Christmas Wins Starter Pack: Good Gifts and Best Buys for A Very Merry Holiday

Amy's Best Christmas Buys

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I’m Amy, a self-proclaimed Christmas enthusiast. I love buying gifts for others more than myself, and I’ve bought some incredible ones over the past decade with the help of Amazon. If you’re looking for gifts for him, her, kids, or yourself, you can follow along with this guide as I list some of my favorite picks for the holiday season that have helped me win Christmas each year.

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This Digital Photo Frame is a Gifting Go-To for Anyone on My List

Aluratek 8 Inch LCD Digital Photo Frame with Auto Slideshow Using USB SD/SDHC (ADPF08SF) - Black

When I’m stuck for a gift idea for family, a friend, or a teacher I haven’t bought for yet, I almost always end up gifting this digital photo frame. It’s simple for non-techie people to set up and start using as soon as they connect a USB or SD card. Plus, it’s a gift that anyone can enjoy daily.

Clever Alternative: Don’t forget to add an SD card for extra storage.

Parents Will Thank Me for Buying This Smart Hand Soap Dispenser

Introducing Amazon Smart Soap Dispenser, automatic 12-oz dispenser with 20-second timer, Works with Alexa

This year, I’m gifting a few families this smart hand soap dispenser that connects to a compatible Amazon Echo device. Why? First off, it’s touch-free, so families with germy kids will love it. But it also can join in your Alexa Routines to play songs or share daily news while you wash, which might encourage everyone to keep those hands clean.

Clever Alternative: Add to your gift recipient’s stock of soap with this bulk hand soap refill.

This Dog Shaver Keeps My Pup Fresh Between Grooms

oneisall Dog Shaver Clippers Low Noise Rechargeable Cordless Electric Quiet Hair Clippers Set for Dogs Cats Pets

I found this dog shaver on Amazon when I first got my puppy three years ago to give him quick trims in between his grooming appointments. Unlike others I’ve bought, this one doesn’t snag his hair and make him skittish about cuts. This set is the only one I’ll gift to my fellow dog parents.

Clever Alternative: Dealing with a dog that hates the sound or feel of clippers? Try feeding these calming treats before you buzz.

This Outdoor Light Timer Turns My Christmas Lights On For Me

DEWENWILS Outdoor Light Timer Waterproof, Plug in Sensor Outlet Timer Switch, 100 ft Range Remote Control with 2 Grounded Electrical Outlets for Yard Landscape Holiday Light, 15A 1/2HP UL Listed

I dislike braving freezing cold temperatures just to go outside and turn my Christmas lights on in the evening. I bought this outdoor timer for myself last year, and now I can set the timer to sense when it gets dark to trigger my lights or turn them on manually with the remote. LIFE. SAVER.

Clever Alternative: This super-long strand of outdoor lights will brighten up your whole entryway.

This Teeter Toy is a Must-Have for Squirmy Kids

balance board
Everything Clever

I bought this teeter-totter for my son when he was a toddler because he could never sit still. I figured it was a safer alternative to him climbing my furniture. Turns out, it’s still a hit 7+ years later, and I’ve since bought it for several other mom friends for their on-the-move kiddos.

Clever Alternative: This set of fidget toys is also a necessity for parents of restless little ones.

This Apple Watch Keeps Everyone on Track

smart watch
Everything Clever

The Apple Watch is a must-have for people on your list with an iPhone. View and respond to texts, set alarms, track all your health goals, and more. If you have some extra room in your budget this year, this is absolutely the way to go. “Santa” can’t wait for my daughter to open hers this year!

Clever Alternative: For a budget-friendlier but just-as-cool Apple gift, consider the Apple AirTag to keep track of Apple devices.

Stop Buying Useless Water Bottles; This Stainless Steel Water Bottle is the Best

Glink water bottle
Everything Clever

I wish I was kidding when I said it’s taken me about three years to find a water bottle I actually love that doesn’t leak. And, after talking to a couple of my other health-conscious friends about it, I found out I’m not alone. I landed on this stainless steel water bottle, and I haven’t looked back since — and neither have those I’ve bought it for. It never leaks, its colors don’t fade or wear, and it comes with both straw and open-mouth caps so you can choose how you want to drink from it.

Clever Alternative: If shopping for a kid, try this kid-sized stainless steel water bottle instead.

This Instant Pot Duo Saves My Loved Ones from Dinner Disasters

Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 Quart 9-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker, Warmer & Sterilizer, 15 One-Touch Programs,Stainless Steel/Black

Rushing to get dinner on the table isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. That’s why this Instant Pot is an absolute lifesaver for busy families. I toss in my ingredients, and it pressure-cooks our dinner to perfection in minutes. Plus, its slow-cook setting and other features make it a multifunctional, all-in-one appliance.

Clever Alternative: I love a good air fryer that lets you skip turning on the oven.

Our Family Elf Loves Her Adorable Elf Pet

Elf Pets A Reindeer Tradition

Two years ago, our family elf brought back this reindeer so she could have a friend through the season. Now, the reindeer and the elf do all kinds of fun things together until it’s time to head back to the North Pole. It definitely became a hit in our home with my kids who adore our elf.

Clever Alternative: Stop running out of ideas for your elf and their new friend with this tips, tricks, and tools book.

I’ve Saved Moms from Teething Nightmares with This Banana Massaging Toothbrush

Nuby Nananubs Banana Massaging Toothbrush , Yellow

Perfect for a baby or toddler’s stocking, this toothbrush banana both cleans teeth and massages the gums to satisfy teething mouths. The only thing I dislike about it is that it wasn’t available when my kids were babies, but at least newer parents can benefit from this miracle product.

Clever Alternative: I’ve also gifted these toddler toothbrushes, which are perfectly sized for little hands to hold.

This Gift Card Is Actually Thoughtful

Amazon Explore eGift Card

I hate buying gift cards for people because they feel so impersonal. This Amazon Explore gift card is completely different, though. Your recipient can use it to book a virtual experience, like touring through ancient Rome or learning to make jewelry with a Parisian artist.

Clever Alternative: Of course, there’s always the traditional Amazon gift card if you’re out of ideas (and this one comes with a cute bonus ornament!).

Keep That Elf Moving with This Elf Upgrade Kit

ELF Flex Elf Upgrade Kit: Make Your Elf Amazing! This Kit Will Make Your Elf Flexible and Bendable! You Will Be Able to Bend Em Grip Em Stick Em Hang Em Elf Accessories

If your holidays must include that pesky Elf on the Shelf every year like mine do, at least make the situation better for yourself. This upgrade kit is one of the best Christmas purchases I’ve ever given myself. Now, I can move our elf wherever she needs to go and keep my youngest believing for just a little longer.

Clever Alternative: Why not add a cute little elf door to your home, too, when your elf is due to arrive?

I Gift Coat-Hating Teenagers This Vest


The weather’s getting colder, but teenagers will still fight their parents tooth and nail about wearing a coat (seriously, why is this a thing?). I gifted this vest to my friend’s teenager last year hoping it would be a good compromise for her hatred of coats. To my surprise, she wears it without her mom having to harp on her about it. Apparently, it’s cool to not cover up your arms when it’s cold.

Clever Alternative: A fuzzy sherpa vest might pique your teenager’s interest even more.

I Stop the Screen Strain with These Fashionable Glasses


A perfect stocking stuffer for a teen or friend, these blue-light-blocking glasses are both adorable and functional. I even added magnification to them for my friend who needs a little help in the vision department.

Clever Alternative: Keep the glasses safe and sound with this adorable case, available in a color for everyone.

These Jammies Make My Family’s Holiday Photos Magical


No matter how corny people think it is, matching pajamas are a must for family photos. I get the kids, cousins, grandparents, and everyone involved in a memorable themed photo with these matching pajama sets for babies to adults. Oh — and there’s even a bandana for my furry family members.

Clever Alternative: Add even more fun to the holiday picture mix with this set of Christmas photo props.

I Always Have Fun Sending These DIY Christmas Cards

DIY Christmas Cards Diamond Painting Greeting Cards Kits Xmas Cards Paint by Number Holiday Cards for Holiday & Gift-Giving - 8 Pack

Sending out Christmas cards seems to be a thing of the past with social media taking over. I still love doing them, though, especially with this set. These diamond-painting cards bring crafting into the mix, making the somewhat tedious task of writing cards a lot more fun.

Clever Alternative: Have the kids color their own holiday cards to send to their friends and family.

This Mattel Game is Ridiculously Addicting

Everything Clever

Last year, my kids’ top gift request was more board games, so Santa dropped Blokus off, and it’s been their favorite ever since. It’s easy to understand and quick-moving, so even the little ones can jump in and play along without getting bored.

Clever Alternative: This more interactive and 3D block game is also tons of fun for the family.

I Keep Tech Junkies Charged Up with This Wireless Charger

Intoval Wireless Charger, 3 in 1 Charger for iPhone/iWatch/Airpods, Qi-Certified Charging Station for iPhone 13/12/11/Pro/Max/XS/Max/XR/XS/X, iWatch 7/6/SE/5/4/3/2, Airpods Pro/3/2/1 (Z5,White)

Electronic devices are everywhere nowadays, and something always seems to need a battery top-up. That’s why this wireless charging station tops my gift-giving list for any tech-obsessed person I’m struggling to find a gift for. This is going right under the tree for my daughter this year to keep all her Apple devices powered.

Clever Alternative: I’m also adding this pack of lightning chargers to her stocking for her to keep extras in her car and purse.

My Family Decks the Stalls with This Jolly Christmas Decoration Set

JOYIN 5 Pieces Christmas Santa Theme Bathroom Decoration Set Includes Toilet Seat Cover, Rugs, Tank Cover, Toilet Paper Box Cover and Santa Towel for Xmas Indoor Décor, Party Favors

Does someone’s potty area need a festive lift? Consider buying them this adorable Santa-themed decor set for the bathroom. I can absolutely see my merriest friends going all out with this set.

Clever Alternative: Get these dining room chair covers to spread the holiday cheer throughout the home.

I Love Letting Teachers Rest Their Worn-Out Bums on This Seat

WAOAW Seat Cushion, Office Chair Cushions for Desk Chairs, Sciatica Car Seat Cushion for Back Coccyx Tailbone Pain Relief, No-Slip Dual-Linings Protects

During the pandemic, my kids both attended school remotely. With their teachers sitting for hours behind a computer screen, I figured they could use some back and backside relief. So, I sent them these seat cushions to rest their weary behinds, and they were beyond grateful.

Clever Alternative: I also love gifting this stress-relieving candle to teachers because they totally deserve it.

I Solve Productivity Problems for At-Home Workers With This Portable Monitor

Asus monitor
Everything Clever

When my daughter was learning remotely for the 2020 school year, she received this monitor as a gift to give her an extra display for Zoom calls and schoolwork. She loved it so much, that I gifted one to myself, too, to boost my work productivity. This Christmas, I’m sending one along to a family member who also works from home.

Clever Alternative: It’s technically for tablets, but this handy stand fits this monitor perfectly to keep it upright on a desk.

I’m Giving the Gift of a Happy Beard with This Beard Grooming Set

Upgraded Beard Grooming Kit w/Beard Conditioner,Beard Oil,Beard Balm,Beard Brush,Beard Shampoo/Wash,Beard Comb,Beard Scissors,Storage Bag,Beard E-Book,Beard Growth Care Gifts for Men

In my opinion, men are really difficult to shop for. Unless they have a beard. In that case, I simply send this beard grooming set along to the guys on my list. There’s something about a good grooming kit for beards that hairy-faced men are drawn to. Trust me.

Clever Alternative: If an untamed beard is the problem, perhaps this beard straightening kit will do the trick.

This Adjustable Makeup Mirror Has Been a Lifesaver for an Elderly Parent

YEAKE Adjustable Flexible Gooseneck Makeup Mirror,360°Rotation Folding Portable Desk Vanity Mirror with Stand Shower Shaving Cosmetic Mirror Square Large

Since my dad’s admission into a nursing facility last year, I’ve tried to make his room as functional and comfortable as possible for him. He absolutely loves this mirror, which he keeps on an end table and can adjust to any angle he needs for shaving, brushing his hair, etc. It’s been a go-to daily-use item for him.

Clever Alternative: This travel-size grooming kit is also a winner in my book.

My Family’s Dog Parents Deserve These Pill-Hiding Treats

GREENIES PILL POCKETS Capsule Size Natural Dog Treats Chicken Flavor, 15.8 oz. Value Pack (60 Treats)

I bought these treats for my aunt’s dog a few years ago when she struggled to give her pooch medicine, which started a yearly tradition after hearing how much they saved her sanity. I’ve even stuck them in my own dog’s stocking

Clever Alternative: This peanut butter paste is also great at disguising anything yucky a dog doesn’t want to eat.

These Wire Headbands Solve My Weird-Shaped Head Problem

DRESHOW Twist Bow Wire Headbands Vintage Head Wrap Rabbit ear Wired Hairbands Hair Holder Hair Accessory for Women and Girls 6 Pack

I don’t know what it is about our heads, but my daughter and I can’t seem to keep wrap-around headbands from sliding off them. I bought us both this pack of headbands headbands, which have wires for easy twisting and adjusting, and — lo and behold — they stay put all day. It’s a super stocking stuffer item for anyone who loves accessorizing their hair..

Clever Alternative: With the colder weather heading our way, this crocheted headwrap is another one to consider putting in the stocking.

I Display My Christmas Decor Proudly with These Wreath Hangers

I make my own wreaths for holidays, so I’ve ended up with quite the collection of festive Christmas wreaths. These wreath hangers have made it easy for me to hang wreaths from doors and windows around my home. But I’ve also found them handy for hanging stockings and other Christmas decor, like signs and garland.

Clever Alternative: Don’t have an interest in making wreaths? Buy this gorgeous pre-lit Christmas wreath instead.

My Gamer Daughter Loves This Overwatch-Inspired Monopoly Game

Monopoly Gamer Overwatch Collector's Edition Board Game for Ages 13 and Up Gift for Overwatch Players

Overwatch was one of the first video games my teenage daughter really got into. Needless to say, this Monopoly version was a major hit when she opened it on Christmas.

Clever Alternative: I also keep my kids looking fresh as daisies for holiday photos with this dry shampoo.

These Books Make My Kid Want to Read

Who Would Win Complete Collection | 25 Books | Book Series Kids

If you have a child, younger cousin, or niece or nephew who loves animals and scientific facts, then this book set will be a beloved gift for years to come. My son has read them over and over again, and he loves sharing his reasons on which creature he thinks will and should win each battle.

Clever Alternative: This book of all things sharks is also sure to be a crowd-pleaser for little shark fans.

This Gift Tag Dispenser Saves Me Gift-Wrapping Stress

Elcoho 300 Pieces Christmas Self Adhesive Gift Tag Self Stick Stickers Gift Name Tag Christmas Stickers with 6 Different Designs (Color B)

I don’t love wrapping gifts. There, I said it. Christmas is great, but the wrapping gifts part can go. This gift tag dispenser makes me not hate it as much, though, because it keeps the labels tidy and ready to store again for next year.

Clever Alternative: Get yourself enough gift wrap to get everything wrapped at once. I’m obsessed with the pretty blues on these rolls.

My BFF Loves This Hair Straightener

Enhanced Hair Straightener Heat Brush by MiroPure, 2-in-1 Ceramic Ionic Straightening Brush, Hot Comb with Anti-Scald Feature, Auto Temperature Lock & Auto-Off Function (Pink)

My best friend and I exchange Christmas gifts every year. I bought her this hair straightener because she gets irritated with her wavy hair. She raves about how smooth her hair looks and feels when she’s done and how quickly it works.

Clever Alternative: This flat iron can also help curly and wavy-haired friends achieve the perfect look.

LEGO and Marvel Make the Perfect Advent Calendar for My Kid

LEGO Marvel The Avengers Advent Calendar 76196 Building Kit, an Awesome Gift for Fans of Super Hero Building Toys; New 2021 (298 Pieces)

When I was Christmas shopping for this year’s goodies, I lit up with joy when I found this LEGO Marvel advent calendar. My son collects LEGO Marvel stuff, and there’s nothing better than finding a little surprise each day as he counts down to Christmas.

Clever Alternative: If I bought an advent calendar for myself, I’d absolutely want this Friends one.

My Daughter’s Younger Self Would Have Loved This Friendship Bracelet Maker

Cra-Z-Art Shimmer & Sparkle Ultimate Friendship Bracelet Maker

About 10 years ago, I gave my daughter an older version of this friendship bracelet maker for Christmas. I swear, she didn’t stop playing with it for months. I still have a collection of bracelets she made for me tucked away in my jewelry drawer.

Clever Alternative: For littles who prefer charms and baubles, wrap up this charm bracelet kit.

New Parents on My List Are Getting This Tummy Time Mat

Splashin'kids Inflatable Tummy Time Premium Water mat Infants and Toddlers is The Perfect Fun time Play Activity Center Your Baby's Stimulation Growth

This tummy time mat is a go-to gift for me to give new parents in my life. My son had a similar one when he was a baby and it was literally the only thing that would prevent him from screaming when he went on his belly. Do your pregnant or new-parent friends and relatives a favor and buy it for Christmas.

Clever Alternative: I also love this mess-free doodle set for older babies and toddlers.

This Book is Total Christmas Nostalgia

Guinness World Records 2022

Every Christmas morning, I looked forward to getting the brand-new Guinness World Records under the tree to share with my brothers. Now, my two kids look forward to it, too (and, yes, I still get just as excited to skim through it).

Clever Alternative: If you have an Alexa device in your home, pick up this book for your kids to use with it. They’ll think it’s the Best. Thing. Ever.

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