A Few of My Favourite Things: (AKA – This Is Not a Gift Guide Because Those Are Stressful)

I don’t read that many blogs and I don’t have any social media accounts. Yet, somehow, I feel like I’ve been bombarded by gift guides since mid-October. Since I’m aiming for a minimal Christmas, I’ve found these surprisingly stressful. Each guide I’ve come across has been unique (I can’t think of a single case of overlap) and has a lot of great ideas. But…I’ve already made my choices. Nevertheless, I click on links and get tempted by thoughts like “Wouldn’t a foot-operated rocket launcher be SO MUCH FUN!” before I accept I don’t really want to store a foot-operated rocket launcher. And knowing the enthusiasm some kids in my household display, chances are it would break in about 2 minutes.

So this isn’t a gift guide, per se. Just a collection of recent favourites, many of which have shown up under the Christmas tree in recent years. I’m not including links because a) that way you don’t feel pressure to click through and fall through an internet rabbit hole and, more acutely, b) I’m lazy.

Some of my Favourite things

  1. YETI | I started out with a plan to use my Yeti (I have the 10 oz Rambler with the Magslider lid) for hot beverages…but I quickly discovered it kept things too hot. I pivoted to using it as my water cup and have used it for this purpose every day for two years. I love the lid mechanism, love the size, and water stays cold all day. The version I have is not spillproof, though, and can be too big to fit in some car holders.
  2. BROOKSIDES | I get a bag of these every year at Christmas and on my birthday. It’s nice to identify a go-to treat you really enjoy and then save it for special occasions. Every year when I pass along my “wish” list to John I make sure to include Brooksides and Twizzlers. I think he’s got the memo by now, but I’d never want to leave matters of chocolate covered acai berries to chance.
  3. TEA/COFFEE | To follow along with the food theme above, I love a good cup of Earl Grey, Chai, or a bulletproof coffee in the morning. I have a pretty narrow range of tastes in this department, and don’t usually ask for these items under the tree…but they’re still favourites.
  4. APPLE DEVICES | These are the priciest items on my favourites list, but I couldn’t leave them off because they really are among my absolute favourite things. I put on my Apple Watch first thing in the morning. I use it to set timers, track workouts and check the weather (I’ve disabled text/mail alerts, but you can have all this information pushed to the watch as well). I think one of the reasons I appreciate the watch so much is because of my other Apple devices. I use my iPhone, Macbook Air, and AirPod Pro’s every single day for work and leisure. I’ve been using my Macbook for about 6 years now, so while these are expensive up-front costs, they are also long-term investments (I have the Series 3 Watch…and they just released the Series 7, so these are built to last and I don’t feel the need to upgrade when new versions are released). Also, if you have some tech saavy, these items can often be sourced at significantly discounted prices via second-hand routes.
  5. MAGIC BAGS | I actually own two sets of Magic Bags (the term I use for any grain-filled heating pad, a bit like I say Kleenex for all brands of tissues; I actually just use a pharmacy brand). I use them virtually every day in the winter (sometimes reheating them in the microwave 4 or 5 times). They’re also great when the kids come in from playing outside in the winter and have cold extremities. I’ll use them on my feet in bed, on the couch while we’re watching a movie, or put one under my feet and the other in my lap while I’m working at my desk. I was huddled outside in the cold last week at a playground when one mom mentioned heating them up and putting them in her kids beds at night before tucking them in. How lovely. (My husband does sometimes do this for me and it is lovely)!
  6. A GOOD SHOWER CAP | This one might sound funny, but I adore my shower cap. It’s thick and has wonderfully stretchy elastic that doesn’t leave indents. I use it multiple times a week and would be lost without it. Even if I wasn’t lazy I couldn’t link to the one I have because it’s not branded and I got it years ago. But you’ll know a good one when you find it…
  7. FOOD PROCESSOR | I’m sure many people have food processors collecting dust in their cupboard and would hate to receive one as a gift. But I use mine every single week. I use it to make my favourite muffins, I grind up oats to make flour for the waffles I talk about with shocking frequency; I’ll chop vegetables for chili and blend nuts into butter. Not pictured, but another favourite: my KitchenAid stick blender. I use this less frequently, but it’s great for frothing a bulletproof coffee or pureeing soup.
  8. SILPAT | Still hanging out in the kitchen. I don’t use this item a lot, but when I do it’s a game changer. Silicone sheets are great for lining pans, but then I discovered that a friend of mine uses one to cover casseroles or other dishes in the oven! Genius. I use the Amazon Basics brand and they work great.
  9. SUNDAE SPOONS | When we got married my parents-in-law gifted us a set of quality silverware, which happened to include 6 sundae spoons. They also gifted us a set of very tall mugs. Sundae spoons are the perfect way to stir oat milk into my steaming cup of chai, but we use them for everything and I actually asked for a second set for Christmas a few years ago because 6 was never enough to make it through to the next dishwashing cycle.
  10. HEATED SOCKS | This was a post-Christmas purchase last year and one that I’ve really enjoyed. The set I have are a bit thick to wear in everyday shoes/sneakers, and I’d love to source a more streamlined pair. But they do fit inside my winter boots and, though tight, were the only reason I survived our family foray into downhill skiing last year. The batteries on medium setting last most of a day and are easy to recharge.
  11. A BOOK SERIES | I love to read, but my love of minimalism definitely extends to the book shelf. After years of never buying books (instead I content myself with checking out a gigantic stack at the library each week), I’ve decided I do enjoy owning a complete book series. Last Christmas I asked for – and received! – the Harry Potter collection. My daughter and I read through this simultaneously and I get real satisfaction out of knowing that I have a matching set that fits compactly in its own little box and looks great on the shelf!

BONUS Favourites:

  • A NICE MUG | Get this right and it makes every cup of tea and coffee taste better. It really does. Can I get an Amen?
  • NOTEBOOKS | I am constantly taking notes – at work, at church, on the go. Thick, lined paper with good binding. It’s the stuff of legends.
  • HIGH QUALITY HAIR TOOLS | One of my cousins is a hairdresser and sourced me salon-grade Babyliss products. They were pricier than entry-level models, but I swear my blowdryer works in a fraction of time of my old pharmacy-grade one. And my favourite feature – the chords on salon-quality ones are SO MUCH longer.
  • WHITE NOISE MACHINE | I’m at the point where I can’t sleep without white noise. I’ve bought several Dohm products but have had quite a few issues, so don’t know if I’d recommend that brand outright (though they were great about sending replacements). Relax Melodies is a great free app for white noise, which is what I use when we travel.
  • GIFT CARDS | To Amazon, to a favourite coffee shop, a restaurant, a high-end consignment store, the health-food store. I love the flexibility of gift cards and most stores – even small specialty ones – offer gift card options these days.
  • ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH | This might sound strange but remember…this isn’t a gift guide. I actually did gift myself a pink Philips toothbrush several Christmases ago. It can take a bit of geting used to, but a good electric toothbrush really elevates the boring routine of oral hygiene and leaves my teeth significantly cleaner than a normal toothbrush!
If you're looking for some great gift guides that are actually gift guides...might I suggest:
- Enjoying the Small Things (several)
- Young House Love
- Chris Loves Julia (so many!)
- The Vanilla Tulip (several)
- Mix and Match Mama (so many!)
- Danielle Moss (so many!)
- Life As A Doctor's Wife  (several)

Now…what are a few of YOUR favourite things?

23 thoughts on “A Few of My Favourite Things: (AKA – This Is Not a Gift Guide Because Those Are Stressful)”

  1. Hmmm….I always struggle to name favorites. Just not good at it!! Jumping off your list though, I agree with my Apple stuff (well, for me it’s just my Airpod Pros and my iphone, basically). But I love them. And I love my English Breakfast tea (I don’t like Early Grey!! It’s the one I really don’t care for.) TOTALLY agree on the nice mug. I have a sort of tall/skinny one I got in Colorado on vacation a few years ago, and it’s definitely my favorite/ go to. What notebooks do you use?? I have been thinking lately that I really need to upgrade this. I have several lying around that I use for different purposes, and they are literally the $1.29 ones from the drugstore, spiral bound college paper, like you’d use in class in high school.

    I would also probably add my little lap blanket that I keep in my office (was a gift to myself last Christmas, constantly have it over my legs at my desk!). Also my Wonderland 222 planner/notebook (journal). My new HP laptop is great and I’m loving that. My black leggings! Wear them to death. And a flameless/ battery operated candle set my mom got me- I have one in my bathroom and like to click it on while I shower, with all other lights off. Feels so cozy. I also have on on my desk – it really looks like a real candle burning! But no mess or worrying about burning my house down. 🙂

    And p.s.- I just wrote a post all about facebook….I didn’t realize you have NO social media! haha! My post will probably sound pathetic and horrifying to you, if you read it….lol!!

    1. I’m a recent convert to the Earl Grey trend; love it. I actually don’t always have it in the house; it’s my go-to treat at a coffee shop.

      I just use notebooks from the DollarStore, mostly. My husband bought me a beautiful bullet journal a few years back which I think he got at Staples. I prefer the ones with hard covers and spiral bindings. I’m not picky, I just always like to have a few (not too many!).

      A lap blanket by the desk sounds great!

      I’m a weak link in the planner discussion; I’m currently using a $4 planner I bought at the DollarStore last year. Honestly, of all the planners I’ve tried, I think it’s my favourite. Love cozy candles.

      I saw your Facebook post and will respond there, but not horrifying at all! Oh goodness – social media is everywhere and I’ve often felt like the off person out. If it’s net positive in your life, go for it (but sounds like it’s currently net negative…)!

  2. I love that this was a favorite things post and not a gift guide. I, too, am feeling stressed by allll the gift guides. Sometimes they are fun to look at but they can make me question our approach to buying gifts for our kids. We buy very little since they get so much from my MIL (my boys are her only grandkids whereas my parents have 10 total so don’t buy quite as many presents – but are plenty generous of course!). The gift guides do give me ideas for the future but I can’t say I will buy anything off of them this holiday season.

    I hadn’t heard of heated socks – those sound perfect for me, especially when we take the boys sledding. I am so prone to cold feet!

    I’m also having a hard time coming up with favorite things, but my favorite styling tool is my revlon round brush blow dryer. I no longer have to use a straightener after blowdrying my hair and it gives my hair nice volume. I am TERRIBLE at doing my hair but this tool has been a game changer! I’ve only used it twice in the last year as I mostly let my hair dry on its own but once I”m back in the office, I’ll be using it on those days since going to work w/ wet hair is NOT an option in the cold months!

    Thank you for the kind comment on my blog this morning! We had a GREAT night of sleep last night so I am feeling more human today. The baby slept through the night. The toddler was up twice w/ bad dreams or something but we split those wake ups so I was only out of bed once. So I am very very thankful for a full night of sleep. The baby hadn’t slept well for WEEKS. hopefully this is the start of a new trend – especially with us sharing a room with him at my parents. We will be bringing our white noise machines for sure. We have the dohm ones but haven’t had any issues with them luckily!!

    1. Okay – you are approximately the 953rd person I’ve heard rave about the Revlon Round Brush Blow Dryer. I’ve looked it up on Amazon a dozen times. It must be worth the hype…

      And yay for sleeping a bit better. Room sharing with little ones is so tough. I always slept so fitfully. When the day came both kiddo’s moved to the loft at my parents open-concept, small home…it was incredible! I heard every little toe twitch; I swear I heard their eyelashes flutter. Good luck!!! Hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how it goes 🙂

  3. I have a Honeydew Side Sleeper pillow that I would die for at this point in my life. I used to have chronic mild neck stiffness and within three nights of using this pillow, it was no longer a problem.
    I have a rechargeable hand warmer for walking the dog that I love and would love a second one so I could have one in each pocket!

    1. I saw you link to this pillow before; intriguing. I’ve tried the Purple pillow and everything in better; I use one that’s as flat as a pancake from Walmart (I used to stomach sleep, but now am 75% side and 25% back)…this might be an improvement.

    1. Heated socks are pretty grand. A friend has a heated vest, which sounds swell.
      Honestly – add heat to anything (except ice cream, I guess) and it gets infinitely better.

  4. Well, I love gift guides and “favorite things” lists equally! We have a lot of similar favorites- early grey tea, white noise machine, good mugs. I’m sure if I lived up north quite a few more of yours would be on my list! Yes yes yes on the Harry Potter books… I still haven’t gotten over the fact that I’m done (re)reading the series- I need another great series to get into (any recommendations?)

    1. Hmmm. I don’t read much fiction these days; aside from my reading with the kids, I am almost purely on the non-fiction train.

      Currently doing Anne of Green Gables with the kids and my daughter loved The Mysterious Benedict Society, but I don’t think the latter translates as well to pure adult audiences? The Chronicles of Narnia are great but quite different from Harry Potter. You could read a bunch of stand-alone classics from the same author? I did a stint of Charles Dickens at the beginning of the year which I really enjoyed.

      I always laugh out loud to the James Herriot books; I see there is a new miniseries out as well. They’re semi-fictionalized/embellished accounts of a vet and there is a whole series. If you like animals and British humour, they’re hilarious.

      Have you ever read The Modern Mrs. Darcy blog? She’s basically the queen of book suggestions.

  5. This is a nice “not-a-gift-list” gift list 🙂 I love a good notebook, too! I have several cast-offs from the kids’ school days that I use for drafting & brain-storming blog posts when I’m traveling (my blog app is not very user-friendly on my phone). I’m kind of old school anyways, so I much prefer scribbling on paper than finger typing on my phone. I’ve never done a holiday gift guide on my blog…for the same reasons as you mentioned.

  6. I love seeing real peoples favorites instead of those crafted ones by bloggers. I also like practical gifts than those that you might use once a year.
    recent favorites of mine: CGM obviously, oura ring, kindle for kids, AirPods. for husband I got him bath rob, gym equipments. and for the girls got them some hair things, a initial necklace with birth stone, and doll set.

    1. Love the idea of an initial necklace with a birthstone. I wear very little jewelry (stud earrings every day, but that’s it 98% of the time), but I bet Abby would love this…

  7. I love my food processor and use it often. How else do we make hummus?

    Brooksides are delicious, I think I need heated socks, and I agree – travel mugs keep my coffee at too hot of temperatures! I usually have to let everything cool before I pour it into a travel mug.

  8. My first Apple Watch is set to arrive in 10 days or so! I’m so excited. I’ve been toying with buying one for many years now and the 7 finally tipped me over the edge!

    1. I hope you loooovvee it. You had a Garmin before, right?
      I know my sister who is an amateur athlete doesn’t find Apple Watches to have sufficient capabilities for her fitness/tracking requirements, but for me it has been nothing short of perfection. Can’t wait to hear your review and first thoughts.
      I’m in no rush to upgrade and won’t until my current one breaks (my Series 3 seriously works like a dream still), but I will admit that the always-on + flatter screen of the newer series is appealing…

  9. I think heated sock is something I never heard before reading your blog.
    I love my earl grey in the morning and this is my favorite brand. However I usually get the “Lady Grey” it has some hint of orange taste in it. Do you know it?
    My day also starts with putting on my Apple Watch. That really is a nice watch. I’ve turned of most of the alerts too. The Harry Potter book collection could be on my wishlist. I have never read all of them. But I hate it when series are not matching and for some reason they almost always do if you are not purchasing the boxed set. This issue looks pretty cool.

    1. Never heard of “Lady Grey” – will have to give it a try.

      I’ve read all the Harry Potter books multiple times and I do love having a complete, and matching, series!

  10. Honestly, I have a love-hate relationship with the gift guides that pop up – oh, EVERYWHERE around this time of year. But I really do enjoy a great list of things that people love and would recommend to others, so THANK YOU for sharing this list. It’s always nice to find new things that I didn’t know I needed (or others might enjoy too).

    1. Aww, thanks!
      I never remember seeing quite so many gift guides; the cynic in me thinks it likely has a lot to do with affiliate connections or sponsored content, but I always appreciate when people share things they actually own and love!

  11. Oh, Elisabeth, we are, indeed, kindred spirits.
    Magic bags. Book series. Tea/coffee. and Apple/Mac products! 🙂
    How do you like your AirPods? I am always tempted (still rocking it old school over here with wired headphones…), but worried they won’t fit in my ears, which seem to have some weird configuration. Ha.
    I am also thinking I need your (generic) brand of Magic bags… I heat mine nearly every hour! And use it year-round, to counter the cold outside in the winter and the a/c inside in the summer (I keep it at 75F but I’m still cold!).

    1. I love my AirPods! I have the pro’s which I would highly recommend (I don’t think the regular ones have noise canceling and I use that feature all the time). They connect seamlessly with other Apple products. I have the same issue with headphones (kindred spirits?) falling out and I got silicone covers that go over the AirPods. They never fall out (and I wear them for exercise, which is usually when other headphones would fall out on me).
      I’ve already used my Magic Bags (generic) today!

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