I love giving thoughtful gifts, the ones they get really excited about. On the flip side, I really hate waste, so giving a gift someone is going to throw into the back of a closet feels like such a waste of money, effort, and materials to make that unwanted item!
Coming up with that perfect gift can be super hard, though, so this year I thought I would put together a few lists of things I have or want, that my kids have or want, etc., you get the picture!
I have a few categories here and I will be adding to this post as I come up with more lists over the coming weeks, so check back!
If you are looking for holiday decorating, check HERE for my picks this season!
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Table of Contents
The first category is TEENS!! That’s a gift category I’m super familiar with. Even so, I enlisted the help of my 11 and 13 year old niece and nephew, my 16 year old daughter and my 19 year old son, PLUS we asked a bunch of their friends, for the hottest gifts this year, and they delivered!
I’ve broken this up into girls, boys and unisex. Although my kids would like me to remind you that just because you found something on the girls list doesn’t mean you can buy it for a boy, and vice versa!
1 – Lulu Lemon Align Leggings // – Teens love a legging and no leggings do they love more than the uber popular Align legging from LuLuLemon. These are pricey (but worth it, honestly! I also have a pair!) so it feels extra special to get them as a gift, maybe something you wouldn’t necessarily buy.
2 – They Both Die at the End // – My daughter and almost all of her friends have read this book, even some of the non-readers. If you want your teen to read more, try a page-turner like this in her stocking!
3 – Salt Lamp // – There are all kinds of claims about the benefits of salt lamps that sound a little woo-woo to me. But aren’t all teenage girls a little woo-woo? If it brings them joy then why not!
4 – Blow Dryer Brush // – I have had this blow dryer brush for several years and I just bought a new one because I wore the bristles right off the old one! If you know anyone that has one of these you will know they revolutionize your morning routine.
5 – Butterfly Clips // – butterflies are all the rage! These little butterfly clips are so 90’s so you know the teens will love them. A great stocking stuffer too!
6 – Fake vines // – Teen girls are all about a design style called “Aesthetic” which is basically a made-up style from young girls on TikTok. I don’t understand it but it does involve a lot of fake vines and LED lights. Trust me they will love this! And you can just close the door to her room, haha!
7 – Reading Socks // – Girls of all ages love to be cozy with a nice pair of cozy reading socks, whether she’s a reader or not!
8 – Lulu Lemon Crop Top // – When I go into any store these days I wonder where the bottom half of the shirts all went. Crop tops are THE thing she wants, this one from Lulu is the cream of the crop with a built-in bra! She is going to want to pair it with #12 and maybe #10 on my list.
9 – Lulu Fanny Pack // – this is the hottest item, Lulu Lemon has trouble keeping it in stock. All things 90 have returned including the fanny pack, and this one is the THE one to get.
10 – Ball Cap // – Oversized shirt and a ball cap might just be her uniform for a cozy look while still looking chic.
11 – Jewelry Candles // – I had not heard of these before but apparently they are all the rage with teen girls. A candle that contains jewelry once you burn it down.
12 – Oversized Zip-up Hoodie // – The bigger the better! Paired with a crop top, of course.
13 – Makeup //- A lot of my daughter’s friends said make-up was on their list. Makeup can be expensive for teens so stock them up on a few of their favourite products. This is the best rated mascare at Sephora!
14 – Squsihmallows // – this one might be for the younger girls but I can tell you my 16 year old still loves them. They must be part of the “aesthetic” look? I don’t know but these soft squishy guys are very popular!
15 – Nike Air Force One // – If your daughter doesn’t already have a pair of these she probably wants some!
1 – Gymshark Joggers // – these were my son’s pick (he chose a few different items from this brand) because he loves to work out but also lounge – these joggers do both. Highly rated!
2 – Flat Brim Hat // – Boys love a hat but these days they are all wearing them with the flat brim. Bonus points if they have a mullet to go with it! Grab one from their favourite team!
3 – Nike Hoodie // – Teens love all things Nike, and this simple Nike hoodie is sure to go over well.
4 – NBA 2K23 // – -The hottest game this season for the the PS5, also available for XBox. If you have a teen boy he probably plays a video game or two!
5 – FIFA 23 // – The newest version of FIFA for XBox, also available for PS5. If they can’t play sports all winter at least they can virtually give it a go!
6 – Door Basketball Hoop // – We got my son one of these years ago (when he was maybe 12 or 13) and he still loves it at 19. It fits on the back of the door and it’s super annoying for moms who love beautiful rooms but we can all sacrifice a little of that for the sake of our boys happiness, right?
7 – Nike Dunk // – there is like a whole black market around these shoes and all the different colours and styles, people buy them and resell them and I don’t understand it but I can tell you they are one hot shoe for boys!
8 – Gaming Chair // – Another thing that sort of hurts my designer eyeballs but you don’t want them to ruin their posture while they play all those games, right? This one is on a great sale and is highly rated.
9 – Nike Crew Socks // – So many Nike things on my list! These are the ONLY socks my son will wear and last year I had such a hard time finding them! Bonus points if paired with Crocs!!! lol.
Teens – Unisex
Tons of ideas that are gender-neutral:
1 – Amazon Alexa // – If your teen doesn’t have an Alexa yet, do both of you a favour and grab one for their room. You can use it as an intercom to call them for dinner, they can hook it up to spotify to play their favourite tunes, and they can set a reminder to do homework. Or rather, you can! “Alexa, remind Cale to start his homework at 7 pm!”
2 – Taylor Swift on Vinyl // – Everyone is so gaga over Taylor, and vinyl is making a big comeback. This special edition blue one is so cool.
3 – Harry Styles on Vinyl // – Another super popular artist with a cool translucent yellow vinyl record.
4 – Wireless Speaker // – They can take this one anywhere and play their music way too loud and annoy the crap out of you. My son has this one and he takes it with him next to the hot tub since it’s waterproof, great for outdoors.
5 – Wireless Headphones // – So they can tune you out. Trust me they want these.
6 – Oculus VR Gaming // – My nephew has this and he plays it so much, (basically as much as he is allowed to!) It is the hot system when it comes to VR.
7 – Band Poster // – They all love to personalize their rooms, so let them! Both my kids loved this album cover print by Tyler the Creator. Grab one from their favourite artist!
8 – LED Lights // – this is part of that whole AESTETIC vibe I was talking about that I don’t understand but teens love themselves some LED’s. Along shelves, under their bed, inside their cars, there is no where that they won’t put these. These ones sync to music!
9 – Apple Airpods // – Teens love a brand name and Apple airpods are non-negotiable. Visit any high school and most kids will have one or two of these hanging out of one or two ears at any given time.
10 – Converse High-Tops // – Boys and girls both love these. Paired with cropped jeans and a ball cap for another 90’s throw back.
11 – Disposable Camera // – Don’t ask me why but these “old school” disposable film cameras are all the rage among my daughter’s friends. She said any given event there are bound to be one or two people snapping pics with these!
We play a ton of games around here but we tend to come back to the same ones over and over. These are our family favourites. I’ve included some info on why we like them along with a bit of an age guide if you want to play with your family!
Ticket to Ride // – We reach for this one maybe more than any other? This game is a fairly simple game where you are given cards that have train routes and you try to connect cities on the routes using your trains. It is strategic, but what I like most about it is that you don’t really know who is winning until the end when you count up your points. It takes between 1 – 2 hours max. We have played it with our niece and nephew and our kids from about age 8 and up, although they may not really “get it” until about age 10. But fun for adults, too!
7 Wonders – this game seemed a little complicated to learn but after we played it once we were hooked. We bought this one last year at Christmas and played it every single day over the holidays, sometimes multiple times. The game is pretty short – less than an hour? And also strategic. You collect different cards to give you points and once again, it’s hard to tell who’s winning until the end. (See a theme here?) Ages 10 and up is what they recommend on the box and I would agree with that.
- Pandemic // – this is an interactive game where you work together to save the world from a pandemic. This one is super strategic and we find it pretty hard to win, we usually kill the world. Sorry, world. But we’ve won enough times to keep us coming back and if it ever becomes too easy, you can change it up and make it even harder. This one is great because you play as a team so you are super involved in everyone’s turn with zero downtime. Ages 8+ but as a collaborative game, you will probably be helping the youngins decide what to do.
- Quirkle // – This is a different kind of game than the ones above, in this one you lay out tiles (scrabble style) 0to make rows of the same colour or same shape of tiles. It’s pretty quick, easy to learn and not overly complicated but still pretty strategic. Great for younger and older players alike.
Marbles – we first bought this game at a Farmer’s Market and upgraded to this beautifully handmade wooden board a few years ago. I would say we have played this game more than any other game, hands down. You can play with partners which is our preferred way to play. Camping trips usually involve a marbles tournament with teams and a chart and round robins and everything. This is great for young and old, it’s fast-paced and fun. A lot like Sorry or Trouble, I can’t explain why we all like it so much but we do! I would say this game is good for ages 5 and up. You can also find a similar version on Amazon Here.
Sequence – This is somewhat strategic, you have a hand of playing cards and a board with corresponding pictures and you need to make sequences (rows) using your cards. Played in pairs, easy to learn and one we pull out often. Ages 7+
- Settlers of Catan – I almost didn’t include this one on the list because it’s not my favourite, but my kids and husband LOVE it and it has a cult following. I think I don’t like it because I can’t ever seem to win? It is very strategic, easy to learn but a lifetime to master. It usually takes a little longer (2 hours or so.). This is for ages 10+ but I also see they have a junior version for ages 6+. Maybe that’s the one I need?
Left-Centre-Right – we bought this game last year after it was shared by another blogger and we keep this one for Christmas Eve or times when we have big groups together. It’s a dice rolling game based on chance, the last one standing wins. Everyone starts out with real money (at least that’s how we play it) so at the end, someone gets the whole pot. It’s fun to play with a group and loud and exciting, not strategic but more of a “something to do with a group” type of game to get everyone involved. Anyone can play this as long as they can roll a dice!
- Uno – Fun for littles and parents alike, you all know and love UNO. We played this a lot when the kids were little, less now but it’s always great to find a game the kids like and you don’t feel the need to poke your own eyes out if you play with them.
- Throw Throw Burrito – this is a silly, faced paced game that our niece and nephew have (aged 11 and 12) and my older teens still l love to play with them. It’s a card game where you have to be quick on the draw and if you loose you throw burritos at each other? Sounds weird, they all laugh a lot and get sweaty so that’s the best kind of game. Ages 7+
For the DIY’er
If you have a DIY’er in your life, or you are one, these are the essentials. Almost all of these I personally own and the couple of things I don’t own, I desperately want.
- Bosch Cordless Drill – I kid you not when I say we own about 6 drills. We have drills made by Dewalt, Milwaukee, and Makita, but the one I reach for the most is this Bosch Drill. It feels like I have a lot more control with this one, with all the different speeds and the battery on this thing lasts at least twice as long as any of the other drills we own.
- Accucut Jig by Kreg – We used to do all kinds of shady things to cut long pieces of wood straight. We bought this when we were doing our kitchen renovation and it was a game-changer! You use this in conjunction with a circular saw as a guide, and let me tell you, the cuts are so nice and straight!
- Mitre Saw – Our first mitre saw was a 10″ and didn’t have the double bevel and we quickly outgrew it. This mitre saw has all the bells and whistles and it’s basically a permanent fixture in our garage. We couldn’t DIY a thing without it.
- Angle Finder – I used to have a digital angle finder but it didn’t last very long before it crapped out so I bought this analog one. There will never be a need for batteries, and it is great for finding angles in those not to straight corners so you can cut your trim perfectly.
- Cordless Brad Nailer – I actually don’t own this but I often wish I did. We have a compressor and various air tools we use with it like the brad nailer, but hauling out the compressor all the time is such a pain. Never mind how noisy it is, the teens can’t sleep in on a Saturday morning during projects! A cordless nail gun would be so convenient, it’s on my wish list because we use the brad nailer a LOT around here.
- Clamps – There is no such thing as too many clamps. We could always use a couple more. We have a few kinds and these ones by Irwin are our favourites.
- Laser Level – from installing box trim moulding to tile to wallpaper, I pull out this laser level all the time! This one screws onto any tripod and also has a clamp so you can attach it to whatever you need to.
- Drywall Sander – this isn’t what I would call “essential” but I sure do not regret this purchase. I originally bought this drywall sander to try sanding off the popcorn in my son’s bedroom and I used it again in my mudroom. But I’ve also used it for actually drywalling…. if you aren’t a great drywaller then you might find yourself doing a lot of sanding and this makes quick work of it, and also attaches to a shop vac and captures a lot of the dust.
- Tile Saw – again, this is not an essential tool if you do not find yourself doing a lot of tiling, as you can rent these as well. But I’m quite sure that by now this thing has paid for itself. I love this one as it’s great for very accurate cutting, it has a sliding tray and a guide and I couldn’t have cut my kitchen backsplash without it!
- Rolling Scaffold – Have you ever tried to do something like wallpaper from the top of a ladder and you keep dropping your knife, you are going up and down the ladder, multiple times getting the right tools and moving over 2′ so you can reach the next part? Yeah, me too. This rolling scaffold changed all that, get all your tools up there, climb up, and work, no more up and down the ladder 20 times. We have 10′ ceilings and I can easily reach the ceiling and beyond. This scaffold has been put to use in every room we’ve worked on, making painting, adding crown molding, framing, wallpapering, planking ceilings, installing lights… all the things, so much easier (and safer!).
- Folding work bench – here is one of the things I don’t have but desperately want! We have a workbench up against the wall but it’s constantly covered in clutter and I often like to set up a workstation that I can walk all the way around. This one folds flat to store and has CLAMPS. I need it.
- Paint Sprayer – Whenever I am painting something really intricate or I want a really nice finish on something, I pull out my sprayer. I recently upgraded to this one and I love the finish I get with this, the fact that I don’t have to thin the paint, and the convenience of it being cordless.
- Electric Screwdriver – Did I save the best for last? Maybe! This is a little tool my husband thought was dumb (just get a drill, he said!) but now he loves it as much as me. It’s so much easier than a drill, to screw a screw you just turn it in the direction you want to go, faster or slower. It’s not as powerful as a drill but it’s great for small jobs and I use it so much. It fits a lot of places that a drill doesn’t, too!
Like Oprah’s favourite things… but better because it’s Erin’s favourite things. LOL. All of these I either have and love or are things that are on my list this year. Some of these may make odd gifts but you know, you can buy a little something for yourself over the holidays too!
1 – Ninja Air Fryer – I have been resisting the air fryer for years now (I got sucked into buying an Instapot when that was all the rage and ended up not using it at all). I do not like extra appliances cluttering up the kitchen. However, so many people rave about their air fryer that I would like to give it a try, this is on my list this year. The Ninja is one of the best-rated so that is the one I want!
2 – Frame TV – When we sold our last house the buyers wanted the Frame TV with the house and it almost ruined the deal for me, I loved it so much and didn’t want to part with it! I made my husband promise to get a new one when we moved, and we did. If you have to have a TV in your living room than let it be beautiful when off. I so highly recommend it!!
3 – Wicker Tray – I have an upholstered ottoman and on it, we have a large tray I’ve been looking for something super cool to upgrade it with and this tray by Amber Interiors is everything I’m looking for. It’s huge (it’s so hard to find big trays) and has the most interesting weave.
4 – Echo Shoes – When we went to Europe this past summer I went on the hunt for the perfect white sneaker, one I could wear with anything. These Echo’s I wore many days in Europe and they were super comfortable, I am so glad I took the time to find the right pair. I will have these for many years to come, I have no doubt.
5 – Lulu Lemon Align Leggings – If you already have Lulu Lemon Align leggings, you know why these made the list. They are so expensive for leggings and I’ve tried to love knock-off brands but nothing else compares. I think they make a nice gift because they are sort of a luxury, especially for the homebody that lives for leggings and comfort!
6 – Blundstones – OK I’m just now realizing how many shoes are on my list. What can I say, I like a good quality shoe! I don’t buy or wear a lot of different shoes so when I do, I want them to be something that will look better with age and last me for years. That’s why Blundstones made my list, I’ve been wanting some for a couple years and I’m hoping my husband gets the memo and gets me some of these this year!
7 – Yeti Rambler – I have had my ginormous Yeti Rambler for a couple of years and I love it so much. I am picky about to-go cups, first of all, they have to be BIG (this one fits a half a pot of coffee!! But if you don’t love coffee like me they do have smaller versions.) Then they have to have a good mouth opening, if it’s weird to drink out of or awkward to clean I can’t handle it. Lastly, super insulating. One time I left my Yeti full of hot coffee in my car while I gave blood in -40 degree weather, so for over an hour. When I came out I thought for sure my coffee would be cold (or frozen solid)… but nope, as hot as ever. I will never use another to-go mug!
8- McGee Vase – I like big vases! Especially in white or off-white, they are so nice for the center of a table or kitchen island filled with tons of greenery. I really love the detail on this one by McGee and Co., it’s on my list!
9 – Birkenstocks – More shoes!! I know, I do like good shoes. The second pair of shoes I brought to Europe were Birkenstock sandals, I walked miles every day with no real foot pain or blisters. I love the new style clogs that are easy to slip on with socks, and because they are Birks you know the quality is there.
10 – Toiletry Bag – I don’t have a ton of products that I travel with so a small toiletry bag is all I need. The one I have now is absolutely falling apart so this pretty leather one is on my list!
11 – Car Coat – I really love this houndstooth jacket from Old Navy. I’ve had a similar coat from Old Navy for years, and my daughter now wears it all the time so I have my eye on this brown one.
12 – Samsonite Luggage – I needed a carry-on when I went to Europe and when I asked people what their preference was with luggage I was overwhelmed by the varied response, so I decided to just go with the brand that I have known and used for years. I have the larger size version of this hard-sided suitcase and I bought the small one for the Europe trip, and I can say I stuffed that thing to the limit and dragged it up and down stairs and on and off trains and down cobblestone streets and it’s still just as good as new.
13 – Asics Runners – Maybe you don’t know this about me but I’m an avid runner, I run at least 4 times a week and trained for and have run a few half-marathons. I have tried a lot of different runners at a lot of different price points and I’ve found my tried and true, these Asics runners. When these wear out I just buy the latest version of this same shoe, I don’t even try others anymore.
14 – Half-Zip Sweater – I might have already bought this sweater, I was worried that it was going to sell out. I like the idea of a basic piece like this with a little detail like the zip. I’ll let you know what I think when it arrives!