Every year we’re somehow surprised and a little sad that December doesn’t stretch on for three times longer than the other months. By which we mean: we’re massive Christmas dorks. We’re also Extremely Particular about gift-giving. Half-assed presents suck. Do that extra little bit of work and do it right—and know that “right” in no way implies spending silly amounts of money. It’s about finding small, unusual, useful, or otherwise lovely treasures for the people you love. No more, and no less. What follows is a list of the top gifts we currently recommend. Please note that none of these are affiliate links: we’ve used these items ourselves and we’re sincerely mad about them.
- Agency, by William Gibson
So, it’s not out yet. (Release date is January 20.) That’s okay, you can pre-order it and then print out an image of the cover, slip that into an envelope, and hand it to your brainy, cool friends. William Gibson’s latest take on what we’re doing here on planet Earth doesn’t disappoint. (Emma, who was thrilled to receive an ARC, says it’s his best work to date.)
- Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, by Benjamin Dreyer
Witty, pithy, and utterly correct. For the right person on your list, this is a read-it-in-one-take book. (By “the right person,” we of course mean “people like us who unconsciously edit the words that come out of people’s mouths in real time.” We’re not proud of it, but here we are.)
- Keats’s Neighborhood: An Ezra Jack Keats Treasury
Ezra Jack Keats’s work is gorgeous and timeless, simultaneously humble and hip, with that authentic 1960s vibe we like. Emma gives this compendium to babies, toddlers, and expectant parents. It makes us feel inspired and somehow cozy, like the world is a better place than we think.
- Spirits Sugar Water Bitters, by Derek Brown
This is a history book they don’t yet know they need. (Also, maybe you just need to get it for yourself.) A fascinating, insightful, and often hilarious read about the cocktail, written by bartender, bar owner, and all-around good dude Derek Brown. We particularly appreciate his views regarding the martini.
- Christmas Tea
This comes in a really beautiful tin box and isn’t too stereotypically Christmassy in flavor to enjoy year-round. It’s especially magical with a splash of whiskey and some honey (even if you’re not feeling a chest cold coming on).
- Gin Cocktail Infusion Kit
Could/should be packaged with a bottle of Hendricks, naturally.
- Mike’s Hot Honey
This stuff is delicious. It’s a good stocking stuffer for a foodie who isn’t a snob about it.
- Tunnock’s Milk Chocolate Tea Cakes
These are made of happiness, deliciousness, and the pure love of sweet baby angels. They taste of every single happy memory of everyone who’s ever lived, lightly coated in wholesome joy.
FOR THE HOME
- NEST votive in Hearth
This was described on The Strategist as a subtle scent, as though perhaps there’s a lovely fire in a nearby fireplace—and that’s entirely correct. Which is to say: it’s a warm, slightly sweet, slightly earthy scent that doesn’t suddenly overwhelm and make one wish for death.
- DW Home Warm Tobacco Pipe Candle
This is Katie’s favorite candle. It’s an idealized version of the scent of her grandpa in her memory and leaves her house smelling comfortable and cozy but not overly perfumed.
- Tiled Margot Monogram Mug
It’s just a beautiful mug—your monitor won’t do it justice. And it’s a nice size. Emma says that everyone who sees her E mug, whether in her home or on her Instagram feed, comments on it.
- Linen Sheets
This is a crazy splurge. Katie received a set as a gift and says she cannot express how much she loves these sheets. She’s definitely not over the fitted sheet having worn through and basically tearing in half (after several years of constant use). RIP Katie’s heart.
FOR YOUR FACE
- WELEDA Skin Food
During the winter, this is what Emma uses on her face. She claims it’s far and away better than that tiny sample of La Mer she tried once. It smells amazing, and it plumps up your skin, making you look like you’ve never once had insomnia / a cocktail / a cigarette / sunburn.
- Botanical A Facial Cleanser
Smells delicious. It’s a little tingly and feels really good, and we like that it’s got AHA and BHA but isn’t harsh at all. Katie says she knows it’s orange oil, but her nose reads this as grapefruit. Which is a very good thing, in our opinion.
- Kismet Buff Sugar Lip Scrub
Both of us received this in a subscription box. It’s sort of astonishingly nice to use, for a product that essentially rips off the top layer of skin on your lips. The flavor we got is “Bright and Bubbly” but should probably be called “Heroin.”
- Leaders Biocellulose Sheet Masks
These are just SO GOOD. They leave your face soft and smooth and sort of…perfect. Katie wishes they sold them in less than a 10-pack, but they’re worth the splurge (or could be split up among a few very lucky friends).
- Fenty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored
Well, yes. Obviously yes. This is so fancy, so paint-y, so glamorous. Even the bottle is gorgeous.
- 8-eye Doc Martens in Gunmetal
These are on Katie’s list this year, despite the fact that she’d maybe get to wear them twice a year, because Florida. We love the gray, and the subtly shimmery laces. They’re super classy looking but not precious.
- The Dia Bracelet
These look like guitar strings, or maybe metallic jelly bracelets, depending on the finish, but they’re neither. Or: they’re both. Emma bought a set via an Instagram ad (!), and after they arrived she ordered a second set. She loves the look of a pile of bracelets but hates how heavy that tends to get; these are super light and can be worn in the shower, the ocean, through a sprinkler, whatever. (Right now they’re 30% off with a code, and shipping is free.)
- Jolly Roger Best Friends Necklace
A gleeful statement piece for you and your bestie.
FOR GOING PLACES
- Anker PowerCore Slim 1000
It’s a terrible name, and you might be tempted to think it’s a lame gift. It’s not. It’s less bulky than a lot of chargers, and lasts forever. Emma uses hers to keep her phone and laptop charged for up to twelve hours at a time when she’s traveling. YMMV, but we’re impressed.
- McKlein USA Verona Leather Laptop bag
This is Katie’s laptop bag. We like that this is really utilitarian but still feminine. The sleeve is too small for her computer, but it fits perfectly in the main compartment, and she says it feels really substantial and classy.