Has another year really gone by? We’ve been hard at work identifying great finds for this year’s Holiday Gift Guide over the past several months.
It’s hard to believe that the holidays are nearly upon us and with the festive season fast approaching, you might be thinking of of creative and fun ways to light up friends and loved ones with a gift they’ll cherish and love. Hopefully our Holiday Gift Guide will help you get inspired.
Holiday Gift Guide Top Picks
For this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, we’re breaking down our sections into some of the same categories we had last year and have added a few new ones with our enhanced focus on Wellness and Spirituality. We even have a section dedicated to Wellness Products and Spiritual Products as well as more traditional ones like Lifestyle, Beauty, Style/Fashion and Technology. Be sure to visit our Gift Guides section for more suggestions which includes our Holiday Gift Guide from 2016 and other holidays.
Let’s dive into some of the inspiring products that have inspired us so far this year and have made the cut for this year’s Holiday Gift Guide.
Lifestyle & Home
Cole & Mason Oldbury Salt & Pepper & Spice Mills
This handsome looking high quality salt and pepper mill set is exquisite looking (we love the rustic yet elegant look of the wood pair). We wrote about them over the summer and have used it extensively since then.
The mill has 6 pre-selected settings for pepper and 3 for salt to achieve fine to coarse grinds during and after cooking. For example, when you’re cooking steaks, you can use the coarse grind, a mid-setting for pizzas and a fine setting for soups and sauces. You can grab get this set easily on Amazon.
This brand is known for their Gourmet Precision. They refer to it as their precision mechanism because it does not crush peppercorns but instead, it strips them to consistently release the maximum amount of flavor with each turn. So much wow in this set.
These mills feature a hardened carbon steel mechanism for pepper and diamond sharp ceramic mechanism for salt and they come with a lifetime guarantee as well.
Their Kingsley Herb and Spice mill is such a great option for foodies who love to work with fresh ingredients and in particular, appreciate the option to blend their own spice creations.
We use it to combine Caribbean and Indian spices together and use the mill frequently for both chicken and fish dishes. You can get it over over on Amazon.
Epica Leather Journals & Albums
Epica offers a variety of Italian Leather Journals and Scrapbooks, from more traditional books to wrap leather journals featuring handmade Amalfi pages, which they offer in in a variety of classic rich colors, like espresso, tan and black.
Dedicated to crafting one-of-a-kind leather journals and scrapbooks/albums, Epica is all about unique and personal offerings every step of the way. The beautiful leather they use comes from and is handstitched in Italy, one of my favorite countries.
One of their collections uses hand distressed leather binding, which is perfect for travel writers, artists and philosopher types who still love to get their creative ideas out in their own handwriting.
They also offer Refillable Handmade Leather Wrap Journals, which are smaller notebooks sized at 6 x 9, which is great for travelers who wish to carry something lighter with them at all times.
The leather is soft and supple and the cover is bound by a rustic cord that will make you feel like a writer from ancient times who wrote a novel in a classic European café. You can select your paper options as well – some that I looked at came in 22 pound acid free archival writing stock but others had 36 pound stock and beyond. In other words, it’s your customization experience depending on your preference and budget.
You can customize as well, from the color and style of the font to add names or titles to the front as well as to add Custom Title Pages, which is perfect for sending a loved one a personalized message or inspirational note to family members. This is an especially nice way to personalize items which have elaborate cover designs that cannot be embossed or decorated with a name plate. There’s also the Old World Map Journal — what traveler wouldn’t love to carry one of these?
Perfect for the holiday season, their wide albums are so so elegant – we love them! These gently distressed Italian leather looks like it came direct from the Renaissance. There are several sizes to choose from which reflect how many mounting sheets you get, but any of these are terrific options for a holiday gift.
And, of course there’s a lovely gift box included. They were gracious to send us several items to review, all of which we personalized, so be sure to read our separate standalone review, which goes into depth about our experience. More about Epica can be found on their site including how to order.
Sandast Leather Bags, Clutches & Wallets
The Sandast luxury leather brand is new to us. They sent us the Braided Morgan Clutch to test out and we thought it was a perfect item for our Holiday Gift Guide this year.
Look at how elegant it is – sweet right? It’s a great option when you want to give your purse a rest on weekends, or simply bring it alongside a purse or use for your IPAD, magazine or book, which can easily fit into most briefcases or backpacks. In addition to the cognac option shown above, the clutch comes in tan, navy and black.
Name engraving is included, another reason it makes for a nice gift item. It is braided and handmade in the United States and its dimensions are 13 x 9 x 1. They also offer a number of other great fine leather items like duffel bags, slings and wallets.
They use fine leather from Tuscany Italy and their Ready Worn process gives their products their distinctive, vibrant colors and feel.
The patinas also add a distressed appearance, creating an impression of leather that has evolved with time, which includes waxing, burnishing, polishing, and finally aging. This process guarantees that no two bags are the same and will age beautifully over time. Head on over to their website for more information on their products as well as how to order.
Jade Yoga Bags
We’re huge fans of the Jade Yoga brand — read our recent review on their high quality mats and bags. (they also have accessories and towels as well).
We love their bags so much that we decided to include them in this year’s Holiday Gift Guide. The quality is top notch and there is an external pocket where you can store your towel, keys, cell phone and wallet.
Made in the US with organic cotton duck (canvas), the Khaya bag has an adjustable shoulder strap, one main compartment large enough to hold a mat, block and towel or change of clothes and a smaller “clean” compartment for personal items and an internal pocket as noted above, along with a clip for your keys. For those of you with extra large bags, one of our 71 inch mats fits in this bag but I don’t think a 74 inch one would make it. Dimensions are 26″ x 8″ x 4″.
What else is cool is that a portion of the sale of every Jade “Khaya“ bag goes to protect habitat for chimpanzees in Uganda’s Hoima District. Apparently, Khaya is a species of mahogany indigenous to this region.
The Khaya bag is available in four really fun colors, Black, Navy/Denim, Fern/Avocado and Black/Caramel (The interior of all bags is Avocado except the Fern/Avocado which is black inside). Head on over to Jadeyoga.com for more information on all of their products as well as how to order.
Wellness & Spirituality
We are relatively new to singing bowls and gongs, having only tried them for the first time a few months ago. We love the singing bowls and gongs from Gongs Unlimited and Singing Bowls Unlimited and would suggest getting one of their Pumori Natural Singing Bowls to start.
See our official review of both brands which is fairly extensive and includes some video. Although they come in a variety of sizes, I’d recommend a 12 or 18 inch one.
Like many of their gongs (we LOVE the Atlantis Gong shown to the right), our bowl came with a mallet as well as a pillow.
It weighs in at nearly six pounds, so you may want to use this one at home and get a smaller more portable one for traveling although we did bring ours to the beach one afternoon.
Their vibration is great for healing, relaxing, meditation and even travel. We took ours to the beach, played it while sailing in the SF Bay and while hiking in the Redwoods. Yes, really! Or, you can simply play it in your back garden one leisurely afternoon. More information including how to order over at Gongs Unlimited and SingingBowlsUnlimited.
Oracle Cards & Soul Music by Alana Fairchild
We are huge fans of Alana Fairchild’s Oracle cards and often turn to her Lightworker Oracle Deck for readings and inspiration. This deck is for those who feel an inner calling to connect with divine light and higher frequencies of consciousness to bring healing to the world.
You can create a positive contribution to our planet, evolve spiritually, and develop your innate abilities to work with energy through different healing modalities, channeling, and communicating with higher beings such as angels, ascended masters and other spiritual guides.
The artwork is truly beautiful and inspiring and you’ll find that the guidance is a bit like tarot cards except much more purposeful and the book that accompanies the cards include invocations you can do on a daily basis. Two thumbs up!
You might already know you are a lightworker, or maybe you wonder if you are meant to be a healer or guide for others on their spiritual journey. Lightworker Oracle is designed to support your deeper awakening, empower and encourage you to fulfill your divine life purpose.
Alana’s Voice of the Soul CD is an album of sacred music can help you relax, meditate, dance, practice yoga or potter around the house. The mantras in this CD create a field of healing energy for empowerment, clearing blockages, opening the heart and healing the body. We LOVE the energy in this music – we play it often and always feel better at the end of listening. Strong recommend!
Be sure to also read my review of her book Crystal Angels 444. For more information about her work, her products and her world, visit her website AlanaFairchild.com, where you can also order any of the above, or one of her incredible books.
We love this seriously cool device called the EyeQue miniscope. Simply put, it’s brilliant. Imagine being able to know whether your eyes are getting better or worse in real time? The EyeQue miniscope combined with your iPhone takes you through a series of fun pixel-powered tests to determine your refraction error and generate your EyeGlass Numbers.
They have a patented EyeQue Cloud technology that figures out your spherical, cylindrical, and axis figures – the same numbers that make up your eyeglasses prescription. How sweet is that?
There’s also The Personal Vision Tracker which can be shared with many people, however an active EyeQue subscription is required for each individual to create accurate records.
The EyeQue miniscope comes with a quick start guide, safety band, and a storage case. You can download the app on your phone if supported, which is currently any phone running Android 4.X or above or iOS 9.3 or above. More information can be found at their website.
We did a standalone review on Fricaine bags in our Style/Fashion section over the summer, so be sure to check it out. Here, we are highlighting a fun and exotic backpack we think is a great choice for the holidays. This New Horizon backpack also comes in a fun orange color combo as well and is part of their Jacquard Exotic Bag Series.
Creative souls will love this piece and fall in love with other stylish Fricaine bags as well. It’s a combination of alluring, sophisticated, exotic, fun and practical all rolled into one bag.
We love this brand because of their uniqueness and the fact that they truly embrace vibrant colors.
I feel so happy when I carry mine and always get a comment or two from someone, even in the supermarket. It’s a statement backpack that will set you apart from the crowd.
This one is made of high quality, durable micro-fiber leather and 100% cotton with a lovely jacquard design. The combo is stunning!
It has one front magnetic snap pockets, one main pocket,one inner zipper vertical pocket, one phone pocket, one key pocket and one 14-inch laptop pocket — we love all these pockets, because they are vital to staying organized when on the road.
All hardware is forged with real gold-plated material with anti-soul treatment to avoid corrosion. More info including how to order over at http://www.fricaine.com.
Miss Garcia Boots
The Hedera Boot by Miss Garcia is a great choice for travelers — flat heal size, soft materials and super comfy. This luxury red skin boot has a soft texture that you will love.
The boot is soft and furry in the front, while both high quality leather and rubber finishes up the back of the fashion boot. And, they’re cozy to wear with low, well-made heals and high quality soles. Read our write up on the brand, which includes shots of some of their more elegant and dressier shoe styles.
For more information, including how to order, visit www.missgarcia.com.
Miss Jessie May’s Jewelry & Antiques
This mother daughter business based in California has been around for over 18 years and was started to honor Tyra Vaughan’s grandmother Jessie May Smitherum. In the 1930’s, Jessie began buying, repairing and selling antiques and jewelry as a way to supplement her income. Eventually, she opened a shop in her back yard in Willow Glen, California.
Their online store is an extension of her grandmother’s business, is mostly vintage and some of the jewelry is from Tyra’s personal collection. All items are guaranteed for authenticity and they have a Layaway program too. More details on their site including how to order.
Koy Resort Travel Wear
We just discovered this Canadian-based fashion brand and love their casual but oh so stylin’ choices for shirts, dresses and swimsuit cover-ups. We fell in love with this gorgeous blue and white tie-dyed soft, lightweight shirt dress with lace hem and a button front. The garment is made from 100% Rayon and because of its crinkle effect, it doesn’t wrinkle easily and is a great choice for any trip.
We are also blown away with this boho-chic beach kaftan with crochet lace trim and a flowy silhouette. It’s so romantic and lovely and we love that it comes in both white and black.
They have a great collection of cover-ups for the beach and pool, dresses, tops and more. Be sure to check out their site where you can place an order directly – tons of fantastic options for your next trip. Visit Koy Resort’s U.S. site.
Gibson Collective Jewelry
We just came across a fun new jewelry brand which is all about elegance. The Gibson Collective offers classic, chic pieces made of authenticated 14k gold filled beads. They look best if you wear them as a stack and we’d recommend going for one larger beaded piece and a few smaller beaded pieces for the best effect.
You can opt for 14K gold, Rose Gold or Sterling Silver Filled Beads in a variety of different sizes. If you want to go all luxury, go for the bead options with Diamond Roundel. They suggest wearing them with luxury cuffs or watches for an even more elegant effect. Check out their fun Instagram feed for ideas on how to wear them.
Head on over to their website for more information on the brand and how to order.
Mister Maginsky Underwear
From jewelry to men’s underwear, Mister Maginsky is a UK-based underwear brand that boasts two-compartments.
On the inside, Mister Maginsky underwear separates your two male parts (yes, really — their words, not ours) in a way that promotes active flexibility and bodily hygiene.
Their view is that the Mister Maginsky brand has re-invented men’s underwear. No sweat, no sticking, and perfect alignment.
I had to laugh — they call it “the new way of normal.”
Their underwear separates, and thereby liberates, what has always been separated by nature yet as they tout “barbarically trapped by human fashion.”
We loved the idea so were curious about getting a few pairs in to test out. They’re super comfy with plenty of breathing room too.
Additionally, we love their sense of humor and that they come in black and not traditional white, although we wish a few more colors were available.
The quality is definitely there and we think this fun brand with its fun name makes a great pick for our holiday gift guide. If you’re curious about learning more, head on over to their website for the details and of course, how to order.
Introducing Bianchi Wines from Paso Robles California. We had an opportunity to get some samples in for tasting recently and think they make a great choice for the holidays. See our more extensive review of the six Bianchi Wines we sampled from their vineyards.
Their Sauvignon Blanc from Monterey County is crisp and light. With its stainless steel fermentation, you don’t get that buttery and vanilla flavors you’re more accustomed to with California Chardonnays. We wished we still had some of our crab from Cameron’s to eat with this scrumptious white.
Their 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cab in every way, has been aged in French oak for three years and is an amazing choice for lamb or steak. All delicious and at a great price point, head on over to their site for more information including how to order.
On a fall trip to Carmel, which we’ve covered before, we discovered some delicious wines in the middle of Carmel Valley from Folktale Winery.
They have a couple of great bubblies that we think would be great for the holiday season. We tasted a few of them when we visited their winery in November (oh so yum!) but haven’t put them to the meal pairing test yet.
Their Rosé Brut sparkling wine comes from a stainless steel tank and the bubbles are the result of the charmat method so it’s a bit smoother, more similar to a prosseco or frizzante wine — think watermelon, kiwi, cherry and floral.
Their 2014 Pinot Noir is drinking quite well right now. Imagine aromas of plum, dried cherries, and blackberry mingle with tea leaves, black pepper, and jasmine. Combine this with fruit flavors of cherry, raspberry, blackberry, plum, floral notes and spice, with just a hint of eucalyptus. Head on over to their website for more information.
Tech & Photography
We love the Epson XP-8500 all-in-one printer that the folks at Epson sent us to review. As both an avid traveler and photographer, this machine is a perfect device for anyone who shoots a lot and wants vivid and rich results from their pictures.
Officially known as the Expression Photo XP-8500, this slick and thin photo does more than just print photos with it’s all-in-one features and best of all, it’s also super quiet. And, I’d argue, kinda stylish as far as printers go.
This 4-in-1 printer does so much and offers connectivity via wifi, a must for any printer in today’s modern world. You can print, copy, scan and produce ultra HD photos. The Epson XP-8500 produces borderless photos up to 8″ x 10″ with 6-color Claria Photo HD inks.
Be sure to read our standalone review.
Fairly new on the market, this Switzerland-based company has come up with a handy, lightweight way to capture your life in 360 degrees. The camera’s design is egg-shaped and enables immersive experiences, capturing your life and travel memories in 360 degrees. Tamaggo allows you to share your moment in live stream anywhere and in real time.
Connected with the 360LiveCam, the Tamaggo app will enable you to easily view your content in different modes including something they refer to as a Virtual Reality (VR) mask. You can share 360 photos and videos, live or on-demand, via direct web links or from your favorite social networks.
With just one click on the Tamaggo device, you can seamlessly capture everything around you in 360 photos and videos and then of course, share them live or on-demand. Tamaggo is discrete because it’s small and light, easy to slide into any backpack or purse.
The Tamaggo camera currently comes in two colors: Titanium and White Pearl. For more information, visit their website.
Fun name right? We haven’t had much time with this product yet, but this nifty storage solution from a French team based in the Bay Area and Canada, is a great idea for all the photographers in your life — if you’re an Instagrammer, you may even be one of them.
Everyone is surprised that I don’t store everything in the cloud – while I certainly use various services to keep things safe and secure on respected cloud servers, I also use a RAID drive (several actually) for additional back-ups of some of my photography.
Kwilt Shoebox is a hybrid if you like. Designed more for iPhone snapaholics (support for Android coming in Q1), it’s a great solution for those who run out of space quickly and want to be able to send to a storage device within a couple of minutes, with minimal effort. And, it has an elegant design — we love the box too. (I actually pay attention to these things)
Truth be told, we haven’t had a chance to test it out yet since it just came in before our Holiday Gift Guide deadline, however we love the idea and think it can be a useful solution for many.
With the Kwilt app, you can easily offload your phone photos and videos to the Kwilt Shoebox stored at home and more importantly, access them from anywhere. And nope, there’s no monthly fee. For more information including how to order, visit their site.
2 Camera Picks from Kodak
We have two camera picks this year from Kodak, their newest and coolest: the Kodak PIXPRO Orbit and the Kodak FZ152 which makes a perfect holiday gift for kids and teenagers.
Their PIXPRO Orbit360 is essentially a 4K VR camera, which has a gorgeous futuristic design, comes with two fixed focus lenses. Each curved lens is designed to work in tandem, to capture full 360 ̊ 4K video. We love love love the design btw and we’re design snobs over here.
The camera offers three multi-view angles of 360 degree Spherical VR Mode and 197 degree 4K Ultra Wide Mode, 235 degree Dome Mode and Dual 20MP CMOS sensors. They tout easy uploading capabilities of your 360 degree video and photos to popular social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.
While we haven’t had a chance to test it out fully yet, we plan to do a deeper write-up sometime in the next month, so stay tuned for more details. You can find this sleek camera over on Amazon — there are various packs available depending on your needs.
Enter the FZ152 which also plan to review in more in-depth in early Q1. Bottom line, this compact fun-looking camera (its available in black and red – great for the Millennials in the family) makes a fabulous choice for the holiday season.
For travelers, we love the small size and the fact that it has so much for such a reasonable price point. The FZ152 includes Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), a 24 mm wide angle, 720p HD video and a 15x Optical Zoom . The camera produces 16 megapixel photos, comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion batter and is available over on Amazon.
Books, Books, Books…
Get ready for our top five travel book picks for 2017.
From Atlas Obscura to The Penguin Lessons, take a look at our top five picks for travel books this holiday season. In our End of Year Book Picks article, we also include top five spiritual book reads as well, so be sure to check out our post for the details on all ten books.
Holiday Gift Guide Feedback!
Want more Spirituality?
Thirsty for even more spiritual reads, check out this piece that includes a deeper dive into mediumship and talking to angels by Lucinda Gabriel. Also, we recently added a Spiritual Books section where we’ll be covering topics like psychic abilities, intuition, gemstones, healing practices, Reiki, rituals, spirituality and mindfulness. We also have a section on Spiritual Voices & Spiritual Events, so continue to tune in for more picks in the coming months. Our general Spirituality section covers it all.
Want more Wellness?
While preparing the Holiday Gift Guide each year is always a lot of work, we love learning about new products that can light up our day, make our lives more productive and useful or are just a whole lotta fun.
Let us hear your thoughts — what is your favorite pick in this year’s Holiday Gift Guide? And, if you have suggestions for our Valentine’s Holiday Day Guide or Mother’s Day Holiday Gift Guide, shoot us a note and/or leave comments below.