It’s that time of year! Are you excited? I am. Are you ready to window shop, actual shop, and live vicariously through pretty pictures and fun descriptions? I AM.
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.
Some affiliate links used, but none of these items are sponsored.
Don’t forget to sign up for Ebates so you can get cash back on your purchases. That’s my link, but it’s just good sense!
Happy browsing, happy shopping, happy everything!
1. For all the queen bees on your list, these adorable petite bee earrings. Because bees.
3. Can we please take a moment to admire these stripes? Cornishware is a British classic for all kinds of homewares in a variety of colors. Platters, pitchers, bowls, creamers, pick your poison. I don’t need any more mugs but I sure do want the big fat blue ones with the big comfy handle. Shipping direct from the UK to the US is pricey but you can find some things on Amazon or at other retailers.
4. My husband and I are kind of obsessed with this Swedish military lip balm, which I can’t say is a sentence I ever expected to type. It’s so moisturizing and I notice the difference when I forget to put it on at night. (Not for vegans or people with nut allergies.)
5. I am really into these reclaimed root wood dishes that come in a variety of sizes at reasonable prices. Platters, snack bowls, ring dishes, or just about anything you can think of. It would make a lovely and unusual hostess gift.
6. Honeysticks: natural, nontoxic crayons in various shapes and sizes. These chubby ones for toddlers are charming and also harder for grabby baby paws to snap. Excellent reviews, 100% pure beeswax salvaged from honey production. Environmentally friendly and apparently they smell great.
7. Speaking of toddlers, this sweet coloring book uses simple line drawings to teach numbers, letters, and basics to early learners. Handwriting is proven to help us learn, and I love that this marries education and fun.
8. OONTZ! A very affordable portable bluetooth speaker with excellent reviews and a name I wish I had thought of. Almost 30,000 reviews, 4.5 stars, $25. My husband has this and really likes it. For anyone, really, but it might be especially good for those who like to be outside, like music wherever they go, teach, do yoga, have a workshop or patio or garden or pool, exercise, or, well, you get the idea.
9. A classic fruitcake. Wait, where are you going?! (I hear this one is actually good.) (It’s made by monks. This is true and not a thing I made up.)
10. My husband swears by this space pen. (“Take the pen"!”) Writes in all conditions, like being cold, wet, or on the moon. So get it for your favorite camper, garage tinkerer, mechanic, purse carrier, or astronaut.
11. Fidget blocks. About the size of a deck of cards, makes shapes from geometric to animals and just anything you can come up with. Good for the one on your list who can’t sit still, gets writer’s block, or is forever tearing their stress balls to shreds.
12. Listen, there’s just probably going to be a blanket on this thing every year. Maybe you feel like you don’t need more blankets, and that’s fine, but my ideal world involves 17 cozy blankets on every piece of furniture, so this is happening. This year’s blanket is soft, affordable, offered in many colors, has excellent reviews, and comes personally recommended by my friend Elizabeth, the original queen of the gift guide. Thank you, E. I want this in ten shades of pale blue, soft cream, and light gray.
13. Maybe they can do these crossword puzzles while using the blanket and look just like the picture on the cover.
15. Speaking of candles, this USB rechargeable flameless lighter will be handy for the eco-friendly candle lover, griller, or camper in your life.
16. A kickball. Regulation adult or child sizes.
17. And bases! They come in orange and white from various retailers for all your sporty backyard shenanigans.
18. If you need a hostess gift, especially if it’s a party where everyone else will surely be bringing wine, can I recommend a festive hand soap? An upgrade to, or special version of, an everyday item makes a great gift, and everyone’s got to wash their hands (and if they don’t, you shouldn’t eat the food at that party anyway). Mrs. Meyer’s always has a good selection. The photo shows Iowa Pine, Orange Clove, and Peppermint but check your local stores for current scents and the best prices. And if you’re feeling a tidge fancier, Williams-Sonoma has got you covered. Slap a bow on a bottle and you’re good to go.
20. Vanilla powder from my favorite local coffee shop. Delicious, sweet, and creamy. They whisk it into espresso, pour it over ice, and call it the Best Drink Ever. They have named it correctly. I bet it would be aces in a cup of Earl Grey or hot chocolate, too, and you can order online.
22. Bombas socks. Whether you choose athletic, casual, or dress styles, one pair is donated for every pair purchased. For adults and kids, lots of colors and styles.
23. I am very fond of ban.do for many things, especially their fun notebooks, and you might be familiar with founder Jen Gotch. Jen has been very open about her mental health struggles, and now offers a line of necklaces in support of reducing stigmas around mental health, with proceeds going to a nonprofit. I think any from this line might be a particularly thoughtful gift for the right person in your life. I have the one that says “Anxiety”.
24. While you’re there, check out one of my favorite notebooks.
25. I’ve long admired this bay wreath from Williams-Sonoma. Gorgeous and classic, and the leaves can be used for cooking after its fresh beauty has been enjoyed. Make sure you order with plenty of time for your recipient to get it.
26. Who knew you can buy a bike rack for your home?! Perfect for someone who’s always cursing while tripping over a bike.
27. This cool little bike kit might be the perfect stocking stuffer for the casual cyclists and beach cruisers on your list, or for that swear stifler.
28. This shawl-neck sweatercoat is very well made. It’s gorgeous in person, heavyweight, and an absolute classic. Designed and made in the USA.
29. I would have died for this jump rope when I was 7.
30. Throw in this book of rhymes for your favorite jumper and their friends! (And consider buying them two jump ropes in that case.)
31. Nueske’s bacon sampler. I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this on a previous guide, and I’m not sorry. It’s the best bacon there is. Try their kielbasa, too.
32. A beautiful handmade stoneware salad serving bowl from a sustainable, eco-conscious brand.
33. Rainbow ornament.
34. You really can’t go wrong with a Turkish towel. It can be used as a towel, picnic blanket, shawl, scarf, table cover, runner, light blanket, or about a million other things. Choose a neutral tone like this white and gray if you don’t know your recipient’s preference. Lots of choices out there, so shop around. For what it’s worth, I’m using this one as a table runner as we speak.
35. A magnetic wristband for people who work with lots of little metal bits. On vehicles or boats, in a woodshop, around the house, or if you’re feeling jokey, for anyone who’s always losing their keys. This might be a good white elephant/Yankee swap/gift exchange choice. 500 reviews, 4.5 stars, $12.
36. Maybe pair it with this lovely book, which has a forward by American treasure Nick Offerman.
37. I love an ornament. How about this reindeer who’s gotten herself into a bit of a festive pickle?
38. I am very into this softy-soft, chicy-chic cashmere beret, which is less than $30 at H&M.
39. These very cool American Sign Language blocks. Uncle Goose makes lots of cool blocks for decor and learning, featuring languages, guitar chords, constellations, science, and more.
40. Last year, I featured Formulary55’s gorgeous soaps. I didn’t realize they also had candles! This Tobacco & Tea candle was recently posted on their Instagram account and immediately went on my list. The packaging on all their products is just so beautiful, and is topped only by their lovely scents and excellent quality.
41. These very fancy playing cards. Ideal for stockings, game lovers, magicians, and hard-to-shop-for people. At about $10, they're not that expensive for an item that feels like pure luxury. Theory11 makes some beautiful and interesting sets, and their collection is worth browsing. The SNL ones would make a fun gift for the right person, and the Product(RED) set would be a good choice too.
42. Fortnite Monopoly!
43. I’m quite a big fan of Nordstrom’s Moonlight pajama line. Their sets are a favorite that have shown up in previous guides, and I really like this soft, menswear-inspired nightshirt. Recently though, their house brand has come out with a few versions of these incredibly soft nightshirts and they’re my new favorite. They have a little bit of detailing in the sleeve, but it’s hard to tell from the picture. So simple, so perfect.
45. I hear these Scandinavian backpacks are all the rage with the youths which, again, is not a sentence I ever envisioned typing. I do love the clean design on this. Many colors, different sizes, offered by various retailers. Water resistant!
46. Maybe your house is multi-denominational, like mine, in which case this menorah Christmas tree ornament might be the perfect choice.
47. Hand-dyed tenuguis: a traditional Japanese fabric square for your pocket, your wall, or your neck. Pick from a bunch of gorgeous patterns.
48. I really like Glossier’s Cloud Paint blush. It layers beautifully, the colors are gorgeous, and the brand is young, hip, and fun. You can pick two for a discount, or keep an eye out for Black Friday deals on bigger multi-packs. Beam is my favorite color, with Dusk coming in second, but every color I’ve tried has looked good and their website does a good job showcasing the tints on a variety of skin tones. These would be a good stocking stuffer for a teen, gift for a friend, or maybe just something nice for yourself.
49. One of the holiday gifts I remember best as a child was a mini Maglite. It was excellent for reading under the covers. Also good for campers, nighttime dog walkers, those with big yards, anyone with a workshop, or people with really deep linen cabinets they’re always losing things in. Don’t forget extra batteries!
51. These charming tiny cards. For that thoughtful person on your list that’s always sunshine-ing their way around, leaving notes and lifting people up. Maybe fill out the first one for them, because they sound awesome. While you’re on Emily McDowell’s site, check out her other stuff too. It’s smart and fun.
52. I think stationery in general makes a beautiful gift. It’s also a lovely stocking stuffer. I personally love receiving a gift that’s an upgrade to an everyday item—something I likely wouldn’t buy for myself. Stationery is a perfect way to do that. These fern postcards are quite soothing to look at.
53. I am also partial to these charming floral llamas.
54. And hey, how about this gorgeous letter opener?
55. I love choosing a Papersource calendar every year, and their fun selections are excellent choices for white elephant/Yankee swap, secret Santas, and other gift exchanges.
56. Spare parts trays. For your workspace, desk, workshop, dresser, or kitchen counter. Built in America.
57. Very soft, very comfortable, very cute, very pricey unisex hoodies from Aviator Nation. Check various retailers. Once you put one on, you won’t want to take it off. Ever.
58. Someone gave me beautiful geode bookends from this Etsy shop, and I can’t recommend them enough. They’re beautiful and functional.
59. Someone on your list could probably use an upgrade to their toiletry bag. There are tons out there, but this hanging bag from L.L.Bean is a solid functional choice with tons of pockets and places to stash things. It comes in a bunch of colors, but I’m digging the buffalo check.
61. Wait. I just can’t resist this wool buffalo check blanket. It’s washable! And comes in other plaids and checks too. What is it about buffalo check though? Sign me up for all of it.
62. If you know someone who’s always looking for the time, this clock is classic perfection. I have one that used to live in my guest room and now it’s next to my living room TV. My husband and I look at it all the time. All the time! Maybe because we don’t have a cable box? Anyway, we use it way more often than you’d expect for people who always wear watches and generally have a phone somewhere nearby. I like the moonbeam alarm clock too. It has a USB port.
63. Can you even handle this tin camper ornament, because I can’t.
64. Someone on your list needs this collection of replacement backs and bits and bobs for their earrings. Couldn’t we always use some spares? This is a brilliant stocking stuffer, or would be a nice addition to a new pair of earrings for the best accessorized person on your list.
65. Okay, so while we’re looking at earrings you should also buy me I mean them these. Very Meghan Markle, no?
66. Speaking of Meghan Markle, if you thought you were getting out of this gift guide without a reference to the royal wedding, I don’t know what to tell you.
67. Chris Jackson is the royal photographer for Getty, and also one of my favorite Instagram follows. His new book, Modern Monarchy, looks wonderful. Some truly gorgeous shots from the last decade or so, and a must-have for your favorite royal watcher. (Ahem.)
68. Speaking of royal books, have you heard of this cookbook? Meghan Markle wrote a stunning forward for this book that she helped bring to life in support of victims of the Grenfell fire tragedy. A gorgeous, meaningful love letter for what food means, for what food and community can do for us. And proceeds go back to people who need them.
69. Listen, we’re continuing with this theme. I was in a store recently, and they had these adorable mini cat card desk calendars. I just realized they have a corgi one! They’re only about the size of a deck of cards and you flip them to show a different card each month. There are lots of other animal choices like panda, French bulldog, Schnauzer, and hedgehog (!).
70. This product is going to make you think I’ve moved on from this British theme and then you’re going to see that you’re wrong. My husband likes shaving and grooming products from Taylor of Old Bond Street, which is sold on Jermyn Street in London, which is where many royally appointed shoe, clothing, and fun stores are. Anyway, try the shaving cream.
72. Next, we really need to talk about this Henry VIII and his wives ornament set, because I’ve been wanting to put it on a gift guide for years. Okay wait, it turns out I already did once. Oh well. This is put out by the Historic Royal Palaces organization, who are clearly not without that famed British sense of humor.
73. Alternately, I have this Union Jack ornament, which I grabbed at the Tower of London on a trip several years back. Every year I pull it out and marvel over the quality. It’s a thick, cushion-y ornament with lots of fine detailing and beautiful fabric and thread. The photo doesn’t do it justice. Obviously shipping is pricey on orders shipped to the States, but it might be worth it. They’ve got lots of great stuff, including a whole section of merchandise dedicated to Shakespeare, and another for the crown jewels.
74. I also got these gorgeous paper napkins on that trip, and finally had occasion to use them this May, 5 years later, when friends came over at 3 a.m. to watch the royal wedding. They are thoughtfully crafted specifically for the Historic Royal Palaces with elements from many of the properties. For the tea lover on your list or the royal watcher who has everything, pair them with some of their fancy tea and a tin of Walkers shortbread. Maybe make a date to watch The Crown while you’re at it.
78. This pin. I mean, Harry Potter is British.
79. Speaking of Harry Potter, this adorable accessories dress up kit.
81. Amazon’s STEM Club. Different levels for kids ages 3-13. $20 a month for science, technology, engineering, and math toys to be delivered to their doorstep.
82. Pair the announcement of the gift with a wee lab coat and goggles!
84. I’ve been wanting a Humble Hilo bag for ages. Your purchase is made by a family in need of employment, and supports a project of your choice at checkout. Many pieces are made from special recycled garments, which you can read more about on the site.
86. This gift will die in something like 9 days if it’s not fed, so check the fine print, but if you time it right and have the right person on your list, this fresh sourdough starter could be a great gift. They also sell a kit that has both the starter and the exact right vessel that it needs to be stored in. A starter needs to be fed and it’s like having a plant or a weird pet, so do make sure the right person is getting this. But man, I really want someone to get this!
88. Speaking of the science of baking (weren’t we?), this book is excellent. I gave it to my Dad last year and he devoured it (not sure whether I intended that pun). It explains why salt, fat, acid, and heat are essential cooking elements and what they do to our food to make it taste so good. Perfect for the intersectional nerd and food lover and/or aspiring cook on your list.
89. Speaking of cooking, a version of my favorite mixing bowl. They no longer make my version and if it ever breaks I will probably cry and then buy one of these.
90. Um. This cutting board, with your grandma’s (or whomever’s) favorite recipe in their handwriting. Get the tissues. Various Etsy shops offer them, so poke around.
91. My husband recently got and promptly fell in love with this wireless digital thermometer. Now he can monitor whatever is in the smoker while he does other stuff, like make me a cocktail.
92. Give the gift of magic and wonder with a fairy garden starter kit. Begin with some wildflower seeds.
94. …and close it out with a sprightly fairy, and some tea and friends and furniture.
95. “It’s the most wonderful time for a beer.” A set of 6-pack holders in seasonal print with a built-in card. Make custom sets of your favorite seasonal brews for a festive BROstess gift (sorry).
98. All My Friends Are Dead. Described as a “cute and dark…hilarious children’s book for adults”. I feel like you might have a sibling or a friend or a gift exchange this is good for.
99. Speaking of dinosaurs, is Ross Geller on your list? Buy him this!
100. Not sure how we got on this dino theme, but while we’re at it, this set of toy dinos somehow has 4.5 stars with over 1,600 reviews. Comes with an informative book!
101. P.S. Here is a T-rex ornament.
102. Marble laptop case. I had one for a work computer and it’s nice. It looks good, feels nice, and gets lots of compliments. Maybe you have a teen who wants this.
103. Speaking of teens, maybe this wee kitty ring holder? It’s $8, not fancy, and a grown-up item that’s still fun and approachable.
105. We’re not the only ones who need to be cozy. Here is a sweatshirt to carry your pet in and I will not apologize for it. P.S., it has ears on the hood.
106. Beautiful, sustainably sourced, fair trade storage baskets made by a women’s collective. I want one of each.
107. For your favorite library lover, this ornament that I am quite fond of. Sales support the New York Public Library.
108. And this tote, which displays a sentiment I whole-heartedly agree with. Again, sales support the library.
109. Let’s get practical for a few items. You probably have stockings to fill, and you probably have people on your list who have it all/are hard to shop for. You probably know someone who has tricky, sticky locks or windows or sliding doors. This graphite powder will do the unsticking trick. I have it on good authority that it’s a miracle worker against dirt, grime, and corrosion.
110. You probably have a commuter on your list. I’ve tried a lot of commuter coffee mugs over the years, and these are by far my favorite. They seal well, keep it reasonably hot, and don’t leak. Various colors.
111. Weather-proofing spray for your rain jacket, waterproof bag, hiking boots, or maybe even that cheapie umbrella from Target you got 12 years ago and can’t bear to part with. Anything that needs a refresher. It’s not sexy, but it will fit in a stocking. Probably.
112. This weird, handy little scrubby brush set.
113. A set of atomizers, for the traveler on your list who likes their smellgoods. Color-coded so they can travel with all their favorites.
114. Also for the traveler on your list, toothbrush protectors. Keep your teeth clean and your teeth-cleaning tools clean too.
115. Invisibobble hair ties. Various sizes and colors. They somehow hold your hair steady without hurting your scalp or leaving much of an elastic hair crease. Listen, I have naturally curly hair and when my friend Megan recommended these, I laughed in her face. She said she’d reimburse me if I had to cut one out of my hair, so I tried them, and I was sold. Give them a whirl
116. Lens, glasses, screen, tablet, camera cleaners. Buy this giant box and split it up between the stockings you have to fill.
117. Moving on to the practical but also gorg: moment of appreciation for this beautiful, classic weekender bag.
119. This ceramic succulent. I have it and looking at it makes me happy. It looks even better in person.
120. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s affirming book to brighten the start of their day and soothe the end of it.
121. Woodford Reserve spiced cherry bourbon barrel aged cocktail bitters. I have it on good authority that these are excellent. They also fit well in a stocking.
122. Glass tumbler with lid and straw by Ello. I love mine and use them all the time. They're thick and the right weight and look nice and I can't believe they're only ten dollars or less. Several colors. Stuff a gift card to Starbucks or your local coffee shop into it, slap a bow on it, and call it a day.
123. Hanukkah Mad Libs.
126. Can I also interest you in a wick trimmer? Keep those candles from getting sooty without ruining the one good pair of scissors. (You know the ones. You weren’t allowed to use them when you were little and now you hide yours from your kids.) Stick them in the stocking of the candle lover on your list.
127. A padded stadium seat for the person on your list who spends a lot of time trying to get comfortable on bleachers. Comes personally recommended from a friend but also has 1,100 reviews, 5 stars. That’s not a typo! Tons of colors, so pick one that matches their team!
128. Pretty recycled glass balloon vases in lots of colors.
129. Sustainable wood ornaments from the same eco-friendly shop.
130. And this beautiful olive wood pasta server.
131. Maybe pair it with this fancy, exciting, and well-reviewed pasta, or something fancy and homemade from your local shop.
132. A fancy salt thrown in never hurt anybody.
133. Speaking of cooking, this cookbook for the person who likes to cook but wants some inspiration to freshen things up. Ottolenghi called it “familiar but fresh, approachable but exciting”, and that’s about as perfect as it gets when it comes to cooking dinner.
134. Also, if someone on your list likes to make ceasar salad, this anchovy paste might be a good stocking stuffer. It’s a snap to use and lasts forever. Also good for pastas, dipping oil for bread, or adding a little umami to soups.
135. For something sweet, an actual Candy Land gingerbread house! For the kids in your life who are grown or otherwise. Pure nostalgia. Various retailers.
136. Maybe combine it with the Candy Land game itself. This one is about $6 at Target.
139. I will never tire of a notepad. Give me all the notepads.
140. Zojirushi travel food container for the person on your list who’s always bringing soup for lunch or oatmeal for breakfast. I use these for oatmeal every day: never spills, easy to clean, and keeps it hot, hot, hot.
141. An ornament for my hometown team and our World Series champs!
142. Someone please also buy these Boston bittahs to go with it. Bittermans makes good stuff, but the name alone is worth it.
143. I really enjoy a festive cocktail napkin. These are pretty delightful and also mark the second appearance of llamas on this gift guide.
144. I have a version of these and they make me happy every time I see them. It IS beginning to look a lot like cocktails.
145. For your little adventurers or spies (or your big adventurers who are always going to the garage without a phone?), how about some good ole walkie-talkies?
146. I think you should also throw in this Kevin McCallister classic: a voice-disguising recorder.
147. And these mirrored spy glasses that let you look behind you. I’m imagining a lot of happy, giggly kids accidentally walking into walls.
148. A sous vide machine they can stick on basically any pot and control from their phone. My husband just got one for his birthday and is obsessed.
149. A bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.
150. And a cool but affordable sharpener.
153. This is pricey for a board game, but I’ve heard wonderful things. Over 1,500 reviews, 4.5 stars. There are various versions, but I’ve heard this one is best. I’m intrigued.
154. How incredible are these long distance friendship touch lamps? One is for you, one is for your giftee. Light up their life across the country or around the world: when you think of them, touch the lamp and it lights up for both of you. You can also get a network going with various colors so siblings, cousins, and grandparents can all play along. Are you crying yet?
155. Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls. Bedtime stories about women who changed history.
156. I am a big fan of a life-sized cardboard cutout. Who’s their favorite celebrity? Buy them a life-sized version. It’s so ridiculous and so fun. My friend sent me a Kate before I had a surgery. I sent a Buddy the Elf last year to my aunt and uncle because we always watched Elf at Christmas. I hear Buddy just helped them celebrate someone’s birthday, too. The gift that keeps on giving!
157. White hot chocolate! I didn’t even know this existed! Buy it for the people on your list who get mocked for liking white chocolate NOT THAT I KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THAT.
158. Magna-Tiles. The classic 3-D building toy. Various sets from various retailers.
159. Cheese paper. A stocking stuffer for the cheese lover on your list. Preserves cheese better than plastic.
160. A 12-pack of hula hoops. For a silent disco with friends or a loud Saturday with a bunch of kids or just a truly memorable Christmas morning. I can’t wait to see the box Amazon uses for these.
161. A record player. Make sure they have speakers. This one is portable and has Bluetooth to connect to your Oontz.
162. Make sure you get them their favorite record on vinyl. This is mine.
163. OMG CABOODLES ARE BACK.
164. An experience is always a wonderful gift. A membership to a museum or park, tickets to a show, a mani/pedi or massage, or a date for lunch and shopping. If it’s useful, fun, or something your recipient wouldn’t buy themself, it’s usually a good bet.
165. 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, helping wildlife*, 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!
*Full disclosure: this is the organization I work for.