Christmas is the time of year we are thinking of everyone else, and so it should be! But when my husband is asking me for a last-minute gift idea for myself, I usually scramble a bit trying to remember what it was I really wanted/needed. It pays off to have a bit of a Christmas list, even for Mom. I should also warn you – the things that really get me excited are practical gifts, so you know what to expect from this list. ?
The Busy Mama’s Practical Gift Guide
(With some books thrown in.)
An ironclad planning system is essential for every busy mama.
I have tried and loved so many! My favorite versatile system is the discbound system. It allows total customizability of your planner. You can move or add pages to the planner without damaging them. My favorite part about the discbound system is that you can easily create a spiral-like notebook completely from printable planners like the ones in my Etsy Shop!
- The Happy Planner. I love the Happy Planner discbound system! It is set up pretty much exactly like the Erin Condren planner, but way more affordable. Check out the various extensions for the Happy Planner to customize to your heart’s content.
- The Happy Planner Disc Punch. If you use planner printables (like the ones in my Etsy Shop), you can print them and punch them with this disc punch to add them to a discbound system like the Happy Planner. You can even buy rings and assemble your own planner from scratch!
- The Purposeful Life Planner. I created this printable planner to accompany my free course, 7 Days to Life Purpose and Organization. The planner includes pages for morning / evening routines, 5% habits, and steps to forming your personal mission statement and priorities. This planner would be awesome with a discbound system or a Filofax A5 sized cover like the one pictured above. The planner pictured above is the weekly calendar extension pack to the Purposeful Life Planner.
FOR THE HOME:
- The Instant Pot. First on my list this Christmas is the Instant Pot. Have you been hearing as much about this as I have? My friend had me over to demonstrate her Instant Pot for lunch one day. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that she could brown her pork roast on the sauté function then close the pot and the roast was done in 45 minutes. She also made the rice on the rice setting in the same pot! Last night I was scrambling to make soup that needed an hour to simmer, between busy events. It would have been amazing to cut that hour down to 15 minutes with the Instant Pot. I also enjoy making yogurt – which apparently is another function on the pot!
- Dutch Oven. If you don’t have a good Dutch Oven, it would be a lovely Christmas gift to receive. I make soups and chilis in my Dutch oven, but mostly I use it to bake our favorite sourdough bread, which I make several times a week. Side note: I cannot have gluten, but I can handle traditional, long-rise sourdough bread, finished with rice flour! If you struggle with gluten, I highly recommend this easy no-knead recipe from The Mad Fermentationist. If you have already tried sourdough, your next step might be trying this bread baker for more of a loaf shape!
- Clean Air Plants. I have slowly been accumulating plants to clean the air inside our house for a few years. I also like to experiment with taking starts off those plants and potting new ones to put around the house. If you are not familiar with why house plants are so important and useful, read Wellness Mama’s post here. I recently read that air plants are also a great way to clean the air! They are so trendy and cute too.
- Himalayan Salt Lamp. On the clean air topic – have you heard of a Himalayan salt lamp? I’m adding this to my Christmas list! If you have environmental allergies in the home, or if you worry about electromagnetic radiation from all the electronics and wifi signals flying around your home, salt lamps are a great way to help purify your air. Setting a salt lamp next to the television or computer can help neutralize electromagnetic radiation, several is better!
- Electric Kettle. When we were in Europe last year our hosts had a couple of these and I wondered why I had never bought one. I finally got one and I absolutely love it. I use it with my Aeropress each day for my afternoon coffee and for tea in the evenings. It’s really helpful with my deep-cleaning around the house when I need to pour boiling water down the drains. I also use it for making huge batches of tea for my kombucha.
FOR THE DIYER
If you are like me and enjoy DIYing, these are the DIY gifts at the top of my list!
- Critter Spray Gun. Imagine never using a brush and roller to paint furniture, baseboards, or doors!! A Critter spray gun requires an air compressor.
- Cordless Nail Gun. How fun would this be? Air compressors are cumbersome. I trip over the cords while I take a break from my project to make dinner. This cordless nail gun is definitely on my list of wants. If it’s not on your list, surely it will be on your husband’s.
These are the gifts on this list that are dearest to my heart.
It feels as if I am sharing eight of my oldest and dearest friends with you. I wanted to gather titles for you that you may be unfamiliar with, but are well-told stories that you won’t be able to put down. Ask for one as a stocking stuffer. You need to be reading one of these by the fire this holiday season (preferably while Daddy watches the kids).
Disclaimer: Some of these books, as you’ll see by my descriptions, have quite a bit of drama and some violence. The Mark of the Lion trilogy probably comes closest to any sensuality, but they are written by a Christian author who values morality and is careful with her wording.
- The Mark of the Lion Trilogy. This trilogy makes me think of Christmas – but I’m not sure why! Perhaps the new books were released just before Christmas and that is when I got to devour the next title. I haunted the local Christian bookstore until the owner offered to hire me when I turned 15 (I was 12). I worked there from age 15-20. These are some of my all-time favorite historical fiction books. A Jewish girl, enslaved away from her family in a Roman household, grows in her faith in Jesus as Messiah and prays for boldness to share with those in the pagan Roman culture around her.
- The Phantom of the Opera. You might be familiar with the Broadway play, but this Phantom doesn’t have any magic up his sleeve. He is an expert ventriloquist, musical genius, and mad inventor who terrorizes the Paris Opera House within it’s many secret passageways, doors, and tunnels. His obsession with Christine leads to madness in this famous gothic tale.
- A Girl of the Limberlost. This is a young adult fiction book, appropriate for young or old adults! Elnora Comstock is a poor girl with a scornful mother who doesn’t blend in with the students at her college with her clumpy boots and shabby clothes. She cannot afford the books and tuition, until the nature in the swamp around her provides a way.
- This Rough Magic. Visit the idyllic Greek island of Corfu in this well-spun mystery by Mary Stewart.
- The Hiding Place. This is a book I must re-read because it’s been too long! This is an autobiography by Corrie ten Boom, a follower of Christ who, along with her family, built a secret room in their home to help Jews escape Nazis in the Netherlands.
- Jane Eyre. Hopefully you have read this one! But if not, it will leave you wanting more of the Bronte sisters’ writing. Like Phantom of the Opera, this is a gothic tale rife with mystery and intrigue. Jane encounters an unlikely romance interrupted by bizarre circumstances surrounding her husband-to-be’s secret past.
MY OTHER CURRENT FAVORITES:
Some of these might not be your idea of a great Christmas gift, but they are some current favorites of mine! As in, I’m a little obsessed.
- 23andMe DNA test. If you or your husband are nerdy like we are, and don’t have a detailed genealogy, the 23 and Me DNA test would be a really quirky but fun Christmas gift! We just ordered one for my husband. He is always told by Middle Easterners that he looks Lebanese, so we are curious if he isn’t the mixed European we always thought he was. I’ll keep you updated!
- The Seagate Wireless Hard Drive. For the techy mom. I always have a hard time explaining this! I’ll start off by saying, this has been a life-saver on road trips with the kids. You can “rip” DVD movies on your computer (I use MacX DVD Ripper Pro) and save them to this Seagate hard drive. The hard drive will emit a wifi signal that you can connect up to 3 devices to within a small area, like a car. We bought refurbished 8GB Kindle Fires for our kids on Amazon for $18 / apiece. We connect them to the Wireless Hard Drive via the wifi signal in the car and the Seagate app. Each of the kids have the option of selecting any of the movies or music stored on the hard drive. This way we don’t have to have Kindles with a lot of storage space, and load / unload videos. The hard drive can hold hundreds of movies and thousands of songs. It’s amazing. We no longer deal with cords snaking about the car or arguments over which movie the kids will watch. They think it’s such a treat to pick their own movie.
- A Canon Rebel Camera. This has a much heftier price tag, but the reason I like this pack is that my photographer friends highly recommend this Canon Rebel T5i as a starter DSLR camera. Also, this pack comes with everything I would want as an amateur photographer, such as a tripod and camera case. I actually just ordered this set, and am so excited to get some better blog photos and family photos.
- Berkey Water Filter. This could have fit in “For the Home” but I thought I had too many there, and this easily falls into things I’m obsessed with! I can’t say enough about this water filter. I used to be worried about what was in our water, and if I would have enough water in case of emergency. But now that I have a Berkey, I know that I could easily filter rainwater or river water through it and make it safe to drink! It takes out pesticides, herbicides, and inflammable material for starters. The huge charcoal filters last for at least 10 years for a family our size, making it way cheaper than a Brita filter. The water comes out very pure tasting. The filters in a Berkey filter out more impurities than a fridge filter or a Brita filter (and who of you replaces their fridge filters on a regular enough basis?)