2016 Holiday Gift Guide: Food, Farm, Family

This holiday gift guide is all about food, farm, and family. They are all items that you’ll truly love or find useful – no clutter here! 


I love a good gift guide and I love making them for you to enjoy too! I don’t have a big house and I do have a lot of people in it, so when I think about bringing things into my home, I want to truly love them or for them to serve a very useful purpose. I was thinking about what to share with you, and the main topics of my blog kept coming to mind: food, farm, family. So I decided to give you a gift guide in those three areas.

Gift Guide 2016 - Cooking

Gift Guide for the Everyday Cook:

These are some of my favorite kitchen supplies that I love, use, and can’t imagine my kitchen without. Perfect for you and your favorite fellow foodie, they also make great wedding gifts.

1. Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, 6-Quart
This is the one that I’ve been using for just over a year now and I love it. The clamp-on lid is the best; after losing a slow cooker full of meatballs in the back of our Suburban on the way to a party I’ll never get one without the clamp-on lid again.

2. Cast Iron Dutch Oven
I have a green one of these and it stays on my stove all of the time. I use it for just about everything from chili, soups, and no-knead bread. I adore this Dutch oven!

3. Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Skillet
Must-have in every kitchen, in my opinion. All you need to know is the key to using cast iron is to heat it up, add some oil, and get cooking. Those three things are what make them very nonstick. They aren’t nearly as fussy as they seem. I like my 10-inch and my 14-inch cast iron skillets the best. I bake a lot in the 10 inch and I cook everything from donuts to french toast in the 14-inch.

4. Oil Dispenser
This is a must-have, especially if you are buying bulk oil from Costco or the like. This particular dispenser is great because it doesn’t leak, looks nice on the counter, and performs well all around. I’m so glad that I got this and I use it all of the time. It comes in a two pack so you can give one as a gift!

5. Made in the USA Can Opener
I went through at least 6 other non-electric can openers before I bought this one. It actually works! I broke all of my other ones within a month, but I’ve had this one for almost 3 years. Practical but it works so well.

6. 4 Piece Melamine Bowl Set With Lids – 4 Sizes  
I love this set! They are a great size and they come with lids! I take them to all kinds of get togethers and use them daily in my kitchen. These are another must-have and make a great gift.

7. Cream Whipper
Thomas bought me this a few years ago for Mother’s Day and it’s just so much fun. It’s a refillable stainless steel cream whipper so that you can have “RediWhip” any time you want. We love getting this out for parties and for special occasions, including our ever-popular birthday breakfast. This is a splurge, but one we use lots and lots.

8. America’s Test Kitchen’s The New Family Cookbook
I love this book and it’s my go-to for all things I don’t already have a set recipe on (and the recipes replace a lot of my constants too). I love reading this book because it’s full of great info and you learn all kinds of things about cooking techniques. You’ll be a better cook if you get and read this book.

9. Blendtec Blender
I’m not sure how I ever lived without a high powered blender before. For someone who makes and drinks multiple smoothies a week, this is a must.

10. Woodland Creature Measuring Spoons
Because sometimes you just need some cute kitchen gear.

Bonus: Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat
I was converted to these a few years ago and haven’t gone back. Ninety percent of everything that gets baked in my oven goes on one of these. Nothing sticks and they make clean up a breeze.

Gift Guide 2016 - Homesteader

Gift Guide for Homesteaders (or wanna-be homesteaders)

These gifts are perfect for you or anyone in your life who loves farming, gardening, homesteading, preserving, or self-sufficiency. Whether you have a head of cattle on a ranch or city lot with a backyard garden, these are gifts for the homesteader and the wanna-be homesteader alike.

1. Any of the Backyard Homestead books: The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects, and/or The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals
These are some of the very first homesteading books that I got and they are still my all-time favorites. They are detailed, the illustrations are great, and they are practical. Plus they are really pretty and fun to look at. I love all of these books.

2. Gathering Apron
I sell the coolest gathering aprons in my Etsy shop! These aprons can be gathered from the bottom hem and then tied to turn the apron into a pocket for gathering. I have a full gathering apron as well as a half basket apron. These are perfect for collecting eggs, garden produce, or working in the yard.

3. Window Bird Feeder
Our favorite adopted Grandma had one of these clear bird feeders on her window at her nursing home. My kids just loved it! This is a fun gift for the young and old alike to bring a little bit of the outdoors close to your living room. There’s something pretty magical about watching God’s creatures enjoy a meal.

4. Stainless Steel Multi-Use Steam Juicer
Juice all the things! I didn’t even know what this was until a few years ago when I made grape juice with one of my favorite people. It’s a steam juicer! You toss in whole fruit and it literally steams the juice out. I have steamed grapes, cherries, and even sliced apples. The juice is excellent and perfect for drinking and making jellies. This is a great gift for anyone who loves preserving.

5. Ball Canning Starter Set
When I first got into canning this is what I bought to get myself going. I didn’t know much but this was just what I needed to jump on the wagon. It’s not super expensive and includes all of the essentials.

6. Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving
If you are going to buy only one book about preserving, this is it. This Ball Blue Book covers water bath canning, pressure canning, freezing, and drying, and it’s what I refer to the most when I’m preserving my garden treasures. At under $10, it’s a steal.

7. Long Handled Fruit Picker
We came upon a long handled fruit picker by accident (one got left in our barn) and I’m so glad we did. We use this thing all of the time! When we aren’t using it to pick apples, pears, plums, and peaches, we are using it to get toys out of trees.

8. Bogs Waterproof Boots
These are on my wish list for this Christmas! Bog boots are the “it” boots for outdoor loving ladies and I’m loving this pair. They come in a million colors and styles, so shop around.

9. Steel Utility Garden Cart with Folding Sides
This yard cart/wagon is the best because it has sides that can fold up and down. I use this cart to haul bales of hay, babies, pumpkins, wood, trash, and everything in between. It’s so fun to have and very very useful.

10. 135 Variety Heirloom Survival Seed Bank
This has been on my list for a while. I think it would be a great thing to own! It has a huge variety of heirloom seeds, which means once you planted them you could harvest the seeds again and plant in years to come.

Bonus: Wire Egg Basket
How cute would this be in your kitchen?!

Gift Guide 2016 - Family

Gift Guide for the Family:

These are some of our all-time favorite toys, games, and books. They are high quality and things that we get out over and over again. These are perfect gifts for your family or to give to other families you love (I’m looking at you, Grandmas and Aunties!). When it comes to this kind of stuff, I try to think of myself in the future when I’m making purchases. Will I still want and love this toy/book/game when I have grandkids? If the answer is yes then I’ll make the purchase. I try not to buy little junk things just because, I’d rather get the kids one or two things that we plan on keeping a really long time. These are solid classic toys that you and your family will come back to again and again.

1. Magformers (toy)
My sister has a bunch of these and we fell in love the last time we went to visit. These shapes have magnets on all sides and stick together. You can make all kinds of 3-D shapes. They are sturdy, educational, and super fun. I don’t own a lot of plastic toys, but this is one Santa is planning on bringing this year.

2. Spot It! (game)
LOVE this game! This simple card game can be played a handful of different ways and can entertain all of my kids (minus the baby, but me included). There are lots of different version too! I we love the camping version, the Christmas version, and road trip version, and the original. It’s small enough to easily fit in my purse too, so we often take it to doctor’s appointments with us. At around $10, it’s super affordable too.

3. Tall Tales Story Telling Board Game (game)
A board game that helps little people learn how to tell stories! This comes highly recommended from a good friend of mine and I can’t wait to get it and try it.

4. Marble Tracks (toy)
Marble tracks are the best. We have a huge set and play with it very very often. You can put all of the pieces together in a million different ways, and sending the marbles down the track just doesn’t get old.

5. Count Your Chickens (game)
This is a “cooperative” game, meaning all of the players works together to reach a goal. There’s not one winner with everyone else losing. I love this game and so do my kids. Because we all work together, there are no tears at the end. I’m getting a few more from this company for Christmas too.

6. 1001 Things to Spot (books)
There all kinds of these “1001 Things to Spot” books and we own almost all of them. We take them to church and in the car all of the time. They are simple enough for the 3 year old, but can be tough enough for the 9 year old to love. Our favorites are the pirate version, the Christmas version, the farm version, and the animal version. I’m getting the bug one for this year. We love all of these books!

7. Sneaky Squirrel (game)
This is a fun game for younger kids and we love getting it out. It’s all about counting, colors, and numbers and it’s super cute.

8. Melissa and Doug Shopping Cart (toy)
We’ve had this cart for a few years now and I can’t even imagine how many hours of play have centered around it. It’s super high quality (it’s made from metal!) and we get it out over and over again. It’s the perfect cart for everything from play food to stuffed animals.

9. Monopoly Deal (game)
I polled Facebook to see what games other families played and love and Monopoly Deal was said over and over again. It’s a card game and is very popular with a whole lot of families. I can’t wait to try this one out.

10. Boxed Book Sets – Children’s Puffin Classics Set, Little House on the Prairie Box Set, and Harry Potter Box Set (books)
Long live all the boxed book sets.
The Puffin Classics is forever a favorite. I picked up this set for my kids last year and we are still really enjoying them. The set I have has 10 hardbound books and they come in rainbow order in a nice box set. So not only are they great books but they look fabulous on the shelf. This set includes Black Beauty, Peter Pan, The Call of the Wild, The Wind in the Willows, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Secret Garden, Huckleberry Fin, and Anne of Green Gables. I have linked to it on Amazon so that you can see it but it isn’t the set that I have (it has fewer books), so search out the full 10 book set!
The Little House on the Prairie box set is one of our all-time favorites. The chapters are each a little story so it’s easy to start and stop again without having to do a lot of remembering where you were. I really enjoy reading these out loud. The stories are told through Laura’s eyes and she’s so fun at telling details and making you feel like you are right there with the Ingalls family. They are classics through and through. I think every family should have these books on their shelf.

The Harry Potter Box set is going to be new to us. My kids are just getting old enough to listen to and understand the Harry Potter books and I’m so excited to read them to them. We have three chapters left of the first book and I can tell we won’t be stopping there. Harry Potter was crazy popular for a season but I’m here to tell you that they are going down with the classics. These are books that will be read over and over again by generations.

Bonus: Wood Nativity Puzzle
Cutest wood nativity puzzle ever! Shipped from my house to yours, with love.

So much fun! I wanted to let you know that pretty much all the links in this post are affiliate links meaning I get a little kick back for referring to you Amazon though your price doesn’t change at all. Thank you for shopping with me!

And do tell. What are some of YOUR favorite things?!

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Love ALL of these suggestions! Thanks for all the research you did for this list!

Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.