Tag Archives: christmas gift ideas

practical christmas gift ideas – active lifestyle

Staying sedentary for too long is terrible for your body. Here are some gift ideas for an active lifestyle. Whether you know someone who loves to work out and stay active, or you’re looking for something for the beginning mover, here are some fun and useful gift ideas.


1. Ballroom Dancing Classes
With dancing competitions dominating the reality TV show category, it’s hard to remember that ballroom dancing is really a classic art. This is perfect for beginners in the active lifestyle, it’s great for any age and fitness category. It’s relatively low impact and lots of fun. Dancing hardly seems like work. Don’t worry about the high embarrassment factor, most dance instructors have seen it all and are prepared to work with anyone with two left feet. What I like most about this gift, is the human interaction that can come along with it. It’s probable you know someone who is interested in taking a ballroom dancing class, but can’t find a partner. Volunteer to be a dance partner to your best friend, grandma, or significant other. They’ll be thankful to spend quality time with you while moving and shaking.

2. Athletic Shoes
This will probably be the only time you’ll hear me ever recommend a gift card, since I think they’re the easy way out. But the truth is, athletic shoes are really expensive. Those devoted to frequent exercise and running probably have to replace their shoes quite a bit. Even a semi-active person probably has to replace shoes two or three times a year.  It might be a nice gesture to provide them with some financial assistance with this. It’s hard to actually buy a shoe for a loved one, because each foot is different and a running shoe that may work for you might not work for your the recipient of this gift.

3. A Tent
I love that a tent can be a second residence. It can be your next weekend getaway, your summer travel plans, or your “let’s camp in the backyard and look at stars tonight.” Tents are your access to lakeside swimming, beachfront camping, mountainous hiking, and whatever other outdoor excursions your have your heart set on. There is something perfectly intimate about sharing a tent with a loved one and braving the elements together. Here’s a tip on tent buying – buy a small one. Really, they’re quick to set up and take down, which can make or break a camping experience (well, that and lack of firewood).

4. A Massage
Honestly, anyone can appreciate this: the over-worked mother, the boss, the boyfriend. However, relaxed muscles are especially important for those who engage in frequent strenuous activity. You can do this one yourself, if you know the person intimately enough. Just look up some tips on the internet before hand. Or you can usually find great deals on 1-hour massages around the holidays.

5. ToeSox Yoga Socks
These things are great for anyone who engages in yoga or pilates. The grips on the bottom keep you from slipping (very useful for hot yoga), keep you warm, and are a hygienic option to the bare foot. They encourage strong feet muscles, which improve balance, circulation, and posture. They can also help with everyday foot pain. They’re also greatly affordable.

[tent image via]

practical christmas gift ideas – life skills

Lately, I’ve been subscribing to minimalist living blogs and philosophies, which is really hard to do when you’re a crafter, baker, cat-toy hoarder, and all-around enthusiast for cute, useless things. I’m also trying to push this philosophy on others this Christmas season. I’m really making an effort to provide useful gifts that won’t sit around on shelves collecting dust. While I already have my Christmas presents picked out, here are some “life skills” presents you may want to consider giving to the cherished ones in your life.

1. Cooking Classes – I am shocked, shocked, at the amount of people in my life who don’t know how to cook, don’t own a cookbook, don’t have any food in their fridge [ahem, boyfriend], only shop in the frozen food aisle, or just eat out for three meals a day. It’s costly, unhealthy, and stubborn. How is cooking that hard? It isn’t. Anyone can cook. I really think it’s a result of laziness and stubbornness. Sure, gourmet cooking isn’t for everyone, but simple, fast meals are important and there’s no excuse for not being able to prepare a quick something for an unexpected house guest or friend.

That’s why I suggest giving a cooking class as a practical gift. Try to avoid things along the gourmet or highly experienced line, unless you know they will use those skills. Many cooking class venues have “simple and quick” cooking themes.

Classes can be expensive, but you could also get your cherished one a “beginning cooking kit.” This could have a cook book, or just some of your favorite, simple recipes, along with a pot or pan, and some cooking staples. Some people don’t have things like baking soda, butter, cooking spray, or even chopping knives. It’s a great way to be creative. I would also offer them cooking dates, where you’re able to spend some quality time together.

2. Carpentry Classes – I know this sounds really intense, but it shouldn’t be. I’m signed up to take a carpentry class in the spring. Think about all of the things you can fix, refurbish, or create if you had some simple wood and nail skills.

3. Knitting or Crocheting Supplies – And then encourage them to sign up for a knitting/crocheting circle. These are great for making friends, gaining skill, and swapping gossip. Winter is the best time to bust out those needles and hooks and work toward warm, cozy handmades. You’re giving them the skill to create gifts to give other people.

4. Cheese Making Classes – If you have a foodie in your life, this class could be perfect. Creating your own cheese is a cheap and satisfying way to impress your friends, save money on gourmet cheeses, and add some homemade flavor to your favorite dishes.

4. Beer or Wine Making Supplies – There’s no doubt that home brewing is costly and difficult. But once mastered, it’s quite rewarding to have your own personal collection of beer or wine. The start up cost for home brewing is pricey, but after that, you can make cheap batches of tasty alcohol. Give them the gift of experimenting with flavors, naming their creations, and creating their own labels. Also, this is another one that’s great to re-gift. I’ve heard beer brewing is more successful in taste than homemade wine making, just keep that in mind.

5. Upholstery Classes – Have you ever seen an ugly couch at a thrift store, but it was the most comfortable thing you’ve ever placed your tush on? I know you thought to yourself, “If only it wasn’t so ugly…” Well, make sure your loved ones will never say those words again. Give them the gift of refurbishing chairs, couches, ottomans, or whatever else they want to take a gander at.

6. Cake Decorating Class – If some of the classes above seem a little difficult, cake decorating is something for any age and skill level. You don’t even have to know how to bake a cake or make frosting (hello, box mix). Cake decorating is a pretty, easy way to impress your friends. There’s always an occasion to bake a cake!

7. Sewing Classes – I see tons of blogs that have cute, very simple sewing projects. They often involve re-vamping a thrift store find. But when I read the comments sections, most of the comments go like this, “It’s so cute, too bad I don’t know how to sew.” What’s stopping you (or in this case, your friends)? Taking up a hem, fixing a button, or taking in a shirt are quick fixes that can save you money. The basic sewing class usually covers all of these. And for the more advanced seamstress try giving them a pattern making class.

8. Kombucha Brewing Kit – I haven’t seen these, but starting your own kombucha is pretty easy. So if you have a health-conscious friend that downs 7 bottles of $4.50 G.T.’s Kombucha a week, maybe tell them it’s time to switch to a cheaper option. Make life easier for them and buy them a jar, some cheesecloth, and start growing the mother, or SCOBY, before Christmas. Yeah, so it’s a smelly gift, but a delicious one. A simple Google search of how to grow Kombucha will help answer all of your questions about supplies and how-to’s. Once a mother has matured, it’s pretty easy to harvest a great quantity of Kombucha, because you can usually get more mothers from the initial one. Your friend will have to start giving Kombucha away, and guess who will be first in line.

If you’re afraid you’ll never be able to find these classes or supplies, all it takes is a google search. Many community colleges or technical colleges offer carpentry, sewing, upholstery, and many other life skills (plumbing!) for a cheap price. Your friends and loved ones will be happy to have less clutter and more useful skills they can share or profit from.

image source: cooking class, homebrewing, kombucha