Holiday Gift Guide: From Personal To Functional

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Nothing happens if you click on any of them, but if you do decide to make a purchase, I’ll receive a commission from the sales. 

The holiday season is upon us, and shopping for gifts might be the number one source of your stress level increase.

Similar to the English dictionary, needs come before wants. It’s the same when you’re thinking about holiday gifts.

It’s been a tradition in our family that every holiday season my mom visits family and friends to drop off a basket filled with fruits, candies and other items that remind you it’s time to snuggle up with a good book and some hot cocoa.

I’ve followed in her footsteps for a couple of years now, but this time I’m doing something different.

My mom has never tried adding themes to her holiday baskets. They’ve always been the same items year after year. I like surprising family and friends and look forward to making my Coca-Cola themed basket this year for a select few.

I’ll also be working on a simple self-care themed one for two lovely moms who are always caring for others and sometimes forget about themselves.

Meeting Their Needs
Understanding a loved one’s age can really help with figuring out what would be the best gift for them this holiday. For one of Jeff’s nieces, we discussed purchasing a science experiment kit since she enjoys trying different things at home. It was inexpensive and includes four projects for her to try with family and friends.

Gifts that are educational and meet the need of a curious, growing child is always a plus in my book. There are a number of different products online that go beyond toys. Do your research, ask around and see what fits the people on your list.

Fulfilling Their Wants
Most children are obsessed with characters or types of animals. This year, we’ve been skipping the toy aisles with Paw Patrol or Dinotrux because if our three-year-old son sees one thing with their faces on it, he’ll want it all.

When certain characters are popular, retail stores will bring up the prices so you won’t be able to resist paying half of your arm when your child is screaming because they want a $40 toy that only lights up.

One of the best things you can do for yourself and the future of your child’s finances is to go with something from that character that makes the most sense to actually own. For instance, the love my son has for Paw Patrol is the same I felt when I saw a Paw Patrol toy box for less than $20 at the store. It doubled as a bench, so in my mind, I paid $20 for a functional product.
(Amazon has the same Paw Patrol Storage Bench for less than $25)

The Shopping Checklist
If you’re planning to get the most out of your holiday shopping cash, I highly recommend buying products months in advance. Remember, retailers will increase prices for products during the holiday season.

Most companies have been planning holiday strategies since July, so it’s important to think about the things your loved ones could really make use of, and start your search before the prices go up.

So, what can you add to your shopping list that will actually help you this holiday season? 

Below is a list of ideas for you to keep in mind as you plan how you’ll be tackling your holiday shopping list:


If you’re planning to start (or finish) your holiday shopping online, I recommend you see what Amazon has put together for Family Game Night options and bring back some childhood memories with this list of Treasured Toys


  1. lisa

    November 8, 2016 at 7:47 AM

    I love gifting online gifts so that it’s directly shipped to our loved ones. Most of our family lives out of town & I love to ask directly ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ I want to give exactly what they want if not they can return it with the gift receipt provided instead of waiting for me to send it. Online giving is a beautiful thing!

  2. Imaobong

    November 8, 2016 at 11:03 AM

    Yup,my favourite time of the year is upon us!
    My holiday shopping would be starting pretty soon and I always try to keep each person’s needs, wants, and favourite hobbies in mind, so I can pick out something close to the perfect present 🙂

  3. Ola

    November 8, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    Since I don’t celebrate Christmas, I make it a habit to give gifts throughout the year. The three principles you shared above will always be helpful. Thanks!

  4. Rose

    November 8, 2016 at 12:51 PM

    Each year it seems I’m trying to fine tune the want list of my kids. I have such a big age range that it makes it even more “fun”. Kids only need so many toys or clothes. I do get a family game every year which is fun for all of us.

    1. Fatima Torres

      November 8, 2016 at 3:42 PM

      Right? Family game nights are always a treat!

  5. Paighton Millington - The Lazy Baker

    November 8, 2016 at 1:29 PM

    Christmas is my favourite time of year! I love sitting down and doing Christmas online shopping for my family and friends ☺️

  6. Iza Abao, Two Monkeys Travel Group Writer

    November 8, 2016 at 10:50 PM

    I do not like buying gifts in December. Everything becomes so expensive. I try to plan ahead and search for the best deals. My biggest concern is budget because I do not want to spend too much but I like gifts with good quality. Have you tried giving food as a gift? There are so many food items at the market which are wrapped like gifts. These items are cookies, hams, cheese, cakes etc.

    1. Fatima Torres

      November 9, 2016 at 6:54 AM

      Yes! I make holiday baskets every year. This is one of the few years we actually throw in gifts (toys, clothing, etc.) into the mix. Baskets are always cheaper and show more of a sentiment.

  7. Meg Kerns

    November 9, 2016 at 12:23 AM

    I’ve totally bookmarked this post- I’ve been looking for something like this to give from the heart this year. Thank you for putting my search to rest!

  8. Ty Ward

    November 9, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    Great guide! I will use this!

  9. Debbie-jean lemonte

    November 9, 2016 at 5:49 PM

    I never have a budget for christmas shopping LOL! I always go over anyways.

    1. Fatima Torres

      November 11, 2016 at 11:19 AM

      I used to think like that, until I realized BILLS weren’t getting cheap. :/

  10. Ellie

    November 9, 2016 at 7:54 PM

    I love gift guides at this time of year! It makes it so fun and easy for readers to find great gifts!

    1. Fatima Torres

      November 11, 2016 at 11:19 AM

      I agree. It really helps narrow down your search.

  11. Amber Myers

    November 10, 2016 at 8:43 PM

    Yes, a budget is always important. I love finding deals!

  12. Breyona Sharpnack

    November 11, 2016 at 1:25 AM

    these are great ideas and a good starting point for the holidays

  13. Mihaela Echols

    November 11, 2016 at 1:25 AM

    Yeah I’m thinking hard this year and I’m sticking to a budget because I get too excited when I give gifts.

  14. Victoria

    November 11, 2016 at 1:47 AM

    I never tried shopping online! Hahahaha I’ll bookmarked it too! Great post! 🙂

  15. Meeta

    November 11, 2016 at 11:17 AM

    I love the tip of having a budget person. Thank you!

  16. Holiday Shopping At Target - Motherhood Through My Eyes

    November 11, 2016 at 1:08 PM

    […] Most of the things I’ll be picking up for the holiday baskets will include a theme. I shared more about this year’s themed baskets in a previous post. […]

  17. Cait Weingartner

    November 11, 2016 at 7:23 PM

    Great tips for holiday gift giving. I’m a big fan of shopping online to avoid crowds and stress!

  18. Hey Sharonoox

    November 11, 2016 at 8:04 PM

    That’s a great advice! I like the one to have a budget per person.

  19. Rhewi Montemayor

    November 12, 2016 at 2:53 AM

    Giving gift is my thing but I always end up on crashed mind because I caqn’t decide on what to buy! Really helps the 3 tips! 🙂

  20. Elizabeth O.

    November 12, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    Christmas is all about giving, but that usually comes with a high price, I think it’s good to set a budget, especially if you don’t have that much to spend during the Holidays but would like to get everyone that’s special to a gift.

  21. TColeman

    November 13, 2016 at 3:39 PM

    The gift definitely all depends on the person! I am loving that there are gifts for everyone here.

  22. Carol Cassara

    November 14, 2016 at 11:27 AM

    Those are awesome tips! I always make sure that I have a budget for each person that I’m planning to give a gift to. It allows me to save for the holidays more!

  23. CourtneyLynne

    November 14, 2016 at 7:32 PM

    I’ve been so good at sticking to my budget when it comes to Christmas!!! I’m 85% done with my shopping so I’m pretty sure this will be the year I actually stuck to my budget

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