Save. Spend. Splurge.

The Anti-Gift Gift Guide for the Holidays

Okay. So. Black Friday is over, and I purposefully avoided it for myself personally AND coming up with that requisite “best sales to shop during BF!” post.

I would love to say 100% of it was driven by minimalistic tendencies (as in, don’t buy what you don’t love or need, sort of philosophies), but a good 25% of it was sheer laziness / busy-ness and stress.

Who the hell has time to curate a huge gift guide for each day for each retailer?

Not this working mother with a pretty much full-time blog if you count all the work I put into Instagram and Pinterest even though I use Tailwind to help me a lot (psst! get one month free with my referral link).

I don’t have a full-time team, I don’t have anyone helping me but myself, and it is a lot of work, not to mention tiring.

(But soooo much fun of course — I love reading your comments, trust me I read every single one…)


What do you do or give as gifts to people who EXPECT gifts for the holidays?

Shy of just saying: Hey, no gifts this year. Let’s just hang and call it a holiday and they give you this wrinkled nose look.. I propose the following.


I like toys for kids, I do. Little Bun has a few. Aside from physical toys, he likes certain apps.

I have recommended this Endless Letters and Endless Numbers apps to numerous parents and they ADORE IT because it is SO educational and the kids don’t even feel like they’re learning, and are obsessed with them.

If you want a physical gift, I was so close to buying these Tegu magnetic wood blocks to build things with that snaps together easily without being forced. They are fun for adults AND for kids, and lego blocks are great, but not quite as versatile as these magnetic wood ones that can go in any shape way or form without having to stick to each other in a certain format.


Promise them you’ll take the kids for the whole day on a weekend any time they need it so they can get a break.

I WOULD LOVE THIS as a busy, tired, parent.

Or, make delicious meals, FROZEN, labelled, and give it to them so they can easily defrost it during a busy day and eat it without having had to work for it.

Great, delicious meals that are easy to defrost and save you time, is a fantastic time saver.


I am not sure how you want to do this, but you can probably (on their Amazon account), buy them these Amazon video links that I would highly recommend as fashion / style documentaries to watch:

The September Issue (of Vogue) (the DVD is here)

Talking about the biggest issue of every fashion magazine’s year. It starts in September, and the more ads you get, the more money the magazine makes and the more profitable it is. It is SO fascinating to watch the way things work with business + fashion + style ….. I love re-watching it, if that helps.

The First Monday in May (the DVD is here)

Talking all about the Met Ball (a huge fashion / celebrity event), spearheaded by Anna Wintour of Vogue. Fascinating, and very artsy, as well as fashion-y. I drooled throughout the entire thing.

Another option is to give them a subscription to a magazine they love, or an e-magazine (I have used Zinio as an e-magazine forever).

You don’t have to get them a subscription to Vogue necessarily, because I find even a nice home magazine like Real Simple is a very satisfying read and practical too – it gives you organizing tips, recipes, and feels fresh.

Or even the O Magazine…


You know what I am going to say right?


Bake something, put it in a pretty Christmas tin, wrap it, and deliver it with a smile.

Edible foods = top on my list.

I love getting edibles because I eat them and I am happy, and they don’t clutter up my home. I also don’t have to remember — oh my goodness I have to put out that hideous little figurine Aunt May bought me on display or she’ll get offended.

Failing that, if you think it is too banal, then pick a night, buy all the ingredients and…


Bonus? You get to eat it with them.

Pick a difficult recipe — right now I am obsessed with chicken curries but you could choose anything that looks difficult and tastes delicious.

It is hard to buy things for foodies but if you don’t love these options above, then these food documentaries are incredible,,,

Jiro dreams of sushi (the DVD is here)

Or, buy them a subscription to things like a Food Box of the month or recipes for the week; here are 5 meal kit delivery companies from Toronto Life.

(This is also a good idea for busy parents, food is already shopped for, AND pre-measured out AND easy to just assemble for dinner.)


OK so this is stuff. Sorry. This is a physical THING.

Forever and ever, I will recommend the Bose wireless noise-cancelling headphones. I bought a pair, they were expensive, and I live with them.

I travel with them, I wear them constantly, they are …. AMAZING.

I would recommend OVER the ear for 2 major reasons:

  1. More comfortable — on the ear it gets tiring after a while and hurts your ears
  2. Warm and perfect as substitutes for the winter as EARMUFFS (no for real, I use mine as earmuffs)

I would also recommend them for:

  • young parents to muffle the screams of your angry irrational toddler or baby (it doesn’t block them out completely but it gives your brain a break so that you don’t snap with their shrieking) – I singlehandedly credit these headphones for saving my sanity when Little Bun was a willful Baby Bun.
  • anyone who commutes (oh the noise-cancelling is a dream when you’re on the train or the bus)
  • anyone who works in that dreaded open office (omfg) because man people are LOUD

As for me…

We never give gifts to each other or to our family members. If we want anything, we’ll buy it for ourselves.

I really don’t like gifts like candles, or soaps or things I did not SPECIFICALLY MARK DOWN AND ASK FOR.

Even for clothes, I am currently obsessed with turtlenecks but not every one is made the same — will it be the right shade of ivory? the right fabric? the correct cuffs? the high enough ribbed neck? thick enough? the right woven pattern?… there is so much to think about that it is FAR BETTER to just give me cash or a gift card instead of something.

Or feed me.

(French toast with caramelized bananas, fruit, mint and a caramel sauce)

So my partner just does a massive delicious meal and we are happy. No stress to buy anything for each other, to think about what each other wants… it is very very stressful.

I send out holiday cards to a small circle yearly, mostly elderly relatives who don’t receive much by way of correspondence and are happy to receive anything.

Little Bun isn’t into gifts yet because he loves presents but we haven’t tied it to one day or festive season and probably won’t unless he asks us to when he is older, but we plan on giving him his gifts whenever he wants — needs a bike? We’ll buy one in the summer so he can use it then instead of waiting for Christmas to buy it for next summer to ride.

If he wants something else, we will discuss it, and then budget for it, show him how much it costs, the options, etc, and then buy it for him or hold off.

The thing I do for events, is I create a collage of images from the year, and Photoshop it (I wish I could show them to you) of Little Bun with his father, or with us, and then I email it.

Some years, we have deviated and created calendars with photos of Little Bun (which my parents love and hang up because they love him so), or fridge magnets (which they do love!)…

What about you? Will you be gifting this year?


  • Cassie

    We are, though I’ve manage to rein the gifting back a little again from the name drawing scenario we’ve been working with for a couple years. We’re doing family gift baskets for the adults this year, and I bought my nieces matching pyjamas (because they love to match), and some painting supplies (specific request from my sister). My son’s Christmas gifts from relatives are starting to show up, and I’m already hyperventilating looking at them.

  • SarahN

    I will be gifting! Bro get AirPods (requested, he also listed: tan dress shoes, dress shirts (then he found heaps, thanks to unpacking/moving house, sewing lessons (parents getting him that, a sneaker shaped candle (WTF?)). My other Bro will get cash for the express purpose of buying an Economist mag a month, so we can both read and chat about articles (we’re both nerds!) I’ve let my parents down – dad is getting stainless steel pegs, as a nod to a more sustainable option for their outdoor line over plastic. Mum is getting a notebook to write in passwords (trust me, she needs this BADLY) and cardboard stemmed cotton buds – back to eco nudges. But she was in Hawaii recently and proudly showed me the HUGE pack of cardboard stemmed cotton buds – face palm! I also got a flag game for my brother – which was impulse, but as we’re travelling as a family for Xmas, I hope it’ll be a good ‘drinks o’clock’ game to enjoy.

    I’ve asked for: specific candle and soap (both rose geranium scent), pale pink linen blouse/shirt, stylish work backpack and… that is all. Last year I was given (on request) Essence mascara on your recommendation. Sadly, I’m not sold, but use it up I will!

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Really?!! Essence has been the best one for me. Which one did you get? The green one?? They do all look alike

      I was thinking the other day that I got AirPods and then bought a second set to always have a charged pair for when I work — am on calls a lot .. but when I said this, people balked at how much I spent :/

      Love the AirPods though! And your siblings are getting what they WANT. Love this.

      • SArahN

        It’s one about them been like false lashes, and defs not green. I’m gonna use it up, then try the other essence one I got last Christmas and then I’ll try something else. I’ve used it every day and I swear it seems like a never ending tube. The killer is the weird grey tind I get under my eye from it flaking?

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