2016 Holiday Gift Guide


This year it’s all about making life easier. The basics we seem to ignore sometimes, going for items that are way more over-the-top than we need. Maybe I’ve just been watching a lot of episodes of Tiny Houses on HGTV, but it’s reminded why I love living in NYC – we live more for the moments than all the “stuff.” Here a few items that we’ve seem to be able to not live without, and have make our lives easier this year for sure.


Back To The Roots Herb Garden – I love these because not only do they grow and make a tiny NYC apartment seem a little greener, they come ready to grow in a can, you just pop it open and water. And they teach the kids how seeds turn into plants that are edible, and how to tend to them. Since Max was learning about seeds in school, we got a set of these, and I’ve been making my own Margertia pizzas with basil and adding Rosemary to baked chicken. Why spend so much money a year buying organic herbs when you can grow them at home yourself for a fraction – plus they just look good! They also have a cool water garden that allows you to grow herbs with a fish, too!

MakeSpace – Ok so New Yorkers all have storage, but it sucks. We don’t have cars and try to lug boxes or furniture down the streets of Manhattan only to creep down dark hallways that mimic a horror movie that takes 15 minutes to locate your storage space that barely fits your winter clothes and costs almost as much as rent. I was fed up too. So I tried Make Space. They give you a rate based on the size of your stuff, and they come and pick it up for you. 

RELLA hats – Because if you know me, you know I’m known for my cold weather hats. I switched it up this year since the last couple of years the little hats I was wearing were not warm enough to withstand the evil winds that whip through the skyscrapers like drunk driving rowdy high schoolers. RELLA makes incredibly soft hats that are super warm AND bonus – they aren’t tight. No one likes tight hats that give you a headache after wearing them all day. Plus this one goes just as good with my fancy faux fur coat at night as it does my PrAna yoga gear during the day. Versatility is a must. Plus, it’s cream – meaning I can even wear it on Steeler Sundays (come on, you KNEW that was coming).

Steelers – This leads me to the Steelers section. Because black and gold is a necessity of life right under food, shelter and water. But black is also a necessity of New York life, so it really just fits all lifestyles. This year, I’ve been beyond amused by the options – it’s really progressed since I lived in Pittsburgh making my own spray painted tees (true story). But I am obsessed this year with THREE THINGS:


  • The Vest. At least 10 people have joined the vest club this season. You know you need it, too.
  • The Boots. OMG. FINALLY. These Steeler rain boots are the best addition to my wardrobe. And they’re warm without over sweating your feet. I wore them ALL day in NYC the first time I tried them on and they were perfect.
  • The Flannel. The Pittsburgher in me was immediately drawn to this the moment I saw it online. Need I say more? Flannel, black and gold, Levis. 

ROKU Stick – I don’t know if I should publicly admit this gem I stumbled upon but I will. We haven’t had cable in almost three years, so I was really hesitant to get Sling TV but Steeler games and the election coverage really had be wanting access this year. So I caved and got Sling when they offered me a free ROKU Stick for buying 3 months in advance ($20/month). 

Let me give you a little background. I have Apple TV (but the older version, so Sling wouldn’t work with it). I have ChromeCast that I received at an event a year ago but was not using, and I was avidly in the middle of watching every season of Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime is like all the other giants and isn’t compatible, so you won’t find it on Apple TV or Google, so I was forced to wait and watch it in bed on my laptop only I was done working. #firstworldproblems 

Imagine my surprise and excitement when my ROKU arrived – for FREE! – and it had Amazon on the remote. OMG. I won. I never beat the system, but I did. So, honestly, if you want the most bang for your buck and you already were sucked into Amazon Prime and Netflix, go with Sling and ROKU. You won’t regret the choice. 

Alphabet Cookie Cutters – Random right? No not really – just think of the endless opportunities with this! I now cut out sandwiches that spell M-A-X for school, and H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y cookies that look way cooler than an $150 cake no one will eat. Christmas we will spell out H-E-L-L-O S-A-N-T-A  and the list goes on – for $12. I have covered all the holidays, school bake sales and beyond. I actually got mine at Fishys Eddys in the city if you’re walking by :).

Kamik Boots – The wrath of winter doesn’t miss us here in NYC, and this year I am taking Maximo to Christmas in Colorado, so we needed some seriously boots that would keep him warm and dry not only on the slopes of Vail, but also the 1-mile walk through the park everyday on the way to school. Kamik has boots for both Mom and Max, so we got matching ones to wear on our trip (watch for photos coming up last week of December!), plus, you can never have too many waterproof boots in NYC. Have you ever SEEN what that flooding sludge looks and smells like up close? And be warned – the depth can be WAY deeper than you think – so these can really save the day if you know what I mean.

RIDESAFER2 Travel Vest – Ah, the car seat. I don’t want to say the wrong thing to get me in trouble with The Car Seat Lady, but this just seems like an incredible option for NYC parents or parents that are traveling. Oddly enough, in NYC you don’t NEED a car seat when you ride in a cab – with a stranger – yet, many parents don’t feel comfortable with it. I found this and feel in love – this is easy enough to pack up in a diaper bag or a suitcase and take with us, so Max can have a safety-approved restraint that is portable to take with you in the city or on flights. 

Ok, so a few things on my wish list.


Spiritual Gangster sunrise pouch – this bag is just a bit larger than the usual make up bag, that gives me space to hold some face wash and sunscreen, and even a mini hair straightener that keeps it all together for my “gym” bag that’s not too big to carry into the city. Plus, sunny palm trees make me wake up and think, yes, I should go to barre class.

Cat leggings – because come one, sometimes you need to look crazy yet cool in the city on the way to spin class. 

Althleta winter training leggings – i will basically be living in these this winter. These thick, insulated leggings are perfect for just walking in the city in the winter or getting out for a run in the brisk cold mornings. They will literally change your life. No more see through, wind-through leggings, ladies!

Mizuno Running Gloves – because these aren’t just for running – but using phones while waiting outside for that train to come in the freezing snow.  They are thin enough to use while wearing, but still keep hands warm, and for once – the fingertip on these for phones actually works. 

Picciolini NYC – I love Max to show off his New Yorker side and if you haven’t invested in one of these iconic tees yet, you should now. Just think of the Instagram possibilities! 

Lo and Sons: The Waverly – You know I’ve become a pro at travel and best ways to efficiently do it without killing yourself. Pretty sure I could be a poster child for my travel Lo and Son bag (still a HUGE fan of the luggage sleeve to hold it to your carryon), but now this – the waverly – is the next best thing. This little bag can be converted into a wristlet, a fanny pack (yes, i said it and theyre’ coming back!, and a crossbody. Lo and Sons are known to pack a lot into a little bag, some of the best organized pieces I have ever seen. Treat yoself. 

By | 2017-11-16T09:57:36+00:00 November 26th, 2016|Brand collaboration, christmas, Favorite Things, Fitness, Football, Going Green, Health and Wellness, Motherhood|Comments Off on 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

About the Author:

Stephanie Barnhart is an award-winning blogger, columnist, and outdoor enthusiast writer featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times and other media outlets. She is also the NYC Editor for MommyNearest.com.