Saturday, December 1, 2012

20 Great Holiday Gift Ideas Under $20!

Wow, Christmas is less than a month away!
Is it just me, or did 2012 zoom by? :<) I can't believe it's almost 2013.
But before the new year begins, Christmas is on the horizon with all the goodies this season brings. Including gifts! Love it.
I thought it would be fun to share another 20 gift ideas including some of my new and past favs, all under $20
 I've included some products and books not previously reviewed here at My Real Life Reviews and some that are favs from the recent past.
Tis the season.....Happy Shopping! :<)
White Christmas // Frosted White Glass / Clear Crystal Snowflake Charm Bracelet Adjustable
If You Just Believe  //  Antique Brass Finish Charm / Czech Glass / Cluster Earrings
 First up, a bit of bling from Stacy Garrett Jewelry.  Wowsa, oh so pretty!
This is one of my all-time fav. places to shop over at Etsy. Beautiful and VERY affordable jewelry and excellent customer service too. And who ever really has enough bling in their lives!!!

A great online stop that will cut your shopping list down to size in a big hurry. Here's my complete review of Stacy Garrett Jewelry from 2011. Now there's even more beautiful choices to enjoy.  
I love some of the recent additions to Stacy's bracelet and necklace collections in addition to the dozens of wonderful earring choices available. Many with a seasonal flair!
Still at Etsy, another of my fav places to shop over there is Erzulie Cosmetics.
If you are looking for cosmetic and skin care products for yourself or those you love, with pure, natural ingredients and ones that are reasonably priced, Erzulie Cosmetics is definitely an online shop you'll want to check out.
I've reviewed a couple of their products here at MRLR already, including the best (by far) Clarifying Liquid Foundation that I have ever used! And I've tried a lot of brands over the years.
For gifting, here are just two of dozens of gift ideas from Erzulie Cosmetics:
On Sale 3 Pack Your Choice  Aromatherapy Balms  Lipstick Rx Color & Shine   Lipstick Blush
I use these lip and cheek color sticks  all the time. Beautiful, subtle shades, creamy smooth texture and they last and last. And best of all, no ingredients that make you cringe.
If you like a bit more shine to finish your lipstick or on their own:
Check out this all natural three pack of lip glosses.

As an avid reader, I don't think there's any better gift to give or to receive than a new book or ebook. A gift that can be enjoyed for years to come.
Here are some of my recent and past book favs. And all under $20:
Clattering Sparrows by Land, Marilyn published by (2010) [Hardcover]
Clattering Sparrows by Marilyn Land is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed recently.I read it in a couple of days and let other projects/books wait while I did! 
The name Clattering Sparrows is the English translation for the Chinese word: Mahjong, as early players of this ancient and beloved game equated the sound of the game tiles to a sound reminiscent of numerous sparrows squabbling over food crumbs and the sound of flax and hemp blowing in the wind.
I loved the characters in this book, the bonds of friendship and family that touched my heart and also the opportunity to share the author's personal, mini-historical tour of U.S. history from the early 1940's up until the present. In part autobiographical, truth can be stranger than fiction and in the case of this book, a story that provides an engaging and intriguing journey from the first page to the last.
From the Amazon product page:
The friendship between five-year-olds Sara Miller and Judy Levine begins in the summer of 1941, when their families move into adjoining row houses in Washington, D.C. Almost immediately, the United States enters World War II, and their childhood is thrust into a world dominated by the consequences of history. When asked to help their sick friend, Su Ling, keep up with her studies as she recuperates from rheumatic fever, her grandmother, An Lei, teaches them the ancient Chinese game of Mahjong, destined to become an invariable part of their lives as it merges cultures, love, and friendship. Separated for the first time when they enter college, their personal choices, shaped and impacted by half a century of unparalleled wars, loss, and heartbreak, only bring them closer together, as they marry, raise their families, and pursue their chosen careers. Their lifelong journey, caught in a web of intricate and surprising twists of fate, surfaces in the public eye when a Ukrainian farm girl inadvertently unlocks a thirty-five-year mystery that has haunted them since their graduation from high school. From coast to coast and across the globe, their heartwarming and compelling story confirms the powerful bond of friendship.


Another book that I read in the past year and thoroughly enjoyed is by one of my all-time fav author's John Grisham. You can read my full review here.

What did I like about this book? In a nutshell: everything!

Entertaining from the first page to the last. Characters that literally "jump off the page" with their authenticity. And lots of (unexpected)laughs too, not the norm in most of Grisham's novels. A page-turner that I read in two days and that would have been even less time, if I hadn't had other things I had to do.

Grisham fan or not, this is definitely a novel to consider for book lover's on your list this season.

Here's a great gift idea for any knitter on your list: Cast On, Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor.
I must admit, I've been for the most part one of those "lazy" knitters who use the same bind-off and cast off techniques for most of my knit projects, year after year. But after getting this book, I feel like I'm ready to expand my finishing techniques, thanks to the easy to understand instructions and photos (not hard- to- fathom diagrams, love it) provided in this knitting reference book.

Spiral bound so it stays flat at the page you're using too, I like that too. As it says on the cover: this book really does provide: the perfect start and finish for every knitting project.
From the Amazon product page:

Discover the perfect beginning and ending for every knitting project! This one-of-a-kind reference presents more than 50 ways to cast on and bind off, creating edges that are tighter, looser, stretchier, lacier, longer-lasting, prettier--whatever your project needs, you'll find it here. Detailed instructions for each technique are combined with step-by-step photography so that nothing is left to chance. At-a-glance charts identify the best cast on or bind off for various types of knitting, as well as cast on/bind off pairs that work well together. This indispensable guide will ensure that all of your knitting projects are polished and pleasing, from start to finish!

Speaking of craft books, here's one endorsed by the oh, so fabulous Mr. Cheddar: Crafting with Cat Hair by Kaori Tsutaya. 
A book to consider for all the cat-lovers on your list. The easy-to-make crafts in this book are definitely doable by crafts and wannabe crafters alike, including some that would be fun for kids to make too (with adult supervision).  
How's this for a visual endorsement for collecting cat-fur from grooming sessions!
Read Cheddies' full review of this fun book. 
Another great reference book, this one perfect for any writer on your list:
The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages is an excellent resource for writers looking for online places (websites, blogs, newsletters...) that publish quality book reviews.
 As a writer/author myself, I know how hard it can be to find really good reviewers who write quality, comprehensive reviews.

This book provides detailed information for over 200 reviewers including: what types of books they review, readership, web links and other pertinent specifics for that particular blog/website.

 I was not aware that a review resource book like this even existed up until this past year but I'm certainly glad I found out about The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages (now in it's third edition).
And yes, My Real Life Reviews is included in this latest edition! My blog is in excellent company. Stop by their website for even more valuable resources and updates for all writers.


And now for some suggestions for the cooks and wannabee cooks on your list.
The Pickled Pantry by Andrea Chesman is a not only a treasure-trove of recipe ideas for all kinds of pickles, relishes, chutneys and preserves, it also provides a recipe section including main dishes,  salads and dressings of all kinds, incorporating some of the preserve recipes from the book.
This is a visually stunning book. The colorful and whimsical illustrations throughout are so appealing and eye-catching. Best of all, the instructions are easy to understand and go a long way towards demystifying the fine art of preserving and canning. On sale now at Amazon so a great time to buy one or several copies of this luscious cookbook. If you've never tried making homemade pickles and preserves before, this might be the cookbook to change your mind!


Easy Vegetarian One Pot is a cookbook I gravitate back to, again and again.
Providing a sumptuous variety of vegetarian main dishes, all made in one pot. My kind of cooking with recipes that are easy to follow, for the most part contain easy to find ingredients and provide consistently good results. Full color photos throughout, add to the visual appeal of this beautiful cookbook.
Read my complete review here, including a recipe sampler from the book for a luscious Fall/Winter fav soup that made me a parsnip-lover in the process! And parsnips were NOT one of my fav veggies before I tried this soup.


After all those yummy cookbooks, some easy ways to get and stay fit! ;<)

I am loving this Jane Fonda fitness DVD series!

 Here's my complete review for Fit & Strong.  

This DVD helped me to transition back into working out on a regular basis, when I had lapsed (big time) in that area. Jane Fonda, now in her 70's (amazing, but true, she looks fantastic) continues to inspire people, including me, to get up off the couch and just do it, no matter what age your are or present fitness level.

Jane Fonda: Prime Time - Walkout

Since I wrote my first review, I've  also purchased the Jane Fonda Walkout another DVD in this series. I like it just as much as the first one. This DVD features 2 aerobic workouts, each providing the equivalent of walking 1 mile. Again, a great way for anyone to ease back into a regular exercise program.

 Jane is so personable, encouraging and inspiring. I look forward to my exercise time these days and rarely skip. Not something that's always been the norm in the past. A wonderful gift idea too for anyone who is trying to shed their "couch potato" persona and get moving again! Priced at less than $10 now at Amazon! That's my kind of bargain.


Mr. Cheddar is back with another gift suggestion, this one for the cats and d-o-g-s too!

Mr. Cheddar is a big fan of Zuke's treats, he reviewed their Hip Action Natural Cat Treats a while back and continues to enjoy them (a lot!) on a regular basis. Available in a variety of types, flavours and purrfect for adding to your fav feline or canine's stocking this Christmas.


Speaking of stocking stuffers here are some of my fav choices in that category:

I've been a big fan of Caf-Lib Organic Grain Beverage for a long time (click to read my complete review). After a recent health scare (click to read about that day!) that was traced back to caffeine, I've now kicked the regular coffee habit completely and am enjoying Caf-Lib Organic on an even more frequent basis.

I've tried a lot of coffee substitutes over the years and this product (click to visit their website) is by far the best. Great taste, no caffeine and organic too! Love it. Would make a great stocking stuffer or gift basket addition, for anyone trying to kick the coffee habit or as a delish coffee alternative.


Back  in May of last year, I reviewed the Seven Year Pen, after receiving one as a gift (mine's the pretty mauve one with the feather). I'm happy to report that my pen as of today is still writing just fine.

 I think this is one of the coolest little gifts for yourself or someone else, that $$ can buy. And for less than $10 too! Considering the millions and millions of pens that are discarded each year, this is definitely an easy way of putting a personal dent in that particular "waste pile"!


For the full scoop on a soothing, foot pampering product, read my review of Badger Foot Balm.

 I've tried a lot of foot lotions, creams and rubs over the years and this product is definitely at the top of that list. And who doesn't need more TLC for their overworked and under appreciated footsies! Love the attractive tin that this natural product comes in too, great for gifting! Nice for sharing too, with someone you love.

There's something so special about getting a foot rub, isn't there?
Just don't forget to return the favor! ;<)


For anyone transitioning away from harsher, additive-laden hair care products, here's a hair cleansing duo to consider, for yourself or as a welcome stocking stuffer.

I've tried a lot of natural and some, not-so natural shampoos and conditioners over the years and I've yet to find any other brand that I like better. Nature Clean Pure-Sensitive Shampoo and Conditioner (click for my full review) leaves my hair feeling very clean but not stripped, soft, manageable, even humidity resistant.

With a ingredient list that won't make you cringe and priced at about $20. for both of the products at retail stores I've checked. The shampoo is available at Amazon, but I couldn't find the conditioner there and at other online retailers.


More natural tress-care! Again, this is another product that has become my personal fav. Giovanni L.A. Natural Styling Gel (click for full review) . Natural hair gel/styling products are few and far between, when it comes to those that truly do "walk the talk" and deliver with ingredients that (I'll say it again!) don't make a person cringe and still deliver great results.

I had been looking for a better option when it came to hair gel for a long time and this one is definitely a keeper! Available at Amazon for less than $10.And you don't need a lot of product (and I have very thick hair) so this 6.8 oz. tube goes a long way!!!


And last but certainly not least. A unique gift idea for almost anyone to enjoy!

I've been training with Lumosity Brain Training programs for about a year now and I continue to be impressed by what their services provide. You can read my initial full review here.

What I've been most pleased with is that the training areas (speed for one) that weren't my best when I started are now the ones that I continue to significantly improve upon. Overall, my BPI (brain performance index) has gone up over 800 points and still rising! The games continue to be fun and just enough of a challenge, with only a limited time commitment required.

Lumosity offers free trial programs. This would be a thoughtful and unique gift for anyone (and all age groups) on your list. If they like it, they can always sign up for a paid membership and these are very reasonably priced.


I hope you find these gift suggestions helpful and inspiring!

Wishing You a Magical Holiday Season!


  1. Excellent gift suggestions. And some really unique ideas too.

  2. wow this is excellent, I don't wear make-up but I love the colours especially some of the names, and a book, any book always, but I'm going to try something I've never done not spend at all until I have enough money for a car... :) wish me luck on that one lol I love everything here, you are a wonderful shop advisor, Hey you should consider writing a books like Sophie Kinsella and the shopaholic series, it could be called Geraldine and the reviewhollic series.. the first confession of a reviewee, Second Reviewhollic takes Quebec, then then Reviewehollic renews vows...I'll guess we'll drop the baby ones or you could do the Review and Boyfriend hopaholilic a Review from a Woman the same product Review from a man's point of view (real of created, the man not the point, but the view of...although you know technically the ball's in your court hihi ;)

  3. thank you for all your gift ideas
    i am off to look at the cosmetic products.

    we woke to a half inch of snow, still it is raining now
    winter slowly is presenting itself
    wishing you snow.

    lovely sunday to you

  4. I love your reviews, they are always honest, and forthcoming...

    And what a collection of gifts, there is sure to be something for everyone.


  5. Hi Joe, This time of year, I think most people are looking for something a bit different/unique for gift ideas. I'm glad if I can help!

    Hi Lorraine, I'm glad you enjoyed this post. I agree about books, one of my all-time fav gifts, most genres too.

    Hi Tammie, You'll love Erzulie Cosmetics, great products and service and products you can feel good about using too.

    Hi Jen, You've made my day Jen, thanks so much. I did try to feature something for everyone. And Ched even included the DOGGIES with his recommendations. And we all know how Ched feels about D-O-G-S!! ;<)

    Happy Shopping, G

  6. oo very just gave me a couple good ideas....hope you have a great month of december!!

  7. I own the seven year pen - the one with the pen tip that is green which is really nice to own.

    thanks for the suggestions. hope you have a great holiday!


Thank you for your visits and feedback! :<)

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