I used to spend the week of Thanksgiving racing the clock to put up all of my Christmas decor by Thanksgiving day. The day after Thanksgiving, I’d run around town like a mad women on a mission to buy as many gifts as possible, without a gift guide to help. All in the name of finishing early so I could enjoy the holiday season, except I didn’t enjoy it.
My focus was all wrong.
One Spring, a friend and his daughter, Faith-Marie, stayed with us for a few days. While they were here, she told me about a gift she’d given her mom one year. She’d personalized it by adding 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 that 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
I’ve included shopping links, including some affiliates, to as many products as possible. I may earn from qualifying purchases.
Gift Guide for College Students
- Cash – ’cause….college
- Gift Cards: Uber, Costco, local restaurants, gas cards, local grocery stores, airline
- Clothes – I know my daughter rarely buys clothes because she doesn’t feel like she can afford it.
- Packing Cubes – Packing cubes make great gifts whether your college student is packing for a road trip or to fly home.
- Luggage – a nice weekend bag or carry-on makes traveling home much easier.
Gift Guide for Teen Girls
- Bath bombs. Lush is all the rage, but you could also try try making DIY bath bombs.
- iTunes gift card. For downloading new singles of her favorite artists.
- Lip balm I suggest a tinted or flavored one. I personally recommend Beautycounter’s peppermint lip balm.
- Face Masks – ORGAID sheet masks, a charcoal mask, or a red clay mask are all good choices.
- Polaroid CameraI will tell you, though, that the interest in a polaroid seemed to be a brief phase. If you’re okay with that, it is a really fun and excited gift for a teenage girl.
- Concert tickets – Getting to scream and cry and giggle over The Jonas Brothers with your best friend is a gift she’ll never forget.
- Phone Cover – I’ve noticed teen girl’s love keeping up with the latest designs in phone covers.
Gift Ideas for Teen Boys
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 are:
- Lounge room signs like this personalized one for surfers or this personalized one for future pilots.
- Fishing pail
- Leather tech organizer
- MLB/NFL sports history collectibles. You can find some great vintage items on Etsy. There’s also a fun selection on Amazon.
- Leather wallet, especially if he’s a driver.
- Money clip for the working teen who maybe isn’t driving yet
- Cologne – this cologne was a big hit with one of my nephew’s a few years ago.
Gift Guide For Children
The only young children on our list are on my husband’s side of the family. For them, I adapt the “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.”
A couple of years ago, we gave them framed posters of their favorite Star Wars characters to hang in their play room. Another time, 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). I also like to give experience-oriented gifts.
- Classic games. Connect four, Scrabble Jr., Uno and Clue are my favorite picks. Last year we gave our niece and nephew a corn hole game and they really enjoyed it. We bought an inexpensive one, but these handmade corn hole games would last a lot longer.
- Tickets. They could be for an event like Disney on Ice, Cirque de Soleil, the circus or any attraction in your town. Comedy Sportz is also a great, family friendly venue where you 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.
- Pillow Pals – We got our niece and nephew Troll pillow pals a few years ago and they were a BIG hit.
- Toys from the latest hit kid’s movie – I’m sure Frozen 2 toys will be a big hit with little ones this year.
Gifts For Him
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 Matt’s 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 them and the men in your life.
- Tickets. To concerts, comedy clubs, or a football game. These are always a hit with my husband’s family.
- Books. Matt’s uncle sent him a Kindle downloaded with books that he’d read and knew would be of interest to Matt 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, favorite restaurants, sports stores, Top Golf…whatever they’re interested in.
- Men’s Lounge Wear. Men, at least mine, enjoy being able to change into comfortable clothes as much as women do. Flannel or fleece pants seem to be the favorite around here.
- Shaving Kit. Matt really enjoys the shaving kit I got him one year. Beard oil and a beard grooming kit is another great option. If you’re guy doesn’t have a beard, these nail grooming kits are very nice and made great gifts when we gave them a couple of years ago.
- Men’s Valet. For holding change, his watch and miscellaneous items. I bought a full standing valet for Matt 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. Your guys might prefer golf balls, trading cards, a t-shirt or hoodie from their favorite team, a poster for their man cave, BBQ gear, a sketch pad and charcoal pencils, a crossword puzzle book, Star Wars figures…
- 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 Matt.
Gifts For Her (Including You)
When I shop for the women in my life, I choose from a few of my favorite things that I want to share with my favorite people. That list usually includes:
- A robe – No one should have to live without a soft robe. Add a monogram for a personal touch.
- A Journal – I prefer a lined journal that has a quality spine and plenty of pages. But, you can choose from all kinds of journals.
- Wine – My favorite brands are 14 Hands, Josh, and Dreaming Tree. You can find all these at HEB, Kroger, and Target. I’m sure they’re in other grocery stores, too.
- Starbucks gift card
- Soy Candle – My current favorite is Sugared Birch by Hearth and Hand at Target
- Cozy Socks – I love cozy socks, especially since my feet get so cold. They’re also great for putting over your feet after an at-home pedicure to seal in moisture.
- Dry Brush – If you haven’t used a dry brush, you’re in for an invigorating treat.
- Bath Salts – I prefer Dr. Teal’s pure epsom salt or San Franscisco Salt Co. unscented. So, I can add my own lavender essential oil to the my bath. It smells much better and I trust the oil I use.
- Body Scrub – for all over body exfoliation. It feels, and smells, SO good.
- Cozy Throw Blanket – I’ve been snuggling up under this one for years. (Even right now.)
and this year I’m adding:
- Jade Roller – This is a game changer in your skincare routine. Use it to reduce puffiness and increase circulation. There’s a noticeable difference. This is the one I use and I love it!
- Style Challenges Gift certificate – Just scroll down the bottom of the page and select gift certificates under Quick Links. Participating in the capsule wardrobe seasonal challenges has been life-changing. I have a wardrobe I love and feel confident, and pretty, wearing. Every woman deserves to feel pretty!
- Delicate Layer Necklace– These necklaces are a simple look that really elevates any outfit. They’re also so feminine and pretty.
- Perfume Roller – My favorite rollerballs are Dreaming of You from Younique and Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker TIP: Buy more than one scent so the recipients can switch scents if they want.
- Cravings Cookbook by Chrissy Teigen – The fish tacos are AMAZING!
- Pajamas – Switching from baggy t-shirts to real pajamas goes a long way in making you feel feminine. Plus, I’ve discovered there are pajamas that help keep you cool at night. That is worth the price of admission.
Gift Guide Shopping Resources
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 some things from Amazon, and always take advantage of Prime Shipping. I also try to shop local and support small businesses when I can. My favorites are:
- Etsy for personalized and handmade gifts, original art or to add to someone’s vintage collection, for example dishes, stamps or cards
- Man Basics
- Get Your Pretty On (for the style challenges)
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. Or, you can find handmade bath and beauty products on Etsy.
- Use your skills and talents to give handmade gifts. One of our friends gifted Matt with a handmade, embossed leather journal. It was made and given with such pride and Matt was very touched.
- Save on gift wrap and cards at Dollar Tree
Having a renewed perspective on gift giving has made the planning process so much more enjoyable this year. Not only am I looking forward to Christmas shopping, but especially to bearing good gifts and spreading holiday cheer.