Last year, per request, I did my best to create some gift idea lists.  For some reason it isn’t easy for me!  We really limit what comes through our door.  This year, I decided that I would copy some of my ideas from last year and then expand a bit.  I think I’ll do two posts, saving books for the second post.

For the kids:

I think that Keva maple planks are the single most played with toys that we own, and I say this having had them for over five years.  I can’t say enough good things about these very simple blocks that appeal to a very wide range of ages.  The ones that I linked to are actually made in the U.S.!

A close second would be wooden train tracks and trains.  I don’t have the set that I linked to here, but they look like a really good value.  I bought all of ours about ten years ago when Seth was a toddler.  Now Silas is playing with them and the older boys will still sit down and build tracks as well.

Pattern blocks are really popular with my kids.  We have had this set of Parqeutry blocks since Seth was preschool age, and each child since him has loved it.

If I had to name the item most played with by my girls it would have to be play silks.  They are always in use it seems.

Silas recently spent his long saved birthday money on this little crossbow after playing with it at a friend’s house.  It is very well made, and he is having a lot of fun with it.

I like these beeswax crayons that seem to be holding up better than other (more expensive) beeswax stick crayons I have tried, although the sturdiest beeswax crayons for younger kids are the Stockmar blocks.

This screw block activity set is great for preschool aged kids. Silas really likes it.

Orchard is probably my favorite game to play with kids 9(ish) and under.  My older boys more recently have been loving Ticket To Ride. Favorite card games include Art Close Up cards, Rat-A-Tat-Cat, and Mille Bornes. Shut the Box has seen lots of play time over the years as well.

My little girls love these Little House Paper Dolls.

I bought Jonny this Bocce Set for his birthday and he and the boys love playing together.

When the weather is cold, my older boys typically get interested in coin roll hunting.  Seth likes to search through nickels the most, the other two like pennies.  Boxes of coins would make great gifts, especially if you were already planning on giving money to the recipient.

My older boys all enjoy metal detecting and we highly recommend the Garrett – ACE 250.

Job rides around on his Wheely Bug everyday!


For the knitter:

For the knitter, I always recommend a Yarn swift (I have that one in walnut and like supporting this family business) and yarn ball winder (I don’t have this model, but I can’t recommend the one I have b/c Jonny has had to rebuild it several times.  Were I to buy a new one, I would purchase the one I have linked to here.) This yarn ball winder is also available in this shop.

For blocking my knits I use these blocking mats along with blocking pins.  Jonny recently surprised me with this set of knit blockers and I think they’re great.

This set of square double points is on my wishlist.  My hands get sore and tired when knitting small circular objects, and I would love to try the square needles!  I would like to try this set of interchangeable needles as well.


Practical gifts for adults (my favorite kind!):

I have the midsize wooden drying rack from Homestead Drying Racks and absolutely love it.  Ours is in daily use, mainly for drying wool items and other things that don’t go in the dryer.  It is really well made and sturdy.  Silas climbs on it like a jungle gym.  My only problem is that even with the midsize rack, I don’t have a great place to store it, because it is really big!

A dehydrator!  Here’s a little excerpt from an older blog post:  I sometimes get a little fixated on a specific food, usually something that someone else has cooked and shared with me.  That happened recently when my friend Sarah brought me a jar of cranberry granola.  And of course it wasn’t ordinary granola.  It was made with lacto fermented cranberry relish and then dehydrated.  So it’s not like I could just throw some together myself.  There was special equipment and time involved.  I thought about it for a few days, and then I decided that I had to order the “special equipment” myself.  I ordered a Pickl-It jar to make the cranberry relish in, and a dehydrator.

Living in a small house with lots of people, I love this white noise machine.

This is the perfect time of year to give the One Line a Day Journal.

Other nice little organizational books that I really like are this Moleskine blank recipe journal, and this very simple address book.

Though I was skeptical at first, I found my Kindle Paperwhite to be really useful, especially when nursing the baby at night.  Sadly, mine appears to have been stolen out of my purse at a store earlier this week.

Jonny says that the best gift I’ve ever bought for him is this Leatherman.

And another cute gift idea is one of these blue heritage ball jars along with a Cuppow and a knitted jar cozy.

For kids (and adults!) who like to collect things, and would like an inexpensive way to display them, I recommend riker mounts.  This is what we store our nicest shark’s teeth in along with some of our other fossils.  We order ours here.


I’ll work on a book list over the weekend!



  1. Hi Ginny! Happy new year. I just want to say thank you, because your blog helps me a lot.

  2. What a great list! I’ve pinned a few suggestions for y Little Man’s birthday (those KEVA planks and the Screws game are awesome!) Thank you for taking the time…

  3. Fab ideas, I would love a yarn ball winder!

  4. Thanks for some new game ideas we’ve never heard of! Some favourites in our house are Skip-Bo and the Out of the Box series geography games, 10 Days in Europe, 10 Days in Africa, 10 Days in Asia…., and of course the trusted game I grew up with, Boggle. We just purchased a bigger version of this called Super Big Boggle to make the challenge even greater.
    Thanks for your gift post!

  5. erin hellar says:

    I just bought two of those sound machines for our 800 square foot house. Trying to make things easier on baby number 3!

  6. We LOVE shut the box! So fast and easy. Our second favorites are BLINK for the kids and Dutch Blitz for the adults. For board games we love Carcassonne!

    I was disappointed with my knitter’s pride interchangeable needles. Even following the directions to ‘tighten’ them on the cable they come loose and fall off. I’m glad I only bought a couple of sizes!

    • Thanks for letting me know about the needles! The reviews online are definitely mixed-people seem to love them or have a lot of trouble with them. I may just try the double points to see how I like the square shape.

    • Holly, I had a friend who had the same problem with her knitter’s pride needles, she contacted the company and they sent her a new set which she said was perfect. I wonder if they had a bad batch.

      Mine have worked beautifully for me and I use them all the time. I fell in love with them when a patient I was taking care of was knitting a baby sweater, she recommended them to me because she loved her set.

      Ginny, if you get the square dpn’s, let us know how you like them. I am interested in how you like the shape.

  7. We bought Brio trains bit by bit when our children were growing up and now the grandchildren enjoy playing with them. A favorite at our house was modeling wax. I don’t even know if they make it anymore but older children can do intricate models with it and then they can be taken apart and the wax used over and over. We had ours for years.

  8. Oh and I just saw the link for the Knitter’s Pride interchangeables. My sweet husband bought those for my birthday last year and I love them. I hope you get your wish, they are very nice.

  9. Ha. I purchased the crossbow yesterday from Nova Naturals. My little guy (almost 5) has had it circled in the catalog since Halloween time. We’ve never seen it in real life, so I hope it’s as nice as he’s wishing.

    I agree with the previous comment about Brio tracks. Having had two train obsessed boys, the Brio tracks are the best. We had many brands and the Brio withstood being dropped and stepped on much better than any other. I also found the trains worked best on the Brio tracks. I’m saving all of ours for grandchildren but I’ve seen great deals on Ebay for used sets.

  10. Oh, and I forgot to mention about train tracks. We have a beautiful collection of BRIO train tracks and trains that I found on eBay for an incredible price. We love the BRIO ones because they are so well made and don’t break with normal wear. Anyway, I just thought I would mention it for those interested in trains and wood tracks out there! 🙂 Ebay is a great place for gently used high quality items!

  11. I love reading your blog and your gift lists have always been so helpful. Last year, I purchased the set of Hape Bamboo Mosaic blocks (I think that is what they are called!) and my boys loved it! But, I was wondering, do your little girls plays with dolls? I have been looking for one for my precious little girl (after three boys!). She is the same age as your Job. We limit the toys that come into our house to lovely high quality ones. But, we have pretty much all boy toys. Anyway, I thought you might have a good recommendation. Do you mind sharing? Pretty please! 🙂

  12. So sweet to see my silks in your list! And sweeter to know the girls play with them so much. I have the same dehydrator…. purchased after I saw it here. We love it! I still have some dried apples and peaches hidden in a corner of the basement for winter treats. Also…. it just so happens that I have a kindle paperwhite I bought second hand from my cousin…. not as compatible with library books as I thought so it’s sitting unused in my nightstand. Sending you a note….. (hint. hint.) Happy weekending Ginny!

  13. Agree with you on limiting what comes in. We have the imported pine planks…but we didn’t import them. Har! Best toy in the house. The girl who plays with them endlessly is getting a marble run this year.

    I really can’t stand to play Ticket to Ride but my 9 year-old likes it. We have the European version so it’s all very visual for her as she’s been to or lived in many of the cities.

    I would love to have a drying rack that in my terribly humid can’t ever get anything dry apartment and house (no dryer) so I could dry more clothes at once.

    I’m guessing that I’ll be receiving a new slow cooker as mine died six months ago.

    We have a boules set as well. Both of my girls love playing and it has occupied them many a time when we were trying to work on our house.

    Happy Advent!
    Oh! We’re reading a story right now that made me kept thinking of your family and how much you would like it if you haven’t read it: The Christmas Masquerade by Mary Wilkins Freeman.

  14. We love Shut the Box here too, and I plan on gifting it to nieces and nephews this Christmas. Oh, if only we lived int eh U.S. I miss Amazon so much! I love the knitted cozies, such a great gift for family, useful and handmade with love. A great combination.

  15. Great list! I’ve been considering a dehydrator but I’ve held off thinking it could be another bit of superfluous machinery… but I do need another way to preserve the huge bucket loads of figs and apples we get from the trees every year. Is the one you linked also the one you use?

    • Yes, it is. I chose it because it was the one my friend Sarah used and liked, and it wasn’t too expensive. Seemed like a good place to start, and we’ve been happy with it.

      • I’ve been daydreaming about a dehydrator as of late. I have another friend with this brand and seems to be happy with it (I had a super cheap-o one nearly 20 years and wasn’t pleased with it). I think I know what I’m getting for Christmas this year!

  16. I’m so sorry to hear your Kindle was stolen 🙁

    Some lovely ideas – I have to agree that my simple dehydrator has been invaluable and I’m hoping to upgrade to a large squarer one.

  17. I love your gift ideas. It’s so funny how similar our homes are… Our kids love our wooden train tracks and trains. They also love the wood blocks – even the older ones still bring them out to build cities around the train tracks. 🙂

I love to hear from you!