I love the holidays, I love finding the perfect gift for people, and I love sharing things I'm excited about. And I am SO EXCITED to bring back Gift Guides! I was lucky enough to write them for FoodLush (here and here), and I really missed doing it last year. This time I'm not limited to food items (though those will certainly make appearances here), and I'm so excited to share some of my favorite items, new finds, and things that look intriguing.
Before I get started, a couple of hat tips to two dear friends: Elizabeth, who started this whole Gift Guide thing, and Jennie, who handed me the reins over at Foodlush, and let me do whatever I wanted with the Gift Guide. You're both a couple of gems, you are.
Thank you, too, to those of you who made suggestions for things to be included.
Disclaimers: all opinions my own, I'm not being compensated for any of this*. Prices may change, so I'm not including them here, but I've included a mix of price points, generally under $50. A few big ticket items, a few stocking stuffers, mostly in between.You get the idea. Ready? Let's go!
*Edited: As of October 2016, I've added some affiliate links, which means if you purchase from some of the links here I get a small percentage of the sale.
1. Ralph Lauren Cable Knit Throw. I've had one for six years, and it's one of my favorite finds. It's versatile, goes with a variety of decor, and looks equally great whether at the foot of a bed or on the back of a couch. Macy's often has sales and coupons so keep an eye out.
2. Travel the World Calendar. For cubicle daydreaming.
4. Shiny Brite ornaments are back. Add some old-school flair to your tree this year. I got some last year and they put a smile on my face every time I see them. Or I guess since this is a gift guide, you'd give them to someone else. Whatever, you deserve a gift too.
5. The Woodbook. That's right, a book about wood. For the woodworker or hobbyist in your life, this is a dream. It talks about different kinds of wood, and has actual samples of them right on the page.
UPDATE: Oh dear. It turns out the original version of this book had actual wood samples. Current versions do not: Rather, they have photographs of the different cross-sections and cuts of the type of wood being discussed. It's vaguely written in the description (an argument for well-written copy!), but discussed in the comments. My sincere apologies for the mistkae.
6. National Geographic Personalized Pin Map. This is one pricey treat, but what a perfect gift to go in on for the proud travelers in your life. Their name at the bottom and everywhere their heart desires marked.
7. Clip-on Book Light. A friend recommended this specific light, and I'm hoping to find it in my stocking Christmas morning. Because Mrs. Claus is a bit of a nightowl bookworm, while Santa likes to turn in early.
8. Brim Papery print. Because you definitely know someone who would appreciate this.
9. Libeco Tea Towels. I have several of these towels, and they've become the ones I always go for. They've gotten softer with use and are sturdy, absorbent, and still look great. Available from various sellers in various styles.
10. Crane stationery. Know someone who loves to send notes? Nice stationery is such a treat. Include a book of stamps, and you'll make their day.
11. Classic stainless steel cocktail picks. A staple in my kitchen. Skewer a garnish and add a little fanciness to your cocktail. Bonus: They're all different so you can use them to identify everyone's drink, too.
13. Speaking of cocktails, these rimmed glasses are gorgeous and classic. We have them in silver (which I can't find now), and they're a favorite.
Actually, let's keep talking about cocktails. There's a world of fun cocktail gear that makes great gifts.
14. Reed and Barton Soho decanter. We have one. It looks impressive but won't break the bank.
15. Ice spheres. All the rage lately, with good reason. They're fun and slightly fancy and melt slowly so your drink stays strong. This tray is easy to use once you get the hang of it, and it makes four spheres at a time. It's also hard plastic, and not silicone, which I prefer as silicone ice trays absorb any freezer scents, no matter how unscented your freezer may be.
16. Ice bucket with tongs. We got this as a gift last year. A+. Sturdy, solid, looks nice. Available via Amazon and other places, too.
17. Solid Maple Muddler. Other muddlers we've had have broken. This has not.
18. Yarai Cocktail mixing glass. Gorgeous and very well-made.
19. And you'll need a swizzle bar spoon to go with it.
20. If you're giving a cocktail mixing glass, I have a few liquid suggestions for you.
Tomr's Tonic Syrup. "Life's too short to drink crappy tonic." Amen.
21. I'm asking Santa for these super soft, stretchy, classic pajamas.
22. Santa usually brings Zach a pair of these L.L. Bean flannel pajama pants. They come in tall, which is great when you've got legs up to your armpits like he does; and they have pockets, which makes them great for futzing around the house on Sundays.
25. Art of Shaving Starter Kit. There are many options, from $25 - $200+. This $60 kit is a good mid-level option. Sandalwood smells lovely, but there are other options (including unscented). Zach has very sensitive skin, and he really likes their stuff.
26. Darn Tough socks. For a long time I couldn't remember what they were called, and referred to them as Darn Tootin'. That would also apply: They're darn tootin' good. They are much more durable than Smartwool, in my experience, and come with a lifetime guarantee. Plus, they're made in Vermont. In styles for men, women, and kids, from the slopes to the trail to the office, you can't go wrong. Available on Amazon, from REI, and many other sellers.
27. A Short History of Nearly Everything. For the history/trivia/everything buff.
30. Portable tent light. For the camping and outdoorsy people in your life. Hook it to a carabiner, hang it from the ceiling of your tent, and you've got the perfect lantern. It's small, cheap, and easy to use. Every time we go camping with new friends we're asked where we got it, so if you know someone who likes camping, this is a good bet.
31. Little Shirley bud vase. These are pretty, and sturdy, and come in a bunch of colors. Check back, and/or in store for more.
33. Ceramic paring knives. Friends gave us one as a gift, and it's so great. This is one example; there are tons of choices out there.
34. State Love Tote. Start an awkward conversation with the Trader Joe's cashier about where you grew up! Go Sawx.
35. Snacktastic nesting food boxes. A lovely friend of mine got these as a sweet going-away gift when I left DC, and they were so much fun to open. They nest together, so every time I opened a box I laughed at what was inside.
36. Selvedge Pocket Square. Incredible quality. My husband has one and uses it both as a hankerchief and a pocket square. I think he'd like about a dozen more. Japanese fabric, but constructed in America.
37. Movies & Popcorn. What's better than passing the winter curling up with good movies and a snack? Hit the Target $5 DVD spot, or check Amazon for your favorites. Make 'em holiday themed, if you want. I'd have to go with my favorite, and hope they watch it on Christmas Eve like I do.
38. Fatwood crate. A great gift for anyone with a fireplace, firepit, or woodstove. Fatwood is a natural fire starter, and you can refill the crate with kindling or fatwood when you're done. It adds a nice rustic touch to your hearth, if you're into that sort of thing.
39. Kids craft tape dispenser. I would've loved this as a kid. I suppose some adults might like it, too.
42. National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why. Covers a ton of topics in an age-appropriate way, without dumbing it down. It's simply awesome. Check out the other NG kids books, too.
43. Aveeno Skin Relief Hand Cream. Not fancy, but a good stocking stuffer. This is an essential in our house, as it lasts through handwashing. Zach washes his hands constantly due to his work, and this is saved his sensitive skin.
44. Milani Anti-feathering Lipliner. Another great stocking stuffer. A universal lip primer to keep lipstick where you apply it. I don't wear lipstick without it. $5 or less at Walgreens, CVS, etc.
45. If you're really enjoying the trip back to the 90s that fashion seems to be taking lately (as I am), then pair it with this Black Cherry lipstick, and write a note instructing recipient to crank up the Gin Blossoms and pretend Jordan Catalano is real.
46. Thirstystone coasters. They absorb moisture, and are my favorite. Available in a variety of patterns, and also initials.
47. Mini Supoon. My mom is the master of giving kitchen gadgets that at first baffle me, and then become indispensable. The supoon was last year's. Scrapes your jars out like no one's biz.
48. A subscription to Real Simple. A good all-purpose gift for a boss, friend, aunt, mother-in-law, neighbor, or someone who is hard to shop for.
49. Moon Beam Alarm Clock. Wake up to an alarm, or a gentle light. Or just stare at how pretty and retro this clock is, and never go to sleep.
51. Christmas Crackers. I'd be remiss not to include something British. This tradition is one my family started practicing 15 or 20 years ago, thanks to holidays shared with a Scottish friend of the family. You're not allowed to eat unless you wear the paper crown. This would be a perfect hostess gift.
52. Walkers Shortbread (grocery stores & various places). You didn't think I'd only include one British thing, did you? I get Walkers in my stocking every year. Haribo is also a favorite, but since I can't eat them while I have braces, I get extra Walkers in the meantime. Wedges and fingers taste the best. It's science.
53. Aaand one more. Throw some PG Tips tea* in a gift bag with the Walkers and this ornament, and you've got an Anglophile's dream. (*I know PG Tips is not the very best of British tea, but it'll do for us Yanks.)
54. Flint and Tinder Ten Year Hoodie. A bit pricey, but it's guaranteed for ten years and it's made in America. I've had many hoodies over the years, and this blows them all out of the water. I'd rather spend $100 once on one good product, than $25 four times and never really be happy. Zach and I both have them. Unisex, variety of colors.
55. Bubbly glasses. These are so charming.
56. Glass Dharma reusable glass drinking straws. I've raved about these in various places before, but they really are the best. I use them daily for coffee, and they're great for cocktails, too. They're gorgeous, durable, and guaranteed. I cannot recommend them enough. My favorite is this set of four 'sipper' straws with glass dots (marks drinks, and keeps the straws from rolling off the counter. Plus they're pretty.)
57. Striped Harringbone Scarf. I just love these colors. Would look great with work clothes or jeans. Nordstrom has lots of great, quality scarves under $50.
58. Jonathan Adler Zebra Dish. I love this. Perfect for a nightstand, dresser, or bathroom counter.
60. This is pretty ridiculous, but it's $15 and I kind of love it.
If that's not your jam (and heavens, I can't imagine why it wouldn't be!), then perhaps I can interest you in this. Hashtag art.
61. Let's be real. Christmas is a time to dream big. Tieks are hands-down the best flats I've ever owned. I wish I could trade in the 6+ pairs of crappy-but-afforable flats I never want wear for a new pair of Tieks. Especially in this ballerina pink color.
62. Mountain and Sackett ties. Zach has a couple of these. They are handmade in New York, and they are gorgeous.
63. Tarte Lipsurgence set. Every year Tarte releases a set of 8 or so Lipsurgence colors. I got one last year, and it was the perfect way to try new shades and looks without having to commit. This year's set includes two lip glosses, which I hear are fantastic. I hope this finds its way into my stocking.
64. I hear this Sephora-exclusive blush set is a good find, too.
Ski Day bedding is good all winter long.
66. I can think of a few people this fun felt trivet would be perfect for. Maybe the table runner, too.
67. I don't need any more pillows, but I can't stop looking at this cover.
69. Their trigger mugs are Zach's favorite. My parents use them, too. They're available in many finishes, including a simple, elegant white-on-white.
70. Maille Honey Dijon. For me Maille is the gold standard of mustard, and up until some time within the last year, their honey dijon was only available in France. It is so good. Add it to a gift basket, or stuff it in the stocking of your favorite foodie. You can find it online or in grocery stores.
71. Speaking of stockings, I present you with the best bottle opener you will ever own. Your Dad/FIL/Brother/Tim the Toolman Taylor will love it. It's an actual Sears Craftsman tool.
72. Wool cable knit hat. You can't go wrong with a classic.
73. Gourmet Today. From the Editor-in-Chief at Gourmet magazine: Ruth Reichl will never steer you wrong.
74. Road ID. "If you can't speak for yourself, your Road ID will." For the runners, walkers, and cyclists in your life. Fully customizable in various sizes and colors. They come in bracelets or attach to your shoes, and have a version suitable for kids.
75. A gift certificate for a massage. I know it can seem a little cliche, but really, I will always welcome a massage, especially one I don't have to pay for. Look at Yelp reviews near your giftee, and maybe throw in an offer to babysit while they go, if applicable.
76. Astrology sign charm bangle. For your favorite nouveau hippie.
77. Speaking of hippies, Manduka eQua towels are perfect for your favorite yogi, or anyone who takes a sweaty barre, pilates, or other class. I love their hand towels and yoga mat towels. Available from Amazon, REI, Zappos, etc., in tons of colors and patterns.
78. Peter Thomas Roth Unwrinkle Peel Pads kit. I love these peel pads, and this set comes with a full-size container, plus several other products to try.
79. Swedish wooden butter knife. Dips, spreads, butter. Better yet, attach it to a jar of Nutella.
80. Bestmade Front-Loading Toolbox. American made, and designed to be more user-friendly than the typical toolbox.
81. Pewter wine coaster, engraved if you wish. We got one as a gift, and liked it so much we've given them as gifts as well.
82. Experiental gifts. I'm a big fan of these, especially for people who are hard to shop for, don't want anything, don't need anything, etc. Or for people who really want nothing more than to spend time with you. It's also really nice to have something to look forward to after the holidays, if you can schedule something for January or February. If you live near your gift recipient, make a date to spend time together doing something you like; your treat. Get your nails done, go to lunch and a movie, shop, go to a show, a museum, or a concert. My parents often go in on a gift like this with my aunt & uncle for my grandmother; they schedule dinner and a show in January and the six of them go. Everyone enjoys it. If you don't live near your recipient, you can still get them tickets to something, a gift certificate for dinner out, annual passes to a zoo or aquarium or museum, etc. Something like this can seem so obvious, but paired with a heartfelt note about why you thought they might like it, it can really be a perfect gift for someone who just doesn't need any more stuff.
84. Ornament storage. For the person who has everything, but is still delicately cramming their ornaments in their orginal, 25 year-old cardboard box.
85. Bamboo Chic Drape Front Cardigan. A bit of a splurge, but I have it on good authority that it's worth every penny. "So soft it's almost creepy." (Thanks Marianne and Megan!)
87. Essie Winter Collection. Essie releases a set of four mini bottles with seasonal colors every, well, season. These winter colors are so pretty. Try something new!
89. Pressed wood tray. For him or her. Perfume or pocket knives.
90. Cheese of the Month Club. A little pricey, but cheese.
91. My friend Sarah reminded me of the gift adage that some people use when buying: Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. I think 'need' is the only category I haven't covered here in the true sense of the word. Of course you can do your own research, but I'd suggest looking into your local food bank, local blood drive (recommend going local, direct to a hospital if you can: The Red Cross sells the blood it collects), or anything else that might interest you. Maybe schedule an appointment to donate blood in January, if you want to give to someone not on your list. If you want to give in someone's name, you could certainly do that. Feeding America has good programs, too.
Thanks for joining me and humoring me here. I hope you've found some inspiration, and even if you didn't, this was a lot of fun for me to put together. Wishing you and yours a truly happy, healthy, fun, delicious, and festive holiday season!