A lot of you, in various ways, have been asking me for gift recommendations. Gifts for friends, gifts for kids, edible gifts, etc. This is such a broad topic and I probably could do a long series of posts about it, but I won’t. There are too many recipes and other ideas I can’t wait to share with you. So, I’m wrapping up all of my ideas into one gigantic mega-post of my gift ideas.
I decided to approach this by addressing a few general gift categories: foodie/food lover, fashion and beauty, home and decor, eco friendly, and kids. Hopefully this will cover most of the people on your list! I am going to do a completely separate post next week about holiday baking, edible gifts, packaging ideas, etc. Stay tuned for that. Also, Let me add the disclaimer right now that I am horrible at shopping for guys so I don’t have a section about that. Ben and I tend to skip presents for each other in favor of a weekend away, a fancy meal, etc. I try to buy my brother things I think he wouldn’t buy for himself that I know he needs.
You should also know that this year, I set a personal goal for my own gift giving that my gifts would be either handmade, locally purchased or Fair Trade items. I’m sure there will be a few exceptions but so far it’s going really well and it has been fun to put that extra level of thought into my gifts, choosing items that are not only right for the recipient but are supporting (mostly small) businesses that need and deserve it. I encourage you to support your local small shops and see what they have to offer.
Since we’re all here first and foremost because of our love of food, let’s do the foodie gifts first!
1. Though most foodie gifts are items to be used in the kitchen for food prep, my first suggestion is simply to be consumed and enjoyed. It also happens to be my number one gift suggestion for anyone on your list! A lovely box of gourmet ice cream, frozen yogurt, and/or sorbet showing up on your doorstep is clearly a win, but even more so coming from the excellent people of Jeni’s. I think this will be my go-to gift this year (spoiler alert, family and friends!) and it is also, ahem, high up on my own wish list. Jeni’s makes it extra easy, allowing you to order now for scheduled shipping later. The only hard part is narrowing down what flavors to choose…really, it’s super hard. I highly recommend their pre-picked collections for gifting. They at least narrow it down a teensy bit!
2. In my mind, a cook can never have too many knives. I received an array of these colorful Kuhn Rikon serrated paring knives in my stocking several years ago and have loved them ever since! I use them all the time for small food prep, especially making the kids’ lunches each morning, and also love the blade cover so I can take them to work in my lunch if needed.
3. High quality aprons are another surefire gift for those who love to cook and bake. These days I’m finding more basic, clean aprons to be my style. I guess I’m growing up. Hedley & Bennett has so many gorgeous offerings, full length and bistro style. I’ll take one of each, please!
4. It may seem crazy to spend upwards of $100 on a thermometer but I assure you the Thermapen is well worth every penny. I consider it a kitchen essential and mine has been going strong for years!
5. If I could have only one pan in my kitchen, it would be this one. I love this All-Clad stainless steel sauté pan and have had mine for a few years now. I use it all the time and love it so much, it has become a go-to gift item for anyone I know who doesn’t have one.
6. I guess our family is just waffle-obsessed, but I can’t imagine not having a waffle maker in my kitchen. We’ve had a few models over the years but the Waring Pro Belgian waffle maker is our most favorite of all. Plus, it brings people together by inciting numerous brunch gatherings. At least it does in our family.
7. This pizza stone! Oh, how I adore it. Anyone who has ever asked me about making homemade pizza knows the first question out of my mouth is, “Do you have a good pizza stone?” We’ve been using this one for quite a long time now and it is still as good as ever. It is my go-to wedding gift as well!
8. My love of popcorn is no secret. If you or someone on your gift list is also awesome and fully appreciates the wonder that is popcorn, make sure to get them a Whirly Pop. It makes the best popcorn. It just does.
9. Can you ever have too many wooden spoons? I say no. These pretty spoons with dipped handles in an array of colors are so beautiful. Fun and functional!
My Christmas gift to myself is usually a new cookbook or three. If you are gifting (or self-gifting) cookbooks this year, here are several that I love and one that I’ll be receiving from myself :)
1. Pasta Revolution from America’s Test Kitchen – When I was just learning to cook, I made pasta all the time. It was easy. Over the years, I made it less because it just didn’t interest me as much anymore. Pasta Revolution rekindled my love of pasta with all kinds of pasta dishes from classic to unique. It makes me hungry every time I open it.
2. Feast by Sarah Copeland – Simple, vibrant vegetarian meals. We have loved everything we have made from this book so far!
3. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer – For those who love ice cream and cooking, Jeni’s book is perfection. It has some classic but mostly inventive flavors for every season. Love being able to make her creations in my own home!
4. Homesick Texan’s Family Table by Lisa Fain – I’m not quite sure why I waited so long to invest in the Homesick Texan books but I did earlier this year and they are both fabulous. Her latest, Family Table, is my favorite – so many incredible recipes. Napkin for wiping up drool: non-optional.
5. One Hour Cheese by Claudia Lucero – You may remember my review of this from earlier in the year. Still loving it! Definitely a fun gift for those who like to try new things in the kitchen.
6. The Make-Ahead Cook from America’s Test Kitchen – This book was an unexpected win with me. I received a copy for review and wasn’t sure it would be my cup of tea (or coffee – I still don’t love tea), but I was surprised to find that I really love this book. I have gotten quite a lot of use out of it in the few short months it has been part of my collection.
7. Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller – I adore everything about this book. The photos. The stories. The amazingly perfect recipes. What else would one expect from Thomas Keller?
8. Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi – This is one that I am gifting myself this year. I love vegetarian cookbooks that inspire and from everything I have heard and read, this should be exactly that!
9.Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks by Rick Bayless – This requires no explanation. A cookbook about margaritas and guacamole = heaven.
I couldn’t resist including some fashion and beauty gifts since those are a staple of my normal Things I’m Loving posts. I tend to steer clear of makeup items for gifting since colors are hard to choose for others (at least I think so), but these are all items that I think would be loved across the board.
1. This Josie Maran whipped argan oil is still my ultimate favorite moisturizer. I still try others to see how they compare but this always wins by a long shot.
2. I love basically every piece of jewelry in the shop Tiny Galaxies. I own a couple pairs of her earrings myself and have bought a few pairs for gifts as well. She has something for everyone – we all need a little bit of sparkle!
3. Scarves are a great gift idea for anyone fashion-inclined. Etsy, Sole Society, Ruche, A-Thread, and J.Crew are some of my favorite places to find them. The scarf pictured above is one I bought a few months ago from Sole Society and I looove it. Herringbone + color block. Obvious win! I wear it basically as often as I possibly can without anyone realizing I want to live in it. Is that weird?
4. So, I’m totally excited about the company Oliberte. They made Fair Trade shoes and other accessories and they are pretty awesome. Shoes may seem an impossible gift to get someone but in my experience, with a little bit of advance planning and help from a roommate or significant other, you can find out a recipient’s shoe size pretty easily. Even if they don’t fit, that is what exchanges are for! The pair pictured here is on my personal wish list but I also highly recommend these flats. I have them in gray and wear them all the time!
5. Layering is key, at least in my wardrobe, so fun signature tees are always a welcome addition. This gold stripe tee from J.Crew Factory is a lovely gifting option. They always have fun tees.
6. Nail polish is always a great gift option. Pale or bright, matte or shimmery, choosing the right shade for a friend can be so fun. Between polishes I have been using this Julep oxygen nail treatment and it is really impressive. It strengthens nails like crazy! The pale pink is a perfect neutral and goes with everything – just another reason I love it.
8. Fresh products are great and this brown sugar body polish is one of their very best, in my opinion. It is both exfoliating and moisturizing, especially great at this time of year when winter weather is wreaking havoc on skin everywhere. Well, not everywhere.
9. I have wanted a puffy vest for a long time but I held off on buying one because I wasn’t sure just how much wear I would actually get out of it. This fall I finally bought one and now I know the answer – I wear it ALL THE TIME. I love it so much! I get very annoyed in the winter when I layer a tank, t-shirt, bulky sweater and then get too hot in my coat. This is my perfect solution. My vest is a navy one from J.Crew (no longer available) in this same style, but I am totally digging the buffalo plaid as well. I also like this particular vest because it is insulated but not super puffy.
One more thing in the fashion and beauty vein, and it’s a good one. If you have read previous TIL posts, you know I love Erin McDermott jewelry. You may also know how much I love her gift option called The Luxe Box. It is a very generous gift for a special someone – spouse, mother, sister, best friend, etc. It is a year-long monthly jewelry subscription and I adore it. I have had my own subscription for over a year now, and have purchased several subscriptions as gifts. I know very well from the recipients that it has been a huge hit. Such fun to have a surprise package of jewelry each month! Erin has offered my readers an extra month free if you purchase a luxe box subscription. Just leave her a note in the “special instructions” part of the order form and let her know you are an Annie’s Eats reader. She’ll take care of the rest!
For the friend or loved one who is constantly redecorating and updating their home (me!) or just anyone who might enjoy something that brightens their living space, these are a few of my favorite things!
1. These marquee lights from Saddle Shoe Signs are so fun and cheerful! I recently added one to my home office and absolutely love it. For the friend with a playful sense of style, this is perfect. The hardest part is choosing from the many beautiful options.
2. Artifact Uprising makes so many gorgeous products and nearly all are ideal for gifting. You still have plenty of time to order and get items before Christmas (though standard shipping is no longer an option.) Last year The Adventures of Caroline and Little Gray Bunny was a totally last minute idea but I got it just in time for the holiday and it was perfect. This year Volume 2 is currently on its way to our home, along with our own customized wall calendar which I may take to work.
3. One can never have too many cozy throw blankets and if you aren’t knitting obsessed as I am, buying one is the logical way to go. These cabled throws from Boll & Branch are organic, Fair Trade, and so beautiful.
4. I don’t buy a ton of scented candles because most of them smell really strongly like…scented candles. Perfumy and just not good. A few weeks ago I happened upon these Produce candles while shopping and fell head over heels for their chicory scent. The beet, rosemary and fig are also very nice and not overly sweet smelling. The chicory though…just trust me. It’s so so good.
5. Many beautiful dishes you see here in my food photos are made by the extremely talented Lindsay of Suite One Studio. I absolutely adore her work. Her dishes are a frequent favorite gift item for my friends, especially those who also love to take photos of food. Lately I’ve been smitten with her adorable ring dishes which come in so many vibrant eye-catching glaze colors.
6. I recently came across the many, many fun art prints of different cities from Etsy seller Laura Amiss and I think they are just the best. A print of someone’s favorite city, or someplace you know they would like to travel to, would be such a great gift. I just can’t get enough of these.
7. Succulents are sooo hot right now (read in the voice of Mugatu, please) and this wall hanging succulent garden is just amazing. So beautiful!
8. The colorful and whimsical illustrations that make up the Rifle Paper Co. body of work always bring a smile to my face. I especially fell in love with this travel themed Rifle Paper Co. 2015 calendar and will be buying one for myself (especially for the page pictured here, for a trip we’ll be taking next year. Eek!) For anyone on your list with a perpetual case of wanderlust, this might be the perfect gift.
9. I have a thing for pretty vases and the ones from Etsy seller The Object Enthusiast are so lovely. I love the lines, the color combos, and that touch of gold (so predictable, I know.) Fill with a pretty bouquet and brighten someone’s day!
A lot of these items are personal favorites I have already mentioned here in the context of Earth Day, but I think they are all great gift choices any time of year. If you know someone looking to live a little greener, check these out!
1. Rume grocery bags are my number one item for encouraging eco-friendly living. These bags are the greatest and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
2. I shudder to think of the number of cups and bottles that get wasted each day when we could all just use reusable bottles instead. I have my Life Factory glass bottle with me every day and love it.
3. For those who bake a lot, a silpat is a great alternative to using parchment paper every time you bake. I’ve had mine for ages and they are still in great shape.
4. Skoy cloths are a biodegradable wipe that can be used instead of paper towels, sponges, etc. We love these and they last quite a long time before they need replacing.
5. Remember that grocery bags aren’t the only source of waste at the grocery store. Plastic produce bags are just as bad if not worse! These mesh bags from Flip and Tumble are a perfect replacement.
6. You may remember this awesome all-in-one lunchbox from my lunch post and Instagram series. This is sort of a gift to you as a parent as well as to the child, and it definitely helps streamline the lunch packing process.
7. I haven’t tried these yet but I’m about to. These wool dryer balls are supposed to be a great alternative to classic dryer sheets. Every little bit helps!
8. Rume snack bags are another item we use a lot, mostly in my own lunch for crackers, sandwiches, etc. Love them!
Alright, onto the little ones! Kid gifts can vary a lot depending on the child’s interests and the family’s parenting style, but I’m just going to give you some of our favorites. We focus heavily on books, games, puzzles, arts/crafts, and pretend play items. Some favorite book suggestions are listed separately below.
1. As a child, one of my all time favorite Christmas gifts was an easel. I was thrilled to receive it and thrilled to use it! We bought one similar to this from Land of Nod a few years ago for Andrew and it has been a hit with the kids. (We love this paint cup and brush set to go with it, though we have added in plenty of extra brushes beyond this.) Anything that inspires creativity is great in my book!
2. We actually bought this game in a toy store during our spring break trip to Seattle. It is fun and easy for fairly young kids to play. Who can resist a bunch of hilariously adorable monsters?
3. We do a lot of walking and hiking outdoors and try to teach the kids about nature, so Andrew received this set of binoculars last Christmas in his stocking. They are very sturdy and great quality for a kids’ binocular.
4. These finger monsters are such a random and hilarious little toy. We have had them for a while and still have so much fun with them. (As an aside, Paper Source and Land of Nod have a lot of really fun small toys that are great stocking stuffer options.)
5. It is likely a surprise to no one that we have a very well stocked play kitchen. We have all sorts of play food, play dishes, even a toy stand mixer. Last Christmas Caroline received a tin tea set and all of us have so much fun with it. Both kids can host pretty epic tea parties. I had a porcelain tea set as a kid and I remember being so worried all the time about breaking the pieces. And then one day I did and felt horribleabout it. Tin tea set is the way to go, fo sho.
6. Both kids love to color and draw, but Andrew is getting especially good at it now that he is older and has a longer attention span. I’m always on the lookout for interesting coloring pages and books beyond the usual, and these artist collective poster kits from Land of Nod look like they would be right up his alley. And mine. I hope he shares.
7. We love the game memory and this modern art version was too perfect to pass up. I found it in a local toy shop and just couldn’t resist. I love toys and games that are fun while also providing a platform for more learning and discussion.
8. Again along the lines of double purpose items, this solar system floor puzzle is a favorite with all of us. I find it so fascinating to watch the kids do puzzles and see how differently they approach it, and this has the added benefit of learning about the planets and our solar system.
9. We don’t actually have a tent or teepee (yet), and I’m crazy enough to consider making one myself, but I think these are just so so fun. I know that as a kid I would have gone absolutely nuts for this!
Lastly, I must share a handful of our favorite kid books as well as one that we’ll be getting soon. You can never have too many books!
1. The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool – Beautiful illustrations and an important message.
2. National Geographic Kids books – We have so many of these and they are all excellent! I think the ocean one is probably our favorites. They also offer some early reader editions for kids in that stage which were great for Andrew when he had just started reading on his own.
3. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell – A very cute book for little ones, we still read this a lot even though we are all “too old” for it. It’s just a sweet little book.
4. Kitchen Science Lab by Liz Heinecke – We don’t have this yet, but we will soon. This looks right up our alley and has lots of great reviews. Bring on the home science experiments!
5. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce – This is a beautiful book for book lovers. A bit melancholy but a lovely story that we adore.
6. Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer – We simply cannot get enough of the vivacious sassy Olivia, and this book is one of the best of the series. Olivia takes issue with princess mania and goes her own way – major love.
7. Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo by Mercer Mayer – Mercer Mayer may very well be my favorite children’s author (critter books forever!) and this one is so much fun. Endlessly detailed illustrations, a funny plot and a laugh out loud ending – I never tire of reading this out loud.
8. The Cat at Night by Dahlov Ipcar – Since we are a cat family, I am always on the lookout for books about cats. We have a LOT. This is my favorite of them all. The creative premise of the book and the striking pictures are just awesome!
9. The Twelve Days of Christmas by Laurel Long – This is less of a day-of Christmas gift but more one I recommend you buy ASAP to enjoy during the holiday season. I bought this at a local store simply because we didn’t have a 12 days book yet. Only when I got home and flipped through more thoroughly did I realize that hidden in each illustration are all of the various gifts from the song. Truly incredible artistic talent went into these illustrations and we can just look at it forever. It is a good thing there is a key in the back because some of the gifts are so well hidden, I’m not sure we would ever find them!
Whew! That’s it. I hope this has been helpful and you’ve got those gifting wheels turning. And remember that, material things aside, the very best gift you can give someone is your presence. Most definitely something to keep in mind now and all year long!
Disclaimer: These posts are a way for me to share the things I love with you, simply because I love them! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission. This helps to offset the costs of running this site and allows me to continue providing you the content you enjoy.