hi everyone! with the holidays here, i wanted to round up some of my favorite things to gift this season for the little ones (both kids and toddlers), for you (or a dear friend!) and for the boys (men’s gift guide below by josh! and it’s a good one!). i know you’re most likely being bombarded left and right with gift guides this season from blogs and brands and stores and email lists and all the people! BUT- i thought this would be a great chance to put a bunch of my most loved products (and a lot of my most FAQ when it comes to said products) in one place for you. from the kid’s kitchen knife set and my littles’ waterproof watches to my custom name stacking rings and favorite lip color, it’s all here! plus, josh really did well with the men’s gift guide. if anything, i hope it’s helpful!
1. CUSTOMIZABLE NAME STACKING RINGS
i get asked about mine all the time and while i am not a jewelry person, i never take these off. i love having all of my loved ones names on my ring finger and this is such a special gift idea for yourself or someone you love this holiday season.
2. BATH SALTS
discovered my love for these during my twin pregnancy but now i am hooked and i think goop makes the best of the best when it comes to these.
3. LIP STAIN
this creamy lip color in sugar pink is a current favorite!
4. COLLAPSIBLE MUG
this is a great reusable mug made from silicone and recyclable materials that’s light and leak proof but also collapses after you use it so you can travel easily with it throughout your day. it’s a simple step to reducing the number of disposable cups we go through and also, it’s pink! ;) (although it comes in several colors if this blushy pink color isn’t your thing.)
5. FRINGED SCARF
because i can never get over my love of big chunky scarves and this one is seriously perfect.
6. PHONE CHARGER + A UV CLEANER
love me any sort of product that is one which knows how to multitask and this one cleans your phone while charging it! and considering how dirty our phones are and how rarely we (ok, maybe just me!) clean them, this is amazing.
7. STROLLER MITTENS
i cannot live without mine and they are the sort of gift someone will forever love you for if they are in a stage of life where a stroller is ever present.
8. MZ WALLACE LARGE TOTE BAG
i’ve shared my love of my mz wallace bags over the years and i think they make for the very best sort of gift. (i bought myself my bright yellow one as my ‘push present’ to myself when i had beatrice and madalena.) just a really solid made bag that is durable and light weight and can be thrown into the wash which scores massive points in my book.
9. BLACK LEATHER LACE UP BOOTS
i bought mine a few years ago and they sold out that season so quickly. they are back this year (although almost sold out, still a few sizes available HERE.) mine have held up really well and still my top boot preference. i get asked about them a lot so i included them here for you!
10. MINI CAPRI BLUE CANDLE
the best smelling candle in all the world (according to me. not josh. but that’s fine, it’s not a gift for him!), and in mini size.
11. HAT with INTERCHANGABLE POM POM!
how genius are these beanies that also have snaps on the top so you can interchange the fluffy pom pom on top depending on your mood/outfit/preference! more pom pom options HERE too!
12. POLAROID CAMERA AND KIT
if you read my blog back when i first started blogging, most of my photos were from my old polaroid camera. i can’t begin to tell you how much i love these film cameras and this one is a great replica that includes two packs of film as well.
put together by both naomi and josh
1. LE PETIT CHEF KNIFE SET
it’s amazing what kids can do in the kitchen if you give them the chance – and the tools! – to do so. since our kids were toddlers, we’ve loved making meals in the kitchen together. it’s always rather crowded, but the bond being created and memories made are hard to replicate elsewhere. this Le Petit Chef Knife really allows the little ones to do more than just mix a bowl or set the table. with this educational tool, our kids are obsessed with chopping up anything and everything – it also gets them excited about vegetables, so another plus! it’s the perfect gift to get your little ones excited about helping out in the kitchen and a great way to spend some quality time together.
2. GIRL’S WATERPROOF MINI WATCH
so many people ask about what watches we get for our kids. we love that our kids start to tell time on their own at an early age, that these are waterproof and have lights on their displays.
3. here’s the BOY’S WATERPROOF MINI WATCH
4. SNORKEL MASK/SWIM GOGGLES
for a Jaques Cousteau experience while on vacation this winter (or any time of year!)…these snorkel masks make for fun explorations underwater and our kids wanted to spend hours in the water last year in Puerto Rico while using these. perfect gift for an upcoming adventure to a warmer place…. or the bath tub?
5. CLASSIC KICKBALL
because everyone can play at any age, and it never gets old, and it’s good exercise! as a mama of 5, i’ve learned that it’s best to never head to the park without a kickball. this kickball is the one my boys rave about time and time again. it’s great for any age and i love that it’s active. doubles as a soccer ball in a pinch, too.
6. BUSY TOWN cooperative board game
we are super competitive if you didn’t already know. competitive to a fault! we try not to pass this inclination on to our kids, but whether it’s in our DNA or a learned behavior, our children are quickly showing signs of competitiveness and yes, even sibling rivalry at times. the good news?? there are tons of new “cooperative” board games. (these were not around when we were little, right?!) one that’s fun for younger kids is Busy Town, a combination of Life and I Spy, the kids work together to hurry and stop a bunch of hungry pigs from eating all the food at a picnic! AHHH!! the horror!
7. Diner Restaurant Imaginative Play Set
imaginative play is the best play. and the best ever bang for your buck when you’re looking for something besides a cardboard box and crayons? this diner play set, hands down! be careful though because there are a few variations, but this set has it all, a box that turns into the grill for the cook at the diner and a table for the customer…a menu, utensils, plate, serving tray, pitcher, cup, pad for taking orders, cut-outs of food that is uncooked on one side and then cooked on the other side after the cook flips it at his cooking station…and other stuff, too. it’s uh-mazing! best $23 on a game or dress-up imaginative play set thing ever!
8. ASTRONAUT SUIT DRESS-UP COSTUME FOR IMAGINATIVE PLAY
we believe in encouraging lots of imaginative play for our children and having a fully stocked dress-up bin in the playroom has proven to be the best way to bring this about. a lot of costumes and dress ups are easy to make at home, but our children are very into everything space-themed at the moment, and these astronaut costumes and helmets (and the book!) are so great, we’ve had to get more than one set. and whenever we host a playdate, it’s the hot ticket dress-up item we have to set a timer for as everyone wants a turn being an astronaut.
9. ASTRONAUT HELMET FOR IMAGINATIVE PLAY
sometimes you just need a helmet to travel across the solar system. and sometimes you need the helmet to complete the look with the suit.
10. Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet by astronaut Buzz Aldrin!
and sometimes a book helps ignite your kid’s imagination. this book will help get them excited about making their dreams a reality while reading astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s take on colonizing Mars!
11. SET JR. GAME
we’ve collected one too many board games over the years and while i believe you can never have enough, some are more popular than others in our household. Set (and Jr. Set) is a great one because it can be played individually, as a team or against other players, and it is educational too the way it focuses on patterns and sorting. i’m a big fan.
12. SET GAME
the kid AND ADULT version of Set Jr. pardon the cliché, but this is seriously fun for the whole family.
13. CHESS. JUST CHESS.
have you ever wondered why this game has been around for so many centuries without ever changing? why medieval squires and cold-war spies alike train with it? in these modern times, this is the same board and pieces as ones used in tournaments! it’s a great game to play with your kids but even more fun to watch them play each other and be good sports about it (most of the time!) again, chess never gets old. shouldn’t every family have a chess board?
14. POOBAH, THE CONVERSATION GAME
this helps us feel like we’re eating together, not just at the same time…we have our Poobah card game set close by our dinner table and pull it out often as we eat together. the kids usually suggest it! the Poobah questions are thought provoking and also hilarious, which means they’ve given us prompts to have some wonderful deeper conversations with our children as well as some silly moments that are hard to forget. i am a big fan of any sort of game that helps us connect, especially when time is often limited.
15. RACE TO THE TREASURE
like Busy Town above, this is another great cooperative game for kids by Peacable Kingdom (get it? everybody gets along so it’s “peacable.”). it requires not only team work but also some communicating and basic logic. hurry and gather three keys and don’t let the ogre get to the treasure first!
put together by both naomi and josh
1. ABC WOODEN BLOCKS!
you can never go wrong with classic wooden blocks (for any age, honestly!) and this set has the alphabet and other fun paintings etched into the wood. they are beautiful.
2. WOODEN BUILDING BLOCKS
i know i already shared abc blocks, but these hand crafted blocks are the best for early developmental skills encouraging imaginative and creative building and exploration. they can stack, sort, match, build and intentionally knock over (madalena’s favorite part!).
3. a SCOOTER FOR ON THE GO!
our family has been a big scooter family since eleanor was the beatrice and madalena’s age. i really can’t recommend them enough, whether you’re in an urban environment where you use them frequently because you walk a lot or elsewhere. they are just a lot of fun and even josh and i have gotten scooters to keep up with them.
4. COLORED PENCIL SET
i know crayons are all the rage with toddlers, but i have noticed my little ones gravitating more towards colored pencils instead and i think they are great to mix in with art supplies from an early age. and honestly, you can find colored pencils anywhere for a decent price, but i like this pencil case and that the pencils are slightly wider for little ones to grip.
5. ABC BOOK
this book goes beyond being just an alphabet book with it’s raised imagery and indented cut outs. a great book to gift and a fun one for early learners to help identify their abc’s with!
7. RAINBOW CATERPILLAR GEAR TOY
this is a great one for fine motor skills and color learning, and i recommend it because our older kids adored it around toddler age.
8. a MAGNATAB!
these magnetic styled beads are such a great and fun way to first introduce how to create letters and lines to little ones. i am all about those engaging toys that let little ones explore and learn and this is a great one for that.
9. THE POUT POUT FISH BOOK
i shared this in our kids book round up a few months ago, but this pout pout fish book is our family’s favorite at the moment and our little girls cannot get enough of it day after day after day. a fun one for adults as well when you’re reading it over and over again. a great gift idea for sure.
10. FINGER PAINTS!
5 kids later and i’m still trying to embrace the finger painting mess, but my kids love it and i know how beneficial these activities are. these paints are especially wonderful because they are a powder base that is eco friendly!
11. GREEN TOYS!
conrad was really into these construction vehicles and both beatrice and madalena have followed suit. i think these are the best size for little ones and a plus that they are made from 100% recycled milk jugs!
put together by josh
1. UTILITY FLAME FIRE STARTER GEL
This gel that ignites is for emergencies. Like when you are freaking out because you don’t know what to get him! There is simply zero chance that the man you’re shopping for is going to get this and be disappointed after immediately appreciating its practical usefulness with emergency preparedness or outdoor activities and then suddenly seeing the limitless possibilities for fun. because – yes – fire is fun. And every man is a pyromaniac at heart.
2. WATERPROOF-PORTABLE-BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
The advent of a waterproof, portable speaker after 120 years of loudspeaker technology mirrors the arrival of iron and steel to the world after using bronze for centuries. Besides its obvious applications at beaches, lakes, and rivers, this amplification system works just as well next to the rubber ducky in the bathtub and is begging to be certified as “childproof” and “babyproof.”
3. SANTOKU (JAPANESE-STYLE CHEF’S) KNIFE
For the man who likes gifts Made in America, this Lamson Santoku Knife is hand-forged with a straight 7-inch hollow edge that you cut straight up and down with instead of rocking back and forth like a French chef’s knife. The divets on the blade keep the food from sticking, it’s not too long and not too short. I personally buy knives from Lamson and plan on willing them to my kids when they get older. If he likes being in the kitchen or needs a little incentive to help a little more, then this is the perfect thing.
4. SHOE TREE
I didn’t know what shoe trees were until I was a man. Or is it that I didn’t become a man until I owned Shoe Trees? Same difference perhaps. Regardless, these are literal shoe saving devices that allow leather shoes (and boots, too!) to endure a lifetime of wear (accompanied by regular maintenance, of course) instead of deteriorating into a cracked, bent-out-of-shape, twisted pile of broken-ness. How do these work? They absorb moisture after you wear your shoes (they’re made of cedar wood) and will maintain the shoes’ original shape and length. Most importantly, they stop those nasty cracks from appearing across the base of your toes where the shoe bends the most. If he has dress shoes but doesn’t own these, then for Pete’s sakes, rescue his footwear from ruin and buy him these! #savetheshoes
5. GAME PUZZLE
This Pentomino puzzle game set with 12 oddly-shaped wooden blocks that can be assembled to make 65 different shapes illustrated on accompanying cards is for the intelligent man in your life. Or for the man who thinks he is smart. Or for the man whom you want to at least feel smart. Or for the man whom you want to say, “I think you’re smart, so here is an analog gift that looks cool out on the coffee table that you can play by yourself when you want a challenge, with your friends when you’re hanging out, or even with me instead of watching The Bachelor! Yes, I promise I will turn off the Bachelorette to play this with you.” He’ll LOVE it!
6. STEEL GLASSES
An awesome oxymoron of a liquid container, these steel glasses are shatter-proof (i.e. child-proof!), insulated, stackable, dishwashable, and sleek. Whether he’s like G. Love and Special Sauce or likes “hot drinks,” he’ll be giddy to receive these environmentally-friendly (i.e. plastic-free!) manly mugs. Besides keeping your cold drinks cold and your hot drinks hot, these “glasses” will never have condensation on them, which means no more rings on furniture and tables and no more coasters. Hallelujah!
7. GEORGIA PEACH AND VIDALIA ONION HOT SAUCE
I discovered this a many years back at a taco stand in DC outside my old office that had about 40 sauces and haven’t forgotten it since. I confess, I don’t like (read: am not strong enough to eat) spicy foods. So this sauce is perfect for guys like me (who have the spice tolerance of a 9 month old baby). Its flavor combines both sweet and spicy flavors in a unique and super tasty way but isn’t too spicy. This is a great stocking stuffer, works for every man on your list, fits nicely into your checked luggage on the way to Mexico or Hawaii where you will visit taco stands and/or taco trucks on vacation this winter, or is well worth the space on your shelf for eating at home.
8. BEARD TRIMMER
Men with beards are better than men without beads. Duh. Give him this beard trimmer so he knows you support his creative beard-sculpting-pursuits but not a bathroom that looks like a facial hair crime scene, since this trimmer comes with a vacuum. Yes, a vacuum that sucks the stubble. It’s like combining a phone with a camera in 2001. Who would have thought?! But it makes so much sense now.
9. RETRO 1951 TORNADO ROLLERBALL PEN IN STAINLESS STEEL
For the tree-hugger who rejects the disposable-product culture, for note-takers, doctors with crazy-large signatures, illustrators who work with ink, cool kids, recent graduates, soon-to-be-graduates, love-letter writers, people who eat while writing and need a stainless steel pen that’s easy to clean, self-defense enthusiasts, and people falling into the “other” category, this rollerball pen just got 2nd place in the New York Time’s competition for Best (Rollerball) Pen and will last a lifetime.
10. KNIT TIE
Instead of a thoughtless, cop-out gift, this knit tie is the perfect clothing accessory to dress up a look for holiday parties, weddings, dinners, dates, interviews, meetings, church, or anything else. It goes with any and all looks, from casual with jeans to more formal. I recommend a solid color tie instead of stripes or patterns, and I recommend red, blue, or green. I found this one made of cotton (instead of wool or silk) so that it costs less and is easier to clean. It’s a great “starter tie” for someone who doesn’t like to wear them and also a good for someone who only has lots of “fancier” ties and needs one for dressing down while looking put together.
11. KITCHEN SHEARS
These kitchen shears are for men who don’t like “presents,” don’t like “stuff,” want only “the best,” and/or are notoriously hard to buy for. Made from C55 High Carbon Tool Steel with a Tetrabond Coating used in the aerospace and tech industries, they are going to last forever, stay sharp, and get anybody exciting about being in the kitchen. Unlike other things in this gift guide, this is one thing that you the gift-giver will like, too. Sshhh! Don’t tell!
12. LEATHERMAN TOOL
And last, but not least, this Leatherman Tool is for when you don’t know him that well, don’t like him that well, are overwhelmed by the hundreds of gift guides, or too tired of shopping, and want to give up. This is the safe gift. It’s useful, cool, classic, well-made, and says, “I trust you to fix things. You’re handy.” This encouraging message will be the real gift, and you will be a hero.