We asked local experts in a variety of categories to help us compile some great gift ideas for those hard-to-shop-for people on your holiday gift list.
For book lovers
Buying gifts for your favorite reader or book lover can be difficult, especially if they already own tons of books. Here are 10 ideas for holiday gifts that your reader is sure to love from the staff at the Ephrata Public Library
Reading blanket from Litographs
Litographs offers fun products by printing over 300 books onto various items, but our favorite is their throw blanket. Microfleece on one side and Sherpa on the other, the blanket is machine washable and comes in three different sizes. Your reader will be able to cozy up on a cold winter’s day with their current book and comfy blanket.
Let’s face it — we all wear socks. Why not buy a pair from your reader’s favorite book (like Harry Potter) or a nice thick pair with grippers to wear around the house? Barnes and Noble offers tons of fun socks to choose from — and the price is just right. Check out their selections online or in their stores.
Collector’s edition book
Do you know your reader’s favorite book? Why not look for a rare or collector’s edition to add to their collection? Even if they already own a copy of their favorite read, a beautiful or rare copy will be a welcome addition.
Book sleeves are a great way to protect a reader’s current book, but they also offer a place to hold pens, small notebooks and book darts. The book sleeve comes in handy for readers who enjoy writing small quotes or taking notes. There are tons of book sleeves out there, but we recommend checking out Etsy for some creative handmade sleeves.
Book lovers love book totes (especially ones with extra pockets). Whether shopping at the local bookstore or browsing the library, having a book tote helps prevent the edges of books from digging into arms (and allows browsers to add more books to their reading lists). Check out Out of Print for some great book totes (and maybe some great stocking stuffers, too).
We know, we know… many readers prefer to have the actual book in their hands. But, the Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon is a great gift for readers who travel, have trouble seeing smaller print, have trouble holding a traditional book or just love techno gadgets. The Kindle Paperwhite is backlit, allows readers to change the sizes and fonts of printing and is able to have TONS of books downloaded all at once. And the best part is that your reader’s local library has digital collections that can be borrowed and downloaded to the Kindle!
Book Nerd T-shirt
Out of Print offers great Book Nerd gifts. We personally love the Unisex ¾-Sleeve Raglan T-Shirt. It’s stylish while also professing the nerd-dom of book lovers and readers everywhere.
Book darts make a great stocking stuffer for your reader, as they can easily mark pages or passages that they want to revisit once they’ve finished reading.
Readers need book lights. Mighty Bright offers book lights. This is a win-win! Mighty Bright has a great selection of book lights, from standard LED book lights to travel book lights to double-headed book lights.
Book subscription boxes are a great way to go if you’re not sure what exactly to get your reader. The boxes come with books, snacks and fun little book-related gifts each month, and there are a variety of genres from which to pick. Your reader will love getting a new surprise each month.
For the homebody
If you have someone on your list who loves spending time at home and decorating their living spaces, try thse gift suggestions from Lititz-based blogger Doreen Cagno, whose Hymns and Verses blog offers home decor and DIY advice:
Plants are the gift that keeps on giving. Not only are they super “on trend” in home decorating, they are also a total classic. If someone already has plants in their home, consider something unusual. Plants come in all shapes and sizes and price points, too. There are some great nurseries in Lancaster County that make plants an easy gift to give! And, a great hostess gift would be an amaryllis bulb or paperwhite bulbs that will bloom six to eight weeks after Christmas.
A cozy throw blanket
We all want our homes to be extra cozy in the cold, winter months. And everyone on your list would appreciate a beautiful cozy throw. Consider a hand-knit blanket that will last the test of time. Or if you are looking for convenience, Target’s Casaluna line has beautiful knit blankets that look handmade.
Not only does a candle warm up a space with its glow, but it also gives off a warm and cozy feeling. There are so many different candle options out there. One thing I consider when buying a candle either for myself or as a gift is the container. I like to choose candles in an attractive container that can be repurposed after the candle’s use. So, it’s almost like two gifts in one. Also, I prefer the clean burn of a soy candle. Think about shopping some of the local markets and retailers to find a special handcrafted candle by a local maker.
A coffee table book
If you are buying for someone who loves home decor, consider a beautiful coffee table book in their design style. During the winter months, it’s so relaxing to cozy up by the fire with a decorating book with gorgeous photography. These books provide so much inspiration, but can also be a design element in your home when displayed on a coffee table, end table or console table.
A charcuterie board
If you are buying for a homebody, they likely love to host people in their home. A lovely charcuterie or serving board would make a great gift for Christmas. The serving board concept has been around now for over a year and I don’t see it going anywhere. And you could buy a solid wood board or a marble board. They are available in most home stores at a variety of price points based on the size and material. Consider adding to this gift with serving pieces, food items, linens, etc.
A gift card to a favorite store or boutique
For the gardener
The dead of winter may not be prime gardening time in Lancaster County, but many dedicated gardeners are still at work, whether they’re pruning, planting or planning for the year ahead. If you’ve got an avid gardener on your list, consider these gift suggestions from some local experts:
From Christa Shoreman, coordinator of the Penn State Master Gardener program in Lancaster County:
This is many gardeners’ No. 1 tool. It looks something like a long, compact trowel with a point and is also called a garden knife or hori hori tool. It can be used for digging up weeds, cutting through stems, string and cord, dividing perennials, and digging a hole for transplants. Measurements marked on the blade aid in planting bulbs. Available from many sources online for around $25.
Look for a shallow plastic tub in the paint department of a local hardware store. They’re great for transplanting, holding yard waste and more. Around $10
I use them to hold hand tools as I move around the garden or to collect as I prune. Or put a little water in the bottom for plants to absorb before transplanting them to a new place in the garden.
“Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia,” by Michael A. Dirr
This book is a great guide for identifying and choosing landscape plants by a foremost expert on woody ornamentals. Available new and used online, ranging in price from $140 to around $10.
From Lois Miklas, area coordinator for several counties, including Lancaster, for the Penn State Master Gardener program:
Since vegetable gardens need about 1 inch of rain per week, a savvy gardener should monitor rain events in order to water properly. I like the “pop up” rain gauge I received as a gift. A floating cylinder is displaced by rainwater and pops out of the container, displaying the number of inches. Many types of rain gauges are available online from around $20 to scientifically accurate gauges at over $100.
Bamboo garden gloves
A gardener can always use new garden gloves since they are often misplaced or simply wear out from use. Bamboo fabric, usually combined with synthetics for stretchiness, is lightweight and breathable. Bamboo garden gloves can be found at garden centers and big-box stores starting at only $7.
Books by Doug Tallamy
University of Delaware professor and Pennsylvania resident Doug Tallamy is a nationally recognized guru of nature conservation and sustainable landscaping. I recommend any of his books: “Bringing Nature Home” or Nature’s Best Hope” for beginners, or “The Nature of Oaks” for established fans. Books are published by Timber Press Inc. and are available through various booksellers. Prices range from $15 to $26
This tool is on my wish list. The Golden Gark looks like a combination of a rake and a shovel. In fact, it is a durable, lightweight choice for raking, shifting and even for shoving snow. Look for the Golden Gark online for about $50.
Grow light stand
One of my greatest joys as a gardener is starting my own seeds indoors in late winter. Though you can rig up your own system of lights and pulleys, specially designed grow light stands make this process so much easier. My current stand uses fluorescent tubes, which work well, but I now wish I had LED lights, which do not give off heat and use less energy than fluorescents. These are carried by many online garden suppliers. Prices range from $170 to $1,000, depending on the size and number of shelves.
From Kim Frey, co-chair of the plant sale, Master Gardeners of Lancaster County:
A hydroponic garden allows you to harvest edible plants year-round. One example is the AeroGarden Harvest 360. $149.
For vegetable growers, a new electric canner like the Ball freshTech Electric Water Bath Canner will help preserve ample harvests. $149.99
Upgrade your garden tools with a set from Better Garden Tools. One combination has a pruner and lopper, both of which have ratchets, making for easier cutting. $79.95.
From Sherry Watson, co-chair of the plant sale, Master Gardeners of Lancaster County:
A kneeling bench or stool is especially helpful for aging gardeners. Look for models with a padded kneeler and arm handles to help you get up. They also can be flipped over and used as a small bench.
The Hoselink retractable hose is 82 feet long and can be mounted on a stake or to the side of the house. No more tripping over the hose. Around $200.
A gift certificate to your gardener’s favorite nursery is also a welcome gift.
For the traveler
If you have travel-savvy friends or family on your list, consider this mix of travel gadgets and gear compiled by Lancaster travel writer, photographer and Women’s Adventure Travels (WomensAdventureTravels.com) Adventuress in Chief, Karen Loftus. You’ll find picture-perfect gifts for photo buffs and contemporary apparel and gear that are both fashion-forward and functional.
Mirrorless cameras are all the rage on the photo front. Canon’s lightweight EOS R5 Mirrorless full-frame body only with 45 MP, 8K raw video recording, and touch screen LCD is the dream machine ($3,899). Their R6 with 20 MP is also impressive ($2,499).
The eye of the beholder
An excellent lens can correct a less-than-stellar camera. SIGMA’s 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM C ($899), the first hyper-telephoto lens from the competitively priced brand, is compatible with Canon. The water- and oil-repellent lens will make any wildlife photographer swoon.
GoPro continues to be the go-to for small adventure travel photography. The recently released GoPro Hero 10 packs a punch with 4K120 video resolution + 23-megapixel photos. Pricing for this waterproof wonder starts at ($399).
Back that up!
Kingston’s SD 128G ($22.99) or 256G ($42.99) memory cards and their DataTraveler Micro 3.1 USB Flash Drive ($31.99) are perfect stocking stuffers for any shooter on your list.
Guragear’s Kiboko V2.0 22L Camera Bag ($329.95) is next-level. It holds 2 DSLRs, six lenses and has plenty of pockets for memory cards, cords and drives. It looks low-key, which is what you want if you’re walking around with a bag full of goodies and gear.
Get down on it!
Outdoor Research has the best accessories from mittens to gloves, goggles and caps for those on your list heading in a more intrepid direction. Grab their women’s responsibly sourced 800 fill down, durable and lightweight Helium Down Jacket ($229). It is the lightest and most packable insulation layer at OR. The men’s counterpart is ($199).
SCOTTeVEST is the king of hidden pocket apparel. Their sleek Women’s Penny Coat with 19 pockets ($379) is a top seller. It will cover in-transit travel, trails, city and safari with no bags necessary. The Men’s Microfleece Hoodie with 21 pockets ($154) is athleisure perfection for men.
Your best foot forward
Sorel seamlessly hits the mark between fashion and function when it comes to boots. Women’s Joan Of Arctic™ Wedge III Chelsea Bootie ($195) is an excellent option for urban explorers and outdoor enthusiasts.
This year slip Pacsafe’s RFID Blocking Passport Wallets $54.95 into every savvy traveler’s stocking. You can up their safety and fashion ante with Stylesafe’s Anti-Theft Sling Pack ($44.95). They are the best bags in the business when it comes to anti-theft.
LifeStraw’s Go ($39.95) Advanced BPA-free water filter bottle and their LifeStraw ($19.95) filter bacteria, parasites and microplastics from all water while out in the world.
For the home cook
Do you have a foodie on your gift list who likes to create as much as they like to eat? Here are some suggestions for your favorite home chef from members of the family and consumer sciences department at Hempfield School District:
An air fryer is a healthier option that can fry food without all of the oil. It also cuts down on cooking time. The 8-quart Ninja Foodie 6-in-1 allows you to cook in two baskets at the same time. You can find air fryers at Target, Amazon, and Bed, Bath and Beyond for anywhere from $100 to $500. The Ninja Foodie is available at Target for $179.99.
— Lauren Stauffer
The WonderCup is an adjustable measuring cup that allows you to measure wet or dry ingredients in cups, ounces, tablespoons, teaspoons and fractions. It’s especially handy for shortening and other gooey ingredients. Available at Walmart for $12.85.
— Katie Midgett
This kitchen tool is useful for zesting citrus or grating cheese. Available at Amazon for $12.99.
— Kathy Buckwalter
Rubber scrapers are great for folding, mixing and scraping batter from a bowl. You can find them almost anywhere, but Pampered Chef offers the best quality, longest-lasting scraper for that baker on your list. $14
— Kathy Buckwalter
4-Cup Batter Bowl
This Pampered Chef product lets you measure, mix and store batters and other liquids all in one bowl. It’s perfect for homemade pancakes! $16
This Pampered Chef version lets you mince garlic in a second, without even having to peel it. It includes a tool to remove the garlic from the holes. Never buy pre-minced garlic again. $22
— Teagan Travis
Pennsylvania-based Chester P. Basil’s offers handcrafted wooden spoons, cutting boards and spatulas. Their selection includes serving tools, cooking spoons, potsitters, tongs, salad sets, cutting boards and more made from cherry wood and Italian olive wood.
Perfect for entertaining, a charcuterie board can be customized for any person. Available from Etsy or local makers.
Cooking brings the family together, and there are a number of family-friendly ways to help kids learn in the kitchen. Cooking boxes from eat2explore.com include recipes, seasonings, a shopping list, educational activities, fun cooking tools, and an exploration guide to learn about the culture, traditions and food of a country. A variety of subscription packages are available, ranging from $21.20 to $24.95 per box.
— Charlene Smith
Kids’ knife set
Encourage the budding chef on your list with the Playful Chef: Safety Knife Set from Mindware. Each knife has a comfort-grip handle and functional plastic blade that can chop foods like apples and carrots without cutting little fingers. The three-piece knife set includes an instruction guide to learn safety tips and different kids of cuts. $17
— Charlene Smith
Cooking classes are a great opportunity for any home cook to learn more about specific cooking skills, techniques or other cultures. They can be fun to do as a date night, an activity with your kids, a girls’ night out or to enhance your personal skills. Zest! Cooking School in Lititz offers a variety of classes that make great gifts.
— Teagan Travis
Mix ‘N Chop
This handy Pampered Chef tool helps you crumble ground meat and mash foods with ease. $16
— Sarah Hunt
For the music lover
Whether they’re listening to the car radio, exercising to some tunes that get the blood pumping or kicking back to enjoy the classics, most people enjoy music. For those real music fans on your list, here are some gift suggestions from Gregg Barley, owner of the Millersville music venue Phantom Power.
There is no substitute for experiencing your favorite band live! Concert tickets can range from $15 to $40-plus, depending on the band.
The next best thing
If tickets are too risky to purchase, a gift certificate and maybe a T-shirt from a music venue are always a safe bet. $10-$50
If they enjoy collecting records or CDs, a gift certificate to a local record store is a great option. Many independent shops like AYP, Mr. Suit and CI Records offer rare and limited-release music. $10-$50
Make it personal
A new and more personal approach called Cameo has been gaining in popularity. There are countless musicians both popular and obscure available to provide a personal message or favorite song with a lucky fan. $25-$200-plus
If they drive often and have a stereo capable of providing XM radio, a subscription to this service offers something for just about everyone. $72 per year.
Support their talents
If they are a musician, consider an instrument, an accessory or a gift certificate from Drums etc. or Guitar Center. It’s sure to put a smile on their face. $5-$150
For the crafter
Got a crafter on your gift list? Consider these suggestions for supporting their hobbies or helping them start new ones from Lancaster Creative Reuse, a nonprofit 501(c)3 donation-based art, craft and sewing supply store.
Knitters and crocheters on your list will welcome a fresh supply. For a stocking stuffer, consider knitting needles.
If there’s someone on your list who likes to sew, the gift of a sewing pattern and fabric will give them all they need for a new winter project.
What better way to make that winter project than with a new sewing machine. There are many great options for beginners and experts.
A Cricut is a digital die-cutting machine that can cut a variety of materials for craft projects, from paper and fabric to leather and cork. The machine connects to your computer so it can cut according to the designs you have created with the push of a button.
Is your crafter looking to upgrade their scrapbook or start one for an upcoming vacation or milestone? Get them a variety of cardstock and paper sets to use as backdrops and as frames for pages.