2015 Holiday Gift Guide and GIVEAWAY

by Beth - Budget Bytes
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It’s that time of year again! I’m so excited to be doing another gift guide this year because it’s the one time each year that I get to share all of my favorite things with you. Some of them are food and budget related, some of them aren’t, but all of them would make great gifts. If you need extra ideas, click over to the 2014 Gift Guide to see what I recommended last year.

Plus, I’ve got a pretty valuable giveaway at the bottom of the post (courtesy of Jacqueline Smith), so be sure to scroll down and check that out!

Budget Bytes 2015 Gift Guide

2015 Gift Guide

This list includes some affiliate links, but I was not paid or coerced to include any of these products. The list was built solely at my discretion. :D

1. Instant Pot – Confession time: I impulse bought this on Black Friday after seeing it in another blogger’s Instagram feed. I just got it the other day and already know that this item is going to LIVE on my counter top. I can’t wait to cook all the things with my new fancy Instant Pot (hello YOGURT)! Keep an eye on the price. I got mine for $78 and the the price has been bouncing around between $100-$130 in the days since.

2. Crock Pot 6-qt Slow Cooker – If the 7-in-1 Instant Pot is a bit out of your price range (I feel ya), a good, old-fashioned, basic slow cooker is still an excellent gift. The one simple item can open up a whole world of cooking, from beans to soups and slow cooked meat. This item is an inexpensive work horse!

3. Love Your Leftovers – If there’s one thing I’m not very good at, it’s coming up with new uses for my leftovers. I usually just end up eating the same meal for five days in a row. If that’s not your jam, check out this awesome book from fellow food blogger, Nick from Macheesmo.com, that provides multiple ways to use leftovers from classic dishes, like roast chicken, potatoes, or even bread! I just got this book and it’s FULL of great ideas.

4. Good and Cheap – This amazing book is full of recipes designed to help you survive on a SUPER low budget. Inspired by SNAP allowances, these recipes aim to keep you fed on about $4 per day. That’s what I’m talking about.

5. The Food Lab – One of the reasons I love cooking is because there is actually a lot of science involved. Molecules shift, change shape, and rearrange themselves to create new substances through physical and chemical manipulation. This book lays it all out for the scientist who also loves to cook (with LOTS of pictures!).

6. Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine – I love the Wine Folly website and I’m super excited that they’ve put all their great info into a book. Not just any book, but a book with tons of cool charts, graphs, and infographics (that’s the science lover in me again)! If you know someone who wants to learn about wine in a fun, easy, unpretentious way, Wine Folly is where it’s at.

7. Threes Knees Spicy Trio – The Bees Knees spicy honey was on my gift guide last year and since then I’ve also purchased the Trees Knees spicy maple syrup. The syrup is my favorite so far (insanely good), but that might only be because I haven’t tried the sriracha yet. The trio of products makes a great gift and is very reasonably priced for the holidays. I’ve already ordered one for myself! :D

8. Rezip – If you have an environmentally conscious cook on your list, these reusable zip bags are a cool little gift. They’re not only great for packing your lunch, but they’re also freezer friendly so you can save your leftovers in them! (BPA, PVC, and lead free!)

9. Lodge Cast Iron Casserole with Skillet Cover – Cast iron always makes a great gift because it can last a lifetime, if not generations. This set is particularly cool because the skillet doubles as a lid for the dutch oven/casserole dish. It’s two for the price of one!

10. Hexagon Wool Felt Coasters – I really love handmade gifts because they’re not only unique, but they help support an entrepreneur. Etsy is a great place to find handmade gifts and I have to highly suggest these cool felt coasters. I bought a set of them last year (in a mix of different grey colors) and they’re SO cool. They still look brand new and I always get compliments on them. :D

11. Hand Stamped Spoons – Here’s another super cute handmade gift for that person in your life that is addicted to cold cereal. And if you like the idea, but not that particular saying, you can request a custom spoon with whatever whimsical words you like.

12. Kombucha Kit – This kit is great for that person in your life who loves DIY and loves kombucha. Kombucha can run $3-$4 per bottle at the store, so this kit will pay for itself in NO TIME. Plus, it’s a fun science experiment! Woot!

13. Ninj & Ninj Financial Planner – Despite how digital my world has gotten, some things are still really satisfying to do with pen and paper. I still love planners, and this hand designed financial planner is so cool (and beautiful, I might add). It comes with all sorts of cool extras to make planning actually kind of fun!

14. Go Sugar Free – Last summer I had the pleasure of participating in the Go Sugar Free online course, which aims to help people achieve their best health and end their addiction to added sugar. I was extremely impressed with how well researched and designed this program was, and how much Jacqueline, the program creator, cares about the participants. A Go Sugar Free membership is the perfect gift for someone who is really looking to change their dietary habits and lifestyle, and make 2016 the year of change. I might even repeat the course this spring to recalibrate after the holidays because once you join, you have a lifetime membership and can retake the course as many times as you’d like. Registration is going on now for the Winter course, which starts on January 6th. Courses are limited to a small number to make sure everyone gets individual attention, so make sure to register early!

If you’re interested in the course, but it’s not in your budget at this time, check out the giveaway below, or sign up for the Go Sugar Free newsletter to stay posted about scholarship opportunities.

That’s it for this year! If you have a really cool gift idea for the food lover or frugal friend in your life, feel free to share in the comments below! Merry Christmas!

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    1. Yep, I sure have! It worked great. Not quite as thick as store bought, but really tasty. I’ve heard that if you stir in powdered milk that can help make it more thick, but haven’t tried that yet.

  1. I asked for (and received) an Instant Pot for Christmas because I saw on your blog that you have one and used it for some of your recipes. I honestly thought they “gifted” you one (which they should). I am very happy with it. You are the reason I bought it, so I think they should sponsor you and that you should write an Instant Pot cookbook! The cookbook that came with the Instant Pot is kinda lame, with errors, omissions, and misspellings, and you could make WAY better recipes. I’m going to contact them and suggest that you write their next book.

    1. Here’s what I sent to the Instant Pot people:

      I asked for and received the Instant Pot IP Duo 60 for Christmas. I first saw the Instant Pot on the BudgetBytes blog, which is why I asked for it. The blog’s author, Beth Moncel, would be an excellent choice to author your next cookbook. I am an avid fan of hers, and she has a very loyal following. Check out her blog http://www.budgetbytes.com.

      1. Aghhh! I spelled your name incorrectly! I will fix it pronto.

  2. What great ideas! Love this list. Now I know what to ask for :-) Your links don’t open in new windows though, so it’s hard to toggle between the post and perusing these great items online…maybe a more user friendly option in the future…I’m pressing the back button a lot to look at the guide and then shop.

  3. I have a question for you, Beth. Do you feel like your Crockpot is obsolete since getting the One Pot? I’m really, really wanting the One Pot since reading this post. All the reviews are great. But I got a new Crockpot as a gift for Christmas last year so…. not sure. I know the One Pot does so much more. Maybe the Crockpot is so much better at slow cooking that it won’t be an issue?

    1. I haven’t done any actual slow cooking in the Instant Pot yet, but there are two major differences that I’ve noticed. My old slow cooker has a thick ceramic bowl, whereas the Instant Pot has stainless steel. I’m not sure how that’s going to affect the cooking, but I’m sure it makes at least a small difference. I would guess that the thick ceramic cooks a bit more evenly and gently. Also, the Instant Pot is round, whereas my slow cooker is oval, so it might be better for large objects like a whole chicken.

      That being said, I just don’t see needing my old slow cooker anymore. Both of those factors are small and I’ll probably pressure cook most of the things that I used to slow cook anyway (same results, fraction of the time). Both my slow cooker and Instant Pot are the same capacity, too, so that’s something to consider. If they were different sizes, having both would be useful.

  4. Oh you will love your new instant pot. I’m a pothead too. (Thanks to the previous poster for that cute name! )

    I saw that Black Friday deal and I’ve never seen it that low before! I told everyone about it and I’m so glad my SIL is getting one for her birthday.

    I’ve had my IP for almost 2 years and use it about 3-4x week. It is always on my counter.

    The only complaint I have is that the gasket retains odors. I always try to remove gasket right after each use. I wash it too rack in dishwasher but the silicone definitely holds onto strong smells and colors.

    I love the ss pot – it’s what sold me on it.

    Also check out hippressurecooking.com for s lot of tips and recipes. She has a new cookbook too. I am frugal and borrow all my books from the library!

    Thanks for your great site and merry Christmas and happy new year!