holiday gift guide

Ho ho ho, it’s the end of 2020 and the holidays are just around the corner. With only two weeks until Christmas, there isn’t too much time left to procrastinate and wrap up holiday shopping.

To hopefully make things easier for you, I’ve assembled a gift guide for all the lovely people in your life. All gift suggestions are products I’ve either personally used or have done some research on, and none of these are sponsored by the company or a third party. I tried to include gift ideas of various price points. Hope this is helpful to you!

Note: I tried to link all products to the original manufacturer/company unless I couldn’t find it on their site. Prices are current as of this post.

The Friend Who Runs on Coffee (or Tea)

We’ve all got at least one friend or family member who can’t function properly without coffee or tea (I know I certainly have trouble doing so). Whether you’re looking for gadgets or actual coffee beans, I have a few recommendations here.

Hario ChaCha Kyusu Maru: I have plenty of Hario products, but my favorite is their teapot. I personally use the 700mL ChaCha Kyusu Maru. The glass is of high quality and the spout is ideal for pouring tea without spilling all over the place. It has a large loose leaf strainer – perfect for anyone who likes loose leaf tea, but you can use tea bags as well. Price: $18.15.

[Sidenote: now, upon browsing their US site, I actually was not able to find the one I use and love. Instead, this is the one they have: ChaCha Kyusu “Zen” Tea Pot. I cannot attest to this one since I’ve never used it, but given Hario’s reputation, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just as good or better than the one I’ve used.]

Chemex: Honestly, before I found out about Chemex, I hated drinking coffee. Discovering Chemex (and pour-overs in general) changed my mindset about coffee. I have gifted several Chemexes throughout the years, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to both the coffee lovers and coffee naysayers in your life. I have the six-cup version (which is what I’ve linked), but they also have the three-cup, eight-cup, and ten-cup classic Chemex. It’s very easy to use and the taste from brewing coffee in a Chemex is mindblowing. I’ve converted several friends from that Starbucks Blonde Roast life to Chemex. Don’t forget to purchase the Chemex filter, which removes a lot of coffee oil and extracts caffeine and flavor while removing that bitter taste. Again, another very aesthetically pleasing kitchen appliance that you can display year round. Price: $43.50 for the six-cup version, $9.90 for the filters.

Hario V60 Drip Coffee Scale and Timer: Another must for brewing coffee in particular. Lightweight and compact, it measures in tenths of a gram and has an accuracy assurance range of +/- 0.2 grams. Absolutely ideal for weighing out coffee beans. It also has a digital timer to help you perfect every cup of coffee. Price: $56.50.

Zojirushi Water Boiler: If you’re someone who has hot drinks throughout the day like tea, this is super handy. There are four temperature settings (160°F, 175°F, 195°F, 208°F) depending on what you need. I use this to refill any drinks that need hot water and for cooking. Price: $139.99.

Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Kettle: I bought one of these years ago, and it’s been one of my best kitchen purchases. This can be used for both coffee aficionados or tea enthusiasts. It is an electric kettle with a precision pour spout, temperature control, 60-minute hold mode, quick heat option, and brew stopwatch. It’s one of the few kitchen appliances I keep on my countertop because I use it practically every morning and it looks aesthetically minimal. If you get really into coffee and tea like I have, you’ll come to realize that having the right water temperature is critical to brewing the proper cup. Price: $149.

Coffee Subscription: The gift that keeps on giving! Coffee subscriptions are great ideas for your friends who want to continually replenish their coffee stock or want to try new coffee beans from different companies. Most are easily customizable. Some of my favorite coffee companies are: La Colombe, Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, Ceremony Coffee, and Vigilante Coffee. Other highly recommend coffee subscriptions are Trade Coffee and Atlas Coffee Club. Price varies depending on subscription type.

The Friend Who Loves to Cook (Or Tries)

In 2020, I think we’ve all cooked more at home than in past years. And so, we’ve all come to try out new appliances, gadgets, and recipes. While few of us are going to become the next Gordon Ramsay or Jacques Pépin, we all need or want a few extra items to help us make Christmas dinner, a romantic dinner for two, or a comfy meal for one after a full day of Zoom.

Cookbooks: Self-explanatory but incredibly useful as we’re all cooking and experimenting more. Who can’t use a few more cookbooks? Here are my personal favorites:

Ceramic Dinnerware/Serveware: I’m at a place in my life where I want to collect high-quality, beautiful ceramic dinnerware and serveware, and I suspect you’ve got a friend or family member who is at this stage too. Having unique, handmade kitchenware can add flair and character to your dining table. Plus, as long as you take care of these items, they can last for years and even be passed on to the next generation. This is a great way to check out local artisans who make ceramics and support small businesses too. For example, I purchased a few mugs and a serving bowl from Noble Plateware when I was visiting NYC last year. I also love Kaneko Kohyo ceramics.

Ladle & Lid Stand: This is one of those items that you didn’t know you needed until you have it. When you’re cooking, you probably need to take the lid off a boiling pot at some point. With this stand, you can gently set the lid down without worrying about burning your fingers or accidentally scratching your countertops. You can also set ladles on the stand simultaneously. It doubles as a stand for cookbooks or tablets. Price: $19.

Wine Decanter: Chances are you’ve got a friend who enjoys sipping wine from time to time. A decanter is a perfect gift for such a friend (and you can even make it a set by adding some wine glasses to your gift). Decanting increases oxygen exposure to wine, which helps to soften the tannins and release fruity and floral aromas. Because different kinds of wine require different decanting times and methods, there are several types of decanters out there. For full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll want a decanter with a wide base. For light-bodied reds such as Pinot Noir, you’ll want a medium-sized decanter. Here are a few suggestions for decanters:

Instant Pot: By now, you’ve probably heard about the Instant Pot. I received one as a gift from my mom three Christmases ago, and I’m a fan. I think they’re great gifts for 2020 and beyond. It’s a “7-in-1 pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sauté pan and food warmer,” and it really makes cooking so much easier and more efficient. I have used mine to make ribs, stews, and soups. All I usually do is clean and prep the ingredients, throw them into the pot, and get a tasty meal out of it. There are many versions you can purchase. I have the 6-quart, but they also have the 3-quart and 8-quart. Price: $79.99.

All-Clad: If you have the means to splurge a little and want cookware that will last a long time, I highly suggest All-Clad. I have three All-Clad products, and I use them all the time and they’re very high-quality. The ones I use are: D3 Stainless 10-inch Fry Pan, D3 Stainless 12-inch Fry Pan, and the D3 Stainless 3-quart Saucier. All work on gas, electric, ceramic, or induction stovetops and in the oven. The 10-inch and 12-inch fry pans are perfect for steaks, stir frys, eggs, pancakes, etc. The saucier is ideal for pasta, sauces, soups, potatoes, oatmeal, etc. With these three, I feel like I can cook anything! Price: $99.99-$210.

Bread Box: How many times have you purchased a loaf of bread, left it out for days, forgot about it, and then it went stale or moldy? A couple of months ago, I purchased a bread box and it changed my bread game forever. Now, I have something that can store my bread and jams without compromising taste. I love this one from Yamazaki for its sleek and simple design. Price: $100.

End Grain Butcher Block: Butcher blocks are becoming increasingly popular in homes due to their aesthetic and longevity. If you know anything about cooking, you know that knives are a chef’s quintessential tool. And with knives come cutting boards. Not all cutting boards are made equal. Wood, particularly butcher block, cutting boards are very durable and reliable. Butcher blocks can help keep your knife sharp and provides a sturdy surface to do all your slicing and dicing. They’re also relatively easy to maintain, and they are bacteria resistant as long as you properly care for them. In fact, it’s been proven that wood cutting boards are more sanitary than plastic ones. I prefer end grain butcher blocks over edge grain because they are resistant to cuts and even self-heal over time. I have the end grain walnut butcher block from Brooklyn Butcher Blocks. While it’s an investment for sure, it is a splurge-worthy one if you want to preserve your knives and add warmth and a rustic flair to your kitchen. Price: $210.

Le Creuset Dutch Oven: This is an iconic kitchen appliance that has spanned generations. Whether you’re a home cook or own a restaurant, this is a timeliness, indispensable tool. I have the 5-quart round dutch oven in the color flame. This is enough to make 5-6 servings of a dish. A somewhat pricey investment, but one that will last for years and years. Price: $360.

The Friend Who Has a Green Thumb (Or Wants One)

Houseplant: The gift that keeps on giving. Plants lift people’s moods, purify the air, and brighten up a home. I do have to caution that not all plants are appropriate to gift. Depending on your giftee, you need to consider his/her experience and ability to care for a plant, potential allergies, presence of pets and children in the home, and size of the plant. Some plants need more care than others, and you don’t want to burden your giftee. With that being said, I think a pothos, snake plant, or Zz plant are great houseplants for both novices and experts alike. Air plants and succulents are also fairly easy to grow and maintain. And for someone who loves plants and cooking, you can gift an assortment of herbs that they can grow and use for their meals. You can always find house plants at your local nursery, but I also recommend Planterina. There’s a wide assortment of plants on the site, and you can easily filter (e.g. low-light, air-purifying, pet-friendly). Free shipping, and the majority of people who purchase from Planterina have had excellent and pleasant experiences with the plant, packaging, and shipping. I personally prefer buying plants from Planterina versus the Sill, which is a popular direct-to-consumer plant company.

Books on Plants: Whether your friend is looking to learn more about plants or wants something for their coffee table, a book on plants can be useful and/or decorative. Here are some recommendations:

The Friend Who Treats Him/Herself

You probably have at least one friend who lives for skincare and makeup goodies. Said friend most likely also loves candles, perfume/cologne, lotions, bubble baths, and anything under the “treat-yo-self” category.

Innisfree Jeju Life Hand Cream: A great stocking stuffer, Innisfree hand creams are ideal for on-the-go moisture. I have used the Jeju life perfumed hand cream in the Sunshine wild berry scent, and I loved it. These hand creams are formulated with shea butter and olive extract, leaving your hands feeling soft without that greasy feeling. Price: $5.

L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream: This is a cult favorite, particularly among the moms and grandmothers in your life. My mother swears by this hand cream. According to L’Occitane, one of these hand creams is sold every 2 seconds around the world. One of these would make a great stocking stuffer or you can purchase the trio set. Price: $12 for the 1-oz, $29 for the trio set.

Aesop: I love Aesop so much I even visited their first store in Melbourne during my honeymoon (and naturally stocked up). Thankfully, I have an Aesop in my city but even if there isn’t one for miles where you live, they offer complimentary standard shipping on all orders. I recommend the Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash and the Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm. You can purchase both as a set too (named the Resurrection Duet), which makes a great gift. I personally like the scent of Resurrection since it’s more citrusy and herbaceous. The hand balm doesn’t feel greasy at all, and the hand wash doesn’t leave my skin all dry. Not to mention, their glass bottles scream aesthetic and Pinterest-worthy. Using both products make me feel like I’m transported to a spa day. Aesop also has tons of other products for skin, hair, fragrance, and even the home. They have gift bundles and kits, which make it super easy to shop for any friend. Price: $39 for the hand wash, $97 for the hand balm, and $125 for the Resurrection Duet.

Jo Malone London: One of my favorite Jo Malone scents is Nectarine Blossom & Honey. Anytime I smell this, I feel like I’m in a garden on a spring day. I use the Nectarine Blossom & Honey Hand & Body Lotion at work. I purchased it years ago, and I still haven’t finished using it. A little definitely goes a long way. I’ve received so many compliments on the scent. Since I loved it so much, I’ve gifted the Nectarine Blossom & Honey Home Candle to a friend (you can add engraving for $10, which I opted for since it was a gift). They have tons of other scents that you can filter by family: citrus, fruity, floral, light floral, spicy, and woody. From hand wash to cologne to diffusers, there are many options that you can purchase as thoughtful gifts. Price: $59 for the hand and body lotion, $69 for the candle.

L’Eau Sézane: This was a quarantine purchase earlier this year for myself, and I love it. This perfume has a blend of citrus and floral aromas. It’s ideal either on your person or in the house. The glass bottle looks lovely on your counter, dresser, or nightstand. This bottle will last you quite some time, as a little spritz goes a long way. You can even customize your bottle with your giftee’s name. Price: $90.

The Friend Who Runs on Tech

In the digital age, how can a gift guide not include tech gadgets?

LARQ Water Bottle: I think more than ever, we’re increasingly aware of bacteria and viruses. That’s no exception for water. This water bottle is the world’s first self-cleaning water bottle and water purification system. It uses a special UV-C LED light to eliminate up to 99.9999% of bio-contaminants from your water and bottle. It’s also double insulated to keep water cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours. Very ideal for traveling (when we can eventually do that again) and for the germ-sensitive friends in your life. Price: $95.

Wireless Mechanical Keyboards: Even though I use a MacBook Pro, I prefer a wireless keyboard in lieu of the built-in keyboard. It’s even better if it’s a mechanical keyboard (personal preference, I like the switches). If you’re in the market for a wireless mechanical keyboard, check out the Leopold FC900R or the Keychron K6. Price: $99-$124.

TUSHY Spa Warm Water Bidet Attachment: If there are two words that one can associate with 2020, “toilet paper” may take one of the prizes. After shortages throughout the year, many people began turning to bidets – fairly common in Europe and Asia – to cleanse instead. TUSHY is a water bidet attachment that easily installs on your toilet and requires no electricity or extra plumbing to use. Just make sure that your TUSHY is near a sink to connect and that’s it! Price: $109.

PhoneSoap Pro: I feel like we’ve all turned into germaphobes this year. I definitely have used more hand sanitizer and sanitized my phone this year than the last two years combined. Research has shown that phones can carry 10x more bacteria than most toilet seats. PhoneSoap Pro kills 99.99% of bacteria in 5 minutes. It’s the quintessential gift for 2020. Price: $119.95.

Massage Gun: Since we’re all working out at the home gym nowadays, our muscles are going to get sore from time to time. A massage gun is a great gift idea for athletes, fitness junkies, or anyone who wants to relieve tired and sore muscles. The most popular is likely the Theragun, but there are more budget friendly options such as this Sonic. Price: $119.99-$299.

The Friend Who is a Pet Pawrent

If you’re a pet mom/dad, you more than likely spoil your pets with gifts and celebrations throughout the year and the holidays are no different! Pets deserve gifts just as much as the hoomans!

Holiday Bandanas and Bowties: I’m a sucker for a bandana or bowtie on my dog. Over the years, I’ve accumulated quite the collection that includes holiday-appropriate wear. Bandanas and bowties can be worn year after year, and I love discovering small businesses and Etsy shop owners who make these for pets. Here are some of my favorites: My Bowtie Bazaar, Waggin’ Tails, Royal Collections and Co., Doodle Doo Threads, Barkley and Wagz, and Baylors Bow Ties.

Nina Ottosson Treat Puzzle Games: Exercising a pet’s mind keeps them active, prevents boredom, reduces behavioral problems, and strengthens your bond to your pets. I have a number of Nina Ottosson’s puzzle games. These are built sturdily and safely (non-toxic, BPA, PVC and Phthalate free, and approved for food), made of eco-friendly materials, and can easily be washed with detergent so both wet and dry food can be used. There are levels (1-3) so your pet can gradually advance as they figure out the puzzles on their own. Price: $8-$35.

The Bear & The Rat Froyo Dog Treats: Founded by a husband-wife team in 2010, The Bear & The Rat makes frozen treats for dogs and cats that are filled with prebiotics and digestive enzymes (aka good for the gut). My dog loves the peanut butter and banana froyo, but there’s also bacon and peanut butter, pumpkin and cinnamon, goat milk, and goat milk with coconut. You can purchase these on their website or at select pet stores near you. Price: $44.99 for a 12-cup box.

Happy Holidays!

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