Holiday Gift Guide
Well, it’s that time of year again! This gift guide is one of my favorite posts to put together all year!
Just like last year, I condensed my gift guide into one comprehensive guide instead of doing three separate holiday gift guides.
If you’re new here, these gift guides aren’t meant to be comprehensive. Instead they are a bit random…and hopefully kind of fun.
And since we’re game-obsessed, the game gift suggestions always come first (I know that’s the part many of you look forward to every year!).
My gift guides are unique in the sense that instead of searching for highly rated items on Amazon to suggest, every single item on these gift guides has been bought, used, and loved by us.
I’m very careful about what I include on these gift guides! Many, many products don’t make the cut.
If you need even more gift-giving inspiration, remember there are many other gift guides in the archives with some of our favorite things as well! Don’t forget to look through those, too.
As always, if YOU have something amazing to recommend, please do so in the comments. I love hearing your suggestions, too!
All the Amazon links below are affiliate links meaning I earn a small commission if purchases are made through that link. PLEASE feel free to shop around for the best price.
Games, Games, Games
Sequence Stacks: this might be my favorite of all the games today. It has a Skip-Bo vibe with a few different unique twists. We pull this one out to play a lot!
Genius Square: this game is completely mind-blowing to me. My 10-year old beats me every time. It’s fun…and it makes my brain hurt in a good way!
Stomple Marble Game: we love this simple marble game because it is easy to learn and fast to play! It’s the perfect game when short on time but we want to play a quick game. We also have the Rock Me Archimedes game from the same company.
Bamboozled: this game is fun for the whole family (ages 10-45), and we quickly learned who can bluff the best…and who…well…does not have a good poker face. 🙂
Wits End: this might be my favorite trivia-ish game ever! The questions aren’t just trivia – there are brain teasers and riddles, and the trivia questions seem much more approachable than the Trivial Pursuit games. It’s challenging, but we love playing it! (My 10-year old gets in on the fun and does quite well on the riddles, but it’s probably best for 14/16 and up.)
Brain Bolt: this is a one-person memory, problem-solving game that is great for kids (6+), teens and adults! If you’re an adult, you might quickly realize, like me, how slow your brain has become.
Chronology: ok, I guess I have a lot of favorites, because this is another. I LOVE this game. It is extremely simple to learn, and even though we are far from world history experts, it is really fun trying to figure out the correct timeline. Highly recommend!
Color Brain: my 10-year old would like to tell you this is her favorite game of all time! I think we played it every night for two months straight (got through all the questions!). Apparently the Disney version is even more fun, and since my daughter doesn’t read my blog, I know what she’s getting for Christmas this year!
Kendama: my teenage boys are obsessed with these and are constantly having competitions about who can complete some intricate circuit of tricks with it. It’s fun to watch! (No, I don’t participate all too often 😉).
ROKR Assembly Treasure Box: my kids have been gifted and put together a lot of ROKR 3-D puzzles and structures over the years (big fan of all of them!), and this treasure box was a hit last Christmas with my 13-year old who loves building and figuring out things.
Kitchen + Cooking + Baking
Wüsthof Gourmet Spreader: I know we all have knives that are adequate at spreading, but this unique spreader is exceptional for cream cheese on bagels and really for spreading anything on bread/sandwiches, etc. Would make a great stocking stuffer!
Microwave Popcorn Maker: not only is this microwave popcorn maker exceptionally cute, but it works amazingly well (we don’t use the option to melt the butter on top). It comes in several colors!
Chopper: I was skeptical I would actually use this chopper when a knife and cutting board has always done the job just fine, but I use it all the time! For onions, veggies for soup, etc. Totally worth it!
Taco Holders: I bought these taco holders for these crispy shrimp tacos because we make them all.the.time. Turns out, we use these taco holders for that recipe AND any time we make tacos. Very handy!
DASH Multi Mini Waffle Maker: we love our DASH waffle maker (we have the single version). I’ve given this multi mini version as gifts to several people, and I include a little printed booklet of our favorite waffle recipes. Such a fun gift!
Crispy Chocolate Pearls: every time I post about these crispy chocolate pearls, they sell out almost immediately! They are a) extremely delicious and b) the perfect topping for cakes, cupcakes, cookies (or just eating by the handful). Orson Gygi sells them in larger bags here.
Acacia Wood Board: this wood board makes a great serving platter or cutting board. AND it’s perfect to give as a gift with the next item in the gift guide. The board and book are one of my favorite gifts to give people this year!
Beautiful Boards Book: I have this book (and have gifted it to several friends!), and while I’m pretty low maintenance at holidays, I’m finding I love the inspiration to make things a bit fun and festive, and this book is such a great place to start (and you can easily make lots of adaptations to the ideas!).
Bread Lame: this is the best bread lame I’ve used (and I’ve used several). It comes with several razor blades, and makes slicing the top of bread dough (like, for this French bread) a dream.
Large Serving Bowls: these large, shallow serving bowls are perfect for salads, fruit, pasta, bread…so many things! They are pretty and unique (you can choose different size combinations).
Gatorade Bottle: all of my kids have one of these (they come in a million colors!) and they all agree: best water bottle ever.
Glow-in-the-Dark Basketball: this basketball bounces perfectly but it also has a superior glow-in-the-dark factor that makes it extra fun! We gifted this to my nephew for his birthday, and it’s the first thing my kids want to play with when we go over there in the evening.
Interesting Stories for Curious Kids: we got this book when we were traveling a bit this summer, and it was a hit (read: fought over) by everyone!
DayBetter LED Lights: My 10-year old daughter got these for her birthday this year, and immediately had us help her put them around the perimeter of her bedroom. She loves them! They change color with music/sound and add a fun touch to her room.
DIY Journal Kit: this customizable journal kit is so cute, especially if you have a crafty, journaling kiddo in mind. We’ve gifted this to several friends for birthdays and it has been a well-loved gift.
Chain Bracelet: I am a super (super super) simple jewelry wearer. This linked chain bracelet is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. It is elegant and pretty but still casual and understated. Gold version here.
Carryon Backpack Suitcase: how handy is this backpack carryon that opens up like a suitcase? My son took this to Brazil and it is a staple for travel! Easy to carry and much more functional than stuffing clothes into a regular backpack.
Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard: this keyboard is great for anyone who uses their phone/tablet to type notes, emails, or longer-than-a-text communication. I use it all the time to journal and write down impressions from morning scripture studies (sidenote: I keep it all stored in the Evernote app). It connects seamlessly!
Kikkerland Multi-Tool: I love all the Kikklerand products. They are so unique and clever! I always look for them to add to stockings. This hammer multi-tool is one of our favorites. Search “kikklerand” on Amazon and prepare to be wowed.
AeroGarden: my friend told me about this unique indoor garden and I had to try it out. LOVE IT. The key is to continuously trim the herbs and use them (or freeze them). Mine is in my office and I often find myself just starting at it. It’s amazing how quickly the plants grow!
Massage Gun: Brian got this for Father’s Day this year, and it is used constantly by sore high school wrestlers and basically everyone else around here (except me: I’m a weirdo and can’t stand massage-y anything).
Modern Manners Book: I can’t say enough about this modern manners book. We have volume 1 and 2. It sits open to the current week’s manner in our kitchen, and we use it as part of our family council each Sunday. It has opened up a lot of conversations with our kids (and their friends who see it!).
Noise Canceling Headphones: my 17-year old wanted really expensive headphones for the gym. After a lot of research (and because the ones he wanted were out of stock), I ended up getting him these (over 40,000 five-star reviews) for his birthday, and he has only great things to say about them.
Laneige Lip Gloss: at the risk of sounding completely cliche, I’m obsessed with this lip gloss. I have the grapefruit gloss, and it is truly amazing. Glossy without being super sticky. This would make a great stocking stuffer!
My Favorite Socks: I know these look like “just socks” but they are my FAVORITES. They don’t slip down in the heel when wearing with shoes. They are thick without being bulky. And I wear a pair of them every single day in the fall/winter instead of slippers.
Face Masks: I keep these on hand to give as gifts to friends that have birthdays. And…I can’t help but use them now and then for myself. I love the variety AND how they make my skin feel!
Tea Tree Oil Foot Cream: I am mentally allergic to crusty heels. Enter this foot cream. It is AMAZING. I put it on at night and my feet feel like new little miracles each morning.
Melixir Tinted Lip Balm: I don’t like the thick smeariness of regular lipstick. But sometimes my lips need a boost of color. This tinted lip balm is perfect for giving a hint of color without being lipstick. It’s light in texture, and it doesn’t dry my lips out either! Another great stocking stuffer. I have the nude crumble color.
Capsule Projector: this tiny wi-fi mini projector is quite the fun little gadget. On the pricey end, it’s a great investment for those that like to throw movies up on the wall (or side of the house!). It gets GREAT reviews !
Noco Boost Plus: pure functionality, this portable car battery pack can jump start a dead battery in just seconds and makes a great gift for anyone who owns a car and drives!
Cardigan: this comfy cardigan comes in a million colors! I have it in black and smoky blue, and it’s the perfect outfit to dress up or down.
Saranoni Outdoor Blanket: Saranoni blankets are some of the highest quality, most luxurious blankets ever (and the company is family-owned and run with the type of integrity I wish every company had). Their new outdoor blankets are exceptional! We’ve used ours nonstop this fall. They are definitely a splurge for a blanket…but 100% worth it! I keep ours in the car so we always have it to sit on or bundle up with at fall sporting events.
Tons of other gift guides here if you need more gift-giving inspiration! Happy Holidays!
69 Comments on “Holiday Gift Guide”
Went with Ubongo from last year’s guide, and it’s a hit!! Thanks Mel!
Mel thank you so much for the gift guides each year! (And all the delicious recipes!!) They are such an excellent resource and are my go-to for reliable great gifts! We’ve purchased and enjoyed many of your game and toy ideas, thanks for taking the time to make these! Merry Christmas!! ❤️❤️
What recipes do you include with the mini waffle maker? That’s such a cute gift idea.
Here are the waffle recipes I include:
Thank you so much!!!
I really appreciate that you personally have used everything on this list. It is pretty much the only gift guide I actually trust. I look forward to it every year. Thanks!
Always look forward to this list. The chain bracelet (for me!) arrived today and it’s perfect-simple/casual exactly what I was hoping for. I was pleased to see it came in different sizes …the Small is just right for anyone with smaller wrists – so frustrating buying bracelets sometimes. (Picking up the backpack for my son who takes a train every weekend to visit his fiancé-recently told me he ‘shoves’ his clothes in his old college backpack!)
Mel, Your gift guides are the best!! I love your suggestions (I just ordered two and will be sending a few to my hubby as not so subtle hints!!) and I love that it supports you and your amazing blog! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Thank you so much, Donna!
Your gift guides are my favorite! I’m always sad when I reach the bottom of your posts, I always want more! This year I’m buying from Etsy a marble game called murder. My dad grew up playing it & found his at his parents house after they died. We played it & my whole family loved it! Kind of like Sorry, but with marbles & you really try to get everyone out by “murdering” them. So fun & competitive! They have 4 or 6 player versions on Etsy.
I’m excited about the game you recommended, Alyssa! I think I’m going to order one on Etsy for us as a family gift (we love jokers and marbles which is similar, but the aggravation/murder marble games look so fun!).
I just looked over the list again and ordered the cardigan and lip balm.
Very helpful! I ordered several things from your list…Wits End, Beautiful Boards, and the popcorn popper. A few days ago I realized Christmas was close and I needed to start shopping. I thought of your yearly list and hoped you would post one for 2022. You did! And it’s a great list. Thank you!
I think we all need to get together and play some of these games together. 🙂
I SO appreciate that you have actually used all the items on your gift guide!!!! I don’t read many guides, but I do read yours and often go back through old ones looking for game ideas. Thanks for all you do!!!!
Thanks so much, Robyn!
This was so so helpful. Thank you for taking the time to make these! Teenage boys are so hard but I got some great ideas here.
They are SO hard! Still trying to figure out what to do this year (balancing between simplifying and managing entitlement and my love language which is gift giving)
Thanks for the fun ideas!!
Our family loves “Don’t Cross Me” card game! Available on amazon. The online tutorial is awesome.
Don’t Cross Me: The Clever Rummy-Meets-Crossword Card Game for Lovers of Patterns, Schemes & Crowns | Clean Adult Party Night Games | Perfect for Families in Teens-Tweens Phase | 7 & Up | 2-5 Players
This one was fun, Tiffany! Thanks for recommending it!
Wonderful ideas for gifts! Thanks a lot.
I made this and it was delicious!! Thank you for posting!! It will definitely be one of my go to record!!
Thank you so much, Mel! We love you to the moon and back!! I have been searching your past posts for the Saranoni blankets because I couldn’t remember the name and you read my mind!! Thank you!! Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for all that you do for your readers! We are so blessed to have you!
Thank YOU, Jamie! Happy Thanksgiving!
One of my favorite days of the entire year – Mel’s gift guide day!! Seriously, I love these posts. Thanks so much – I’m heading to Amazon now to buy pretty much everything on the list. And on a food related note, I use your blog every day. Thanks, Mel! Happy Thanksgiving!
Thank you so much, Jacqui! Truly.
Thank you so much for these ideas! I love to get thoughts from people who have actually used the items and loved them. I always love games but am hesitant to buy without getting others input first. I might have even bought myself a late birthday present off this list 😉 I had the gift card but was waiting for the right thing to come along. The waffle maker was just the thing!
So happy to hear this, Cassandra!
If I am remembering correctly, you did a post on subscription boxes for gifts that you really liked. Can you tell me how I can find that again?
Hi Lisa – I talk about the subscriptions here: https://www.melskitchencafe.com/friday-thoughts-17/
Been waiting for this. Now i can officially start christmas shopping!
Been looking forward to this. Now i can officially start christmas shopping! Thanks!
Thanks for doing this. Your gift guides have helped me find gift for our grandchildren over the years. Thanks again!
You are so welcome, Michele!
Thanks so much for this Mel! Now I can finish my Christmas shopping! Always buy games from your list! Thank you for doing this!!! You are a rock star!
You are so welcome, Jen!
Thanks, Mel! I LOVE your gift guides every year and was looking forward to this years! Thank you for providing great ideas for gifts every year – in addition to providing great recipes all year long!! You are one in a million!
Thanks so much, Jenny! Appreciate you.
I love your gift guides. I was so excited to see it today. I wanted to ask you if you have ever heard of the magic puzzle company? My sis-in-law introduced me and I can’t stop doing their puzzles. I thought somewhere you said forever ago that you like puzzles so Im just throwing it out there because these are the best ones I’ve ever done.
I’m so excited to check out those puzzles! We love puzzles and I haven’t heard of that company. Thank, Kristen!
Love it, thank you. Do you offer a Thanksgiving Menu also? I hate planning the meal, I’d rather follow orders!
Yes! Posting some Thanksgiving menu ideas Friday!
Yours is the BEST gift guide every year, hands down. I can’t tell you how many great ideas you’ve provided over the years! Thank you!!
Thank you so much, April!
Would it be possible to get a copy of your favorite waffle recipes you give out with the waffle maker? I love this gifting idea. Thank you!!
P.s. totally missing your friday thoughts I find myself checking and rechecking to see if you ve posted one!!! LOVE THEM!!!
I miss those posts, too! I want to get back to doing more of them, because I feel so connected to all of you when I do. Life has been a bit unpredictable lately…hoping to weather a few storms and then be more on track with those posts!
Here are the waffle recipes I include:
Yay!! Thanks for another round of great gift ideas. They never disappoint and are so helpful. I love that you share the ages of your kids that particularly like an object. Thanks for taking all the time to recommend your favorites!!
If I am remembering correctly, you did a post on subscription boxes for gifts that you really liked. Can you tell me how I can find that again?
I talked about it in this post!
Yay, I was just thinking about your gift guide yesterday and hoping we’d be seeing it soon! Thanks, always appreciate some inspiration
Thanks, Ashley! Sorry it was a few weeks later this year than usual.
How did you know I just emailed family & said ‘I have no idea what I want’????? Problem solved!
LOVE your guides; I buy from them every year without fail! And I can’t tell you how excited I got when I saw the DASH multi mini waffle maker on here; I love it so much! I had the single one for years, but it took so long to get through all the batter. I bought this one a year or so ago…GAME CHANGER. At least twice a month I make a double batch of waffles to keep in the freezer for weekday breakfasts. My kids can pop them in the toaster, and I can stay warm in my bed for an extra 10 minutes.
Oh yay! I’m so glad to hear that, Lynne!
Fantastic ideas! I loved how you gave prices and even, on some ideas, the specific color, you bought and used the gift for.
Thanks, Julie! I wanted to make it as user-friendly and straightforward as possible!
Your ideas ate so helpful! Thank you so much!!
Mel would u reccommend that travel backpack with or without the cube system?
I think it depends on how organized you want to be? I love using the cubes for packing (but my son didn’t use them).
I look forward to this post every year! Check out the game called Kubb. It’s a yard game. Someone brought it to a church picnic a while back and we bought it for Thanksgiving. Simple premise, harder to execute. Fun fact – the girl team beat the boy team!
Yes! We love that one! I think it made an appearance in a gift guide a few years back. So fun!!
Yay!! Thanks for doing this every year Mel. We have definitely benefited from your research and suggestions.
Is it wrong I bought 2 items (popcorn popper and lame) from your gift guide for me? Well my husband will benefit from both, how is that for justification
Not wrong at all!! ☺️