Is it that time of year again? Our family truly enjoys this special month of December. We celebrate Christmas in many ways, from a birthday cake for Jesus to special holiday menus, from stockings on the mantle to a fragrant Christmas tree. But our favorite facet of the month has to be the warm and festive gatherings with family, friends, and neighbors. And some of those get-togethers involve gift giving.
Though we try to be kind and generous all year round, there’s something about celebrating this season by giving something special to those we love. In our family we exchange gifts including coupons for services and outings, personalized tree ornaments, practical packages under the tree, and fun gift bags passed around in those silly gift exchange games we just can’t give up.
Are you in the market for some ideas for holiday gifts for individuals or families? Here are some suggestions from our house to yours.
Rural Living Today Holiday Gift Ideas Four Holiday Wish Lists
Rural Living Today have compiled some lists of practical and fun items we use or would like to have…and that we highly recommend to other homesteaders. So here we have lists For good measure, we’ve added a list for the youngest homesteaders in our lives. We’ve included links to some online stores so you can see the products or order them if you wish. But we also encourage you to support your local merchants by shopping in your own neighborhood.
Rural Living Today Holiday Gift Ideas Top Ten
- Carhartt Long Sleeve T-Shirts. I could never have too many of these–I live in them all winter. Marie and I both like to wear them alone or layered under other shirts, depending on the temperature. These Carhartt T-shirts are heavier than most Ts, well made, and reasonably priced. They come in several colors that still look good after lots of washing, and Carhartt’s short sleeve T-shirts are great for the spring to fall months. Carhartt just happens to be having a great sale this week: Celebrate Carhartt with Amazing Deals on Apparel & Accessories
- Extra batteries for battery-driven tools. You can never have enough–there are few things more frustrating than running out of power in the middle of a project. Keep a battery charger in the garage, one in the barn, another in the garden shed. I like these combo sets of interchangeable tools–I have a drill, handsaw, and flashlight that use the same battery pack.
- Speaking of flashlights, you can never have too many! This year I bought a giant one that will even shine on coyotes hundreds of feet away. And we have several of these little LED headlights around; we keep a couple in the truck so we can see the gate lock when arriving home in the black of night. Check your local stores for specials on these–we found a pack of three headlights with batteries on sale for under $10.
- A nice air compressor with air driven tools: framing gun, finish gun, finish brad and staple gun. The last is great for attaching wire cloth, screening, and chicken wire when building chicken tractors and coops. There’s no substitute! Here’s a combo set with air compressor and tools.
- A good quality chainsaw. I recommend a farm-sized chainsaw–not a small startup saw. I’d get a Husqvarna Rancher chain saw or the Stihl equivalent. Make sure you have extra chains and lots of 2 cycle oil additive on hand.
- Weed whacker: again, either a Husqvarna or Stihl trimmer. Get a good heavy-duty one with a support strap to hold the weight of the tool while you work.
- Remote wireless thermometer. Summer and winter, the first thing I want to know in the morning is the outdoor temperature. It tells me how the livestock and the garden might be faring and helps me plan my day. BUT especially on frigid mornings I’d rather not go outside to check the temps. With a remote weather station you can have several thermometers around your property reporting in to one central reader located in the comfort of your home. I have my eye on this one that can read three remote sensors up to 330 feet from my house.
- A good laptop computer for research, record-keeping, etc. Brands and formats vary but it’s important to have something you’re comfortable with and that suits your preferences. Depending on your needs, a tablet may be enough.
- Apple peeler/corer/slicer. I may be an outdoor kind of guy but hey–I can find my way around the kitchen! This fall Marie and I spent hours peeling and coring apples the old-fashioned way. Then I found out about this manually-operated gadget that will speed things up like crazy next year.
- “Who Let the Hogs Out?” mug from the Rural Living Today Etsy Shop. Raising pigs for the first time was a highlight of this year for me, so I think this mug is very cool.
Rural Living Today Holiday Gift Ideas Favorites
- Jolly Garden Clogs. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE mine! If I could recommend only one thing (or one pair of things) to my friends, it would be Jolly Garden Clogs. They are durable, very comfy, and easy to slip on and off. Their sturdy cork insoles support my flat arches and are removable for cleaning. I wear my red Jollys all year round all over our farm as long as the snow is not deeper than they are tall. They also disappear from our mud room all the time and can be found on the feet of my daughters and granddaughters. Men can wear them too! Jollys come in two men’s styles and two women’s styles.
- An adobe oven for our backyard patio area. This is on our wish list every year, just waiting for it to rise to the top of the priority list on our developing family farm. We’re thinking about building something like this. Can you imagine baking bread, roasting meat, or cooking a homemade pizza in one of these?
- Ninja Kitchen System or similar appliance. One of the most important tools in the kitchen! We use our Ninja Pulse Blender multiple times daily for grinding coffee and herbs, grating cheese, making smoothies, mixing, kneading, and all sorts of other things. So handy not only for everyday cooking but when there’s lots of garden produce to process.
- Fruit and vegetable strainer attachment for the Kitchenaid Mixer. Our hand-cranked Foley food mill does the job (and without electricity), but for large quantities of applesauce and tomato sauce, this Kitchenaid strainer attachment is a real hand- and time-saver.
- A mad scientist pantry for all my homesteady food projects. I have a large kitchen, but the counters always seem to be full of processing foods, trials, and testing projects. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a separate temperature-controlled room for bowls of bread dough, jars of kefir, crocks of fermenting vinegar, bowls of soaking grains and nuts, dehydrator, canners, etc.?
- Canning equipment. Speaking of kitchen projects, I recommend every homesteader kitchen be equipped with both a water bath canner for high-acid foods and a pressure canner for meats, vegetables, and other low-acid foods. And I’m planning to get a separate set of canning utensils to keep aside for canning only. I use some of them all year, but at canning time I spend too much time trying to find them around the kitchen.
- Big food dehydrator. I have a small round Nesco dehydrator, but oh would I love to have an Excalibur dehydrator! When I’ve used my daughter’s, I really notice that the Excalibur not only holds more food and has more height flexibility, but also dehydrates everything much faster!
- A vacuum sealer like the FoodSaver rounds out the food preservation equipment list. Vacuum sealing prevents freezer burn and just keeps things fresher, plus it consolidates packages so they stack nicely in the freezer or pantry. We have a basic model similar to this, but the larger models have more capabilites.
- Leisure time reading. All this talk of equipment for working makes me want to sit down for a bit to read. For me that includes reading about working (I know, go figure!) Here are some great magazines to read about the homesteading life and more mad scientist experiments to try! GRIT, Mother Earth News, Hobby Farms, Backwoods Home. I’d love to sit down and reminisce through the new 40th anniversary edition of The Encyclopedia of Country Living, the book that inspired our homesteading hearts way back in the 1970s when it was just a mimeographed bundle of papers.
- A relaxing latte or cup o’ tea in a “Life Is Full of Surprises” mug–one of my personal favorites. Not only do I love my chickens and think this design is cute, but…my life really is full of surprises!
Rural Living Today Holiday Gift Ideas Dream List
- Kindle eBook reader. One thing that is extremely handy is an e-reader. It isn’t just for reading fiction – you can store thousands of great, informative, and educational books on one – making them a great tool to keep with you, whether you are working in the shop, the garden, or learning new skills. I’ve been wanting one for about three years and this year I am finally getting one – very excited!
- A nice thick pullover sweater for chilly mornings before the fire warms things up. I like sweatshirts but one thing my dad Jim can attest to is that I am a big sweater fan – I’ve been stealing his sweaters my whole life!
- Travel mugs to keep my coffee hot. Contigo mugs are bar none the best, although I’ve got a few others sitting around. I am a creature of habit, and as a creature of habit I love my routine of coffee in the morning and afternoon. A good travel mug will keep it hot if I don’t finish it in time, which is handy with little ones underfoot!
- A Kitchenaid mixer. This is probably one of my most favorite and useful tools. A Kitchenaid is an absolute workhorse – there are some days I use mine multiple times in the day. It not only is good to have as a mixer, but it has lots of attachments to do whatever you want – from an ice cream maker to a food strainer (which I use quite a bit!). You can use it to grind your meat, mix in the seasonings, and then extrude the sausage into links. A very useful tool!
- A nice shelving system for canned goods is a good thing to have on hand for anyone who does their own food preservation. One thing that is difficult is when you don’t really know what you have on hand – and personally I’m no good at keeping an inventory. Having a shelf that keeps everything right in sight is hugely useful for planning meals or knowing when it’s time to stock up.
- A good garden wagon. Wheelbarrows are really nice but if you have a good sturdy garden wagon/cart, you can haul so much more and it is much easier to use than a wheelbarrow. If you garden at all, this is a hugely useful item that makes life a whole lot easier.
- Automatic feeders & nipple waterers (available for chickens, hogs, and more). These are something that will also make life much easier when caring for livestock. At our old house when we had our chickens I loved the fact that my chickens could have plenty of food and water at any given time – it really came in handy during those busy days running errands, canning marathons, or anything else that might “help” me forget to feed or water my birds. Large feeders can be found easily online and in feed stores. We made our nipple waterers similar to this, but you can find readymade ones at Avian Aqua Miser, The Garden Coop and on eBay.
- An insulated hooded zip-up sweatshirt. My favorite is one I got from North 1 (which is very difficult to find) – it is thermal insulated on the inside and so warm. I love having the convenience of a hoodie with the warmth of a coat for quick trips outside to grab more firewood, compost pile or to wrangle the animals. I know Carhartt has some really good ones, too, and they are easier to find than North 1!
- A good set of cast iron cookware. I would be so lost without my cast iron – when seasoned it cleans easily, cooks evenly and food somehow tastes better when made in it. I have several skillets in various sizes and a dutch oven and they pretty much have a permanent residence on my stove. On my wish list this year is a set of cast iron bread pans – I have one made from stoneware, and it bakes so much nicer than the thin nonstick one I have.
- Indoor/outdoor slippers. Since I don’t have a pair of Jolly Clogs like my mom (and yes, I DO steal them when I visit) I love my slippers that have soles. They are just sturdy enough that I can run outside for that trip to the woodpile or compost pile and not have to worry about putting on regular shoes.
Rural Living Today Holiday Gift Ideas Fun for Younger Homesteaders
- Fisher-Price Little People Farm. We have to start with this old favorite of our family. Bethany still has the old 1970s version that our kids all played with. Of course this one is all modernized, with animal sounds…and does the barn door still “moo”?
- Melissa and Doug Farm Friends Floor Puzzle. We love the quality of Melissa and Doug products, and this floor puzzle looks like tons of fun! Look at all those farm animals and the big red barn. Pieces are large enough for young children to handle and put in place.
- My First Farm set for LEGO fans. These duplo blocks are for the young ones, but I know some older kids who would love to build this and play with it too.
- Farm Cube Puzzle by Melissa and Doug. Remember the kind where each side of each block is part of a different puzzle? Kids can spend hours rearranging these cubes to discover their favorite farm animals looking back at them.
- My Collage Farm. Four cute little animals and a bunch of goodies to decorate them with. Little ones need help but older kids can let their creativity fly.
- Lace and Trace Farm laceup cards. Generations of kids have enjoyed lacing perforated cards with yarn. These farm animals are adorable (and yes, they’re from Melissa and Doug and we really don’t get paid for advertising their products! But quality speaks for itself).
- Little House on the Prairie books and DVD sets. I’ll never be too old to read about the pioneer life of the Ingalls family. We used to read the books every year, and now our grandkids are avidly reading them. They’re among the best for entertaining young people while accurately describing life for the original homesteaders. Do you have an avid crafter in your family? My Little House Crafts Book includes instructions for 18 projects that Laura and Mary actually made in the Little House stories.
- My Side of the Mountain trilogy. These books were Bethany’s childhood favorites. They inspired her dreams of self-sufficiency and aspirations to live the life she lives today. You can be sure her own children will be reading them in the years to come!
- Farm Science set for older children. A fun way to learn about how farms work with all sorts of educational and fun activities from T.S. Shure.
- Storey Publishing’s game and puzzle books for preschoolers and older kids. These look like so much fun I’m thinking of putting them on my own wish list! Barnyard Games & Puzzles, Pony Play Games & Puzzles, and Horse Games & Puzzles each include more than 100 brainteasers, word games, puzzles, jokes and riddles. Storey’s next volume, Chicken Games & Puzzles, releases this month…can be pre-ordered for a post-holiday surprise!