2019 Holiday Gift Guide — Best Ideas for Grandparents

Gift Ideas for Gransparents

As gifting opportunities go, the biggest one of all is just around the corner. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my readers are feeling somewhat stressed, even panicked. Last-minute shopping has a way of doing that, especially when you have zero gift ideas when it comes to the grandparents and seniors on your list.

Gifts for grandparents don’t always require a trip down memory lane. Today’s grandparent is more likely to be tapping out e-mail than pounding away on a typewriter (a whaaat!?).

So with that in mind, here are some of my best gift ideas with affiliate links for grandparents that are sure to delight Nanas and Papas everywhere whether this is their first year on the job or old pros by now (even those who are hard-to-buy-for!) And don’t worry—if you don’t dawdle, all arrive before Christmas.

Grandparents Gift Guide

1. Grandparents’ house rules

This decorative wall art is as adorable as it is charming, lists the rules grandkids are to follow while at their grandparents’ home. Designed to either stand or be hung on the wall. Grandparents’ House Rules is priced right and made in the USA!

Read more

2019 Holiday Gift Guide — Mary’s Favorite Things

If you woke up this morning with a sense of panic realizing there are just two weeks left until Christmas, let me offer some sweet relief—a compilation of my favorite things that I have purchased from my own money, with all details updated and now gathered into one convenient place.

You’re about to discover that my favorite things are mostly practical, which could explain why I prefer practical gifts. A new vacuum for Christmas? I’d be thrilled and delighted. All that to say that no doubt, My Favorite Things seriously reflect that personal bias. Enjoy!


cont’d below … 

1. Rowenta Steam Iron

This is one amazing steam iron. It is affordable, reliable and gives me great results consistently. It is comfortable to use and has enough heft to give a good press, has a super shiny stainless steel soleplate. The high steam rate blasts away wrinkles through its 400 micro steam holes. Auto shutoff has saved my bacon on a couple of occasions.

Read more

Best Creative and Inexpensive Homemade Gifts!

Whether it’s something from your kitchen, craft room, woodworking shop, or computer, there’s nothing like a homemade gift. A tree ornament, a plate of cookies, box of fudge, note cards—just a few of the many homemade gift ideas with universal appeal.

I love homemade gifts both to give and receive. No wonder I have so many favorites!


Hand and Body Lotion

A jar of your own signature luxury hand and body lotion will definitely put you on the map. It’s that good. Not particularly crafty? No worries.

If you can assemble, empty, stir and mix well, you’ve got what it takes to make dozens of these gifts start to finish in a single evening.


And the best part? About $3.50 per gift, depending on where you buy the ingredients and containers.

I have created a photo tutorial at A Homemade Gift You’d Actually Love to Receive with all of the step-by-step instructions and specifics on the ingredients and where to get them.

Believe me when I say this is the gift your recipient(s) will rave about. It’s that awesome!

Read more

2019 Holiday Gift Guide—Best Gift Ideas for KIDS!

Birth to Preschool

I have identified the following toys to be the best overall for little ones from birth to preschool. Please assess the age-appropriateness for your particular child as this can vary.

Each of these toys stimulates interaction prompting the child to engage and solve problems. All have been thoroughly tested and found to be safe—and declared to be super affordable!

1. Dump & Go Dump Truck

Child learns numbers as he or she drops a colorful rock into the top of this cheerful dump truck toy and watches it tumble into the bucket. A great early education toy for toddlers, this Vtech Dump & Go Dump Truck includes colorful buttons that play melodies plus phrases teach tools and colors. Intended for toddlers ages 6 months to 3 years old; 2 AAA batteries are included for demo; use new batteries for regular use.

2. Sassy Whimsical Wheel STEM Learning Toy

The spinning center pieces provide for visual tracking and strengthening of fine motor skills. The suction cup on the Sassy Whimsical Wheel STEM Learning Toy attaches to surfaces for frustration-free play.

3. Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

This beautiful interactive learning baby walker has a removable play panel. An early learning center, it has 5 piano keys that play music and encourage creativity; wheels work on carpeted and hard floors. Features 2 colorful spinning rollers, 3 shape sorters, and 3 light-up buttons that develop motor skills. Pretend telephone handset and mechanical elements enhance role-play fun; 2 AA batteries are included. Over 70 sing-along songs, music, sound effects, and fun phrases. VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker is meant for babies and toddlers 9 months to 3 years old.


Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon affiliated sites.

4. Turn and Learn Driver

Your little one will love pretending to drive using the steering wheel toy that causes the cute dog character to move back and forth. Press the 5 colorful buttons on the learning toy and your child will be introduced to different animals and vehicles; great early education toy
The fun Turn and Learn Driver encourages imaginative play with a traffic light, a signal lever that triggers fun sounds and music; gear shifter that pushes and pulls to introduce opposites
Baby driving toy Includes 3 play modes so your little toddler driver can learn in animal, driving and music mode. Makes a great gift for a 6-month to 2-year-old boy or girl; operates on 2 AA batteries that are included for demo purposes only, use new batteries for regular use.

5. Dinosaur Toys Set of 4

I just adore these dinosaurs! A great gift for preschool boys or girls. The Dinosaur Toys Playset includes four dinosaurs all on wheels. Encourages imaginative play for ages 24 months and older. So darn cute, too!

6. Lil’ Critters Moosical Beads

This musical baby toy features a variety of fabric textures for baby tactile development; cuddle up with the soft cuddly stuffed animal cow. This music toy has an easy to grasp bead ring; bead ring has light-up buttons, and a spinning square for fine motor skills development. Talking and singing stuffed toy for babies comes with 30+ playful songs, melodies, sounds and phrases; allows kids to have a musical good time. The size of the plush cow toy makes a great crib toy, or even a diaper bag toy for babies. For babies 0 to 24 months. 2 AAA batteries included for demo, use new batteries for regular use. Lil’ Critters Moosical Beads.

7. Mega Bloks Big Building Bag, 80-Piece Set

Set includes 80 building blocks for hours of play. Blocks are big and easy for little fingers to assemble. Mega Bloks Big Building Bag Encourages hands-on exploration as children imagine and create. Compatible with all Mega Bloks sets for endless building possibilities. Age 12 mos to 5 years.

8. Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Toy

This mesmerizing maze of safe, soft, continuous tubes is a perfect baby teething toy. Infant toy promotes clutching and two-handed play; middle cube contains a pleasing rattle sound. Multiple newborn toy award winner, including the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Blue Chip Award. Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Toy is safe; the teethable plastic loops are BPA free. Suitable for ages 0-24 months.

Don’t miss: How to Shop with CASH at Amazon!



Age 4 and Up

You may be familiar with Mike Rowe, the host of TV’s “Dirty Jobs” and “Somebody’s Got To Do It.” You may also be familiar with his new passion and challenge—to close the skills gap in this country, which is the reason millions of jobs in the U.S. are going unfilled. The skills gap is the chasm between millions of young people who are ready to enter the workforce and the skills they need but don’t have, to qualify for those jobs.

This fact begs the question: Who will be the electricians, mechanics, welders, plumbers and HVAC experts of tomorrow? Rowe is devoting his life to closing the skills gap by inspiring young people to learn how to do stuff, and how to do it well.

The next 8 recommended gifts for kids ages 4 through 8 or older would surely make Mike Rowe proud! These toys make taking things apart and putting them back together challenging and super fun.

They make growing a garden magical and spelling words correctly very satisfying—especially when you’re only 4 years old! But make no mistake, many of these toys will hit a bullseye with 5-to-8-year-olds, and older. It depends on the child! In fact, at least one is rated for ages 6 to 96!

9. Take Apart Toy Tool Truck

This fun and colorful electronic toy truck with tools includes 1 toy truck, 1 electric toy drill (with 2 detachable tool heads), 3 hand tools, 7 hexagonal/cross screws and nails, 1 truck driver, and 4 removable wheels. This colorful truck comes to life with front headlights, honking sounds, musical tunes (with an on/off button) and has a bump-and-go action to change directions when it hits another object or wall. Real working electric drill with interchangeable bits. So. Much. Fun!

10. LeapFrog Number Lovin’ Oven

The perfect recipe for number learning fun! From counting and cooking to serving and sharing, it’s preschool prep for little chefs—16 fun ingredients included! Easy take-and-go play—everything fits inside! Includes interactive oven, 4 pizza slices, 3 pieces of bread, 2 cupcakes, 1 fried egg, 1 skillet, 1 spatula, 1 baking tray, and 2 Plates. Nourish math learning: cut food into 2, 3 or 4 equal pieces. Delightful singing oven encourages counting, sharing, and vocabulary skills; 30+ phrases and songs. LeapFrog Number Lovin’ Oven offers a fun and interactive way to explore early number concepts including recognizing numbers, counting along and sharing. 24 months to 5 years.

11. 3-Letter Words

Learning to spell becomes fun and easy with 3 Letter Words. These colorful three letter puzzle card sets provide children with a great introduction to spelling and will help to expand their vocabulary. They learn to spell by associating the object with the word and correctly assembling the puzzle pieces. The puzzle pieces are self-correcting so only the right spelling goes together! The set includes 20 puzzle sets. Great learning toy! For ages 4 and up.

12. Enchanted Fairy Garden Craft Kit

With a little creative magic, your child can grow his or her very own enchanted fairyland. This open-ended fairy craft kit lets your child embrace his or her creative side by making a unique creation that’s all their own. It contains everything you need—just add water! Enchanted Fairy Garden Craft Kit includes an 11″ diameter flower-shaped paintable potting dish, enchanted flower house, gemstones, flowers, butterflies, paint, potting mix and seeds that grow like magic. See your child’s creative side come to life as she paints and decorates her fairy garden. Learn about botany and the life cycle of plants as your child watches their fairy garden grow! This kit includes non-toxic materials. Ages 7 to 97.

13. Sparkle N’ Grow Butterfly Terrarium

Perfect for the budding botanist, an aspiring artist or both! This kit allows you to craft, plant, water and grow your own beautiful butterfly terrarium. Comes with everything you need! Kit includes plastic mason-style jar, decorative lid, potting mix, organic chia, and wheat grass seeds, craft accessories and a plant mister to keep your terrarium watered. Make your terrarium sparkle and shine with butterfly wings, sparkling stickers, feather butterflies, flowers and more! Create your own eco-system and learn about botany and the life cycle of plants. Your habitat will begin to grow in as little as 3-4 days. Ages 6 to 96.

Listen right here to today’s really short Podcast episode … 

14. Dinosaur Take Apart Toys With Tools

Love this construction, engineering STEM learning and toy-building playset for ages 3 – 12 years. The Dinosaur Take Apart Toys With Tools set includes 6 dinosaurs, 2 t-rex dinosaurs, 2 ceratopsid dinosaurs, and 2 brontosauruses, includes a set of 4 unique tools for assembly. Includes a total of 4 screwdrivers and a pack of 6 assembled dinosaurs, which can be taken apart and reassembled. Sturdy, quality made a perfect gift for all toddlers and young kids.

15. Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Discovery Kit

Build over 300 exciting projects including an AM radio, burglar alarm and more. This kit contains more than 60 parts and requires 4 AA batteries, not included. Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Discovery Kit won The National Parenting Center-Seal of Approval. Comes with a clear and concise illustrated Manual, which is also available online. No tools required. Age 8 and up.

16. Educational Construction Engineering Building Blocks

Engineering Blocks are built to develop your child’s science, technology, engineering and math skills. Challenge your kids to build creative designs, trucks, transformers , helicopters, robots and more! This 101-Piece Educational Construction Engineering Building Blocks is designed to support a child’s creativity as he or she grows. Age 3 through 6+ years.


2019 Holiday Gift Guide—Learning Toys

An Awesome Way to Get Cash Back When Shopping Online

Ask Me Anything: Cosigning Parents, Silent Stylist, Rum Cake Recipe, and More

Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon affiliated sites.


6 Awesome Gifts of Summer to Make Now for Christmas

Even if you didn’t have an abundant garden this year, don’t worry. You can still make these wonderful gifts of summer to hold onto for Christmas. You can find everything you need at a local farmer’s market.

How wonderful it will be when you welcome the holiday season knowing your gifts are ready to go.


Photo credit:

Freezer jam

Mix 2 cups crushed fresh strawberries with 4 cups sugar, and let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir one package dry pectin into 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 1 minute. Stir the boiling water into the strawberries. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before pouring into jars or other storage containers. Place tops on the containers, and leave for 24 hours. Freeze and store frozen until ready to give. Makes 5 pints.

Isn’t that a cute label for “Christmas Jam?” It’s a free printable HERE from

MORE: Peach Freezer Jam

Read more

12 Things You Can Do Now to Get Ready for Christmas

Faithful readers know that we pull out all the stops around here to celebrate Christmas in July. Or at least start thinking about the holidays, just five months down the road. If you are or have ever been plagued by credit-card debt, I can nearly guarantee that revolving expenses related to Christmas have contributed greatly to that miserable situation. The problem? Procrastination.


Santa's hat next to the pool suggesting it's Christmas in July!


Face it, when it comes to Christmas, the longer you wait, the more you’ll spend. The opposite is also true: The sooner you get started the less you’ll spend.

Read more

The Gentle Art of Gift-Giving

The simple act of gift-giving has become extremely complicated. I blame that on the consumer credit industry. Think about it: You can be completely broke but still spend thousands of dollars on Christmas gifts—and believe it is not only your right to do so but that you are obligated to do it. We believe the message that we have to spend a lot on Christmas gifts to be socially acceptable.


Gift-giving is a custom that has pretty much run amok. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to make wise and reasonable decisions about the gifts we give.

How many of you cannot recall the gifts you gave last Christmas? How about the gifts you received? Come on, let’s see those hands. Okay, that’s just about everybody.

It’s not because we’re total ingrates that we have trouble remembering the gifts we gave or even the ones we received. It’s because when it’s all over, the gifts pale in comparison to the joy they deliver—the love and best wishes for the season. That’s what we carry with us from one year to the next.

Gifts are messengers

They are tokens of the esteem we hold for people we care about. They deliver our love and our best wishes. Gifts express the fondness we have for another person. Without the care, love, or concern, the gift is empty. Giving a gift just so you can mark a name off a list is a hollow effort that is likely to fall flat no matter how much money you spend.

Okay, so here’s another question: How many of you still have a sense of the joy and good feelings associated with gift-giving that took place in your home and your life last Christmas, even if you cannot recall the specific gifts?

Look at that. Hands are going up all over the room! At least some of those gifts did their job. They delivered the joy and the love and then quietly slipped out of the spotlight.

Those of you who couldn’t raise your hands may be remembering the stress of finding the perfect gift, the hassle because you waited until the last minute. You might be recalling the guilt for spending money you didn’t have on things you don’t remember and haven’t been paid for yet.

If you struggle with the thought that gifts you give must fulfill the recipients’ deepest longing and fondest dreams, think of the gifts you will give in the same way you would think of a special meal you prepare. You want it to be delicious and for your guests to enjoy it thoroughly. But no matter how fluffy your mashed potatoes or delectable the prime rib, it’s still a meal and it will end. Your guests will not continue to eat the meal for months to come, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t delicious and they didn’t enjoy it. They will take away the memories of the meal and the love with which it was prepared and served.

That spark of joy

Your gifts should bring a momentary sense of joy, but it’s the memories of your expression that will live on.

If you don’t know what to give someone, ask yourself this simple question: What matters to him or her? You have to know this person pretty well to know the answer to that question without inquiring. You almost have to be a detective. You have to pay attention, listen, and observe.

Let’s say your grandmother really loves animals. In fact, she volunteers at the shelter two days a week. She is passionate about animal rights. Donating $20 in her name to the Animal Shelter would probably make her break down and cry. She would be touched that you cared enough to figure out what really matters to her.

Not every occasion requires a gift. Sometimes a card that you buy or make yourself in which you write a really thoughtful sentiment is an excellent way to go. Caring enough to pick out the right card and then taking the time and effort to write in it can say, “I care!” even better than a gift could.

Being a responsible gift-giver will help you to be an excellent recipient as well. Knowing that it’s the thought that went into the gift that counts—not the price tag—will help you to be genuinely grateful. You cannot be too grateful. But you can fail to express your gratitude, and that’s always a bad thing.

Give something you made

Whether it’s something from your kitchen, your craft room, woodworking shop or computer, there’s just nothing like a homemade gift. A tree ornament, plate of cookies, box of fudge, note cards—these are just some of the kinds of homemade gifts with universal appeal.

Give the gift of compassion

Do you want your gift to say how much you care? Then find a way to show you care about what matters most to that person. Is he or she passionate about medical research? Become a bone marrow donor. An environmentalist? Donate to an organization that reforests and plant a tree in his/her name. Do something that this person will find meaningful and then do it in their honor. Write a description of your experience and give it to your recipient.

Give what you do best

Often the most meaningful gifts and most difficult ones to give are those that cost no money at all. A gift from the heart is a gift of time and talent. What do you do well? Cook, clean, babysit, garden, sew, drive, shop? Whatever it is, create a unique gift certificate and make what you do the gift that you give: A weekend of babysitting, a day of housecleaning, six hours of errand running—you get the idea. Hint: Follow up within just a few days to set the exact time your certificate will be redeemed. Your recipient may be too embarrassed to remind you to make good on the gift.

Give it in writing

Worried that your gifts—homemade or otherwise—are too cheap or not just exactly right? All of your doubts will vanish when you include a short note with each of your gifts telling the recipients what they mean to you and the value they bring to your life.
The best gift is one that delivers a message of love and joy that remains with the recipient long after the gift has been consumed, used or put away.