Holiday Shopping Guide for Whole Family Gifts


Whether your family tree is a small sapling or a mighty oak, it can get spendy to buy an individual Christmas gift for every person on the tree. One way cut costs and at the same time bump up the quality of your gift is to start thinking “whole family gifts”—a single gift that every member of a family will enjoy.


Here are six whole family gift ideas to help you get started early—all the way from high-tech gadgets to low tech tickets:

HD Tablet and eReader. While there are lots of HD tablets out there, the all-new Kindle Fire HD (and high powered HDX) 7-inch tablet is ideal for a whole family gift.

Kindle Fire is more than an eReader. It’s a tablet computer with a stunning HD display, a screaming fast processor and much longer battery life than earlier Kindles. Get email, watch movies, play games, listen to music and read books on Kindle Fire.


Kindle Fire comes with FreeTime and allows parents to create a profile for each child and choose what books, apps, games and videos—and how long—that child is allowed to view and play. Parents can also use the settings to restrict the time spent playing games and watching videos, while leaving unlimited time for reading.

Be sure to check out the optional Kindle FreeTime for kids Unlimited and Amazon Prime), if you want to make Kindle Fire an even better whole family gift.

Universal Remote Control. When it comes to universal remote controls, you have many choices. You want to go with a product that has proven to be of the highest quality and reliability. The Logitech Harmony Smart Control is a quality choice and one the whole family will love and adore. This single remote will control (and replace) up to eight individual remotes including the TV, DVR, DVD player, game consoles like PS3, Wii and Xbox 360.


As a bonus, this remote comes with an app that lets you turn a Smartphone into an additional Harmony remote control. This Logitech universal remote is a solid gift you’ll be proud to give. Under $150.

Digital Photo Frame. Kids love to see their family photos, and that’s what makes this such a great gift idea. Take a look at the NIX 10.4 inch Digital Photo Frame. It’s just plain awesome and gets rave consumer reviews. Your recipient family will never have to remember to turn it off and on because it comes with a motion sensor and it is rechargeable.

61vV-StgqqL._SL1120_Using a 4GB USB memory drive (included), this baby holds tons of photos, videos and lets you load your own MP3 music for playback, too. The resolution is beautiful and it’s easy to load and operate. Under $100.

Nintedo Wii U. As a gaming console, the Wii U is way more than just a box that plays games. The ease-of-use and interactivity of the Wii remote and accessories allows for a unique gaming experience for the whole family, regardless of age, The Nintendo Wii U is the quintessential party console, bringing families and friends together to play exciting multiplayer games on a revolutionary system.


You’ll be remembered for years as the relative that gifted the Wii.

Family Membership. A family membership to the zoo, a local museum or amusement part will provide a whole year of free entertainment for a family, and it won’t add clutter to their home. Choose a museum that belongs to the Association of Children’s Museums or the Association of Science and the family will also get free admission to hundreds of other museums across the US and abroad—perfect for when vacation time rolls around. Prices vary.

Movie Tickets. Pick up enough tickets for everyone in the family and your shopping is done. Most theaters discount tickets when you buy them in quantity. Or check out BulkTix. Make movie tickets the gift for everyone on your list this year and you just might save enough to treat yourself to a few movies.

Question: Started your Christmas shopping yet?

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14 replies
  1. Dorothy07
    Dorothy07 says:

    All you have to do is sing, a lot. It all depends on how good your memory is and how brave you are to belt out a tune.

  2. debra
    debra says:

    my spouse’s family was incensed with me after our marriage 30 years ago
    when I said “Christmas gifts for children only.” One of his aunts never
    forgave me and shunned my daughters – tit for tat although I always
    gift her out of respect and her youngest child until he turned 18. Some
    people become very vicious about the whole commercialization of
    Christmas – as you say Beck Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s
    birthday. Why should I buy a tie for some cousin-in-law who will never
    wear it? I always spent a lot of time thinking about gifts for the
    children – somehow it was never right! So now his aunt and her family
    have “disowned” their nephew (my husband) and you know what? Good
    riddance to bad trash!

  3. Jenn
    Jenn says:

    My son will turn 2 just days before Christmas. I’ve been squirreling away clearance-priced gifts for him for months. Just yesterday I picked up a zoo animal pop-up book for $0.92. I’ll buy my husband a membership to the zoo and that’ll be it for our family, which has survived on a single income since our son was born.

  4. DianaB
    DianaB says:

    I usually give children a magazine subscription hoping they will learn, be inspired, something. Don’t know if it works, if they care or if I am wasting my money. Adults I don’t care much about any more. My grown son I gave National Geographic (he never reads it) and grown grandson also gets National Geographic (he does read his). I have given a grown child a MagicJack because they have no phone and can’t afford one (he never uses it and I won’t renew the annual cost). I try very hard to tailor a gift to the recipient, but it is beginning to be a waste of my money, no matter what I spend. And, by the way, I don’t look for a gift in return, which is good because I usually never get any. Most of the time I never even get a thank you. The list just keeps getting whittled. As far as donations to local charities, I do that with monthly donations to a local soup kitchen. I know they appreciate it, even though I don’t get a formal thank you.

  5. Sarah Hamaker
    Sarah Hamaker says:

    We often give magazine subscriptions (The Week is our favorite, as it is a great compilation of recent news), especially to those with grown children and/or really young children. Consumables, such as homemade jams, sauces, mixes and cookies, are also a hit.

  6. Christine
    Christine says:

    I’ve been looking at Wii U for my son, maybe I read it wrong but you wrote that it’s “under $100”, I’d love to know where it’s selling for under $100! Please inform.

    • DianaB
      DianaB says:

      Actually I think the “under $100″ was referring to the digital photo frame; that sounds like $99.99” to me and certainly more than I would spend on something like that. Also, the universal remote under $150? Who is kidding whom? That is a ton of money for a remote. No thanks, not even for my own household.

  7. Elly
    Elly says:

    For co-worker gifts I donate to the local food pantry or the Angel Tree (gifts for needy kids/families). I still get my grown kids gifts & start with lists from each. I get the lists early (September) & watch for things on their lists to go on sale.

  8. Beck
    Beck says:

    Any time you can give a gift that doesn’t make clutter I am all for it. I am one that feels Christmas is too commercial giving as a family to a food pantry and not exchanging gifts is a good way to express the birthday of Christ.
    Too many families go into debt for Christmas they should just donate something and have a meal together it would be a lot less stress on everyone and you could actually enjoy the holiday by going to church.

    • DianaB
      DianaB says:

      Yep, I have noticed the same thing. Well-paid for promotions, I am sure, particularly since Mary is supposed to be all about spending your money wisely. Not so much with these advertisements anymore.

      • Molly
        Molly says:

        Like the very expensive Nok-Out that gets regular advertising. The cost is terrible, and the shipping is about as much as the product. Can’t afford it!

    • April L.
      April L. says:

      I for one would much rather see the occasional product in these posts than being charged a monthly fee to get the content. I don’t understand people like you… I’m sure the costs of keeping this website up and running and writing these columns is expensive and time consuming. Mary isn’t forcing you to buy the products and I’m sure plenty of research goes into products she recommends as her reputation is on the line.


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