Well… here it is!  A much anticipated …

Gift Buying Guide

Seriously, I do love giving gifts, and absolutely LOVE finding that perfect gift.  And I want to share some gift ideas with you!

If the item is in Blue, it is something you can buy on a Budget… for free up to $50.  If the item is in Slate gray, it is a Splurge item…anywhere from $50 to about $300.  Anything beyond $300 for one gift is out of my range of reality and you obviously don't need me.  Anything written in Evergreen is something that requires a bit off effort, but is well worth the time.  Everything underlined is a link to that product… so all the work has been done for you!

Here we go!

Lets start with the Free Gifts (that are ultimately priceless)

  • Make someone a blessings jar.  Use an old spaghetti jar or oatmeal tin and write out personal blessings for the gift receiver.  Use Bible verses or thoughts or prayers or hopes you have for them.  Or write down memories you have with that person that bring you joy…tell them to choose one whenever they are down are just need a smile.
  • Print off information on a topic of interest to someone.  Do they love camping?  Or poodles?  Or Bible Translations?  Or scrap-booking?  Put together a list or a folder of resources,  different types, new ideas, cost effective versions…anything that will show someone you cared enough to take the time.  Just for them.
  • Write a poem or song about someone you love.  
  • Go through all your books… find one that has touched you or made a change in your life and pay it forward to someone who could benefit.  Write a special note to them and put it in the front cover.
  • Recycle your kids toys.  Choose a few that are in good condition.  Clean them up if needed, put them in a gift bag (we all have some of those laying around) and give it to a family member, neighbor, church, or child in need.  (This helps you de-clutter, and make sure you have your child participate so they can learn about being unselfish and the joy of giving.)


I love personalized anything!   Here are some of my favs…

  • Personalized musical CD's for kids. I like how name your tune looks on their website and of course I love Children's Christian Music.
  • I bought magnet paper at Office Max and made a visual family tree for my niece.  I just used a face shot for each person and then printed them off in wallet size.  (Most computers come with a general photo program that allows you to do this.) To be extra creative for older kids you can print off names or titles (mommy, grandma, Aunt Jill, neighbor, doggy, etc.) and have the kids match them to the face.  And when you use the magnet paper, they can play this on the fridge while you are slaving over dinner or the laundry!  So, it can be a fun gift to give a busy mom in your life.
  • Personalized puzzles and mugs and even Sesame Street books are a great way to go.
  • Blankets and pillows and bedding and Slankets with a child's name on it can be so special to them… to have something of their very own!  There is a WEALTH of info. about this on-line so I am just giving you a general search engine guide.
  • (Adults) How about making a T-shirt for that special person.  If its for a girlfriend, make a Top 5 List…Like Top Five Reasons Jenny is a Great Mom. (#1 she tolerated a "But moooommmm" for a good five minutes without so much as flinching #2 She made 72 cupcakes in 3.8  minutes for a kids classroom snack…and so on).  Just go to your local mall and find their seamstress/novelty/make a T-shirt shop.
  • (Adults)I LOVE personalized stationary and it is SO easy to do.  Buy a pretty paper that fits the person you are making it for (one with plants for the gardener, one with toys for the  mom, one thats pink for the pink lover) and just use your printer to print their name across the top.  OR, you can add a wonderful Bible verse OR use the last name…"From the Smiths" or something similar.  Just put the envelopes in your printer and add a verse or initial or something personal to the back of the envelope too!  Then wrap it in a pretty bow and your all done.
  • How about Giant Personalized Fortune CookiesTalk about a decadent gift someone would love to open but would never buy for themselves.
  • How about a personalized photo carved night light?  Beautiful, timeless, and one gift that is sure to make your recipient feel special.


What about for that person that has everything?

  • How about a gift subscription to a magazine?  Someone like scrap-booking or golf or cats or Christian Women sharing?  There is a magazine for everything!
  • Know anyone who likes to take pictures?  You can get a digital camerafor as low as $8.99! (ok, that one is a key chain…but how cool is that?) You can gift someone the ability to capture all of life's greatest moments with a camera!  There are lots for around $50, but you could go up to the thousands..so we'll add a bit of gray to this potential splurge!
  • Do they already have a camera they love… well then how about a bigger memory cardThey can be super cheap!
  • How about a One Trip Grip grocery bag holder?  This gift seems corny, but as a mom lugging two toddlers around in addition to my 17 bags of groceries, this gift seems like genius!
  • This Custom Mosaic looks absolutely fascinating!  Fitting 100 pictures into one beautiful image?  You gotta check this one out.
  • Here is a Personalized Art Piece that your recipient will treasure forever.
  • Something that I have always wanted to try but never felt I could indulge in was a Lobster Meal Delivered to my front door!  How awesome would that be for some special mommy who could use a night off from cooking!

Have trouble shopping for Dad and Mom?  Heres just a few ideas…

A personalized Print from Dayspring…

A Photo Collageof the grandkids or grand-dogs or of you (and Kodak is free to join!)


Dads love Tickets to their favorite sports (especially if you'll go with!)  and dads also like it when we acknowledge their favorite hobby and indulge it…fishing, golfing, watching TV, hunting, tinkering in the garage (get him a space heater or a cordless radio or TV).

I have to plug my hubby here… He does make personalized Custom Fishing Rods that range from $100 up to about $500 but are fantastic for the fishing (wo)man in your life!  Email me for more info.

Moms love spa days (with kids or someone they love), cleaning ladies,  anything grandchild/child related and time… time with those they love and time off from the day to day duties. 

And what about some 'big' gifts??

Consider splitting costs with siblings or friends!

I personally think that Wii's look super fun.  Imagine your next family gathering with grandmas and nieces and babies and everything in between…all playing a game of interactive bowling in the family room! Toooo  fun!

And hows this for extravagant… get your favorite family a TiVO

And ever wanted to go to your local theme park or water park but the thought of spending $100 in a day just for admittance for your family seem overwhelming?  Make that a possibility for someone you love. 

Now here is one gift I would NOT like because I love to vacuumbut am fully aware that most of the world disagrees with me sooooooo… get a Roomba!  Give your favorite person the freedom from ever vacuuming again!

Well, these are just a few of my ideas… I am updating this constantly, so feel free to stop back and see new items.  And by all means, if you have any ideas, leave a comment so I can add it to the list! (With proper credit of course)


I do hope this blesses you in some way.

Much love and blessings to you and yours-







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Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

  1. Some great ideas…thanks for the list!
    Just a plug for the Wii….we have one and it is the best money we ever spent. It gets us together for family game nights in a way that board games never could. Tons of fun and a great way to get the whole family involved.
    **I am in no way affiliated with Wii or the company that makes it. Or it’s sponsors. LOL…just being goofy…sorry : )

  2. You know your my Hero! I love this post and thank you for your idea’s especially the ” Recycling of yours to others and the Blessing Jar” You are a special someone I charrish always. Take care of you and yours – May GOD continue blessing your family. Take care of you, my friend,

  3. Last year I made my family calendars with family photos and then I made sure to add all of the anniversaries/birthdays/scheduled family get togethers …some calendar options (esp. if you use Mac computers and iPhoto) will let you put photos on days in the actual calendar…so I put a pic of each person on the day of their birthday (ex- a pic from my son’s birth on April 29th etc) Everyone really liked them- it was fun to dig out some old pics and it helped us all not forget important dates!

  4. ps… it cost about $17 per calendar because I ordered 10. Not a bad price when you have a big family. Most of them cost around $20 online for just one or two

  5. I love the Blessings Jar idea. Not just because it’s free – but because it’s priceless. I’m thinking about who I can make that for this year. Definitely my Grandma for Christmas, but I’m thinking it may be a birthday gift for each of my kids. Thanks for the great idea!!!!!

  6. Hey! Amanda,
    I really enjoyed reading your post. it helps me a lot and it seems a lot of sense!.. i do love gift giving too. most gift i like is the thing that can be personalized.. but anyways thanks for sharing those ideas. hope to read more.!

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