Here are some thoughtful gifts to consider for your list this year. Most are from smaller suppliers because Jeff Bezos and all the other tech oligarchs use our money to make us into serfs.
Plus quality and satisfaction is much higher from individual craftsmen and craftswomen and boutique shops. Over the last year, I’ve developed a deeper network of local farmers and artisans to rely on instead of the Bigs, and it has brought so much satisfaction into our lives. Buying better and fewer things absolutely beats buying more cheaper things. (Except paper and tape. My children go through basic craft supplies like they do snacks. Walmart for those suckers all the way. Preferably during back-to-school sales.)
None of these people have asked me to recommend them, and except for the few noted who have written for The Federalist, we have no relationship at all except I like their stuff and have paid for it with my own dollars.
Memberships and Subscriptions
I love gifts that last all year, like a family pass to the local zoo. That is complicated this year. For example, our zoo is open, but it requires masks, and that destroys our enjoyment of the visit. But there are still many, many wonderful classes and memberships that you might consider giving that maximize our enforced confinement.
I’m getting our elementary kids a subscription to WorldKids, a bimonthly news magazine aimed at ages 7-10. It’s put out by the same great folks who make World Magazine for adults, another great gift for those teens and older. Their editorial standards are high and edifying, and it’s the perfect way to keep aware of the news without the overwhelming negativity and deception that accompanies most outlets. (I’ve written for them in the past, so I have personal experience with their close editing and concern for truth.)
Unlike with Highlights or Scholastic “news” for kids, you will not get leftist religious indoctrination, and unlike lots of Christian products, you will not get niceness, smarm, or sentiment as a substitute for virtue. These folks do it right.
A wonderful subscription for a little girl is the “flower of the month” club from Chickie and Roo. Each month the recipient gets downloadable guides for drawing the flower, a related poem, scientific information about the flower, and more. A lovely art, science, and nature opportunity, for only $1.99 per month.
A membership I love for mothers and wives especially is home management mentorship from Simply Convivial. I am a huge fan of Mystie Winckler’s realistic, encouraging assistance for women and have benefitted from it regularly (she gives free YouTube and Zoom workshops regularly — sign up for her email list at the bottom of this page!). Many women were never apprenticed in the arts of homemaking, making these practices seem overwhelming and mystifying when they really don’t have to be. Mystie is a voice of calm who has practical classes for women who need to develop these skills a step at a time.
New enrollment is closed until after Christmas, but you can gift a membership right now here. I recommend the quarterly membership at $42 or the annual at $135. Membership gives access to all her classes that include personal attention and training.
Everyone is aware that many, many children are getting short shrift this entire school year, with disruptions, cancellations, rolling blackouts, and more. Help a child you love fill in and thrive in this environment by gifting him or her a quality online class. Memoria Press Online Academy is largely full for its full-semester classes, but it has three brief winter term offerings still available for just $10 each, starting Nov. 30: Jane Eyre, The Bronze Bow, and a Bible overview.
For children and teens who could use some tutoring, Schole Academy is a good place to start, and so is Well-Trained Mind Academy.
I didn’t forget the men here. In the past, I have bought my husband a Steven Crowder Mug Club subscription, which he loves. I have stolen his mug because it’s great for big bowls of tea.
This year, the up-and-coming man thing is a subscription to Aaron Renn’s The Masculinist, which he has just rolled out in a more public way. Technically subscriptions are free right now, but like us you should gift him a monthly subscription amount and make it a dual gift: to your recipient and to Renn. His newsletter is well worth it. Check out some back issues here.
Then you are investing in fresh ideas that fuel the personal development of the men in your life as men. Men need that now more than ever, and a Masculinist subscription is perfect for it. The Patreon is here, or use Gumroad like we do because Patreon throttles creators.
Gifty Things for Adults
My husband hand-crafted me a charcuterie board because he’s awesome and he loves me, but those who aren’t wood crafters in their spare time can nab this beautiful board from Theology of the Home ($126):
I’m told by a man who has great taste that the Back Pocket Provisions Bloody Mary Mix is unparalleled. They offer several flavors.
Those who read my gift list last year know that I love the boutique shop Pleasantly Crafted. It has a variety of beautiful jewelry and art — flip through for numerous gift possibilities. Here is one for Protestants and history lovers:
In the category of “gifts for a lifetime” would be one of the icons, say from the Center for Byzantine Material Arts. This is, appropriately enough, of the Nativity. $650.
The Royal Mint has put out a commemorative coin to honor the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s crossing in 1620. It may be ironic, but I don’t care — it’s also awesome. The edge inscription includes a quote from the Mayflower Compact: “UNDERTAKEN FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.” You can order one to America for your favorite American or U.K. history buff for about $30.
For a Christian woman, my top book of the year is “Theology of Home II,” from Carrie Gress and Noelle Mering (both erstwhile Federalist authors). As readers know, I am not a Catholic, but that doesn’t matter. This book is of immense value to any Christian woman regardless of her specific tradition (and one does not need to have read the first to enjoy this one). I read it in bits and pieces in my nursing chair with a new baby this year and it gave me the fellowship and encouragement that in a healthier society would be provided in person to women, whether mothers or not, but is often sorely lacking today.
I love to leaf through home decorating and recipe books and women’s magazine-style writing to take a break and seek beauty in life, and this book hits that spot in my woman’s heart while also not telling me I’m too fat, too fertile, too religious, and needing a basket of weird sex tricks. It’s really wonderful.
I preordered “The Myth Made Fact” after we at The Federalist published a prepublication excerpt. I am reading it now and it is awesome. Highly recommended. The totality of the book is much, much broader and deeper than the also good excerpt.
This book is almost a family gift in that the text is accessible to older children and adults, while my young children also enjoy the accompanying myth audio files that came with my preorder bundle. And reading the book gives me ideas for discussing the myths in depth with my kids. It’s a whole family package, and on sale now through Christmas for $39 for the bundle or $24 for the book alone (get the bundle if you have kids or are a teacher!).
Gifty Things for Children
Tin tea set at Macy’s, $18 during their Black Friday sale. I like this one but several are available. My daughter received a similar set as a gift and I like that it is tin, not ceramic, so it can hold water for pretend play but also won’t get easily broken. My kids are hard on toys!
Build the family bookshelf. Get the latest Christian picture books from Kloria Publishing, one of my favorites. Take a look at the early childhood read-aloud collections (another, and another) from Memoria Press, and order a few or one of their lovely packages (this would also be a great new baby gift!). For a younger child, try this poetry anthology.
If you’re looking for more guidance on building a family bookshelf, either of classic and high-quality picture books or for family Advent and Christmas readings, my ebooks on both those topics are 30 percent off here through Monday with the code ADVENTPREP.
One of my favorite places to buy books off Amazon is Rainbow Resource, a family-owned company with the lowest prices anywhere and a huge selection. Especially for out of print books, try Better World Books.
An excellent, excellent small publisher with wonderfully reasonable prices is Living Books Press. They republish worthy out-of-print classic children’s books. You will not find many of their books elsewhere. Go over there and pick out some great ones, and get an additional 10% off over this weekend with the code thankyou. I am absolutely picking up their
I love this Nativity puppets set from Studio Senn ($7). I previously bought the enamel pelican pin at this shop (it’s a Christian symbolism thing) and love it. It helps me do my duty as a mom when I don’t want to, which is often. That’s just $12 for a woman in your life who is into ancient Christian symbols. I’m also eyeing the Saint Michael pin there, as my firstborn son was baptized at Michaelmas. YMMV!
As I noted last year, I prefer to get children hands-on items for developing their life skills. So, in that vein, you might get a child outdoor equipment, such as a headlamp or fishing rod. There are great Black Friday deals this weekend from outdoors suppliers such as Cabela’s, REI, and Dick’s. Or purchase private swimming lessons, since many public pools are closed and swimming is an essential life skill. Or a snowboard or skis or sled for outdoor winter fun.
These glow-in-the-dark playing cards at REI would be an awesome stocking stuffer.
My boys LOVE the walkie talkies I got one last year for the eldest’s birthday. He brings the walkie talkies on walks around the neighborhood to help mom feel better without bestowing on a ten-year-old a cell phone that brings with it all sorts of other unhelpful habits.
Few walkie talkies go farther than a mile or two, especially in town, so it’s okay to get inexpensive ones because they work just about as well for kids and when the boys chew them up you won’t be as mad. If you want to get really serious you need to buy satellite walkie talkies from an outdoor supplier for several hundred bucks.
While I opened this roundup saying I get craft supplies cheap at Walmart, that’s not 100 percent true. I have a preschooler and kindergartener who love to make books. For prices on paper products, you cannot beat Miller Pads and Paper. These blank books are 99 cents each. I got a pack of blank booksfor $1.50 each that are blank on the top of the page and have big lines on the bottom for my little boy who is learning to write and loves to “make books.”
They have many other book-making options for kids big and small. They even have blank board books for just $3.95.
Miller also carries a great selection of Klutz craft and maker kits, which are a no-fail hit with my elementary-age kids. If they are sold out of one you want, Rainbow Resource also carries a great selection. Both companies’ selections are better than Amazon!