Without a doubt, autumn is my favorite season of the year. When the calendar flips to September, I know that the greatest show on Earth is about to begin. The spectacle of autumn never fails to take my breath away.
It’s easy in all of the joy and beauty of autumn to ignore another season that arrives at just about the same time. I’m talking about the year’s biggest gift-giving season—the season that makes us hope that if we ignore it hard enough it will go away—which is about the best definition for procrastination that I’ve ever heard. I can promise you it will not work.
Choosing to not think about the gift-giving aspect of Christmas and Hanukkah until later—much later—will not do one thing to make it go away. The longer you wait, the harder, more pressure-filled and infinitely more expensive it will be for you.
The best way to relieve the pressure of the holidays is to get started early. If you’re going to make your gifts, let’s get going! And if you’ll be buying gifts, start now. Buy two gifts a week or on some other schedule that works well for you.
To give you a little nudge and to get your creative juices flowing—and to show you that the price of a gift does not necessarily its value make—I’ve put together a Gift Guide of fantastic gift ideas at prices that might knock you out before the colors of autumn have a chance to do it.
If you don’t see anything that rings your bell—no worries! I’ve already accomplished my goal of getting you to start thinking about your holiday gift-giving Now just try to get that out of your mind!
To make it easy to look at each item, all are linked to Amazon. The prices quoted are as I write, plus shipping. Most include Prime shipping, which means shipping is free for Amazon Prime members (you can sign up for a free 30 day free trial).
Teens and Young Adults
1. SELFIE STICK. If there’s a teen in your life, you can be pretty he or she engages in self-portraits or “selfies,” albeit with limiting and often awkward results. It’s hard to get far enough away to get a great shot. A selfie stick fixes that because it allows the the photographer to capture group shots and find the best angle, too. More than that, it’s just plain fun. This Mpow iSnap gets fantastic reviews from teens and adults alike. $16.
2. CAMERA LENS KIT. Even the best smartphone camera is pretty limited because of its single lens. This handy lens kit from CamRah changes all of that with its three lenses (fisheye, wide angle and macro), with a clip for that fits iPad, iPod, iPhone and Samsung devices, plus tripod and storage bag. $20.
3. DETANGLER BRUSH. It’s being touted as the latest and greatest revolutionary ultimate detangling brush, designed to gently detangle any hair in seconds. Easy to use for all ages, the brush can be used on wet or dry hair—even in the shower. Price: $14.
4. JUST THE TICKET. If I’d had this awesome little book, maybe I’d still have my ticket stub from the Beatles’ Concert, or the one from my front row seat with Neil Diamond. And Pavoratti, Liberace and The Beach Boys, too. Darn! Wait. OK so maybe I didn’t actually attend, but if I had, I know I would’ve wanted to carefully preserve my ticket stubs to prove it. This continues to be a top-rated gift teens love because it lets them organize and preserve their tickets, Playbills, programs an other keepsakes from special concerts, shows, trips and sporting events. Still one of my favorite gifts for teens and adults, too. $13.
5. KINDLE FIRE. The Kindle Fire HD6 and HD7 tablets are similar to the iPad mini’s at a much better price point. Makes a great tablet for kids or the whole family. Perfect for at home entertainment, Kindle books, (tons of education apps available for free and purchase) and also great for road trips and plane rides. With an Amazon Prime subscription you can download Prime movie and tv offerings for offline viewing in a plane or car at no extra cost. Kindle Fire HD7: $139; Kindle Fire HD6: $99.
6. KEY NECKLACE. Look around and you’ll notice key pendant necklaces on young ladies everywhere. This U2U Pendant comes with both a 36-inch metal chain and leather necklace for two different looks. This is not a typo: $7.
7. NAME BRACELET. Made of 925 sterling silver, you can order this beautiful bracelet with any name up to 10 characters. The bracelet comes in three lengths. Such a great gift that is sure to be appreciated. $26.
8. STAINLESS STEEL LEATHER BRACELET. This gorgeous bracelet for both guys and gals, includes free engraving up to 20 characters on three lines. Adjustable, it’s made of leather and stainless steel giving it a kind of rocker feel. $17.
Toddlers and Kids
9. FASHION HEADBANDS. This kit includes everything that girls ages 5 to 9 need to make fancy headbands—rhinestones, flowers, feathers, butterfly plus yards of ribbons and more. Simple instructions are easy to follow to create up to 10 adorable accessories and hours of creative play. $14.
10. WIRED HEADPHONES. These over-the-ear stereo headphones are just perfect for kids as young as 2. Look at the color choices. The lightweight design makes for excellent comfort. Works with iPad, iPod and iPhone and many other audio devices, too. KidzControl Volume Limit Cable included FREE, which limits volume to 80 percent of original maximum volume to protect kids’ hearing. And for the price, the sound is amazing, too. $20.
11. KINETIC SAND. This stuff is amazing and so much fun to play with. It lasts indefinitely, too, which means it can be stored easily for many hours of bringing the beach indoors! Great for developmental skills and learning minds. $12.
12. BUILDING MEGA BLOKS. This award-winning toy is rated for 12-months to 5 years. A sturdy bag of 80 mega bloks, your littles will soon be building towers, walls, vehicles … anything those little minds can come up with! Stimulates imagination and creative play. And the blocks fit back into the storage bag for easy clean up. $15.
13. LEARNING WALKER. This early learning center for babies who are not yet walking, is just adorable, if not a tiny bit noisy. This clever toy encourages and teaches a baby how to move from sitting to standing position and then walking, all the while encouraging interactive play. The learning walker has 70 sing-along song onboard, sound effects, and fun phrases. Meant for babies and toddlers from 9 months to 3 years. $30
14. STOMP ROCKET JR. GLOW KIT. This toy took the iParenting Media Award for excellent product. It took Top Toy of the Year from in the Creative Child magazine competition. And no wonder. It’s just a great interactive toy with awesome results. Basically, you stomp on the launch pad and a blast of air propels the Stomp Rocket over 100 feet in the air. The kit comes with four glow-in-the-dark foam rockets. Fun for the whole family. $11.
15. BRACELET MAKER. Jewelry making—specifically rubber band bracelets—is still the rage for youngsters ages 6 to 10. This kit includes the loom, hundreds of rubber bands, hook and tutorial for making dozens of bracelets in many styles and sizes. The set will make for hours and hours of fun and creativity. $20.
16. ELF ON THE SHELF. Looking for a Christmas tradition you can start this year at your house? The Elf on the Shelf family tradition has captured the hearts of children everywhere who have embraced the magic of adopting their very own scout elf. There’s still plenty of time to get your Elf (complete with instructions and ideas for how to make this unique for your family) ready to go for the Christmas season. Just don’t delay. The tradition runs for the entire month of December. About $25.
17. FOGLESS SHOWER MIRROR. Guaranteed to be fogless for life, without sprays, batteries or complicated installation. Even more remarkable, you’ll swear it’s a glass mirror, but it’s not! That makes it totally safe, easily adhering to any wall surface with silicone adhesive that can be removed without damaging tiles or shower walls. Will not rust or discolor. A great gift for any guy who shaves. About $30.
18. THE MAN MUG. If he’s a man and he likes beer, he’ll love the Man Mug. Made of kitchen grade 18/8, double-walled stainless steel, this mug is perfectly insulated to keep beverages ice-cold or piping hot—while the outside of the mug stays at room temperature. Ingenious and really good-looking, too. $20.
19. CABLE MANAGER AND SURGE PROTECTOR. The new Bluelounge mini cable box sits on desk top and to hide router cords, adapters and small hubs around his desk area. Includes a surge protector. This is a simple solution, ideal for small spaces with big problems. About $25.
20. BUG-A-SALT 2.0. The most powerful bug control shotgun designed yet and it shoots ordinary table salt to decimate flies and other flying pests on contact. This newest version of the shotgun has more power and greater accuracy with less salt per shot. No batteries required. A surefire fun way to enjoy a disgusting task and have a blast doing it. About $50.
21. CHIMNEY STARTER. This perfectly engineered chimney starter system from the folks at Weber lights charcoal quickly and evenly eliminating the need for lighter fluid. Holds enough briquettes for Dad’s 22.5 inch kettle grill. Perfect for regular use and to have in case of an emergency where power is unavailable for regularl household cooking. About $15.
22. SHAVEOLOGY. If your guy has just about had it with outrageously high price of replacement blades, it’s time to introduce him to Shaveology double edge safety razor set. The starter set includes the beautiful chrome-plated safety razor, 5 starter blades, a leather blade guard and polishing towel. And the best part? Replacement double-edge blades are cheap—about $13 for 100 blades. Shaveology comes with a lifetime guarantee. About $30.
23. COOLER BAG. This an amazing bag, one that I use continuously for everything from a reusable (and washable) grocery bag (it really keeps cold things cold on the way home from the supermarket), a tote bag when I take a knitting project with me and for every other purpose you can imagine It’s insulated, has a zipper close on top, pockets on the side—a very large, useful and good-looking bag. Great gift for a busy mom. About $25.
24. AROMATHERAPY TOP 6. Discovering the health and well-being benefits of essentials oil is on the rise and quite the buzz these days. This beautiful therapeutic grade basic sampler will treat your recipient to the top six oils of lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, lemongrass, orange and peppermint.—all in a beautiful gift pack at less than: $20.
25. BATH BOMB SET. This six-pack of large organic bath fizzies will make sure the recipient of this personal care set enjoys lush, luxurious and healing soaking baths. Each bath bomb contains Epsom salts, essential oils and shea butter. A lovely gift set at about $28.
26. ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSER. This beautiful oil diffuser is also a nightlight that give off a soft, soothing glow, a humidifier and aromatherapy diffuser and has an auto shut-off function. Ideal for the proper introduction of essential oils in the home. $25.
27. SHARK NAVIGATOR PRO. Don’t assume that every woman on your gift list will be insulted by the gift of a home appliance! The Shark Navigator Pro is the best vacuum out there, hands down. This model comes with the Lift-Away feature that allows for vacuuming stairs, and a hard floor attachment for those beautiful wood floors—laminates, too. You can’t go wrong if this fits your gift budget. A reasonable way to buy yourself into [almost] any woman’s heart. $154.
28. LUNCH BAG. It’s adorable, it’s trendy—it’s a lunch bag! Suitable to carry to any school, college or place of work, this neoprene lunch bag is washable and especially stylish. Quite a bargain as well at $29.
29. CAR TRASH CAN. Yes, a gift of a trash can for the car may be an odd kind of gift, but if you’re a busy mom hauling kids and pets back and forth from school and other kid activities, you know the meaning of a trashy car. And this luxury leakproof extra-large litter bin is the answer to that particular problem. It holds a lot and has been designed to not slide around. A practical and very useful gift for anyone who has a car. About $30.
30. CROCK-POT. While there are lots of slow cooker options out there, you’ll never beat this programmable Crock-Pot, designed to be easily transported. Also, it has a big 6-quart capacity and locking lid. And the best part? About $50.
31. CHOP WIZARD. The handiest of handy kitchen gadgets, this baby will chop onions, vegetables of all kinds, hard-boiled eggs—most anything you can think of, in mere seconds. Every kitchen needs a Chop Wizard. $25
32. KNIFE SET. Not the highest quality cutlery in the world, but more than awesome for the price. Seriously, this 12-piece knife set (six knifes and six blade guards) comes with a bonus: colors! Seriously, these are my go-to knives. Just amazing. $25.
33. INFUSION WATER BOTTLE. Forget the pricey waters that are so available and expensive. Make your own delicious thirst quenching beverages using your favorite fruit. Perfect for the athletic type on your list. About $15.
For Family Fun
34. JENGA CLASSIC GAME. It’s the classic block-stacking game of Jenga that pits players against gravity. This is a game that everyone over the age of 3 can play and truly enjoy. It’s sturdy, reliable and well, classic! About $9.
35. CONNECT 4. Think of vertical checkers and you’ll get the idea for this great board game where two players strategize to beat the other. It goes fast, so it makes for a perfect addition to family night competition and tournaments. About $22.
36. EXPLODING KITTENS. It’s a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats. It’s a little weird, but just what the kids love. Family-friendly, this is a game for 2 to 5 players and holds the distinction of the most-backed project in Kickstarter.com history. It’s hot this holiday season and some of us wonder why. About $20.
I’ve seen Paris in April, California in summer. I’ve been to the top of the Alps and witnessed an eclipse of the moon over Yosemite’s Half Dome. Of all the beauty I’ve been blessed in my life to have seen, nothing compares the beauty of autumn in New England. And come mid-October, that is exactly where I will be—free of holiday pressure and ready to take it all in, one spectacular view after another until the show closes for yet another year.