13 Holiday Gifts to Support a Primal Lifestyle

Whether you plan to herald the birth of an early Jewish radical, celebrate your Pan-African heritage and tradition, stimulate the lagging economy, perform feats of strength around the Festivus pole, observe the lighting of the menorah, or participate in Saturnalia, Yule, Modranect, or any of the other winter solstice celebrations, the latter half of December is generally devoted to gift-giving and gift-receiving. Or maybe you’re not religious at all and just use the season as an excuse to let friends and loved ones know how much they mean to you. That works just as well. Whatever your motivations for giving gifts, it’s important that they be meaningful to the recipient – that they reflect an understanding of what makes them tick. And so, since Primal living tends to be infectious, I imagine you need some good gift ideas for the meat-eating, barefooted, weight-lifting, lard-rendering grain-abstainers in your life. We do this every year, and it tends to serve two purposes: help people give Primal gifts and raise awareness of products that deserve to be seen. Today, I’ll try to do the same.

Frigidaire 5.0 Cu. Ft. Chest Freezer

Yeah, yeah, upright freezers get higher marks, but they are more than double the price of chest freezers. I have this exact model myself and, though it can’t handle an entire steer, it’s big enough to house a whole lamb, a couple goats, half a pig, and a quarter cow (not all at once, of course) and small enough to fit even a studio apartment.

If someone’s been talking about finally doing that cowpooling thing for the last year and you like them well enough to spend 150 bucks, spring for the chest freezer to help them on their way.

Hunting Courses

Give the Grok in your life a real avenue toward subsistence: a hunting course. No, I’m not referring to those big game hunting expeditions where you pay money to shoot a placid, fattened kudu on some Texas acreage; I mean really learning to hunt from people who do it the right way. It looked like a blast when John Durant and Melissa McEwen did it, right? Well, chances are that your area also offers hunting courses. Just do a search for “hunting field courses [your location]” and go from there. You can even get specific by throwing in a modifier; “deer,” “boar,” and “geese” work well to narrow things down.

Meat Grinder

I hate relying on others to come up with good sausage. Most of the sausage I come across in the wild is bland and uninspired; having my own meat grinder allows me to make my own and play around with different spices. Bonus: meat grinders are perfect for blending in organ meats without alerting picky eaters. Bonus #2: meat grinders are perfect for making pet food patties. Electric grinders are the easiest to use and require little to no labor, but they generally can’t handle bone and gristle (unless you spring for a really expensive one); hand crank grinders are tougher to use, but they can handle just about anything you can throw at them, provided you include some elbow grease.

A Food Dehydrator from Excalibur

Dry your own jerky. Make your own pemmican. Ditch the store-bought, overpriced, sugar-coated berries and rancid nuts and dry your own for trail mix. Food dehydrators are incredible tools, and any Primal eater would be glad to have one. Excalibur makes the best in the business, from the top shelf 9-tray version to the starter 4-tray version. Cheaper dehydrators are out there, and you can even make your own, but we like the Excalibur for its temperature control system and reliability. I’ve used cheap dehydrators that cooked the jerky, rather than dried it, and if I was going to do that I’d just use my oven.

Fermentation Vessels

A lot of people probably read my posts on fermented food and sauerkraut, thought to themselves, “Hmm, that sounds pretty cool,” and did nothing else. Fermentation is easy to do, but the hardest part is having enough suitable fermentation vessels in your kitchen. Mason jars used to be standard in kitchens (back when people actually canned things). Not anymore though. Sandor Katz recommends using devoted ceramic fermentation crocks, maybe from Harsch or from TSM, which are expensive but worth it if your giftee is serious about fermentation. Cheaper but still viable options include mason jars; Ikea has some very affordable glassware that works well. Might as well include the tome on fermentation, Sandor Katz’s “Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods.”

Mundial’s 20-inch Chef’s Knife

Mundial makes great utilitarian knives, the type that sous-chefs and kitchen staff use day in and day out. They may not be pretty, they may not be impressive, but they get the job done, well enough that Bon Appetit dubbed their chef’s knife the “best $20 chef’s knife.” If you live in the LA area, you can buy these at Surfas in Culver City, or you can just order them online. I have several (since they’re so cheap) and can vouch for them.

Cuisinart SmartStick Blender

Blend soups, sauces, and protein drinks without getting an extra container dirty, dealing with potholders. This stick blender is metal, so there’s no chance of leaching plastic compounds into your hot food. It may not be as powerful as a VitaMix blender, but it’s a lot less expensive. Instead of forking over the cash for a single VitaMix for one person, you can treat several to the stick blender. I love my VitaMix, but I use the stick blender about as often.

Stocking Stuffers

These are low-cost gifts that, for the most part, will fit into the stocking of your choice and make a far better choice than candy and coal.

Australian Tea Tree Chewing Sticks

At just $3.65 for a pack of 100, these Tea Tree chewing sticks might not replace your current oral hygiene equipment altogether, but they’re more thorough than a toothpick and more portable than a toothbrush. Plus, they’ve been used for thousands of years and research suggests that they contain novel anti-microbial elements.

I find myself chewing on these things throughout the day. They’re a nice alternative to chewing gum, and, apparently, some people find them to be a good tool to help quite smoking.

Chalk Ball for Weight Lifting and Gymnastics

Do you know someone who’s stalling out on the deadlift? Failing to master the false-grip on his or her muscle-ups? The problem might not be technique or lack of raw strength, but a simple slippery grip.

Instead of going for the straps or the gloves, which tend to just obscure the real issue, get your fitness enthusiast a ball of weightlifting chalk. It will last for years and will nurture real grip strength development that should last even longer.

French Cooking in Ten Minutes: Adapting to the Rhythm of Modern Life

This is one of my favorites. It isn’t purely Primal, but being a French cookbook from the 1930s, its author casually tosses out recipes in which lard, butter, meat, and rich sauces figure prominently. Just ignore the calls for crusty bread and flour and focus on the techniques espoused by the author. It’s basic, it’s simple, and it gets down to the nuts and bolts of cooking. It’s also very affordable and small enough to fit a stocking (you may have to fold it up a bit). The highlight is probably the section on sauces.

Mini Thai Deodorant Stone

I spend a fair amount of time in Thailand with my family, and despite the incredible heat and oppressive humidity, the one thing I’ve noticed is that the people there are remarkably odor-free. I’m not saying they all use the Thai crystal deodorant sticks – in fact, it’s probably more of an American vegan all-natural “healthy” living thing – but the things do work (I’ve got one myself), and they’re free of aluminum and any potentially nasty chemicals, if you’re worried about that sort of thing. I use mine pretty regularly and it’s lasted well over a year, with little to no erosion. If your giftee is a lover of overpowering deodorants, this may not be the right choice; the deodorant stone is a far more subtle preventive measure and it’s not going to cover up any extant odors. Just make sure they rinse it before and after using it.

Tanka Bars

Think Buffalo candy, or low-fat pemmican. Tanka Bars are made of bison and cranberries – nothing else – and they were featured in this year’s round of contests. I prefer pemmican myself, but not everybody enjoys the beef candle texture. For them, a few Tanka bars in the stocking will be a nice surprise.

Obscure Supplement Maker

I happened to stumble across this guy’s stuff, and I gotta say – it is of the utmost quality. He’s a former marathoner who got out of the game because of nagging injuries and poor health, and now he’s selling well-researched supplements, meal replacement powders, and other Primal-related goodies. He even wrote a couple books and has apparel for sale. I checked him out and he appears to be legit, so if you’re starved for gift ideas you’ll probably be able to find something to give on his site. Also, his blog is worth visiting.

Well, I hope you feel prepared for the coming onslaught that is the holidays. Screaming kids, alluring holiday treats, bitter fights between sauced-up relatives, long drives through snow and sleet, herding together the cats that are your disparate and far-flung family members, tears, blood, sweat, and the passive-aggressive arms/gift race – all the regular stressors that make up the average holiday experience will feel a lot less stressful if you’re able to come prepared with quality Primal presents for the Groks in your life. If you’ve come up with some better ones, let us know in the comment section! Good luck and happy holidays!

Full disclosure: A few of the links above are Amazon.com affiliate links.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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85 thoughts on “13 Holiday Gifts to Support a Primal Lifestyle”

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    1. I have that meat grinder! I’ve thus far only used it for grinding up meat for my cat’s food, but heck I may use it for me one day. It’s not superpowerful, but it grinds even slightly still frozen meat, so that’s good enough for me.

      1. You probably don’t “only”, but just in case, you should not only feed your cats ground meat. You should give them meat on the bone for the most part, because otherwise they are loosing a really important chemical that cats need, and they can’t digest it as well. They also tend to eat too much, this all goes for dogs too (but not bunnies 🙂

  1. VERY interested in this supplement maker. You say he’s legit? How did you come across his site?

    Excellent post and info!

  2. Pretty cool list.

    I found the Tea Tree sticks especially interesting. I’d heard of them before, but hadn’t given them another thought until I saw them on this post. I think I’m going to give them a try.

    1. I started using these during a Whole30 month as a replacement for gum. Two months later, they’re still something I’m constantly chewing on other than sugary gum. Highly recommended!

  3. If you have or can acquire a Kitchenaid mixer, they usually come with a meat grinder attachent. I got one for my wife about 10 years ago and I use it more than she does!

  4. Until the last paragraph I was thinking … but what about all the MDA goodies! LOL!

    We have the best solution, we gave up Christmas three years ago, wonderful, totally stress-free and a great spectator sport now as we watch the rest of the world spin into insanity for a few weeks!

    Happy holidays

  5. Seriously, that meat-grinder is an incredible idea. I’ve been buying ground lamb and blending it by hand with dried chillies, chopped figs, and cumin (aka Merguez-style), but it takes FOREVER. If it weren’t so delicious I wouldn’t do it. To be able to grind all that stuff together would be amazing!

    Alright… so it’s a Christmas present for myself. WWGrD? I bet he’d say, Take care of yourself so you can take care of others. 🙂

  6. wow! I’ll take one of each 🙂 Well, I already always carry a pkg of the chewing sticks – I have for yrs now. I’ve always thought them a great dental pick-me-up or “primper” on the go. Aussies in the States think they’re funny (& send them back home for a laugh)

  7. Silly wabbit! I totally fell for this “supplement maker” guy! I kept wondering, “Why would he promote some other guy’s products??” Joke’s on me! Thanks for all the other tips, though. Great stuff!

  8. Actually, chest freezers are better than upright freezers in terms of energy expenditure. They hold the cold in better when you open them. About the only drawback is if you’re short in stature and have trouble reaching into one. There are probably various workarounds for that.

    1. Baskets or bins help too, just a question of finding a size that works.

  9. And! THANK YOU for telling us about Tanka Bars. Didn’t know they existed–and they’re Lakota-owned! I am ecstatic at the idea of helping an American Indian tribe get a leg up–very win-win situation there.

  10. I picked up the Cuisinart SmartStick Blender from Costco. It’s pretty handy, great for making primal type icecream treats from frozen bananas and other fruit.

    I also use it with the whisk feature to make “real” whipped cream from heavy cream.

    1. I have one too and have been using it a lot lately. Bed Bath and Beyond had them on sale for about $24. It’s got a strong enough blade to blend coconut bread dough together.

  11. My mom bought me my first pair of vibrams for xmas.. 😀

  12. My husband and I just bought a deep freezer just recently. We did more then a bit of research before hand and stumbled on a very interesting drawback to upright freezers: The cold air falls out.

    Most people know hot air rises and cold air falls. Well, with a chest freezer, the cold air is held in by the walls when you open the top; whereas, with an upright freezer, when you open the door, the cold air falls out of the front. If you don’t have the freezer nearly full, you’ll end up wasting a lot of money re-chilling the air every time you open it.

    1. Food doesn’t last as long in an upright either since it goes through the same defrost cycle as the rest of the appliance, over and over.

      I originally thought the frost-free aspect of an upright made it the no-brainer choice, but perhaps not!

      1. You can buy commercial grade uprights that are not frost free, so they don’t go through that cycle…

  13. I’ve read literature in the peer-reviewed articles in the past about tea tree oil’s testosterone lowering effects in males/endocrine disrupting effects. Based on that, I try to avoid the stuff more so than even soy. Anyone know more about this?

    All the other items are great. I think I’m going to be buying a few. Another good article! Thanks, Mark.

  14. I have the excalibur. It kicks ass! I have dried lots of jerky, fruit and nuts. I highly reccomend them.

  15. I had one of those deodorant stones. My wife said I stank as if I wasn’t wearing deodorant. Oh well.

  16. Those types of deodorants still use aluminum, it’s an aluminum salt or something, can’t remember.

    1. Actually, crystal deodorants are made of natural mineral salts (alum), they don’t contain aluminum.
      Alum should not be confused with the controversial and potentially harmful aluminums found in most commercial deodorants and antiperspirants, like aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium.
      Technically speaking, aluminum is a metal, whereas alum is a compound that has a larger molecular weight. While many aluminum molecules can be absorbed into the skin, alum molecules are too large to be absorbed and in any case, even if it were possible for alum molecules to be absorbed into the skin, such amounts would be inconsequential in daily use.

    2. Actually, crystal deodorants don’t contain aluminum, they are made of natural mineral salts (alum).
      Alum should not be confused with the controversial and potentially harmful aluminums found in most commercial deodorants and antiperspirants, like aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium. Technically speaking, aluminum is a metal, whereas alum is a completely different compound that has a larger molecular weight. While many aluminum molecules can be absorbed into the skin, deodorants made of alum based mineral salts feature physically large potassium or ammonium alum molecules which are too large to be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream.
      And in any case, even if it were possible for alum molecules to be absorbed into the skin, such amounts would be inconsequential in daily use.

  17. Love my Excalibur dehydrator! Use it almost every week making jerky and nuts and put a batch in this morning to send to my college son back east for a Christmas present.

    I use the deodorant crystal, but in the the liquid form. I found it works best if you put on A LOT, not just a little smear…….for those who are having problems with it working.

  18. I am the WORST at buying myself things around the holidays… I just bought the French cookbook for myself on Amazon. Thanks for the awesome ideas!

  19. Thanks Mark, for the wonderful blog/site/store. You have made being/staying primal so easy to do……and the community of fellow groks, my holiday gift to you is my super easy recipe for..

    Spiced Nuts.

    2 cups of almonds
    1 Tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
    1 teaspoon maple syrup
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    1/4 teaspoon ginger

    Toss all ingredients until evenly coated. Spread evenly on sheet pan. Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes, until aromatic and slightly browned. Almonds will crisp as they cool. Enjoy!

    These were requested/included in my son’s gift box as well.

    1. Do you think this would work with Walnuts? I can’t imagine why not, but thought I’d ask.

      1. Yes, or any assortment of nuts. My 13 yr old grandson made this with a mix of nuts for gifts for his teachers.
        The aroma while baking made my husband declare that Christmas has arrived!

    2. Thanks for the great idea! I love giving baking as gifts; this year I’m doing truffles with dark choc, cream and glace ginger (Ok, not precisely primal but a lot better than shortbread!)

      1. My truffles comprise of the World’s Market 99% dark chocolate (only 2 grams sugar in whole bar), heavy cream and this year, peppermint extract. After forming into balls, roll in cocoa powder and some in crushed candy cane. Not much of the candy cane sticks, but it makes it look more festive for gift giving/buffet.

        1. Could someone use coconut milk instead of heavy cream? I’m lactose intolerant but would like to try making truffles. My family doesn’t make them, so you’re the first person I’ve been able to ask.

  20. We just bought that very chest freezer a couple of weeks ago! Teh Manthing was more concerned with the tanking economy, but I’m all like “SWEET, cowpooling.”

    Seriously: If you already have a Kitchenaide mixer, buy the meat grinder attachment. They’re usually about 45 bucks, but if you’ve got a Pro mixer the motor should be able to handle just about anything you throw at it.

    1. I agree about the meat grinder attachment for the Kitchenaide, it can grind through bones as if they were butter. And for the two-legged primals, great for burgers and sausage!

  21. Rather than using chalk I use golf gloves at the gym for anything that requires a good grip (pulling exercises). Weight-lifting gloves are useless as far as grip goes, and chalk leaves you with a handful of chalk, plus you have to wipe off the bar after you are done.

    If you haven’t tried golf gloves for pullups/chinups you are doing yourself a disservice, your hands stick like glue. You are hanging from the bar like a gecko. Grip becomes a non-issue.

    You have to buy both a left hand and a right hand glove as they don’t come in pairs, but you can get a pair for $20.

    1. Use chalk sparingly if you have to.

      Gloves just weaken your grip.

      Grok would not have any of these.

      The only way to increase grip is to lift heavy until your grip increases.

      Gloves are not allowed at weight lifting events.

      Grok on. 🙂

    2. Don’t use gloves! I agree with Onge, that Grok wouldn’t have used gloves either. Also, Mark Rippetoe (Starting Strength) had some choice words for people that wear gloves while lifting–including suggesting that they make sure their purse matches their gloves! (no offense ladies. Just for the guys.) Calluses and improving raw hand strength is essential.

  22. I’ve used one of those Thai crystal deodorant stones for probably almost two years. I agree that it works great as a preventative, not so great for covering up any odor, though. They make a liquid form in a spray bottle, too, but I like the stone better.

    Also, a meat grinder is an awesome Christmas gift idea! Our Kitchenaid attachment gets a lot of use.

  23. wow! 20″ Chef’s knife? I could probably hurl it while screaming “freedom!” in a cinematic gesture to lead a charge of Scots against their English oppressors. Then again it isn’t the 13th century nor am I scottish. 😉

    cool list though.

  24. I love tea tree sticks. I bought a case of them a while back. It’s taking me some time to get thru them though as I seem to be the only person I know who likes em :p

  25. You should have put this list up earlier Mark so I could have sent it to my family as a hint for what to get me.

    I don’t know why anyone would want to chew tea tree gum, I think the trees stink enough whilst they’re still in the ground.

  26. i’m rreally trying hard to extract us from christmas.

    with family, it’s next to impossible. i have to buy them things, or they get pissed off. if i don’t give them a list every year, they get me weird crap or get pissed off. so, i play that game (and dislike it).

    but, now that we live in NZ, it’ smostly about shipping objects around. so that’s cool. i’m able to have a no-holiday holiday, and my peeps can get waht they want out of it, and i do have an ongoing list of things that i want/need for here in NZ, so there you have it. 😀

  27. Injinji toe socks come to mind, for use with Vibrams during cold weather.

    A friend of mine just showed off her new Smartwool Vibrams (me want!)and those could be neat presents.

    Kettlebells and gymnastics rings could be neat workout gifts, as well as a pullup bar for those who avoid the gym. To my shame, I purchased a $20 one from Wal-Mart (I know, I know)that fits in my doorframe, and it actually works quite well (I weigh 145). I just couldn’t pony up for the $250 self-standing, packable pullup bar that I really wanted.

    I also like doing the handmade thing, so am giving away canned summer produce that I made, like salsa, pickled jalapenos, and a pickled mixed veggies. Not too late to do that with some winter produce! Check out the Ball canning book, or give it as a gift.

    And my last idea (just worked out, & a little buzzed from my new PRs, so excuse the comment diarrhea!)is putting together a recipe collection of primal meals by season as those ingredients come into season. Especially if they’re re-worked primal versions of old family favorites. Although I AM hoping someone gets me Mark’s cookbook!

    OK, that’s enough of me! Happy Christmahannakwanzaa everyone!

  28. Making homemade sausage is not as daunting and difficult as it may sound. Sausage is really just a mixture of ground meat, fat, salt, pepper, other spices, herbs, onions, peppers or other diced foods

  29. The stick blender is already on my wish list. So perfect for soups and sauces. Also great for making soap! Small useful gifts tend to be what I aim for. I like that everything on the list here is useful and practical, not just frivolous knickknacks and dust collectors.

  30. These are all awesome ideas… if my husband will take the hint.

    I got an Oster Kitchen Center (from the 70s) on eBay — blends, grinds meat, etc. and picked up a Champion Juicer there as well. We have the freezer and will be getting a whole steer at the end of the year. I am coveting my MILs Excalibur.

  31. Picture the hook in the fish’s mouth and the line being pulled.
    That was me on the “guy with well researched supplements” routine. Good one!! I must be tired to fall for that, but I did.
    Thanks for the tips. Solid as usual.

  32. My dehydrator is a Harvest Maid from the early 1980’s and is still going strong. Despite the steep price, then and now, it more than paid for itself.

    Right now it’s dehydrating cranberries, and after that will be crackers, and then more Fuji apples. Somewhere in there I also need to do jerky.

  33. What a great post! It’s helpful to be introduced to these things because it’s still such a non-primal world, they aren’t always easy to come by!

    Hiker…what recipe do you use for your crackers before you dehydrate them? If you don’t mind. 🙂

  34. For stocking stuffers, I’m giving a variety of the high cacao bars on the market. There are a lot of them now, and it is fun to taste the different ones.

  35. I say that if you really loved someone you would get them a Sous Vide, but that could be my greed talking. I like the hunting lessons idea. There is also a company called Urban escapes that gives “ninja” courses for surviving in the wild, and it sounds really fun. I recommend that too!

  36. I have my grandmothers meat grinder from the 1940’s. When ever I use it I think of her and how she used to cook on a wood stove for a Baptist Camp, she did all the baking too. Awesome lady, I can’t imagine doing it. It also gives me a great arm workout, I just switch arms half way threw. Am coveting the French cookbook. Another one to add to mu collection along with yours Mark.

  37. +1 for de Pomaine’s book and Mark’s comments about it. Owned it long before I went Primal. It’s a great read but also, if you follow the book and cook in the manner he describes you will learn all kinds of basic kitchen skills – planning, organization, order, mis en place, etc. – that will serve you well in any circumstance. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you can pull of one of his meals in ten minutes without chaos, mess, or stress.

  38. I asked my husband for a pull-up bar for Christmas. He thinks I´ve gone off my rocker…

  39. Add this to the list for anyone you know who watches TV or games in the dark.

    Its a MIcrolite, tiny LED to illuminate your remote control in the dark since as you know remotes never work in the dark.

  40. I don’t know about you, but I would buy my wife some of the items here before buying them for any other person, as she will definitely crave for having them( ok,not the knife or the hunting course)

  41. Call me paleo-fashioned, but I actually like the smell of (certain) people. I have not worn deoderant since high school and love the smell of sweaty pits. That’s where all the phermones live anyway. Stupid sanitized culture!

  42. My wife just gave me an early Primal Christmas present! It’s the best ever.

    She bought me a Power Tower complete with multi-grip chip up bar and dip a place to do dips!

  43. I once used the Thai Deodorant Stone and made the switch to an organic line called Face Naturals. I have very sensitive skin, so the stone wasn’t a good long term choice me. Face Naturals deodorants are the best I’ve used before.