The Smart Gift Guide- Because Practicality is Way Underrated

As much as we try so hard to stick to our healthy lifestyle during the holidays, one stressful event can derail your entire life’s work. Here are some tips I try to remember come holiday season that can lessen the burden of shopping. Happy Giving!

1. Don’t think too much about it. Gift-giving doesn’t have to be grand and expensive.

2. Gift Certificates can be useful and meaningful. I live far away from my family so it’s impractical to lug tons of gifts around with me when I travel for the holidays. It’s also expensive to ship multiple packages, this is where the gift certificate comes in handy. I used to think it was a cheap way out of gift giving, but people enjoy them and if you send them with a home made card the gift becomes a mark of practicality and sentimentality.

3. Practicality is way underrated. Think of some of the things you buy and do regularly, then imagine if you had items that make those activities more enjoyable. For instance, do you play games on your smart phone- gloves with touch screen tips are a great gift. Walk your dog in the cold? Try some wool insoles. Take your shoes off when you get home? Comfy slippers. Now, think of what your friends and family do regularly and what you could contribute to make those tasks fun and easy for them.

4. Simplicity is key. Some of the best gifts I’ve gotten were the simplest, like one-of-a-kind street art. I see this all around in New York City, it can make a great inexpensive unique gift. One year Mama JoJo got me paintings from a street artist in Paris. Not only are they different, but I can also brag to friends that they are from Paris. Great sites to order art from are Etsy and Amazon.

5. Broke? Make your gift. People love home made gifts because they are uncommon and thoughtful. You don’t have to be a creative genius to make a nice gift, you just need to, ahem, look outside the box. Think of what you can do best and offer that idea or service to someone else.

If you are a baker, make cookies or a loaf of bread and package it in fancy box with a nice card attached, like the recipe below. If you have friends with kids give them a bottle of wine and offer them a free weekend night of babysitting. Are you tech savvy? If you know someone who is starting a business, offer to set-up a simple website for them. Home made bath scrubs and salts are easy and fun to make. Do words and images move you? Write a poem, take a photo, frame it and give it to a loved one. Grandparents love this one. For the super talented- a home made terrarium, instructions below.


For the active people in your life:

The Clymb, which offers discounted outdoor items and apparel.

Nashbar, discounted cycling gear and clothing.

Jack Rabbits, for the runners, movers and shakers.

Every Day Practical & Useful Gifts:

Smart Phone Gloves from Uniqlo

Smartwool Socks

Sheepskin insoles for boots


Handmade Wooden Kitchen Utensils from Chester P. Basil

Fun and Unique Stuff:

Rob Ryan Cut-Out Art– I love this artist and there are so many different kinds of original items offered on his etsy site.

Simple & Unique Vase for the green thumb in your life.

I’m So Happy It’s Happy Hour cocktail recipe book for the drink makers

The Flavour Thesaurus- For the Experimental Cook

Belle Helmets- One of a Kind Hand-Painted Bicycle Helmets

Homemade Terrariums– Give the gift of a forest in a jar.

Dark Chocolate Cookies – Made with honey and coconut flour

Pack it up in a cute container and huzzah, you’ve got yourself a delicious gift for your favorite unrefined eater.

Dark Chocolate Cookies Pack it Up

Dark Chocolate Cookies


6 tablespoons butter room temperature

2 eggs + 1 egg yolk

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup & 2 tablespoons coconut flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup dark chocolate slivers (optional)


Preheat oven to 350˚ and line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Mix together cocoa, honey, eggs and butter. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture to cocoa mixture, beat until thoroughly combined. Dollop about 12 cookies per sheet, using a heaping teaspoon size. Bake for 9 minutes. Eat and enjoy. But don’t eat too many. Makes about two dozen cookies.