I’ve been holding onto the coolest gift idea since last Christmas and it has not been easy. I’ve wanted to tell you, but only at the perfect time. It’s a gift I gave my husband—quite possibly the best gift I have ever given him. Ever. Let me explain.

Morning cup of coffee, gift, newspaper, glasses and bowtie on wooden desk for breakfast on happy fathers day

Having been married to the same man for 48 years (I know, I can’t believe it either), given birth to and co-raised our two now-adult sons and now the luckiest grandma on earth to our two grandsons, I know a thing or two about the male human. He loves a flashlight. A good flashlight. Really powerful. One that always works, is always handy, which means never lost.

Imagine all of these features in a flashlight that is the size of a fat tube of lipstick. With a pocket clip, so it slips into a pocket without going all the way to the bottom, where it ceases to be 100% handy. And has several settings for brightness. And it has a magnet on the end to make it stick to things so you can have both hands free.

Stop imagining because such a thing really does exist. But here’s the very best feature of all: It has a rechargeable battery just like a mobile phone—a tiny mini-USB port (adorable). You recharge it just like a cell phone!

Harold has used his pocket flashlight every day—maybe every hour—for five months now, and charged it fewer than six times. That’s how powerful this rechargeable battery is. It can hold a charge like forever.

I’m going to jump out on a limb and say there could not be a better gift for any male person (OK, I want one, too) on any gift list for any occasion than the first item on our Father’s Day Gift Guide 2018.

Word to the wise: The good stuff sells out fast, which is why you’re reading this a full three weeks ahead of Father’s Day, June 17.

 

1. Compact LED Flashlight.  Olight S1 mini Baton Compact LED Flashlight just the best indispensable personal piece of equipment for the men in your life (see above). It’s reliable, perfectly engineered and so stinkin’ useful! There are knockoffs trying to be as fabulous, but none can match this Olight S1 Mini. Best. Gift. Ever. About $45

2. Personal Memoir. This is such a great gift for any dad or grandfather—a kind of template in a beautiful book that will prompt him to write his memoir for his kids and grandkids. The Story of a Lifetime: A Keepsake of Personal Memoirs is a hardback book to be completed—filled in with answers to almost 500 simple to provocative questions such as, “What period of your life have you enjoyed the most?” and “What has been your greatest contribution to life so far?” What a wonderful way to pass along a legacy of wisdom and knowledge that will be a treasured family heirloom now and for generations to come. About $20 Read more

If you’re stressed because you just don’t know what gift would be right for that high school or college graduate on your list, stress no more!

This year my young friend Hannah and I have you covered with gift ideas that are sure to please both you and your favorite graduate!

When I asked Hannah what she and her friends would want for a graduation gift, I expected a quick verbal hint or two. What I didn’t expect was that Hannah would query a respectable sampling of her school’s senior class—complete with survey, research data, and specific results.

And so, for your gift-giving peace of mind and inspired by Hannah’s work, we confidently offer 18 gifts that this year’s graduates really want.

 

1. Windows Laptop Computer. While the students surveyed did not indicate exactly which laptop computer would meet their needs, I have divided student laptops into two categories, with the first being a Windows-based model like this excellent ASUS ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Laptop. It is super well-equipped to take your grad through five years of college, at least. Highly reviewed and priced well at About $750.

Related: Best Inexpensive™ Laptop Computers for Students of 2018

2. Chromebook Laptop Computer. The second category laptop for students is a Chromebook, of which there are many options. We believe this Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA while not the cheapest Chromebook out there, is the best for the money. It works as both a laptop and notebook, flipping into either style. Super powerful with 4GB RAM and Intel core processor. Starts up in seconds and lasts all day, up to 10 hours. Weighs just 2.65 pounds. Backlit keyboard and touchscreen. A dream machine! More hereAbout $450.

Helpful: Chromebooks vs. Windows Laptops: The Real Story

3. Earphones. The world of earphones, earbuds, air pods, and every other type of in-ear-monitors has simply exploded. You can spend a buck at the Dollar Store or a thousand for a set that looks pretty much the same! The difference is the level of technology that’s powering that headset. Graduates want earphones for all kinds of applications from blocking annoying noises around them to listening to music while on a run; to gaming and listening to videos and podcasts. Panasonic Wired Earphones are amazing and will deliver in all of those needs. They come in a variety of colors and get high reviews. And how much you ask? Wait for it … About $10. Read more

Mother’s Day 2018 is right around the corner—you have about two weeks to get ready.

If this is catching you by surprise, don’t worry because I, your humble personal shopper, have come up with 24 fabulous gift ideas to help you out—gifts that are as adorable as they are affordable!

Whether your Mom is a gardener, fashionista, home decorator; a foodie in love with her Instant Pot and or a compulsive cleaner who can’t imagine life without a Eufy Stick Vac, I believe that I’ve come up with great ideas for just about everyone.

 

One: Your coffee-loving mother is going to adore the Thermal Travel Cup, when she realizes it’s her personal pour-over brewing system in a travel mug. This unique cup lets you make, then take hot, fresh coffee wherever you go. Just pop on the stainless steel mesh filter, add ground coffee then pour over hot water to make hand drip coffee directly in the travel cup. Coffee stays hotter longer. About $25.

Two: This Mason Jar Measuring Cups Set is just the cutest set of measuring cups—useful, too! The rustic, antique, farmhouse design stacks the four measuring cups we use most often—1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup—to make a great conversation piece. Comes all dressed up in the prettiest robin’s egg blue color, too. About $16.

Three: Every kitchen needs a reliable, food thermometer and Thermopop is the best—America’s Test Kitchen says so. It’s affordable ($29 unless you buy five, then the price is $24 each right now and for a very limited time), comes in your choice of beautiful colors and can be used for any food prep from bread to meat on the grill and candy, too! Mom is sure to find Thermopop to be reliable and longer-lasting than the low-functioning models she keeps buying that simply do not perform well. Reg. $29.

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There are affiliate links in the post. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks! Read more here.

Friends. This is Friday. Valentine’s Day is Wednesday. I know, I can’t believe it either. Before you start to stress, let’s get a plan together.

The way I see it, you have four options:

  1. Ignore the day altogether and assume your spouse, kids, grandkids, friends, family, and co-workers, will think you forgot and give you a pass.
  2. Get thee to the card shop and post office to pick up Valentine’s cards and plenty of postage stamps, then get them in the mail, pronto!
  3. Make sweet treats in your kitchen befitting the day.
  4. Find that perfect little something for those perfect someones in your life—there is still plenty of time.

Should you be leaning toward option #4, here are 21 great gift ideas sure to please that can be delivered on time and, won’t break the bank:

 

GIFTS FOR KIDS

1. Happy Valentine’s Day Blank Sketchbook. Kids of all ages love to doodle and draw. Here’s a fun sketchpad that will let them keep their creations together in a safe place.

2. Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink. Love to hear your young readers giggle? Whether they read it themselves or you read it to them, this cute story about Gilbert, a fuzzy-looking woodland creature who comes up with “nice” rhymes for his classmates will bring out the laughter while teaching about kindness and forgiveness.

3. Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentime. Hurray! February 14—Valentime’s Day, as June B. calls it—is just around the corner. Junie B. can’t wait to see all the valentimes she’ll get. But she never expected a big, mushy mystery! Adorable story.

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You will see Amazon links in the post below. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read more here.

What are “living books?” They’re books that are so exciting, their content comes to life in an exciting and engaging way. They are well-written, offering more to the reader than meaningless fluff.

Living books teach about life, character and the human spirit. Even when addressing an academic concept, living books do it in a fun and engaging way. Living books are the complete opposite of dry, boring textbooks!

Two little blond sibling boys reading a book together in bed near Christmas tree.

Could there be a better gift idea than an exciting living book? I think not, especially in these times when electronic devices—texting, social media, and general cybersurfing—seem to be dominating so much time and attention in an attempt to capture the minds of even the youngest among us.

A living book just might be the gift solution you’ve been searching for. Consider the following as my attempt at creating a list of examples—some of the best living books from which to choose, arranged according to age and reading level.

The term “living book” is not a category or subject you’re likely to find in any bookstore—physical or online. It’s a term that has been coined in the world of homeschoolers. I think it’s a good one!

 

YOUNG READERS

Level 1: Shared Reading

Short sentences, familiar words, and simple concepts for children eager to read on their own. Generally Kindergarten – 1st Grade.

A List of Books for Every Reading Level and Interest because great books make great gifts!

SAMMY THE SEAL, by Syd Hoff. Sammy, the adventurous seal, leaves the zoo for the day and ventures into the big, busy city. Along the way he finds a school full of kids and new things to do—and he even learns to read!

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Gift-giving is surely on everyone’s mind as we head into the final weeks before Christmas. Giving gifts is a wonderful holiday tradition—one in which I participate fully because it brings me so much joy.

Three generations family opening Christmas Gifts and New Puppy!

Recently, I opened my email box to find a really nice message from a reader looking for help with gift suggestions for her husband’s administrative staff—a group of sharp, young professionals both male and female. He wants to acknowledge each with an appropriate gift—something that won’t be so dorky it shows up in next spring’s garage sale or worse, the trash. And he also wants to stay away from any gift that could be seen as too personal. His budget it about $30 per gift.

I accepted the challenge and went right to work, contacting several of the sharpest, smartest young professionals I know, asking for their opinions, suggestions and help. Together we came up with suggestions of gifts that each of them would thoroughly enjoy receiving from a supervisor, boss—or anyone, for that matter.

While I was in gift-guide mode, it dawned on me that over the past weeks, we’ve hit on gifts for kids, teens and even gifts baskets. But what about moms and dads? Read on and you’ll see we’ve got that covered there, too, just in case you’re behind the eight ball and need quick, reliable suggestions. It’s not too late, but you have no time to waste. Read more

Gift baskets are a terrific gift solution for an individual on your gift list, or for an entire family. The first step is to pick an appropriate theme tailored to the recipient(s). While packing the contents of your gift basket into a real basket is traditional, consider any appropriate container like an attractive bucket, bowl or box.

You can spend as little or as much as you like filling the basket. The possibilities are endless. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Beautiful Christmas gift basket filled with edibles

Movie Night Basket. Fill a large bowl or basket with family appropriate DVDs, iTunes Gift Card, microwave popcorn, theater-sized boxes of candy and bottles of soda.

Party of Two Basket. Boxes of dry pasta, a jar of spaghetti sauce, (homemade would be nice), Parmesan cheese, breadsticks, candlesticks and CD of classical Italian music.

Christmas in a Box. Especially thoughtful for someone living alone, send along a tabletop tree, a string of garland, a tree topper, lights and a box of ornaments. Include a CD of Christmas carols to be played while decorating the tree.

Bookworm Basket. Fill a basket with a few books, a coffee mug, packets of hot chocolate, instant coffee or tea, a tin of cookies and a pillow.

Letter Writer’s Basket. Assorted greeting cards, postcards, stationery, postage stamps, pens, pencils, return address labels.

Gift Wrap Basket. Curling ribbon, wrapping paper, gift enclosure cards, an assortment of gift bags, transparent tape, scissors, gift bags, tissue.

Coffee-Lover Basket. Coffee (beans or ground), coffee mugs (love these initial mugs), to-go coffee cups with lids, sugar creamer stir sticks, homemade sweet treat (like Biscoff Cookies).

Snow Day Survival Kit. Hot chocolate mix, mini-marshmallows, Sugar Cookie Mix, cookie cutter(s) plus, board game, puzzle and or deck of cards, kids’ book like the classic, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

Ice Cream Party Basket. Fill a basket with ice cream supplies including sprinkles, waffle cones, a new ice cream scoop; toppings like hot fudge and salted caramel sauce, a can of whipped cream, a jar of maraschino cherries, a big bottle of root beer, plastic spoons and straws.

Related: Gift Baskets for the Tremendous Cooks on Your Gift List

Golfer Basket. Fill a basket with golf tees, golf balls, a small towel, subscription to Golf Magazine with a copy of the current issue, a new visor or hat or gift card for favorite Pro Shop.

Gardener Basket. A selection of hand gardening tools, seed packets, great pair of gloves, wide brim sun hat.


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I love gadgets—anything that is clever, innovative, useful and reasonably priced. Gadgets make great gifts, especially when totally unexpected. I just love it when one of my kids or my husband opens a gift with a spontaneous, “Wow that is so cool!”

For your entertainment pleasure and perhaps a gift solution or two, I’ve put together this short list of gadgets, gizmos and electronic devices that are all the buzz this holiday season because they’re so cool!

Pizza-oven-Bakerstone

KIDS

ELECTRONIC PET DOG. His name is Harry. He’s an adorable Dalmatian puppy that walks and barks; responds to touch, loves to chase, sing and dance. Harry the Electronic Pet Dog wants to play with your little ones! So cute and one of this season’s hot electronic toys for kids age 2 to 7.

SMARTWATCH. Complete with built-in tiny camera to take photos and videos! Touchscreen, motion sensor, clock, voice recorder with voice-changing effects, cute games, songs and lots more. Kids ages 5 to 9 say VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch is the coolest thing ever! Several options and colors.

TEENS

SUNRISE ALARM CLOCK. My son says this is the best gift I’ve ever given him, it’s that awesome. Instead of blasting an annoying wake up buzzer, this alarm clock wakes up naturally with a gradual increase in brighness from 1 to 100% over an amount of time, which you choose. Just like the sun coming up, the light gradually brightens until it’s time to get up. Perfect, especially during the short dark days of winter. Tons more features you should read about. HomeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock, Read more

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