Holiday Gift Guide: What to Get Your Family This Year

By Barbara Danza, Epoch Times
December 4, 2018 Updated: December 6, 2018

Cue the sleigh bells!

It’s holiday time. You’ve got a list of loved ones you hope to find the perfect gifts for. From your children to your spouse to extended family and friends, there’s a lot of ground to cover.

We’ve got the gift guide you’ve been looking for. Here you’ll find recommendations for “kids from 1 to 92.”

Many of these items are made in a sustainable manner with safe, environmentally friendly materials; none of the items on our list were manufactured in China. We looked for high-quality, screen-free products that you’ll be delighted to give to those you love most.

Whether you’re stuffing stockings or searching for the big “ta-da,” it’s all here.

For Baby (0–2)

When it comes to material items, babies don’t need much. A sweet stuffed animal to cuddle, some toys for the tub, and some basic blocks to manipulate will provide just the right tools for exploration, fun, and comfort for the tiniest loved ones on your list.

Teddy Bear

What’s more classic than an adorable teddy bear? Aurora is one of the few brands you’ll find within a reasonable price range and that offers adorable stuffed animals not made in China. Many, though not all, are made in Indonesia.

My First Christmas Bear ($14.50) is almost too cute and just the right choice to commemorate a special first for baby.

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My First Christmas Bear. (Courtesy of Aurora)

If you’re not celebrating a first Christmas or you’d prefer an all-seasons option, the 13-inch Tan Bonny Bear ($16.50) and Slouchee Brown Bear ($17) are sweet, soft, and cuddly. AuroraGift.com

Blocks

Made in Germany, HABA’s Baby’s First Basic Blocks set features 12 brightly colored wooden cubes in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Simple and well-made, this set provides just the right amount of stimulation and learning as baby holds, explores, and eventually stacks these classic blocks. $19.99. HABAusa.com

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HABA’s First Baby Blocks. (Courtesy of HABA)

Bath Toys

All of Green Toys products are made in the United States. from 100 percent recycled materials with high safety standards. Their Tide Pool Bath Set brings water table play to the bathtub! The seven-piece set includes a starfish, scallop, abalone, snail, squid, and jellyfish, as well as a seaweed-patterned storage bag. Little ones can scoop and pour to their heart’s content, making bath time an extension of playtime. $19.99. GreenToys.com

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Tide Pool Bath Set. (Courtesy of Green Toys)

For the Toddler Set (3–5)

Toddlers benefit from toys that engage their imagination, encourage pretend play, and sharpen their dexterity. Parents and relatives can be tempted to go overboard for this age group, stacking presents around the tree so high the little ones won’t know where to start or remember what they even received.

Carefully chosen, high-quality play staples with few bells and whistles are the way to go for this age group.

Blocks

Literally the building blocks of play, blocks are essentials that every child should have. There are a variety of wonderful options for preschool-aged kids.

Classic ABC Blocks

These beautifully crafted wooden blocks by Uncle Goose feature exquisite precision, and every letter of the alphabet is in carved basswood. Made in the United States, this classic set of 28 blocks comes in a canvas bag for easy storage and encourages building skills along with letter recognition. $46, comes with a canvas bag. UncleGoose.com

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Classic ABC Blocks. (Courtesy of Uncle Goose)

Blocks, Extra Large Starter Set

Possibly the only block set they’ll ever need, this classic set of natural wooden blocks features 102 pieces in various shapes. Beautifully crafted, this substantial set is an investment that can provide hours of building fun for children for years to come. $129.99 HABAusa.com

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Blocks, Extra Large Starter Set. (Courtesy of HABA)

Wooden Train Track Set

Wooden trains have enjoyed enormous popularity with this age group, thanks to a certain “tank engine,” but did you know you can find tracks that are compatible with the mainstream brands that are not made in China?

Maple Landmark offers an extensive array of train track configurations and accessories that your little train buff will enjoy building and playing with. Their well-crafted products are all made in Middlebury, Vermont.

Their NameTrain collection includes the Long Oval with Bridge Set, which would make an ideal starter set for any child. $115.

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Long Oval with Bridge Set. (Courtesy of Maple Landmark)

Add some Christmas cheer to the gift with the adorable NameTrain Santa and Reindeer Set. $14.80. MapleLandmark.com

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Santa and Reindeer Set. (Courtesy of Maple Landmark)

Stuffed Animals

Stuffed animals play such a special role in the lives of children. They act out stories and snuggle up for love and comfort. As previously mentioned, the Aurora brand is an easy-to-find choice with many options that are not made in China—a rarity in this category.

Toddlers often develop a keen interest in nature and animals. This Elephant Mama and Baby from Aurora’s Destination Nation line is a sweet choice. Soft and realistic, the baby is also a finger puppet. $26.40. AuroraGift.com

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Elephant Mama and Baby. (Courtesy of Aurora)

Building Logs

Another classic building toy with endless possibilities is a set of building logs. RoyToy has been making its products in the United States. since the 1930s. Whether you opt for the Classic Log Cabin in a Large Canister ($29.95), the Original Fort ($11.95), or the 550-Piece Deluxe Set ($79.95), you can’t go wrong with these classic toys. RoyToy.com

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Classic Log Cabin in a Large Canister. (Courtesy of Roy Toy)

First Games

Board games bring the family together and offer different learning opportunities to kids. Most games are made with slightly older children in mind.

HABA’s My Very First Game – First Orchard gives younger children the opportunity to join in the fun. Made in Germany, First Orchard is an edited version of HABA’s original Orchard game. Featuring high-quality game pieces, First Orchard fosters understanding of colors, counting, following rules, and social skills. The game pieces themselves can even be used for free play. It’s an adorable pick for this age group. $25.99. HABAusa.com

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First Orchard. (Courtesy of HABA)

Pretend Play

Make believe is a huge pastime among 3- to 5-year-olds. While some toys come with so many bells and whistles there is little room left to the imagination, others enhance the important work of pretend play so little people can develop creativity, social skills, and their innate strengths.

Plan Toys offers high-quality, safe, and sustainably made toys for all kinds of pretend play. Their Sink and Fridge ($70) create a compact kitchen space for every pretend meal. Other toys for role-playing that would make great holiday gifts include the adorable wooden Makeup Set ($30) and Doctor Set ($30). PlanToys.com

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Sink and Fridge. (Courtesy of Plan Toys)

Learning Toys

Plan Toys also has some great options in educational manipulatives. The Animal Memo game ($25), a lovely wooden tile version of the classic Memory, Alphabet A-Z ($38), and Numbers 1-10 ($20) give little hands educational tools to manipulate and use in a variety of ways, all the while enhancing their development.

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The Animal Memo game. (Courtesy of Plan Toys)

Baby Doll

As far as baby dolls go, most of them seem to be manufactured in China. One special doll by Corolle, the Mon Bébé Chéri to Dress, is made in Spain. This vanilla-scented, sweet-faced baby is sized to be outfitted with real baby clothes, in three months’ size. What little mommy on your list wouldn’t love to care for this sweet baby and dress her for every possible occasion? $69 on Amazon.com.

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Mon Bébé Chéri to Dress. (Courtesy of Corolle)

For Young Children (6–8)

As children get older, their dexterity improves, their creativity blossoms, and their need to play only grows. They’ve got a longer attention span, more patience, and greater endurance for the hard work of having fun.

Figure Sets

One toy company that meets the needs of this age group beautifully is Playmobil. Their iconic play figurines and all of the accouterments of their respective work and living environments are available in finely detailed play sets that entertain young children for hours. Whether you’re looking for a vehicle set like the Summer Camper ($44.99) or a slice of city life such as the Cupcake Shop ($44.99), Playmobil has something for everyone. Playmobil.us

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Cupcake Shop. (Courtesy of Playmobil)

Dollhouse

This is also a great age for a dollhouse. Plan Toys makes a number of varieties, but the Creative Play House ($150) allows for the most versatility in design and creativity. This is a great gift to couple with one of Plan Toys doll families ($20). PlanToys.com

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Creative Play House. (Courtesy of Plan Toys)

Art Supplies

Every artist needs proper tools. Did you know that Crayola still makes many of its products in the United States? There are also some items, such as construction paper, that are made in Canada. To be sure, check labels. Items like crayons, scissors, paper, markers, paints, and modeling clay can be combined for a great gift for any young child. Prices vary. Crayola.com

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Crayola art supplies. (Courtesy of Crayola)

Bricks

As kids get older they are ready for the wonderful world that is LEGO. Many LEGO products are not made in China, but you do need to check labels. This is one of those brands that stays with children throughout their childhood and can even be passed down to the next generation. Did you know that LEGOs made now are still compatible with the original LEGO bricks manufactured in 1958?

LEGO has a plethora of sets for different age ranges. The Winter Holiday Train is a fun, seasonal choice. $99.99. LEGO.com

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Winter Holiday Train. (Courtesy of LEGO)

For Big Kids (10–13)

Checkers

A classic game of checkers never goes out of style. Maple Landmark makes a number of wooden checkerboards and pieces. Their Basic Board measures 15 square inches and comes with a pouch. $30.50. MapleLandmark.com

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Basic Board. (Courtesy of Maple Landmark)

Outside Fun

L.L. Bean’s Backyard Bean Toss is just the motivation kids need to head outside. Portable for easy storage, it comes with two hardwood targets and eight cotton toss bags filled with recycled plastic pellets. $199. LLBean.com

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Backyard Bean Toss. (Courtesy of LL Bean)

Also by L.L. Bean, the Woodland Animals Snow Kit is an adorable twist on the classic snowman kit; kids can create their very own forest animals when the snow hits your neighborhood. $34.99.

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Woodland Animals Snow Kit. (Courtesy of LL Bean)

Portable Drinkware

Big kids tend to have busy schedules. They often need snacks and drinks on the go. Tervis’s double-walled drinkware is made in the United States, is BPA-free, and is guaranteed for life. They are great for both hot and cold beverages, are microwave- and dishwasher-safe, and fit most cupholders.

They’re also available in a number of sizes and an extraordinarily wide variety of designs. Some may be excited to see the vast array of Disney-licensed designs, from Star Wars Logo to The Incredibles. Finding Disney themed items that are not made in China tends to be challenging. Bonus: they make reusable straws, too, increasingly a necessity. They are also BPA-free, made in America, and safe for the top rack of the dishwasher.

Prices vary. Tervis.com

For Teens (14–17)

Gifting to teens is all about recognizing their individual interests. By now, they’ve likely begun to hone an artistic talent, or delve deeper into their interest in nature, engineering, or reading. Whatever they’re into, there’s a gift out there to support it.

Budding Designer

Design Works makes an interesting product line that would appeal to budding architects or designers. They offer a 3-D Home Kit, Home Quick Planner, Architect’s Drawing Kit, Quick Home Planner, and Architect’s Drawing Kit. All are made in the United States. Prices vary. HomePlanner.com

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Home Kit by Design Works. (Courtesy of Design Works)

On the Go

Teens are always on the go. L.L. Bean’s Signature Made in Maine Duffle bag is just the thing they need to contain all their gear as they navigate teen life. This classic and sturdy bag can take anything your favorite teen can throw at it. It’s got a shoulder strap for easy transport and inside pockets for more storage. $149. LLbean.com

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Signature Made in Maine Duffle. (Courtesy of LL Bean)

Stocking Stuffers

If it’s filling stockings you’re focused on, here are a few ideas for kids of various ages.

Baby Key Rattle from Plan Toys. $15. PlanToys.com

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Baby Key Rattle. (Courtesy of Plan Toys)

Channel Craft Super Skip Rope. $11.99. Store.ChannelCraft.com

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Super Skip Rope. (Courtesy of Channel Craft)

Original Slinky. $15. AlexBrands.com

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Original Slinky. (Courtesy of Alex Brands)

Crayola Crayons 24 Count. $2.49. Crayola.com

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Crayons. (Courtesy of Crayola)

Playmobil Penguin Family. $5.99. Playmobil.com

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Penguin Family. (Courtesy of Playmobil)

Urban Halo Headband. $15. UrbanHalo.com

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Urban Halo headband. (Courtesy of Urban Halo)

For Adults

It can be more difficult to find gifts for adults than for kids. Whether you’re shopping for your children’s teachers, a distant cousin, your spouse, or your parents, we’ve got some ideas that are sure to be winners for many of the adults on your list.

Face Mask Set

TonyMoly is a cosmetics company offering products made in Korea. Exclusively at Macy’s you can try a whopping 19 of their best-selling facial masks. Perfect for your wife, your mom, or any woman on your list, this gift is sure to pamper. $45. TonyMoly.us

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Face mask collection by TonyMoly. (Courtesy of Tony Moly)

Leather Belt

When it comes to the men in our life, sometimes the most basic gifts are the most appreciated. Sticking with classic staples is the way to go, and it doesn’t get more classic or staple than L.L. Bean’s Essential Leather Belt in black or brown, made in the United States. This full-grain leather belt can be worn everyday by your favorite guy. $39.95. LLBean.com

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Leather belt. (Courtesy of LL Bean)

Tote Bag

One of the best gifts for any occasion, L.L. Bean’s legendary tote bag comes in a variety of sizes and colors and exudes classic style. They are practically indestructible and a must-have in every home. Prices vary. LLBean.com

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Boat and Tote bag. (Courtesy of LL Bean)

Conversation Cards

Anyone who loves to entertain can appreciate this lovely pack of conversation starters from Lumitory. They may just take your next dinner party to another level. $15. Lumitory.com

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Lumitory’s conversation cards. (Courtesy of Lumitory)

Handcrafted Caramels

When in doubt, caramel. Am I right? Handcrafted caramels by McCrea’s Candies come in flavors such as Dark Roasted Mocha, Ginger Fusion, Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt, Single Malt Scotch, Black Lava Sea Salt, Tapped Maple, Cape Cod Sea Salt, Classic Vanilla, and Deep Chocolate. They are exactly what you should give when you don’t know what else to give. Try the Party Box or Flavor Family sampler. Prices vary.   McCreasCandies.com

Insulated Mug

Tervis drinkware isn’t just for kids, of course. Their 16-ounce insulated mug in holiday designs would make for a great gift for a tea or coffee drinker. $14.99. Tervis.com

Home Decor Accessories

If you’ve got a beach lover on your list, check out Lime & Leaf. This beach-inspired home decor company based in Virginia is owned by two sisters, who found inspiration from their fond memories of family vacations at the Jersey Shore and incorporated them into comfortable, lovely items for the home. All of their products are made in the United States. The Palm Vase ($54), Sea Salt Candle ($38), Sand Dollar Throw Blanket ($148), or Mixed Coaster Set ($28) may be just what your loved one would enjoy. LimeAndLeaf.com

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Lime & Leaf’s Coaster Set. (Courtesy of Lime & Leaf)
Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbaradanza
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