First off, no one has money to burn. If you are lucky enough to have an excess of funds this season, there are so many places that desperately need assistance. Put your money somewhere meaningful instead of into another piece of junk that will just get added to the pile. Capiche? That being said…
December? December?!?! Can you believe it. It’s the most wonderful time of the year?! ALREADY. We prefer to get our shopping out of the way early and as such, we thought we’d trot out our favorite annual post to get YOU in the spirit. We’ve got something for every budget and every person on your list. This is no lame, short listicle (though we do have a listicle at the end for your ease) this is a detailed accounting of the gifts that passed muster in our books. So, get comfortable. This might take awhile. All applicable items are, of course, in our store under our ‘Favorite Things 2016’ category. Without further ado, here are our humble suggestions.
I’ve kept a running list this past year of things I wanted to share in this post. Talk about cultivated! I’m kind of the Sherlock Holmes of gift giving. I am almost thoughtful to the point of stressing myself out about it. I’m seriously trying to deal with my gift giving/receiving complex. The most thoughtful gift can always be found by listening to its intended. If you listen hard enough, the right answer will reveal itself. Though, oftentimes the listening will be the most thoughtful gift; as it is of your time and attention. As always, my gift suggestions may not be the sexiest, but MAN are they thoughtful and useful- which are two of MY favorite things! I am also a big fan of gifts that keep on giving. If you are going to spend time/money/energy on something for someone make it count. Don’t throw away that time/money/energy! Though the recent SNL musical parody about the peach candle was particularly great- catch it here if you missed it. Let’s get on with it already!
- Are you struggling with what to get your 18-40 year old? People in this age range (and I’m obviously generalizing) are still “setting up housekeeping”– especially those on the younger, newly independent side. Consider the Utilitarian Christmas? Some ridiculously useful utilitarian items I’ve received for Christmas that I still use many years later: a step stool, a power screwdriver, a tool box, a battery organizer box, roadside emergency kit, a preemo flashlight, sheets/towels, basically anything that is essential in building your housekeeping collection or helping you in an emergency. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving. And it’s putting money towards something they’ll need versus an ephemeral want. Do you know what is also utilitarian? Paying a utility bill for someone! College age kids (and beyond) could always use help with a month of electricity. Think of it as a Kickstarter campaign for individuals you love.
- Allbirds Shoes: These shoes are kind of the new hotness right now. Every ladies magazine and celebrity I know has recommended these shoes and I could use a new pair of size ten tennies. These are supposedly the apex of where science and comfort have landed on sport shoes. They are made of wool, of all things. I am skeptical too but would certainly love to find out if everyone is right. Though, (like Coralie, as you’ll see below) I have had my eyes on some Saucony Jazz Pros.
- A sweet friend puts unscratched lotto tickets and small bottles of booze in her familys Christmas stockings. Before doing, obviously read your room. If a family member might be squirrely about that stuff, then table this idea. But, if you have many consenting adults in your group, this is a great festive idea. Bonus points if the booze is one that can immediately go into your Christmas morning coffee/hot chocolate.
- The selfie stick got a bit of a bad rap due to overuse. I missed the initial craze and picked my first one up in a bargain bin in the back of a Staples for a song. Turns out, they are actually ridiculously useful! It was a cheapo and broke after more action than I’d imagined. I bought another cheapo recently but then did some research. Y’all, check out the iKlip Grip Smartphone Stand. This one not only has a telescopic pole, but also a tri-pod AND Bluetooth shutter remote for the ultimate in hands free picture taking! Just make sure to deploy thoughtfully!
- If they don’t already have one, get your favorite skin-obsessed person a Clarisonic Face Brush. I’ve had mine for years and only recently relearned to love. Using mine 2-3 times a week, I’ve seen noticeable pore shrinkage and blackhead reduction. If you can, exfoliate sonically! There’s a reason why it is recommended by everyone. They also have different brush heads depending upon your skin type. They’ve also released a less expensive, smaller version that may be a good compromise!
- Do you know a special lady who has curly hair but doesn’t have a diffuser? Get her this diffuser. Her life and her curls will become infinitely better and easier. I’ve had a diffuser for years and never really got it until recently. I’d been doing it wrong this whole time. Okay, maybe not wrong, but not as I should have been doing it. I don’t have this diffuser (mine is two decades old) but this is the one I will get when mine finally bites the dust. Everything I’ve read says that the Deva brand diffuser is THE diffuser. Plus, if you already have a blow dryer, this is an adaptor piece (provided you have a thinner nozzled dryer- which most full-size dryers are) so you don’t have to buy another specialty dryer. Though make sure to get the right adaptor and not the one just for their specialty dryer. Seriously, unlocking the secrets of my diffuser has been a game changer. The Deva haircare line is pretty great too and is a favorite for curly-hair pros. Would make a great gift for your curly haired cutie.
- I’m kind of a tea and coffee aficionado. Did you know coffee tastes best when brewed with 175 degree water? Or that white teas really only blossom at 212 degrees? Forget putting a kettle on the stove waiting for it to “boil”. Science that cuppa! I know that the boiling point is a scientific thing, but putting a kettle onto a stovetop to boil is nebulous to me. The Bonavita Electric Tea Kettle has been one of my hardest working, most reliable appliances for over three years. It’s also more attractive than standard electric kettles, me thinks. Make sure to get the unit that has the digital temperature display for your budding warm beverage enthusiast!
- Tea Towels- Like many things, I am really particular about my kitchen towels. I’ve recently removed (and repurposed) my terry cloth or ‘other fabric that merely moves water around instead of drying’ cloth kitchen towels in favor for flour sack dish towels. Not only can they be found in precious patterns, but (like ornaments) are kind of the gifts that keep giving. I found these adorable ones at retroplanet.com. Every time the recipient dries their dishes they’ll think of you! That’s a good thing, by the way. I read an adorable idea (in either Real Simple or Martha) about buying a 10-pack of white cotton kitchen towels and a set of fabric markers and letting your kids decorate them. Precious, right? If I had kids, you best believe they would be gift-making machines at this time of year! 😉
- I’ve talked before about how most places these days (as they should) are charging if you don’t have a reusable grocery bag handy. Everyone should have a hefty collection of reusable grocery bags. I love the ACME Brand/reuseit Workhorse Bag. I got mine in Chicago a million years ago. Super strong, cute colors (no fun designs though), and a teeny bag that is attached to the grocery bag that contains it when not in use. These are great to keep in any other bag. You never know when you’ll need it and the attached pocket that you fold the bag back into is the tiniest I’ve encountered and I’ve never lost it- unlike other bag with separate bags to contain it.
- Holiday ornaments are also a gift that keeps giving. But, instead of for a month or year, they keep giving for a lifetime– well, at least every December. I started my own ornament collection years ago when I first started setting up my own “house-keeping”. Since, (instead of doodads/junky t-shirts/magnets) I now collect ornaments when I travel or do something. Every Christmas, when I decorate the tree, I get to pull out that ornament and think about the person, place, or experience it represents. I’ve kept any ornament that I’ve been given and have cultivated a really cool collection. The more thoughtful the better!
- I, myself, and pretty meticulous when it comes to keys and phones. I have a system. Because, of course I do. My system involves finding a purse with a two-pocket front. Phone in pocket. Keys in the other. But there are others who repel phones/keys/ipads/etc. You will know them by their relentless asking of, “Have you seen my ______?” Tile Mate Anything Finders might just be the answer. Because of course there is an app for everything these days. One that finds your keys or phone is what happens now that we live in the future. Though, I wonder, what happens if you lose the device with the app on it? The price scales depending on how many devices you want to keep track, with an entry point at $25.
- The Koubachi Plant Monitors are perfect for people who love plants, but have a hard time keeping them alive. Just because someone has a black thumb doesn’t mean that they have to live in a plant-free world. The Koubachi Plant Monitor is foolproof. You put it in a plant where it collects all crucial plant data (water, light, etc.) and then notifies you through their app. Because like the Tile Mate Anything Finders, there is an app for everything these days. You enter what plant it is into your app (they have indoor and outdoor monitors) and then it collects data for a week and lets know how your plant is feeling and you adjust it accordingly. Does it need more sunlight? Does it have too much water? Is it… comfortable? It is a nebulous option but one that gets weighed. Having these has revitalized my peace lilies making them flower again… so, it’s doing something right.
- If you know someone who loves cooking with herbs, maybe doesn’t have a yard (or time to garden), or woefully has a black thumb then the Aerogarden is also a perfect plant-themed gift. I’ve mentioned our Aerogarden here before and its overabundance of herbs, but I wanted to reiterate that they really make a great gift. Its like watching a science project grow that you can then eat. Ours has never been as plush as the one pictured, and it takes a cycle to get the hang of it, but having fresh basil on the counter has been the gift that keeps on giving. Make sure to get the model that has the low-water sensor and it becomes foolproof.
- Wool Dryer Balls fall in the category of “not the sexiest…” but do you know what IS super sexy? Not poisoning yourself. Dryer sheets are the worst (for clothes and your body, at least– I only use dryer sheets to clean my baseboards). Not only do these wool laundry balls help your clothes dry faster, they do all the jobs the dryer sheet does with none of the toxic chemicals. Also, dryer balls help fluff recently-washed pillows. They come in packs of six with their own bag. Plus, think of all the sophomoric jokes you can make easing the lameness of doing laundry. Bonus!
- Do you know someone who crafts with embroidery floss? Who is also a cat person? Then have I got the easiest homemade craft for you! These precious DIY String Organizers from Little White Whale craft up in a flash and are both adorable AND incredibly practical! I made these for several friends a few years ago and still use the template prototypes in my embroidery thread stash. Being allergic to cats means I’m not as about cats as other animules, but even I am destroyed by these guys’ cuteness. Aren’t these just the cats meow? Plus, you are reusing stuff and giving of your DIY time which is valuable in its own right.
- Speaking of yarn arts, we have a whole trove of yarn art patterns and projects in our Things We Do section of the blog. Though you may want to file this away for next year as big yarn projects may take longer than expected. If you plan on whipping something yarny up, you may have needed to start last week. *wink* Though all hope is not lost. Don’t forget Sheila’s homemade kitty toy set that is both adorable and a quick knit for your favorite feline or feline lover! It’s the cats meow!
- Give of yourself. Are you a good organizer? Maybe help your friend clear their attic. Are you a CPA? Offer 15 minute free consults to anyone you can stand. A Legal Eagle? Offer to draw up a will for a family member. If you have something you do and are good at, give it to someone who needs it. Although it feels redundant to say, it also feels necessary to remind everyone. You are enough.
I just have to reiterate that it kind of blows my mind that we are already doing Our Favorite Things! It seems that every year goes faster than the one before it. It feels like I was sitting down to write last years’ Favorite Things. It’s crazy how fast life goes and how busy we get. My love language is gift giving and receiving. I love to give gifts as much as I love to receive them. That is part of the reason I look forward to this post all year long. So, let’s get down and dirty with my favorite things this year!
°LL Bean Boat n Tote– As it so happens, Leigh and I have been to the LL Bean store- the one in Freeport, Maine. It was massive and that was almost 20 years ago- I can only imagine that it has grown and changed since then. I bought a boat n tote when we were there that I still have and still use. Since then I have collected a few others of varying sizes. This one, in the picture, is the latest addition to my collection- it is my beach bag. I love this bag. And I have to say that the long straps are where it’s at! This is a great gift! Anybody can use a hard working tote bag.
° So. I have been teetering on the edge about this next one but, it deserves a spot on the list. It’s a portable phone battery charger. This is the one that my brother-in-law has, a MyCharge. It will charge your phone up to 6 times before it needs to be recharged itself again. Light bulbs start going off- not always but sometimes there are times when you need to charge you phone and you just are no where near a plug. This is a game changer- on many levels. Dare I say, this would make a great stocking stuffer! Also, out of the blue my mom asked if I wanted a battery charger- she saw it on the Today show and thought it was a great idea. (Note from Leigh: This guy was also on my list! If we both recommend it, you know its good! They come in all price ranges, depending on how many charges you want to have at the ready. Great for everyone!)
° Like over a year ago we went to visit some friends at a condo and she had this great bag! I loved it. It had her monogram on it but it wasn’t overly too much. It was super cute and it was a brand that I had never heard of- the St. Anne Tote by Barrington Gifts– so, I took a picture of it so I’d remember it. But, as you might suspect, I forgot about it until that picture came back up a year later in my timehop. So, it came to be at the front of my mind again and top of the wish list. I was given one for my birthday and it did not disappoint! And here’s what puts the magic in this bag- you design it as far as the fabric pattern and the leather color and whether or not you even want the monogram. It is a great bag- lots of pockets on the inside- that is sure to last a long time.
And also, while we are talking about purses- I have to add that if you are like me and you carry a big purse like I do- a cross body purse is really nice to have on hand. I tote my big bag 75% of the time but the other 25% of the time, I throw my wallet, my sunglasses and phone in my cross body and head out the door. And I know you will not be surprised one bit to hear that the cross body purse I prefer is the Letter Carrier by Dooney and Bourke. It is 10 inches by 10 inches. It’s big enough for what I consider my essentials but not so big that it will handle everything. It comes in every color and several different fabrics. I do believe it has made an appearance on a previous Favorite Things List. If you don’t have a cross body purse, pick your favorite purse line and get you one! It’s a game changer.
° Okay, here is a great gift for any music lover. A portable, blue tooth speaker- and if you are anything like Bub and I- water proof is a must. And, I want to say that when it comes to these speakers, you get what you pay for… because we have bought speakers in every price point. Here’s the thing- I have few desires when it comes to blue tooth speakers- I want them to be able to be turned up loud and to be able to play all ranges of music loud. Bub, on the other hand, is FAR more particular. So. I have no problem recommending the following 2 speakers because not only do I approve but so does Bub. The first, the UE Boom 2, is a great speaker- again, this techie recommendation came from Bub’s sister and hubs. We all live on the beach, so any speaker we have has to be durable and water resistant in the least. This UE Boom, check and check. It’s a long story but Bub and I got in the market for another blue tooth, water proof speaker. So. Here we went, and when I say we I mean Bub, do all his research. And at the end of the day- he found the JBL Charge 3. It’s a great speaker, has a good sound, gets loud and oh- is $50 cheaper than the UE Boom 2. So, it earns a mention in this slot.
° Next up, I think a wonderful gift for any one, but kids especially, are tickets to local attractions. And when I say attractions- I mean, any and all- the zoo, put-put golf, museums, nail salon, movie tickets, water parks, etc and so forth. Pretty much, if you invite Baby Bub and or us to a birthday party- we’re not bringing a toy- we will be arriving with tickets or a gift certificate to something to do.
°Okay. Y’all. These Saucony Jazz Pro tennies are so fly! I just have to have them! They are old school and have been around forever and there fore have a million reviews that are mostly* positive. I mean, when an item has close to or over 500 reviews and still has a 4-5 star rating, you’re onto something. They come in a wide range of colors and I just love them! I really don’t wear closed toe shoes much, so the ones I do own- I have to be particular and I particularly love these!
Also, while I am on the subject of closed toe shoes, I want to bring up Uggs. It seems that everybody that owns a pair loves them but then… then… when I take a step back and look at them- they really are not so cute and errbody has a pair. Again, my sister-in-law has an obsession with Frye boots. I had never even heard of them until she explained them to me. But, I found an awesome pair of Frye boots that I love. I mean, Santa- I have been a very good girl this year and they are 50% off right now!
° Recently, Bub discovered his sister has a chunk of their dad’s record collection but no record player. So. He bought one. In the process of all this, we have become friends with the guy at the local record shop, the Electric Seahorse. He helped Bub pick out a record player and since then we have found ourselves drifting through there every couple weeks. Listening to solid gold on a record player- is just good for the soul. For any music lover in your life that does not have a record player- this is a great gift or if they already own a record player, a record to add to their colletion is great too.
° Y’all, take a minute to follow this link to Harry & David. I will wait right here for you to get back. Harry & David is the shiz! This is a great gift for that person in your life that you just don’t know what to get! I am serious. My moma is the one who introduced me to Harry & David because we went there to buy some chocolate covered fruit for my grandmother. Yes, my initial reaction to chocolate covered fruit was oooooo- gross! But I’ll be damned- it was so delicious!! They have all kinds of gourmet food that I can only imagine is as delightful as the chocolate covered fruits!
° Leigh has a Casper mattress that she can’t say enough good about- that got me to thinking- do they do pillows? And lo and behold, they do! And I want one. Bub and I are always on the look-out for a good pillow. We had 2 Tempurpedic ones (until he left one at a hotel now we have one) that I call concrete pillows because they are so heavy and not at all squishy or fluffy. Casper offers a 100 day money-back trial for all their pillows. The way I see it, Bub and I just gotta try this pillow! Everybody should try this pillow- especially if there is a chance you’ll sleep better and wake up feeling rested.
° Now, last but not least on my list- Smartwool socks. These make great stocking stuffers. They come in a ton of different colors and patterns. And I don’t know why they are smart. I don’t care. All I care about is that during the 2 1/2 months a year that I wear socks, my feet stay nice and warm and not sweaty. There is nothing worse than cold, sweaty feet! I use my feet to regulate my body temp and if my feet are cold, I’m cold- so a good pair of socks is key. And these are so cute and they come in all sizes for men, women and children.
Pretty great, huh? If (after all that) you are still flummoxed, then check our comprehensive list of suggestions from years past!
Grocery Bag Handles, Nail Polish, Cast Iron Pan Scrapers, Onion Goggles, Bear Claw Back Scratcher, Bluetooth Speaker, Jewelry, Reusable Bags, Mini Bottles and Lotto Tickets, Selfie Stick, Smartwool Socks, Backup Batteries
Gift Cards (Target and Amazon are statistically most requested), Charities of your Choice, Blood Donation, Get Something Monogrammed/Personalize It, Tickets to Anything, A Professional Service, A Utility, Subscription Boxes, Magazine Subscriptions, Spa Gift Certificate, Favorite Book, Ornaments, A Gift in Someone’s Name, Membership to Local Zoo or Museum, Trips, Experiences, YOUR Favorite Thing, But Most Importantly- Give of your Time, Love, and Talents
Lodge Cast Iron Anything, Bonavita Electric Kettle, Flower Sack Kitchen Towels, Furniture, Casper Pillows, Chocolate Covered Fruit, Utilitarian Items, Dryer Balls, Onion Goggles, Towels, Black and Decker Steamer, Squatty Potty, eClothes, Furniture, Yeti Cups, Tommy Bahama Backpack Beach Chairs, Hand Mixer, Reusable Grocery Bags, Glass Terrarium
Blow Dryer, Hair Styling Tools, Deva Diffuser, Artisan Jewelry, Miracle Gel Nails Set, Z Palette, Perfume, Urban Decay Naked Eye Palette, Liz Earle Hot Cleansing Clothes, Hempz Lotion, Smartwool Socks, Clarisonic Brush, Frye Boots, Saucony Jazz Pros, Allbirds, Olukai Flip Flops, Sephora Gift Certificate, State Traditions Apparel, Banded Brand Headbands
Kindle/Tablet, eBooks, Amazon Gift Card, Chatbooks, Fitness Tracker, Koubachi Plant Monitors, Ads Free/Premium_________, Aerogarden, Record Player, Amazon Prime Membership, Backup Batteries, Tile Mate Anything Finder, Bluetooth speaker
Bog Bag, Cinda B. Bags, Barrington St. Anne Tote, Packing Cubes, L.L. Bean Boat and Tote, Dooney and Bourke Anything, Bella Tunno, Reusable Grocery Bags
Homemade Kahlua Made With Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Bacon-Bourbon Jam, Painted Animal Glass Jars, The Best Cheese Cake and Pecan Pie, A Martha Stewart Scarf Pattern, Kitty Thread Tamer, Signature Baked Goods, Yarn Patterns, A Kitty Toy Set
Support your smaller, independent retailers as much as you can. Support your Avon, Beautycounter, Mary Kay, Younique, Ever, and Perfectly Post representatives- did we miss any? Support artists and craftspeople. Etsy is a great resource for hand-crafted thoughtful gifts by independent artists. By shopping from local artists and independent retailers you are helping at least two people have a happy holiday season. Everyone wins!
Give of your time and money this season- and not just commercially. There are so many amazing causes out there that need your support. If you are lucky enough to have any extra of anything this season (money, time, sustenance) please share with causes you find worthy. If you need any suggestions, we’ve also got a list for that. Donate blood and donate your time. Love and the sharing of your gifts (both literal and metaphysical) is the reason for all seasons.
As in all years, this is the only time that we endorse cyberstalking. If you are flummoxed, check out your recipients Amazon Wishlist of check their Pinterest feed. They may have already done the job for you!
Next week we’re going to talk All Things Christmas, so GET READY!
What do you think? Did you see anything on our list that makes your cut? See anything we missed? Apparently Bluetooth speakers, backup batteries, and Saucony Jazz Pros are the thing this year! What were YOUR favorite things this past year? What is at the top of your list? As always, let us know in the comments!