Good Gifts Given

Line of wrapped gifts.

I know you’re probably ready to stop thinking about Christmas and get on to thinking about New Years and resolutions – if you make them. But, I’m asking you to hold on a moment. Let’s think about Christmas just a moment more.

It’s hard to think of the perfect or even great gifts to give all the time. We all know this, and who couldn’t use a little help in this area? This post lists the gifts I was really excited to give. Maybe my list will give you an idea for next Christmas or perhaps an idea for a birthday gift in the coming year. If you’re like me and you keep your gift-giving radar on all year long and then on extra strong when the holidays near, perhaps this post will ring a jingle bell in your mind for the perfect gift for that special someone.

Grandma's recipe notebook.

Top of the list ranks my most favorite-est gift that I gave. This gift was a replication of my Grandma’s handwritten and newspaper clippings recipes in a stenographer notebook. My Grandmother was born in 1898, and she created and used this notebook for many years. I have her original notebook. I knew others in our family would treasure it if I could share my grandma’s notebook in some way. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Suzassippi‘s influence on me to treasure, to preserve and and to share artifacts from our family’s past. Thanks, Suza.

To create this replication, I took a picture of each page. Then I went to the library resized, enhanced and printed four copies of each page. Later, I trimmed the pages, put them in the correct order and orientation of the original notebook, and then laminated each page. At the end of the notebook pages, I included a couple typed pages of recipes. These recipes were partially hidden due to “layers” Grandma had created. Fortunately, she had only done this on a couple of pages.

The Assembly Line

Lastly, I went to a UPS store where the laminated pages were spiral bound along the top, just like my grandma’s original notebook. This is the notebook where the delicious “White Velvet” cookie recipe can be found.

The rest of my list is in no particular order. Or in other words, all the entries are tied for second.

Dallas Arboretum

Dan and I gave Michael and Allie a family membership to the Dallas Arboretum. We visited the Arboretum when we visited in August. Of course, it was beautiful. The best part about this gift is that at the family member level, when Michael and Allie visit they can bring a total of six people into the Arboretum for free. Also, two cars can park free. So, let’s say Dan and I visit. Michael and Allie would be able to take us into the Arboretum free! I really hope to see “Holiday at the Arboretum” next November. Now, am I a smart Christmas cookie or what?

For Dan’s son, Danny. We really had to put on our thinking caps. Not one to travel through life with a bunch of “stuff”, we racked our brain for an “experience” gift. All that racking worked. We came up with the perfect gift for him.

For some reason, Danny has always been a fan of the New Jersey Devils hockey team even though he grew up in St. Louis and now lives in Las Vegas. Who knows why? We’ve already racked our brains enough, so we just accept things as they are.

Paper with boxes for letters Wheel of Fortune Style for Danny to guess his gift.

Danny’s gift was two tickets to the Devils at the Golden Knights game on April 18th. Now, of course, these days, there are no paper tickets. Just some app on a smart phone. So, to give the gift, I drew a paper with a square for each letter – loosely based on the “Wheel of Fortune” game. So, I guess you could say I am kind of like Vanna White!

Danny had to guess letters until he solved the puzzle and won the prize. Good thing he guessed it! Otherwise, Dan and I would have had to go out to Vegas to watch the Golden Knights triumph over the New Jersey Devils. Just kidding, Danny! We hope the Devils win!

Next on my list are the gifts I gave my husband. You husbands are hard! Am I right, ladies? So again, I thought long and hard. So, here’s my tip for those hard to buy men. Which is every man I know. Try to notice or think about what aggravates them (besides us, of course!) and then consider what could make life just a little better for them (and us, too!).

Travel Trailer with outside storage areas circled.
Outside Storage Areas

For some reason, Dan and the locks on the outside storage compartments of our travel trailer do not get along. Dan puts the key in and demands the opening. The locks have their own say, and mostly they say “Not right now, Buddy.” So, Dan’s first gift was replacement locks for the Travel Trailer outside storage areas. These locks are opened with a combination of numbers. No more bent keys. No more words under the breath. Just happy smiles. I’ll let you know if things go according to plan.

Dan’s second gift was a duplicate. Meaning he got two of the same item. On purpose. Here’s why. When Dan and I make breakfast, he makes my eggs and toast, and I make our fruit. I like sourdough bread, and this aggravates him. It aggravates him because sourdough bread does not fit in our toaster.

So, he toasts it the first time. Then he flips it over and holds the toast, so the middle part does not get burned. I know. I know. He’s a good man, right? Then, he always says, “That’s as good as I can get it.” Which is always fine. But, to make his life easier, I bought two long-slice toasters which should eliminate the second toasting and the holding of the toast to prevent middle bread burn.

Can you guess the reason I bought two toasters? Yep! The second one is going into the travel trailer, so that Dan can enjoy the luxury of single toasting the sour dough bread every day, all year long no matter where we are.

By the way, anybody need a regular toaster? We have a couple extras.

Blues Hog BBQ sauce.
Harts BBQ sauce

Continuing with the theme of buying for hard-to-buy for men, we come to the gift for my brother-in-law, Phil. Like many men, and women, too, Phil likes food. He has one of those smokers, and he really likes BBQ. So, from our local market, we bought two bottles of locally made BBQ sauce. Phil said he really liked his gift. It sounded like he meant it, and it wasn’t just a bunch of bull. All this talk of BBQ makes me want to pig out!

Custom light up picture of our neighbor's house.

The next gift was a year in the making. And you thought I was exaggerating when I said I had my gift radar up all year long. Last Christmas, I asked my son, Michael, to take a picture of our neighbors house with all their Christmas decorations and lights up. My camera somehow compensates at night which never works out to my liking. However, Michael’s iPhone camera takes beautiful night shots.

So, not quite a year later, I took Michael’s picture of our neighbor’s holiday house, then off to the library I went where I printed the picture in color. Then, I turned the picture of their house into one of my famous framed light-up pictures. Who doesn’t like a custom picture of their home? Now, it’s probably back to cookies for them next year, but hey, at least we’ll always have 2021.

Talia holding a raccoon made of bird seed
Talia and the Raccoon

The last gift on the list is for the birds. Literally. My daughter, Talia, lives in Washington D.C. She enjoys an outdoor courtyard which she can see from her apartment. You may remember a Wordless Wednesday featuring a sunflower with a city skyline in the background.

In this courtyard, she has a garden area where she grows a number of vegetables. She also likes to see the birds either from inside her home or while gardening. She’s mentioned there’s a bird feeder there, but mostly the feeder is empty. I think she is too busy to be “in charge” of a bird feeder on a regular basis, but a one time setting out of some bird seed (in shape of a raccoon) during the winter sounds like an idea that fits the bill!

Did you have any gifts you were excited to give someone? Any tips for us to keep in mind for next year? In any case, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that you enjoyed spending time with your loved ones. That is truly the best gift of all!

My Family


  1. Those were all excellent gifts, and I am sure the recipients were grateful you were so thoughtful. As far as toasters, I have been making homemade bread in a bread maker. I bought a gadget so you can make consistent slices that fit in the toaster, but usually they are too “tall”. I usually just cut off part of the end, so then it fits. I don’t need that big of a piece of toast anyway! But your solution for a bigger toaster is brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, that’s a good idea to cut off part of the bread, but I guess I like my toast too much! Homemade bread is so yummy. You have way more will power than me! Thanks for reading, and enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So many beautiful and thoughtful gifts, I enjoyed reading about it and felt a bit like I was the recipient myself. Giving can be so much fun IF you find the right gift, which I did not this year. I thought the snow blower was a splendid idea, my husband aka THE GRINCH 2021 didn’t think so. Perhaps it was a bit like giving a vacuum cleaner to a woman?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is very hard to think of the right gifts! After all, we are not mind readers! Your heart was in the right place with the snow blower. Now, I wouldn’t be too thrilled about a vacuum cleaner, but I did like the air fryer I got. Thank you for your kind comment about the post. Saying you enjoyed reading it and felt a bit like you were the recipient made my day!


  3. Great picture of your family at the end of the post. As you know from reading my Facebook post my favorite gift was a hardback book of my family history that was published in 1932. My husband found the book on Amazon. I had a free online PDF version of the book of my computer, but the hardback book is so much better. My husband received a pizza oven, as a retirement gift from the company that he retired from. He liked the pizza oven baking utensils that I gave him. We both have Amazon wish lists. I try to buy what is on and what is not on his list. My stepdaughter and her daughters look forward to the Amazon gift cards that we give them each year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The hardback book of your family history is a great treasure! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve treasure the past and family history more than I did when I was younger. That was a very thoughtful gift from your husband. My kids send us Amazon wish lists. We purchase several items on each list, but, like you, I always leave room for at least one surprise gift. Amazon gift cards are a very good idea also! Sounds like a lot of successful gift giving with your family!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This was a fantastic post, Betty! We should all do more of this idea-sharing thing!

    Since moving to Honduras this year we knew it would be quite a process to sail Christmas gifts back to the States. We ended up making a trip back to Florida for an appointment in November. We packed all the gifts in our suitcases that we planned to give locally, and mail to family in other states. Everyone (except the kiddos) got the same thing: Coffee mugs hand-painted and glazed by a young man here on the island, with a pound of Honduran coffee. There were handmade recycled cloth bracelets and hand-carved wooden cell phone holders. We wrapped everything the first night in our hotel room and distributed throughout the week with notes that read “Do Not Open Until Christmas”. Haha!

    Happy New Year to you & yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great idea for the locally made coffee mugs! And the other local handmade gifts, too. I liked the locally sourced BBQ sauce we bought for Phil because it supported two local businesses – the one that made it and the one that sold it. You were organized to have Christmas gifts in November! But as they say, necessity is the mother of invention! And perhaps motivation, too! I didn’t want to share the gift ideas before Christmas as it may have spoiled the surprise for some, but I agree. It’s nice to share ideas. I really do like your idea to support the local folk where you now live. Everybody wins! Happy New Year to you and yours, too!


  5. Very creative ideas! I also loved the recipe book idea. All of them were well thought out and that makes the gift special. Hubs is impossible to shop for. He thinks Christmas gifts are for women and kids. For the past several years, instead of buying gifts for each other, we combine our wedding anniversary (In December), and Christmas with a mini vacation sometime in January where we book a special hotel room at a place where there are events we wish to attend. For our daughter and grandchildren, it’s always cash, because that’s what works best for them. For my Mom, it’s a year’s subscription to their local newspaper along with a gift card for her favourite clothing shop.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For some, cash is king. We gave my other son some cash, too. It’s what he needs now! I like your idea for the mini vacation as a shared gift. We’ve given each other short trips in the past, but this year, somehow I think the next three months are going to fly by. I understand about Hubs. If I do manage to think of a gift for Dan, I feel like it’s an accomplishment. It’s always nice to get a new piece of clothing – no matter what your age! I am sure your mom enjoys picking something out. I would! Hope you have a great day today!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Awesome gift ideas Betty!
    This year the kiddos and I made outdoor birdseed ornament bird feeders that we sent to loved ones. 3 cheers for bird feeders!
    Our favorite craft project this season was Christmas themed beeswax candles that we kept for ourselves to decorate the table and should be used up by New Year’s Eve!
    Experience gifts are great! We took my parents and sister to a Splatter Lab painting studio and a nearby ice palace/sleigh ride after Christmas! In the past, I’ve made photo calendars with Shutterfly or Costco. I’ve also given/received family cookbooks in 3-ring binders (not as cute as yours!!) 🥰
    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a fantastic read this was and some awesome ideas for gifts. They are so thoughtful gifts and a true treasure. I love the Grandma recipe and the picture of your neighbours home. That is just a cool idea. I am going to pin this one so I can use some of these ideas for next year. Have a wonderful blessed 2022

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much! If you have any questions about the projects, feel free to ask. I have tweaked the light up pictures as I’ve done more. I hope you have a wonderful and blessed 2022, too!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I will be happy to do your Christmas shopping as long as I am on the list for a big expensive gift! ha ha. The best part of Dan’s gift to me was that he thought of it himself! And of course, there always has to be a card! I wish you for you and Barb a very happy and healthy new year, too. May you have sunshine and smiles wherever you are!


  8. Great ideas! I never know what to get my aunt. She has whatever she wants. This year I stayed at her house for a week because the plumbing in my bathroom was leaking and needed to be fixed. I brought my favorite contour pillow with me that gives my neck support and feels great. She asked me about it and said “Oh! That would probably be good for my neck.” Everyone was out of them but I finally found some at Marshall Fields. When she tried it out she loved it and when she woke up in the morning she said “My neck doesn’t even hurt!” Seeing her snuggled up happily with her pillow was wonderful. It’s the little things that bring such comfort and joy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is what I’m talking about – having your “gift radar” up all year. That was the perfect gift for your aunt – very thoughtful of you! It is the little things that bring comfort and joy. BTW, we have contour pillows, too. Love them! Happy New Year to you and yours! I hope the year ahead holds all good things for you!


  9. We successfully scaled back our gift giving this year. What we gave was all done by Grammi. I did get some packages of edible crickets to put in everyone’s stockings and I got Grammi a couple pair of bike shorts — which she promptly returned the next day.

    The recipe idea is great. My mother did that last year. She made copies of her hand written recipe for her famous lemon cake to give to all her granddaughters.

    I love the picture of your beautiful family. You all look very happy. I have one question though. How often does Dan hit his head on those lights?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I love our family picture, too. It’s a treasure to be together. The picture was taken at my sister’s house, so Dan does not hit his head on those lights. But he does have to be careful when out and about. It has happened! I will pass on the edible crickets, but I do love lemon cake! Happy New Year to you and Grammi!


  10. I’m interested in how the new locks work out. We’ve already replaced the lock on the door (although I’m not a fan of the replacement). The locks on the storage hatches are next on our list; the existing locks are a pain.

    Liked by 1 person

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