Congrats to the winner: Kelly D.
Initially, I was going to do a gift guide with picks from a ton of categories (paper, beauty, fashion, tech, education, food, entertainment, home, travel, business, experiences, etc.). Then I realized that there are a gazillion gift guides already out there on the web – guides that already includes many of my top picks. Instead, I decided to compile a list of standout items that I have received for review purposes this year.
After working online for over 13 years, I receive a lot of holiday pitches and politely turn down over 95% of them. The ones that stand out/make the cut are items that either a.) I personally love and could see myself continuing to use and/or b.) I can see a specific type of loved one thoroughly enjoying it. Overall, I’m a “give them what the want” type of gift giver. If you don’t know what to get people, ask them for a top 3-5 list. (That way, they won’t know exactly what they’re getting.) In addition, be attentive when you’re around people. Usually, they mention (or share on social media) things that they enjoy or want. Anyway, below are my top 2017 picks for…
-The tech-inspired: I was at a Techlicious lunch earlier this year where I was introduced to the SanDisk iXpand Base that backs up your iPhone while you’re charging it. Since much of my work life is on my phone, I love “double-duty” gadgets. You can read a more in-depth breakdown of the base on the Hands-on with the SanDisk iXpand Base post.
-The tea enthusiast: Chamomile tea is part of my morning routine. Around Mother’s Day, Adagio Teas sent me sample teas and teawares that I really loved and continue to recommend. You can read more about them on my Morning Routine: Tea and Journals post.
-The (responsible) cocktail sipper: I was invited to a wine & donut pairing class that was hosted by Santa Margherita last month. Unfortunately, I had a scheduling conflict but they sent me over a bottle of their recently launched Prosecco Superiore. I have a friend who only likes Prosecco cocktails so I’m excited for her to try it too. On a related note, I don’t really use spirits in cooking or baking that much but I might try after seeing some of the recipes on the Santa Margherita site.
-The budding home cook: Cookbooks are one of my favorite gifts to give. If the gift recipients use their phone or tablet for recipes, I have to recommend my recently published eBook Soul Food: 31 Easy Recipes for Home Cooks. The book is a mixture of traditional and healthier versions of classic soul food and it reached #4 in its category last month thanks to your support. (Yay!)
I also have two more recommendations. Richard Ingraham, actress Gabrielle Union and NBA veteran Dwyane Wade’s private chef, recently launched his first cookbook Eating Well to Win. I had the opportunity to glance through a digital copy and it is full of delicious-looking recipes that are created to be both flavorful and to help his clients reach their peak performance.
Last, but definitely not least, I have a book recommendation for your vegan friends and family members – The Dirty Vegan Cookbook. So many people have become vegans since watching the”What The Health” documentary. I have spent several hours with a friend who tried to “convert” me. It’s not happening, but I want all of my longtime and new vegan friends to enjoy delicious food and I like to be able to cook for all types of people who dine at my home. The things that I love the most about this book is that the author writes in a fun tone. She is not annoying and all “holier than thou” based on her food choices. Best of all, the food looks delicious. I wouldn’t just make it for my vegan friends…I’d eat it myself!
-The history buff: I admit that I’m a history geek. I majored in History (with focuses on African-American and Women’s history) at Columbia so I’m looking forward to visiting the National Museum of American American History and Culture. It didn’t work out schedule-wise this year, but it’s definitely on my “to-do” list for 2018. Long Road to Hard Truth: The 100 Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture is the inspiring story of attorney Robert Wilkins’ journey to make this museum a reality. (Thank you, Mr. Wilkins!)
-Tracing ancestry is a very popular trend and there are several ancestry DNA testing kits on the market. After seeing a myheritageDNA kit over my aunt-in-law’s house, I worked with MyHeritage.com to get tested myself. I wanted to connect the ancestry dots that make up my Black/African-American identity. It was a very simple process. I just swabbed my cheek and mailed it to them in the provided packaging. Four to six weeks later, they emailed to let me know my results…
Some of my best friends are West Africans so I’m not surprised to see that they are my “people”. I’m now adding “travel to West Africa” to my bucket list.
-The health-conscious: Vous Vitamins is one of my favorite gift picks. I love customized items. They just make me feel extra special. Add health to the mix and it’s twice the treat. Vous Vitamins are personalized multivitamins. You simply fill out a little questionnaire and your supply of vitamins are designed to meet your needs. (How cool is that?) I had been feeling extra tired and lower energy when I filled out the survey so that was the focus of my vitamins. I have been taking them regularly. So far, so good!
-The home state lovers: Back in August, I attended the NY Now Summer 2017 Market. (It’s a home, lifestyle & gift exhibitor show at the Javits.) There were so many companies represented, but Homesick Candles’ custom created soy candles were a standout. They are a newish (a little over a year) company that sells geographic-themed candles that smell “like home” (really good). They also sell some other state-themed items like cutting boards, soaps, and apparel.
-The photography fans: There are so many different photo gifts (books, canvases, calendars, etc.) from which to choose. When Collage.com reached out to me regarding a Collage.com photo blanket review and giveaway, I wondered if it was something that was actually useful. Then, I thought of Reggie’s aunt. She has pictures of all the grandkids in the family on full display in her home. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat to get a picture of all the young ones and make a photo blanket as a gift for her?” I contacted all of the cousins and everybody was on board. I think that a photo blanket is a perfect gift for that person on your gift list who already has everything. (She doesn’t read my blog, so she should be surprised.)
One lucky Mom in the City reader will be able to pick a blanket at Collage.com, design it, and get the blanket for free. This will be a short giveaway so that you can order in time for holiday gifts. To enter, share what image you would definitely include in a photo blanket in the comment section below. A winner will be chosen on Monday, December 11th at noon (EST). Good luck!
FYI: All new Collage.com customers also get 60% off their first order. (There’s a banner in the top left corner of their page where new customers can get the 60% off discount on their very first order.)