My Favorite Things – Gift Giving Ideas

It’s that holiday time of year when we are busy making our lists. One for holiday gift ideas to give to all the people in our lives and the other, our own wish list of things we would like for Christmas.

Recently I was paging through the latest issue of AARP magazine and came upon this article.

Sears Wish Book and article from AARP

YES I remember! Reading the article brought back many fond memories. Getting the Sears Wish Book was a big deal… an annual event that my siblings and friends looked forward to. Every year my sisters and I couldn’t wait to page through it when my mom and dad would pick up a copy at the local Sears store and bring it home. We always called first dibs and made our older brother have to wait for his turn.

We would open it on the floor in the living room and lay on our stomachs, propped up on our elbows side-by-side to each other and page through the toy pages to pick out all the dolls and toys we wanted Santa to bring us.

It was such an exciting build-up to the holiday season. We liked many items and always did get a few of the toys we had marked each year.

I still like a lot of things, but I also know I don’t really need a thing as I am pretty content with the items I already have. I truly want less.

I do enjoy buying gifts for others though, especially when I find something perfect for someone. It is also fun to buy for my grandchildren – I have to rein myself in there as I would buy every cute thing I see for them. :-)

Illustration of Christmas shoppers shopping on snowy city street

As much as I like the convenience of online holiday shopping, just as with the Sears Wish Book, I miss the era of holiday shopping in style… along city sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style. Online holiday shopping just doesn’t have that out and about with good cheer feeling.

Vintage Christmas Card of shoppers

How about you? If you are around my age, do you have fond memories of the excitement of getting the Sears Wish Book every year or shopping in downtown department stores in the throngs of holiday shoppers?

I know online it is popular for bloggers to share lots of idea lists for women, men, kids, teachers, etc. In past years I have taken part in a My Favorite Things blog hop. There aren’t many of these going on much anymore, so I thought I would share my favorite things on my own.

Instead of sharing generic lists of gift ideas with you, I am highlighting only items that I bought, love and use all the time.

Many of my favorite items I have had for years – a few are going on over 20. I know first hand that each of the items is a “good thing”. They function well, look nice are well-made and last.

If you are looking for gift ideas or maybe even gifts “to you and from you” then read on.

My Favorite Things I Bought on Amazon

If you are a long time reader, you may recall some of these items as they are truly my favorites that I have shared before. My favorites are not just a random list of stuff that is popular or that I think are nice, pretty or things I wish I had. Each item is tried and true, the ones that I would give a 5+ star review.

images of In My Own Style's Favorite Things

1 – My Pilates Reformer – I have been using this a few times a week for the last 20 years. The one pictured is not the exact model I have but looks similar. Amazon sells many reformers, some cost thousands of dollars. This model is affordable and is well-made.

2 – Baggallini Everyday Bag – I love this handbag and have it in a few colors. The color shown above is the color I use the most. Over the summer I tried using a different style of crossbody bag. It was stylish, but so awkward to use. I went right back to this bag. It holds everything I need with all the pockets and card slots that keep everything organized. No wallet is needed.

3 – Luggage Cup Holder for a Suitcase – Wrapping this handy holder around the handle of a suitcase frees up your hands when traveling. It has 3 pockets to place your phone, ticket, passport or small items in one back pocket, and put two drinks like hot tea and a bottle of water in the front two pockets. It comes in many different colors and patterns.

4 – Simple Abundance – I read this book when it first came out back in 1996. It really changed how I looked at life. If you haven’t read it, it is still relevant and a good read to start on January 1st.

5 – Kindle Paperwhite – I got my first Kindle about 10 years ago. I am on my 2nd one as the first one I accidently dropped in a hot tub. :-(. I love that the white pages look just like a book, plus all the books I get from my local library go right to it so I don’t even have to go pick up books at the library anymore. I take it everywhere I go.

6 – Fiskars Garden Snips – I use these every day to cut veggies from my garden and fresh herbs planted in the pots outside my side door. In South Carolina where I live, some herbs and greens thrive even in the winter so the snips get used all year long.

7 – Faux Fur Throw – I have a few faux fur throws, but this one is my favorite as it is soft, silky and cozy. I use it when watching TV or listening to music like I am right now as I am writing this post. I take it into my bedroom on cold nights when I want an extra layer of bedding to keep me warm.

8 – Garden Gloves – I use these every week when doing gardening, yard work and having to pick up hundreds of pinecones. I like that they are rubberized and can get wet. The bamboo fabric is a plus as it dries fast. When they get overly dirty, they wash well in the washer. Once clean I let them air dry and they are as good as new.

9 – Thermal Laminator – My mom who is no longer living gave me a laminator many years ago. She saw it on sale and thought I would like it. It was a surprise gift. At first I wasn’t sure if I would ever use it, but over the years I found ways and use it. I use it to protect papers, make labels for organizing items around my house, craft projects and more. Another reason it is a favorite thing is that every time I use it I fondly think of my mom.

10 – Herbamare – I don’t add salt to recipes, but on some fresh veggies a teeny bit of Herbamare makes them taste so much better. It is a sea salt mix with herbs. It smells good too.

11 – 180’s Ear Muffs – I received these “behind the head ear warmers” as a Christmas gift from my sister about 15 years ago. I wear them in the winter on my daily walks as well as when out and about. They are well made and grip the back of your head so they don’t mess up the top of your hair, plus they stay put. Ear muffs that have a band that goes across the top of your head have a tendency to tangle your hair and rise up and not stay on your ears.

12 – Revlon Comfort & Control Lash Curler – My sister recommended this and when I first got it, I didn’t think it worked well at all, until my sister told me to use a blow dryer to heat it up. Volia! Perfectly curled, not kinked eye lashes that stay curled all day.

13 – Reusable Brown Bags for Groceries – I have had 4 of these bags for years – seven years to be exact! I keep them in my car and take them into every store I shop in, not just the grocery store. It is my one small way to help the planet by not needing to get a bag at every store to hold purchases. I always get asked by cashiers and other shoppers where I get them as they can see how handy and sturdy they are.

14 – Londontown Kur Illuminating Nail Concealer in the color Pink. This nail polish is amazing!!! It is a very natural pale pink. One swipe, it’s bye bye nail ridges. It doesn’t get rid of them, but the formula goes on so smooth that it really does conceal the the ridges and it lasts! I only use one coat with no base or top coat. The brush is wide which makes the application of one coat go on like a pro applied it. I love it!

15 – Stanley Brand Thermos – This is my newest favorite thing. It keeps boiling water hot for 24 hours. Ed and I travel quite a bit by car. At the fast food places we stop at for bathroom breaks and food, they always have coffee, but rarely hot tea. If they do and I get it in a paper cup, it usually gets cold in 20 minutes. I like my tea hot, so now I have been taking the thermos and enjoying hot tea throughout the drive.

More Favorite Things I Bought Online

my favorite things - gift giving items that I own and give a thumbs up.

1 – Frosted Birch Battery-Operated Pillar Candle – I put this candle out the day after Thanksgiving and keep it up pretty much all winter long. I usually place it on the basket side table I made for my living room where I can see it and enjoy it every night.

2 – Battery – Operated White Candles – I have bought many battery-operated candles over the past few years. All work, but many do not last. These pillar style ones from Pottery Barn may seem pricey at first, but they look and feel real, plus they last. I have quite a few of them. When my other less expensive candles stop working, I have been replacing them with these. They also come in red. I haven’t gotten these yet, but they are on my Christmas wish list.

3 – Ceramic Microwave Cooker – I was given this as a gift a few years ago. I use it every single day to cook frozen veggies. I have gotten so used to using it, I don’t know what I would do without it.

4 – Ceramic Berry Bowl – This also was given to me as a gift. I eat a lot of fresh berries and this makes cleaning and straining them a breeze.

5 – Pottery Barn Table/Desk Clock – If you have been reading my blog for years then you have seen this clock show up in photos of the night table in my bedroom. It is going on 18+ years. It is a Pottery Barn classic and I still love it. Mine is silver. The clock comes in a few different sizes and metal finishes.

6 – Clear Glass Slab Coasters – I bought these for myself a few years ago. I liked that you could use them in any style or color room as they go with everything. They make a great hostess gift.

I am sure you have your own list of favorite things. If you like them and use them frequently then maybe they are the perfect items to give to the people on your holiday gift giving list.

When I am shopping for Christmas gifts online, I always make sure that I have Christmas music playing in the background to give me that happy holiday feeling. It may not be as wonderful as being out and about on city sidewalks, but it does make shopping for gifts feel a bit more merrier.

P.S. Update: If you are a subscriber, I included a photo of a candle centerpiece on a table in the email that went out to subscribers. A reader just messaged me asking where to get the large candle.

Large candle in seeded glass hurricane on kitchen table with smaller candles around it to provide cozy light.

The candle is one of my favorite things, but I didn’t include the candle link as the one in the photo is no longer made.

Here are two links I found that are similar to it:

  1. Luminara 6.25′ x 7″ battery-operated candle
  2. Luminara 6″ x 6″ battery-operated candle is the best match.
  3. And the Kosta Boda Snowball candle holders shown in the photo

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  1. The first year I was teaching, another teacher’s children—probably both under five at the time—carefully went through the Sears Wish Book to cut out what they hoped Santa would give them. Since they weren’t reading, they didn’t cut out the description and catalog numbers! By borrowing another catalog and spending hours searching, she and her husband were able to figure out what the kids wished for.

    How many gift actually ended up under the tree that year isn’t part of the story that I remember all these years later.

  2. So many good ideas, I enjoyed reading about your favorites, Diane–I feel like I’ve just been on a little Christmas shopping trip with you! and putting on Christmas music while shopping online is a small thing I never thought of but will do from now on!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tiffanie – It would be fun to go shopping with readers in person. Maybe someday technology will make that a reality. Happy Holidays.

  3. So funny your post mentions the Sears Christmas book as I was just telling my grandkids about it the other day. My sister and I would spend hours flipping through the book. We would play a game of picking one item per page and who we would give it to. Such a simple thing gave us so much enjoyment. Love the memory!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sue – It sounds like the Sears Christmas Wish book was a huge part of the holidays for when you were growing up also. :-). I agree with you that such a simple thing provided so much enjoyment. Happy Holidays

  4. Michele M. says:

    Ah……Sears Wish Book…..Sears Catalogues! Dream dream dream and then dream some more. I will never forget how much I loved their pink and white gingham bed clothes, I left drool on those pages. And one day I got them, along with white lamps with matching cloth shades and a new white dresser and nightstand. I cannot think of Sears without thinking about that. I think my obsession with design started from those periodicals. *♥*

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Michele – I can envision the pink and white gingham bed set you loved and got. :-) My sister and I always wanted that too along with a canopy bed. Wwe never got them. I think the same as you mentioned – about your design sense first being developed by looking through the catalog. Same here and even my fashion sense.

  5. I have 5 sisters so you can just imagine the beating the Sears wish book went through. Being the next to youngest child, it always looked rough by the time it was my turn. I still remember enjoying it so much.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nancy – I can just imagine not only how beat up the catalog got, but having to wait your turn must have been agony! :-)

  6. Jennifer Davis says:

    I still have a set of The Black Stallion books that I picked out of The Sears Wish Book when I was 11. I am 74.
    We lived out in the country nowhere a big town. I could not wait for the catalog to arrive.

    1. The brown bag link take me to the eyelash curler😝*

  7. I miss the Wish Book too! We moved to Canada when I was four and while there were other catakogues, there was no Wish Book. My grandmother in Indiana would send us one each year. My siblings and I spent hours gazing and dreaming. By mid-December, the catalogue was so worn out it looked like it had been pulled out of a garbage heap.