Not Your Typical Gift Guide

Last year we had the most stress-free Christmas when it came to gifts.  We gave the same thing to all the adults and the same thing to all of our nieces and nephews (depending on their age).  I was able to do this because I found something so great it would be coveted by all.  For example, we got all the adults a YETI rambler, I wanted everyone to experience the luxury of hot coffee for hours!  It was so easy because there was just 1 order for 15 cups and all the gift bags were the same size, less variables = less stress and more sleep. Ha!  My motivation though wasn't just about ease, it was also about smart spending and my new anti-clutter mindset.  So of course I wanted to do the same concept this year. Below are ideas I'm working on/trying to decide between... If you are in my family, stop reading after the kid ideas!

I made an investment in the starter set of Magna-Tiles a couple years ago and I'm so glad I did because they are used the most out of all our toys.  So when I saw this clear ICE set I knew my daughter would love to get creative with it.  My daughter is 8, she still plays with Magna-Tiles and is even asking for more ICE tiles this Christmas.  I think I'm getting this set of ICE tiles for all the young girls in our family.

For the boy's I want to get this newly found set of Magna-Tiles BLACK!  Think Star Wars and Batman's Batcave... they'll be able to imagine and create these tiles to be anything they want!

My runner up idea for the girls in our family is this set of The Princess in Black books. We recently picked up the first book in the series at a book fair and my daughter couldn't put it down.  She read it outside while her friends on the block were playing.  THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN EVER!  The recommended age for the books are 5-8. My daughter's teacher would probably say she needs to be reading on a more challenging level but I'm just happy she's enjoying it and begging for the second book.  The third book in the series comes out in February so if you're giving the set, your lucky girl will get a surprise in the future!

My runner up for the younger boys in our family is this Star Wars Epic Yarns book set by the brothers Jack and Holman Wang.  These books blow me away.  Each book has about 12 Star Wars scenes with artistically created figures made of felt.  Each scene is paired with a single sight word to tell the story.  I'd say these are great for age 3-5 or an early reader who is obsessed with all things Star Wars (that's my son). If you're into this, check out the behind the scenes video here: Wang.

For the women (or men) in my family, I'm thinking the S'well Bottle is perfect.  It looks like just another water bottle, oh but it's not! My neighbor told me about this one! ;)  It will keep your water cold for 24 hours!  I am LOVING mine!  It will also keep hot liquid hot.  So basically its a YETI that can't spill, you can throw it in your bag.  Perfect for water on your night stand, working out or in your car running errands.  They say the healthiest way to store water is in a stainless or glass container, you got it! The S'well Bottle comes in a variety of styles. These are my top 8, including a couple Mara Hoffman styles.

The other gift I am thinking about getting the ladies is a waist apron from Heirloomed Collection. So many pretty styles! And if you're on Instagram you've got to check out their beautiful posts. Also, they are having a 12 Days of Christmas promotion so I've been checking everyday for their aprons to go on sale!
For the guys in our family, we're getting them into the Dollar Shave Club.  This also comes recommended by a neighbor, seriously, TITYN!  He likes knowing every 4 weeks, 4 new razors will be in his mailbox.  And he likes their Shave Butter as well!  When you're gifting the DSC there's a choice of 3 months, 6 months or a year.

This is a gift idea for someone helping a kid buy a gift for a grown-up. I hope that's not too confusing.   We have this book, The Book With No Pictures, and my kids like to ask every grow-up who visits to read it to them.  If your family and friends are not offended by hearing or being forced to say "Boo Boo Butt" than this book is fun!

This is a gift for a Texan, a teacher, your neighbor, your friend.  I love this Texas Print Mug by Newton Supply Co.!  Black on black, gloss on matte and a big handle, what's not to love?!

Last but not least, I'm considering Memberships as gifts in lieu of all of the above.  Talk about clutter free!  I have found with our family Memberships to the Zoo, Art museum and science museum, we know more about the happenings and therefore we go.  There's incentive to see exhibits before they are open to the public. Because I'm getting emails and regular mail from them, the museums are not out of sight and out of mind, they are on the brain and we go!  I know that would happen for my family and friends as well.  Here are links to the Houston memberships:

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - Gift Membership comes with a glass!
Houston Zoo - Choose a membership level and you'll be prompted to select if it's a gift.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science - They're having a promotion for current members!

A photo posted by Rachel Cruze (@rachelcruze) on

I hope this post has helped you if you're stumped.  And before you go, I'd like to make a PSA - Don't let anyone or anything make you feel like you have to spend money you don't have. :) "Showing you care doesn't always mean spending money." - Rachel Cruze

PS - These are more ideas I didn't have time to write about:
Beth Macri - Hidden Message Jewelry
Tickets to JJ Watt's Charity Classic - Defense is in the 3rd base dugout
Lego Architecture Studio - To recreate The Connectivity project from the art museum at home.


  1. Loved this list! Thanks for compiling it!

  2. Great ideas! Clutter free gifts are the best!