We’ve been starting to see a trend toward more experiential gifts over the last couple of years, so we’ll be doing a write-up this spring with some fun-filled suggestions, both travel and lifestyle-related. That said, everyone still loves to open a beautifully wrapped gift this time of year, so we’ve put together a handful of picks for this year’s holiday season.
Boardsmith Cutting Boards
We recently discovered that the Boardsmith brand makes a wide range of luxury cutting boards. They offer sidekick boards (9×12), specialty boards (such as charcuterie boards) and more. The finishes are ever so elegant as well, with your choice of maple, walnut, cherry or a brick design. Large or small, they’ve got you covered.
We opted to review one of their smaller boards in walnut, which are lighter in weight (roughly three pounds). Made by hand, they are constructed of long lasting end grain hardwood and are absolutely stunning to look at, a nice bonus to their practice use.
They partner with several sawmills, some of which are local and focus on salvaging or reclaiming urban felled trees from arborists. Each board is unique, and finished with mineral oil and then buffed with board butter to protect it and give it a lustrous shine. We also love that they are all individually handcrafted with sustainably sourced premium grade hardwood.
They are designed to be easier on your knife edge compared to ‘long’ or ‘edge’ grain cutting boards and come with smoothly beveled edges and corners. The boards come with wood encased shock absorbing feet and are finished with food grade mineral oil and beeswax for protection. They’re so beautifully designed that we find ourselves using it as a serving platter for bread, cheese and appetizers.
Below is an end-grain cutting board in maple. Stunning right?
You can order one with or without a juice groove and/or feet. We think the feet make the board a bit more elegant, but it’s a personal choice. For more information including how to order, visit their website.
Crystal Bowls by TopFund
We are not new to crystal bowls and not only have two full sets but also two or three bowls in the same note. Although our first experience with crystal bowls was with alchemy bowls made by Crystal Tones (you will find them at many integrative and holistic trade shows where you can try them out), we have also tested out some of the bowls by TopFund, which are a fraction of the price. Even less expensive are white crystal bowls; however, if you want a flash of color, you can get a chakra-colored set for not much more.
Then there are those made with gemstones, such as this ten-inchsapphire gem (the sound is amazing as well — we tested it out in a large room with high ceilings). They are tuned for therapeutic resonance and crafted from quality quartz crystals.
All of their bowls come with a suede striker so you’re all set to play it straight out of the box.
The bowl includes a sponge-padded heavy duty carrying case and inside, the pocket holds a singing bowl mallet, suede striker, and O-ring. They include instructions on how to play it as well. You can find it on Amazon. They also offer chakra tuned sets of crystal singing bowls as well as crystal singing pyramids and other sound healing instruments for meditation.
TopFund crystal singing bowls are categorized by size and dominant musical note; their larger bowls tend to produce deeper octave notes. They offer a 30-day guarantee against damage or missing parts during transit. Check out their colorful bowl collection here which is an inexpensive option to start with if you’re new to sound healing. Whether you want to own one specifically for the healing sound a bowl offers or because they’re both beautiful and play as a way to relax and unwind, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Fitbit Versa 4 Fitness Smartwatch
We’ve been fans of Lenovo for years and are mostly versed in their laptops and accessories; however, we just discovered the Fitbit Smartwatch Versa 4 made in black graphite on their website – you can find out more about it on their website or of course, you can find them on Fitbit’s website as well.
Some of the features include:
- Heart rate tracking: heart rate powers important data like calorie burn, sleep stages, resting heart rate and more.
- Built-in GPS: this allows you to see the pace and distance on your wrist without a phone.
- Exercise modes: you can easily track your favorite exercises like runs, bike rides, weights, yoga and more and get live stats on your wrist.
- Water-resistant: as a travel platform, we love the fact that this smartwatch is water-resistant to 50 meters which also means you can shower with it.
- Resting heart rate: fitness fans realize the importance of knowing your resting heart rate and this device tracks it for you.
- Menstrual health tracking: we didn’t know they even added features like this for women, but now you can log periods, record symptoms, find patterns in your cycle and estimate your ovulation window. Super useful.
- Sleep tracking and sleep stages: the device automatically tracks how long you sleep each night and time spent in light, deep and REM sleep stages. Anyone who has a hard time sleeping knows the value of tracking your sleep so you can determine where and when you might be getting regular interruptions. This helps you identify whether it is related to external or internal factors, such as food.
There’s also a bright color display for sharp stats all day. The Versa 4 also comes in a handful of fun colors as well: waterfall blue, pink sand, and beet juice.
Decorative Glass Balls
Some people call these fascinating balls “witch balls,” whereas others simply refer to them as glass balls, which can be used during the holidays but also throughout the rest of the year as well. We fell in love with this purple “witches fall” from Dehanna Jones (the artist who designed and made them in Seattle). This beautiful ball is roughly 4.5 inches tall and includes a clear glass loop for easy hanging.
Each batch differs slightly. Some will have a more molted look with a different distribution of colors. Every ornament is unique and can look a little different when shown in different lighting. They come in a clear and gold cupcake box and include an artist bio card. Although we only got in the purple one to test out, they apparently come in 25 different colors. Find it on Amazon.
There’s also a set of decorative glass balls, which again, can be used on your tree but also in a garden patio or elsewhere throughout your house.
They are roughly 2 or so inches and comes as a set of six, usable for both indoor and outdoor decor. They are handblown and each of the hanging blown glass witches ball is handmade, making every piece unique in color and shape. The sculpted loop at the top is designed for easy hanging as well.
You can also find them on Amazon with a couple of different set color variations.
Western Rise Clothes for Men
We were introduced to the Western Rise sustainable clothing line for men so we thought it would be timely to review them for the holiday season. Western Rise focuses on four key elements: technical materials, advanced treatments, timeless styles, and premium construction. Their Evolution pant is a popular one so we decided to try it out. They come in multiple colors and are durable and lightweight. One of the features is a 4-way stretch to keep you cool and comfortable.
They have a stretch waistband, a zippered wallet pocket and a large phone pocket. The pants are also both stain and water-resistant.
Their custom engineered Evolution fabric (90% Nylon, 10% Elastane) is a proprietary air-texturized nylon twill that feels like cotton while retaining the durability of nylon. The Evolution Pant can be worn multiple days in a row without washing, packs smaller than a t-shirt, stretches and replaces at least three pants in your closet. They tout it as the perfect travel pants.
Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Liqueurs
If you haven’t heard of Lyre’s non-alcoholic liqueurs, they offer a wide range of flavors and styles. Their scrumptious American Malt is honey colored and has scents of vanilla, sweet spice, caramel and accents of charred oak. Think vanilla, toasted nuts and herbal notes. They suggest it as a classic mixer, with apple juice or shaking it as a sour. Classic cocktails would include a twist on a Boulevardier with Lyre’s Dry Vermouth & Lyre’s Bitter Orange, or the Manhattan, gently stirring with Lyre’s Rosso Vermouth, bitters and orange peel.
Then there’s this ever so fun Italian Orange option, which offers blood orange and red citrus flavors. Maraschino adds a little balance to the drink as well.
Or, how about Lyre’s Absinthe for another fun option over the holiday season? This unique spirit has been crafted to capture the essence of a historically made Absinthe with anise notes, as well as verbena and fine herbs with a touch of sweetness — oh so delish . . . You can of course drink it as a classic cocktail or simply mix the Absinthe with soda and a wedge of lemon, basil or cucumber slice. Yes, please!
They also offer their bottles as a set as well, which makes for a perfect gift option for any festive occasion. You can find all of their options on Amazon.
Prefer something with alcohol? We headed to Barbados in early December and fell in love with their rums. We ordered many Pina Coladas during our stay and also tried various other cocktails made from their local rum. The Plantation X.0 is a blend of PlantationRum’s oldest reserves. Selected rums tropically aged for long years in Barbados are further matured in French oak casks for an additional 2-10 years. This double aging gives this rum an incomparably round and creamy palate. The color of this gem of old mahogany. Their Plantation XO 20th Anniversary reveals a nose with exotic notes of sugarcane, oaky vanilla and toasted coconut, enhanced by complex aromas of cocoa, candied orange and cigar box. Learn more about it including how to buy here.
There’s also the Twezo Barbados Rum, which has a rich amber hue with golden reflections. It offers aromas of brioche and bourbon vanilla alongside nuts that will simply melt in your mouth. It has a lovely soft finish – two thumbs up! The labelling has a vintage vibe to it with an old pirates treasure map and golden compass. You can find out more about it including how to order here.
There’s no shortage of cocktails you can make with Barbados rum but when we were there, many enjoyed it as part of a Barbados Rum Punch which you can make with fresh lime juice, simple syrup, bitters and nutmeg together with a couple of ounces of rum. YUM!
Be sure to check out our products section for more fun picks.
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.
She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.
Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.
Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.