Gift Guide

I’m excited to share some of my favorite things that I’m positive you can’t live one more day without knowing about. Here’s the bonus: many of these would be fantastic for Mother’s Day gifts if you are already on the hunt. Just like I love hearing about other people’s favorite things, I love sharing mine with you (it’s so fun to hear back from you when one of my faves has solidified a place in your heart, too!).

As always, none of these items/links are sponsored. They are just things I’ve been loving; I’ve either bought them myself or been gifted them by awesome friends/family and I want to share them with you. There are a few Amazon affiliate links scattered throughout the post for the products I’ve bought and loved from there. Of course, feel free to shop around for the best price and value!

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1. One of you blessed readers recommended these double-sided measuring spoons to me last year and if it were deemed acceptable to write poetry to measuring spoons, I would. I heart these so much. It’s not so much the magnetic feature (although awesome), it’s that there are two sides to them. Meaning, I can use ONE measuring spoon for vanilla and baking powder. Revolutionary.

2. My sweet mom sent me one of these wrought iron picnic caddies and it is super! There’s a spot for paper plates, plastic utensils and napkins and it’s heavy enough, ain’t nothin’ blowing away in the wind at the park. We’ve used ours both indoors and outdoors for get-togethers. I’ve linked to the one on Amazon although they are a few dollars cheaper at Sam’s Club if you have a store/membership in your neck of the woods (sigh, I don’t).

3. Another recommendation from one of you! I collect whisks like some people collect ceramic chickens. This cool, little ball whisk is awesome. I bought it months ago after one of my favorite whisks broke (sob!) and this thing is sturdy and trustworthy. My only caution is that I don’t love using it on nonstick pans or even in my stainless steel saucepans but it is fabulous whenever I’m whisking something up in a bowl (like, 20 times a day).

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4. If I could be in love with a colander, this would be it. I spied it over the holidays when I was visiting Portland, OR (where I have to always stop at the Crate and Barrel store much to my family’s chagrin). It is life changing. You know how sometimes you set your colander down in the bottom of your sink (because you don’t have three sets of hands) and pour in all the contents from the huge pot of boiling pasta and all that water bubbles up and around the noodles being drained with who knows what kind of germs from the bottom of your sink? Does that gross anyone else besides me? Well, this colander fixes that problem – not to mention it just frees up having to hold the colander until everything is drained and ready to go. I spread this baby out across my sink and pour in whatever needs drained and just leave it there to do it’s job. I was worried the metal would rust and wear poorly but after almost five months of nearly daily use, it’s in perfect condition (I hand wash and let air dry).

5. Brian got me this ice cream maker for my birthday in February. We’d had the smaller model for over a decade (thanks to a generous wedding present) and we used it often, but I can’t say enough about how much more I love this slightly larger version (it makes more ice cream at a time, how could I not love it?). It’s faster, a little bigger and really pretty, you know, cause that matters.

6. Speaking of ice cream, these amazing little homemade ice cream containers have made me a happy homemade ice cream maker. My friend, Makita, had them at her house when our family was there devouring-with-no-shame her homemade ice cream and Brian surprised me with the red one along with that ice cream maker. They keep the homemade ice cream soft and creamy without freezer burn – plus, they come in really cute colors. I only have one right now but that green one is on my wish list.

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7. I have been dying to share this hand cream with you. Dying. If you’ve read some of my gift guides in the past, you know I really love hand (and foot cream) and am very, very choosy (some would say picky) about the kind I use. I can’t get enough of this stuff. It smells amazing – not overpowering, just super light and fresh and lemony and sweet and it makes my hands so incredibly soft. Not just that, it’s actually helped heal several of the deep cracks I get around my fingernail line (curse this dry climate!). I can’t say enough good about it – I’ve given it to several of my friends over the last few months and it’s an understatement to say everyone raves and raves and raves about it. The company (Perfectly Posh, sold through consultants; I found out about it from my famous Aunt Marilyn) has a lot of other great products (like this make-out magic sugar lip scrub – funny name and all) but this hand cream is by far my favorite.

8. Self-tanning is a very personal thing (as in, some people love it, others despise). I have the whitest legs known to mankind and like to get a little color on them without baking in the sun but self-tanners are not created equal. This inexpensive Flawless Fake Bake one is pretty darn good. I don’t go for super dark – just light color – and it doesn’t look fakey-fake. My other favorite is this foam tanner from Rodan+Fields (looks like they are sold out right now, bummer).

9. I’ve raved about my favorite, favorite lip butter from Korres before. I use it daily and was doing {bad} cartwheels when I saw they had a new and improved version in a tube (as opposed to digging it out of the cute little tub with my finger). It’s just as amazing as the original lip butter. I love the Jasmine color.

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10. Games! We love them so much and play them all the time as a family, so of course I’m excited to share our new favorites. First up is Wackee 6. I think it’s been around forever but is new to us and it is a riot. It’s a simple card game (think a crazier, chaotic version of Skipbo). Cards fly all over the place and elbows may be thrown, but it’s all in the name of fun.

11. We just recently played this Word on the Street game at my aunt and uncle’s house and I think it might be my favorite game ever! I love word games and this is a clever game that was equally fun for me as it was for my kids.

12. I’d been hearing for years how hilarious Telestrations is and we finally bought it over the holiday season last year. I can honestly say this game has made us laugh harder as a family than probably any other game we’ve played. Words just can’t even describe. We bought the party pack with 12 players and it has come in so handy when we have extra people over. Fun for kids and adults (or a combination).

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13. I know. Pens. Yawn. Except these Sharpie pens are so awesome, you’d disown me as a friend if I didn’t tell you about them. I am still an old-school paper planner girl and I use these colored pens to color code my life every week. They don’t bleed through, they are smooth as butter to write with and I just love ’em so much.

14. And if not pens, then let’s talk chocolate. My super sweet brother, Nate, sent me Zoe Chocolates for my birthday this year and I have never, ever had such a unique chocolate tasting experience (and I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate in my day). These gourmet, delicious chocolates are perfect if you need a gift for someone who really loves and appreciates good chocolate (and unique flavors!).

15. Shoes. Sandals. I have an obsession and these adorable white wedge sandals from ModCloth are even cuter in real life (plus they are on sale right now!).

Don’t forget to leave any fun recommendations of your own in the comments if you have them!

If you are interested and still wanting to procrastinate dusting those mini blinds, here are a few other gift guides I’ve posted in the past.

74 Responses to Some Favorites + Mother’s Day Mini Gift Guide

  1. Cathy Trang says:

    Hi Melanie,
    One of my friends recommended me your website and I tried some of your recipes and love it. I remember I came across the recipe called copy cat Motreal Steak seasoning that you put together and it was very awesome. I search your site today and I can’t find it.
    Thanks so much for your hard work and thanks for sharing!

  2. Kristen Norby says:

    I just ordered the chocolates for my mom and mother in law. I’m a little sad I won’t get to try any as we live many states away from both.

  3. Angie says:

    I love Bark thins, sold on Amazon and I’ve found them in Costco.
    Olafs in trouble on Amazon is a great game, my kids play it together three times a day.

  4. Sarah says:

    Thanks for all the great ideas– especially the family games! We got Sleeping Queens which you recommended at Christmas time and the kids (3-9) LOVE it. It is a family favorite (of our family and our extended family who we introduced it to). I will definitely check these out too!

  5. Hey Mel,

    You said, “if it were deemed acceptable to write poetry to measuring spoons, I would.”

    Well, I hope you don’t mind, but I did. Although I wrote this from the perspective of owning a set, the truth is that I don’t… but I do plan to buy a set. Please feel free to toss this in the trash once you’ve read it.

    It seems almost never,
    That I see something clever,
    That earns my respect, well these do.
    To take something humdrum,
    Not considered a conundrum,
    And perfect it without saying boo.

    Prepworks’ logic’s refined,
    These are so well designed,
    To use them, it sure is a pleasure.
    They don’t cost that much loot,
    They’re magnetic to boot,
    Makes me long for the next time I measure.

    Most of us have been there,
    When we’re pulling our hair,
    Converting measurements in our head.
    Both imperial & metric,
    Making cooking less hectic,
    So relax & just make the bread.

    The logic is sound,
    The liquid end is round.
    The other is tapered, that’s nice.
    It’s no longer a chore,
    Of having to pour,
    These will fit in the jar for your spice.

    Another thing worth noting,
    Yes it sounds like I’m doting,
    But this makes me take off my hat.
    Other spoons I have found,
    They just roll around,
    But these stay in place ’cause they’re flat.

    In closing may I say,
    Using these makes my day,
    Now, I just need a good closing line.
    If you don’t have yours yet,
    May I suggest that you get,
    Your set of GT-3469.

    Yes, it’s so corny, but so am I. Hope you like it & keep up the great work.


    Timothy, Lori & Ella (the cat)

    • Catherine says:


    • Mel says:

      You have no idea how this made my day, Timothy! Honestly, I was laughing so hard and then read it out loud to Brian and we both got the biggest kick out of it. I can honestly say in my 8 years of blogging, not very many people have written me poetry. Or rather, written measuring spoons poetry! So clever and fun. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Brenda says:

    Looks like a great list! I have the measuring spoons and love them! They are definitely worth it!

  7. Tiffany says:

    You have provided my boys with Christmas and birthday gifts for the past few years!! Just this week we have used side by side basketball hoop, pocket animal books, bow and arrow, zoobs, sleeping queens (love it), and busy town. Thanks for the recommendations!! We also have the ice cream maker and love it, only ice cream we eat these days.

  8. Marci says:

    Sorry, never mind, I saw your comment about it above my comment. Do you have any other favorite things from that website. $100 purchase gets free shipping.

  9. Tested products —- love it. I frequently get ideas and introduction to products I’ve never heard of—-like the double ended measuring spoons. That works for me.

  10. Bethany says:

    I have the same measuring spoons and love them for the same reasons. (Random tip: I found them at either Tjmax or Home Goods for about $7). 🙂 Two years ago my husband grabbed my camera and got some nice pictures of the kids and I as my Mother’s Day gift (I’m the photographer of the family and am rarely in pics). BEST idea ever! We do it every year around Mother’s Day now – and I absolutely LOVE it!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for the tip on the spoons, Bethany – and that is such a fabulous Mother’s Day idea for the pictures with you and the kids. I love that so much.

  11. Jenny says:

    Do you have a salt cellar you recommend?
    In return, how about a book? I recommend the Lady Darby series, by Anna Huber.
    Mt favorite thing to-date that you’ve recommended was the nerf bow. It was $10 around Christmas and it was the cheapest/most favorite of my kid’s gifts.

    • Mel says:

      I do, Jenny! I have this Totally Bamboo Salt Box – mine is the large size (I think the link is for the small size). I’ve had it for years and it sits right by my stove. Love it. Thanks for the book recommendation! ALWAYS looking for those.

  12. Kim in MD says:

    I love your gift lists, Mel! I have those measuring spoons and I love them. In fact, I love them so much I have two sets! Ive been eyeing that colander for some time. I’m going to purchase it today!

    Mel- can we purchase the hand cream from your Aunt Marilyn? Thanks!

  13. Marci says:

    Where do you buy the honey hand cream from?

  14. Holly says:

    I sent the game ‘Cover your assets’ to a friend for her birthday and the whole family loves it. The kids are 9 and 5. Something else I like to give as a gift is covered half sheet pans.

    • Holly says:

      I’ve since tried out “Cover your assets” and it is a blast! Mel – I think your family would have fun with it.

  15. Karen K says:

    Well, you sold me on the hand cream, especially if it has a lemon scent ( but it says ” honey” on the jar). I might get a couple of the games you mentioned. Our favorite, which is SUPER hilarious, perfect for 6-8 people, probably 10 & up, is called “the game of things”. Everyone should have this game. We use it for our monthly game nights with friends.

  16. Karen says:

    I love your shopping guides and not to toot my own horn (okay maybe a little) but I think I was the one who suggested the magnetic measuring spoons and ball whisk. I am obsessed with them and recommend them to everyone! I have two ball whisks. One is stainless balls and another is silicone so I don’t worry as much about the pans.

    • Mel says:

      Yes! That was you, thanks for reminding me, Karen. You can toot your own horn anytime you want especially if you give me such great things to love!

  17. Teresa says:

    What a fun post. You are always so helpful. I actually bought the long oval-ish ice cream container at the end of last summer at Sur La Table, but haven’t used it. I usually make ice cream only in the warmer months, which will be coming soon. Can’t wait to use it and I want to check out those measuring spoons!

  18. I have many of the things on your list and love em! The measuring spoons…awesome, especially the oval sided one that easily gets into spice jars, the colander is also a fave here, the ice cream containers are the single best container I’ve ever used for ice cream, colored sharpies forever…I am also a color coded planner person….now on to the things I want from your list…the picnic caddy, the honey cream, need to check out those games and, yes, I can always use another whisk! Great list!

  19. Judi Habermann says:

    Mel, they also make a ball whisk for Teflon pans. It works great!

  20. Paula says:

    Oh my! Oh my! Love the colander and the Sharpies and the measuring spoons!! Thanks for this list…now let me go shopping!!

  21. April says:

    I love these lists! I have purchased many gifts based on your recommendations. In fact for Christmas, I think that is all I purchased. When I saw this post pop up I was secretly hoping you would post where you’d got your cute shoes that were in a post on instar am (the striped ones). I have been secretly coveting them ever since that post! So please share. Pretty please!

  22. Megan says:

    Mel, I saw the same thing at Christmas….looking up stuff from your gift guides and in the “frequently purchased with…” section, there would be a few other things from your list. I love the lip butter but happy I won’t have to dip my finger anymore. And I have had the plastic version of those measuring spoons for awhile…..the numbers are starting to wear off though so I need to upgrade to stainless steel :). I have purchased many others of your favorites, so I will share a couple of mine: LUSH Body Buffy bar, zoya nail polish, and johnson’s buddies easy grip bath soap (for kids… package…easy to hold on to and never lose soap in the bath water again). And chocolate brownie goldfish. 🙂

  23. Sara H. says:

    I LOVE your gift guide posts! I also refer to them time and again when I am searching for a perfect gift. We bought sleeping queens over Christmas and have loved it. I have bought the true lime in a bottle and love it. Anyway, we had enjoyed several things on your gift guides so thank you so much! I know that your little girl is still young but one thing that you may want to consider for her is Pop Arty Beads. You can make necklaces, bracelets, etc. They are fun shapes and textures and don’t require that you string the beads on like a necklace.

  24. Cordelia says:

    I appreciate your posts so very much. I am going to try that hand cream! I never heard of Perfectly Posh.

  25. Kelsey says:

    Oh I love these posts! I think I will order the chocolates for my MIL for Mother’s Day. And my legs just might be whiter than yours so thanks for the fake bake suggestion! Does it smell ok? Some self-tanners have a funny smell. Is the color on the lip butter subtle or are the darker colors pretty bright? Thanks, Mel!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Kelsey! The tanner doesn’t have a super strong chemically smell like a lot of them but it still has a bit of that classic self-tanner smell. I find it goes away after a few hours though and it’s a lot better than others I’ve tried. I’ve only ever used the Jasmine color on the lip butter which is very, very subtle.

  26. Anne says:

    I have those measuring spoons! .I got mine a Kohl’s (with a 30% off coupon)- I don’t know how I lived without them. Genius to have a dry ingredients and wet ingredients side.

  27. Kira says:

    I’ll add to the choir-you have the BEST gift guides!!! Most bloggers “gift guides” just feel like a big advertisement. In fact, I quit one blog because they were constantly “recommending” the most useless stuff-you could tell they had just gotten it for free in order to write about it and I hated how unauthentic. Yours, on the other hand, I ended up buying most things. We are in LOVE with Sleeping Queens and I had never heard of it before you!

  28. Oh I’m excited to try that hand cream, I hope they ship to Canada (you know, for less than the price of the actual cream!), I get the worst cracks on my fingertips, and they don’t even go away in the summer anymore! 🙁 And games! We need some new games, my son is obsessed with Yahtzee right now, and as much fun as it is, it starts to wear thin when you’re playing it 16 times a week! 🙂

  29. Jamie says:

    I love your gift guides! I think I bought about half of your Christmas list one to give as gifts and my sister bought the other half to give to me. Thanks!

  30. norniea says:

    I had never heard of Perfectly Posh products (I’m not a big shopper). But I just ordered 3 items! I can’t wait to try them. Thanks!

  31. Terry says:

    I have two boys, 11 and 13, and we love to play games. We don’t have any of the three you mentioned, but I’m sure we will soon! We especially love small games that can travel with us. Two of our favorites are Set and Sleeping Queens, and our newest favorite is Gubs. Your boys would love that one!

  32. Teresa says:

    I have a question about the Perfectly Posh products. I had never heard of them before today. Do you know someone who is a consultant? I’d like someone to get credit for my purchase! I’m going to buy the hand cream for my mom, my sister, and me. Thank you!

    Thanks for posting all of these! I want to get all of them for Mother’s Day for my mom!

  33. Elizabeth says:

    Well, my Amazon wish list just got A LOT longer!

  34. Jackie says:

    Yay! I love it when you do these. I always discover a favorite I never knew I had. And I have been looking for a picnic caddy for a couple of months so I hurried and ordered that one before they run. Things tend to do that when you recommend them. Did you know that? A few months ago I had to laugh, when you did a gift guide at Christmas time I went to the Amazon link for one of your recommendations then I went to the “customers who viewed this also viewed this” and every single thing on there was your recommendations. A few of my family’s favorite games we are Qwirkle and Killer Bunnies. All my boys, from ages 3-11, love them but they are the type of games that adults enjoy playing too. Also my husband and I and our older kids love to play Dominion- we just have to original but I hear some of the expansions are fun too.

    • Mel says:

      That’s funny, Jackie – I didn’t know that! I hope all these things are available for a long time (or I’ll be sad, too!). Thanks for the game recommendations. We love Qwirkle, too, but don’t have Killer Bunnies or Dominion.

  35. Becky says:

    First time to experience a favorite’s post. Loving it! Wish I had known about this when choosing a bday gift for my nephew:) Thank you! Now I might get lost for a while reading previous favorites.

  36. Janet says:

    We recently purchased the same ice cream maker…..Cuisinart is a fave of mine for many products. My son wanted a larger deep fryer so much, he bought it himself, and was I ever surprised……….crumbs can fall to the bottom where the oil stays cooler instead of burning.

  37. Rebekah says:

    I had been using tubs of butter with canola oil for years, but whenever I had straight butter it tasted so good! So I tried putting sticks of butter in a dish on the counter to keep it soft. While this worked pretty well I always wondered in the back of my mind if it was really safe. That’s when I saw a post of yours where you recommended a butter crock! I searched the Internet for one that I thought would work best for me and in the end found that the Le Creuset looked the best. I asked for it for Christmas and it is wonderful! Keeps butter even creamier than just leaving it in a dish, holds a whole stick of butter (one my my reasons I picked it) and is so cute! I got the blue one like the one in your picture and it goes great in my blue kitchen. Thanks for the recommendation! It has revolutionized our butter spreading experience!

    • Mel says:

      I agree, Rebekah – that butter crock is one of my favorite things EVER and I love knowing we both have the cute blue one.

      • lori says:

        Ok since I love LeCreuset, I had to check out this butter crock. I don’t get it!! The butter goes in the lid and then upside down into the crock???

        • Rebekah says:

          Yes, that is right. You put water in the bottom which seals the butter and you change the water every two or three days. I know people have had trouble with the butter falling out into the water but I never have. As long as you put the butter in when the dish is dry it will not fall out. To use it you put the lid upside down on the counter and use like a regular dish. It is great!

        • Liz says:

          Another butter crock user…yes per Rebekah. I change the water whenever I “get” butter. I will say, that even here in NW Montana…in Summer, when it is hot (all is relative!)…and the butter gets too soft, I store it in the frig until temps cool late summer/early fall.

        • Mel says:

          Yep, you press the butter tightly in the little bowl and then fill the larger base with water up to the fill line. Tip the filled butter crock upside down into the base and the water creates a seal on the butter – keeping it creamy, soft and spreadable. We use ours every single day!

  38. Alicia says:

    I have the wrought iron picnic caddy (love it) and the colander, which I’ve had for years. I have the same issues with concerns about germs floating up from the sink, and I adore my colander for that very reason. I think I just might need that hand cream, like immediately! I love your gift guides, and am now officially hooked on basil Meyer’s dish soap (among other things) thanks to you. 🙂

  39. Marisa says:

    I love these lists! I always end up adding so many of your recommendations to my Amazon wish list.

  40. Cindy says:

    Saboteur Card Game was our Christmas game this past year, I wish we could have played it when our kids were young, but they enjoyed it as adults too.

  41. Sheila says:

    I love these posts full of tried and true recommendations and full of wonderful gift ideas! I keep going back to these favorites posts continually throughout the year as one of my products empties out then I try a Mel favorite. Or when I need a gift. Love the shoes but (sigh) within 10 minutes of putting on white apparel it becomes spotted with all sorts of mysterious debris.

    • Mel says:

      I know what you mean, Sheila! I should probably avoid white shoes at all costs but these were too adorable to pass up. I’ll have to choose the occasion and company for when I wear them carefully. 🙂

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