You aren’t quite done with your holiday shopping and you are out of ideas for what to buy. Here are some great options for last minute purchases. Most of these items are available with two-day Prime shipping on Amazon, which means your picks need not be rushed. Take some time with this list and see what feels just right.
For the Host/ess
A diffuser is a wonderful gift for anyone’s home. It is simple to use. Just add water and, if you like, some essential oils. I wish I had one in every room. This diffuser is currently on my wish list. I want it for my bedroom. I have one that lights up for my living room. In fact, the smaller, lighted diffusers make excellent nightlights for kids. We practice aromatherapy for one of our anxious kiddos. He chooses a favorite scent at night. The light and aroma help him relax and feel safe. And when he has a cold, we add peppermint to ease congested breathing.
For the Avid Reader
I have read an amazing mix of books this year. From Kindle exclusive to instant classic, I’ve been all over the map. Whatever age reader you are looking for, I’ve got you covered. Here are my top picks.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a Winter must-read. In this beautiful picture book, you travel through a snowscape with Peter on the rhythm of words.
Everyone has a bad day sometimes, but Alexander’s is over the top. This book is my all-time favorite kids’ book. You probably know it, but if not, grab your copy of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst immediately.
Alright, this is bending the rules, but this book is a lot of fun. It turns out a book doesn’t have to have pictures to be a picture book. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novack has tickled many a child’s heart. Pick it up for the cutie in your life.
I have a hesitant reader at home. He is 8 and wants to read BIG books, but graphic novels are more up his alley. A favorite graphic series he’s read on his own and then we’ve read together begins with The 13-Story Treehouse. These books chronicle the misadventures of a treehouse dwelling duo. They are packed with fun and plenty funny.
Looking for more of a cozy classic? Pick up Little House in the Big Woods. This is the opening novel in the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. These are great independent reads, but even better read-alouds, especially in Winter.
Allison Maruska and Taran Matharau are the queen and king of good YA reads and, added bonus, they respond to their fans on social media. If you haven’t read either, don’t worry. You can start instantly with Maruska’s post-apocalyptic fantasy e-read, Drake and the Fliers. Protagonist Drake discovers he and the other survivors (all teens) of a global epidemic can transform into animals. This was an instant hit in our home. Well, in our car actually. My 10 year old devoured it on a road trip which meant a handful of fight-free hours and a followup read by me because he wouldn’t stop gushing over how. freaking. awesome. the book was. I completely agree.
You’ll want more from Maruska, so I also recommend Project Renovatio. A group of teens discover what makes them different is also what they have in common, but with a twist. This is the first in a trilogy. Find a third rec in the next category.
As to Matharau–it’s hard to say who is enjoying his Summoner trilogy more; me or my 10 year old. We started reading it at bedtime after my son began reading the first book on his own but stopped because “it’s just too good to not share.” The Novice is the first book in the series. Reading it means treating yourself to an adventure.
Let’s start with Maruska’s The Fourth Descendant. This is a quick read, but it stays with you. I’ve been recommending and gifting this book since I first read it. As I said in my Amazon review, Maruska demonstrates that she is a writer who understands people in the writing of this mystery. In fact, all three of the recommendations here are for books by writers who get people and are able to take that deep understanding to the page.
If you are looking for something lyrical and haunting, read Rene Denfeld’s The Enchanted. This book is an award winner for good reason. On the line level, the writing is exquisite. This look at the processes of death row and everything that leads to (and away from) it will turn you inside out. You know, in the way literature and music are supposed to.
Finally, my absolute favorite read this year has been Alexander Weinstein’s Children of the New World. If you didn’t catch any of the amazing critical response to this collection of short stories, Google it. This collection is astounding. Weinstein stands internet usage on its head in a series of shorts that put the human condition under a microscope. While the topics covered are hefty, every story was in some way uplifting. I had a detailed review planned, but I haven’t been able to write it because I’m still not sure Alexander got away with writing what he did without it being judgmental, heavy handed or depressing. I’m going to have to read it again. Book club, anyone?
Confession: these aren’t the only books I’m recommending, so don’t stop reading if the type of read you want to gift isn’t right here.
For the Kitchen Connoisseur
I have a handful of recipes here, but they pale in number to the original recipes I amassed early in my marriage. I used to LOVE cooking. In fact, I had a recipe blog that had more regular readership than this site has ever had (gasp!). Because I was big on experimenting and writing down results rather than starting with an established recipe, my husband gifted me The Flavor Bible. It significantly decreased the number of humdrum or just plain gross experiments I set on the table, and it has also proven to be an excellent resource for those weeks when we subsist on pantry meals.
One thing about The Flavor Bible is it is fantastic for knowing how to season your meats. If your gift recipient is vegetarian or vegan, I have great news: you can gift them The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. I really can’t recommend these books enough.
Cast iron skillets have just come into my life again. Once my middle child started cooking, we couldn’t keep a nonstick pan nonstick. Instead of replacing pan after pan, we committed to learning how to season cast iron (it’s shockingly easy). We now have clean pans that food does not stick to and that are very, very, very difficult to destroy.
If you do go the cast iron skillet route, splurge on these silicone handle covers to keep little (and big) hands safe. Cast iron handles get as hot at the pan.
For the Tender Hearted Warrior
Self care is a practice that can’t be overvalued. We are living in challenging times during which many are facing targeted adversity. We have to tend to our bodies and minds in order to survive-whether our struggle is parenting, disability, violence or raging against systemic violence and the disenfranchisement of a large part of our population from basic human rights.
Last year’s craze was meditative coloring books. Chances are you have one somewhere in your house. If you haven’t tried coloring, consider it. Color itself is a powerful tool for shifting mood and perspective. The act of coloring is quiet and focused. There are a wealth of beautiful coloring books for you to choose from such as this Enchanted Forest collection. But you can also find books based on your favorite stories or otherwise creative emotional expressions such as The Sweary Coloring Book for Adults. We don’t have to outgrow anything.
Sometimes you need to relax and do nothing. That’s when a bath ball is necessary. Throw it in the tub and enjoy a scented soak. To make it easy for your giftee to act on their self care, gift them a bundle of spa delights instead of just one. This will prevent them from handing onto it until it is absolutely necessary to use it. Self care is not only for emergencies.
For the Compulsive Coffee (or Tea) Drinker
Ceramic and travel mugs. Okay, these really also fall under items for self-care. Doubly so, in fact. Awhile back I designed some mugs and sundry with The Honeyed Quill logo on them. Purchases from The Honey Stop support the development of writing-related self care tools by me, and they are great gifts for encouraging your loved ones. Save 20% with code ZGOODBYE2016.
I also recommend a selection of Stash teas or a Keurig Coffee Maker. If you do decide to go with a Keurig, cut down on waste by springing for the reusable coffee/tea filters. This may seem counterintuitive, but it only takes a few seconds extra to brew your single cup, and the environmental impact is immediate.
For the Kid You Don’t Really Know
You are traveling or hosting friends. They have kids you haven’t met. It happens. Here’s a tip: wooden toys never go out of style. They are also durable and encourage imaginative play. Instead of handing the kid a gift card or device, gift the child some of your time playing too. Another classic that can be found under that link is a harmonica. Maybe check with the parents first, though. You don’t want to make enemies by giving the gift of noise.
I hope this list gives you some great ideas!
Note: This post contains affiliate links, but only to products I love.