Your Gift Guide to Surviving The Holidays

As organized and prepped as I am in work – I am always a last minute gifter. Hence me writing this article ON Thanksgiving as the turkey is cooking in the oven so you’ll have it in time for Black Friday deals kicking in tonight. In fact, I am really a bad gifter. I never know what to get anyone, including myself. We live in a time where everything is so instantaneous, that I just buy things as I see them needed. So these holidays stress me out for gifts. Honestly.

However this year, it seems that brands are really on their A-game. I have been A LOT of things that I think would be really great gifts, and things that people could really use to make their lives easier – well, at least MY life easier, and since my job is really to make OTHERS easier – you get the deal. I’m pretty pumped about this list – and also, feel free to send me any of them as well if you’re in the giving mood 🙂


For The Family


Max and I do a ton of traveling, so personally, I think trips and memories can be better than boxes and boxes of toys under the tree that get tossed to the side minutes after they are opened (but if you still want toys – see my Amazon list of ideas here!). Plus, these places I have picked below are DEDICATED to personal touches. They are so passionate about their places/products, that it’s worth every penny you pay.

Great Wolf Lodge

I LOVE this lodge. They are completely dedicated to the childhood experience here – from actual (real snow!) snowfall in their lobby to having a special dinner inside a real gingerbread home. They’re known for their waterpark, but they actually shut it down early at 8pm so kids have time to enjoy the other activities around the resort (like story time with the characters). They also don’t open it up to outsiders, so it’s never overcrowded – only guests have access. They also do themes throughout the year, including the Snowland theme (that starts the day after Thanksgiving). You can request a room with your own Christmas Tree and decorations (which comes with a snuggly book and blanket to take home!), AND – they have a “wine down” option for parents – where they deliver wine and treats to your room after the kids are asleep! The best part? They have locations all over the US so there is probably one close to you (for me, it’s in the Poconos!) – plus they have new locations opening in 2018 in Chicago and Atlanta.

Cost: runs about $200-$600 per night, but includes access to waterpark and activities for the entire family, plus you get two days of play for one night of stay! Book a night here.


Saris Bike Rack

If you’ve been following our adventures this year, you’ve seen we’ve been doing a lot of bike riding (which leads me into my third option below!). But to do all that bike riding, you have to get your bikes there. Investing in a bike rack means you have them with you to go on adventures. I realized if I had this, we would be biking SO MUCH MORE. So why the Saris bike rack? This new one, the Glide, designed just for parents. I tested it personally against some competitors, and this one is just safer and easier to use, plus it has a simple handle that allows it to glide open so you can open the back of your SUV without hitting the bikes. You can literally do this with one hand!

Cost: $499 for a 4-bike rack, $549 for a 5-bike rack; buy one here.


Trek Bikes

You’re going to need a bike to go with that bike rack. I’ve really been considering a bike of my own, but with Citibikes and no car currently to ship that bike to the trails, I’ve been slacking. But I really want my own. But just like any sport, there are a TON of bikes to consider. Mountain? Street? BMX? The best of all worlds is to go with a hybrid, and the best hybrids on the street are Trek. If you’re not sure, they even have a choose your own bike option on their website to lead you to the bike of your dreams. Like they said, if you build it, they (the hills and trails!) will come.

Cost: from $300-$1500 depending. Shop here.

Tentrr

Now that you have a bike and a bike rack, you need to take them to the great outdoors. I love heading outdoors, but we just do not have the space to home camping equipment (nor do I really want to). Then this summer we learned about Tentrr and it changed our lives. These are pre-set camping sites off the ground on privately owned land (link a tent version of Airbandb). All you need to bring is yourself, some sleeping bags and maybe some bear spray. So reconnect with your family by going without technology for a few days and just bond over campfires and smores. We went hiking, biking, met the locals and found the best things to do and just talked to people.

Cost: Approx. $150 per night; varies by campsite.

Life 360 App

I wasn’t sure where to put this, but I think it’s actually great for the entire family. This app allows you to be the helicopter mom you’ve always dreamed of – and you can install it on every phone in the house. It will send you a notification when the “kids” leave the house, and you can track them in real time. It also has a setting for when they’re older and driving (and how fast they’re going, etc!). I love this because we are always on the go, and frankly, NYC can be a scary place. This gives me peace of mind that if Maximo gets separated somehow, I can find him, or he can find me. If a five year old can play Minecraft, they can play this app.

Cost: original version is free.


For Mom


Vitruvi Essential Oil Diffuser

We have become big fans of essential oils in our homes, and my favorite is to diffuse oils to help us with our moods – whether it’s calming down at night, or trying to motive me to get that article done by deadline. These diffuser can jazz up any home by adding a pretty component not to mention the health benefits it’s adding to your air.

Cost: $119; get it on Amazon here.


OXO Spiralizer

I love a good spiralizer, and realized that just having one at home is half the battle. Send your favorite friend who’s trying to be more healthy one using your Prime account with one click. This new one from OXO is dishwasher friendly and comes with three different blades that allow you to chop and zoodle everything from cabbage to carrots.

Cost: $39.99 on Amazon; buy it here.


LG FORCE Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

Because these are for some many good reasons – to block out noise on the subway, use for running, or tune out the kids for a little. These are my favorite because they easily connect via bluetooth to your phone, don’t hurt you ears, and fit nicely for as long of bike or run you want to conquer.

Cost: $99; buy them here.


Epson Expression Home Printer

Okay make fun since I work from home and don’t have a printer, but I really just don’t have to print that much. But I’ll admit, when you do, it’s just easier to have one on-hand. This Epson Pinter is compact enough that it doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it also has wifi printing options – meaning you can literally print from your smart phone without even getting off the couch.

Cost: $49.98; buy it on Amazon here.


For Football Lovers


Steelers Popcorn Tin from The Popcorn Factory

As a Yinzer, there are clearly two things we love – football and food. These football tins are the best – not only do you get to keep a Steelers tin for stuffing your Steeler hats in after you eat all the popcorn, but the popcorn comes in three flavors – caramel, cheese and butter. It’s the perfect little item to have ready for playoffs games coming up!

Cost: $44.99; order here.


Shinesty Steelers Suit

I don’t have to tell you how crazy Steeler fans are – and how we love to always push the limits. You already know that my entire wardrobe is basically set to work with a black and gold theme. But this suit really takes it to another level. You’re sure to stand out in this blazer jacket – and you can dress it up or dress it down – the ultimate Yinzer accessory! These come in men’s sizes, but I had my tailor alter it to fit me just fine. They also make ONESIES now – just saying!

Cost: $99; buy here.


For Kids


For this list, I’m sending you straight to Amazon for my full list. But there are a couple I want to highlight.

Nitro Circus Bike

 

All boys want a bike. And with all the biking we’ve been doing (see above) I wanted to get Max a seriously cool new bike that would encourage him to want to ride it all the time. Sine we’ve been mountain biking all summer and we even were doing some BMX races up in Connecticut, I thought these cool Nitro Circus bike was a fun hybrid between the two. This one has the detachable wheels, and will be able to take dirt roads and jumps when he works up to that level. Of course – don’t forget to include a helmet!

Cost: $79. Buy here on Walmart.com; $24 for helmet on Amazon here.


Air Fort

We’ve had a few of these along the way, but they are just so big and bulky. When I first saw this airfort I fell in love it’s brilliant for us city dwellers because you can pack it away – and it’s such an easy way to entertain the kids using just a house fan you already have! It comes in pink and camo – like it’s made just for us Yinzers.

Cost: $54 (10% off and free shipping for Black Friday!). Buy here.


For Health Seekers


I will be actually hosting a major get back in health list mid-December for when you attempt those New Years Resolutions (I call it back in health, not in shape, because your health should be a lifestyle, not a fad!). But these are a few favorites you might want to creep for Black Friday Sales.

Moink!

This might not be good for any vegans out there, but I grew up on a farm, and on a farm we eat animals. We just eat the animals as we need – so I have found that using a subscription to ship me quality meats is a better way than just picking up questionable cuts in a grocery store (we’ve all picked up a package that looked or smelled strange). With Moink (ps LOVE the name!), you get ethically sourced/ exceptionally tasting grass fed and finished beef and lamb, pastured pork and chicken as well as wild caught seafood delivered straight to your doorstep.

Cost: $159 per box (you can have it delivered every four, six or eight weeks – or pause for longer). As an idea what you get for that price, my box contained: 1 lb boneless pork chops, 2 lbs ground beef, 1.5 lb chicken wings, a whole chicken, 1 lb lamb kabobs, 3lb beef chuck roast, 20 oz. French Ribeye, and 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts. Order your first box here.


Pure Growth Organics

It’s hard to get kids to eat healthy – so I try to just use organic options for the things that they will. One of our favorites we discovered for back-to-school was Pure Growth Organics because their snacks are organic and don’t use artificial flavors or added sugars (which is the new thing we are monitoring in our house!).

Cost: $5-17. Shop Amazon here.


Mele

With all this traveling, it can be really hard to eat healthy. I have found it’s always best to just bring your own food and snacks – never rely on finding a gas station with fresh fruit and organic cheese. I discovered Mele and it’s turned into my travel staple. These meal replacement packages host two meals in one bag, so they’ll save your live on airplanes. I like to mix mine with almond milk (it’s creamier), but they are still good with bottled water on an airplane. They have three flavors currently: supergreen, coco-nut, and rawberry. Personally my favorite is the supergreen – it really is delicious, don’t be afraid of the “green” part.

Cost: $10 per bag; shop Amazon here.

Want my FULL LIST of holiday items? See my Amazon Holiday Wish List here! Don’t forget – Black Friday sales are already happening today – Happy Thanksgiving.

Let’s Shop: Holiday Wish List

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.

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