2021 Holiday Gift Guide

Whether you’re shopping for your kids, your best friend, your brother, or your mom, I have ideas for you!

You know those people who are naturally gifted gift-givers? They make it look so easy. But we all know it’s not.

There have been plenty of holidays when I was scrambling at the last minute, racing through shops and scrolling online, desperate for inspiration.

So when I stumble onto something good, I want everyone to know–especially my fellow gift-giving scramblers.

These are ALL items I have, have tried, or have given (or gotten) as gifts myself.

And this year, I wanted to focus on smaller businesses when possible because it’s a great time to support small businesses!

Holiday Gift Ideas For Kids

1. Screen-Free Reading With Global Lessons

Mighty Kind Magazine: This is a quarterly children’s magazine that celebrates the role of kindness as a foundation for anti-bias learning. Each issue of Mighty Kind  is filled with stories, fun facts, comics, activities, and ideas for how to put kindness into action. For example, an issue about the 2021 Olympics featured real-life stories of sportsmanship, honesty, teamwork, and information about Japan’s country and culture. Buy a subscription or individual issues.

We also like: Kazoo magazine (for girls 5-12), an award-winning, ad-free, indie magazine for girls, 5 to 12, that celebrates them for being strong, smart, fierce and true to themselves. Buy a subscription or individual issues.

2. Backyard Game To Get Kids Outside

Spike Ball : This outdoor game is played sort of like volleyball. Everything folds up into the bag, so your kid can take it to friends’ houses and the park. The net adjusts for different levels of ability (a tighter net means higher bounces). Most importantly, it gets tweens and teens off their phones and outside doing something social and active.

We also like: Bocce Ball which we play at parks, in the backyard, and at friends’ houses. (I bought ours at Target, but here are some sets on Etsy.)

3. Satisfying Fidget

Pop Push Fidget: When our younger son, who is always messing with something, asked for these fidgets, I didn’t understand the appeal. Then I tried them myself as a passenger on a long road trip and totally got it. These make a satisfying (but relatively quiet) thunk as they pop in and out.

We also like: These metal brain teaser toys, which had us all happily fidgeting last Christmas! (You can also find them on Etsy by searching for “metal brain teasers”.)

5. Experience Gifts In Your Community

Experience Gift: If your kid is tough to buy for–or you simply don’t want more “stuff” in your home, consider experiences. This year I got my younger son the “Red Panda Experience” at the Columbus Zoo. Here we are in their enclosure, feeding them and learning more about them from the keepers. My son absolutely loved it, and we made such good memories together.

We also like: Tickets to concerts, comedy shows, and musicals, ski passes, horseback riding lessons, escape rooms, laser tag, zip-lining, cooking classes, and climbing gym passes. Is your kid a foodie? If you’re here in Columbus Ohio, book spots on a Columbus Food Adventures tour.

Holiday Gift Ideas for Friends & Family

1. Vanilla With a Purpose

Vanilla Project Vanilla: This small business, which began selling vanilla at their local farmer’s market, is committed to do better by vanilla growers and the planet. This organic pure vanilla extract features traditionally cured Madagascar organic vanilla beans grown by farmer cooperatives. A special treat for a loved one who loves baking!

We also like: Gift the vanilla with an OXO Cookie Scoop for perfectly-portioned cookies that bake evenly every time.

2. Ohio Bread-Baking Kit

Bread Box from Sarah’s Bread: Learning to make bread is a wonderful gift to give yourself or to a friend. This little box, created by professional baker Sarah Black, contains everything you need to bake a small loaf of whole grain bread–including flours, yeast, baking pan, and instructions. You can either gift the Bread Box to someone to bake–or bake the loaf yourself and package it up in the box. Available at Weiland’s Market in Columbus, Ohio and though Yellowbird Food Shed CSA.

We also like: Sarah (of Sarah’s Bread) gifted me a lame from Wire Monkey for scoring the top of my loaves before baking, and it’s so beautiful and unique! A bread baker in your life would love it.

3. Pretty Everyday Earrings

Threaded Wire Teardrop Earrings: I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, but these are the earrings I reach for frequently. I love their dainty, low-profile vibe, and I like supporting this small, female-owned business. They’re available in silver, gold, and rose gold.

We also like: The Tortoise Hoops from the same company.

4. The Softest Ever Throw Blanket

Saranoni Feather Throw Blanket: I heard about this blanket from my friends at Salt Effect and decided to treat myself. I’m so glad I did! Curling up under this at the end of the day is truly a gift to myself. It’s an ideal blanket for colder weather, with a weight that’s hefty and comforting.

We also like: Brookstone Electric Throw Blanket, which my friends and I used last winter for socially-distant outdoor patio gatherings.

6. Desktop Light Therapy Box

Verilux Happy Light: If you have a loved one who struggles when skies turn gray, this compact, portable light box can be their new winter friend. I use this for 30 minutes each morning in the hopes of staving off seasonal mood slumps as the days get cold and dreary. From my research, I learned you should get one that’s 10,000 lux and UV-free. This fits the bill.

We also like: A subscription to Calm, an app that features different meditations for anxiety, sleep, and focus. I’ve been doing their sleep meditations every night before bed, and they’ve made a big difference in quieting my busy mind.

7. Meat Gift Box

Moink Meat Box: Got a meat-lover in your life? Send them a gift box full of grass-fed and grass-finished beef and lamb and pastured pork and chicken. I love that a female farmer started this business to partner with other like-minded, small farms that focus on humanely-raised, ethically-sourced meat. Plus she scored a deal on “Shark Tank”, one of our family’s favorite shows. Each box also comes with a beautiful Moink magazine that includes recipes and details about the farmers who raised the meat. (This is a sponsored link–after getting a sample box, I decided to partner with them on some promotions because I like it so much!)

We also like: Zingerman’s Monthly Bread Club. A group of us went in together on this for a friend who had a baby and happens to love bread. Each month is a different loaf, from Chocolate Sourdough to Jewish Rye.

8. Seasonal Styling Service

BStyled Style Planner (affiliate link): I discovered this via a Facebook ad last Winter, and gave it to a friend for her birthday and bought it for myself. I’m so glad I did! This seasonal style planner gives you a checklist of the basics, a curated shopping list for what you need, and a private Facebook group where you can get feedback from a supportive group of women over 40. This has turned my shopping from random to strategic and given me something positive and fun to think about, which I’ve especially appreciated this year. And I’ve learned so much about what looks best on me. Sign up now, and she’ll let you know when the Winter Style Planning is available. (And now she has a Fall/Winter Style Planner for MEN too! Here are the details.)

We also like: A personal color analysis from Color Guru. Upload photos and get a color card with the exact shades that work for you. I carry my custom color card in my handbag (and a digital copy on my phone) to help me narrow down the best colors when I’m shopping. Game-changer!

9. An End to Dinner Planning Stress

No-Stress Dinner Planner: If figuring out dinner every. single. night is stressful for you (or someone you care about), my new dinner planning system is meant to connect all the dots and work for YOUR real life using the meals your family loves. It’s available in either a printed workbook or a PDF you can print yourself. As one tester said, “I have tried maybe a dozen different meal planning tactics over the years with brief success, but only this one truly meets me exactly where I am — the difference with this method is that instead of trying to correct bad habits, it’s based in showcasing wins, scheduling things that make your family happy, and taking control of the kitchen in a joyful way.

We also like: The Try New Foods Family Challenge, my e-book that walks you through trying nine different foods with your family, from fish and beans to salad and tofu. It’s the perfect project for the new year if you have finicky kids (and/or spouse!).

10. Super Slim Wallet

Zeroz wallet: My husband carried around a bulky “George Costanza” wallet for years, until I gifted him this ultra-slim wallet. It fits easily in his front pocket, and now he carries only the cards he actually needs. It also has a strap on the outside for cash.

We also like: All the cool vintage tees and clothing from Homage, another Ohio-based business.

Get more holiday gift ideas

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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