Living Books for Every Reader on Your Gift List

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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!

Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Young Professionals, College Students, Moms and Dads

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.

Gift Solutions in a Basket

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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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Super Cool Gadgets and Electronic Gear

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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. About $25.

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. From $45 to $60 depending on style and color.

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, less than $25.

Cutting Through the Hype to Find Some Decent Cyber Monday Deals!

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

For me, Black Friday wasn’t black at all. It was Fun Friday at a local family fun center with my grandsons, Eli and Sam, complete with bumper boats, mini-golf, bowling, video games, pizza for lunch and a promise that we’d return one day soon.

BBoondocks Family Fun Cntr

I’m the lucky one—I didn’t step foot in a store, mall or shopping center. I hear it got pretty crazy out there.

I’m not sure if I’ve turned into a wimp or become an introvert, but except for Costco, I just don’t shop in stores anymore. Not even a grocery store. I’m an online shopper for just about everything. Online shopping is my comfort zone and admittedly, I’ve become pretty good at it.

I’ve scoped out what I think are a few excellent, authentic deals for you today on what has become known as Cyber Monday.

2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Toys for Kids

I saw it on Facebook and it made me laugh out loud. I want to use this in the invitations to our next Dinner Party. I’m sure everyone will know it’s a joke, right?

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure. Could be a touchy subject, I suppose.

I must admit that the humor of this meme quickly faded once I thought about it for awhile. People staring at their phones. It’s becoming the new normal.

And not just for big people. Little people are catching on to this pasttime, too.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against smartphones. I have one myself, although 99% of the time I don’t think about it and have no idea where it is; the other 1% I’m in a panic because I’m just sure I’ve lost it.

The thing about kids and electronic devices with screens is that it becomes an isolating factor. Kids check out, failing to engage emotionally with others or with their environment when they have an electronic device in hand.

Doctors are urging parents to keep smartphones and laptops out of their kids’ bedrooms, and limit the time they text and tweet. An influential pediatricians group says parents need to know that unrestricted media use can have serious consequences.

All of which brings me to my 2017 Gift Guide: Toys for Kids for ages birth to 8 years, and beyond (you knew I’d get there sooner or later).

Christmas Gifts From My Instant Pot: Candied Lemon

I’ve never gotten into the whole Black Friday retail extravaganza. Might be because I’m not a fan of crowds, chaos, and mayhem, which is the way I would describe it.

Or I don’t like the idea of being manipulated into thinking that everything is a bargain on Black Friday, therefore, I must shop til I drop. Nope. Not me.

The theory behind the term Black Friday is not that it’s a dark, horrible thing the way it would be described in say an office environment of the day when all but the boss’ kid got pink-slipped leaving the entire company in a state of shock and awe.

It’s called Black Friday because supposedly, as the biggest shopping day of the year, retailers recoup all the losses they’ve experienced during the year so far—crazed shoppers taking them out of the red (financial loss) into a healthy profit status.

Honestly, I kinda’ doubt that whole red-black thing to be true, but it does explain the name of the day.

Perhaps you’ve guessed already, that I will not be joining any throngs of crazed shoppers next Friday. Instead, I will be home making Christmas gifts in my Instant Pot!

This year my homemade, consumable gifts will include Pure Madagascar Vanilla Extract, Pure Meyer Lemon Extract, Bacon Onion Jam and Candied Citrus Peel. Now here’s the crazy thing—I’m making all of these gifts in my Instant Pot, even the extracts! I’ve discovered that I can make the extracts in one day in my Instant Pot (yes, even pure vanilla extract!), where it used to take up to six months for extracts to be ready for gift-giving.

While I will be sharing all of these recipes and instructions with you soon, today I want to walk you through the simple steps to make Candied Lemon Peel.

Homemade candied lemon peel is a treat—one that is so decadent and classy, it makes for great gift—a treat you know will be gratefully received.

Our Best Father’s Day Gift Guide Ever!

I may know what you’re thinking: Father’s Day? What! When? The answer is yes, Sun., June 18. But don’t panic. You still have more than a week to make it a great day for the Dads in your life!

If there’s one thing I know about Dads, it’s this: They like cool stuff—gadgets, electronics, powerful things. And if a gift is slightly sentimental? That’s a good thing, too.

1. Outdoor Security Camera. This 24/7 live video 130° wide-angle view and all-glass lens will let the man of the house look after home in crisp 1080p HD, day and night. It’s weatherproof and has built-in speaker and microphone. Because it is hardwired, no worries about replacing batteries. Give Dad peace of mind with this cool yet affordable state-of-the-art gadget.  About $170.

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