December again – whoa. I’m barely getting this out for Cyber Monday, but that won’t matter for most of the items here. My kids are getting old, so you’ll have to hit the gift idea archives for the younger kids on your list. But I try to get out a few ideas every year that I hope will help busy gift givers with their holiday lists. Happy holidays to all! Here’s what I’ve got for 2019:
Mini waffle maker
It looks too cute to be real, but people rave about the Dash mini waffle maker. Widely available in glossy colors – red, white, pink, mint green – for as low as $8 (!!), it’s my favorite gift for pretty much everyone this season: young cooks at home, college kids in the dorms, singles or couples, and any keto dieters in your life. Make a batch of personal-sized waffles to freeze for easy breakfasts on the go, or get your low-carb on and try making chaffles (a cheese-egg waffle that the keto folks swear tastes like a regular waffle – or can be used as a substitute hamburger bun or sandwich bread). Black Friday deals available at Amazon and Crate & Barrel for $8; or $10 at Target and other stores.
Lego Central Perk
Twenty five years later, Friends has a whole new generation of young fans who have binge-watched the series on Netflix. The geniuses at Lego just came out with Lego Central Perk, a meticulously detailed replica of the iconic coffee shop set. It’s available for $60 at Amazon and Target, and is sure to be in high demand.
Indoor snowball fight
I love these plush snowballs for Christmas morning, especially for those of us who don’t live in white-Christmas climates. And even for those who do, an indoor snowball fight is one you can comfortably have in your pajamas. $25 on Amazon.
Prison Mike tee
There are too many ridiculously brilliant lines from the US adaptation of The Office, but this nonsensical Harry Potter reference – from the episode in which Michael Scott introduces himself as “Prison Mike” to provide inspiration at an office meeting – is my daughter’s favorite. She’s getting this Prison Mike Office tee for Christmas (shhhh).
Procreate iPad drawing app
For iPad users, the Procreate drawing app is a phenomenal program for $10. It helps to have an Apple pencil for more detailed work, but even with fingers you can produce amazing creations. A great alternative to games or movie watching during holiday travel.
It is challenging these days to buy gifts for teens, who live their lives online. For music lovers that don’t already have a subscription service, a Spotify subscription is a great gift they can enjoy for months. Pricing is $10/month for individuals, $15/month for a family (up to 6 members), or $5/month for college students. First three months are free for new subscribers.
Hubs chocolate peanuts
I love a good edible gift, and these chocolate-covered Virginia peanuts are my current favorites. Hubs are incredible peanuts from the peanut heartland of Virginia, and those of us far from VA can only get the chocolate-covered ones during winter months (melt-free shipping required). People love me for this gift while they munch on these delectable chocolate morsels, and then they hate me when they’re left gazing sadly at the bottom of the tin. Trust me, you’ll want to buy in bulk, and not just for pricing efficiency: a 20 ounce tin is $25, but the price drops to $16 each if you buy 4, or $13 each if you buy 10. Give some, save some, and everyone wins.
Quick-dry travel towel
I first bought this quick-dry travel towel for my Boy Scout, but it’s been in frequent use since – for swim parties, field trips, camps, sleepovers or sporting events in the rain. A really useful gift for campers, backpackers, or those who simply want to travel light. The hanging loop is a key feature. $15 at Amazon.
I love the creative bounty of individual artisans on Etsy, but it can be hard to gauge quality. I’ve been very pleased with the well-crafted items I’ve bought from tinysparklestudio, including these delicately hammered hoop earrings. These 1 1/2″ hoops are $21 (currently 10% off), available in sterling silver or 14K gold fill.
My older daughter loves rings, and some of her favorites are the thin stacking rings from hannanaomi ($12 each in 14K gold or rose gold fill, or sterling silver). I’m also eyeing this gorgeous gold wrap ring, $38 (also 10% off for Cyber Monday).
Makeup brush set
This makeup brush set is comprehensive enough for real beauty queens and inexpensive enough for aspiring ones. A great value either way. $11 in rose gold; a dollar more for other colors.
I’m intrigued by these microfiber towels that remove makeup without any soap or cleanser. I’ve read enough rave reviews that I’m going to try gifting them to the older girls on my list this Christmas. The original Makeup Eraser and cheaper knockoffs are available at Amazon and other stores, but best price on the original is Costco (2 pack for $24).
I’m too chicken to have my skin sloughed off at a Korean spa or Turkish hammam, but after I discovered this fabric mitt on Amazon this year, I’ve become obsessed with exfoliation. Among the rhapsodic reviews on the internet, you can find plenty of pictures of people’s success with this scrubby mitt (for people who enjoy Dr Pimple Popper and the like), but the selling point is not the messy process but the glowing result: smoother and softer skin than you’ve probably had in years. The price ($49) seems a bit ridiculous for what is essentially a simple fabric bag, but it’s cheaper than a trip to the spa. I haven’t tried it yet, but there is a $10 alternative on Amazon that people say is good too.
Matcha milk candy
After well over a decade of hunting for stocking stuffers for my four kids and their nine cousins, I’m pretty much tapped out. The kids are also getting older, so toy trinkets just go to waste. Edibles are always a good thing though, and I like searching out some less common ones to keep things interesting. I love this matcha milk candy from Japan, which tastes like a sweet matcha latte. Available at Asian grocery stores or World Market for around $3 a bag.
The best fruit gummies
For those of us raised on standard gummy bears, these Japanese fruit gummies, flavored with real fruit, are a revelation. Available in fantastic flavors – lychee, white peach, strawberry, pineapple, mango, muscat grape, melon – at Amazon, Asian markets and World Market for around $3 a bag.
Microfiber lens cloth
I love that everyone is a photographer these days with their smart phones, but smudgy photos are a major problem with those always-exposed lenses. This year all the kids are getting these handy microfiber lens cloths in their stockings so that they can have photo memories worth keeping.
Sheet mask party
My daughter had the hilarious idea of giving Korean sheet masks in the cousins’ stockings this Christmas. It’ll be a funny photo op at grandma’s house, and everyone will be refreshed and beautified for Christmas dinner. 16 masks for $10 on Amazon.
Spiral hair ties
According to my high schooler, scrunchies are old news. This Christmas, we’re betting on spiral hair ties to be the next thing in hair. For the parents, these are an amusing throwback to the days of phones plugged into walls. 18 hair ties for $10 on Amazon.
Multitool for travel
Before 9/11 I always carried around some kind of tool in my bag, to satisfy my inner MacGyver. I had a couple Swiss Army knives confiscated at airport security before I got smart and found this stealth keyring multitool, which folds into a key shape. It never gets flagged at TSA screening, and I have my handy gadget at the ready whenever I need a screw driver, knife, bottle opener, etc. $12 at the Container Store
Everyone in my household knows where the new batteries are kept, but old ones don’t always get put away in their designated disposal spot. My frustration level was substantially reduced when I finally got myself a simple, compact battery tester. Gift one this holiday season to the handy guy or girl in your household – it may seem boring, but it’s delightfully useful to those of us who keep things operational. $6 on Amazon.
Find more ideas in my gift ideas archives from past years, including book recommendations for kids from last year. Happy December, and good luck!