Oprah gave full permission for us to co-opt her ‘favorite things’ because calling it a ‘gift guide’ is just not good enough, and frankly inaccurate in its labeling. These are truly my FAVORITE THINGS for me, for Brian, and for our home. Everything here I either LOVE, have and use often, or REALLY want/need in my life. The world is too full of “stuff” to buy more to either store, return, or throw away. And shopping in-person is challenging this year so I know that trusting someone on the internet is very important. You can trust me, I promise. I actually refer to my own gift guide from last year and the year before when I’m looking to buy anyone a gift. And while I haven’t purchased every single one of these, I have spent HOURS whittling down my very long list. So long actually that today we are starting just with home and tech/books, and part 2 will be fashion and beauty (I’m still testing out bath oils, don’t worry) and of course I’ll get to kids. Some are splurgy and some are more affordable, but this isn’t a “cheap gift guide” because often things that are cheap won’t last and frankly we all should just be buying fewer things, that can last a long time, get a lot of use and love and actually WORK. Forego the $12 imported keychain gadget that will break in 3 weeks. Buy local when possible, support makers and stores in your community, buy green and sustainable when you can afford to, and go out of your way to buy more BIPOC owned stores, makers, and artists to ensure we are all doing our part to grow and lift up more voices in our community and world.
Ok, the consumerism lecture is over, I know that many people will shop for others this year so my hope is to help you buy things that are VERY, VERY GOOD with less regret and less waste (yet full of style and function). Here goes.
1. I don’t want “just matches”, I want darn beautiful ones that I can display. How pretty is that footed glass match vessel? Transport it to my bathroom, please.
2. I have a lot of these sculptural pillar candles. I don’t light them, it’s true, because they do such a good job as my coffee “table sculptures” to fire them.
3. This candle looks so high end and special, what with the clear glass and transparent look and I think it could go literally ANYWHERE. So affordable and good. I haven’t bought or smelled it but that could go in my English bathroom any day.
4. If you don’t know by now footed vessels are my kryptonite. It’s almost an involuntary need to immediately purchase when I see one. The good news is this one is beautiful, affordable, AND a candle. Form and function.
5. Here is another really good match striker. A little bolder, but has that almost handmade look about it that makes it work with almost any style.
6. If you want a solidly awesome but affordable gift, this candle is it. It smells amazing and the wood wicks make THE BEST crackling sounds.
1. I have a platter version of this plate and I LOVE it. Have had it for years (comes in darker). Put it on your entry, serve dry food on it, on your nightstand for jewelry. I’ve just found that I opt for it constantly.
2. Green footed bowl. This one made the cut because it’s affordable and in a pretty color. I almost bought it for the holidays but then Brian saw me shopping and told me I had to stop my footed bowl obsession.
3. I have this black and white three-piece planter from Jungalow in our LA house and I moved it around to be in different shots because it makes every area look cooler.
4. This wooden vase is strong and has so much carved texture. They keep selling out, but I’m on their email list now.
5. Red and white striped bowl. How cute is this for Christmas? It would shake up any vignette in such a unique way.
6. Whenever I see a good small catchall bowl, I seriously consider buying it. They are just so useful and when it’s as cute as this one, it adds texture and style to your space.
1. I’ve had this footed planter forever and love how it’s both matte and glossy black.
2. If you are like me, you can have multiple striped vessels, but this is a great one for a dining table, in bookshelves, or with a plant.
3. Blue is probably my favorite neutral. Yes, you heard me, blue is a neutral and this planter is graphic, colorful, and just really awesome.
1. The cutest most graphic (yet warm) lidded round box. Put some ‘compliments’ in here and give it as a gift.
2. I need a spice grinder and I love that this both grinds and stores.
3. This glass canister is so great for bathrooms, with a sweet little detail on top. Or you could fill it with something they love (like fancy teabags)? A match collection?
4. The wood base on this footed bowl takes it up a notch.
5. Anything handmade, round with a cute handle is always going to make my list. There are so many different places I can play with this.
6. If someone gave me these grinders for Christmas I would not be mad. Look at how beautiful they are! Simple, textured, and just so special.
1. This tray adds interest while still being quiet, and has such a sweet pattern.
2. I have this basket and while it doesn’t look impressive, I love how low and wide it is and after 2 years of abuse it still has really kept its shape. It holds our magazines now (and used to hold blankets).
3. + 4. We have a lot of Skagerak over here because – (natural round tray, black tray with leather handles). They are so simple, but are warm and refined.
5. This “tray” is actually a fruit bowl but could easily be a tray in any room. It’s a great gift for the “handmade ceramic lover” in your life.
6. This black and white box adds energy to any room, but in a classic way. Entry. Coffee table. In shelves. I could use it anywhere.
1. This round black and white box (with the leather detail – so cute!) would be so cute on your desk or on top of a stack of books.
2. This box is another Skagerak piece that I love. Quite but special and with just enough function.
3. I know that giving a laundry basket seems weird, but I’ve had this basket for years and it still brings me joy. I personally don’t want to spend so much money on a laundry basket, which is why it would be SUCH a good gift. Throw a pretty blanket in it, and wrap it in a bow.
1. The heavy black base and simple shape would look pretty great on a desk or shelf.
2. I’m OBSESSED with this lamp and while I don’t have it, it is something I would be so happy if it was wrapped under the tree for me.
3. I have this lamp and I keep wanting to put it in every room. It was the impetus for the ‘winter lighting’ post because not only is it an interesting shape and has great mixed materials, but it’s fully dimmable so it just gives off great light.
1. I love this art print – calm, movement, simple, and just the perfect shade of blue. Seriously I wish that I had that paint color.
2. Honest History is a subscription book for my kids actually (don’t worry kids guide coming soon) but as you can imagine it’s a monthly history book that I’m assuming has an important perspective.
3. Everyone at EHD has some form of a chain sculpture and this is a great one that is affordable. What do you do with them? Put them on top of a stack of books on your coffee table, of course.
4. I meant to pin this tissue box on my ‘boomer’ gift guide (my MIL tipped me off to this), but listen we ALL want to cover up ugly tissue boxes, right?
5. If we were to splurge on a piano for this house, THAT WOULD BE THE ONE. Of course, it’s not the BEST gift for anyone, but I want it so bad.
6. Such a pretty bud vase for a bathroom vanity, with a special little flower in it. So sweet and that shape, in the blown glass, can work with any style.
1. I’ve successfully convinced 10-15 people in my own life to buy a portal because I have found it to be the best way to stay connected during quarantine. I haven’t tried the rest of the video phones on the market but with this one you don’t have to sit, it’s like being on the phone – you press ‘call Suzanne’ while chopping veggies and then you can both make dinner and walk around and still see/hear each other. Suzanne’s mom got it and said it has changed her life. Me, too Kathy!
2. If I were in the market for a steamer… how awesome is this all-black one?
3. I want this leather desk pad for me/Brian – such a great home office gift.
4. How awesome is this AirPods holder? That carmel leather is awesome and takes it from a piece of tech, to a decent gift.
1. The fact that I don’t have a charging station is so stupid. This is the one that I’m going to send to Brian and say ‘can get please get matching of these?
2. I LOVE THIS PRINTER. I got it for Christmas last year and it basically takes your iPhone shot and prints it into a polaroid. It’s easy, the kids love it and we use it all the time. Don’t forget to buy this film.
3. We keep buying these janky long lighters from the gas station for our gas firepit, I want this simple and cool black one.
4. Ha. I guess I was super into charging stations… I like the black leather one more but it is way more expensive. But this one supposedly also sanitizes your phone, so if you are in the market check this one out.
1. How cute are those tumblers? And you can also split up the set and give them separately as gifts, maybe with a little succulent?
2. We’ve been drinking out of these pottery mugs for 4 years now. They are just good and a set of 6 to someone with a new home would be a solid purchase.
3. These straight and modern tumblers came out this year and I think everyone I know bought them. Maybe not an amazing gift, but if you need drinkware that looks cool, that is VERY affordable, and also doesn’t break easily I recommend them.
4. Handdrawn stripe pitcher (and comes in black/white, too). I love a pitcher, mostly as a vase.
1. I LOVE The Citizenry pitcher. It’s the perfect shade of blue, such a pretty shape and that little ring of matte white makes it look super special. (Can also be a vase for flowers).
2. This mug keeps selling out, but I just want to have coffee with Obama so badly.
3. Ice cold beers, in a cool shape and finish. I’m buying a few of these for Brian for sure.
4. For a splurgy mug and those who like to collect, I LOVE this one, but it keeps selling out.
1. I think salad servers seem like a boring gift, but if they are pretty then I ALWAYS love them. This pottery set is affordable and goes with every style.
2. Look at these blue pottery appetizer/service plates with that stunning edge!
3. I have these Skagerak ones with the little gold tips and they make me really happy.
1. I know that a paper towel holder shouldn’t be one of my favorite things, but it is. That light wood and leather top works so well and makes me happy.
2. Time for a new apron and I’m very into this one with leather details. I hope the straps aren’t too complicated.
3. I don’t need this spice collection (you saw my spice drawer) but if someone is just starting out this is a GREAT collection that is also so pretty.
4. I’m ready to tackle sushi. Over quarantine, we’ve made Indian, Thai, and Chinese food because there is none of that up in the mountains. I haven’t had sushi in so long, and while I KNOW that what makes sushi good is good ingredients, I still want to try.
5. I need a grater and this is so much prettier than the plastic triangle we are using right now. So pretty.
6. I know it looks boring, but we have a set of these black cutting boards and they are our favorite – super lightweight, easy to clean and in the black, I think they look modern.
1. For the last 5 months I’ve dove into educating myself on a few fronts by way of racism. While I’ve read others, Ibram’s book is still my favorite that I reference all the time. If you want the cliff notes listen to his episode on Armchair Expert. But it should be required reading for all people, especially white people. So listen AND read.
2. I also started reading more fiction that I also found enlightening. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was both RIVETING (a mystery, spanning generations) and still culturally educational. I also read Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid (really good).
3. And The Wedding Date series which, listen, you can’t not enjoy it.
4. I just downloaded Caste by Isabel Wilkerson to go cover to cover, but I’ve listened to her on a couple of podcasts and I’m sold (and as someone deeply interested in history I’m excited).
1. + 3. I meant to include so many others so I’ll just call them out. Both of those soup cookbooks (Eating Well: Soups and Clean Soups) I reference weekly, they are so well worn in a way that makes me happy.
2. Now the Matty one is pretty fun in a ‘pigs ears’ kind of way. Brian likes it and if you have someone in your life that wants to eat all parts of the body, in a lot of butter, get that (we just love his personality so much).
I also love Half Baked Harvest by Tieghan Gerard and Simply Real Eating by Sarah Adler.
1. The leather long bed pillow is SO GOOD. It kept selling out but it’s back right now.
2. I love a tassle but mostly in neutral or classic color palettes (for longevity).
3. This blue throw looks SO PRETTY. Not shocking, I love that color of blue and it just makes me happy.
4. When I spotted that pillow I was like, I don’t know very many people in my life who wouldn’t like this. Playful, works well with squares, but in a nice chunky cream.
1. This floor pillow/meditation pillow combo was truly a shocker to me. I got it in the mail from their marketing department last year and was like ‘woah this is big, and the round one is SO heavy’. It is splurgy and yet over the years, I GET IT. It’s by far the best floor pillow out there because of its scale, (big and loungey) what it’s filled with (so cushy, but not bouncy), and pretty grey linen.
2. If you want a patterned throw for over your sofa to make it look RAD? I love this one that has unexpected shapes and colors.
3. Simple shape, pretty black stitching, this pillow can go ANYWHERE.
4. The faux fur blanket I keep talking about and referencing because we had to buy 3 because we all fought over it.
There you go, guys. I definitely put a few things in my cart, for me, obviously. Now I still have my beauty/fashion and kid guides coming up – I’m still trying out some product to properly recommend them.
I’d LOVE to know the best gift you’ve ever gotten in all categories or one that you have given that you knew you nailed. This could be both a sweet idea that we can share, or just a product that you are like ‘everyone likes this’ and we’ll include them in my next gift guide. Do share, why don’t ya?
Want more gift guides? We’ve got you covered: 82 Of Our TOP Picks From Etsy (Everything From Fashion To Furniture) | Jess’ Gift Guide: “I Just Want Useful (But Pretty) Things This Year” | Ryann’s Gift Guide: Gifts For Promoting Joy, Easing Anxiety, and Overall Self Care | Malcolm’s Gift Guide: The “Quality Over Quantity” Gift Ideas For Everyone On Your List (Especially Those Hard To Shop For Hims) | Mallory’s Gift Guide: The Actually Awesome “Trendy Gifts” For The 20 Something In Your Life
Opening Image Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Our Living Room, Dressed Up for the Holidays (With a ‘And How I Feel About It’ Running Commentary)