I know there are about a million posts floating around on the internets with holiday gift suggestions this time of year. I actually wrote a very thorough one last year with some ideas for Charlotte Mason-inspired gifts that still applies (lots of handicrafts!), as well as a post from a few years ago with links to 30 printable gift tags. This year I’m keeping the list short and just offering up a few things that I wouldn’t mind finding under my own tree!
Our Christmases are generally pretty quiet and small, which I like. We put a lot of emphasis on the time leading up to Christmas morning, and then keep it very simple that day. For the kids we get four gifts each: something they want, something they need, something they can wear, and something they can read. We also limit how much we spend on them as it would be very easy to rack up some credit card debt each Christmas with all of the things they have on their wishlists. 🙂 A few small things are added to their stockings and that’s pretty much it. We wake up early Christmas day, open presents, then they spend the rest of the day playing with their new toys. Later in the day, we might go to a friends’ house to celebrate with them, or we’ll stay at home and I’ll make roast beast and Jesus birthday cake. I like quiet, calm Christmases.
Books are always at the top of my wishlist, so that’s where we begin!
Books for Grown-Ups
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – If you’re looking for a light and fluffy novel that isn’t too light and fluffy, and not too heavy on romance but just enough to make it interesting, this is a great choice. I read this in three days, which not only speaks volumes for how much I enjoyed it, but also how easy it was to fly through.
Rebecca – Another classic recommendation. I didn’t know what to think of this book going into it, but it was definitely a page-turner and I enjoyed it a lot. It’s a good pick for someone who likes mysteries, but nothing too gory.
Station Eleven – I think I will probably always and forever suggest this one. This is one of my favorite books of all time, the audiobook version especially so. This is a good pick especially for those into dystopian novels, but the storylines of each of the characters and the way it goes back and forth to before and after the collapse is good reading for anyone.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Another lighter and fluffier book (though it does deal with some heavy topics related to World War II) that is being made into a movie next year! It’s a cute little romance (though not cheesy) with unexpected twists in the form of letters written between the characters. So good.
Mere Motherhood – This was one of the first non-fiction books I read this year and I absolutely loved it. For any mothers out there who struggle with the highs and lows of motherhood (especially in homeschooling), this is such a good book.
Honey for a Child’s Heart & Books Children Love – These are both booklist books that offer suggestions in different categories for children of different ages. We have found some of our favorites through these books.
Other Book-Related Gifts
Book Darts – I have no qualms about writing and/or highlighting in my own books, but the library generally frowns on that. Considering the majority of the books I read come from there, book darts are so handy to have on hand.
Commonplace Books – Once you’ve used book darts in your library books, you can transfer those quotes to a commonplace book later on to remember it, make it yours, and have it for future reference. If you want to read more about commonplace books, The Living Page is a great place to start! I’ve been using these notebooks and I absolutely love them as they’re just the right size to keep in a bag or purse and they’re pretty.
Reading Journal – A friend of mine got this for me several years ago and it’s a nice little book to have for recording what I’ve read and what I thought of each book. It also has several handy lists in the back of award-winning books that you’ll want to add to your reading list.
Personal Library Kit – A group of friends sent this to me last year and it was such a cute little surprise. For anyone who finds themselves lending books from their personal libraries out often and then never getting them back!
You could also consider an Audible membership for those audiobook lovers in your life. I’ve gotten the cheapest plan a few times and it’s nice to spend only $15 per month for a credit I can use on any audiobook, regardless of the price.
There is also the Book of the Month Club which is a great way to expose yourself to newer books, newer authors, and different genres. A few years ago, I received Sleeping Giants through BOTM which was a book I never would’ve read otherwise and it was a very entertaining read. (Also, BOTM is running a promotion right now where you get a free book for yourself any time you buy a subscription for someone else!)
Books for Kids
Froggy Gets Dressed – Why this is a favorite of my kids, I have no idea, but anytime anyone in the house says, “oops,” C follows (without fail) with an “I forgot to put on my pants.” 🙂
Amos and Boris – This was recommended in one of the booklist books mentioned above and we all loved the story.
Katie Meets the Impressionists – A fantastic little book to introduce impressionist artists to younger children. This would’ve been right up my alley at my son’s age.
Coll and His White Pig – Lloyd Alexander was one of my favorite authors when I was growing up and this book is a wonderful introduction to younger kids to his writing style. Though it may be a little hard to find as its not in print anymore, if you can find it used, the story is excellent.
Chapter Books and Early Readers
Jenny and the Cat Club – I discovered this set of books in a children’s anthology from the library and immediately picked up a copy to own. These are quirky, short little stories originally published in 1944 about a cat named Jenny who wears a red scarf and has adventures with her other cat friends.
Ginger Pye – Another book I found through one of the book list books mentioned above, this is the story of a dog and how he came to a family, was kidnapped, and then found again. I got the audiobook version of this for $4 on Audible a few months ago and B listens to it all the time.
The Cricket in Times Square – This is another great little children’s book about a cricket who comes to the Times Square subway station and the friends he makes there. The audiobook version is narrated by Tony Shalhoub who does a great job with the accents.
Snap Circuits – I got B his first Snap Circuit set for Christmas last year and he has been an enormous fan ever since. One of the other kids in our homeschool co-op has five of these sets and every time we go to his house, B just sits and drools (his basement is also full of robot-making things and Lego sets, so this is a sort of heaven for him). I think if he had to choose just one toy to play with for the rest of his childhood, he would gladly choose Snap Circuits.
Legos – Legos are fantastic because they’re so open-ended and not quite as complicated as the Snap Circtuis, so C can enjoy them too. I’m absolutely amazed at some of the things both of them come up with using these little bricks.
Solar System Bracelet – I received this in the mail a few weeks ago to share from Rosie Research. I get these offers every so often but usually turn them down as the product doesn’t appeal to me. However, this was such a fantastic and unique idea: a kit using beads to make a scale model of our solar system. I loved the premise and was so pleased when we received it in the mail. It came with a little fact sheet which we spent reading before B made the bracelet itself. This would be a great handicraft idea that not only makes a neat little bracelet that could be gifted, but also includes some science education as well.
Art Supplies – Art supplies are something we go through fast in our house, but provide a lot of entertainment. I usually try to keep a good supply of white paper, construction paper, colored pencils, crayons, markers, scissors, washi tape, and paint sticks on hand for spontaneous art creation.
Potholder Loom – B received this for Christmas last year and had two potholders done before the next morning. This is an easy way to incorporate handicrafts as well as allow children to make gifts for others.
Sidewalk Chalk – So this isn’t necessarily a craft, but I try to have sidewalk chalk available for the kids especially when the weather is warmer. They like to mix it with water and use paintbrushes to paint the patio as well as their swingset. 🙂 (Also, the box looks like a giant crayon box, which is kind of a cute idea.)
The Artful Year – I love this book for finding relatively easy crafts for the kids to do that we can also use to decorate the house during different times of the year. Her other book, The Artful Parent, also has great craft ideas as well as supply lists that have been very helpful in building our own little art-creation supply.
For the Home
Instant Pot – I’m not a huge fan of giving kitchen gifts for Christmas as it feels like those aren’t really gifts for the giftee. However, I’ll make an exception for the Instant Pot. I got mine during the Prime sale earlier this year and I’ve been using it at least a few times each week ever since. I can make quick suppers on days I’ve forgotten to thaw meat, gelatinous bone broth takes literally two hours, and hard-boiled eggs are not only faster and easier (no babysitting the pan!), but also easier to peel. There are quite a few features I haven’t explored yet (like making yogurt) that I intend to tackle in the new year. This is such a handy little appliance to have.
Birdfeeder (the hummingbird feeder in the photo above is here) & Birdhouse – Going along with my bird nerdery, I could hardly make this list without including something for birds. Birdfeeding is an easy way to bring nature a little closer and you learn so much about our little feathered friends. If you already have feeders, take it a step further and put up a house so you can enjoy their babies too. Just make sure you get the proper size for the species that you’re looking for and avoid the decorative birdhouses that aren’t particularly practical (but some species will still build houses in them to the detriment of their young). Want to take it even further? Get a wireless camera for your birdhouse. 😜
Letterboard – This is one of my favorite purchases from this year. I kept pondering how to incorporate more quotes on my walls without hanging a million prints, and finally decided on a letterboard. Right now (and probably for a long time) it’s displaying my favorite quote of all time from Scott Nearing: Do the best that you can in the place where you are and be kind. ❤️
Waffle Maker – Kind of random, I know. On a whim this year, we decided to pick up a waffle maker and it’s been a fantastic purchase. E used to make pancakes for us on weekend mornings and they took forever and weren’t honestly all that good (not due to his cooking but rather due to us getting kind of sick of the recipe). With the waffle maker it takes much less time and the waffles are so much tastier (we use the recipe in this book). The one I linked to has a ceramic coating so it’s non-stick, non-toxic, and works really well!
Essential Oil Diffuser – This one is inexpensive and made of bamboo which gives it a very simple, tasteful look. I’d like to pick up at least one more of these since I use the one we have all over the house. (I really like using the NOW Essential Oil Blends in mine.)
I think one of the easiest and best ways you can give gifts is by donating to charities in someone’s name. We’ve done this in the past, offering a small amount for several different people (which makes a larger impact overall) and it has been well received. My favorites are Love146, Compassion International, and Preemptive Love Coalition.
If you’re shopping online, use Ebates to get rebates as well as find coupons from online retailers. I have the Chrome extension which automatically notifies me if the site I’m on offers cash back. If you use my link, you’ll get $10 after your first purchase. 🙂
Honey is another handy service to use on Amazon to let you know if there’s a lower price for an item in your cart. It’ll also search for coupons for you on other sites.
Amazon offers a 30-day free trial to Prime, which is perfect to use around the holidays. Have gifts shipped to loved ones or delivered to you just 2 days after you order them, try out new tv shows and movies, or listen to music free for 30 days. If you don’t like it, just cancel before the 30 days are up!
And now I should probably get some actual holiday shopping done….. 😁