2016 Holiday Gift Guide

Ring-a-ding-ling-long! My 2016 holiday gift guide is here!

It’s December 1, which means the holiday season has arrived—whether you are ready or not. I’ve made baby steps toward Christmas: I’ve hung a wreath on my front door and wrapped books for my kids’ Christmas countdown (24 books, one to open each day leading up to December 25). I’ve also started my holiday shopping, and wanted to share some ideas with you in case you are looking for ideas. Happy shopping!

gather chocolateThe best part of the holiday season is seeing friends and family, celebrating the people in our lives. My mom taught me that when visiting a friend’s home for a gathering, I should always bring a small gift to say thank you. This year, I’ll be bringing a box of Gather Chocolates from Harbor Sweets, a Salem, Massachusetts-based chocolatier. Gather is a mission-driven chocolate inspired by the plight of the honeybees, and a portion of sales will be donated to the Pollinator Partnership, a nonprofit that educates and advocates best beekeeping practices. A box of Gather chocolates includes six truffles of unique flavors, including Caramelized Honey (my family’s favorite), Pomegranate Molasses, and Sesame Crunch.  The host or hostess you bring these chocolates to is guaranteed not to share them with anyone!

Gather Chocolates can be purchased at the Harbor Sweets store in Salem, online, or via phone at 800.243.2115. The Gather box can be shipped worldwide. Thanks to Harbor Sweets for providing a box of Gather Chocolates to my family to try.

I took my kids to a preview of the new Disney movie, Moana, last week (it opened nationwide on November 23), and they were hooked immediately. The music is fantastic, and we’ve been singing along with the soundtrack ever since. Have a big singer in your family? Consider purchasing the soundtrack for her this holiday (the deluxe version has the demos of the songs created by Lin-Manuel Miranda for the true music aficionado).

Purchase the Moana soundtrack here

My kids pepper me with questions about the world all day long. One way to answer their queries is to provide them with the tools they need to find the answers. A microscope can do just that—while simultaneously building an interest in science.

Purchase a kid’s microscope here

My daughter has committed to keeping her hair long, which means I live in a world of ponytails, braids, and missing hair bands. Recently, I was introduced to Scen-Ties, adorable, scented hair ties developed by moms who know the struggle of keeping hair out of the faces of little kids. Flavors include cotton candy, strawberry, and bubble gum, and come in a variety of colors. The pull tag on each elastic omits the scent, which is released when the tag is pulled.

A package of six elastics sells for $5.99 and can be purchased in stores across the US. Thanks to Scen-Ties for sending my daughter elastics to try; she’s a big fan!

Last year, I tucked Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids into my son’s Christmas stocking. He (and his little sister) have been torturing entertaining us with jokes ever since. This is a perfect choice for the comedian looking to expand his (or her) set list, or the quiet kid looking to break out into being the center of attention.

Purchase Laugh Out Loud Jokes for Kids here

star wars trivial pursuitMy son regularly quizzes me on Star Wars trivia, and always seems disappointed when I don’t score 100%. One way I could up my game is to challenge him to Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, but I suspect he will triumph in each game we play. Against his father and cousins? Well, in the words of the very wise Yoda, could win anyone.

Purchase Star Wars Trivial Pursuit here

Do you have a child looking to learn a musical instrument, but you’re not sure where to start? How about the ukulele? This Learn To Play Ukulele Starter Kit comes with a ukulele, free online lessons, tuning app, quick playing start guide, and tote bag, all for under $60.

Purchase the Learn to Play the Ukulele kit here.

On Cyber Monday, I purchased an Echo Dot for my family as a Christmas present, and can’t wait for the morning of December 25 when I ask Alexa to play Christmas carols while we drink our coffee and open presents. The Echo Dot is hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms, and more. The Echo Dot is currently selling for $49.99 and works in conjunction with speakers via Bluetooth. The Echo sells for $179.99 and includes speakers.

Purchase the Echo Dot here, and the Echo here

My husband and I are hooked on audio books. We’ve been listening to books on Audible for more than a year now, and it’s been an addictive way to slide more “reading” into our lives. My husband is partial to history and economics books, and I like to listen to memoirs and books that make me laugh. No matter the type of book, Audible has it, making a subscription—from three months to a year—a great gift for the book lover in your life.

Purchase an Audible membership here

Bow tieI’m always tickled when I see a man who can wear a bowtie—not everyone can pull it off, after all. My husband has resisted wearing one, but I may have found the right bow tie for him. OoOtie Bow Ties, established by MIT grads, offers unique and quirky bow ties, all of which are designed in Boston. These bow ties feature dinosaurs, math equations, pigs (and bacon), the periodic table, the Tardis, and spaceships, as well as more traditional designs such as paisley and stripes. My favorite has R2D2 on it, and I’m wondering if I can convince my husband—and son!—to wear matching bow ties this Christmas….

OoOtie Bow Ties can be purchased here and here

Friends gave me a S’well Water Bottle earlier this year, and I am now a big fan. This miraculous insulated bottle keeps cold drinks cold, and hot drinks hot—and doesn’t spill all over my bag. Plus, the design eliminated condensation, so it’s not messy to carry around. The S’well Bottle comes in different colors and sizes, and it’s on my list to give to family for the holidays (hint, hint, if those lucky folks are reading this post). It retails for $30-$40, depending upon size and color.

Purchase the S’well bottle here

Kiehl'sThis year, I’m drawn more than ever to companies that give back, and Kiehl’s Since 1851 is doing just that. Kiehl’s recently launched its 8th Annual Limited Edition Holiday Collection, featuring custom art designed by FAILE, a Brooklyn-based artistic collaboration. From this limited edition collection, 100% of Kiehl’s net profits, up to $100,000, will help provide 1,100,000 meals to families this holiday season through Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. Items in this collection include gift sets, body butter, and hand cream, all made from the high-quality indregients for which Kiehl’s is known. I’m particulary partial to the Ultimate Strength Hand Salve Trio; it costs $34 which equals 295 meals through Feeding America.

Kiehl’s products are available online, by mail order at 1.800.KIEHLS.1 as well as through select specialty retailers worldwide. Thank you to Kiehl’s for providing samples for my family to try.

While researching items for this gift guide, I came across Twill, a company with a social entreprenurial bent. Twill sells organic cotton beanies and blankets, and for every product sold, another is given to someone in need. The twist is that customers get to decide where the product is donated. Twill’s “give where you live” approach has resulted in support for charities in Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut.

Twill products can be purchased here

2016 holiday gift guideDisclosure: Some of the vendors listed above provided me with samples to try; there are noted in each listing. Additionally, some of these links are affiliate links; learn more here