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2016 Gift Guides

November 15, 2016

Hey!  Believe it or not, the holidays are right around the corner.  Are you ready to shop?  I am the type of person who shops all year round.  I watch for deals, try to get things on sale, or if I come across something I think would be perfect for someone in particular, I’ll buy it and save it for Christmas, even if I find the item in June.  However, sometimes I do forget what I have previously purchased…so I have to keep a close tab on my goods or things can get out of hand.

I’m going to apologize up front to all of the people with daughters because I am not going to be much help in that department.  I have absolutely no idea what little girls are into or what is popular for tweens.  I do however know first hand what tractor loving/STEM obsessed boys like!  And, I have included gift guides for guys and gals as well.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

For your tractor or construction truck loving little boy (or girl for that matter!):

1. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site.  This is such a cute book for all ages.
2. Roadwork Book.  Another favorite book.  My son loves all of the different sounds that come with building a road.  This was a nightly read for us.
3.  CAT Mini Machines tractor set.  These tractors go everywhere with my son.  He plays with them inside and outside, in the car, at the grocery store, etc.
4. John Deer sand toy set. This set of 2 tractors is a perfect size.  Not too big, not too small.  Great for little hands to maneuver and play with both in the sand and just on the carpet.
5. John Deer electric ride on tractor with trailer.  This is obviously on the higher end of the gift list, but my little guy LOVES his and I couldn’t imagine life without it.  He rides it several times a day since we purchased it back in May.  The trailer is super fun also, he loves to load things in and out and haul them from one end of the yard to the other.  Both my 2 year old and 7 year old have fun riding this tractor.  Endless fun for all ages.
6. IKEA reflective worker vest.  Both of my boys think they are very important when they are wearing their “worker uniforms”, AKA this vest from IKEA.  We used them for our Halloween costumes, and they have been extremely loved ever since.
7.  Kinetic Sand.  This one may seem totally random, but I couldn’t imagine life without kinetic sand.  Both of my boys will play with it for long periods of time.  My tractor lover uses his mini CAT tractors (above) to make sand roads and then drives over them and over them and over them again.
8. Tonka Mighty Dump Truck.  This is one we don’t have yet, but looks super fun.  Large enough to lug treasures around the yard!  It would also be fun in the sand, and of course you can fill it with dirt!
9. Big Dig Sand Digger.  If you have a place for your little one to dig, whether its sand or dirt or rocks, this is a must have!  We are on our 2nd one because it has been used A LOT and the first one had dug all it was able to dig.  But I was happy to purchase a 2nd one because the boys play with it so frequently.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) toys:

1. Magformers or Magnatiles.  Both of these have the same principle, plastic shapes with magnetic parts that you can stick together to create different structures.  We have the Magformers and I think they are easier for younger kids to grab because they are open shapes with the middle cut out.  The Magnatiles however may be better suited for older kids because I think they lend a little more stability to the structures that are created.  Both sets are fun to play with!
2. Snap Circuits.  Kids snap together different parts to make a complete circuit, which will then turn on a light, make a fan turn, or play music with a speaker.  The instructions are very easy to follow, even for children who can’t yet read. They offer several different kits, but this basic one allows for plenty of different challenges to get your kids started in the world of electricity.
3. K’Nex.  Any and all of the K’Nex sets are fun and interchangeable.  We have 3 sets and there is a endless number of items they can build.  Each set comes with a book of ideas and also a website where you can download more patterns.  But my son enjoys making up his own creations.
4. Lego Chain Reactions.  For the Lego lover in your life, this will challenge them to use their existing bricks in different ways.  It comes with several speciality bricks and parts, along with 10 challenges that are very different then the other Lego kits I’ve seen.
5. Marble Maze.  These are so much fun and allow for hours of creative play!  We have given several of them as gifts to friends and everyone seems to enjoy them.
6. Tegu wooden blocks.  This is a great toy, loved by all ages.  The wooden blocks have magnets built inside, so they can stick together to create interesting structures.  They are a little pricey, so look for deals during the holidays.  This car set is also fun!
7. Meccanoid.  My 7 year old BEGGED for this robot for his birthday.  At first I hesitated because I thought it seemed too advanced, but i eventually caved and we got it for him.  He absolutely loves it! He needed a little help putting it together, but he was actually able to do a lot of the construction himself.  It takes commands and you can even download an app that lets you set custom commands.  When I looked this up on Amazon, it says it has been discontinued, but they are still available to buy. Maybe there’s a newer version?  Not sure, but we loved this one!
8. Piper Computer kit.  This is a perfect little start up computer for those kids who are interested in how a computer is made and how the technology works.  They get to build their own computer and then play Minecraft!
9. Fat Brain Toys Squigz.  These look like fun for little guys because they are bigger and easier for chubby little fingers to grasp.  They also have a bender set that would give them more versitility.
10. Makey Makey invention kit.  This kit looks uber cool!  You can basically turn anything you want into a keyboard.  Banana, check.  Couch pillow, check.  Little brother’s head…mmmm maybe not that one.  Although I’m sure it’s been attempted once or twice.
11. Superstructs Wacky Machines.  Gears, gears, gears.  Anything with gears is a winner around here!
12. Vex Robotics.  My son has the screw lift ball machine, but they all look very cool.   This catapult looks a little bit simpler to put together, and would be so much fun to play with once it’s built.
13.  Zoob Builder STEM Challenge.  Both of my boys enjoy making things with these little plastic pieces. They interlock, but are movable at the joints, so the possibilities are endless.  The pieces are a little hard for my 2 year old to snap together but my 7 year old has no problems.

For the guys in your life:

1. Braven Balance bluetooth speaker.  My husband uses this every weekend while doing yard work or just hanging out on the patio.  It can get quite loud, if desired, and has a great speaker quality.  Two thumbs up!
2.  Kiehls Ultimate Man Set.  Your guy may not admit it, but he likes to be pampered too.  This kit will help keep his skin looking and feeling great through the rough, dry winter months.
3. Cards Against Humanity.  If you haven’t played this game yet, you must be living under a rock.  Guaranteed hours of fun…cocktails help 😉
4. Dartboard. Hang it in the garage or the man cave for some fun, competitive games!   Fun for all ages.  Or for those men who are still boys.
5. Simple Human Automatic Soap Dispenser.  This comes in super handy when your hands are full of grease from the car, or chicken from the grill.
6.  Balls of Steel.   If your man doesn’t already have balls of steel, then you might want to reconsider why you are with him in the first place.  Good thing you can now purchase them for a small price.  Don’t let your man’s liquor get watered down with ice, give him these balls of steel to keep that drink chilled.
7. Weber Grill Light.  Don’t let the Daylight Savings time change get your grilling man down!  This grill light will let him grill his favorite foods in the dark.
8.  Griot’s Garage Car Cleaning Kit.  Help him keep his vehicle shiny with this complete car cleaning kit.  Hey, after seeing how amazing these products are, he might even wash your car too!
9.  North Face Down Jacket.  Keep him cozy warm with this packable down jacket.  Not too fluffy, but plenty of warmth.
10. Mark and Graham Briefcase.  This is a man bag, AKA a murse.  Dudes have to carry stuff around too, so this is a very fashionable, yet manly way to do it.

And a little something for the ladies:

1. Ugg slippers.  Cozy and you can wear them outside to walk the dog or get the mail.  Just be careful not to wear them to Lowes.  Speaking from experience here.
2.  Nest Candles.  My faves are Birchwood Pine and Holiday.  They smell amazing and burn down to the last drop.  I bet the Lemongrass & Ginger diffuser smells amazing too!
3. Sanuk yoga mat flip flops.  It might seem kind of weird to be gifting flip flops in December, but let me tell you, these are Amazing with a capital A!  I live in these babies all summer long.  They are the most comfortable flip flops I have ever owned and when one pair wears out, I immediately replace them with another because I can’t live without them!  A lot of people also like the sling version, but I am a devotee of the original flip flops.
4. Circle Choker.  Last I checked, chokers are in.  This one lends additional detail with the gold circle.  I’m digging it!
5. Nickel and Suede earrings.  I love this company because it’s local to the KC area and because their earrings are truly life changing.  Seriously.  That’s their motto and they aren’t lying!  They are so lightweight that you really don’t even feel like you are wearing earrings.  They have every color under the sun and several new designs for the holidays!  Oh, and speaking of chokers…they have those too!
6. Fresh Sugar Lip Set.  This lip balm is the bomb!  It makes your lips feel so smooth and is perfect to repair any dry, chapped issues caused by the cooler weather.  A great stocking stuffer!
7. Beauty Blender.  This thing is amazing.  And no, it’s not just another sponge,  I don’t know why it’s so much better then other sponges, but it is.  Trust me.  And, this fun little gift set is perfect for trying out the different variations/sizes.  I won’t apply my foundation any other way.  End of story.  If you don’t want the gift set, here’s the original size sponge by itself,
8. Dyson handheld dustbuster.  So, this is not a very sexy gift, unless you are extremely tired of getting on your hands and knees, picking up food that your toddler has dropped on the floor in an effort to detract the endless stream of ants from inhabiting your kitchen.  Then, all of a sudden a dust buster seems rather sexy after all.  This thing has saved me.  And my knees.  I use it every single day and I love that it’s cordless.  It’s quick to grab and suck up the mess and then stick it back on the charger to await the next mess.  I actually have the animal version, but we don’t have any indoor animals, so I’m sure the regular model would be just as good!
9. Madewell Transport Tote.  I love the studded detail on this oversized leather tote!  So cute, and a great size for traveling.  You could hold all kinds of goodies in this bag!  And, if studs aren’t your thing, the classic version is hard to beat.
10. Kendra Scott Cuff and Earrings.  These are so pretty and have such dainty detail.  They would go well with a casual outfit or also dress up a plain LBD.

A lot of these links are from Amazon.  Did you know that you can set price watch alerts on  It’s so awesome!  You just copy and paste the Amazon link for the item you want to watch, and set your desired price on Camel.  When the price gets to that point, you will get an email alerting you that it’s time to buy!  I do this all the time for items that I don’t need right away.  Another nice thing about Camel is that you can view the pricing history to determine if the current price is on the high or low side.  If it’s low, you may just want to go ahead and buy it now!

Whew!  I’m worn out!  I’m going to go pour a bottle glass of wine while you guys get to shopping!  What’s on your Christmas wish list this year?


Niki French

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Hey there!

I'm Niki, founder of Midwestern Mama. This lifestyle blog is a place where I get to share things I am passionate about with people like you! I love fashion, home decor, DIY's and easy meals, among other things. I'm so glad you're here! Read More


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