The holidays are upon us, and that means that the time has come to start thinking about what we want to give to others.
In some ways, I struggle with how consumer-oriented the holiday season is. With that in mind, I want to start this year guide with some tips for getting through the holiday season without going crazy and maybe even having a bit of fun and spending some quality time with friends and family.
Do what you can but don’t stress about not being able to afford to give as much as others
People get into a competition about gifts or “feel bad” if they got someone a gift that has a lower monetary value than the one they are given. Some families have solved this by setting a price limit on gifts or drawing names, and every adult gets one big gift, and that is it. Of course, plenty makes an exception with children. Just remember that if you agree to do Christmas a certain way, don’t be the one that shows up with a $100 gift when the limit was set at $50.
Consider making gifts if you have the time and skill
Homemade gifts can be the best, and they show that someone went the extra mile to do something for someone. Just make sure that you get started now, so you are not rushing to the finish.
Get gift sets and then redistribute them into gift baskets that you curate for each person on your list
This time of year there are a ton of gift sets that good companies put out to encourage people to try their products. For example, you can get Advent Calendars of products. It may be 24 days of beauty products or 7 days of socks. These are often an exception value in that you get very good items for half off because they are in a special set. Now I may not want to give someone just socks for Christmas, but I could combine a pair with something fabulous from another gift set and so forth.
I live big gift sets too because you can split them up into smaller bags of goodies, so you have something on hand for those times when someone surprises you with a gift at a holiday gathering. Sometimes people join in on the fun you don’t expect, and it is always a good surprise for them to have something, even if it is just some good cheese and summer sausage!
The gift of good clean drinking water is priceless in a way. So many people don’t have good water filters. Even those that do, often only have a small personal one that would be challenging to use for a whole group. Here are a few water filter suggestions I have for various situations.
For The Traveler or Student
Portability and drinking water on the go are all charactaristics to look for when it comes to the traveler or student.
Lifestraw Water Bottle w/ Filter
Sawyer Mini w/Squeeze Bag
For The Family
HydroBlu 10L Gravity Bag Filter
Everyday Carry Knife
Knives wear out or get lost so even those that have a reliable knife now will appreciate another one. Grindworx has a big selection that is reasonably priced. I still love the Boker Kalashnikov Automatic Knife I got on their site. They sell knives in a big price range so there is something for everyone.
Blade Length 3.25″
Handle Length: 4.375″
Overall Length: 7.625″
Weight: 3.7 oz
Retail Price: $39.99. For a knife under $50, this is an amazing knife for everyday carry and self-defense.
Overall Length: 8.25″
Blade Length: 3.5″
Weight: 3.8 oz
CRKT is an excellent brand for everyday carry knives. My husband still carries one he found that a fellow student put in the free box at the college we attended. Going to a school full of wealthy kids showed us that they would throw out extremely valuable items.
That was 17 years ago, and that knife is still going strong. I bought him another version with a tanto blade some years after that, and it proved to be great as well. The clip is sturdy, and the metal does not rust which is what you would expect in a knife designed by Kit Carson, founder of the Outdoor Leadership School.
I have a hard time not thinking about Leatherman when it comes to holiday gift guides. We went to a holiday gathering where there was a gift exchange that was turned into a game, and since we were first timers, we decided that it was best to get one gift that was very feminine and one that was for the guys or the outdoorsy girl. Well, the Leatherman we got was the most sought-after gift in the game!
There are other brands that are great too but I don’t have as much experience with them.
The Wingman is a good choice because it offers a lot of basic tools without being very bulky or loading you down with tools you never really use. This version of Leatherman is a great starter multi-tool and suitable for everyday carry. I have said it before that I think a lot of multi-tools have too much going on and thus cost a lot. This is a great gift for stuffing in a tactical stocking with some other treats.
I still wish they made the Original Leatherman. I miss mine!
Victorinox Swiss Army SwissTool CS Plus Multi-tool
Weight: 17.13 oz
For those of you looking for something different when it comes to multi-tools, there is the Swiss-made Victorinox multi-tools. With 37 functions and more choices when it comes to screwdriver sizes, this is a quality tool worth looking at.
A new rifle scope or a nice set of binoculars makes a nice gift for the outdoors person in your life. The rifle scope part can be tricky because you need to know what gun they have to put it on but if it is your husband or wife you probably already know!
For some binocular gift ideas check out “10 Best Binoculars For Survival and Defense”.
Food Supply Solutions From Valley Food Storage
Everyone has to eat, and that means food makes a great gift, especially food that is already sealed up and ready to go when an emergency or disaster strikes. As many of you already know, I like Valley Food Storage because the quality is fabulous, it is sealed well with moisture absorbers, has a zip lock closure for freshness so you can consume it over time without spoilage, and they offer options for everyone regardless of diet restrictions or allergies.
While you can order different items and mix and match yourself, they offer buckets and emergency kits that are already compiled for you. A good 72-hour kit is a thoughtful gift for those just getting started in the world of prepping or the individual, couple, or family living with limited storage space. I have a bucket that will last two people a month that fits under the kitchen sink with room to spare!
A way to cook without electricity
Camp Chef Oven and Range
I love having a gas stove because at least I can use the burners if the power is out. That is usually enough, but in a longer event, I plan on using my Camp Chef Range and Oven. It runs on 1lb propane canisters, or you can get a regulator that allows for hooking up a standard 20 lb grill tank. The oven will hold a 9″ x 13″ standard pan. If you have one with elaborate handles or decoration save it for another time. You need just a plain pan for this compact oven. There are two racks included so you could technically use two 9″x 13″ pans if they are not exceptionally thick or tall.
Camp Chef Oven with Burners
For a lot more info on this useful oven, check out “A Review Of The Camp Chef Oven Outdoor Gas Range.”
Sun Oven Solar Ovens
Sun Oven is a trusted brand for solar cooking. During the holiday season, they are running some excellent specials. While this is a great gift for a family, anyone that likes to get out and camp on the weekends or go RVing will also enjoy this oven.
I recommend spending the extra money to get the oven with accessories. It is not much more than just the oven and more than worth it! I love that this oven doubles as a dehydrator too! When any prepping tool does double duty, it makes it an even better value!
All American SUN OVEN with Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package
In addition to the All American Sun Oven, you get the following accessories:
- Multi-Level Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set (set of 3 racks w/1 roll parchment paper)
- Two Easy Stack Pots w/interchangeable enamel and glass lids
- Multi-Fuel Water Pasteurizing Indicator (WAPI)
- Two Loaf Pans
- SUN OVEN® Cookbook a specialty cookbook featuring 40 of our favorite recipes, techniques, and tricks of the trade to inspire your taste buds as you focus the sun on delicious meals
Bags and Backpacks
Who doesn’t love a good bag or backpack? I like having them in different sizes. In fact, some small tactical bags are a million times better than any purse you are going to find! No designer handbag for this gal. I need something I won’t feel bad if it gets dirty or some gun oil on it.
For someone that travels a lot or wants a pack that can handle a bulletproof plate, the GoRuck is an option. Sure the price tag can be a bit hard to swallow for some, but it is made in the USA by hand and comes with an exceptional warranty. Consider how much money a person can spend if they go through a backpack every few years. A GoRuck is going to stand the test of time, and it is designed to protect valuables. If you have a nice laptop, gun, and other gear, why not protect it with something designed to withstand a bomb blast?
For more detailed info on the GoRuck be sure to check out my review of it.
Qcute Tactical Bag, Single Shoulder Messenger Bag
This bag would work well for a small everyday carry bag or as a purse. Matt uses one similar to this one for a camera bag so we don’t bust it running around the woods and vineyard.
REEBOW GEAR Military Tactical Assault Pack
Waterproof and Lockable Cases
Pelican cases are very nice for transporting valuables or legally carrying and traveling with firearms. You can get different sizes and colors to suit your needs or the person you are buying for. Some Pelican cases have cushioning foam in them and some do not.
Pelican 1200 Case With Foam
First Aid Kits
While I would not just give someone a medical kit for Christmas without giving anything else (unless of course, you know the person wants it or has their eye on a pricier one), it is something that can be put in a stocking or added to backpack you have bought for them. I include a small option that I have found to be very comprehensive and a major trauma kit.
All-Purpose First Aid Kit, Soft Case
Emergency Survival Trauma Kit
Essential Oils and Accessories From Sparks Naturals
Sparks Naturals offers very high-quality essential oils for aromatherapy and medical uses. When I talked to Gaye about essential oils, she recommended them.
Tactical stockings are great!
I found tactical stockings at Grindworx, and I am seriously considering getting a handful of these to fill with prepper goodies. They even have one for the survival dog in your family! If the colors below are not your favorites, take a look at their site, and you will find a ton of different ones, including pink camo!
The dog stocking makes me want to get 12 different treats and stick them in it, so there is a treat for the 12 days before Christmas!
Multi-Purpose Emergency Radios and Power Banks
Blankets and Bivvys
While the mylar emergency blankets are inexpensive and great for emergencies, a real emergency bivvy is even better.
Then again maybe you don’t want to go the full-on emergency blanket route. In this case, why not get a nice blanket for someone to use at home whenever they want a bit of extra warmth?
SOL Emergency Bivvy
I love how lightweight this bivvy is. At around 8 oz you will barely notice it in a bag. If you have a loved one that travels or drives a lot to and from work, this is an excellent addition to a car kit. It is far more durable than a standard emergency blanket. For extra warmth and protection, you could use this and then put a cheap mylar emergency blanket over you and stay toasty!
SOCHOW Sherpa Fleece Throw Blanket
I love a good quality fleece blanket for the couch or for using with just a sheet in the winter. Our little cabin with loft stays warm upstairs, so a single blanket is all that is needed. All the heat rises to the loft. There are a lot of options for fleece blankets, but this one caught my eye since it is double sided and queen sized rather than the typical throw size of many fleece blankets. If you prefer a smaller size, you can choose that option when you follow the link above!
Small Useful Items
The items on this list are chosen with the idea that they can be used for stocking stuffers or as part of a gift basket for preppers.
Everyone needs a few reliable flashlights around the home. There are plenty of options out there that have multiple ways to power them, but at the minimum, everyone should have a few that run on AA batteries because they are the most common size of rechargeable. AAA battery flashlights are also okay since most AA chargers will accept an AAA battery as well.
Goal Zero Torch 250
I like Goal Zero Products. I have one of their small solar generators, and it is a very nice solution for keeping small things going during a power outage or if we just want some extra power if we are cooking out on top of the mountain.
This flashlight is great because it takes care of a few things for those that find themselves with limited power. First off it is a 250-lumen flashlight. That is not super bright, but it is enough to find your way around and stay safe. I like that it has several ways to recharge it.
When cloudy or if it is at night you can use the hand crank method. During the day or if you have bright light inside, you can rely on the built-in solar panel. The included USB cord can also be used to charge the light.
Two different light modes allow you to save power when you just need a little light. There is even a red emergency light mode. The 4400mAh battery can charge your cell and keep your tablet going. On a full charge, the flashlight lasts up to 48 hours which is good in a world of rechargeable flashlights that have 3 or 4 hours run time.
LiteXpress LXL446001 Led Aluminium Flashlight
I know this little flashlight doesn’t look like much, and the price seems too good to be true, but I bought two of these 3 years ago. My husband has one, and my Dad keeps one beside his bed. These lights are tough, lightweight, and plenty bright! I highly recommend this light for a stocking stuffer or if you are gathering small items for a prepper gift basket. Oh and I can tell you my Dad is very critical when it comes to flashlights and other tools. If there are any problems he is sure is to tell me all about it!
Battery bank chargers for small devices
Practically everyone has a cell phone now, and they are as cheap or cheaper than a landline. Besides cell phones, a lot of us have small devices like e-readers or mp3 players that don’t take a lot of power but can be very nice to have during short or long-term emergencies.
RAVPower 25000mAh Solar Portable Charger
While a lot of devices that have small battery banks to cell phones topped off only boast 4400mAh of reserved energy, this solar power bank holds 25000mAh! So what can you do with that much power? Well, you can charge an Ipad Mini 3 times or an iPhone 9 times. I don’t own one of those myself, but I get the impression they are fairly high drain devices so you might do even better if you have another type of phone or tablet.
This battery bank is easy to keep topped off using the USB charging feature that allows the bank to be fully charged in as little as 5 hours. You could keep this in your car and topped off just in case you get stuck somewhere or keep it on hand in case of winter storms.
A good battery charger is also nice considering how many things still run on AA and AAA batteries. The battery charger below works via USB which is handy. You could always plug the USB charger into a wall adapter if you want to use your standard outlets. EBL batteries are good quality. I plan on replacing some of my other batteries with them.
EBL 40Min iQuick Smart Battery Charger with USB Port and AA 2300mAh Rechargeable Batteries 4 Counts
Otterbox for cell phone
I buy really cheap smartphones because I really don’t talk on the phone much. Phones are mostly for work and emergency communications and keeping telemarketers employed. I realize that a lot of people use their phones a lot more and buy phones that cost as much as my last two computers combined.
A gadget like that needs protection. Otterbox is the name in quality cell phone cases for those that take their phone on a lot of outdoor adventures or have an expensive phone they want to protect. Just be sure to check the exact model number of phone before buying to ensure a good fit.
OtterBox Commuter Series Case for iPhone 8 & iPhone 7
There are a lot of very small radios out there that can slip into a small pocket on a bookbag or even a coat pocket. These are a good choice for those that travel a lot and need lightweight gear that offers a lot of function. I don’t want a huge radio if I am hiking in somewhere but a small one might be nice.
I am going to recommend the radio my dad has been using. He was really into shortwave when I was growing up and still keeps a small radio.
Tecsun Radio PL-380 DSP Fm Am Stereo World Band Receiver
This radio measures a mere 5.3″x1″x3.4″ and weighs 12 oz. It receives AM/FM/Shortwave/Long Wave and comes with an external antenna that clips to the telescoping one for increased reception. A lightweight yet very functional slipcase is also included.
My dad likes that you can power this radio in multiple ways. It takes 3 AA batteries, but the beauty of it is that you can plug this radio in via USB to charge and it will charge the AA batteries so you can use the radio has a battery charger as well!
Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 Weather Emergency Radio
This is an amazing emergency radio because it has so many functions. Kaito makes a rugged radio that can stand up to a lot of outdoor use. If I had to put a radio in a backwoods retreat, this would be top on my list of models to consider. As the product title says, it is not just a shortwave or AM/FM radio but a reading light, battery bank, flashlight, and weather radio all in one!
If you prefer a smaller version and manual tuning then you may want to take a look at the Kaito Voyager KA500.
Gifts For the PrePrepper
The age of a child, maturity, and experience are all factors when it comes to choosing gifts. By the time I was eight years old I was carrying a pocket knife every day and shooting with my Dad and his friends on old logging roads. The world is a lot different now in a lot of ways.
I am going to share a few gifts that I think are okay for most smaller kids. Sure they are not all 100% functional survival gear but you have to start somewhere with concepts, and little kids can have a lot of fun using safe substitutes they can use on their own.
Little Explorers 20 Piece Camping Gear Toy Tools Play Set
I would have liked this set when I was under 6. It is a really cute set for playing inside and start introducing some concepts. Add in a little tent or indoor playhouse, and this would be a lot of fun in the winter or summer! The flashlight and lantern light up.
Adventure Kidz – Outdoor Exploration Kit
Kiddey Kids Play Tent & Playhouse
This is just a little play tent, but it does remind me how I used to take all the blankets, chairs, and pillows I could find and made forts inside when I was a kid. At my Grandma’s I would hide in the space in the corner created by the couch and stash all my Cabbage Patch dolls and fake food there.
Pacific Play Tents Kids Hunt’s Cabin Tent Playhouse
This is just cute. What can I say? A tent made to look like a hunting cabin. The design below is roomier and a little less expensive regardless of being made by the same company.
Pacific Play Tents 60801 Club House Play Tent
Tent style playhouses are a great solution for those that are renting or don’t have a lot of space. I like that they can be moved indoors and outdoors depending on the season.
Learning Resources Sprouts Camp Out
This is a cute little set for adding to the tents I linked to.
Okay, I will stop with the super cute kid stuff for now!
Hopefully, I have helped you think about some reasonable options for the holidays!
Even if you don’t buy any of the items I have suggested, I hope it has helped you think about reasonable options for your family and budget. Feel free to add in other suggestions in the comments.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. I might put up a Christmas tree this year! Matt and I are the only ones in our home and we got in the habit of not doing any holiday decorations besides a few lights because we spent so many years living in a camper or unfinished house. This year may be different in terms of decoration. I am at least getting a garland or something.
I got a puppy last year so it is going to be hard to top that this year.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
Samantha Biggers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Still can’t find the right gift: Get Backdoor Survival LIFELINE