Christmas is coming but with inflation and now a recession looming how can our goal to be self-reliant remain on track? How can we help our family and friends with their preparations? Why not make this a self-reliance/preparedness Christmas? Don’t roll your eyes and tune out, this can be fun.

Let’s consider gifts for neighbors, our ministering families, family, even our hairdresser, anyone we may want a small or large gift for. Preparing is no longer a crazy or nerdy or extreme idea. We have all seen the need with inflation outpacing income and a two-year pandemic there are very few naysayers and critics left.

Under $5 (Some of these are great stocking stuffers for grandparents, college kids or your spouse.)

  • Whistles: Every kit; Five Day, Office, Auto, all need a whistle. In addition, whistles should be next to every bed in case of a nighttime emergency to help wake sleeping children or for children to use to make parents aware they need help. If there is a house fire a whistle will help guide family members and firefighters thru the smoke.
  • Roll up Sunglasses: These are eye protection you receive from an eye doctor after a visit. They roll up easily and can be worn under prescription glasses creating prescription sunglasses. They are very inexpensive. Do not purchase any that are more than a dollar each. They can be found many places online for 50-75 cents. If you cannot find them, ask your eye doctor. Roll up sunglasses are perfect for all kits and glove box and will not take up much space.
  • Mylar Blankets: If you have not already become hooked on mylar blankets, why not? I have written about these so many times. They have dozens of uses, should be in all kits (at least 2 per kit), and should be in every home. Again, these should be less than a dollar each so shop around. Include a copy of the article Survival in Your Pocket-The Amazing Mylar Blanket.* with your gift.
  • First Aid Booklet: Not much explanation needed here. Again, these should be in every kit. You may not need to save a life, but you may be called upon to treat a wound, broken bone, hypothermia, or other medical emergency until you can get a patient to a doctor. Injuries are very common following disasters.
  • Safety Vest: These are bright yellow or bright orange, light weight, easily folded to add to kits, and perfect to be seen when changing a tire or walking during a disaster. They are less than $5 each when purchased in bulk.
  • Glow Sticks: Glow sticks are inexpensive, safe for children, waterproof and can be seen for great distances. Purchase those that are good for eight hours or more and are white or yellow. Glow sticks can be purchased for less than $1.25. For more ideas for uses see the blog spot, Glow Sticks.* Perfect in all kits, for power outages, camping and so much more.
  • Instant Fire Pucks: Great for all kits but especially for auto kits in case you become stranded when traveling.

Under $15

  • Fire Blanket: A fire blanket is used to smother a fire. They are perfect for kitchen and appliance fires and fires started by embers from a fireplace. They are also useful for small fires caused while camping or even fireworks.
  • Plug in Flashlight: Plug into an outlet and when the power fails the light comes on making walking around safer. Many also come with a motion detector helping make midnight trips to the fridge safer and providing light in a hallway when children need to visit parents during then night.
  • Basic First Aid Kit: Pretty sure the need for these is obvious.
  • Solar/Battery Radio: Stay connected when the power is out and you need to know what is going on in the outside world.
  • Car Cell Phone Charger: During a power outage this may be the only way to charge a phone. One should be kept in all vehicles in case a quick escape is necessary.
  • Campfire Roasting Forks: During a prolonged power outage, every family should have several methods for cooking. Time drags on during an emergency and cooking over a fire is fun and a great way to pass time. Forks should be 32 inches long or longer.
  • Clothes Pins and Rope: Rope and clothes pins can be used for drying clothing during an outage but also for drying waterlogged items and photos after flooding.
  • Road Flares: A must for those traveling long distances especially when that travel is in remote areas.
  • Fire starter kit: Not many things are more frustrating than trying to start a fire when hungry or cold. Fires also help protect from animals if stranded in the woods.
  • Local Maps: GPS does not always work. Maps of the local area and of the route to out of area contacts are important. Use different colored highlighters to mark several routes in case some are blocked.
  • Rain ponchos: Light weight ponchos can be purchased at a dollar store but are only goods for a single use. For a more substantial poncho, invest a little more. Heavier duty ponchos should be in every vehicle where they may be used several times when changing tires or stranded.

Under $20

  • Pie iron: These are so much fun. Purchase cast iron only, all others tend to burn your food. Once again this is a fun way to cook off grid, for a new tradition at a barbecue or when camping.
  • Water storage: Purchase containers designed for water and ones that will stack to store. You will not be able to lift any containers over five gallons. Remember if you are storing freeze dried or dehydrated food you will need three times the water stored.
  • Dutch Oven Lid Lifter: Many have Dutch ovens but forget the lifter that helps prevent burns by the lid or the steam.
  • Heat Resistant Gloves: When cooking off grid due to a power outage or making a staycation more fun, good heat resistant gloves are essential.
  • Gas Turn Off Wrench: Never wait for first responders to turn off utilities following a disaster. Fires can happen quickly if there is a leak.
  • Water Meter Shut Off Wrench: Once again, don’t be caught with a flood you could have prevented.
  • Gamma bucket lids: Don’t fight with lids on five-gallon buckets again. If you have a family member or friend who has difficulty opening lids, they need some of these.
  • Camping Lanterns: No real need to explain the advantage of these. Be sure to include batteries.

Under $35

  • Camp Stove: Fun for back yard and other camping and perfect for power outages as it can be used indoors.
  • 2 Person Tent: Useful when evacuating and during a power outage for sleeping. Sleeping in a tent set up in your home during a winter power outage will help keep you nice and warm.

Under $50

  • All Inclusive First Aid Kit: These are an upgrade from the simple first aid kits in your kits and perfect for when you are honking down at home following a disaster when access to medical care may be limited.
  • Water Bottle with Filter: Every Kit should have one of these. You can purify water from a stream or tap water that may be questionable. They weigh nothing and eliminate the need for carrying several pouches or bottles of water. Water can be filtered and consumed or the bottle can be inverted and squeezed to produce a larger amount of purified water for cooking.
  • Solar/Battery Radio with Cell Phone Charger: An upgrade from a solar/battery radio, includes a cell phone charger.
  • 4 Person Tent: Set up in a room in your home and use it for sleeping and for eating and playing games during a power outage in winter. Of course, also great when evacuating even if you are going to your out of area contact. They may end up with more people than they can house in their home.
  • Dutch Oven: Another off-grid item you will be so happy you have. Cooking on a grill or open fire will destroy other pots. A Dutch oven can withstand the heat.
  • Backup power: Small solar panels will charge phones, keep on a light, allow you to operate your HAM radio, listen to radio broadcasts and more.

Not worth it: There are a few things you should not waste your money on.

Life Straw: These are only good for hiking. They are not suited for preparing for an emergency. They filter water that is sucked thru it producing a very small amount. I larger water bottle with a filter is a much superior choice.

Shaker and Squeeze Powered Flashlights: Both require constant attention. A shaker flashlight must be shaken often to remain working. A squeeze flashlight must be squeezed to charge, and the charge lasts only minutes. For light not requiring a battery, glow sticks are a much better choice.

Buckets of Dehydrated or Freeze-Dried Meals: These promise a specific number of meals but don’t be fooled. The meals are not individually packaged. Imagine being hungry, opening a pouch meant for 12 servings but there are four people, do you really think if you are hungry you are going to stop eating? The portion sizes are very small and it’s not just about calories. You must also real full and satisfied. If you are eating these meals during a crisis, you will not have the option of supplementing your supplies. Meals are also very carbohydrate dense. For the same amount of money, you can store foods you are familiar with, know how to cook, and provide the nutrients needed thru access to all food groups.

Emergency/Pup Tent: These have become popular in commercially assembled kits. They will blow apart in even a slight wind and let rain in. You are much better off with a 2-man tent or a tarp, rope and duct tape to make a better shelter.

This Christmas, purchase gifts that will really make a difference. Too often we purchase gifts just to have a gift to give with little thought to what is needed as opposed to what is fun or fashionable, or on trend.

“For where it is in our power to act it is also in our power not to act.” –Aristotle

Let us act this holiday season to help others become more self-reliant.

*Also in your Totally Ready Emergency Binder


Carolyn is always available to answer questions and share tips at and on Facebook. For those wanting information or to participate creating Christmas ornaments for disaster survivors visit Operation Christmas Ornaments on Facebook and on Carolyn’s blog.