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Chocolate-Covered Gift Ideas

Afraid of sounding spoiled or show-off-y, I wasn’t planning on writing a post about what presents I got for Christmas. But then Caroline had a good point: it’s fun to see what others receive, because—if you’re anything like me—you have a hard time thinking of gift ideas!

vegan body shop

My favorite part of gift-getting is seeing how well my friends and family know me. Even if I don’t actually need the present they’ve picked out, I’m always touched at the meaning behind the gift. Although nothing can compare to the best present ever :).

NYC2010 1655

Other Gift Ideas:

  • clothes, makeup, fuzzy socks, and warm sweaters
  • Silhouette digital cutting machine (for scrapbooking)
  • a new camera and a baby tri-pod
  • reusable bamboo utentil set made out of recycled plastic (See? They know me so well!)
  • a donation made in my name to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary
  • A new pair of my favorite running shoes :)
  • and the tiniest ipod ever that I can hook to my pants when I run.

sports bra bamboo

Money can’t buy happiness

As cheesy/sappy as it sounds, the real gift was spending time with my family, watching their faces as they opened what I’d picked out for them. At the end of the day, stuff is just that: stuff. Yeah, I’m lucky that my family can afford it. But does that really make me lucky? I feel much luckier to be surrounded by love than by things.

You needn’t go far to see that wealth and happiness don’t always go hand in hand. Just look at the drugs, suicides, and scandal surrounding some of America’s wealthiest families. When my mom asks what I want for Christmas or my birthday, I often tell her—very seriously—not to buy a thing, because there’s really nothing I need. However, she says that would make her unhappy; she enjoys giving us gifts even more than we enjoy getting them. Have you ever experienced this, where you wait excitedly, screaming, “Open mine! Open mine!” as a loved one opens gifts?

One year, whilst living in China, we did receive very little, in terms of material presents. (We were moving soon, and thus didn’t want to cart things back. Plus, China lacks such American-teenage staples as J.Crew and Abercrombie. Oh the horrors lol.) Yet that Christmas was just as merry and bright as any other. We laughed so much, that year, opening package after package of socks—my mom’s attempt at trying to provide her usual crazy number of wrapped boxes under the tree.

Like Cindy Lou Who, I’d be fine giving all the stuff up. Well… maybe not all of it. I’d have a hard time parting with that mini ipod! 😉

Question of the Day:
Best holiday gift you received this year?

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 
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  1. i was worried about doing a post about this too but i enjoy seeing what people received. besides, it’s not like i’m buying/receiving presents all year round i’m a frugal gal! my fave gift was a pair of frye boots. i’ve been wanting a pair of boots for ages and tried on probably 20 pairs over the course of this year and finally found ones that i loved!

  2. Camille says:

    The best gift I ever received was actually for my birthday. My Dad had gotten a photo of us from when I was about 9 months old blown up and framed. In the picture, I am sitting on his shoulders and it is totally candid and I just started weeping when I opened it :)

  3. It’s a tie between my new pair of glittens & an electric blanket because my apartment is absolutely frigid!

    1. Ohmigosh, electric blankets are awesome-licious! I had one when we lived in PA, and I do not know how I would’ve survived without it! :)

      1. Heather says:

        I have an electric blanket in my car (plus into the cigarette lighter). Best thing for the cold Ohio winters!

  4. Demelza says:

    As I was visiting family in New Jersey this Christmas, I ended up being caught in the massive blizzard that occurred up there. Even better? Our heater stopped working!
    Thus, my favorite gift was the fuzzy Kingdom Hearts II blanket one of my brothers gave me. He had originally planned on giving me some warm gloves (since all of mine are fingerless/had holes in them, and where I live there tends to be snow up to my knees at certain points during the year so I definitely needed a new pair, haha), but it turned out the blanket was an even better present!
    Glad to hear you had a lovely Christmas, Katie. <3

    1. Ick, I heard about that blizzard. Hate blizzards :(.

  5. ahh is that body shop body butter!?!! I got those too! the cranberry and vanilla!?!

    1. Ok, we kinda went crazy in that store. I couldn’t decide among the coconut, almond, and cranberry and vanilla… but we had a 50% off everything coupon, so my mom “made” me get them all! Like a little kid in a candy store…

  6. Aww that’s so sweet that you tell your mum not to get you gifts! And that she got you tons of socks when you were in China! Sweet! :)
    My favourite present was my family too! Seeing my family who flew in from America to be with us was great! 😀

  7. My favorite gift was definitely my new tattoo! I’m addicted :)

  8. I don’t know if you’ve already talked about this, but when and why did you live in China? That’s awesome!

    1. I lived there for a yr and a half in high school. My dad was the president of an international insurance company. He’s still in intl. insurance, but now he just travels a lot and we get to live here. I loved living in China, but I wouldn’t want to stay forever. I missed home!!

  9. The best gift for me this holiday season was spending time with both of my kids together.. they are older now so this is a rarity. I also loved the kindle I got!

    1. Aww, that’s what my mom says too. And I bet they feel the same way. I was so excited to come home to family when I lived away. It was better than any material thing :).

  10. Hmmmm……. I really loved all of my Christmas presents. Everything was pretty practical (clothes, kitchen gadgets, cookbooks, etc,), but if I had to pick my absolute favorite, it would be a tie between my heated mattress pad (my parents know me really well as I normally freeze at night!), the crazy lion hat that my brother got me, my mini egg/pancake pan, my new exercise pants…… ok,ok, I really can’t decide! 😉

    But I completely agree that the best part of Christmas is seeing your family open their presents. I especially loved it when my Dad saw the coffee tree that I got him and claimed that he was going to start a coffee plantation (ya, that probably wouldn’t work so well in Colorado, but it was still a really cute remark :) ).

    1. Haha a coffee plantation in Colorado… yeah, I guess that wouldn’t work so well with all the snow and cold weather :). But he could open a coffee shop!

  11. Tricia says:

    I got a new pair of running shoes for Christmas and I was overjoyed so you’re right, it is a great gift idea 😉

  12. What a fun Christmas! So many neat things.
    My best gift was a quiet day relaxing with my husband and cat :)

  13. This year I recieved a lot of running stuff. It meant a lot to me because it showed how much my family supports me! =D

  14. Albizia says:

    Girl, you’ve got a big heart! You know the true value of gifts and that money isn’t what makes them precious. It’s the love of the people who make them.

    Best holiday gift? I don’t know. I didn’t get any material gifts for Christmas this year. Actually, I don’t think I needed anything material at that moment anyway. Maybe the best gift you can get is to see that your family and friends love you. And a second chance if you’ve screwed things up :) .

    1. Yeah, seriously the stuff does NOT matter. What good is a bunch of stuff if you’re all alone and lonely, right? I hate being lonely.

  15. my sister came to visit! I’m just so grateful that anyone can stand putting up with me at all that just being a friend/family is the best gift in the world (sappy but true)

    1. Hahaha “family putting up with you” is a good one :). I’m so glad my family puts up with my quirks!

  16. Namaste Gurl says:

    Glad you had a lovely, family and gift- filled Christmas!
    Best present….hmmm, that’s a toughie. Probably a tie between my 10X zoom camera and garmin :-)

    1. Oh gosh, gotta love new cameras!!

  17. Love the message Katie…that you dont need material things to be happy.

    Our strategy is to travel as a family than to buy each other gifts so bday, anniversaries, random holidays, we keep it extremely small or nothing, and save up for a trip together.

    And during the year, if I see something I want, I buy it. I dont wait til Dec to buy it. Either for me, or the family. We do year round common sense “gifts”, i.e. if we really want/need it, then we get it. Takes the pressure off in Dec.

    Great post and love your ideas!

    :)

    1. We’re all like that too, which makes everyone hard to shop for! I try to think of a present for my sister, but seriously she already buys what she wants. So this year I got her a dutch oven with an $80 csn coupon code I had. LOL gotta love those blogging perks, right? 😉

  18. Gloria says:

    My parents adopted a panda in my name through the WWF. I cried happy tears and forgot all about the sparkly cupcake christmas tree ornaments, fancy brownie pan, and sparkly snowflake necklace I had previously opened. It meant so much to me that my mom and dad can really see how passionate I am about saving the lives of animals.

    Although my brother’s gift of Donkey Kong for Wii was a close second 😉 I can’t stop playing!!

    1. Awwwwww mine did that “adopt a panda” thing too! Mine wasn’t through WWF, but it sounds like a similar concept. I got to name him and everything :). I am OBSESSED with pandas. In fact, I went through a phase where my room was decorated with them :).

  19. Becca says:

    I got the exact same bamboo set you did! Same color and everything.
    We’re bamboo twins. :)

    I actually had to ask for mine, though.

    1. Aww hehe bamboo twins. I love it! :)

  20. Rach says:

    Girl! You lived in China? When? And where? I spent my teen years in Wuhan! :)

    Hooray for spending time with people you love. And for getting gifts that you don’t need, but are special because people know you so well. :)

    1. Oooh yay, another China expat! :)
      I lived in Shanghai for a year and a 1/2 from 2001-2003ish, when I was in high school too.

      1. Rach says:

        That’s amazing! I so went to visit Shanghai during those years! I was always amazed at all the foreigners there (not quite so many in Wuhan). Maybe we crossed ways on one of my visits there! In fact, I’m so going to say that we did ’cause it’s just more fun and there’s no one to prove we didn’t. 😉

      2. I bet we did! Did you learn a lot of Chinese? I wish I’d studied it more while there :-?.

      3. Rach says:

        I did learn a lot of Chinese. I wouldn’t say that I was fluent, but I definitely understood at least 90% of what I heard. I probably had about a second grader’s vocabulary in general, but some topics I was more fluent on than others. And hey, it’s never too late to start learning again! :)

  21. Brandie says:

    OHHHH! I think my new fav gift was my VitaMix!! Acckk!!!! :D. I love that bamboo utensil set!! I got myself reusable bamboo drinking straws last year I love them! Love fuzzy socks too :) Got 2 pair last year but none this year Oh no! Good thing they’re still in good shape!

    1. You got a vita mix?! Oh I can see how that’d be your fave present :).

  22. Fi says:

    I think spending quality time with family is soo nice at this time of year, my face gift? Probably a locket I got from my dad. :) x

  23. Jillian says:

    Looks like you had a great Christmas! I love the idea of making a donation in your name to a good cause! My sister and I always try to spoil each other on Christmas, so I got some really nice stuff from her! My favorite gift this year wasn’t even the biggest gift that I got, but its one of the Ani Phyo books…it couldn’t be bought here so it was ordered in for me…it hasn’t arrived, but I got the gift recepit under the tree, haha. Can’t wait to get it!

    1. Oh I’ve been looking at those books, debating whether or not to get *another* cookbook… but hers look SO good! Enjoy! :)

  24. Mandy says:

    What camera did you get? The Mr. and I splurged on a Canon T1I this winter and I’m completely in love!

    I suppose that would also be the best gift this year, although last year I got to spend it with my family, which was truly the best gift. :) They live 7000 miles away so it’s hard sometimes.

    1. I needed a new point-n-shoot one (a camera that’s portable-sized). I loooooved my old Kodak, but sadly it broke and they don’t make it anymore. My mom got me a new Kodak for Christmas, but I actually returned it because it’s *too* small and doesn’t have a viewfinder. I am so picky about cameras… so I’m going to have to look for a different one. I wish they still made my old one :(.

  25. BroccoliHut says:

    Gotta say—I was pretty psyched about all my much need kitchen tools (potato masher, ladle, slotted spoon). Not sure how I survived this long without them!

  26. Claire says:

    I couldn’t agree more with what you said about Christmas being more about family and friends reather than recieving gifts. I find it much more enjoyable giving gifts than recieving them, when I travelled to Vietnam last year I only wanted to come home to give people their presents then I wanted to go straight back! My favourite present this year would be either Dawn French’s autoboigraphy ‘Dear Fatty’ or ‘Grumpy Old Men’, a BBC series inwhich some 35-55 year old public figgures discuss things that make them grumpy (somehow it’s hilarious). I organised everyone in our family to put money in to get mum a Kitchen Aid mixer – she was the most happy and least stressed of us all on Christmas! (Who’da thought?!)

    1. Woah, so cool you went to Vietnam! We actually almost moved there at one point… but ended up in The Philippines instead.

  27. You’re right…getting closer to and time with family! Especially since I’m moving 2,000 miles from home in a couple days. On the bright side it’s to warm weather so no more blizzards!

    1. I could go for moving to warmer weather right now! Hawaii… California… :)

      1. Vegas for me!!Not so much what it’s known for…but they seem to have a nice, big running club and plenty of mountains to bike on, yeah!

  28. So true! I feel waaaay better giving gifts than receiving them! Last year I asked my siblings whether we could all donate money to the hospital my little niece was treated at instead of giving each other gifts- so, that was the best gift I received and the best gift I gave :)

    1. Aw, that’s such a sweet idea. I might have to steal it for next year!

  29. whitney says:

    This is really touching Katie. When my dad lost his job 4 years ago, I felt like the only kid in the world not getting presents on Christmas. It made me so sad that my parents were so hurt and worried that we wouldn’t understand. I tried to tell them that I didn’t care about the presents but, it broke their hearts, I could tell. Now, my dad is still unemployed and I could still care less about Christmas presents! I just loving creating new memories with my family and being together. I know they would give me the world if they could and that makes me happy.

    Whitney

    1. Oh Whitney, thanks so much for sharing. I didn’t want to make this too public, but my dad also lost his job (in April). He just got a new one in November, so that’s kinda why our Christmas was over-the-top in terms of expensive gifts this year–we were celebrating, because we really didn’t know when he’d get another job, and living like that is so scary. But there’s sometimes an advantage to your dad not having a job: he has more time to spend at home! hehe I dragged my dad to lots of restaurants, took walks with the puppies, etc. It was fun to have him home, even if the circumstances weren’t ideal. *Hugs to you, girl!*

  30. Sarah says:

    I’m glad you had a great christmas! I saw the new ipon nano at the store, I agree it is so small… I feel like I would break it!

  31. i couldn’t agree more. i had more fun watching my families faces as we all laughed and smiled versus actually opening gifts. oh but i can help but melt looking at these photos of you opening your gifts and ur sister :) Katie you have such a glow in your eyes/face…like the innocence of a child on Christmas morning. alway hold onto that. too many people lose it :(

    XOXO

  32. India says:

    I like giving out gifts too, im so happy to see others happy faces, people always have to force me to open my pressies :)