2018 Favorites: Holiday Gift Guide

I LOVE this season! I love the open hearts, and seeking to bring joy to someone else.  In my own family, I try my best to keep it simple and meaningful.  I have gone by the saying, “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read”, for many years, and even still, that feels like too much.  Too much stuff.  So, I am trimming lists down this year, yet again to work towards more experiences together and less accumulation of things.  That said, I’ve still compiled a list of some of my most favorite things this year to give and to get.  All of them are favorites I can definitely recommend, and I’m gifting a few of them this year to people on my list.

Hopefully this will give you a few ideas for some fun, unique and meaningful gifts for those you love, and maybe you’ll find some personal favorites of your own, too.

holiday gift guide-2


Camel back for kids,$48.99 on Amazon. My toddler’s friend had one when we went on a trip to the zoo and she loved it!  It is perfect for all our mountain adventures and comes with a safety whistle, a crux delivers 20% more water per sip and has an ergonomic handle for easy refilling, and an on/off lever to prevent leaks.  Breathable air mesh back panel for a lightweight, comfortable fit.  Reflective accents for visibility in low-light environments, stretch overflow storage compartment lets you easily stash a rain shell or extra layer…that’s all a mouthful.  I love the design, the pockets to carry treasures and snacks, and that my little girl will love to carry her own water.


Illustrated Harry Potter Book set, $73.28 on Amazon.  This read-together format with beautiful art will find a welcome home on our book shelf and in our laps each night as we read together.  Our family really loves the Harry Potter series and our paperback books are well-worn and in need of an upgrade.  I love the large size and type and know this set will be so loved.


Harry’s Razor set, $8-$35 online.  I love the quality and concept behind this brand.  The company bought a German steel factory to hone the finest blades, and they design and sell everything online for convenience and to get the best price to us.  I love that they will send new cartridges every one to three months, and have a whole range of high-quality man-grooming products.  You can purchase one time or subscribe to a Shave Plan, starting with an $8 trial set, free shipping, and replacement blades at $1.87 a piece.  WAY better than the $3.50 price per blade of other razors on the market.


World Cities Cross Stitch by Satsuma Street, $7 for a downloadable pattern.  Satsuma Street is an Etsy seller with the sweetest patterns for simple cross stitch.  My 11-year-old daughter is really interested in learning crafts these days, and cross stitch is definitely something I can teach her.  I grabbed the cities we have traveled to and will collect the needed embroidery floss and supplies from our local craft shop for a fun and personal gift for her Christmas morning.  Satsuma Street has patterns for 18 different cities, including LA, Toronto, Berlin, Washington DC, Hawaii, Tokyo, Chicago, India, Paris, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, London, and Barcelona.

R+F Holiday Sets and stocking stuffers, $89-$135.  These sparkling gift sets are some of the best-loved products in the Rodan+Fields line up and are the perfect gift for anyone who wants to show their skin some love and feel incredibly pampered.  They come beautifully packaged with a 60-120 day supply of the ultimate Active Hydration Serum and best in anti-aging, Intensive Renewing Serum, or an anti-aging powerhouse of Lip Renewing Serum and the coveted Multi-Function Eye Cream.  The best R+F stocking stuffer?  Lashboost!  This nightly conditioning eyelash and brow serum gives the appearance of  longer, fuller and darker looking lashes that are 100% real and 100% yours, and is the best-selling lash serum on the market for good reason.  Rodan+Fields is the #1 selling skincare brand in all of North America, and all purchases have a 60-day money-back guarantee.  (Full disclosure here, I am a consultant for this brand and can give personalized skin consultations and recommendations based on what your skin needs.)


Volcano Candle by Capri Blue, $22 and up.  These are definitely my favorite candles.  I love the sugared citrus, livable scents that are just right for feeling at home wherever we are.  The glass or tin jars come in many different designs to compliment your home, too.


Madewell Earrings, $14.99 and up.  I love small and simple earrings for every day, and the occasional set of statement earrings for when my hair is pulled up.  Madewell has the best, modern, edgy and new classic designs in a brushed gold color that compliments any skin tone.


Summer Ellis “Better Together” Rings, $78.  I love these!  I picked this up at a Silo-bration Event at Magnolia in Waco, Texas.  Joanna and Chip Gaines really pick the best vendors to share at their events.  Summer was kind and cool in person and definitely has a passion for the delicate pieces she designs and makes.  I love the simplicity of this set designed for Summer’s appreciation of friendship.  It is hand-hammered, and you can get it in 14kt. gold fill or sterling silver.  I’ve had this set for over two years and would definitely purchase it again.   Check out her other pieces and collections to find something you love.

Fresh Start Journal, $19.99-$75.  This brand new company is on to something.  Designed around gratitude, intention, consistent action and reflection, this planner is the perfect cross between a calendar to keep you on track, and a place to record thoughts, impressions, goals and dreams.  You can purchase one that covers three months, or purchase a whole year and the company will send you a your new journal every three months, beginning December 16th, to cover all of 2019.  I am excited to have this new and dedicated space to gather my thoughts and focus my efforts to be more present and happy in the moments of each day.  This is the perfect gift for anyone wishing to make the most of their days.


Gruene Olive Oil and Vinegar, $11.99 and up.  This is the perfect gift for the foodie in your life.  Located in the cutest little Texas historic historic town, this little shop offers gourmet chocolates, pastas, sauces and more, but the highlight for me are the extra virgin olive oil and vinegar pairings that are fresh and on tap.  The many different infusions are unique and taste amazing whether you are drizzling them on fresh salads or using them for dipping bread over the best meal.  Send them a quick email for a personalized, recommended pairing to suit your interest.  I love our Tuscan Herb EVOO and Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar, and really want to buy every combination they have.  They are each so good!  Some of the infusions are Blood Orange, Basil, Chipotle, Herb de Province, Persian Lime,   Black Cherry, Blackberry Ginger, Cinnamon Pear, Neapolitan Herb, Mission Fig, Lavender.


Ilee Letterpress Calendar, $24. From my favorite, old-school letterpress shop on Etsy, Ilee paper goods, I have been buying and gifting her calendars for the last ten years, I love them that much!  The 2019 calendar includes 12 monthly cards with original artwork and one extra year at a glance card.  It is a mix of old-school letterpress, silkscreen, and foil stamping on fine papers.  The artist says this year marks the 15th calendar and it is her dearest project.  The calendar reflects the motifs and impressions of what she has learned and loved during the year.  This year, the calendar was inspired by many things, including the great blue whales, beautiful meadows, a cactus garden, etc.  There is an image of a pig hidden somewhere on the pages of the calendar, inspired by the Chinese Zodiac as 2019 is the year of the pig.

Travel Posters and Calendar, $5-$30.  Liesl Cannon, an artist from Logan, Utah, is another artist I follow.  She creates unique watercolor travel posters and calendars along with other original art that she sells on Etsy and at local art shows.  I love her travel posters because they remind me of my childhood visiting national parks across Utah and the US. The posters are the perfect size for a collection to hang on a gallery wall and the calendar is a great way to enjoy all of them over the year.


Hotel Emma Fragrance,  $45.  This scent collection was custom-made for my favorite boutique hotel, Hotel Emma, in San Antonio, Texas, and takes me back every time I use it.  My favorite is the summer scent, Milagros, “a verdant scent of botanicals and the faintest hint of spice first for spring and summer”.  The winter scent is Recuerdos and is “a rich, smoky and evocative scent of sun-warmed South Texas stone and wood, fir for autumn and winter”.   They are both intoxicating and lovely.  I’m a big fan of the custom candles, as well.  I love everything about this hotel, the library, the lobby, the bar, the shops, the restaurants, and the whole surrounding district.  Best place in San Antonio, hands down!


AirPods, $159.  I am always so slow to jump on new technology, so it was Matt who gifted me these last year and I really, really love them.   I love the clarity in the sound and how seamlessly they transition from the car to my phone, to any other device I am using.  They sound great for phone calls, but I mostly use them to listen to books, devotionals, podcasts and music.   From the website, “Just take them out and they’re ready to use with all your devices.  Put them in your ears and they connect instantly.  Speak into them and your voice sounds clear.  Simplicity and technology, together like never before.  The result is completely magical.”


PowerSmith Ash Vacuum,  $79-$110 on Amazon.  My husband is a big Traeger Smoker Grill fan and was looking for a shop vac that can handle cleaning up warm ash after he makes an amazing meal.  This vacuum is specifically designed to clean warm and cool ash out of fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves and barbecue grills, so it is the perfect fit for what he needs.  I recommend upgrading to $110 option that comes with filter and cleaning kit.

BookRoo, $16.95 and up.   This is the best subscription service for your kids!  Beautiful hardbound books that are curated, wrapped and delivered straight to your child for a fun surprise every month to every 3 months.  It received the Parents magazine award for the best subscription service, and I have to say, we have loved it.   Silly visit the website and answer a few questions about your child and they will prepare, wrap and ship books to suit their interests while expanding their reading horizons.  I have been so impressed with the customer service and the quality of the wrapping and books.  The stories are sweet and the illustrations have always been so good.  There is something special about seeing your child love to read and giving a gift that creates a time to bond together.   There are board book boxes for small kiddos, picture book boxes, and chapter book boxes as well.

Another book option I am really excited about is from Usborne Books.  We love Usborne as they were the best books in all the British bookshops and giftshops.  My kids love them, and I love them for the way they present history, education and fun.  For $100, your child can get a three boxes of four Usborne books and a free gift in each box.  This gift ships one box in January, one in February, and one in March for the best reading gift for kids up to ages zero to twelve.   My friend, Deanna, is amazing at curating a custom list of recommendations for each child based on what their interests are.


Lush Gift Sets and Bath Bombs, $3.95 and up.  I discovered Lush in England and fell in love!  The incredible smells, colors and names make this a fun and unique gift you are going to love gifting, and spoiling yourself with, too.  I love the seasonal bath bombs for stocking stuffers, and the wrapped gift sets for a really special and unique gift.  Just be prepared to clean the tub afterwards!


Last but not least, a Madsen Bucket Bike, $1995-$2495.  Ok, big spender, here’s what you need to know.  This unique cycle company has designed and creating the most useful and fun bike around.  I purchased mine on a killer Black Friday sale 10 years ago!  It has been well worth it and I would do it again and again.  This bucket bike has two benches inside to carry up to four kids with seat belts, and there are several other fun attachments and upgrades you can add on.   The innovative design is so easy to ride, much easier than the reverse set up I used when in the Netherlands with the bucket on the front.  I have carried kids, my sewing machine and crafts, my instruments and music stand, balls, library books, groceries and even other bicycles in the back.  There’s something wonderful about getting out on a bike and this particular one makes it even more so!  You will love your Madsen!

That’s a wrap! There are so many other things I love and that bring me joy, but you all know this season isn’t really about more material things.  I love giving gifts, but more than that, I love this time of year to pause and reflect, and see just how far we’ve all come together across the months of this year.  So much good.  So much hard, too.  So much to look forward to.  “The best is yet to come.”  Always.



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