Sunday, December 6, 2015

Texas Homemaking's 2015 Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for great gifts to round out your holiday shopping? You've come to the right place! This year, I've put together a hodge-podge list of interesting Christmas presents for children and adults that you can purchase or make over the next couple of weeks. So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, warm your feet by the fire, and take a gander at some of my holiday picks!


How Machines Work: Zoo Break by David Macaulay

If you’re looking for a great book to purchase your child this season, make sure you add DK’s How Machines Work: Zoo Break by David Macaulay to your shopping list! This is without a doubt one of the best books on the market for children interested in learning all about basic machines like planes, levers, the wheel and axle, the pulley, and screw. What makes this book simply amazing is the context in which these advanced science ideas are explained in such a way that even the earliest learner can appreciate how these machines work.

Along with learning, readers are engaged in a hands-on story about a sloth and mouse who work together using simple machines to escape from the zoo. Chalk full of detailed drawings that help explain physic concepts, the book also features a three dimensional lever in the form of a see-saw to help the main characters soar across their paddock fence. This happened to be one of the best ways I’ve ever seen demonstrating levers inside of a book – kudos to the author for his creativity!

The story line is well written and engages young readers from the start. My youngest absolutely fell in love with this book and we’ve now read it several times. He was extremely interested from the moment he picked up the book and there was a pulley system he could engage on the front cover – I can’t wait to purchase this for some of his buddies. They will think it is the coolest book ever!

In addition to a great read filled with a plethora of information, it also includes a lovely glossary for parents and children to defer to when needed. There is also a table of contents which allows for quick searching regarding a specific topic.

Aside for this book, David Macaulay has penned wonderful titles in the past that our family has thoroughly enjoyed, such as: Castle, City, Pyramid, Cathedral, The Way Things Work, and more. Macaulay has won numerous awards as a writer, including the Caldecott Medal, the Horn Book Award and the MacArthur Fellows Program award.

How Machines Work: Zoo Break is available to purchase at Amazon

Casey's Bright Red Christmas by Holly Dufek

Casey and her friend, Tillus, are at it again, but this time Christmas on the farm is in jeopardy. Casey has been too busy to finish all her farm chores and decorate for the holidays. What's even worse is that she caught a cold and can't finish everything on her list. 

In a loving tale of friendship during the Christmas season, Tillus and the farm implements work together to create a special Christmas surprise for Casey. The gang decorate the tree, wrap bales of hay, and even make festive cookies in order to put a smile on Casey's face. 

Young children will love to hear this Christmas story read aloud to them this year. In addition, the author included a yummy frosted sugar cookie recipe in the back of the book you can bake with your little ones. 

If you enjoy the Casey series, be sure to check out a previous review on the first book of the series! Casey's Bright Red Christmas is available to purchase at Amazon.

The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

If you're a fan of the Pout-Pout Fish stories, then you are going to want to add The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish to your collection! Mr. Fish is on a quest to find the perfect presents for all his friends: For a gift should be big, and a gift should be bright, and a gift should be perfect - guaranteed to bring delight. And a gift should have meaning plus a bit of bling-zing, so I'll shop til I drop for each just-right thing.


Young readers will enjoy following Mr. Fish through all the unique sea stores and the whimsical illustrations that fill each page. As the story progress, Mr. Fish finds he is unable to find the right gift and becomes upset. However, Miss Shimmer reminds Mr. Fish that the best gifts of all come straight from the heart. I love that this story relays to children that gifts made by them for others have meaning and are just as thoughtful as store bought gifts. 

The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish can be purchased at Amazon


Star Wars Play Dough Kit | Mama Papa Bubba

As I'm sure you've noticed, Star Wars is all the rage this season! I was searching through blogs the other day for a great gift idea and came across the Star Wars Play Dough Kit created by Jen of Momma.Pappa.Bubba and fell in love with how adorable this little play set was and that its creator even shared all her homemade dough recipes! Props to one of the cutest things I've seen all year!!! If you've got a massive Star Wars fan at home, be sure to add this to their Christmas list!

Super Hero and Princess Fort Kits


Super Hero and Princess Forts are always a lot of fun to make and can be easily customized for each child. I made these in the past and featured them here on Texas Homemaking. Needless to say, the children who received these loved them! Want to get fancy? Add a monogram to the bag holding all the essential fort materials! 

Gifts for Everyone:

Root Beer Tasting Kit

This is one of my most favorite gifts to give! The boys and I love picking out all the artisan root beers! I make a crate filled with our selection and then add gourmet popcorn and chocolates, tasting cups, a custom made tasting score card for each family member and a few other treats. This is a very easy, but creative gift and the root beer aficionados in your life will love it!

Gold Canyon Candles

If you haven't been introduced to Gold Canyon candles, well let me be the first to tell you that I not only adore them, but I'm also a Junior Team Leader for the company. Gold Canyon's product line includes not only candles in over 80 scents, but also self timed warmers, scent pods, fire starters, candle care implements, volights, tea lights, and more! Visit my personal website to peruse the catalog and get your orders places asap to insure Christmas delivery! 

We also have a great sale going on right now until December 15th on our large Heritage candles! Be sure to check out all of our great products and specials! 

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks

These tasty treats have been a long standing hit in our home! The boys love making these with me and they are incredibly easy to put together - which is even better during this busy season of festivities! Here's the link on how to make these with your children!

Dog Treats

Don't forget the furriest of friends this Christmas! Texas Homemaking has a great recipe for dog biscuits featuring ingredients found in your kitchen. My youngest son enjoyed making these with me and they were very easy to create. Don't you just love the Texas cookie cutter? These treats have been dog tested and approved! 

Enjoy your browsing! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

{The books mentioned above were sent to me by the book publishers to review. Please view my disclosure statement located on my homepage.}

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