Thinking of good gift ideas is usually difficult for me, so I try to think of gifts that are unusual (quirky) or useful for the recipient. This season, several companies have been generous enough to let me try their products and the following is a list of items that are definitely gift-worth.
Gift Ideas for Sporty or Outdoorsy People
- Rash guard shirt: A rash guard shirt is a long-sleeved shirt that you can wear alone or an undershirt. The fabric clings to your skin, protecting it from clingy T-shirts, wetsuits and other types of active wear. This shirt is a compression shirt that helps add warmth when it's cold outside, but doesn't overheat your body. I like the fact that you can use it at a swim shirt or as a way to protect yourself from the sun. I ordered the blue shirt, but the other colors are equally attractive (check out the gray one).
My husband actually wears this shirt and he likes the thermal aspect of it. He says that it feels a bit tight around his neck, but he doesn't really like shirt collars that are as high as this one.
- LED rim or wheel lights: It gets dark early in the day in the Pacific Northwest. A great way to be outside and stay safe is LED rim or wheel lights. Simply attach a light to the valves on your bike or baby stroller. The lights are waterproof, so you don't have to worry about rain or puddles. Plus, they only turn on when you move because of a small censor within the light.
The LED colors are nice and bright. My favorite is the color-changing light. The pack comes with six lights, six valve covers and batteries. When you open a light, the LED and the attached board may come out. This happened to me with many of the lights, but it was simple to put back inside. So far, I haven't had any bad experiences with these lights. I think kids would love these on their bikes.
- Kobert waterproof cell phone case:
I'm paranoid about getting my cell phone wet. With the waterproof case
from Kobert, I can go underwater and still use my phone. If I use it all
the time, I don't have to worry about dropping it in the toilet.
The case has clear plastic on either side, so you can use it to take pictures and see the screen at the same time. It comes with a lanyard, so you don't accidentally drop your phone into a lake, and a stylus that allows you to use the touch screen through the plastic. I like that the case is big. I have a big Samsung phone; the case works for the big phablets and the iPhone 6 Plus (if you take off the case).
- Softy sanitizing wipes: It's hard to stay clean while camping. If your campsite has a bathroom, you're lucky if it has soap in the bathroom or free showers. The sanitizing wipes from softy are big (7-by-8 inches), soft and gentle enough to use on your skin. I like that it has a soft, not-overpowering scent and doesn't contain alcohol. Plus, one wipe does the job of two or three traditional wipes, and is designed to remove dirt. While this is a good kitchen and home item, the wipes are good for campers. The only problem I've had with the wipes is with getting them out of the dispenser correctly.
Gift Ideas for Aspiring Health Nuts
- Vitamin D3: Vitamin D is essential for your bones and overall health. I take it everyday. Nature's True Medicine sells a vitamin D3 supplement that has 2,000 international units (IUs). I like that vitamins are in gel tablets, so they're simple to swallow. They also don't have any artificial ingredients or fillers.
- Nasopure nose wash: I'm a fan of the neti pot, so the Nasopure looked interesting to me. It's an angled plastic bottle that you hold upright. The bottle is similar to the neti pot, but you don't need to tilt your head so much.
To get the water to flow out of the bottle, you have to gently squeeze it. The trick is that when you squeeze the bottle, you have to move it away from your nose before release your grip. Otherwise, the bottle sucks up the water that's in your nose (it's not a pleasant feeling).
Right now, I prefer my neti pot, but I will definitely use the Nasopure when I travel.
Gift Ideas for the Kitchen
- Silicone oil, vinegar and sauce bottle with basting brush: This bottle from Bee Sili is my new olive oil container. One end of the bottle has as spout and the other has a detachable silicone basting brush that you can use to spread the contents of the bottle. Both ends come with caps to keep the bottle clean.
I like this bottle's slim design. My current olive oil bottle takes up too much counter space. When I make oven-roasted potatoes, I pour a bit of the oil on them and then spread it with the brush. After spreading the oil, I pop off the brush and clean it in the dishwasher.
- Citrus zester:
I reviewed two different zesters, or microplane graters, from two
different companies this season. I found that they both work equally as
well and are about the same price. I like the thick handle on the zester
and the fact that it's a bit squishy because my hand tires easily when I
have to grip something. Smarty Pants Supplies recommends using the
grater for cheese, citrus, garlic, spices (e.g., nutmeg and cinnamon)
and chocolate. The zester also comes with a cover to use while storing
the tool. A microplane grater is a great addition to any kitchen that
doesn't have one.
- Danish dough whisk: Have you ever broken a spoon or spatula while mixing dough? I have. This strange-looking whisk is specifically made for mixing doughs and crusts. I had never seen a whisk like this until now.
At first, the idea of using a dough whisk seemed strange. It's design, however, makes it simpler to mix dough and clean the metal parts. I often make my own gluten-free dough, which are looser than bread dough, but not as runny as cake dough. This whisk makes mixing the ingredients simpler without the need to use my stand mixer.
- Wireless meat thermometer:
With a wireless meat thermometer, you stick a probe into the meat and
see its temperature on separate device with a screen. This allows you to
roast, cook, broil or BBQ without constantly opening oven doors or
The screen device has a 65-foot range, so you don't have to be next to the meat to see its temperature. The thermometer is simple to use and program. For example, the temperature was originally set to Celsius, but it was easy to set to Fahrenheit. I also like that you can tell the device the type of meat that you are cooking and it will tell you when it's rare, medium or well-done. My biggest (and only) complaint is that the product does not come with batteries, so I had to look all over my house for four AAAs.
Gift Ideas for Beauty Buffs
- Oleavine Facial Moisturizer:
This is my new favorite moisturizer. It's made from natural and organic
materials, and is free of sulfates, parabens, petroleum, silicone and
preservatives. To keep bacteria out of the bottle, it uses an airless
pump. The way it works is cool.
The bottle has cute butterflies on the outside and the lotion has nice, light floral scent. While the two previous beauty products are more for adults, this moisturizer is great for any age and for all skin types.
- Yalmeh foundation brush: I'm a big fan of face contouring, but my foundation brushes were too big and flat, so I had to squish them into shape. I was excited when Yalmeh let me try their foundation brush because of its tapered design. The synthetic bristles are soft and the company compares its brush to the one the Mac sells. I've never used the Mac brush, so I don't know if its the same or not. I'm happy with the results.
- Retinol moisturizer with vitamin C: I
have vials of retinol serum and vitamin C serum that I use to help keep
my complexion clear, reduce the appearance of fine line and prevent
wrinkles. I like that InstaNatural combined the two in a moisturizing
cream that contains jojova oil, shea butter and hyaluronic acid. My skin
likes this moisturizer, which I use at night. While you can use the
cream during the day, I recommend that you back it up with makeup or a
lotion that contains SPF.
- Retinol serum: If the recipient already has a moisturizer that she likes, put InstaNatural's retinol serum in her stocking. The serum contains vitamins C and E, and hyaluronic acid -- all the best in one bottle. This serum absorbs into the skin quickly and doesn't feel heavy. I use at night since I have skin that's sensitive to sun exposure.
Gift Ideas for Travelers
- AirComfy travel pillow: My favorite travel pillow is a dog bone-style pillow that I made at home. It's super comfy, but really big. Of all the travel pillows on the market that I've tried, the AirComfy travel pillow is one of the best because it is compact and inflatable. You can also use it for lumbar support (bonus!). The pillow comes with a travel bag and carabiner so you can attach it to your carry-on luggage and keep it clean. The accessory self-inflates, but you can adjust the amount of air in it with the attached valve. The back of the pillow has a big elastic band that you can secure around the headrest, so it doesn't fall. Unlike other travel pillows, this one comes with foam inside, so you don't feel as if you're resting your head on a big balloon. If you want back support at night, inflate the pillow and place it between your knees when you lie on your side.
Gifts for the Home
- Bluetooth speakers: Liztek let me try its PSS-100 and Ultra portable wireless Bluetooth speakers. Both speakers have rechargeable batteries that you charge via a computer's USB port, audio lines for use with non-Bluetooth devices and a built-in microphone so you can use the speaker as a speaker phone. The Ultra also has slots on it that allow you plug in a micro SD card or flashstick. While the Ultra has the extra ports, I like the PSS-100 better because it sounds better. Both, however, are good speakers.
- Shower curtain liner: If someone uses a shower curtain, they can always use a liner. My old shower curtain was not that old, but it seemed impossible to clean. I hated it. Thankfully, Smarty Pants Supplies gave me a heavy-duty curtain that's anti-bacterial and mildew-resistant. The curtain has metal grommets around the holes at the top so the vinyl doesn't tear. The plastic is super clear and repels water, so mildew doesn't have a chance to form.
I've had this liner for a couple of weeks and it has stayed clean on its own so far. I wish it had small suction cups on either end that would allow me to secure the curtain to the shower wall so cold air doesn't enter the shower and water doesn't mist out the sides. This feature is minimal considering the company's lifetime guaranty.
- Canvas log carrier: If you have a fireplace, prevent a pest infestation by only bringing in the firewood that you need instead of keeping a small pile in your home. Save yourself trips to the woodpile with EPI's heavy duty log carrier. The carrier has a leak-proof liner, sturdy handles and measures 27-by-12-by-12 inches. I already have a few people in mind for this item.
- Chinese lanterns: I'm always looking for unique lighting ideas and like the look of paper Chinese lanterns. I have a lantern in my room that I use to create a soft glow when I don't want to wake my husband with the regular overhead light. Since these lanterns are white, you can paint them with watercolors to create a neat look. I plan to make an origami lamp with one of them.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.