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Caitlin’s Gift Guide: “Unoffensive Gifts For Friends With Confusing Taste”

Last week, one of my good friends got a sneak peek of my selections for this post and texted me this: “Your gift guide is just stuff you already have!” And y’all, he wasn’t wrong!!!

Today, I am linking up a ton of my tried-and-true favorites – the things that I love and the things that folks comment on when they come over (or, ya know, when they see it in the background of my IG stories). If you have a design-minded friend with hard-to-pin-down taste, I promise that something on this list will appeal to them.

(PS. There are a few extra items here that I’m actually hoping for this Christmas…cause you know, when else will I get to publish a gift guide that my mom can read when she’s on the hunt for ideas??? HI, MOM!)

1. Always Pan | 2. Small Pet Set | 3. Carafe | 4. Stoneware Mug | 5. Champagne Coupes | 6. Glass Straws

1. Always Pan: Maybe it’s because I’m a true millennial, but I’m not great at cooking and still not really sure why folks need a whole bunch of pots and pans. This guy is on super sale right now ($95, down from $135 – this never happens, so snatch it up by Cyber Monday!) and it’s so so so good. You can steam and boil water for spaghetti and fry eggs and do other things, too. Plus the colors are SO CUTE – I love it in lavender but I know the rest of the team loves it in sage and spice.
2. Small Pet Set: I’m originally from Delaware, right outside of Philly, so y’all know I gotta recommend a small local business. I love Felt & Fat – I’m saving up to one day buy a couple sets of their plates – but this small porcelain pet bowl set and holder is so sweet. Get your pet a present!!!
3. Carafe: Oh WOW, these are just beautiful and the top lid can do double duty as a cup. The air quality in my apartment in LA is kinda gross – if you’re also from the city, near a major road, and enjoy an occasional open window, I’m sure you can relate to the black buildup on everything – so I really like this as a bedside water container. It makes me feel safe and clean!
4. Stoneware Mug: OH MAN I LOVE A BIG-HANDLED MUG. These remind me a bit of the Lolly Lolly mugs that I haven’t been able to scoop in time and I love the cheery yellow color. If you have a pal who drinks coffee…why not elevate it a little bit? (PS. I don’t actually drink coffee, so really…a gift for everyone who drinks liquid, period.)
5. Champagne Coupes: If I could buy out all of ECG’s goods, I WOULD. I’m currently coveting this champagne coupe because it’s so elevated (can y’all imagine drinking like…kombucha out of this cup? How fancy would you feel???) but I also love the stemless glasses for more ~everyday~ cups.
6. Glass Straws: I saw these on a friend’s IG story and have been lusting after them ever since (apparently I was not the only person to frantically slide into her DMs and ask for sourcing info, too). While I can’t justify spending this much on glass straws – especially when there are other affordable, beautiful high quality options like these out there! – but sigh. MAYBE FOR CHRISTMAS?

1. Durkow Candles | 2. Shape Party Runner | 3. Volute Candles | 4. Twist Candle

1. Durkow Candles: I know what these look like and I don’t care!!! These are also made and manufactured in Philly. They’re fun, irreverent, and I have a dream to one day have a whole bunch of them in different color variants on my 1930s deco mantle.
2. Shape Party Runner: I have been eyeing this runner FOR. EV. ER. I’m obsessed with all things Studio Proba and honestly, there isn’t anything from here that I wouldn’t be thrilled to receive. I already own two face masks which I adore, but Alex recently released a new blanket and a new series of pillows that are also SO SO GOOD. Studio Proba is pretty prolific in this ~cool, modern, print~ world so their store is a total win if you’re looking to impress a new design-minded pal with your style knowledge.
3. Volute Candles: These look like caterpillars (amongst other things…apparently I’m just into suggestive candles?) and they are so cute in the corresponding glass candle holders from the same brand.
4. Twist Candle: This is the best design gift I can think of! Everyone in my life loves the twist candle – it’s updated and modern but it’s not too out there. Urban is also now stocking a red and white version which looks like a candy cane and AHHH!! Someone please style out a holiday tablescape with it and send it to me!!!

1. Personalized Necklace | 2. Circle Ring | 3. Fortune Necklace | 4. Luna Ring

1. Personalized Necklace: I got this after we partnered with ABLE last year for this post. It was customized with a favorite mantra (“suck it up,” hah!), I haven’t taken it off since, and it still looks like new. It’s so hard to find affordable gold-plated jewelry that can stand up to sweat and showers and this fits the bill. SO GOOD.
2. Circle Ring: I love a circle (I have two of them tattooed on me!) and this is so simple and timeless. It comes in sizes from 5-9 so you can get it for any finger or as a nice “wear every day” piece.
3. Fortune Necklace: I bought this for myself for my birthday. It layers great with the aforementioned necklace and it’s so sweet and special. LOVE IT.
4. Luna Ring: Another unique shape that goes with anything. Who wouldn’t like this?

1. Roller Skates | 2. Animal Medicine Cards | 3. Gradient Puzzle

1. Roller Skates: I’m a competitive figure skater (still, somehow) who hasn’t been on the ice since February – it’s been my longest non-injury break away from a rink in more than 20 years. I saw videos of so many talented folks learning to roller skate this summer and wanted to try but was like “ah, wish I could do that, can’t risk being injured for the season though” but JOKE’S ON ME because there is no competition season for me this year!!! TIME TO PURSUE MY DREAMS.
2. Animal Medicine Cards: If I could recommend one gift on this list, THIS WOULD BE IT. I bought them in Joshua Tree a few years ago and they’ve been so much fun ever since – I used to bring them on group trips or I’d break them out when friends came over. The premise is so simple: pick a card and read some wisdom about the animal you’ve chosen. Everyone loves them. BEST STOCKING STUFFER.
3. Gradient Puzzle: At the beginning of quarantine, I went through a BIG puzzle phase. I own this 500 piece puzzle in five color variants and they’re the perfect ratio of challenging:satisfying. (I did not have the attention span to handle the 1000 piece version. 500 all day!)

1. Striped Robe | 2. Bath Sheets | 3. Moccasin Slippers | 4. Weighted Comforter

1. Striped Robe: I’m a lifelong lover of a bold orange/pink/green color scheme (as seen in my childhood bedroom here). Dusen Dusen makes some of my all-time favorite products – I wish my cat would use normal pet beds because I would buy this SO FAST – and I’d love to add an adult, fancy robe to my collection.
2. Bath Sheets: These were my first foray into adult towels – previously, I had been using my Target ‘Room Essentials’ towels from 2009 – and WOW, what a difference!!! These are such a luxury that I never would have thought to splurge on but they make me feel so much happier every day. I am a diehard for the ‘sheet’ size – they’re HUGE, which I love!!! – but I’m sure the regular-sized ones are just as lovely.
3. Moccasin Slippers: These were a Christmas gift from my mom last year and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. I wasn’t historically a slipper person, but I’ve worn them every day since – they were even comfortable in my 95+ degree apartment this summer. I flew back to the east coast a couple weeks ago to quarantine before the holidays and I desperately regret not bringing these. (I also tried on my mom’s and was shocked by how much they mold to your feet.) I’m planning to scoop a pair to keep here and wear for the next couple months!
4. Weighted Comforter: I LOVE THIS THING. I was suffering from a lot of nightmares earlier this year (wonder why??) and this comforter singlehandedly cleared them up. Plus, I was having trouble finding a ~beautiful~ weighted blanket (a true Libra problem!) and this was a dream since I could fit it in my regular duvet cover. I literally considered packing this in my cross-country checked bag because it makes such a dramatic difference in my sleep quality. I LOVE.

1. A Promised Land | 2. Billion Dollar Loser | 3. Evil Geniuses | 4. Subprime Attention Crisis

1. A Promised Land: I LOVE A BOOK FOR CHRISTMAS. And I think my grandpa rubbed off on me because I especially love some nonfiction books for Christmas! (And nonfiction all the time, TBH.) ANYWAY. It’s Obama. Of course I want to read it.
2. Billion Dollar Loser: This just came out and it’s about Adam Neumann, the founder of WeWork. ICYMI, this guy lost billions of dollars, figured out a scam to enrich himself, botched his company’s IPO, and walked away SO. FREAKING. RICH. (If someone in your life is interested in these tech dramas that read like novels, I also loved Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber.)
3. Evil Geniuses: Ah yes, nothing says “holidays” like a book exploring America’s financial systems and sociopolitical history!!!
4. Subprime Attention Crisis: I am the gal behind all the programmatic ads you see on the site here (i.e. banners) and to my surprise, I LOVE IT. I didn’t know anything about ads when I started here and didn’t expect it to be so interesting to me! This book is RIGHT up my alley.

1. Time Traveler | 2. Debt: The First 5,000 Years | 3. How To Do Nothing | 4. Red Comet

1. Time Traveler: The full title of this book is “Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality” and THAT SAYS IT ALL. It’s a true story!!! He really tried!!! How have I not read this yet???
2. Debt: The First 5,000 Years: AH YES CHRISTMAS SPIRIT LET’S READ ABOUT THE HISTORY OF DEBT. I have the same taste in books as a curmudgeonly dad.
3. How To Do Nothing: If your initial reaction at the beginning of quarantine was also to make a list of things to learn…you may also need this book. Apparently, we don’t always need to be working or something??? WEIRD.
4. Red Comet: At the end of the day, I’m still a girl who went to a super weird liberal arts college where everyone majored in something creative…of course I want to read a book about Sylvia Plath.

1. Multicolor Marled Socks | 2. Tie-Dye Ankle Socks | 3. Pink Textured Sock | 4. 3-Pack of Socks | 5. Striped Ankle Sock | 6. Grid Ankle Socks

1. Multicolor Marled Socks: As an adult, socks don’t get a fair shake!!! These are all a bit more than I’d usually spend on myself, but that makes them a real treat of a gift. I bought these in blue last year and LOVE THEM.
2. Tie-Dye Ankle Socks: Fun and a little bit of a shibori vibe!!!
3. Pink Textured Sock: Ah yes, another pair I own in a different color variant! They’re so comfortable and this version is even cuter in close up – they’re a bright pink paired with timeless neutrals.
4. 3-Pack of Socks: A sock in here for all occasions. My obsession with socks actually started after seeing my coworkers rocking SUPER cute leopard/tiger socks with boots and it has not ceased!
5. Striped Ankle Sock: These are my favorite of the bunch – an elevated basic. GREAT.
6. Grid Ankle Socks: Grids are a favorite not-pattern pattern at EHD and these are no exception.

1. Backpack | 2. Weekender | 3. Inflatable Pillow

1. Backpack: I’ve written before about my love of this backpack. I’ve had it for 2 years, have brought it on over 100 planes, and I’ve used it as a gym bag and it still looks like new. There’s a separate compartment for shoes and so many good (and actually usable) organizational pockets inside. 1000/10, would recommend.
2. Weekender: The IG ads have gotten to me. I used to travel a lot – this year I did Quebec, NYC, Tuscon, Wichita, Dallas, Boston, Providence, Temecula, and Joshua Tree before we shut down in March – and packing liquids is always THE WORST. These are magnetic and labeled and cute and I like them a lot.
3. Inflatable Pillow: I swear by inflatable neck pillows – they’re obviously great for air travel, but they’re also SO GOOD to stash in a car. Pop one of these in your center console or glove box or in the side of a door, inflate as necessary, and your car naps will improve by a million percent.

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT. The things that people ask about, the things I already love, and a few things I’m hoping to grab this holiday season. What about y’all? What are your go-to gifts for confusing friends? Snacks? Wine? Vases? TELL ME. Maybe we can all help each other!!!

For the rest of our 2020 gift guides head HERE!

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Elliot’s Metallic Holiday Bedroom

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3 years ago

Ummm, unoffensive is not a word. Perhaps, inoffensive?

3 years ago

these are great ideas! i have similar taste in books to you- these all sound fantastic BUT i have spent all year on a loud crusade to get my brothers to read books by women- so I can’t really ask for any of these. do you have any favorites in this direction that are written by women? I

3 years ago
Reply to  kk

If you’re trying to get someone to read science topic books, point them at Mary Roach! She writes books on the most interesting topics and she’s hilarious. My favorite of hers is about research to send people to Mars– it’s called Packing For Mars.

3 years ago
Reply to  Lori

I have read all of the recommended books so clearly also have the same taste. I love Mary Roach! Radium Girls by Kate Moore is an excellent look at work place pollution and illness at the turn of the century. The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery is another favorite of mine that I gift pretty regularly. Why Fish Don’t Exist is a recent publication and a lovely and haunting brief read. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is always a good book to gift if they haven’t read it. I also highly recommend Hidden Figures. Its as heart warming as the movie but it far more background that is fascinating.If you prefer more business tales with a large does of hubris, Bad Blood is not by a woman, but it is about a Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos and I HIGHLY recommend it. The Library Book by Susan Orlean is fantastic and also tons of fun if you have been to the LA Public Library (one of my top three buildings in LA). She Said is also a truly great book about journalism, and while the Harvey Weinstein Scandal has been written about in depth, the book is an… Read more »

3 years ago
Reply to  Margaret

I was going to comment but every book you mentioned here would have been included in my comment! I second all these suggestions, wonderful books.

3 years ago
Reply to  Margaret

The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks is one of my all time favorite books and is one that I heartily recommend. I honest to goodness read the entire thing in one sitting because it was so compelling!

3 years ago

This article title is hilarious. I love it. Hahahhhahha

3 years ago

Interesting choices. But you’re offending me by not using ‘inoffensive.’

3 years ago

I need a gift guide all on jigsaw puzzles. I am craving me some puzzles

Suzanne Bonser
3 years ago

I ditto the moccasins- my mom bought me a baby blue pair 20+ years ago and I still got ’em!
I wash them in the machine, let air dry , and replace the sheepskin sole when needed(replacement sheepskin soles can be bought on Amazon). I can even wear them outside to walk the dog.

3 years ago

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Moccasins from Manitobah (because they employ and support First Nation folks)

Original art from local people/local galleries: because artists and art shop owners are in a weird place right now.

3 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

Thank you for the gift ideas Lisa! I’m especially glad that you introduced me to Manitoba Moccasins, since I previously had no first nations companies on my radar!