Welcome! Get a cold drink and settle in, we've got a lot of work to do.
First, please take a look at last year's guide. There's a bit of background, and also still a ton of great gift ideas. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback on it, particularly on the Ralph Lauren throw, the fancy cocktail stuff, shaving stuff, Voluspa candles, National Geographic Kids book, Aveeno hand cream, mini Supoon, inchworm, and...okay I'll stop.
I also did a decor guide last year but this year I'm rolling it all into one. I have featured a variety of retailers, but where a brand is available in multiple places I default to Amazon. Amazon is pretty universal and most often there is free shipping. Learn from my mistake, though, and mark every package as a gift, lest you want your husband to show up at exactly the same second that the UPS guy is delivering his big gift, in the manufacturer's box, and ruin Christmas. Nordstrom also has free shipping, will price match, and has unparalleled customer service and return policies, so I use them a lot too.
Last year I held back a bit, worrying the Gift Guide would be too long. This year I had three surgeries to recover from and nothing but time to spend and caution to throw to the wind. Thank you to everyone who made suggestions and shared finds! I tried to give credit where credit was due, and if I missed you I'm so sorry.
*Edited: I've never been compensated for these gift guides, but I have gone back and added some affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item via some of the links here, I get a small percentage of the sale.
2. Duncan Yo-Yo. Under five bucks, assorted colors, a fun stocking stuffer for adults or kids.
3. Nueske's bacon. Listen, I know you're thinking bacon has jumped the shark, but good old-fashioned Wisconsin bacon has been chugging along, slow and steady, and it's not going anywhere. This is, bar none, the best bacon I've ever had. If you've ever had it you're probably nodding along furiously. Same goes for their kielbasa and hot dogs and probably all their other stuff too.
4. Gold mirrored table top tray. On a dresser with perfume and jewelry; on a buffet with a decanter; on a coffee table with a candle and the remote; as the base of a centerpiece: there are a million reasons I want this tray.
5. Station Eleven. One of my favorite books this year. I still think about it, and I know it's one that will stick with me for a long time.
8. Man Mitts. Various colors, with or without clips. Seems these are good for anything fire related, and at a reasonable price point.
9. Pixelated "gamer" glasses. In other words, Minecraft. These are pretty reasonably priced and would be such a fun stocking stuffer for your favorite little (or big) creeper.
10. There are these socks, too, in case you want to express your Minecraft love more subtly.
11. Gorgeous stationery. I will always advocate for more beautiful stationery. I received this exact set as a birthday gift from a friend who knew I was trying to get better about sending snail mail, and it is perfect. It's thick and sturdy and the pictures don't do it justice. The only problem is that I'm about to run out.
This version with hello bunting is also darling.
These Kate Spade box of 'all occasion' notecards would be a lovely splurge as well.
12. Be sure to throw in a book of stamps and my absolute favorite writing implements: Ultra-Fine Point Sharpies. They somehow make my handwriting look 300% nicer, and I like coordinating ink with stationery. Even if you're not giving stationery, these are one of my favorite things so consider giving them anyway. Check Amazon for various sets and price points.
13. Or! A return address stamp from Etsy shop SaveTheDate. There's a wide selection, and they're all pretty.
14. Chinese checkers. I have many fond memories of playing as a kid.
15. Braided, 6 foot long charger. My husband and I have these, and so far they're great. They're nice and long, and they're tougher than the regular Apple chargers. Ours get a lot of use, and the Apple ones always split and fray. So far these have held up, and they're nicer looking and cheaper. Available in several color combos. When I was in the hospital after a surgery using this it got endless comments and questions (second only to the life-sized cut-out of Kate Middleton that stood sentry in the corner). Also in black/green and blue/green.
16. Football. I recently gave this to my baby niece, and she loves it. It's soft but sturdy, and very easy for her to grip.
17. Shameless plug for my husband's side project. Listen, it's my website and I can post whatever I want but the truth is that Zach is the most meticulous, driven person I know, and his stuff is absolutely stunning and will last a lifetime. He often makes pieces more than once due to some flaw only he can see. Don't tell him I told you that. Just go look at his stuff.
18. What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. Several friends recommended this as a big hit.
22. At $1.19 this travel mani set is a perfect stocking stuffer, and the cheapest thing on the guide. Probably not your lifelong companion, but certainly will be handy in a pinch, whether thrown in a purse or a suitcase.
23. Of course you could always throw in a gift certificate for a mani/pedi if you want to go whole hog. Yelp something in their area that looks good, or get sneaky and find out what their favorite place is from someone who'd know. I use the same method for restuarant gift cards.
24. Faux fur throw. I'm a sucker for a snuggly throw. I want the whole stack of 'em.
25. How about a pair of these gorgeous mugs? They're festive but they'll work year round. Pair these pretties with a gift card to their favorite java joint, or a splurgey box of tea you think they'd like.
26. One of my favorite tea treats, especially when the weather cools, is Harney & Sons Holiday blend. Black tea with just the right amount of warmth and spice.
Their Hot Cinnamon Spice is perfection. I'm in no way qualified to give medical advice, but I think that when combined with whisky and honey it might cure a winter cold.
Given my royal obsession and love for these teas, it seems absurd that I was unaware that this existed. I love the description, especially as I am also fascinated by the Historic Royal Palaces organization (check out their presence on social media, if you're so inclined): "We were proud to been commissioned to do this tea by the Historic Royal Palaces organization. We are honoured to present our union of Chinese mutan white tea buds, almond, coconut, vanilla, and a floral abundance of pink rosebuds and petals. A regal tea blend to celebrate that glorious occasion in 2011. It continues to grow more popular."
I'm going to need to find this in my stocking come Christmas morning, Santa.
27. Speaking of royal things, as I so often am, my favorite book of the year, and maybe ever, came out this year: The Royal We. For the royal lover in your life, or anyone you know who will appreciate a fun, great read. Total Kate Middleton/Prince William fan fiction, but stands so well on its own. By the women behind Go Fug Yourself.
28. Securifi Almond wifi booster. Easy set up and touch screen for non-tech-y types. (Thanks to my friend Andrea for the recommendation!)
29. Dump truck. Made from recycled milk jugs, free from BPA and other yucky stuff, and hey, how about those colors?
30. By the same company, Build-a-Bouquet play set. I love this.
31. Wurkin Stiffs power collar stays. These metal collar stays come with a magnetic button so collars stay stiff and stay put. Variety of sizes and combo packs available, so shop around.
32. One of my favorite gifts to give is a great cookbook (this is a classic)...
33. ...with my favorite spatula tied to the front. More cookbooks to come throughout the guide.
34. Or one of my two other favorite kitchen tools. A fish spatula, which I use all the time for fish and other delicate things like turning roasted veggies or lifting baked goods from the tray.
35. Or a spider. My favorite thing for scooping things out of other things.
36. Nambé Pebble Twist bud vase. Lovely on its own or as a pair.
38. Pendleton is one of my favorite brands. Their iconic blankets are always a hit...
39. ...but they have gorgeous, well-made throws as well.
They're so well made and have been a huge hit when I've given them as gifts. They have a big variety of looks so take some time to browse.
40. They've got a lot of great things in their National Parks line that would make good gifts for someone you know who lives near one, loves one, has great memories at one, took a trip recently, or has one planned. Like their napkins.
41. Or dishtowels.
42. And mugs.
43. Bubble light nightlight! A huge dose of nostalgia in a small package.
44. Shaving nick sealer. Reviews claim it's better and easier than the classic styptic pencils. At around $5 it would be a perfect stocking stuffer.
Ornaments! There are a thousand out there and it's hard to choose just a few to highlight. I'll sprinkle them throughout the guide as I love getting and/or giving a new ornament. They're perfect for stocking stuffers, neighbors, hostess gifts, co-workers, or even as package toppers if you want to get crazy. As always when buying ornaments online, be sure to check their dimensions. What seems dainty in a picture can be overwhelming in person.
Also! A couple of friends recently mentioned their tradition of getting their kids a stocking stuffer ornament that reflects their Halloween costume that year. I love this idea so much. Thanks Erin and Gaby!
45. It's my second beachy Christmas, and I'm definitely going to need this. It's my neighborhood in a nutshell.
46. This jeweled jellyfish caught my eye as well.
47. A 5 lb. bag of Haribo. My friend A'Dell did this one year for one of her daughters and I thought it was genius. Not only do I love Haribo but what better time than Christmas to go nuts and watch your kid (or adult sibling/spouse/friend) lose their fool mind over something delightful and kind of absurd.
48. The Humans of New York book. If you're not following Brandon Stanton's social media accounts, start. This would be a great gift for anyone who likes stories, art, or general human interest.
50. For your favorite hard-to-shop-for kitchen maven, pair them with a festive scented soap. (Other scents are available, too, like spiced chestnut and winter forest.) I know towels and soap might seem a little gauche, but fancy towels and soap fall under the category of things I wouldn't buy for myself, which means they make a fun gift.
51. 52 fun things to do in the car. I'm sure there's an app or something similar, but I still love a good old-fashioned game. Currently priced under $4, this is cheap and fun for the whole family. And who says you need to keep it to the car? From the description: "Games include things to stimulate the word nerd, number junkie, art critic and mystery solver alike. Keep that road trip out of a rut and boost your brainpower together."
52. Super soft kimono-ish robe. I saw this in store, and I petted it: it was gorgeous and soft and hard to walk away from.
53. Geo studs. How gorgeous are these? Classic with a twist. Multiple colors.
54. Speaking of classic with a twist, I also love these simple bar studs. I came close to buying them over the summer when I was trying to fill a gold studs hole in my wardrobe. Ultimately I decided to go totally classic with simple gold balls by the same brand, but I'd love to find these in my stocking.
55. Amazon Fire Stick. I've tried the big competitors, and this is the best way to replace cable. The interface is easy, setup is quick and painless, and the remote doesn't have to be pointed at the tv to work.
56. Hedgehog ornament.
57. Raccoon ornament.
58. Fuzzy little owl ornament, COME ON.
59. Cilantro mint toothpaste. Because cilantro is polarizing but for those of us who love it, this is the perfect stocking stuffer.
60. For the traveler or boozy Betty in your life, how about the Carry On Cocktail kit? Everything you need to mix up craft cocktails on the fly, sans booze and maybe some water. Available in a few classic recipes. I'd have to go with my favorite, of course, the gin and tonic.
61. Speaking of travel, I've got a few favorites. These packing cubes were an instant hit with me and my husband. It makes packing and traveling so much easier when everything has a place to go, whether arranged by outfit or item type. With cubes available in a variety of colors, sizes, and sets, the possibilities are endless.
62. Shoe bags. Something I always wish I had but never seem to want to buy for myself. Go for quantity with this set of four available in various colors.
Or go for the splurge with Tumi.
63. Miamica has some fun travel accessories, and my personal favorite is this pill box. It always makes my smile when I'm tediously counting out meds and vitamins for a trip. Plus, gold sequins.
65. Throw in a passport ornament while you're at it.
66. Print of one of my favorite quotes. Many choices on Etsy. "The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea."
67. Wait, let's go back to camping! I must recommended these extendable rotating roasting sticks. Perfect for marshmallows, hot dogs, vegetables, or whatever else you're sizzling over a campfire. Sit lazily in your comfy chair and rotate your marshmallows into evenly toasted perfection with the little knob on the handle. They come in a pair for $12.95, which I think is a pretty good deal. A variety of colors, too.
69. These polka dot highballs are pretty charming, too.
71. Personalized ornament. There are a ton of options (angel, reindeer, picture frame, train, bear, snowman, nutcracker, etc) and a discount when purchasing three or more. Particularly because it has the year on it, I love the idea of getting one for newlyweds, new grandparents with their new grandparent name, one each for a new mom, dad, and baby, etc.
72. Pizza Oven Box. Turn your grill into a gourmet pizza oven. If we still lived in a place where we could still have our huge grill, my husband would be getting this for Christmakkuh. Sorry, honey.
73. Fun stacking utensils. A bit cheesy-looking perhaps, but I think maybe some little kids in your life would enjoy them.
74. This book.
75. Quality beach towels. Know someone who lives near the beach, loves the beach, has a warm winter getaway planned? Monogram a pair of these bad boys or tie one up with a pair of sunglasses. Several fun color combos.
76. Four movies for the price of one? Including two all-time classics? This is an insanely good deal, and a perfect stocking stuffer. Even if your giftee already owns or doesn't like one or two of them, it's still a good deal. Love Actually could certainly be considered a holiday movie, but this set will keep giving year-round. Perfect.
77. Pair it with some insanely good hot chocolate & gourmet marshmallows. I was lucky enough to receive this as a gift recently (Thank you, Jess!) and I'm here to tell you everything is out of this world. In fact, I ate all the marshmallows before they could even make their way into a cup of hot chocolate. While you're ordering from Sucre, please send me some more of those marshmallows. And their chocolates.
78. These beautiful porcelain chinoiserie ornaments. A set of three for $25 seems like a pretty good deal.
79. There's no such thing as too many trinket trays. This is a little pricey but I love it as a gift for a dear friend.
80. This would be a beautiful choice for your favorite yogi, at a much lower price point.
81. Utensil and tool set. For the hiker, backpacker, or camping aficionado. Lightweight with a carrying case, and the ends of the fork and spoon have a can opener and a bottle opener.
82. Another favorite cookbook.
The Vermont Country Store always has a ton of stuff that catches my eye. A few have already snuck in above, but here are a bunch more.
83. Real bayberry candles. The scent of bayberry candles reminds me of my childhood. These are made from the wax of real bayberries, and apparently in Colonial days bayberry candles were burned for good luck. These would make a lovely hostess gift.
84. Mosser glass sleigh. I want to fill it with holiday candy and set it out for guests. Made in the USA, also available in green.
85. Winking Santa Mugs. Apparently a replica of mugs from the 50s? Set of 2.
86. Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book set! Pure, delicious nostalgia.
87. Mood lipstick! Oh, come on. 90s nostalgia! Or is it 60s? Both?
88. Men's fleece-line Woolrich rag wool watch cap. A steal at $20. Four colors.
89. Gumdrop tree. A bag of giant gumdrops included, but I'm sure you'll want an extra bag for fortification while assembling.
90. Remember these?!
91. Steel wire slinky. Special edition, in a reproduction of the original 1945 box. Gotta love a classic.
93. Cinnamon candy coal. Because you know you've always wanted to put this in someone's stocking.
94. Golden caramel nuggets. If you've ever had Beaver Nuggets from the Texas-famous Buc-ee's, these appear to be the same. Which is to say, imagine Pirate's Booty that is caramel instead of cheddar. Delicious.
96. Back to our regular programming. Origami bud vases. A few different sizes and choices.
97. Or these vases.
98. A cookbook from the Irish Julia Child.
100. You're a good egg paperweight. This would make a great gift for an officemate.
101. Or these glass paperweights.
102. Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty. "...bounce it, bend it, tear it, stretch it, snap it, pop it. And it's magnetic." Stocking stuffer for kids & tinker-y adults. Tons of mind-bending color combos, including hypercolor!
103. Bucky Blinks sleep mask. Lightweight. Pretty patterns, or plain colors. My absolute favorite.
104. Ring cones...
105. ...or animals.
108. Six years ago my husband had these slippers waiting next to my bed on Christmas morning with a big red bow. Adorable gesture aside, these are so cozy and have worn so well. I've even worn them out of the house to run errands, and gotten away with it, as they feature an indoor/outdoor sole. That's some good living.
109. LEGO ornament. Various colors on their site.
110. Fancy chocolates. Truffle fudge! Peanut butter with sea salt!
111. Dual USB portable charger/external battery pack. Four colors, great reviews.
113. Pretty scarf!
114. Giant pretty scarf!
115. Astronaut ice cream. Because your kids aren't growing up in the 80s, and because you know someone who did who will get a kick out of it, and they'll both enjoy finding it in their stocking. Check REI, Amazon, and other retailers.
116. This candle smells unreal. A bit of a splurge, a perfect gift.
117. The Boys in the Boat. Another favorite book this year. If you enjoy books that weave history into a spellbinding story, this is the book for you. Um, I mean your giftee.
118. One of my very favorite holiday songs on an ornament.
119. J.L. Lawson is a small family business that makes, simply put, some incredible stuff. Full disclosure: Anthony of J.L. Lawson and my husband have a couple of projects together (Zach makes their exclusive leather top sleeves), but I've been lucky enough to see and use their hand-machined brassware, and it's incredible. There are a lot of great toys and bottle openers and such, but I'm kind of partial to the idea of giving these cufflinks to your favorite tinkerer: they double as spinning tops.
120. Best of Mad Libs! Another great kid-or-adult stocking stuffer with the nostalgia I'm apparently into this year.
121. Speaking of fun for the whole family: Bean Boozled! You get either a gross flavor or a good flavor!
123. Keychain pill holder. My husband has one and it comes in super handy for someone who doesn't carry a bag but likes to have Advil handy.
124. Pretty painted ornament. Pottery Barn has the best ones this year.
125. And this one.
126. Clamping flashlight. Finally, a flashlight that can hold itself. There's a video in that Amazon link that's worth watching if you have someone on your list that's hard to shop for. Lots of great ideas for its many uses.
127. Red mitten flask. I'm sorry, I had to.
128. Marble wine chiller. Great price point for something that appears to be fancy, though I haven't seen it in person.
129. I have this OXO cocktail shaker and it's the best. It seals well, has a built-in strainer, and the cap doubles as a measuring tool.
130. This is the third blanket (fourth?) on my gift guide. Actually fourth. What can I say, I'm a sucker for a beautiful, snuggly couch layer. This stunner is all cotton, and made in America.
131. Raye's mustard. Check out their multi sets: they've got flavors for everyone: classic, adventurous, seasonal, and stuff for beer lovers.
133. And on the somewhat less classy but just as enjoyable side of things, I present these.
134. Hand woven palm carryall. For the farmer's market, beach, maybe even the office or stacked with spring branches next to your fireplace.
137. Shut the Box. A few Christmases ago my cousins and I played this for one dollar a game (two dollars if you shut the box), and it got rowdy, fast. It's easy and so much fun for all ages. There are a lot of versions out there, but this one has the benefit of being very reasonably priced and having a lid to victoriously slam down with your $2 win.
Let's talk about makeup things!
138. This Sephora Favorites set would be a lovely gift. It's got something for everyone, whether makeup pros or newbies. The Beauty Blender, which is included, is one of my favorite makeup tools. Sephora also offers various sampler sets of mascara, perfume, dry shampoo, and skin care, if you're looking for a new product and want to road test a variety. I also love the idea of getting your favorite perfume (or one you've had your eye on) in a rollerball for travel, purses, your desk, etc. They make great stocking stuffers, and if you've ever had a bottle of perfume break in your suitcase you'll know what a great idea this is. This Peter Thomas Roth mask sampler is also tempting: I love PTR skin care.
139. Tarte releases a lip color set every year for the holidays, and it's always a fun way to try out their lovely shades.
140. Spatty & Spatty Daddy. My cousin gave me a set of these last year and they're genius. Use them to ensure you get every last bit of beauty product out of their containers.
141. My favorite eyebrow tool. $2 at Target.
142. Pouches. My bags are always full of them, and as far as I'm concerned you can never have enough. Cosmetics, medicine, charging cables, anything that needs to be organized. You can find them lots of places, but Nordstrom has a big selection at an array of price points. These initial ones are cute.
So is this quilted one.
There are always more upscale options like this one from Ted Baker.
144. The Book with No Pictures. Technically a book for kids, but fun for all involved. My friend's 3 year old was shouting "Again! Again!" before we were even finished.
145. Tie case. I bought my husband something similar a while back, and it's proven great for travel. There are other, pricier versions, but none that I've seen have this handy pocket for cufflinks and collar stays.
146. Mark & Graham lacquer tray. Beautiful colors, different sizes, free engraving. I am fortunate enough to have received one of these as a gift from my dear friend K, and it's gorgeous. It's currently on our bar hosting our decanters but there's no guarantee I won't one day steal it for my dresser.
147. This letter ornament caught my eye.
148. So did this sweet little moose. I think it would be perfect in a little one's stocking.
149. For the hair-beleaguered athlete on your list, sweaty bands. Different selections via Amazon.
150. For any athlete, the Believe Training Journal. Recommended by my friend Sarah, badass runner, friend extraordinaire, and all-around excellent person. Sarah gives the best advice, and this seems to be no exception. My rowing coach recently recommended journaling about training to help remember tips and stay on track, and I have to admit it has been helpful. Designed for all levels whether novice or pro, this 52 week journal isn't dated so you can start at any time. There are weekly prompts and quotes, monthly essays, worksheets, and specific running workouts. Geared for runners but applicable for athletes in any endurance sport.
151. Emoji stickers. I'd like to find these in my stocking, because you're never too old to put stickers on snail mail.
152. Oh dear. I'm unreasonably tickled that Amazon recommended these emoji pillows when I was looking at the stickers. They're so cheesy and so fun, and maybe your kid will get a kick out of their favorite one, or maybe you have an inside joke with a friend about an emoji. Did I mention they're less than $5?
153. My friend Erica makes delightful candles to match her delightful sense of humor. Check out her array of creative scents here, along with her entertaining copywriting. I'm excited to see what seasonal scents she has coming out for the holidays.
155. Modern art star ornament.
156. Target always has pet costumes. I've gotten a few for my neph-dog. My brother *loves* it, just ask him.
157. Beard oil. Made from some decent stuff, will soften your whiskers.
158. Family size, picnic, or personal softpack cooler.
159. The Polar Express. 30th anniversary edition. For all ages, honestly.
161. This sled is pricey, too, but classic and sweet.
162. Vacuum-sealed canister to keep your coffee fresh. I've seen one in action and it immediately went on my list.
163. An Audible gift membership. Audiobooks from Amazon. For your favorite runner, commuter, or reader.
164. It's All Good. Say what you will about Gwyneth, sister's got some good recipes. This book is on my list this year.
166. Fancy pears. Man, do I love pears.
167. I'll close with my annual commentary. When thinking of gifts, I love the old adage 'something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read'. I think need is the only category I haven't truly covered here. Of course you can do your own research, but causes close to my heart include whatever local charity gives to kids who otherwise might not have a Christmas morning (for example, your local angel/giving tree), Toys for Tots, your local food bank, and your local blood & plasma bank. Maybe schedule an appointment to donate blood or plasma 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 haven'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!