Every year I put together a holiday gift guide, with the aim of featuring quality, interesting items at all price points, for a variety of giftees. From stocking stuffers to big gifts, from grandparent to baby, I hope you'll find a gift idea (or two) for everyone on your list.
(A bit of housekeeping: I've never been paid or compensated for any of these products, I just really, really like doing this. While the latter is still true, I am including some affiliate links this time, which means if you purchase an item from those links, I get a small percentage of the sale. Know that I'm still only featuring items that I think are worth sharing. Where I've used a product personally, I'll let you know. I typically recommend shopping via Amazon, as well as Nordstrom, for their ease and exceptional customer service. If you've not yet signed up for Ebates, I recommend that as well. If you sign up via this link, I'll get a little bonus.)
Thank you to those of you who sent me recommendations and ideas (I've tried to give credit where credit is due, and if I've missed you I apologize) and moral support, and thank you all, as always, for tuning in. Enjoy!
1. Paint chip calendar. I bought this last year, and convinced others to do the same. I love it. I will be buying another one for the coming year, unless Santa brings me one. Each month is a different color scheme. It's pretty and you should get one.
2. Ginvent calendar! For the gin lover in your life (ME). There are lots of other whisk(e)y, scotch, and bourbon versions, too, for the people in your life who know the difference. You can taste it blind or use a cheat sheet. Friends of mine got one last year and had lots of fun trying to guess which were really expensive, which ones they knew, etc.
3. Tasting Whiskey. Also for the whiskey lover in your life. I got my husband this book last year, and he absolutely devoured it. His words: "Entertaining, anecdotal, informative, approachable. Great reference, has awesome recipes. It's a one-stop shop for everything you want to know about whiskey."
4. Pair it with his favorite double old fashioneds and a bottle of whisk(e)y.
5. Or better yet, his favorite tasting glasses.
6. Throw in some droppers. These are used to add water to whiskey one drop at a time, as part of the tasting process.
9. The Oldest Living Things in the World. I'm so intrigued by this book.
11. Double down on your theme with a Rainbow Brite ornament. Good for a current child or a child of the 80s.
12. Speaking of ornaments, get ready for them to be sprinkled liberally throughout the guide! How about a clip-on red cardinal ornament to start? I'm a sucker for a red cardinal, and ornaments that clip to branches make for a nice change.
14. Wikki Stix. This unique, patented, wax and string combo makes these reusable sticks a winner. They stick to each other or to paper with fingertip pressure, providing hours of no-mess entertainment.
16. I love their coasters. Coasters!
18. Essie foot cream. A friend sent me this, and I love it. Moisturizing, soaks in well, not greasy.
19. Sprout bookmarks. Come ON. (I understand that these are best for gentle book storage, like moving a book from a lap to a nightstand. They may not stay in as tightly when chucked into a bag or backpack. Your mileage may vary.)
20. Scrubby man soap. This is a splurge, but a great one. I put it in my husband's stocking one year then proceeded to hoard it and hope he'd forget about it. Refreshing, scrubby, not a man-specific scent.
21. Leather goods that my husband makes. As I said last year, this is my website and I can say anything I want, but the truth is that my husband is the most meticulous, driven person I know, and his products are absolutely stunning and will last a lifetime.
To guarantee delivery by Christmas 2016, orders must be placed on or before November 15, 2016.
22. Solar waving QE2. Someone buy me this.
23. To Kill a Mockingbird. Or any other book you've loved. Books and candy in my stocking are some of my favorite things about Christmas.
25. Speaking of candy: an outrageous amount of Haribo. Listen, I'm probably just going to recommend this every year, in various forms, but I'm especially doing it this year because I'm still celebrating the end of three years of adult braces. (Yes, I had them as a kid, too.)
Go for a variety pack (which I was lucky enough to receive as a Hooray No More Braces gift).
Or go buck wild with a 5 lb. bag of the classics.
27. Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World. Recommended by my friend Ashley, whose girls are "REALLY into it. Sitting in their rooms for HOURS reading it."
28. Saucy plaid Santa.
29. Sonos. Wirelessly stream all your music to this excellent speaker; control it from your phone. I have one and it is fantastic.
30. Horrible Fortune Cookies. From the creators of Cards Against Humanity.
31. Millenium Falcon Sunshade. Someone on your list definitely wants this.
33. Gallery Leather Guestbook. I have one, and I've given them as gifts. They are always a hit, and recipients often comment that they wish they'd started one sooner. Put it in the guest room or on a hall table. Buy it directly from Gallery Leather if you want to monogram it with their last name or a jokey name for their home (The Hannah Hotel, The Don't Drop Inn), include a nice pen, and write the first note for them!
34. I'm also a long-time fan of Gallery Leather planners. My Mom got me one in college, and the years I've used a different one I've always regretted it. The pocket planners are my go-to, but this year I've upgraded to a weekly. Check out the Key West collection for fresh, modern colors. Get it monogrammed for an extra special touch.
36. Pineapple ornament. Pineapples are a traditional symbol of welcome and would be a lovely addition to the gift of a guest book.
38. Or! The perfect phone case for taking selfies: a LuMee. Comes in a variety of colors.
40. While you're at it, my favorite gin and tonic glasses.
41. Throw in my favorite straws. I use these daily in coffee, and they're also great in cocktails. Reusable, glass, beautiful, warrantied (I've had a couple break and they replace them no questions asked). The colored glass dots help keep everyone's drink straight and also keep straws from rolling off the counter.
42. Splurge-y hand soap. It would be hard to justify this for myself, but I love Molton Brown. Fancy every day items or things people otherwise wouldn't buy for themselves make great gifts.
Jo Malone makes some of my favorite scents, too. Slap a bow on it and thank that one friend of yours for always being the one to host.
Rockin' rattle. Personalize it with baby's name.
45. Funko POP! Action figures, sports figures, and any manner of pop culture icon in a fun, giant-headed package.
47. Rifle Paper Co. note cards. I adore Rifle Paper Co., and I have these note cards. The images are gorgeous and the cards are thick and luxurious. For me, these are a true treat.
48. My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals/Portraits, Interviews, and Recipes. For your favorite foodie.
49. Bamboo spatula. We have one in my house, and love it. Use for everything from rice to eggs to sauces to stir fry. Nice kitchen tools make great gifts—tie one onto a copy of your favorite cookbook!
50. Rösle fine tongs. Rösle makes fantastic products, but I was skeptical of these until I used them. I was wrong. They make precise grabbing easier than any tongs I've ever used. And is it any wonder? They're basically huge tweezers.
51. Finex cast iron pans. Heirloom quality, made in the USA. Born of an obsession with vintage cast iron pans, these are polished on the inside so they're naturally nonstick, as cast iron used to be. Heatproof handles and no other detail overlooked. We have a couple as we've upgraded our cast iron over time and I cannot say enough good things about them. Plus, look how beautiful they are.
52. Toaster tongs! The magnet keeps them right on the side (or back) of your toaster. Very lightweight and easy to use. My husband bought these because he was tired of watching me stick a butter knife in the toaster.
53. Sriracha To Go. For the Sriracha lover on your list who simply can't be without their spicy sweetheart. These are just the bottles, so be sure to include a full container of the red stuff so they can load them up and be on their way. BPA free and TSA approved!
54. Wait. I have more things for sriracha lovers. Like this shirt.
55. Or these socks.
56. Or this fancy small-batch sriracha with a maple twist.
57. Picture This turns kids' art into clothes. Surprise them by using a drawing they've already done, or buy a certificate and let them create.
58. Touch screen stylus. For use on all kinds of devices including iPhones and tablets. For those with big, clumsy fingers, or for your favorite Snapchatter. A 5-pack goes for about six bucks, so you can stick one in every stocking, tie one on every tech gift, or give them all to someone who will lose 'em.
59. Makeup eraser. I don't understand what this is but I need it.
Low-key TV fandom!
60. Parks & Rec. I bought this mug for a friend a few years ago and it was a hit. If the quality hasn't changed since then, expect the quality to be better than expected.
61. Friday Night Lights. (I need this.)
62. Mad Men. (I NEED THIS.)
63. A can of cheap shaving cream. Stick it in your kid's stocking and tell 'em they can use it to play in the tub. A whole can of shaving cream to waste is a silly indulgence I would have loved as a kid. Worst idea or best idea?
64. And for the adult on your list, a tube of the good stuff. My husband has sensitive skin, and this is one of his favorites.
65. Ibex makes great hats for men, women, and children. Soft, strong, sustainable merino wool, organic cotton, etc. This unisex one is nice and comes in several colors.
I am fond of this fairisle earflap one as well. (Pompoms!)
66. Dreidel dish towels.
67. I've had my eye on this initial necklace for ages. Give your giftee their initial, or that of their child or loved one.
69. Everyone needs Post-its, and we've got to fill up those stockings.
70. Throw in a 4-pack of highlighters too, for your favorite college student. Do college students still use highlighters? No matter! These highlighters come in at exactly one American dollar, thus winning this year's coveted Cheapest Item on the Gift Guide award! Maybe your 5 year old would like them?
71. New York Public Library lion ornament. I never tire of browsing their online store for fun items, and all sales benefit the library.
73. Throw in the best book you've read this year. This is one of mine.
74. And some fancy tea that won't keep them up at night.
76. For your favorite tea lover, an electric kettle. This one is pretty, glass, affordable, and has an auto shut-off feature that I recommend.
77. Wait! Add these library card socks! Multiple colors.
78. Back to tea. I hear Brown Betty Teapots are the cadillac of teapots.
79. A beautiful blanket for snuggling while reading, drinking tea, or watching TV. Pendleton blankets are great quality and made in the USA. There are plenty of less pricey options out there, too. Macy's, Nordstrom, and Target all have a range of choices.
80. Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto. From the iconic Austin BBQ joint. My husband (chef, smoked meat fan) loves this book. Throw in a bottle or two of your favorite sauces, and a gift certificate to a local butcher.
82. Come ON with these balloon animal ornaments.
84. And/or a big, beautiful, enormous, fresh box of crayons.
85. Throw in a big drawing pad.
86. For the Springsteen fan, his new autobiography.
87. First Aid Kit. For new parents, 20-somethings who won't appreciate it until they need it, people who camp or take long road trips, or one for every car.
88. In a similar vein, this personal water filter is pretty cool. For the runner, hiker, camper, explorer, or outdoorsperson on your list.
89. While we're at it, headlamps. You can never have too many headlamps. For kids, campers, hikers, or gearheads.
90. Old-school kicks. For adults, and kids of all ages.
91. Salsa Grow Kit.
92. Include a salsa bowl...
93. ...and a spicy towel to round it out.
94. Boot trees. I have some like this, and they're aces. The handle allows them to squeeze together when putting them in or taking them out: they expand once in the boot and maintain the boot's shape. Great on their own or in addition to a gift of boots.
95. Giant Jenga. For your yard or basement or bar or patio or playroom.
96. A set of 12 gorgeous copper-and-white ornaments. A classic silhouette in modern colors.
97. Orange champagne marmalade. I love marmalade, and I love champagne. This has great reviews.
I'm of the opinion that humans of all sizes can never have enough books. Every year I give my niece a Christmas book, and may I suggest you start this tradition with a small person in your life? Of course, you can start it with a large person in your life, too. My Mom usually gets me a holiday book every year, and as I mentioned earlier, I love getting books for Christmas.
98. The Polar Express is always a hit and is one of my personal faves.
99. The Snowman's Story. I love the idea for this book so much. There are no words, only beautiful pictures: just add imagination. I would have been busy with this book for hours as a kid.
100. Blizzard! Based on someone's childhood memories of the famous Blizzard of '78. As a kid in New England I grew up hearing about this blizzard, and I so was delighted to come across this book.
101. Bear Stays Up for Christmas. More than 400 reviews, 5 stars. Definitely check this one out.
103. Throw in a sweet stuffie they can cuddle while reading. Jellycat's collection is both beautifully made and ultra soft. This penguin is seasonally appropriate, but works year-round, too.
104. After all that reading, you might need a refreshment. Pick up a bottle of your favorite wine or bubbly, and tie on one of these with a ribbon. If there's anything left in the bottle at the end of the night, your giftee can use it.
105. Measuring spoons that fit inside spice bottles. I got these last year and they are a game-changer.
106. If you're shopping for your favorite baker, maybe include some nice vanilla.
107. And an upgraded baking basic.
108. And top it off with one of these adorable baking mice ornaments.
110. I have a different, discontinued version of this mixing bowl, and it if ever breaks my heart will, too.
112. Owl eyeglass holder. For the person on your list who's always losing their specs.
113. Scream jar. A jar to muffle your screams. This is not a drill. Frustrated coworker? Parents of small children? You've got them covered.
114. Maybe pair that with a soothing MantraBand, so your giftee can steel themselves and move on.
115. For further coping skills, maybe you know someone who could use this hairbrush flask. I can't decide if I'm sorry about including this.
116. Travel jewelry case. Variety of sizes, colors, and patterns. It has great reviews, and looks like it would be a lot more organized than my current system of shoving a bunch of tiny bags into a bigger bag and hoping for the best.
117. Menorah platter. Load it up with your favorite cookies, tuck in the recipe, and tie it up with some pretty ribbon or stick on a big bow.
118. Whirley-Pop. I've been looking for Jiffy Pop everywhere, as I want to take it camping, but I can't find it. Maybe this would be a good substitute.
119. Include some fancy popcorn to take it to the next level.
120. If you're feeling extra generous, add in the greatest movie of all time. It's seasonal!
121. My Paris Kitchen. I want to come back in my next life as David Lebovitz. His Snapchat is great, if you're into that sort of thing.
122. Balsa wood planes. A fun stocking stuffer for budding engineers and aging tinkerers alike.
123. Cream lip stain sampler. I hear good things about this product, and this set has four of the best-selling shades so your recipient can try them all. A pretty great deal for $12, and makeup is such a fun stocking stuffer.
126. Adorable baby bows.
127. Pizza ornament. We all know someone who needs this.
128. Listen, it might get awkward here for a second, but everyone poops. Everyone should also have a Squatty Potty. 5,000 reviews can't be wrong. Someone on your list is the perfect recipient for this, and you have just the right relationship with them to be the one to give it. (Their marketing is great.)
129. A not-too-easy, not-too-hard collection of crossword puzzles. My husband got this for me recently and I am really enjoying it. Bonus: it's got a Christmas-colored cover.
130. If you've got a tough giftee on your list–maybe someone who has everything, maybe a grandparent–I suggest pairing the above book with my crossword-loving grandmother's favorite erasable pens.
131. Throw in my favorite hand cream (non-greasy, survives hand washing, is my works-with-his-hands husband's favorite, too) and you've got a well-rounded gift.
132. A good solid pair of tweezers makes a great unisex stocking stuffer, and I firmly believe a household can never have too many. If you've already got some in your medicine cabinet, what about your travel kits, purses, car? You never know where a tweezing emergency will strike. Tweezerman are the best, and they come in a variety of colors.
133. A personalized cribbage board. This Etsy shop has some beautiful ones.
134. This hard hat is pretty affordable at around $10 and comes in a huge variety of colors. While I believe it's for adults, I bet you've got a kid on your list who'd love it in their favorite color.
135. Maybe pair it with their very own toolkit.
136. For the water person, camper, or beachgoer on your list, there is this waterproof bag. I use one for rowing (as do many of my teammates) and I like it. Range of colors, inside zipper pocket, chest clip, roll-down top.
137. These water socks are also popular around the boathouse. They velcro snugly around your ankle and have a thinly padded bottom. I understand they're also good inside fins and other gear. A nice barrier between you and a mucky pond bottom, too.
138. Sunscreen stocking stuffer or gift rounder-outer for the four season adventurer or athlete.
139. Speaking of adventure: a GoPro.
140. Ooh, or a Jetboil. They're fantastic for getting hot water fast when you're away from a stove.
141. The beloved Hamiltome! For the Hamilton-obsessed giftee on your list. There's also a wall calendar, a coloring book, a book of piano music, The Hamilton Affair: A Novel (!), and of course the Hamilton biography by Chernow which inspired the Broadway musical. Oh! And Leslie Odom Jr. has a Christmas album dropping November 11!
142. Pins seem to be making a comeback. These Everyday Bravery pins are delightful. Use them to stuff a stocking, round out a gift, or tuck in a card as a nod to an inside joke. Emily McDowell, who makes these pins, also has a book coming out called There Is No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair, to People You Love.
143. The gift of college, with Gift of College. Give electronic or physical gift cards that can be put toward a child's 529 college fund or, and this is so cool, an existing student loan. There are small fees for the gift-giver so the giftee gets the full value of the gift. (You should know that I was approached by Gift of College to include their product in my guide, and I chose to because I think it's an awesome gift. I'm not being compensated, except in whatever promotion they may do of my guide, and opinions are my own.)
145. And for my pug-loving friend Tracy (Hi, Tracy!), I can't resist including this adorable fella. You need it for the Pug Person on your list.
146. DID YOU KNOW THEY STILL MAKE MR. SKETCH MARKERS? The 12-pack is only $5!
147. The UK's Historic Royal Palaces and Buckingham Palace shops have a wonderful selection of endlessly delightful things. I bought this ornament at the Tower of London a few years ago on a family trip, and it's beautiful and well-made. Pictures don't do it justice. These London icons ornaments are fun, but I really need someone to buy me Henry VIII and his wives:
148. 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 (like your local angel/giving tree), Toys for Tots, Feeding America, 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 as a gift, you could certainly do that too.
Thanks for joining me and humoring me. I hope you've found some inspiration, and even if you haven't, this was a lot of fun for me to put together and I hope you enjoyed the ride as well! Wishing you and yours a truly happy, healthy, fun, delicious, and festive holiday season!