2018 Gift Guide: Comforting, Useful, and Fun

Ready for our weekly gift guide installment?

This week, I’ve got some perennial ideas that are thoughtful, warm, comforting, and fun.

As usual: if you’ve got ideas or want to tell me about your nifty-keen gift idea, or about your personal Etsy Shop Of Wonderment, please email me! I love featuring all sorts of stores and researching different ideas for book lovers always yields some very fun holiday giving.

NB: most of the links in the Holiday Gift Guide posts are affiliate-coded, which means a portion of the purchase price is sent back to us as a commission, at no extra cost to you. If you do some of your shopping through our links, you help keep the site running! Plus, there are links over in the left sidebar in the “Welcome” section should you need them. Thank you much!

Our first gift idea comes with an endorsement from Madame, the cat who deigns to live with RedHeadedGirl. We sent RedHeadedGirl a wearable blanket as a birthday gift. Well, we thought we did.

Madame: “I am Madame. The Bitchy Ladies were nice enough to send this blanket to my RedHeaded human servant for me. They had to say it was for her birthday for tax purposes or whatever, but we all know it was for me. I love this blanket. I have made batches and batches of biscuits on this blanket. I have spent literal days snoozing on this blanket. If one of the human servants sits on my blanket, I get very put out. Once I let RedHeaded Human Servant use the blanket as a blanket because she was protesting in the cold and needed to warm up. I am VERY GENEROUS. This is the best blanket. The Bitchy Ladies made a very good choice of color to show me off to my advantage. Aren’t I pretty. That was not a question.”

Madame on a fluffy blanket of teal, curled up on the sofa snuggled into the fabric most elegantly of course

So, of course, you’re curious about this blanket, yes?

Plush wearable blanket with sleeves and a pocket in teal
Catalonia Wearable Blanket with Sleeves and Pocket, $23

Madame’s excellent reference aside, I think this is an ideal reading blanket: it has sleeves and a pocket, and is long enough to tuck beneath your feet. It comes in several colors, including brown, blue, green, cream, and if you’re feeling really festive, cheetah. Thanks, Madame!

And if you need electricity to get involved to keep you or someone you love warm, here’s another option:

Plush electric blanket in garnet red Sunbeam Plush Electric Blanket, $34

This blanket comes in a variety of sizes and colors, and has three heat settings, too.

For more specific and targeted heat application, I feature one of these every year, and every year I hear from one or more of you who say it’s the greatest thing ever.

Microplush neck and shoulder heating wrapMicroplush Neck and Shoulder Heating Wrap, $31

This wrap has a magnetic closure so it sits behind your neck and over your shoulders, and features four heat levels. So you can put it on and prepare to fight crime – at least, that what I think this lady is going to do. It’s her super hero cape, right?

a model holding the neck and shoulder wrap over her shoulders, looking determined like she is going to fight ALL the crime and smash ALL the patriarchy

We’ve got warmth, so how about good smells?

I know everyone on the internet and elsewhere has lots to say about the Instant Pot, and…yeah, I like mine a lot, too.

First, these go on sale all the time leading up to the holidays, so you might want to set up an alert for the price drop, or drop some major hints to someone who wants to buy you gifts.

Instant Pot 6 qt pressure cooker
Instant Pot DUO 6QT Pressure Cooker/Multicooker, $90

I use mine all the time and have a few favorite recipes. But suppose you don’t want the Instant Pot, but would like to explore pressure cooking? A stovetop model works just as well:

Presto Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker $45
Presto Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker, $45

I bought a stovetop model first to see if I liked the pressure cooker recipes I’d found (I did!) and if I liked pressure cooking (I do!). The electric models like the Instant Pot have additional features and auto-shutoff capabilities, but if you want to try without the larger investment, stovetop models absolutely work. There are a few recipes I make in the stovetop one I have because they contain a little too much liquid for the Instant Pot.

And speaking of recipes, these two cookbooks have been working very well for me and my pressure cooker adventures:

Great Food Fast by Bob Warden
Great Food Fast, $12

ATK Multicooker Perfection
America’s Test Kitchen: Multicooker Perfection, $11 for Kindle, $17 Print

I have Great Food Fast digitally, but I can’t locate the digital version at the moment. I borrowed Multicooker Perfection from my library and used it so much during my four-week borrow that I bought my own copy. The recipe for flan is terrific – I’ve made it twice now – and the recipes for risotto are excellent, too. Both are great for beginner pressure cooker or multicooker folks.

Now you’re warm and cozy, and the house smells good because you’re cooking all the good things. What next? LEFTOVERS!

Every year I feature some food storage containers that are making my life easier, and this year I just purchased another set of these:

Rubbermaid Brilliance 10pc food storage set, $19
Rubbermaid Brilliance 10pc food storage set, $19
.

With all the recipes and guides that advise you to bring your lunch, meal plan for a week, and make large amounts to freeze some for later, good containers are a great thing to have – and a fun thing to gift someone who appreciates useful items. There is also a 22-piece set for $50, though I’ve seen it for less at Costco. These are leakproof, and nest inside one another neatly so there aren’t lids and containers falling all over the place.

Another perennial gift I send to friends, family, and everyone in my household is a portable charger. I love the lipstick sized one:

Anker lipstick sized charger $19-23
Anker lipstick sized charger $19-23

And I don’t travel without the larger capacity battery option, either:

Anker Portable Battery
Anker Portable Battery 20100mAH, $50

Now you’re warm, fed, charged up, and relaxed – what will you do next?

I’ll be back next week with more gift guide ideas. As always, please let me know what you’re hoping to receive or shopping for this year!

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