When it comes to buying holiday gifts for those on our list, we always turn to things that we ourselves truly use and appreciate. And that’s why our holiday gifts ideas come from our heart. What good is a holiday gift idea if the recipient won’t actually enjoy it? It can be fun to give unique holiday gifts, but the best holiday gifts are those that the recipient will appreciate, use, even treasure.
That’s why our top holiday gifts are those that we know from our own experience will be appreciated. So here is our holiday gift guide, with something for everyone on your list – man, woman, teen, and child. These are items we use ourselves – or have given as gifts with an enthusiatic reception. Whether you are looking to give books, movies, electronic, gadgets, or even appliances – holiday gift food, a holiday gift basket (holiday gift baskets can contain almost anything, not just holiday food gifts!) or even a holiday gift card – you’ll find our tried and tested holiday gift ideas below.
Each of the below listed items is readily available on Amazon (that was one of our criteria – it has to be available where it can be easily purchased, and with ease of delivery). So this year we are including some extra information, to make your holiday gift shopping even easier – for example we include the customer review star rating for each item, as well as the description, along with our own notes.
We start with electronics, because buying something for that gadget-happy person on your list who has every new gadget can be challenging. Here are some things that they probably don’t have, but will definitely love and find useful – and that won’t break the bank!:
iGo Power Smart Green Power Saving Surge Protector
We use these all over the place to plug in our computers, and other electriconics where you don’t need them to be powered all the time (think “when the laptop is fully charged”) but which drain a small trickle of electricity all the time.
You will note that there are some “what’s the big deal” reviews for this product – if you read all of the reviews, you will see that for people who know what this device actually does – save power when there is no real power demand from the item that is plugged into it – they love it. The people who score it lower are asking it to do something that it can’t do.
Here is the product description, and we have found it true to its hype:
“iGo’s Green technology limits the amount of standby power wasted – by virtually detecting when a device is pulling power. When the device no longer needs power, iGo green adapters automatically shut off – reducing the amount of electricity waste. There is no need to remember to unplug the adapter to save energy, this power adapter does the thinking and energy saving for you.What is standby Power? Standby power, also called vampire power, vampire draw, phantom load, or leaking electricity, refers to the electric power consumed by electronic appliances while they are switched off or in a standby mode. A very common “electricity vampire” is a power adapter which has no power-off switch. In studies performed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory indicated that Standby power consumption accounts for approximately 10% of total residential electricity consumption in America, adding up to more than 3 Billion Dollars in annual energy costs. Some such devices offer remote controls and digital clock features to the user, while other devices, such as power adapters for laptop computers and other electronic devices, consume power without offering any energy saving features. Until NOW!!!! With iGo’s Green technology products, you can save the standby power wasted – automatically! No need to remember to unplug your laptop, iGo does the GREEN thinking for you!”
Xpad Slim Laptop Cooling Heat Shield for Lap or Table
We have one of these bad boys under our laptop right now, as we are typing this. The Xpad Slim is by far the least expensive, yet effective, laptop cooling pad. You don’t need ones with built in fans, or things you need to plug in. Just set your laptop on top of this very lightweight pad and let the air channels under your laptop keep things cool, and your lap (or table) protected.
“Xpad Slim cools your laptop while protecting your lap from laptop heat. No Fans! 100% Passive Cooling & Heatshield Protection! Cool your laptop and protect your lap silently without having to use up a USB port to power a fan. Use this top-rated laptop cooling pad on your desk, on your lap, or on soft-surfaces such as your bed or couch. Non-slip interface helps balances your laptop while slim profile makes it unnoticable. A universal fit design accomodates up to 17″ laptops.”
Boost Extended Battery Case for iPhone
iPhone users sure love them their iPhones. But they hate them the battery life. Every person we know who has one of these cases with a built-in extended life battery – including those to whom we have given it as a gift – loves it. Give this to any iPhone-using person on your list and it will be one of their favorite gifts this year. What more can we say?
Here’s what the manufacturer has to say about it:
“Boost Case is an ultra lightweight and thin stylish protective case that also doubles battery life for iPhone 4 (Compatible with both Verizon and AT&T). Made for iPhone certified by Apple, Boost Cases combine the stylish and durable protection of an easy-grip case with the power of a maximum capacity rechargeable battery.”
Kindle Fire Tablet
If you have someone on your list to whom you want to give something extra special – someone who has been craving a tablet – this is the perfect gift for them. The Kindle Fire has done nothing but impress everyone who has reviewed it – or had their hands on one to play with. Everyone we know loves theirs – and that includes people-formerly-known-as-iPad users. Yes, there are some things for which the iPad excels (including having the option of 3G), but if wifi is sufficient, the Kindle Fire is the perfect gift for anyone on your list – and of any age. Small enough to fit in a purse or book bag (or even a large pocket), but big enough to make the gorgeous screen really usable, and with a price of just $199, we can recommend this tablet without reservation. And because the Amazon Android App store offers several apps that allow you to lock any of the onboard applications, you can lock down the wifi in case you want to give it to one of the kids on your list.
Amazon points out that with a gift of the Kindle Fire, that person on your list will have access to “18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books – Thousands of popular apps and games, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and more – Ultra-fast web browsing with the native web browser, Amazon Silk – Free cloud storage for all your Amazon content – Vibrant color touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle – same as an iPad – Fast, powerful dual-core processor – Favorite children’s books, graphic novels, and magazines in rich color.” And if they have Amazon Prime, it also comes with unlimited instant video veiwing.
Along with the Kindle Fire – or for someone who already has a Kindle or iPad (with the Kindle app) – we recommend the Kindle version of:
The Autobiography of Mark Twain
The Autobiography of Mark Twain that was released earlier this year is a huge volume, with teeny, tiny print. It is almost impossible to read, which is a real shame, as it is very interesting – Twain at his best, and with so many interesting stories from his life that you almost certainly have never heard unless you’ve picked up the autobiography.
But on the Kindle, or in the Kindle app, you can set the font size to whatever size you want, making the Autobiography of Mark Twain suddenly very readable – and very enjoyable.
It’s very easy to give a Kindle book as a gift – just look for this button on the right-hand side of the item’s page on Amazon:
Says the publisher’s description of the book:
“Mark Twain is his own greatest character in this brilliant self-portrait, the first of three volumes collected by the Mark Twain Project on the centenary of the author’s death. It is published complete and unexpurgated for the first time. (Twain wanted his more scalding opinions suppressed until long after his death.) Eschewing chronology and organization, Twain simply meanders from observation to anecdote and between past and present. There are gorgeous reminiscences from his youth of landscapes, rural idylls, and Tom Sawyeresque japes; acid-etched profiles of friends and enemies, from his “fiendish” Florentine landlady to the fatuous and “grotesque” Rockefellers; a searing polemic on a 1906 American massacre of Filipino insurgents; a hilarious screed against a hapless editor who dared tweak his prose; and countless tales of the author’s own bamboozlement, unto bankruptcy, by publishers, business partners, doctors, miscellaneous moochers; he was even outsmarted by a wild turkey. Laced with Twain’s unique blend of humor and vitriol, the haphazard narrative is engrossing, hugely funny, and deeply revealing of its author’s mind. His is a world where every piety conceals fraud and every arcadia a trace of violence; he relishes the human comedy and reveres true nobility, yet as he tolls the bell for friends and family–most tenderly in an elegy for his daughter Susy, who died in her early 20s of meningitis–he feels that life is a pointless charade. Twain’s memoirs are a pointillist masterpiece from which his vision of America–half paradise, half swindle–emerges with indelible force”
And while we are on the subject of books, we give this next book as a gift every year – nobody has already had a copy, and everybody has raved about it. It’s suitable for anyone on your list except maybe children (but great for teens!). This is one of those books that has you say “Huh! I didn’t know that” with every turn of the page!
A Short History of Nearly Everything
“In A Short History of Nearly Everything, beloved author Bill Bryson confronts his greatest challenge yet: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as his territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. The result is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Now, in this handsome new edition, Bill Bryson’s words are supplemented by full-color artwork that explains in visual terms the concepts and wonder of science, at the same time giving face to the major players in the world of scientific study. Eloquently and entertainingly described, as well as richly illustrated, science has never been more involving or entertaining.”
The 20th-Century Children’s Book Treasury
For that bookish child on your list, we love The 20th-Century Children’s Book Treasury. We still have our original copy, and have given this beloved book as a gift many times over.
“44 complete read-aloud classics and future classics–from Goodnight Moon to Stellaluna–are packed in this remarkably svelte, positively historic anthology. Flipping through the 308 pages of The 20th-Century Children’s Book Treasury is like browsing a photo album of beloved friends and family. The familiar faces of Curious George and Ferdinand the Bull peer earnestly from the pages, and scenes from Madeline and Millions of Cats resonate as if you just experienced them yesterday. Think of the advantages of carrying this book on a vacation instead of a suitcase of single titles! (Your kids can always revisit their dog-eared hardcovers when they get home.)
This impressive collection of concept books, wordless books, picture books, and read-aloud stories was artfully compiled by longtime children’s book editor and publisher Janet Schulman. Stories are coded red, blue, and green to designate age groupings from baby/toddler books such as Whose Mouse Are You?, through preschool books such as Where the Wild Things Are, to longer stories for ages 5 and older such as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. The reason the book isn’t bigger than Babar is because many of the illustrations from each story were reduced or removed to fit the anthology’s format. (Leo Lionni’s Swimmy, for example, takes up 5 pages total, compared to its original 29 pages.) Brief biographical notes that are surprisingly quirky shine a little light on the 62 authors and illustrators, and an index helps, too, for the child who likes one story best. We love the idea of being within easy reach of a Star-Belly Sneetch, a William Steig donkey, and a Sendak monster at all times, and we’re sure your little bookworms will, too.”
For that teen on your list (or that adult who is a Harry Potter fan, and there are plenty of them out there), the complete Harry Potter is now available both as a boxed-set of books, and a DVD set of all eight movies:
The Complete Harry Potter Box Set
“Now for the first time ever, J.K. Rowling’s seven bestselling Harry Potter books are available in a stunning paperback boxed set! The Harry Potter series has been hailed as “one for the ages” by Stephen King and “a spellbinding saga’ by USA Today. And most recently, The New York Times called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the “fastest selling book in history.” This is the ultimate Harry Potter collection for Harry Potter fans of all ages!”
Harry Potter: The Complete Film Collection
This is the complete Harry Potter film collection, with all eight films, from the very first Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone through the last Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II, and everything in between. You will see that some reviews take Warner Bros. to task for not including all the directors cuts, the behind-the-scenes views, etc., but if you have someone on your holiday gift list who would like to own all eight Harry Potter movies, you can’t do better than this – especially at $78.99 ($45 for Blu-ray!) for all 8 movies!
But maybe you have someone on your list that isn’t into Harry Potter. For them, young or old, or in-between, we recommend the complete series of I Love Lucy!
This is one of the only items we have ever seen on Amazon that has so many review, and nearly every single one of them is 5 stars! And with good reason! The set contains every… single… episode… (remember the candy factory?) and is well put-together, and thoroughly enjoyable. Even people who had never seen it – even adolescent boys! – loved this series when we let them watch our set!
I Love Lucy: The Complete Series :
Ok, let’s move on to the kitchen – for anyone on your list who cooks – in fact for anyone on your list who has a kitchen, this enameled (no worrying about rusting!) 3-quart dutch oven will quickly become the one pot in their kitchen that does everything – the one that they can’t live without. Seriously, Anne keeps hers on her stove at all times, where it serves as a frying pan, a pot, and a casserole. There is nothing that Anne can’t – or doesn’t – cook in her enameled dutch oven! And right now this dutch oven is on a great sale!
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron 3 Quart Dutch Oven
“This 3 Qt enamel Dutch oven is great for cooking, marinating, refrigeration and freezing. The color porcelain enamel on cast iron can be used on gas, electric, ceramic and induction cooktops, as well as in the oven. Not recommended for use on outdoor grills or over open outdoor flames. Not for use in microwaves. Lodge Color Porcelain Enamel on Cast Iron cookware is cast from molten iron in individual sand molds. The porcelain surface eliminates the need to season cast iron. The cast iron vessel has superior heat distribution and retention, evenly heating bottom sidewalls and even the lid. Tightly fitting lid seals in moisture. The excellent heat retention reduces the amount of energy needed for cooking. Two layers of very hard, glossy porcelain enamel are chip resistant and easy to clean. Lid knob is oven safe to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The black rim on the pot is matte porcelain, not exposed cast iron. Hygienic porcelain enamel is non-reactive with food. Although dishwasher safe, hand washing with warm soapy water is recommended to preserve the cookware’s original appearance. 9 3/4″ diameter, 3″ deep.”
And this book is a great companion gift to that dutch oven. Last year we gave several sets of dutch oven and the book, and they were received to rave reviews!
Glorious One-Pot Meals in the Dutch Oven
“Elizabeth Yarnell developed her revolutionary infusion-cooking method to avoid often mushy slow-cooker results and to make cooking and cleaning up after dinner a breeze. Now anyone with too many tasks and not enough time can use her technique to get dinner on the table in an hour or less, with no more than twenty minutes of hands-on prep work—and just one pot to clean. All it takes is a Dutch oven and a few basic fresh or even frozen ingredients layered–never stirred. Glorious One-Pot Meals provides the most convenient method yet of serving highly nutritious, satisfying suppers every night of the week.”
For that very special foodie on your list – someone to whom you want to give something that will make them swoon, and think of you every single day – well, a Vitamix is pretty much the foodie’s holy grail.
We wouldn’t ordinarily put something so pricey on this list, but it happens that this is a very good price for a Vitamix, especially one that is so powerful.
Vitamix Turboblend 4500
“No need to worry about the sound of a strained, unhappy motor with this powerful machine–even when mixing up nut butters or icy concoctions. The versatile countertop appliance features a 2-plus peak horsepower motor, which runs substantially cooler and efficiently generates blade speeds of over 200 MPH for blending, pureeing, chopping, juicing, grinding, and more. The unit’s stainless-steel enclosed blade assembly, with sealed ball bearings, can process fresh, whole foods–including the leaves, peel, and stem–in seconds for superior taste and a smooth texture without any stringy bits or unblended chunks. In addition, the unit’s easy-to-clean front panel provides moisture-shielded switches, two speed options, and an on/off switch. The heavy-duty, commercial-quality blender also comes equipped with a large, clear, 64-ounce container made from Eastman Tritan copolyester material, which makes it BPA-free, virtually unbreakable, and more chemical resistant. The container offers convenient measuring marks, a plunger, and a spill-proof locking lid that removes easily. Blend a large batch of soup for the whole family or as little as 4 ounces at a time. Make delicious beverages, soups, homemade dips and sauces, salsas, dressings, desserts, baby foods, purees, and smoothies–the options are endless. A Healthy Lifestyle recipe book containing over 150 step-by-step recipes in full color comes included. The 1380-watt two-speed blender measures 7-1/4 by 8-3/4 by 20 inches and carries a five-year limited warranty. The Vitamix TurboBlend 4500 is designed to render the full bioavailability of whole foods such as apples, strawberries, greens and more. This includes the leaves, peel, stem – where you find all the valuable fiber. The TurboBlend 4500 breaks down whole foods, releasing phytonutrients that help build the immune system, fight disease and improve overall health. The super-efficient 2-peak horsepower motor runs substantially cooler when mixing thicker ingredients like nut butters and frozen treats. It also processes fresh, whole foods in seconds to deliver superior taste and texture. The container is oversized, 64-ounce capacity made from Eastman Triton copolyester material that is virtually unbreakable, more chemical resistant and contains no BPA. Unit features a locking lid design for easy removal. A Healthy Lifestyle recipe book containing over 150 step-by-step recipes in full color in included. Vitamix 4500 is covered by a full 5-year warranty from the most trusted brand in high performance blending equipment.”
Ok, did you find something for everyone? If not – there is always that old standby – the gift card. Sending a gift card through Amazon is about as easy as it gets, because they send it to your recipient by email, and you can even schedule in advance, so for example you can go there now, select all your gift cards, and then have them delivered on Christmas morning!
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