MintStyle with Rachel Weingarten: Holiday Gift Guide – Part 1


It’s December and you know what that means: The frenzy of the gift-giving season has begun again.

I’m a fan of gifts of experience and “two-part” gifts.

The gift of an experience can harbor memories that last a lifetime. For example, you can spend an evening seeing a holiday show with your family member. But a night out at the theater doesn’t have to be stuffy. So if your brood has outgrown The Nutcracker, consider a new family tradition like Old Jews Telling Jokes or a dinner theater show.

A “two-part” gift can be a present that is wrapped in a reusable container or box, or a gift that has multiple uses. If you want to give your favorite niece a gift card to a department store, consider presenting it to her in a cute wallet or clutch. You’ll add some funds to her next shopping spree and give her an accessory to take along with her.

Some other gift ideas for this holiday season include:

Safe and Chic

One of the safest gifts to buy is a scarf. Size isn’t an issue and who couldn’t use something warm and lovely this time of year?

The Circus scarf by Annie Selke ($98) is a soft woven wool shawl style scarf that would make a lovely gift for your mother in law or favorite aunt.

Sholdit ($49-$79) touts itself as being the world’s first scarf, wrap and clutch in one. It’s an eternity scarf (no beginning or end) that can be worn around your neck or in a crossbody style.

Cleverly sewn in the lining are two zippered pockets large enough to contain a passport or wallet, your cell phone and ID. It’s a brilliant way to keep your valuables safe when traveling or on a night out on the town and it’s a great gift for your jet setting best friend.

Snap to It

When it comes to cameras, this holiday season it’s all about teeny, cute and incredibly powerful.

The Nikon Coolpix S01 ($179.95) is about as big as a deck of cards and comes in a variety of flashy colors. Measuring in at 3.1 x 2.1 x 0.7 in. and weighing only 3.4 oz, this baby doesn’t take up a lot of space. You do sacrifice speed and picture quality though.

If video is more their thing, the Vivitar Xvn-1 digital recorder ($149 on sale, usually $179) is a sleek, small and very sharp camcorder, with amazing 1080p video and still image quality. Enhanced 4x digital zoom and 3” touch screen LCD make this dummyproof and perfect for even beginners.

Want to punch up the gift? Add a Sun Sniper Camera Strap ($67-$89), an over the shoulder ergonomic camera strap with ingenious anti-theft wire design.

Or add on a Vimeo Plus account ($59.95 annually or $9.95 monthly) to showcase their definition videos online. The plus account includes 5 GB uploading a week and no banner adds.

Enhance Your Tech

It can be hard to try to choose a gift for the technologically inclined, since there are countless manufacturers, versions, sizes, colors and capabilities. Instead, consider buying them a tech enhancement or accessory for their system.

I know it’s not nice to play favorites, but the Solemate portable speaker by Jabra (reduced from $199 to $159.99 in Best Buy stores and online through the month of December) is one of my favorite products this season.

Simply connect the Solemate with a cable or wirelessly through Bluetooth (MP3 players, tablets, smartphone). It’s also got practical audio reminders to charge your battery.

And I cannot tell a lie: I get a cheap thrill every time I hear it say, “You are now connected to your Solemate.” If only.

Felix TwoHands and Monkey Do Tablet and eReader Stands (about $29.00) are ridiculously cute and made of aluminum, plastic and silicon and fit most tablets and eReaders.

While it seems like such a no-brainer, Felix products actually make using and viewing a tablet or eReader so much easier and more comfortable. Best of all, they’re easy to carry around, making a tablet more of a tool or auxiliary screen.

Fujitsu ScanSnap ($249.95) This scanner helps to tame the paper monster by making the scanning process really easy. You can scan any document into a Word file and it automatically becomes editable – even images.

The ScanSnap is compatible with other apps and programs including Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs, Excel, and more. It also scans photos beautifully, which makes it perfect for anyone trying to digitalize their momentos.

Native Union Play ($49.99) Part refrigerator magnet, part cleverly designed tech toy, this adorable video memo pad allows you to record video messages and reminders (I love you, take out the garbage, etc.) for family or roommates.

While the video quality isn’t very particularly impressive, the concept and execution are. Stick it on grandma’s fridge and remind her how much she’s loved, or buy one for your brother who wants to leave video hugs for the family while he’s on the road.

Smart Gifts for Little Ones

I won’t even try to predict guess the most popular blinking, whirring, chirping, flashing kid’s toy this season, but two nice ideas include:

VTech’s InnoTab 2S ($100) is yet another toy that will make your kids smarter than you are. It’s a tablet geared to children ages 3-9.

Features include: wireless access, a photo/video camera, interactive animated e-books, creative activities, tilt sensor learning games and a ton of apps geared to kids.

Pup Light 2 (under $20.00). If your child’s responsibility includes walking the family dog, this collar with a spotlight makes a great gift. The collar is equipped with a safety light that keeps your dog visible from distances of up to 30 feet away.

Who knows? Maybe your child will be inspired to take the dog out a little more often.

Look for part two of my holiday gift guide next week!

Rachel Weingarten had a really hard time whittling down her list of best gifts of the season. Connect with Rachel online at her new gift etiquette and ideas site for even more gifts ideas and on Twitter @rachelcw Write to Rachel with your burning style questions at mintstylerachel [at]




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