We all know one size does not fit all, no matter what anybody says. Our industry is different from others and so are the people in it. So we combed through catalogues and websites and listened to a lot of pitches from PR agents, looking for the kind of things produce people might want for Christmas – or, more importantly, might want to give somebody when they’re stuck for an idea.
Bonus: Some of these items benefit very worthy causes. Another bonus — we’ve got some freebies for you.
We have touched, seen, heard or tasted everything in this guide. And nobody paid us anything to include any of these items. We did all the evaluations ourselves. Yes, it was strenuous, taxing, overwhelming.
We know you feel sorry for us. But we did it for you and were happy to. And we promise that giant bottle of a new brand of premium vodka we show here is still (mostly) full.
But we do want to share some of the swag. We have copies of the three awesome books we’ve featured in this guide to give away (no, not the ones we read, fresh new copies) – just send us an email at email@example.com with Holiday Giveaway in the subject line and you’re entered to win, no personal info needed (unless you win).
AAA reports a 40% increase in shoppers who say they will spend more money on gifts this holiday season. The average Southeastern shopper will drop about $1000 on gifts — a spending increase of 9% over last year. Gift cards and cash are the most-wanted items, making up about 50% of wish lists.
We’ll help you find something for the other 50%
GREAT STUFF FOR GRILLMASTERS
For about $30, the Grill Masters Club will bring you a box of barbecue items you didn’t know you couldn’t live without. You can subscribe for a month or longer terms. Then get ready to do some serious grilling – a handpicked collection of rubs, sauces, marinades, wood chips, and more delivered to your door once a month.
Our box had a chicken dry rub that made kickin’ grilled wings; a chimichurri mix from California; a papaya-based honey mustard hot sauce from Florida; and the hands-down topper, a bourbon and bacon barbecue sauce from North Carolina.
It was clear whoever did the picking is serious about barbecuing. More please.
GIFTS PACKED WITH PURPOSE
These luxe gift boxes feature gourmet treats and quality craft goods like candles that are packed to impress. But they also fulfill a broader mission. Packed with Purpose is a Chicago-based specialty gifting company with a social mission. By sourcing products from purpose-driven companies, founder Leeatt Rothschild curates high-quality gift boxes that improve the lives of individuals in need.
It’s a win-win way to infuse social good into gift giving, professional or personal. Products in the gift collections are sourced from across the nation. The small companies that create them provide young women job skills, train homeless youth, reduce landfill waste, offer the formerly incarcerated new opportunities, and more.
Still, wouldn’t be much fun if the stuff inside the boxes wasn’t all awesome. It is. Ours featured a selection of unique edibles and a hand-crafted candle, along with the stories behind them; there’s a wide range available, including corporate and personal collections.
BOOKS WORTH A LOOK
This trio of books caught our eye – these are also the ones you can win.
The Man Who Carried Cash
Just released, this is a wildly compelling inside look at the legendary Johnny Cash from a new perspective. It’s the story of The Man In Black’s manager, Saul Holiff, who was with him right from the start and saw it all from the inside. Fascinating.
Taste of Home: Most Requested
Sure there are a million places to get recipes on the internet, but this wide-ranging collection hits every category. Better, it comes three-ring binder style with a hard cover, easier to work with in the middle of hot and heavy meal prep. Hundreds of comforting casseroles, delicious mains, simple sides, hearty soups and stews and delectable desserts. Top-notch presentation and a book that will be in your kitchen for years.
Taste of Home: 365 Days of Cookies
Do we really have to say anything else? This is a companion piece to Most Requested and presented in the same hard-cover three-ring format. One look at the cover is guaranteed to incite cookie fever. Cookies of every kind for every occasion. National French Toast Day? (November 28) There’s a cookie for that. A great holiday gift or just to keep in your kitchen.
VIDEO GAMES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
Yes there are jillions of games available everywhere. These are a little different:
Professional Farmer – American Dream
$19.99/for PC and Consoles
Drive pickups and authentic tractors, tend to your cattle, cultivate your fields and reap the harvest. This is a family farm simulator that lets you run the day-to-day without the sweat. You might even learn a thing or two along the way. Way more fun than actual work.
$22.99/for PC and Steam
You’re in charge of your own logistics company. You start off as a lone wolf driver and work to build an empire. Invest in new trucks and hire other drivers as your fleet expands. Different modes let you play freestyle or challenge a storyline. Great graphics and scenery. If the soundtrack gets olds, an Internet plug-in lets you put your favorite music on in the truck!
Forestry 2017: The Simulation
$27.99/for PC and Consoles
It’s a niche audience to be sure, but if your interests lie working the woods there’s finally a game for you. You grow, fell and sort timber of four varieties. Then it’s time to market and sell your product, take orders, grow to specs. Do well and you’ll grow the company in record time, too. Definitely not for everybody but if this is your thing…
Firefighters: Airport Fire Department
$22.99/ for PC and Consoles
You definitely would not want to fly into an airport with this many problems. But if fighting fires and saving lives in an aviation setting sounds fun, this one’s for you. You drive the truck and direct your crew to deal with everything from massive airplane fires to minor conflagrations put out with a fire extinguisher. Hey, we told you we found some different kinds of games.
Atari Flashback 8 Gold and the Sega Genesis Flashback
Now these really are for everybody. The classic Atari era covers the ’70s and ‘80s, the Genesis the ‘90s so you’re preference gives away your age. But its fun to relive these classics again – and share them with kids for the first time. These inexpensive consoles come preloaded with dozens of Atari and Genesis classic games, enhanced for modern televisions in full HD. The classic controllers look and react the same way as well, but with the modern benefit of no wires. You can find these at stores or online everywhere.
SOOTHING SOUNDS FOR SLEEP, BOOMING BEATS FOR TUNES
The Sound Oasis Super Bass Stereo Bluetooth Sound Machine Model BST-400 comes preloaded with 10 soothing sounds (like gently breaking waves) to help you block out background noise, mask tinnitus or just get a good night’s sleep. But when you’re ready to rock, it’s a booming portable Bluetooth speaker for any device. This one really kicks out the sound so warn the neighbors. Bonus: Pair it with any Bluetooth enabled television and you have an instant home theater system.
ORGANIZATION IN A SNAP
SnapBasket is one of the coolest gadgets we’ve seen in a while. It carries flat, like a reusable grocery bag. But with a snap, the metal frame locks into place and creates a container that can carry up to 30 pounds. Great for shopping, baby gear, or tidying up a car trunk. There’s a collection of other cool ideas in different sizes (including thermal models) at the CleverMade website.
SHOW OFF YOUR PHONE NATURALLY
You paid how much for that new phone? Seriously?!? Then you need to dress that puppy up. Toast makes natural wood and leather covers that can even be customized with images or logos. It’s a classy way to show off your most essential necessity. Available for most phones in a variety of woods and finishes. The company runs on 100% renewable energy and makes covers for electronic devices that won’t wind up in a landfill next time you upgrade.
BUY SOMEBODY LUNCH (WITHOUT GOING ANYWHERE)
The Victoria Chef Collection is a great way to take somebody to lunch when you can’t actually be there. A complete pasta meal in a jar might not sound special. But Victoria Fine Foods has been around since 1929 and what’s in the jar is pretty special. The only varieties are penne marina and penne alla vodka, but you won’t mind. The pasta recipe is a trade secret and the sauce has fans everywhere. Dress it up with a nice microwavable bowl and some travel utensils and you’ve got a nice boxed lunch gift, or a thoughtful surprise for a busy workday.
No joke – and you can’t burn the roof of your mouth. Seriously, milk or dark chocolate mixed with homemade English toffee forms the crust. Nuts and candies make up the toppings. And they come in 10” and 12” versions. Delivered fresh-sealed in a custom pizza box. Decadent. And a great office gift. www.chocolatepizza.com/
You already know what you like. But here are a couple of new items from Royal Wine – founded in 1848, so they know a thing or two — that are guaranteed to make an impression on a friend or colleague who likes the occasional adult beverage.
Bartenura Sparkling Rosé Moscato
This is the most popular Italian Moscato in the U.S. market. Basically the Italian version of classic Southern muscadine wine, sweet(ish) Moscato is trending up in the U.S. This one’s fizzy like champagne to boot. But the real bargain here is this leather net wine carrier – it’s a Christmas bonus that makes this look like it cost a whole lot more.
LVOV Vodka Gift Box (1.75 liter)
$19.99 – $21.99 (about)
This is an insane value as a gift or for your bar. Most vodkas today are made from grain instead of the authentic potato version. This Polish premium brand is filtered four times but has a mellow complexity not found in grain vodka. Plus the bottle is a show-stopper.
BEST SEAT FOR BABY
Aside from Grandad’s lap, it’s got to be the Boppy slip-covered infant feeding and support pillow. Its uses change as baby gets older, from a feeding cushion for propping up an infant for a bottle to a worry-free support system for tots up to 12 months. A perfect gift for grandparents-to-be to give parents-to-be (or so says me, who’s expecting my first grandson in just a few months. I immediately called dibs when it arrived).
Faith-driven Christian planners from Horacio Printing designed to inspire. Passionate about placing value and worth on every life, Horacio Printing is on a mission to give back. With each order placed, the brand donates 10% of every product sold to A21.org, an organization that fights human trafficking globally.