Gift-giving is surely on everyone’s mind as we head into these last days before Christmas. It’s a wonderful holiday tradition—one in which I participate fully because it brings me so much joy.

Earlier this week, I opened my email box to find a really nice messages from several readers seeking help with gift suggestions. One is in a quandary regarding appropriate gifts for his 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.

Of course I was excited to accept the challenge (I do have that shopping gene) 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, I came up with great ideas for young children— moms and dads, too, just in case you’re behind the eight ball and need quick, realiable suggestions. It’s not too late, but you have no time to waste.

If you’re sweating bullets wondering if any of these items will possibly arrive before Christmas, the answer is a qualified yes—only if you use Amazon Prime shipping and place your order before midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 22. Don’t have a Prime membership? You’re in luck! Click HERE to get a free 30-day trial Prime membership. You can use it immediately, and at no cost for a full month, at which time you are free to cancel it. Each of the gifts that follow qualify for Prime shipping at this writing.



1. FABULOUS GYM BAG. This Adidas medium-size duffel is exactly that—fabulous. Just the right size, this bag is well-designed with zippers and pockets in all the right places. Comes in 11 colors. Perfect gym bag. Great size, good price at about $35.

2. SMARTPHONE CABLE. Yowosmart is a cable to charge your smartphone, that fits onto your keychain. It works like your normal cable for charging and syncing your phone. Plug one end into a USB port and the other end (lightning or micro usb in one device) into your mobile device. The concept is brilliant. Your keys are always with you when you leave the house so you’ll never leave it behind. Better, you won’t even notice you’re carrying it. For Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Htc One, Google Nexus, Motorola, Lg, Sony, Jawbone, and more. About $14.

3. PORTABLE PHONE CHARGER. Small as a candy bar, the 2nd Generation Anker Astro is the most powerful high-capacity, portable charger in its category. Charges the iPhone 6 well over two times, Galaxy S6 1.5 times and other smartphones multiple times before it needs to be recharged. Comes with a micro USB cable, travel pouch, product guide and an 18-month warranty. About $22.

4. BREAKFAST SANDWICH MAKER. This is not a kitchen gadget that will be one and done. No way will this get stuck in the back of a college dorm room or apartment closet. The Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker’s unique design creates a home-cooked breakfast sandwich in just five minutes. Watch the video. It’s great! Can’t think of a more perfect gift for the busy starving student or young professional making his or her way up the corporate ladder. About $24.


5. LAPTOP BACKPACK. Fits up to a 17-inch laptop computers, with a zippered speed pocket. Includes a secure place for your cell phone and or boarding pass. Interior expanded to accommodate books, files and folders. This AmazonBasics Laptop Backpack includes an organizational panel keeps chargers, cords, pens and small electronics untangled and organized for easy use. About $30.

6. ROLLER BALL PEN. The Uni-Ball Jetstream RT Fine Point Retractable Roller Ball Pen was voted best pen by The Wirecutter—the cutting edge site that rates and reviews all kinds of products for its millennial audience.  Back to the pen: Unique hybrid ink offers the smoothness of a gel with the quick-drying properties of a ballpoint. Ideal for left-handers because the ink dries so fast, there’s little chance of smudging. Uni Super ink is specially formulated to become trapped in paper, helping prevent criminal check washing and other document alteration. Archival-quality, acid-free ink is fade- and water-resistant. Great gift in the 3-pack option, which comes in at about $9.

7. BLUETOOTH TRACKER. Tile is a tiny Bluetooth tracker and easy-to-use app that finds your phone, keys and anything you don’t want to lose—in mere seconds! Attach a Tile Mate to an item and locate it by sound, by seeing its last known location on am pa or by marking it as “lost” and getting an alert when it’s found. Can’t find your phone? Just press Tile to make your post phone ring, even if it’s on silent. Place a Tile on your key ring and you’ll never misplace them again. Very cool, cutting edge technology. Buy a single Tile or cut the price when you buy a dozen. About $25 for one; $16 each with an 8-pack.

8. SLEEP MASK AND EAR PLUGS. What young student or professional doesn’t long for more quality sleep? Here’s the gift that will fulfill that dream. Bedtime Bliss Comfortable Sleep Mask & Ear Plugs comes with a handy travel case. And boy does it work. Made to block out light, its so lightweight your sleepy recipient will not even feel it. Contoured, this mask creates room to open your eyes, yet still relax in darkness. Won’t smudge makeup either, which makes a quick power nap a distinct possibility! About $13.

9. SUPER SMARTPHONE CAMERA LENS SET. That camera on your smartphone or tablet is passable for most situations. But now and then who doesn’t long for a great fisheye (for selfies, of course!) and a lens that lets you zoom in for extreme close-up viewing. This set of lenses comes with three lenses, lens clips, caps, hooks, cleaning cloth and carrying case. Great reviews, too. About $30.



10. MAGNA-TILES. The tiles are just amazing. And they’re not cheap, but they will last for many years and bring out building and creative skills in your kids you didn’t know they had. Children will play alone or in groups with Magna-Tiles and for hours, constructing towers and geometric shapes. Magna-Tiles moves a child to think in 3-D. This 32-piece set is about $50.

11. PUPPETS. Kids love puppets. And we know that therapists love them because for some reason, a c with a puppet becomes more expressive and willing to role play—something that is so critical to proper development. This 8-piece set of multi-ethnic, plush, happy kids hand puppets is about $35. This set of 12 animal puppets is $20.

12. COOTIE. You probably played Cootie when you were a kid. And while the bugs may look a little different these days, it remains a simple, fun, classic game that little ones love to play. Since the children only compete against themselves, group play doesn’t get heated and overly competitive. About $29.

13. GEARS! GEARS! GEARS! This building set gives young children opportunities to experiment with simple mechanics and science. And it’s so much fun! Watch how their little minds are engrossed for hours as they figure out how to make the gears fit together and actually do things. And the more they play the more they will discover new ways to do things. This really is a perfect gift. The 96-piece set is about $22.


14. MAGNETIC CONSTRUCTION SET. These jumbo magnetic building pieces are ideal for small hands. Completely safe to play with, children as young as 3 years old will have so much fun and entertain themselves for hours. Their imaginations will go wild! This sturdy 30-piece set by Better Builders is about $37.

15. BLOCKS. This 3D Feel & Find set of 2 big chunky blocks and wood shapes can be played with alone or in groups. The blocks are well made and some are painted bright colors. Another toy that promotes creativity and imagination. The set comes with a cloth bag for storage and is about $32.

16. STRAWS & CONNECTORS. Whoever came up with this is pure genius. Using sturdy drinking straws and these unique connectors, a child can create all kinds of amazing structures. This huge 705-piece set is about $37 and if reviews are a good indicator (they are), worth every dime!

17. SORTING FOOD TRAY. This puzzle is just too cute. Made of wood, it’s sturdy and will help develop fine motor skills. Check out the other food tray puzzles that would go with this particular one. Perhaps your child needs a matching set. About $20.



18. CLIPLIGHT.  This Clip Strip Powerful Pocket Light is perfect for all of dad’s hobbies—hiking, campig, fishing, car repair, dog walking or any number of emergencies. It’s so bright you’ll have a hard believing it fits in his pocket like a pen! And it clips onto just about anything for hands free lighting. Check those reviews! About $10.

19. GEEK DAD. The title of this book alone is going to make Dad smile. Check this description: “Today’s generation of dads grew up more tech-savvy than ever. Rather than joining the Little League team, man grew up playing empire games, Dungeons and Dragons, and watching Star Wars. Now with kids of their own, these digital-age dads are looking for fresh ways to share their love of science and technology and help their kids develop a passion for learning and discovery….” About $15.

20. PRANK BOX. I have to admit I’m hesitant here, leaning on your good sense of humor. This is a gift box that appears to contain ridiculous products from clueless companies, no actual product is inside or included. And it is so funny. If you’re at wits end for how to prank Dad, this might be it. Of course you need to fill this box with a gift because no one could be that cruel to give Dad an empty, albeit hilarious, box. About $7.

21. FOGLESS SHOWER MIRROR. Many men prefer to shave in the shower and that presents a problem: Fog. This shower mirror solves that problem. It’s guaranteed to be fogless for life. Requires no annoying fog sprays. Ever. Fill it with hot shower water and it’s good to go. Easy. Just look at those reviews.  About $30.


22. GRILL GLOVES. Every guy who proudly handles that BBQ grill (summer is coming, I promise), will be thrilled with these Ekogrips Max Heat Silicone BBQ Grill Oven Gloves, that comes in three sizes. Heat resistant with maximum protection. Waterproof and dishwasher safe, too. About $18.

23. LEATHERMAN MICRA TOOL. This multi-tool provides tough tools that all fold up into a tiny package. Includes three screwdrivers, scissors, nail file, ruler, bottle opener, knife and tweezers. I lost one of these to TSA while going through airport security, and it broke my heart. Loved that little thing and used it often. (This is not a “dads-only” gift.) About $22.

24. SHREDDER CLAWS. I know what you’re thinking: Backscratchers? The answer would be, No! and don’t even try that. The BBQ Meat Forks are the best thing on earth for pulling brisket from the grill or slow cooker and shredding it. Perfect for pulled pork, pulled chicken and pulled beef, too. Dishwasher safe and appropriately gnarly looking. About $10.



25. INFUSER WATER BOTTLE. Not only is this a beautiful water bottle, it has excellent function. The point of the bottle is to load the center chamber with things like strawberries, lemon and cucumber to infuse and flavor the water. Unlike most other infuser bottles, this one is designed to keep seeds and pulp from floating out into the water. It’s fantastic and a cinch to clean. Holds a full 24 ounces of water. The bottle is easy to hold, and it has a snap-on lid that makes it easy to travel with. Dishwasher safe. Gorgeous! About $12.

26. TAKE A WINE. This flexible, unbreakable wine bottle is really a travel bag to take wine  camping, hiking or picnicking. Comes with a small funnel which makes filling it, with one’s wine of choice, quite easy. This practical gift for the wine lover is as convenient as it is cute. About $15.

27. SILICONE OVEN MITTS. These cute red Silicone Oven Mitts are fantastic. They’re flexible and easy to put on. And don’t ask me why they don’t melt.  They just work the way we’d expect that they should. Four colors to choose from including Christmas red. About $13-$15.

28. CROCHET HOOKS. Excellent beginners set of crochet hooks with comfortable, ergonomic grips that make crocheting a true joy, not a painful endeavor. Beautiful color-coded handles in a rainbow of colors make this a beautifully ideal gift for any craft lover. About $11.


29. ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSER. This diffuser for aromatherapy, uses non-heat ultrasonic waves to protect the healing and natural properties of the essential oils.  Extremely quiet, this beautiful diffuser has a therapeutic mood enhancing 7 color choice LED light and automatic shut-off. About $24.

30. ESSENTIAL OIL SET. An excellent starter kit that comes with six bottles of oils: lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, lemongrass, sweet orange, and peppermint. Each bottle contains 100% pure unadulterated essential oil; without any fillers, additives, bases or carriers. Use with the diffuser above. About $20.

31. MOM’S ONE LINE A DAY: A FIVE-YEAR MEMORY BOOK. For the busy mom-on-the-go, this memory keeper offers a quick and easy way to capture the everyday moments of motherhood. With enough space to record a single thought, a family quote, or a special event each day for five years, this beautiful keepsake makes sure those precious memories will last a lifetime. It takes personal discipline to journal every day, month in and month out. But this journal removes all the drudgery because there’s room to write only one line. What a gem. About $10.