Putting together my annual holiday gift guide is something I look forward to all year. I don’t buy often, or a lot, but when I do have my heart set on something and finally acquire it, I tend to cherish it intensely and for a long time. To give you an example, I still have (and wear! and love!) clothes from my first year of college… That was 10-plus years ago.
Which is why I keep tabs on covetable items year-round and don’t take gift-giving lightly. I believe gifts should be either really useful, or have a lot of joy-creating potential – or both! – and should never be given just because. (This SNL skit sums it up perfectly).
The items rounded up below are either things I have and love, or would be thrilled to receive as a gift. Let’s dive in!
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1. Whole Food Cooking Every Day by Amy Chaplin
Simply put, this is one of the best, most beautiful, and inspirational cookbooks I’ve ever seen. Unlike most cookbooks, which are organized by meal type, this one’s anchored by vegetable queen Amy Chaplin’s 20 go-to recipe concepts, like Whole Grain Porridges, Healing Soups, Baked Tempeh, Seeded Bars, etc.
Each concept is followed by a handful of variations. So instead of just learning to make Winter Squash Soup, for example, you also have a Winter Squash Soup with Ginger, Turmeric, and Miso, or a creamy one with Toasted Hazelnut Milk. It’s absolutely brilliant and the ideal companion for any plant-forward home cook.
I don’t know if it’s my addiction to YouTube makeup tutorials or the fact that I’m turning 30 (probably both), but I’ve become obsessed with skincare. This face oil is one of the best products I’ve ever tried. It’s non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores), fragrance-free, and perfect for all skin types/ages. It moisturizes, plumps, evens tone, and even calms my very reactive, acne-prone skin. It absorbs quickly and works well under makeup.
On that note, I’ve also been loving this jade roller and gua sha duo. These are said to tone and depuff skin (especially if you’ve had one too many cocktails the night before), and assist with lymphatic drainage. I can’t comment on the accuracy of these claims just yet, but it sure feels good to use them!
Whenever I cook/eat in someone else’s home, I pay close attention to the way they cook and serve their food (it’s research!). Salad serving spoons are an item a lot of people seem to be missing. This classic wooden set would work with any kitchen style.
2020 has been the year of loungewear and you can’t go wrong with a soft, plushy set to upgrade from those saggy-bottom sweatpants, or last year’s Christmas pj’s. Lou & Grey’s sets are the cutest! Perfect for work-from-home or lounging on the sofa.
If I could only bring one kitchen appliance with me to a desert island (an island with electricity, of course), it would be my food processor. It makes all my favorite things – like purees, dips, and date brownies – and takes your cooking capabilities to soaring heights.
Don’t think I have to explain the appeal of this pink saucepan. I mean, look at it!
8. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
This creativity bible has been recommended to me by many people over the years – and the testimonials on the back cover include Elizabeth Gilbert and Martin Scorcese, which should tell you a lot. Written for those who want to re-discover their creativity – whether for a hobby or career – the book is essentially a self-guided course.
It’s designed to illuminate problem areas in your creative process and eliminate mental blocks to help you re-discover your “inner artist”. Sounds a little woo-woo, but I’m just 40 pages in and I’m sold! It’s the perfect gift for anyone with a creative inkling – be it writing, painting, photography, etc.
OK, so I know I included these West Elm ceramic bowls in last year’s guide but I just couldn’t not include them again. They work for every kind of food – from granola and soup, to pasta and salads – and also as prep bowls. Everything looks extra fancy in them (see this udon noodle soup, mushroom pesto pasta) and I swear, tastes better, too.
One of my all-time favorite Amazon finds, this metal French press is the best way to brew a single cup of coffee. It’s easy to clean, sturdy, and affordable.
I’ve been in the market for a new lasagna pan – one with more pizzazz than the standard 9×13 Pyrex – and I’ve finally found her! This enamel-coated blue-speckled one can go on the stove, in the oven, on a grill, and in the dishwasher. Plus, she makes everything from lasagna to shepherd’s pie look damn good!