2014 Holiday Gift Guide

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. 

 Photo from Macys.com.

Photo from Macys.com.

2. Travel the World Calendar. For cubicle daydreaming.

 Photo from Anthropologie.com.

Photo from Anthropologie.com.

3. OXO Angled Measuring Jigger. A perfect addition to any bar. The plastic version, as well as the large multi-cup angled measuring cups are some of my favorite kitchen tools. 

 Photo from Amazon.com.

Photo from Amazon.com.

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.

 Photo from Macys.com.

Photo from Macys.com.

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. 

 Photo from Amazon.com.

Photo from Amazon.com.

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.

 Photo from NationalGeographic.com

Photo from NationalGeographic.com

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. 

 Photo from Amazon.com.

Photo from Amazon.com.

8. Brim Papery print. Because you definitely know someone who would appreciate this. 

 Photo from Brim Papery Etsy shop.

Photo from Brim Papery Etsy shop.

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.

 Photo from Didriks.com.

Photo from Didriks.com.

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.

 Photo from Papyrus.com.

Photo from Papyrus.com.

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.

 Photo from WilliamsSonoma.com.

Photo from WilliamsSonoma.com.

The cocktail picks are only $15.95, so pair them with a bottle of your favorite booze, some nice olives or cocktail onions, and some festive cocktail napkins like these or these

  Photo from SurLaTable.com

Photo from SurLaTable.com

 Photo from SurLaTable.com

Photo from SurLaTable.com

12. Better yet, pair those cocktail picks with these incredible cherries. They are worth every penny. None of that fake color, bright red chemical stuff. Include this recipe & a bottle of whiskey and you've got yourself a winner.

 Photo from williamssonoma.com.

Photo from williamssonoma.com.

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. 

 Photo from SurLaTable.com.

Photo from SurLaTable.com.

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.

 Photo from ReedAndBarton.com.

Photo from ReedAndBarton.com.

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. 

 Photo from Amazon.com.

Photo from Amazon.com.

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.

 Photo from Williamssonoma.com.

Photo from Williamssonoma.com.

17. Solid Maple Muddler. Other muddlers we've had have broken. This has not.

 Photo from SurLaTable.com.

Photo from SurLaTable.com.

18. Yarai Cocktail mixing glass. Gorgeous and very well-made.

 Photo from UmamiMart.com.

Photo from UmamiMart.com.

19. And you'll need a swizzle bar spoon to go with it.

 Photo from UmamiMart.com.

Photo from UmamiMart.com.

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. 

 Photo from amazon.com.

Photo from amazon.com.

Anything from Bittermilk. It's carried in various stores, like Bevmo. Anything from Bittermens, too (especially their hopped grapefruit bitters.). 

 Photo from Bittermilk.com. 

Photo from Bittermilk.com. 

 Photo from Amazon.com.

Photo from Amazon.com.

21. I'm asking Santa for these super soft, stretchy, classic pajamas

 Photo from Nordstrom.com.

Photo from Nordstrom.com.

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.

 Photo from LLBean.com.

Photo from LLBean.com.

23. Kendra Scott Danielle earrings. My favorites. They come in about a zillion colors, plus a smaller version called the Elle. Design your own at the Color Bar.

 Photo from KendraScott.com.

Photo from KendraScott.com.

 Photo from GeorgetownPottery.com.

Photo from GeorgetownPottery.com.

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.

 Photo from ArtofShaving.com.

Photo from ArtofShaving.com.

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.

 Photo from DarnTough.com.

Photo from DarnTough.com.

27. A Short History of Nearly Everything. For the history/trivia/everything buff.

 Photo from amazon.com.

Photo from amazon.com.

28. Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. These have come in handy more times than I can count, much to my surprise. They now come in a bunch of fun colors and patterns. Available through Amazon, REI, etc.

 Photo from Amazon.com.

Photo from Amazon.com.

29. Voluspa candles. The best. Wonderful scents that fill a room without knocking you over. There are about 15 scents I like, but I really love the French Cade Lavender. Their holiday scents are lovely.

 Photo from Nordstrom.com

Photo from Nordstrom.com

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.

 Photo from Amazon.com.

Photo from Amazon.com.

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. 

 Photo from Nordstrom.com.

Photo from Nordstrom.com.

32. Boscia Blotting Linens. $10, but they last forever. This is a perfect stocking stuffer for someone who likes to touch up their makeup, try new things, and/or eliminate the Mid-day Shine. (So, everyone?) I like peppermint best because it's slightly refreshing. 

 Photo from StyleBlazer.com.

Photo from StyleBlazer.com.

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. 

 Photo from SurLaTable.com.

Photo from SurLaTable.com.

34. State Love Tote. Start an awkward conversation with the Trader Joe's cashier about where you grew up! Go Sawx. 

 Photo from Etsy shop Vital.

Photo from Etsy shop Vital.

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. 

 Photo from fruugo.us. 

Photo from fruugo.us. 

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. 

 Photo from Hickorees.com.

Photo from Hickorees.com.

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.

 Photo from amazon.com

Photo from amazon.com

Then throw in a box of delicious, no-weird-chemicals, microwave popcorn. You can also find it in grocery stores. Hot chocolate would be a great choice, too.

 Photo from Hickorees.com

Photo from Hickorees.com

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.

 Photo from LLBean.com

Photo from LLBean.com

39. Kids craft tape dispenser. I would've loved this as a kid. I suppose some adults might like it, too.

 Photo from Nordstrom.com.

Photo from Nordstrom.com.

40. Jewelry. The BP (Juniors department) at Nordstrom has some great, trendy jewelry that is super affordable. More so than other quick-fashion places, like Baublebar. For instance this and this are each $20 or less.

 Photo from Nordstrom.com.

Photo from Nordstrom.com.

 Photo from Nordstrom.com.

Photo from Nordstrom.com.

I don't have kids, but I have a lot of friends with kids. Here are some things I've had great luck with giving as gifts. Unless said children's parents are good liars. 

41. Melissa & Doug cutting play food sets. Wooden, sturdy, fun, well-made.  Pizza, birthday cake, and sushi have all been hits.

 Photo from amazon.com.

Photo from amazon.com.

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.

 Photo from NationalGeographic.com.

Photo from NationalGeographic.com.

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.

 Photo from Target.com.

Photo from Target.com.

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.

 Photo from MIlaniCosmetics.com.

Photo from MIlaniCosmetics.com.

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. 

 Photo from MilaniCosmetics.com

Photo from MilaniCosmetics.com

46. Thirstystone coasters. They absorb moisture, and are my favorite. Available in a variety of patterns, and also initials.

 Photo from Amazon.com.

Photo from Amazon.com.

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.

 Photo from Dreamfarm.com

Photo from Dreamfarm.com

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.

 Photo from Zinio.com.

Photo from Zinio.com.

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. 

 Photo from LLBean.com.

Photo from LLBean.com.

50. Kala Robe. I want this for myself, and it's only $25. It comes in other colors, too, and more in store.

 Photo from WorldMarket.com.

Photo from WorldMarket.com.

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.

 Photo from WorldMarket.com.

Photo from WorldMarket.com.

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.

 Photo from WorldMarket.com. 

Photo from WorldMarket.com. 

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.)

 Photo from Potterybarn.com.

Photo from Potterybarn.com.

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.

 Photo from FlintAndTinder.com.

Photo from FlintAndTinder.com.

55. Bubbly glasses. These are so charming.

 Photo from BallardDesigns.com.

Photo from BallardDesigns.com.

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.)

 Photo from Designmilk.com.

Photo from Designmilk.com.

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.

 Photo from Nordstrom.com.

Photo from Nordstrom.com.

58. Jonathan Adler Zebra Dish. I love this. Perfect for a nightstand, dresser, or bathroom counter. 

 Photo from JonathanAdler.com.

Photo from JonathanAdler.com.

59. Festive doormat (not an oxymoron). This is something I'd never buy for myself, so it would make a great gift. Pottery Barn has a variety, as do other vendors like Garnet Hill. Just don't ask me how to wrap it. 

 Photo from Potterybarn.com.

Photo from Potterybarn.com.

60. This is pretty ridiculous, but it's $15 and I kind of love it. 

 Photo from Nordstrom.com.

Photo from Nordstrom.com.

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.

 Photo from Nordstrom.com.

Photo from Nordstrom.com.

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.

 Photo from Tieks.com.

Photo from Tieks.com.

62. Mountain and Sackett ties. Zach has a couple of these. They are handmade in New York, and they are gorgeous. 

 Photo from MountainandSackett.com.

Photo from MountainandSackett.com.

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.

 Photo from Sephora.com.

Photo from Sephora.com.

64. I hear this Sephora-exclusive blush set is a good find, too.

 Photo from Sephora.com.

Photo from Sephora.com.

65. Thanks to my friend Elizabeth, I am really into the idea of holiday sheet sets this year. Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, and Garnet Hill have a lot of good choices. These Fa La La La sheets are pretty cute, and you could start with a few pillowcases if you just want to dip your toe in.

 Photo from Potterybarn.com.

Photo from Potterybarn.com.

Ski Day bedding is good all winter long.

 Photo from Garnethill.com.

Photo from Garnethill.com.

66. I can think of a few people this fun felt trivet would be perfect for. Maybe the table runner, too.

 Photo from GarnetHill.com.

Photo from GarnetHill.com.

67. I don't need any more pillows, but I can't stop looking at this cover.

 Photo from PotteryBarn.com.

Photo from PotteryBarn.com.

Bennington Potters. They have the most beautiful things, handmade in Vermont.

68. It's hard to see here, but this pie plate in the blue agate finish is stunning. And makes for great pie.

 Photo from BenningtonPotters.com.

Photo from BenningtonPotters.com.

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.

  Photo from BenningtonPotters.com.

Photo from BenningtonPotters.com.

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.

 Photo from MyBrands.com.

Photo from MyBrands.com.

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.

 Photo from Sears.com.

Photo from Sears.com.

72. Wool cable knit hat. You can't go wrong with a classic.

 Photo from LLBean.com.

Photo from LLBean.com.

73. Gourmet Today. From the Editor-in-Chief at Gourmet magazine: Ruth Reichl will never steer you wrong.

 Photo from Amazon.com.

Photo from Amazon.com.

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.

 Photo from RoadID.com.

Photo from RoadID.com.

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.

 Photo from renohealingmassage.com.

Photo from renohealingmassage.com.

76. Astrology sign charm bangle. For your favorite nouveau hippie.

 Photo from KateSpade.com.

Photo from KateSpade.com.

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.

 Photo from Manduka.com.

Photo from Manduka.com.

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.

 Photo from Skinstore.com.

Photo from Skinstore.com.

79. Swedish wooden butter knife. Dips, spreads, butter. Better yet, attach it to a jar of Nutella.

 Photo from XylemCrafts Etsy shop.

Photo from XylemCrafts Etsy shop.

80. Bestmade Front-Loading Toolbox. American made, and designed to be more user-friendly than the typical toolbox.

 Photo from BestMade.com.

Photo from BestMade.com.

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.

 Photo from danforthpewter.com.

Photo from danforthpewter.com.

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. 

 Hey, no reason the experience can't be a trip to Paris! Photo from panoramio.com.

Hey, no reason the experience can't be a trip to Paris! Photo from panoramio.com.

83. Touchscreen-compatible gloves. Many brands and options out there. These were well-reviewed by a tech website

 Photo from amazon.com.

Photo from amazon.com.

84. Ornament storage. For the person who has everything, but is still delicately cramming their ornaments in their orginal, 25 year-old cardboard box.

 Photo from Target.com.

Photo from Target.com.

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!)

 Photo from Nordstrom.com.

Photo from Nordstrom.com.

86. The inchworm. Or the centipede, if you prefer metric. A small ruler rod that attaches to your keychain. Zach has used his more than he ever thought possible. TEC Accessories has lots of cool gadgets.

 Photo from TECaccessories.com.

Photo from TECaccessories.com.

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!

 Photo from Nordstrom.com.

Photo from Nordstrom.com.

88. A Dartboard. For when you want to say "I love you so much I'll let you mess up our basement walls." Or the electronic version, for when you want to say "Darts are fun, but no."

 Photo from Target.com.

Photo from Target.com.

89. Pressed wood tray. For him or her. Perfume or pocket knives. 

 Photo from kaufmann-mercantile.com.

Photo from kaufmann-mercantile.com.

90. Cheese of the Month Club. A little pricey, but cheese.

 Photo from ArtisinalCheese.com.

Photo from ArtisinalCheese.com.

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!