Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. Joyeaux Noel.
You know what my favorite thing is this holiday season? Procrastinating things to the absolute last minute. And that’s how, dear reader, we find ourselves here, MERE MINUTES ‘til Christmas, with me rolling out yet another Favorite Things/Gift Guide even though every single responsible person has purchased their gifts already.
But maybe you’re like me, and you save your shopping for the 72 hours before Christmas or the Non-Denominational Winter Holiday of your choice. Whatever you do, I hope it’s a joy, I hope you think of me, mostly because I’m a narcissist and gift giving is my love language. Provided that it’s last minute.
The gift I have to give to you is a list of products I like, because I am broke out of my mind. Broke, because I bought a lot of stuff this year, and have some opinions on what’s good and bad. Broke, because I’m irresponsible. Broke, because I adopted a cat this year, and in the first two weeks of having her, I had to spend an outrageous amount of money at the vet for them to tell me, “yeah it’s probably nothing but we can’t rule everything out for sure unless we run more expensive tests” and she’s a 14-year-old cat and IDK if I can make that type of commitment to a cat who is as old as all of my high school regrets.
Provided that it’s seconds ’til Christmas, everything on this list is something you can acquire between now and Christmas. These are things Amazon can rush to you. These are things you can walk into Target and get right now. These are craft kits that Michaels and JoAnns has millions of. These are things you can grab at Athleta and Old Navy. These are always in stock at Apple or Best Buy. These are electronic gift cards, these are books at Barnes & Noble.
The world is a supreme nightmare right now and so much is terrible and there’s nothing I can do to fix it, so I will help you with your down to the wire “oh my god I forgot he’s bringing his girlfriend to Christmas Eve dinner” shopping, provided the girl he’s bringing has great taste and/or has some sort of predilection for autonomic dysfunction.
I love you and I hope you’re going to do something nice for yourself this December. I hope you get drunk off eggnog, I hope you burn a hole in your mouth because you ate that much peppermint candy, I hope you fall into a raclette cheese coma.
It’s the holidays.
My favorite things.
And yes, most of this stuff is from Target, get over it!!! I’m a millennial woman!!!
40oz Tumbler by Owala
I am legally obligated (yes! The federal government passed a whole damn law!) to kick these posts off with my Water Bottle of the Year.
I know I swore forever and ever that I was a Stanley Cup girl and I would care about no other water bottles/thermoses/tumblers and put no others before thee, that this was my one true love, that I was done for life, that this was it for me–
And then I kept spilling it everywhere and I spilled water in my bed for the 500th time and the influencer girls on instagram whose sole job it is to make me want to shop at Target (as if I needed to be influenced!) got me to buy an Owala 40 oz Tumbler and y’all that’s this year’s bottle.
It’s all the thing Stanley cups do, plus
- Doesn’t spill
- Has a more colorful design
- Less expensive
- You can actually acquire these without fighting to the death
- DOESN’T SPILL
- Makes me look less like a Utah influencer mom wannabe
I have also heard absolutely phenomenal things about the 24 oz FreeSip, but I don’t believe in a water bottle without a handle anymore.
You can get the Tumbler and the tinier FreeSip at Target, Amazon, Best Buy (?!), REI, apparently you can buy them on DoorDash and they’ll just bring it to you. It’s 2023. It’s The Future.
I am in a decades-long journey to figure out if the headaches I get are migraines. No one can figure it out, least of all, me. It would be wise to see a neurologist, but who has the time when it requires (1) getting out of bed, (2) getting dressed, (3) leaving the house, especially in the cold of Chicago? No thank you.
So instead of doing anything proactive about my problems, I’m doing something reactive about my problems, and that’s getting the headache hat.
I won’t lie, it hurt like hell when I first put it against my head, and that’s because you’re just putting hard ice rocks around your head very tightly. I put on a hoodie and wrapped the Headache Hat around the hoodie so it was cushioned–that worked much better for me until the ice cubes melted a little and got all slushy.
Pro-tip: pair your Headache Hat gift with a subscription to Migraine Buddy App – your recipient will actually be able to function.
Oh, and don’t worry if someone else gets a headache hat for your recipient you have in mind! Both my brother and dad got Headache Hats for my mom this year, and she loves having multiple!
Friendship Bracelet Making Supplies
So you know how Taylor Swift sang “make the friendship bracelets take the moment and taste it you’ve got no reason to be afraid” and triggered a 500% increase in jewelry-making kit sales because that’s the magic of Taylor Swift?
I fell victim to the bracelet making craze because of course I did how could you not in this climate and I learned that my brain actually shuts down intrusive thoughts while I make them, so thanks for the reduced cost therapy, Michaels Crafts, and do you take FSA as payment?
I have purchased several different kits and supplies since the craze started and since I don’t think this is going anywhere, I have my favorite ones shared here. It ultimately all comes down to what colors and styles of beads you’re looking for, and if you become a bead elitist, you might end up wanting to seek out the fancy bead stores in your area (yes! Such a thing exists! Stores dedicated to beads and beads only!). But the kits I found have been tremendous fun and enormously satisfying.
- Glass seed beads
- Rainbow round beads
- Gradient pearl beads
- Different letter color beads (white, gold, rainbow, etc)
- Extra bead containers
Arts & Crafts Kits
While we’re in the realm of crafting, craft kits are a drastically underutilized gift to give. My friend Amber started hosting craft nights at her house this year and Lyndsi brought over a paint by numbers that we all contributed to that was so soothing to work on. I also picked up a quick gem art kit on clearance that I did on a weekend when I refused to leave the house because it was too hot to exist and I felt like I was eight-years-old, in the best way.
Any store like Michaels, Joanns, Target, Walmart, whatever will have a DIY kit, paint by numbers, whathaveyou, in stock right now, even though it’s 12 minutes before Christmas.
- Skating Scene Paint-by-Numbers Kit by Artist’s Loft at Michaels
- Gem Art Poster Unicorn/Rainbow by Mondo Llama at Target
Salutation Stash Tight by Athleta
I work from home, and, I’m lazy, so the majority of my weekly wardrobe consists of yoga pants.
I lived and died by Aerie’s line until I started getting holes in the butt of them (which is in the Top 3 places I don’t want holes in my pants) and they would start falling down when I would walk (one of the Top 3 problems I don’t want to have while wearing pants.) I started looking elsewhere and at the advisement of friends who actually exercise while wearing yoga pants, I tried Athleta.
I absolutely love the Salutation Stash Tight because they:
- feel a little bit compressy (although it’s not to the level that actual POTS patients need for compression though, sorry guys) but not too tight that it limits restriction of leg movement (think: Dennis and Charlie in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
- have POCKETS
- are smooth and silky
- have good stitching, no loose threads
- use fabric that doesn’t start pilling after 5 minutes of wearing
If you’re looking for a less expensive dupe, I’d go with Old Navy’s PowerSoft Leggings which are pretty great, but offer less compression.
Airpods, Earpods, whatever
I am not one of those “audiophiles,” for the primary reason that it’s a disgusting thing to call yourself. But secondarily, I am not smart enough to learn audio engineering and the science behind what makes good sound sound good.
I cannot give you expert advice on what the best headphones are, on what makes them good, on why you should buy one over the other.
I can tell you that Apple AirPods are very popular and I do like having a wireless option because I no longer strangle myself while trying to manage my headphones, coat, and backpack. But remembering to charge my headphones is a challenge, so there’s nothing wrong with some classic wired headphones.
So I carry both of them with me in a very tiny carrying case I got years ago, and they sound good enough to me! If the Shannon Linford “good enough” standard works for you, the following is what I carry in my backpack, and here is the best price I could find!
- Apple AirPods (2nd Generation) with Charging Case (same price at BestBuy, Walmart)
- Apple Wired EarPods with Lightning Connector
Anything Written by Kate Bowler
I was introduced to Kate Bowler’s writing a couple of years ago by Shira, and I’ve been in love ever since.
Kate was diagnosed with stage IV cancer at the age of 35 and was told time and time again that she was incurable, but she and her family did everything they could to seek treatment.
What I love about her is that she vehemently rejects the platitudes of “Everything Happens for a Reason” and prosperity gospel and “Best Life Now!” and instead believes that we can find some joy in our really boring and sometimes really shitty lives.
She gets me.
She has four books out now on this very topic that I think would be great gifts for anyone going on a similar journey, or anyone who subscribes to the belief that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good, and has another one coming out in January, Have a Beautiful Terrible Day, that you can pre-order.
- Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved)
- No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear)
- Good Enough: 40ish Devotionals for a Life of Imperfection
- The Lives We Actually Have: 100 Blessings For Our Imperfect Days
You can find all of these books on Amazon (linked above), and in many local bookstores in your area.
Walk into Target and buy literally anything
OK HOLD ON DON’T CLOSE THE WINDOW.
I know I’ve been pushing a lot of Target gifts already. And I know this piece of advice already sounds so non-specific that I’m basically cheating when I offer it to you, but Target just throws so many stocking stuffers and gift ideas to the front of the store that they are handing you gift ideas, and I know, because I have bought holiday gifts every time I stop by to pick up a prescription. (Note: setting my default CVS to be inside of a Target was the best idea for shopping but the worst idea for my wallet.)
But here are just some of the things you’ll find within 15 feet of the entrance to the store that would be amazing little stocking stuffers:
2024 Office Supplies by Opalhouse (each of these is only $5!)
Cute Tech Accessories by heyday
- Apple AirTag Silicone Keychain
- Apple AirPod Gen 1/2 Case with Clip
- 2-Port Wall Charger with 6′ Lightning to USB-C Cable
Random cute stuff
Membership subscriptions that are actually worth it
Maybe you don’t like buying tangible things, and that’s OK. Maybe you’re one of those minimalists who believes in gifting experiences rather than things. I think that subscriptions count as experiences, and these are experiences that I enjoy.
- Instacart (the experience of never having to go grocery shopping again)
- Spotify (the experience of listening to music, and now, audiobooks!)
- Netflix, Hulu, Max, YouTube Premium, Dropout, (the experience of watching mindless entertainment)
- DoorDash (the experience of not cooking, because cooking sucks)
Note: some of the above links use my share code, so if you use them, I might end up receiving a kickback.
AND THROW SOME CANDY IN THERE
I’m not going to bore you with a flowery description that you’re not even going to read on this one. Ghiradelli Mint Chocolate Mint Cookie Squares are their best product, it’s only available at Christmas, and I love them so much.
Equally good if you’re looking for a truffle experience: Lindt Lindor Peppermint Cookie Truffles.
And just a side note, there is a wonderful gentleman named Bryan who reviews Lindt chocolate (Ghiradelli falls under the Lindt umbrella!) and he is an absolute joy and someone you should consult for all chocolate reviews.
BUT MY FAVORITE THING OF ALL?
A donation to Dysautonomia International.
- they’ve funded millions millions of dollars of research grants on POTS and other forms of dysautonomia (what I have!)
- they host education events for patients, caregivers, and physicians across the world
- they advocate for dysautonomia patients
- they teach dysautonomia patients how to advocate for themselves on the micro and macro level
- they host lobby days and lobby for dysautonomia research
- they help lead lobbying efforts for dysautonomia patients in US Congress
- they host support groups in all 50 US states, in several countries, and for specialized groups (like teens, caregivers, spousal groups, etc!)
- they’re raising money to research Long COVID
- they host weekly discussions on tips people have learned to help with coping!
- they have a physician finder database
- they have a huge video library full of information about dysautonomia
- they’ve introduced me to some of my favorite people on the planet
IDK MAN, DO YOU WANT MORE?
Alright y’all. It’s been a year. We’ve probably got what, 4 minutes left ’til Christmas now at this point?
Thanks for being here. I hope you found something helpful. If not, check my tag ‘gift guides‘ to find past posts on the topic.
If nothing is helpful then idk, just slip your gift recipient a crisp $50.
But really, that Dysautonomia International donation is the best way to go.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Happy New Year.
Be COVID conscious.
Pray for those in need.
Be there for those in need.
Be thankful for what we have.
I love you.