We’re pretty good gift givers — if we do say so ourselves. Always thoughtful. Usually, a little unexpected. And yet this year seems to be putting more pressure on givers than ever before. When you can’t be there in person, it’s like a siren call to up your holiday game. Gifts not only have to be well-suited to the recipient, but they also have to stand in for your presence. Plus, in this time of economic strain, we’re feeling a little more compelled than usual to a) give people things they can really use and b) support small local merchants and restaurants we want to be sure are around for the duration. Keeping all that in mind, here’s our holiday hit list.
From Jean Chatzky, HerMoney CEO:
For the person who’s always cold: We’re not just wearing our fingerless gloves and beanies when we’re out for a nice long walk, we’re putting them on in the morning and leaving them on til bed. We like the look (there’s no need to worry about a bad hair day when your mane is effortlessly covered in a slouchy beanie) but we love the comfort.
For the person baking their way through the pandemic: My sourdough starter predates COVID by a good few years, but it’s never gotten as much of a workout as it has the past few months. This recipe alone for Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Sourdough is pretty much responsible for every extra ounce on my scale and you know what — I. Do. Not. Care. It is completely indulgent. Tastes like a Cinnabon and you don’t have to leave the house. My advice: Slice it, then freeze the slices and pull one out when you’re ready to toast for breakfast, lunch or a midnight snack.
This loaf pan makes the perfect gift.
If you’re buying for someone with sourdough dreams, get them this starter, too.
From Kathryn Tuggle, HerMoney Editor-in-Chief
For the person who is Southern (or just wishes they were): Anyone who has met me knows just how much I love monogrammed everything (jewelry, tops, accessories, etc.) and Lakeside Monograms on Etsy is my favorite shop for ordering high-quality monogrammed clothing. This monogrammed sweatshirt is the coziest thing I own, and this cute hat has really helped me step up my “running to the grocery store with a greasy ponytail” game. I also love these cute flannel boxers from DoodleD Monograms (FYI, they run big!) Because you know what they say: You can take the girl out of Alabama… but she still gonna monogram her forehead if you turn her loose with an embroidery machine.
For the reader, or the person in your life who appreciates good tote bags: Small businesses need our support more than ever this year, and perhaps none are quite as cash-strapped as our local bookshops. This year, I’m supporting one of my favorites, The Strand, which is truly one of New York’s crown jewels of retail… Their friendly staff, adorable stationery, and stacks you can get lost in for hours fill me with joy every time I walk through the door. And if you’ve never carried your books home in one of their custom-designed tote bags, well then, you simply haven’t lived. Thankfully, you don’t have to dwell in the city to snag a piece of that Strand magic all for yourself this year. Their online shop is fully up and running. And if books and totes just aren’t your thing (who are you, I hope Santa brings you a soul for Christmas) their candle selection is also on point. Try The Scarlet Letter for the people in your life living in the grey, and Café Au Library for your most beloved coffee lover.
From Jessica Patel, HerMoney Chief Growth Officer
I pride myself on being a good gift giver, and this year is no different. But I am thinking a bit differently in terms of what I’m gifting, as most experiential gifts are out. These are my top picks for gifting this year, from things I want and love to things I think others would adore.
For your new-age friend: I LOVE this water bottle. Like, not just like it, I LOVE, love it. The look, the feel, the crystal inside that “harnesses the balancing energy of positivity, healing, connection and wisdom.” Glacce offers different crystals inside depending on what kind of energy you are looking for (or what color you like) and also offers glass and crystal straws if you aren’t ready to shell out the cash for this beauty just yet. It was all the rage last year on Goop, but it still is a winner to gift to anyone who enjoys a bit of the metaphysical with their hydration practices. (Glacce water bottle, $80+.)
For that someone special: When I’m looking for that special something that really says something for a close friend of mine, I always go to DearAvaGifts on Etsy. That shop just gets me and knows exactly what to say on it’s packaging to a loved one. Whether it’s a necklace “To my unbiological sister” that begins: “I hope you see in yourself, what you are to me …” or a bracelet offering congratulations with: “Move confidently in the direction of your dreams …” each gift offers more than just something tangible, it expresses true meaning and feeling for those you are gifting to. (DearAvaGifts “You Got This” Necklace, from $42 on Etsy)
For the kid who wants to play with others: I grew up on board games, and as a result I’ve been pushing to get my kids to love them as much as I do. This year I am planning on getting them Mouse Trap, the Rube Goldberg game that never worked properly, but provided hours of fun — from the set up to eventually throwing out the rules and just trying to get the diving guy to make it into the pool. Let’s hope they love it as much as we did. (MouseTrap game by Hasbro, Amazon, $24)
For your long-distance loved ones: Uncommon Goods is one of my favorite sites for one-of-a-kind gifts, and this gift is especially special when you can’t be close to those you love. These “friendship lamps” are connected to your internet (and theirs), and light up on the opposite side when touched. (So if you’re missing grandma in Texas, just go over to your lamp and touch it, and hers will light up in Cleveland.) It’s a clever way to let someone know you are thinking of them without needing to text or call. Just a “Hi, I’m here and thinking of you.”
(Long Distance Friendship Lamps, set of two on Uncommon Goods, $170.)
From Rebecca Cohen, HerMoney Social Media Manager:
For the person looking to reinvent themselves in 2021: If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that self-care, skincare, and natural beauty are the hottest trending topics. I traded my normal makeup budget to splurge on a new skincare routine, and threw in a few new natural-looking makeup products for those outdoor dining moments. All from my new favorite brand, Glossier. Some of my favorite products include:
Priming moisturizing balance, $25 (the PERFECT way to achieve everyday hydration when you’re battling greasy skin.)
Lash Slick, $16 (I literally did not know my eyelashes could get this long.)
Cloud paint, $18 (Take it from a girl who hates blush — you need this.)
Balm dot com, $12 (Great scents, cute colors, and no more chapped lips. What could be better?)
For the accessory-obsessed person in your life: Stacks of beaded bracelets are all the rage right now. A few of these Karen Lazar ball bracelets (in whatever metal goes with your normal jewelry look) are the perfect way to spice up your work-from-home attire. It says, “I tried, but in a chill girl way,” while still looking glam. Minimum effort + maximum look = achieved.
From Melanie Brooks, contributing writer
For the parents and grandparents: The best gift my sister and I ever gave my parents was a calendar where we recreated photos from the past as adults. We found 12 old photos of us that matched the season and recreated it. We published the two photos side by side. My parents laughed until they cried all year long. Not up for the challenge? Each year I make a calendar for my mother in law that features photos of our son. Each month’s photo was taken that same month the year prior. There are a lot of online companies that you can use to create your own, like Shutterfly and Mixbook.
For the people who love New England: I love to send my friends and family who no longer live in Maine a wreath. Nothing smells better than Maine balsam fir! One of my favorite companies is family-owned Whitney Wreath, located along Maine’s Bold Coast in Machias. The owners are focused on sustainability, so they cut the tips off the branches rather than chop down the whole tree to make their wreaths.
For the plant lovers: Since COVID forced many of us to work from home, my plant obsession has fully blossomed. There’s just something about being surrounded by growing things that has soothed me throughout this pandemic. I’m giving each of my friends a pretty propagation station, complete with a cutting from one of my plants. The cutting will eventually sprout roots, and my friends can put it in a pot and enjoy it for years to come. My favorite local plant shop is Mainely Succulents. But there are a ton of propagation stations on Etsy. Support your local artisans and shop close to home this year.
From Javacia Harris Bowser, contributing writer
For the art lovers: As a writer, sometimes I find myself as inspired by visual art as I am by the literary arts. I recently stumbled upon prints by London-based artist Zoe Sinclair through her Frequency of Love Etsy shop and I’ve been sending dollars upon dollars across the pond ever since. I’ve been buying her prints as birthday gifts for my best gal pals, and I soon plan to finally buy one for myself. Her prints include images of legendary women writers like Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, and Alice Walker, as well as pop culture icons like Prince and history-makers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
MORE ON HOLIDAY SPENDING FROM HERMONEY:
- Create an effective holiday budget — start early, be cutthroat.
- Incorporate these six painless ways to save money on gifts.
- 18 Must-Have Girl Power Gifts That Are Just What We Needed In 2020
- Clear your head and master your holiday spending with these mind-over-money tips from behavioral economist Dan Ariely.
JOIN US: How are you handling the pressures of holiday spending? Join us in the private HerMoney Facebook group and share your money saving tips — and pick up a few new ones!