I am all for less-is-more with gifts. I’d rather find one or two quality items or experiences that actually bring joy or function to the recipient, rather than buying a bunch of random junk so there is “stuff” to unwrap.
With inflation and instability rampant right now, remember that “things” may not be what people in your life could use right now, either. Masses being offered, free babysitting, gas cards, some quality grocery items, covering a utility bill, or a note alongside some homemade baked goods might be exactly what someone needs!
Babies and Toddlers
Here are a few ideas for the tiny new ones in your life:
- A Baby’s First Christmas ornament – this keepsake ornament from Hallmark is lovely, and if you have a local gift shop they are sure to have beautiful options for the newest little one in your life.
- Shaker eggs – They’re light-weight so babies can lift them, and they make that fun sound. We shake them to music, roll them down the slide, play grocery shopping with them and more.
I love this natural wood option out there!
- Stainless steel mixing bowls with lids found here. It may sound silly, but babies love things that feel real. They can put other items (like those shaker eggs!) into the bowls, and the bowls can be stacked when their lids are on them. We’ve had this set for years and they’ve been a favorite toy.
- These large silk scarves from Simply Sweet Fabric found here on Amazon have been used almost daily in our home for the last 4 years. They are fun to play peek a boo with babies with, to stuff into an old tissue box for them to pull out, and the uses continue through childhood as costumes, play picnic blankets, and more. They are incredibly high quality and have held up amazingly.
Before I get to physical items, don’t forget about looking into any experiences local to the child you’re shopping for! Think:
- Passes for ice skating
- Tickets to a matinee, play, or music performance
- A day or season pass to a zoo, aquarium, or children’s museum
- A special date going to pick out a new book at the bookstore than enjoying it with homemade hot chocolate
- Crayola Scribble Srubbies are cute little animals you can color all over with the special markers, then wash them in the palm tree and you can color them all over again. These are a favorite at our house on a rainy day!
- This kinetic sand is an addicting to play with, moldable product that feels almost exactly like working with wet sand. My girls will literally sit with it uninterrupted for 30 – 60 minutes at a time, easy. It cleans up so easily that we use it in the house all the time.
- My girls love this lacing set from Melissa and Doug. It keeps little hands busy and these can be used over and over!
- A fun Catholic sewing project for an older child would be picking out one of these Sew A Saint dolls from Faith and Fabric. I haven’t ordered one of these yet, but I’ve seen so many people on social media enjoying these!
- If you have a little girl obsessed with babies like our girls are, the ultimate gift is this weighted silicon dolly that we got Philomena for her birthday a couple years ago.
The investment meant we had to go in on it with both sets of grandparents, but trust me, she didn’t complain about not getting anything else because she is *obsessed* with this dolly. It is made entirely of squishy silicon and weighs almost 5 pounds, so it really looks and feels like a real baby. She has even fooled adults after Mass who thought it was real. This is by far the most played with toy in our home, even a year and a half later, and well worth the investment for the incessant use it gets!
- Our favorite little kid board game is definitely good old Candy Land! My girls play it almost every day and its just a great quick game to enjoy all together.
- Magnetic tiles aren’t anything new these days, but we really like this style from Amazon. We’ve had them a couple years and the quality is excellent – not a single one has broken yet. These are a bit more affordable than the solid ones, and we think its a bit more fun to create things with them!
- Another fun lacing option is this other lacing set that uses beads instead of boards. I like these beads because they’re bigger than the other sets I’ve seen, so they don’t seem like a choking hazard if there are baby siblings around. Zelie uses these a lot with us at the table while I am doing Kindergarten with Philomena.
- Water Wow! Books are a fantastic, non-messy activity for waiting at appointments, on long car rides and plane trips, and just for fun around the house. You fill the pen with a little water and it colors the beautiful pages. Once the water dries the pages are ready to be colored again, able to be reused countless times!
- This crinkle cutter is a kid-friendly option for kids to help cut in the kitchen. I am giving one to my niece this year!
A great creative toy are Perler Bead kits! Remember these as a kid? The pegboards can be reused over and over – you just use a special cloth provided to iron the little creation together. I’m excited for the girls to try these this year!
If you have an emerging reader, they may enjoy Zingo. It is a sight word bingo type game which we are giving Philomena this year, since she is reading.
Our girls recently got this multi-card-game set and they play them together constantly.
If you want more ideas for toys I have a whole post about our toy setup from when the girls were little here that has other ideas.
Books are a favorite gift around here – the following is a selection of books perfect for Advent, Christmas, or the whole year!
- The First Christmas Night is our family’s favorite Christmas book! It rhymes like Twas the Night Before Christmas, telling the nativity story. The illustrations are *stunning*, and we never tire of reading it!
- Our second favorite is Twas The Evening of Christmas, which also sets the nativity story to the poem Twas the Night Before Christmas. It’s pictures are not quite as pretty as the previous book, but they did a great job with the rhymes on this one!
- My mother sent the girls a copy of the new book The Spider Who Saved Christmas which Sophia Institute Press released last year. It tells the legend of the spider who made a web over the cave where the Holy Family hid while trying to escape King Herod. The girls had me read this to them over and over last year!
- To go with the Spider Who Saved Christmas, last year we ordered the girls these spider ornaments from MoodyElizabeth on Etsy. There are a European tradition to commemorate the spider in the legend, and they unwrapped them on December 28th, the Feast of the Holy Innocents.
- Shh… Baby Jesus is Sleeping is a great little board book for a baby or toddler.
- A Gift from Saint Francis: The First Creche tells the story of Saint Francis choosing his life of virtuous poverty, and eventually re-staging the Nativity story in his Italian village.
- The Animals’ Christmas Eve is a lovely rhyming story about the animals who tell the story through the ages of their long ago kin in the stable who worshipped the infant King in the manger.
- Similar to The Spider Who Saved Christmas from above, The Christmas Donkey is another legend about Baby Jesus being saved from King Herod. This time, Saint Joseph purchases a poor donkey who he saw being cruelly treated by it’s mean owner. The donkey brings them to safety as they flee to Egypt!
- A Child’s Christmas ABC Book: Angels in the Air Arrayed is a beautiful Christmas poem about the first Christmas night, featuring lovely poems! I am excited to give this to the girls this year!
- A wonderful addition to an Advent collection is Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is an intricate, beautiful pop-up book which will be a treasured during a feast day celebration!
- To kick off the non-Christmas books, we are so excited for this new Latin Mass Missal for young children! It just came out and if it is anything like the author’s other books, it will be fantastic!
- Our Lady’s Wardrobe is Zelie’s favorite book. It shows the beautiful wardrobe of Our Lady, shown through gorgeous images of her various apparitions. The cadence of this book makes it a pleasure to read, too!
- The Brambly Hedge complete series tells the story of the little mice that live in Brambly Hedge, complete with full color illustrations I adored as a child of their intricate little woodland homes.
- The Little House on the Prairie series has been greatly enjoyed by my girls, thus far. It has helped them really understand how different the world has been in so many different ways, and they’ve learned so much from them.
- The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith is a beautiful little story about the inestimable value of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is a simple but clever story, and my girls enjoy it!
- Take it to the Queen: A Tale of Hope is from the same author of The Weight of a Mass. This story of a specially chosen handmaiden by the King to be the Queen of a people He loved is a lovely allegory for the Blessed Mother.
- Angel In the Waters is a book that tells the beautiful story of a baby in the womb talking to it’s guardian angel about what is to come. It’s such a sweet perspective seeing everything from the baby’s point of view, and really special for kids to be able to know about how they grew written with grace by a Catholic author. (This is especially great for pregnant mothers to share with their children anticipating a new baby’s arrival!)
- Another all-time favorite book for my girls is Steam Train, Dream Train. This is such a fun book to read with a great cadence to the rhymes and adorable illustrations of animals loading up a train with all kinds of fun cargo. I gave Zelie a new copy last year because the one I was given at Philomena’s baby shower was literally falling apart from hundreds of readings over the last four years!
I find adults are often times much more difficult to shop for than children. Same as with my experience ideas for kids, check and see what events in your area might be coming to give an experience to your recipient. Another idea is to offer babysitting so they can go to an event if childcare is something they could use.
- If you follow my Instagram you know how much I love baking sourdough, and I learned using these online Sourdough Schoolhouse classes (affiliate link) on how to make traditional sourdough bread. I have been using this course for a year and my family is *obsessed* with my sourdough creations.
This is delicious, properly prepared bread that the body can usually very easily digest because the fermentation process actually eliminates most of the gluten. Sourdough 101 teaches the beginner to make and care for your starter and bake delicious sourdough bread, pizza dough, bagels, rolls, pretzels and more. You get to join a Facebook group with your fellow classmates and the master bakers at Sourdough Schoolhouse and access your classes and recipes forever! Use my code “TNCM25” for a 25% discount at checkout!
- Sacrifice beads are a wonderful way of setting a goal of making 10 sacrifices or good deeds a day for love of God, reparation for sin, and the salvation of souls. I was recently gifted a set of these gorgeous sacrifice beads from Happy Nest Home Goods which I have been eying for two years! The high quality beads are held snugly with the string that will let you keep track of where you are in your sacrifices for the day.
She was so kind as to give my readers 10% off any order over $35 through the end of the year. Use coupon code “NCM2021” and get the discount on all items in her shop, including her embroidery kits , essential oil diffuser necklaces, and peg dolls! (Discount should automatically apply using that link!)
- If you have a hard to shop for relative who loves photos, look at the Skylight Frame! We gave this digital frame to Ethan’s parents for their 50th Anniversary this year and they love it! All of their kids can email photos to the frame which show up within 60 seconds to the frame. It took less than 5 minutes to set up and they’re thrilled with it. The display is crystal clear and it lets you show a wide variety of photos and keep them updated without massive gallery walls.
- Divine Intimacy is a stunning spiritual masterpiece written by a Carmelite priest which I have found invaluable in my own spiritual life. The daily meditations relate to where we are in the liturgical year, making it even more useful, although you can always jump around to any topic you may be needing to pray about. From suffering, abandonment to God’s will, and peace, to living a life of charity, faithfulness, and obedience to God, every home should have a copy of this book! (I have this beautiful leather bound version which is a bit more expensive than the one linked at the beginning of this paragraph.
Catholic Printing Press has these gorgeous paper lace holy cards that would be a wonderful addition to a love one’s missal or to use as a spiritual reading book mark, or even displayed in a frame.
- Flexi Clips from Lila Rose are my favorite hair accessories. They stay put all day, don’t pull hair or leave indentations like elastics do, and they make a basic pony or half up hairstyle look extra special and pretty. I’ve owned some of these for years – I even wore one on my wedding day! I have a little Lila Rose party link I’m hosting with Rosie from “A Blog For My Mom” that you can shop by clicking here for these super long lasting, sturdy, beautiful hair clips that come in a ton of styles.
- My favorite book read in 2021 was He Leadeth Me, by Father Walter Ciszek. Father spent 23 years in Russian prison camps around WWII, and oh, how he suffered well for love of God and the salvation of souls! His incredibly well-written, awe-inspiring true story will surely touch you, and also teach you so much about how to live each day embracing the crosses God has sent, and praying for priests. This is a must-have for the Catholic reader you need a gift for!
- If you have a coffee or tea drinker in your life, these auto seal spout stainless steel to-go mugs from Contigo are my favorite for taking hot and cold beverages on the go. (Or to keep my coffee hot throughout the morning around the house!) They seriously don’t leak and they hold their temperature for hours.
- Another coffee/tea drinker gift is this beautiful mug from Annunciation Designs! I got one for Ethan for Father’s Day this last year and he loves it. It is super high quality, totally made in the USA which is a lovely bonus, and the quote is perfect. (Elayne has code “TWOMUGS “for $3 off 2 or more mugs)
- This Miraculous Medal Tie Bar from on Etsy would be a really thoughtful and useful gift for the gentleman in your life.
- Buying for an avid reader? One of my favorite novels is “In This House of Brede” by Rumor Godden. It’s a classic originally published in 1969 that tells the story of a powerful British executive who leaves it all behind to join a convent. With a tragic past slowly revealed alongside the fascinating inner-workings of a cloister, this story is really hard to put down!
- Organic lip balm is a wonderful stocking stuffer. Our favorite is this set from Cliganic which is silky smooth, doesn’t have any junk in it, and all of the flavors smell amazing.
- If someone in your life needs a durable Rosary, this combat Rosary from Rug ged Rosaries would be a great, functional, prayerful gift. They offer customizable center piece medals, too!
- Bend Soap is a lovely family business out of Bend Oregon who makes the most hydrating, luxurious goat milk soap products. We love their bar soap and goat milk baths. They have a ton of different products that are naturally scented via essential oils that smell amazing and have totally clean ingredients. Some items from them would be a great little gift or stocking stuffer.
- One of my favorite books for spiritual reading is the Imitation of The Sacred Heart of Jesus. (I talked all about it here in my prayer routine post.) I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t gain a lot from reading this spiritual classic.
- Quality, 100% beeswax candle tapers like these would be a wonderful, non-toxic gift with a sweet smell for the hostess in your life! I have used these myself and they’re so sweet smelling and slow burning. Etsy also has lots of beeswax candle options, as would a local health food store.
- For really really hard to shop for people like grandparents that often seem to have just everything, I love doing a custom calendar with special photos from the last year. Calendars and other custom photo gifts are something nice for dad’s office, too!
- Don’t forget the beauty of spiritual bouquets! Having Masses offered, or offering Rosaries and special prayers or holy hours for those you love are a beautiful gift you can give! I like to give a little bouquet of actual flowers or a pretty plant in addition to writing down the contents of the spiritual bouquet on pretty cardstock.
I hope this gave you some ideas for gifts and experiences that will bring joy and function to those you love this Christmas season.