This year’s Christmas Catalog feels like it has circled back to the first holiday guide I ever put together on Tools & Toys. It was late November of 2011, and I still clearly remember writing that year’s catalog from a hospital room.

My wife and I were about 5 months pregnant with Noah, and she began having some bleeding. It was serious enough that we went to the hospital to make sure the baby was okay. Fortunately everything was fine. But — as hospitals are wont to do — they kept us there for 72 hours so they could monitor Anna and the baby.

Anna was immobile, so she spent her time wrapping up the final edits to the book she was writing. And since I could work anywhere with an internet connection, I just logged on to the hospital Wi-Fi and decided I’d spend my 72 hours putting together Tools & Toys’ first holiday gift guide.

My wife and I now have two amazing boys. And I can’t help but consider with deep gratitude what the holidays will mean for my family this year. For me, the things I want most are the things which cannot be bought: time, health, memories, deep conversations, roaring laughter, rest, and the opportunity to serve others.

And it is with this in mind that we tried to take a different approach to this year’s guide. As I wrote in the opening letter, this year we have done our best to avoid listing out a vast array of crap that has found the inferior sweet spot between impractical, unaffordable, and meaningless.

We’ve also chosen three charities that we’ll be giving 10% of our gross income for November and December to, and we’re inviting you to do the same.

And, speaking candidly, this gift guide is a huge contributor that helps us keep the lights on. November and December are our biggest months for income, and help average out the slower summer and fall months. You don’t have to buy something on our list to support us — you can share the guide with your friends and family, and you can even just click through our links to Amazon before buying something else — we’ll still receive a kickback that way.

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Now that November and the holidays are upon us, I am genuinely looking forward to the upcoming weeks. Work-wise, we have some awesome articles and reviews in the pipeline for both Tools & Toys and The Sweet Setup. But also, personally, the holidays are a fun and special time. My cousin Nate is coming to town for Thanksgiving, and I’ll be slow-cooking the turkey in the backyard smoker. My oldest son is old enough to enjoy the Christmas Tree shopping trip. Etc.

Moreover, I am hoping that this season I’ll be able to serve you, dear reader. I hope the work we do on Tools & Toys and The Sweet Setup will help you save time and energy for any gifts you may be buying. And I also hope we’ll be able to contribute to the sound of reason. Helping remind ourselves others that even in the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, quality time with friends and family is the best thing.

The Tools & Toys Christmas Catalog