It’s that time of year again, when I share some of my favorite things in this 2019 Holiday Gift Guide! As in years past, I recommend only items that I have personally purchased myself and truly love. You won’t find ugly sweaters or any junk that won’t stand the test of time. In fact, some of these items are holdovers from previous holiday gift guides because I think they’re well-made, well-tested, and will bring joy for many years to come!
Gifts to help you sleep
Good sleep is the ultimate gift! And as a recovering nightshift worker, it’s the one thing I prioritize above all other aspects in my life. Every night, my aim is to get high quality sleep in a dark, cool room for at least 7 to 8 hours—and I’ve personally tested a bunch of handy aids that help me achieve the maximum in high quality sleep!
I LOVE my Oura ring and won’t stop telling everyone how great it is! It’s hands-down the best sleep and activity tracker on the market, and every morning I synch it with my app to assess my readiness for the day. Yes, I have a subjective sense of how I feel in the morning, but as a natural-born rule follower, I crave objective data to nudge my sleep-promoting behaviors in the right direction. For example, if my Oura ring tells me my readiness level is high I’ll make an effort to go the gym even if I’m feeling lazy. Conversely, if Oura says my readiness is low due to poor sleep or an elevated body temperature, I’ll opt for a brisk walk instead of going balls-to-the-wall at the gym. My Oura offers up all sorts of data to help me figure out how to optimize my sleep—and it looks pretty slick, too! Get one here.
I bought a Luna weighted blanket earlier this year, and it has been one of my favorite additions to my bedtime routine. It feels like I’m getting a cozy hug all night! The heaviness of this particular blanket is perfectly balanced; unlike some other weighted blankets, the heavy parts don’t end up migrating to one side or corner, leaving the blanket lopsided. Truth be told, it took me a couple of sleeps to get used to it, but now I can’t sleep without it. We now have weighted blankets on every bed in the house! Get the one here.
When I was a nightshift worker, I wore earplugs to block out all sounds when I slept during the day. However, they didn’t work well because ear plugs often fall out, feel uncomfortable, or fail to block out sharp, abrupt noises.
Nowadays, I use the opposite tactic to help me sleep—a ’Lectrofan white noise machine. The constant fan-like sound lulls me to sleep and masks outside noise and disturbances. I pack it with me whenever I travel, and it definitely drowns out big city sounds and adds a relaxing hum that helps me drift off to slumberland. Get one here.
I have been a happy owner of a Tempur-Pedic eye mask for many, many years. I’ve tried plenty of other highly-recommended eye masks, but for me, none of them have worked as well at blocking out light and not squashing my eyeballs into my skull. I’ve purchased quite a few of these eye masks, though the only reason I’ve had to replace them is because I keep accidentally leaving them in hotel beds. Get one here.
Need more items to help with your sleep? Here’s a list of other items that help me catch my zzzs.
My Favorite Kitchen Gear
I’m keeping my kitchen gear gift recommendations short and sweet this year—mostly because these four items will level up everyone’s cooking for many years to come.
I know there are a bazillion variations of the Instant Pot, but this newest model is the one you should buy for your pals—and yourself! The new Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus is an improvement on and evolution of my two favorite models, the Ultra and Duo Plus.
Why is the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus the best model to buy?
- Improved venting for quick pressure release!
- The inner pot now has stay-cool handles to make it easier to remove!
- The inner pot has a flat bottom for better browning AND you can use it on other cooktops!
- An easier interface for programming the Instant Pot and a digital display!
The super-accurate, quick-reading instant read Thermapen Mk4 thermometer has been my trusty companion in the kitchen for a few years! Plus, it’ll be be marked down 25% for Black Friday starting 11/27/19. Get one here.
There’s nothing that helps a cook better in the kitchen than a sharp knife. I have my own favorite chef’s knife, but I can’t tell you which one’s best for you; to see how they feel in your hand, you really need to personally test out knives yourself. But once you pick out the perfect knife, you’ll need to keep it sharp and the Chef’s Choice 15 Trizor XV sharpener is fantastic and super easy to use. Get one here.
Magic Mushroom Powder is my go-to all-purpose seasoning that makes everything taste better! Use it in place of salt in all of your favorite recipes and everyone will compliment you on your culinary creations. But don’t just take my word for it: Dylan Dreyer, an anchor on the Today Show, proclaimed our Magic Mushroom Powder as her favorite food seasoning!
You can buy cute tins of Magic Mushroom Powder nationwide at a Whole Foods Market near you or make it yourself by following this recipe!
Want to see what other kitchen gear I stock in my kitchen and pantry? Go here to check out all of my recommendations!
Fun Gifts For Active Folks
Got a pal who loves traveling or getting their fitness on? These items may just put a spring in their step (literally)!
I recently splurged on a Bellicon indoor mini trampoline/rebounder and my whole family has the best time jumping on it throughout the day. It’s definitely the priciest rebounder on the market—I waited a whole year before I bit the bullet—but I haven’t regretted the purchase. I bought a 44-inch Bellicon because I wanted a low impact, high energy workout I could squeeze in at home between sessions of tapping on my laptop. I literally jump on the rebounder for a few minutes every hour to get my heart pumping and to put a big goofy grin on my face. Get one here.
If (like me!) you use your mobile phone to shoot a lot of video, you’ll love the DJI Mobile 3. This lightweight portable and foldable gimbal is great for stabilizing your phone—no vibrations or shakiness! Good luck prying it out of your kids’ hands after they discover how it’ll level up their home videos! Get one here.
Earbuds just don’t fit in my weirdly shaped earholes properly, and I’ve always had a difficult time finding the right pair. But then, I got these bone conduction headphones where the sound is conducted through your cheekbones—leaving your earholes open. YES, YOU HEARD ME RIGHT! Plus, they’re super cool, lightweight, and I can still hear traffic (or my kids) while I’m listening to my favorite podcast. Get one here.
When I suffered from frozen shoulder last year, one of the items that made me feel better was this self-massager. It’s cheap and effective, and I use it to press out any tight muscles on my shoulders, back, and neck. Small victories, man. Get one here.
Favorite Books and Cookbooks
Our family loves books and cookbooks. If you love food and/or laughs, these books will fit the bill!
I know I’m biased, but my favorite cookbooks of all time are the ones that Henry and I created. I love them SO MUCH, and we think it’ll help your whole family learn how to cook and find shortcuts to deliciousness!
Click on the links below to buy:
- Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans
- Ready or Not! 150+ Make-Ahead, Make-Over, and Make-Now recipes from Nom Nom Paleo
- Nom Nom Paleo iOS app* (2014 and 2019 Webby Award winner!)
*If you got a new iPhone and the app is acting funky or missing recipes, simply delete the app from your device and download it again for free!
Psst! If you want to gift (for others or yourself) the Spanish version of Ready or Not!, ¡Estás Listo O No!, you can buy it by clicking here! You can also get it with free worldwide shipping, by clicking here.
I am a HUGE fan of the brilliant, gut-bustingly funny, and downright filthy Ali Wong. Her new book is a collection of letters to her two daughters, and each one is hilarious, touching, and illuminating. Get it here.
My buddy Teri Turner is an inspiration inside and outside of the kitchen. Her debut cookbook, No Crumbs Left, is filled with incredible heart and amazing recipes! Get it here.
My friend Amanda Haas is the coolest. Not only is she an amazing cook, mother, and entrepreneur—she just published a fab book that helps women live their best life. Amanda’s book has amazing gluten-free recipes and tons of tips she’s mined from her expert pals on everything from the healing powers of yoga, acupuncture, meditation, humor, and even sex! Get it here.
Andrea Nguyen is the queen of South East Asian cooking, and her latest cookbook teaches you how to make delicious Vietnamese food with staples you can find at your neighborhood grocery store. This is not a gluten-free cookbook, but many dishes are adaptable! Get it here.
Looking for more gift ideas?
- Check out my Amazon shopping page here filled with all my favorite things!
- Previous holiday gift guides from 2018, 2017, and 2016!
Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013) and Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017)!