Holiday gift guide for everyone you know

I know giving gifts can be super stressful, especially when we are just giving gifts for the sake of giving gifts and spending money, rather than giving gifts to spark joy and to care for someone we love. Make sure to watch today's Stress Less Holiday Advent Calendar for some tips on how to re-think gift giving.

In order to help you feel a little stressed out this holiday season I've put together a gift guide with some of my favorite things I love to give.


Kids of all ages

Ok, here is the thing: most kids have way too much stuff and the older they get the more they ask for things you know they will rarely play with. Again, I hate giving gifts just for the sake of giving, but I also think that giving gifts to children is the funnest thing to do for Christmas. So I have compiled some of my favorite toys and books for younger kids. For older kids I like to think of activities that are fun to do in your area. Gift vouchers for activities and a day spent together is the perfect idea. For example we have trampoline park close by that we love. You can find interactive museums, movies, theater performances (such as the Lion King musical). Look for art and craft studios where they can make something out of clay. Take them to an amusement park, a parade, or other local holiday activities in your area. It doesn't have to be grand and expensive, and it doesn't always have to be the trendiest toy.

This was Baby Zand's favorite baby book. The rhymes are fun, the pictures gorgeous, and the story just heart warming!

We had a similar one to these and it has provided endless hours of fun in our house. What I loved most about it was that it was easy to pick up and bring it to another room. Hello quick shower for me while Baby Zand entertained herself with this next to the bathtub!

An inspiring toddler book at its finest. The art work alone is so worth it and the story makes me cry every time!

Baby Zand was gifted these for her birthday this year, and they have been a huge hit! Endless hours of creativity have come of this.

If you want bedtime to be a little easier - both for your child and you! - then check out our favorite Goodnight Yoga book. This way Baby Zand gets interaction with me, she calms down her nervous system to sleep better, and I get to lie around and read a story instead of wrestling her into bed. Grab the yoga mat underneath, too, and you've got yourself a gorgeous and practical gift!

These mats are inexpensive and they come in all kinds of designs. They are a little smaller for kids and super light.

This is a subscription box service with engineering entertainment for kids of all ages. I wouldn't buy the subscription service, since I think that is not worth it and I am not a fan of all these subscription boxes out there... However, you can also order single boxes (especially holiday themed ones) that make a perfect one-time gift.

A friend just told me about this and I love this idea: you adopt a species that needs help in this world (baby penguins anyone?!?) and the child gets a certificate and a little stuffed animal. This way there is still a gift for the child but also the idea of helping and giving this season.


For the techie in your life

When Arman and I spent our first Christmas together, I gave him a box with special memories from our year - a business card from the restaurant we had our first date at, a wine cork from a special night out, some bath bombs, you get the idea. I gave the gift I loved to get. He, on the other hand, gave me a new ipod to teach my classes with. A gift he loved to get - something that plugs in. We were both dissapointed and we have both learned our lessons since then. I now look all year long for the perfect gifts that plug in... and he gets me ipods that are engraved :-)

I have never gotten these, they are always my back up gift every year. I think they are a great idea for skiing, running or just taking public transportation while wanting to be entertained and warm!

Bluetooth speaker for the shower - for the person who has all other tech related gifts :-)...

If you have ever read anything on this blog or worked with me, then you know how much I am NOT a fan of scales. However, my husband is the complete opposite and wants to measure everything - calorie intake, carbs, protein, fat, and his weight. So there you go, a scale that connects to an app. He loves it!

Ok, this was something he really wanted since he always struggles with his posture. A lot of other devices are huge, but this one is tiny, connects to an app, and can be worn very discreetly.

Even though it is not BBQ season, and he actually got this one for himself at some point, it is THE gadget he swears by for all of his BBQ cooking.


For the foodie

I once wrote about a list of useless kitchen tools, but these scissors are actually quite brilliant for really quick chopping of herbs.

Since straws seem to be blamed for everything to do with our environment why not give these glass straws that are stylish enough for parties but durable enough for everyday use of your green smoothie?

This is a very elaborate gift for a foodie who has everything: a smoking cloche for impressive hosting. I do not have one but it is on my bucket list :-)

No matter how you eat - vegan, ket, paleo, gluten-free, no label - this cookbook is fabulous to learn how to prepare any vegetable from artichoke to zucchini. I have gifted this book so many times and it has been the book of the month on the blog as well.

This local spice shop if my absolute favorite place to buy gifts and you can order from them online to ship in the US. Our favorite spice mixes are the chai tea, Persian lime curry powder, and the Sriracha sea salt.


For the adventurous and fit friend

These gifts are some of my favorite things that are great for activities.

This may seem stupid at first, but I was given one of these belts and it's fabulous for running and hiking. Because it is flat it's not in the way of carrying a child but it still holds your phone, money, and keys in place.

By far my favorite water bottle! The top does not leak, which is crucial for me when I throw a bottle into my bag. The water keeps cool and doesn't taste weird like it would from a plastic bottle

For the friend or partner who loves to work out give them a voucher to Classpass. With this pass they can try many different kinds of classes in their area - Classpass works worldwide!

If you know someone who travels for the holidays, then give them this travel yoga mat. I have tried many over the years and this is by far my favorite. It's not the lightest product but it does roll up nicely to take up little space and it doesn't make you slip and slide once you get sweaty!


Homemade gifts

I love giving homemade gifts! I usually make one big batch of something and gift this to everyone on my list. It's personal and delicious and means you don't have to run around like crazy trying to find the perfect gift.

These Christmas energy balls were my first energy balls I ever posted on the old Alive Shanghai blog and they are still my favorite! Every year I make several batches of these to gift and eat myself. They give you all the Christmassy flavors without making you feel stuffed and heavy. And they are a huge crowd pleaser!

What is Christmas without gingerbread cookies? These are vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, and so delicious! Baby Zand loves making them.

These holiday spiced nuts - savory and sweet - are the perfect gift that is so easy to make. You can also serve them as an appetizer for your own holiday feast.

These relaxing herbal teas are my go-to for homemade gifts. You just need a few herbs in bulk, mix, fill into cute glass jars, and you're done! I also have free printable labels available for you right here.


A note on host gifts

You may be lucky enough to go to someone's house and you don't have to host - which brings with it a whole other level of stress! :-) . Either way, when looking for a great host gift mkae sure you know a little about them. I love bringing homemade gifts (see above) when I know there are no food allergies. If you are not sure, then non-food gifts may be a better idea such as a nice kitchen towel and wooden spoon, the glass straws from above or some of these ideas below:

Oh what can I say about Anthropologie and its kitchen section? It's what my kind of heaven looks like! Buy a cute serving bowl or platter for your host, it can be re-used over and over again. And if you don't have Anthropologie you can always seek out local ceramics makers that will have beautiful gift options!

I am in love with this peaceful home crystal kit for any host. You know that feeling when your home was full with people and their energy and all the stress continue to linger around until you've cleaned up? Well, this crystal kit helps to get the home back into a peaceful, loving state.

I love giving diffusers with a beautiful essential oil blend from my favorite shop Saje. Diffusers can be re-used over and over again, they are more child-friendly than candles, and they give every home a beautiful atmosphere.


That's it from me! I hope this little guide helps you to be less stressed - and even if these are not the right gifts for you, hopefully they sparked some other ideas.


#holidays #giftideas #homemade