Finding the perfect gift can be challenging, but with a little something for everyone in a range of price points, this month’s Favorite Things collection aims to make the job a little easier. 🎁
After last month’s Favorite Things holiday gift edition, I received lots of positive feedback and some new ideas. Many readers told me of the gifts they are excited to give this year, from fun masks, magazine subscriptions, and family holiday pajamas to wine-of-the-month clubs, Peleton bikes, and lots of gifts from local vendors.
I’ve discovered some new finds over the past several weeks as well. One of them provides a simple solution for family and friends who wear glasses (and sunglasses) and have trouble with fogging when they wear a mask.
So, by popular demand, I welcome you to peruse Favorite Things holiday edition, part two.
On a related note, for those who are looking for more food gifts, I have many! You may wish to scroll through the Holidays and Food Gifts categories on this blog, and feel free to send me a message if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
When I posted this list last week, I forgot to include an idea I’m really excited about! Every year, my extended family does one of those gift exchanges where each person buys one gift, wraps it without a card, and places it into a pile. Everyone gathers around, draws a number from a hat, and people begin to open gifts from the pile in order of number picked. There are rules about stealing, how many times a gift can be stolen, and so on. The presents don’t have a high value, but the fun factor is priceless.
Since we won’t be together this year and because there are so many needs in our communities, my brother’s wife had the brilliant idea to implement a new kind of Secret Santa gift exchange. We have one person assigned to randomly choosing names and informing everyone of their pick. (Even in the best of years, it’s hard to get everyone together before the holidays and choose names from the old hat!)
The new idea is that, instead of buying a present for each other, we will make a donation to a nonprofit or other worthy organization in honor of our Secret Santa pick. We plan to have a Zoom call on Christmas Day where we will reveal our match and which organization we chose for that person. It’s a fun way to think about what causes would be meaningful to each gift recipient and do something good in the process!
🏅Stocking Stuffer of the Year (for anyone who wears glasses or sunglasses)
😷 Great everyday masks
Now that we don’t have to look through foggy glasses anymore, we can fully appreciate a stylish, comfortable mask! And glasses or not, we all need masks these days, so why not make a fun gift out of them? One of my friends was wearing a mask from Athleta, and it looked so crisp and nice that I inquired as to where she got it. She explained that it was part of a 5-pack from Athleta and that a range of colors are available (within each pack plus there are various packs to choose among). Importantly, she reported that they stay up better than any mask she’s worn－which she said was many! I bought the pictured 5-pack and am a total fan. I thought I’d wear the navy and taupe colors most frequently, although the subtle but fun camo print has been my go-to. Product details: The masks are made with three layers of fabric and are breathable, adjustable, and machine washable. Happily, they are currently on sale for $14.99 per pack (from $30), making them a practical, stylish, and affordable gift. Click here for details.
🌻 Flowers and Plants
What better way to bring colorful life and cheer to someone’s home than with something green? And while a holiday poinsettia is always festive, there are many other worthy ideas that span a range of price points and interests－and neither the giver nor receiver requires a green thumb to make this gift a success!
- Succulents make a statement and don’t require a lot of space or gardening skills. The men in my family all appreciate the aesthetic of this type of plant, so consider this for the guys in your life, too. A cactus offers similar appeal and is especially practical for those who forget to water. (But maybe not those who over-water!)
- The gardener in your life may appreciate a bag of bulbs to plant in the spring or a gift certificate to a local garden center to use when planting season rolls around.
- For indoor use right now, look for amaryllises and paper whites that are sold in boxes that include the bulbs, soil, and a pot. The recipient needs only to put the soil and bulb in the pot and then add water as needed. It’s fun to watch the fast-growing bulbs shoot up and erupt into colorful blooms, seemingly right before your eyes. These are widely available at garden centers and stores like Home Depot, Target, and Walmart.
- Locally, a company by the name of Perfect Pots will come to your home and plant outdoor pots according to the season. Their artistry is impressive and the service, whether once and done or on repeat, is sure to feel like a treat to the recipient. Perfect Pots also sells coordinating wreaths and a wide variety of plants (including the aforementioned succulents), bouquets, gardening tools, containers, wind chimes and spinners－even items for children’s fairy gardens.
- One year, I gave my mom a monthly delivery of floral arrangements from Petals with Style, a local independent florist. She loved it and came to anticipate the delivery every month.
💐Ordering flowers for can be difficult, so here are a few tips: I know what I like when I see it, but I’m terrible at describing what flowers to make it look that way. Our florist always seems to come up with a stunning arrangement when I ask for something English garden-y. ⇩⇩ (That’s a technical term, of course. 😉) Similarly, you can mention if someone has a modern decor, for example, or a love of certain colors and whether the recipient might prefer a lower arrangement that won’t block the view across a dinner table－or a taller arrangement that makes a statement on a spacious island or table in a larger living space.
❄️ Warm Outdoor Gear
Cozy blankets designed to keep us extra toasty when it’s cold outside are ideal as we try to extend our time outdoors. A friend recently told me about the Wicked Cozy Heated Throws she ordered from L.L. Bean. They’re heated! Retailing for $109, they are super soft, machine washable, and offer even heat with five heat settings and auto shutoff.
🔥 Fire Pits
Fire pits have long been a popular patio fixture for gathering around when the weather is nippy－and for roasting marshmallows for s’mores! My brother and his family have long enjoyed the Bonfire model from Solo Stove, pictured above, and we bought one last spring based on their recommendation. It’s easy to light, throws off great heat, and is somehow never smoky. It’s also durable yet lightweight and easy to move. The fire pit has provided an especially great way for my kids to visit with friends more safely. When we ordered last spring, the stove was back-ordered but came quicker than anticipated…and was worth the wait. It’s currently on sale for $284.99 on the Solo website. We really like the size of this model, although larger models are available.
👕 Great Gifts for Teens and Young Adults
What do you buy your teenage and young adult children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews? Speaking from experience, boys can be especially challenging. My sons are always thrilled with a gift from Lululemon. While perfect for the athletes among us, their offerings are equally well suited for those who simply want to be comfortable in a casually stylish way. My teenage and early-twenties sons are particular fans of Lululemon’s shorts and joggers. There are a variety of sizes, price points, colors, etc. You can even search by interest such as yoga, running, hiking, tennis, golf, etc. Returns are easy and gift cards are available if you’d like to let the recipient make the selection.
For the girls: I have long worn their workout tights (they are so soft, comfortable, and durable) and recently bought this comfortable tank top with a built-in bra (pictured above in desert teal). When I made the purchase at our local Lululemon, the young woman who was helping me said that “all the college girls” love this tank. In addition to wearing it for working out, she said they buy the tank in assorted colors to use as a layering piece with jeans and a variety of tops. (It currently retails for $58, but the sales associate whispered to me that certain colors would be going on sale within the next week or so.)
🖌 Supporting Local Artists and Makers
In last month’s Favorite Things post, I mentioned a local artisan named Kim, who makes a variety of gift-worthy hand sanitizers, which she cleverly names after cocktails like lemon drop, orange mimosa, and mint julep. Kalyn Kepner, another local artist and graphic designer who I’ve known for several years, recently started her own Etsy shop, where she sells high quality, archival art prints that feature everything from fruits and vegetables to flowers and animals, all in her whimsical, hand-painted style. She also has some of her designs printed as patterns on home goods and apparel through her RedBubble shop. An assortment of Kalyn’s prints and home goods are pictured, above. The prints could be just the thing to brighten a friend or loved one’s kitchen, bedroom, powder room, or foyer. And who wouldn’t enjoy a mug, apron, or phone case adorned with a cheerful print?
🕯 Fun candles
Few establishments can claim a following as fiercely loyal as Dunkin’－except maybe Starbuck’s! So, for those who have been missing their regular, aroma-filled jaunts over the past year, Dunkin’ renewed a partnership with candle company Homesick, who is offering two limited-edition candles themed around customer favorites. The Original Blend Coffee candle offers notes of espresso bean, caramel, and sugar cane, while the Old Fashioned Candle (inspired by the namesake doughnut) gives off the sweetly spiced aroma of cinnamon, clove, vanilla, and nutmeg. For those who enjoy candles, Homesick carries a variety of other giftable offerings inspired by various destinations, book clubs, and even grandma’s kitchen. Details: Candles are made with a soy wax blend, retail for $34, and have a burn time of 60-80 hours.
🤳 For homemade videos, best Zoom angles and more
Selfie Stick with Tripod Developed to aid in everything from perfect selfies and group photos to adventure travel, FaceTiming, YouTube videos, podcasts, Facebook Live, and Instagram, this handy gadget may be just what you need to capture the best angle on your family Zoom calls. It could also provide endless hours of fun for the kids in your life who could use it to create homemade videos…which could in turn create hours of viewing fun for you! The pictured model currently retails for $23.99.
【Extra long for more possibility】- extendable from 17.5 inches to 51.0 inches (longer than average), combined with 180° neck rotation & 360° head rotation to find your best & beautiful shooting angle, you can now cram in more people or background to take the most satisfying selfies and capture awesome selfies or other photos from Formerly impossible angles!
💰 dollar lottery tickets
I will leave you with a simple idea that I buy everything year－scratch-off lottery tickets. I tuck a few in everyone’s stocking and sometimes use them as a gift topper or add to cards sent to nieces and nephews. They can be a fun extra or a small gift when you really don’t need to buy a gift but would like to add a little something to the card. And who knows? Maybe it ends up being a more generous gift than you thought!
Ann Can you tell me where the masks are made. I checked the website but did not find where they are made. I loved all your gift ideas . Such fun columns.
Hi Gail, I just looked at mine and there is no label that says where they were made. My guess is that it was on the packaging or tag, which I don’t have anymore. If the Athleta site doesn’t say, perhaps their customer service can help.
Glasses defogger is the best idea ever!!
It was such an aha moment!