in the bunch all have different interests.
One is into baseball and fishing. Another is a football player and loves history and politics and the other is in the band and loves video games. So, their gifts are tailored to their unique hobbies.
Some of my favorites ideas (with my three nephews in mind) are
- lounge signs
- fishing pail
- leather tech organizer
- MLB/NFL front page sports history book
- leather wallets
- money clips
The only young children on our list are on Mr. Hines’ side of the family. For them, I adapt the “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read” gift guide to suit our needs and budget.
A couple of years ago, we gave our niece and nephew framed posters of their favorite Star Wars characters to hang in their play room. Last year, we gave them each a copy of My Book About Me by Dr. Seuss (personalized books and songs are a big hit with young children). This year, I have something more experience-oriented in mind.
- Classic games. Connect four, Scrabble Jr., Uno and Clue are my favorite picks.
- Tickets. They could be for an event like Disney on Ice, Cirque de Soleil, the circus or any attraction in your town. But, since Mr. Hines is the fun, silly uncle who is always joking around, we’re planning to buy tickets to Comedy Sportz. It is a great, family friendly venue where we can bond over laughs.
- Subscriptions. To a kids magazine like Highlights (I loved getting Highlights in the mail) or a book club. Hannah used to belong to the Dr. Seuss book club and those turned out to be some of our favorite books to read together.
And I hear they’re into Trolls this year. We’ll see what Uncle Matt and Aunt Sharon can do about that.
The adults in my family normally draw names, but this year only the cousins are drawing names, so I don’t have any ‘for him’ gifts to buy on my side of the family. On Mr. Hines’ side, we buy gifts for everyone. So I’ve been jotting down ideas for my father-in-law, brother-in-law and of course my husband. The three of them have similar interests, so these ideas will work for any of them.
- Tickets. To concerts, comedy clubs, or a football game.
- Books. They’re all readers, but prefer different genres. Recently, Mr. Hines’ uncle sent him a Kindle downloaded with books that he’d read and knew would be of interest to Mr. Hines so they could chat about the books. I think that is a very thoughtful gift idea for the bookworm in your life.
- Gift Cards. For movie theaters or restaurants. These guys love movies and eating out.
- Men’s Lounge Wear. Hines men live for naps and t.v. time.
- Shaving Kit. Mr. Hines really enjoys the shaving kit I got him last year.
- Men’s Valet. For holding change, his watch and miscellaneous items. I bought a full standing valet for Mr. Hines many years ago that he still uses to this day. But you can also buy valet trays or boxes to set on a nightstand or dresser.
- Hobby Paraphernalia. These guys play the guitar, so a tuner, picks, a pick hole punch, strings or sheet music would make great gifts.
- Subscriptions. To a shave club or something similar. *A subscription to Audible would make a great gift for those who enjoy listening to books a la Mr. Hines.
Again, we’re only buying for my stepmother-in-law and sister-in-law this year, and after some careful thought, I’ve decided to treat them both to a spa gift set which will include:
- a robe No spa experience is complete without a white robe.
- body lotion I’ve heard great things about Weleda Skin Food; sounds like such a treat.
- a face mask I fell in love with the Fresh Rose Face Mask sample I got from Sephora. Full size is $62, so I’m looking for an alternative because I’d love to give this as a gift.
- body scrub Using an exfoliating scrub feels downright luxurious.
- bath salts Add lavender essential oil for a super relaxing soak.
- lip balm I love how soft and smooth lip balms make my lips. My favorite one is from Grove.co
- pumice stone This has become my favorite way to care for my feet ever since buying one a few years ago.
One of the reasons I no longer shop on Black Friday is, unless I’m looking for electronics, the discounts don’t seem to be worth the hassle of fighting the crowds and finding a parking spot.
When I do go shopping, I typically find everything on my list at * Target and TJMaxx. I get everything else from *Amazon and take advantage of Prime shipping. This year, I’ve added a few more online shopping resources:
- *Etsy for personalized and handmade gifts, original art or to add to someone’s vintage collection, for example dishes, stamps or cards
- *Jane for stylish and affordable clothing and accessories. I want at least half the things on their site.
- *Groupon and Goldstar.com for discounts on services, lessons, events, restaurants, vacation getaways and excursions
- *Fandango or *Movietickets.com for movies tickets and movie theater gift cards
Money Saving Tips
- Buy books secondhand from used bookstores or online from ThriftBooks.com or Amazon.com ( A true book lover won’t mind.)
- Make DIY beauty products like bath salts and body scrubs. Rachel Talbott’s YouTube channel is my go-to for DIY beauty product tutorials
- Use your skills and talents to give handmade gifts. When our friend Troy was here, he presented Mr. Hines with a handmade, embossed leather journal. It was made and given with such pride and Mr. Hines was very touched.
- Save on giftwrap and cards at Dollar Tree
Having a renewed perspective on gift giving has made the planning process so much more enjoyable this year. And not only am I looking forward to Christmas shopping, but especially to bearing good gifts and spreading holiday cheer.
See you in class,