Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide 2010

I was looking online for some ideas for a few hard to shop for people when I realized, gift guides suck. I don't know who is writing these things but even as a 25 year old woman I cringe at the thought of someone giving their dad a football themed chips and dip set. The guides that are decent either feature sponsored products, which is basically just reading someone's list of ads, or are fantasy lists filled with $2,500 televisions (I'm looking at you Esquire).

Luckily I'm here to save the day.

As I looked through all these horrible gift guides one thing I noticed is they're split up into really silly categories. Just because you're a mom doesn't mean you wouldn't like the same gifts a friend or co-worker may enjoy. Should all moms be destined to receive scented soap for the rest of their lives? And when it comes to children all the lists are about what toy is "hot." I don't care how popular it is I will never be purchasing a Justin Bieber doll.

So this is how I'm doing this. Simply. I've picked out things that for whatever reason seemed like an awesome gift. I'm splitting them up into these categories: ladies, gentlemen, children, and families. I've tried to keep everything reasonably priced although a few too awesome to leave out things that are on the upper end may have made their way in. I've also rounded up all prices to the nearest dollar amount just to make things easier. A lot of these gifts can obviously be given to people of either gender as well.

Let's start with the ladies.

1. If there's one cosmetic women can spend their entire lives trying to find it's the perfect mascara. This set comes with mini versions of ten of Sephora's most wanted mascaras. If you're feeling extra generous you can also include a gift card for the purchase of a full size version of whichever mascara suits this gift receiver best.

Lashstash by Sephora, $40, available here.

2. I've used these face masks for years and love them. There are tons of different formulas but even without knowing a person's skin type you can pick quite a few. Put them in stockings or give a few as a gift.

Face masks by Apivita, $5 for two pouches, available here.

3. If you're out of college you should own a proper wine opener. It's as simple as that. This lovely gadget keeps you from doing the awkward corkscrew wrestle and ending up with cork in your wine. And as someone who once upon a time received one of these for Christmas, I can tell you it is a fantastic gift.

Rabbit Wine Opener, $45, available here.

4. I love scarves but I hate how once you wrap them or knot them they end up super short. For that reason I love this super long and cozy scarf. Actually, that's not the only reason, the price cannot be beat. It comes in four gorgeous colors as well.

Cozy Wrap Scarf by Free People, $28, available here.

5. A lot of us at some point need to make food for children, whether they are ours or someone else's. But none of us really want to eat the kinds of food typically considered child appropriate. This cookbook takes the gourmet recipes of The Silver Spoon and makes them something the entire family will enjoy whether they're big or small.

The Silver Spoon for Children, $20, available here.

6. Gingerbread men are nice but Ninjabread men are better.

Ninjabread Men cookie cutters by Fred and Friends, $8, available here.

7. Interesting jewelry, especially one of a kind or handmade pieces, is something most women can appreciate. This Japanese pop art inspired beaded bracelet is one of those things. The artist has other variations as well.

Beaded Bracelet by Julie Rofman, $110, available here.

8. If you know someone with a baby please save them from years of carrying around something hideous by giving them the gift of an aesthetically pleasing as well as super functional diaper bag.

Diaper Bag by Petunia Pickle Bottom, $169, available here.

9. I'm pretty sure it's a universal tradition to give people we date nicknames. This is especially helpful when dissecting dates with friends. This notepad will both keep you from forgetting that guy's real name as well as keep straight the guy who rides a bike (bicycle) from the guy who rides a bike (motorcycle). All your single ladies will appreciate it.

Rate a Date notepad, $7, available here.

10. There's nothing Winter begs for more than being cozy. This throw will achieve that. Just be careful, this thing is a magnet for everyone who sees it.

Faux Fur Throw by West Elm, $95 until Nov. 22nd, $125 afterward, available here.

Onto the tough ones, the guys.

1. I don't know what the deal is with single guys but none if them own salt and pepper shakers. These ones are masculine enough that he'll use them, yet, prettier than pouring salt into his hand from the box.

Branch Salt and Pepper Shakers by Anthropologie, $14, available here.

2. This is one of my favorite gift ideas for anyone really, a Ticketmaster gift card. I know none of us like the fact that Ticketmaster basically has a monopoly on ticket sales and charges ridiculous fees but, it's also the only way to see a lot of awesome stuff. These can be used for any event Ticketmaster sells tickets to including concerts and sporting events. They come in various increments between $25 and $250. you can purchase them here.

3. I recruited a male friend of mine to get his input on what guys would like for Christmas. One of the things he told me is dress clothes. In his words "No one wants to buy them but we all need them." If you're going to go the clothing route with a man get him something with some actual style. Most guys can do the white or blue shirt thing with a tie that doesn't totally clash but something like this shirt is a step above.

Max Trim Fit Dress Shirt by BOSS Black in Lavender, $95, available here.

4. If you want to make a guy super put together you can throw in a tie as well. Something classic yet updated is an excellent choice. This tie and that shirt are pretty amazing together.

Tie by Burberry, $140, available here.

5. Apparently boys never grow up because the consensus is a gaming system would be an awesome gift. Just not a Wii. I'm told that "there are no good games and it's for kids." I love my Wii but I guess if you can't play Call of Duty on it it's not a cool system. Obviously none of the boys I talked to have played DJ Hero.

6. I have one of these and I can't tell you how often I use it or let other people borrow it. Not because I'm an alcoholic but, it's always when you most need a bottle opener that you don't have one. This is a little less obvious than some big rounded thing sporting a logo hanging from your keys. Also you can tell children you have a castle.

Bottle Key Opener by suckUK, $8, available

7. For those without children who would occasionally like an excuse to leave work.

The Office Kid, $20, available here.

8. There's a series of books called the Crown Journeys Series. Each of these books is written by a well known author and explores a darker side of a city they grew up in or are familiar with. They're fantastically written and incredibly interesting but not for the squeamish. You can find them here.

9. Most guys like beer. Most guys also like to believe they know a lot about beer. Whether that's true or not shouldn't really matter when it comes to this gift because I'm pretty sure it will be appreciated regardless.

Beer of the Month Club, $23 to $33/mo., available here.

10. This little gadget may seem frivolous but actually could be extremely useful in an emergency. Using wind this cell phone charger does just that, charges your phone. It also has a solar panel on the side. Great for camping, festivals, when the power goes out, and being stranded!

K3 solar and wind powered cell charger, $100, find more info and purchase here.

And now for the kids.

1. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with children has likely heard of Melissa and Doug. This company makes absolutely fantastic toys that are durable, practical, creative, and whimsical. While I would recommend nearly anything they make this is one of my favorites. All the toppings are held to the pizza with velcro, which is also how the pieces stay connected in whole pizza form. When it comes to play food these guys know how to do it right.

Pizza Party by Melissa and Doug, $20, available here.

2. This game involves queens, kings, dragons, potions, and knights. It also teaches math skills and is super fun. Even adults will enjoy playing this.

Sleeping Queens game by Gamewright, $11, available here.

3. I'm pretty sure I want one of these for myself. If you want to use the table as a regular table just flip over the top. There's also a storage compartment for things like chalk and erasers.

Chalk Table, $90, available here.

4. Art for children's rooms can be difficult to find. It's easy to swing into too cutesy territory quickly. I love the sweetness of these elephants as well as the lack of overwhelming cheer.

Elephant paintings by Shari Beaubien, $50, this and others available here.

5. Really, what's so wrong with playing with your food?

Mr. and Ms. Foodface plate by Fred and Friends, $18, available here.

6. For a lot of kids a book may not seem like an awesome gift but with these ones they soon will. Two of my most favorite books are Urban Babies Wear Black by Michelle Sinclair and The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child. Urban Babies is all about babies who live in the city (duh) and is the perfect gift for anyone young enough to still be "reading" board books. And who preferably lives in a city. There are other titles in the series though for those babies who aren't urban dwellers. Lauren Child's The Princess and the Pea is unlike any version of the story you've heard before. In this version being a princess has nothing to do with being delicate and girly. It has to do with being kind and gracious. The story is truly amazing but the artwork alone makes this a worthy purchase. Lauren Child, who also created Charlie and Lola, works with mixed media and creates unbelievable images. I once gave this as a gift but ended up having to go back and purchase a copy for myself.

7. Give this on it's own or throw in some cupcake cups and a sparkly spatula and you've got yourself a gift.

Sewing Basket Apron by Anthropologie, $24, available

8. This gift will only be useful for those of you near an IKEA but it is a great one. IKEA makes a wooden standing easel that they sell for $20.

I'm not joking.

If you can go pick one, or ten, of these up they are a great "looks like you spent way more than you did" gift for the children in your life. One side is white and can have paper either clipped to it or wound through from a roll of butcher paper (also available at IKEA) and the other side has a chalkboard.

9. I'm a huge fan of clothing for kid gifts although I know not everyone is. When I nannied I saw how much stuff the kids got every holiday and I didn't want to be spending money on things that just ended up forgotten about in a month. Some really great companies with awesome children's lines are Anthropologie, Crewcuts, Mini Boden, and Wee People.

10. What kid doesn't need a sled?

Wham-o-Woody Sled, $50, available here.

One way to keep down holiday costs is by giving families you know a shared gift. It can be easy to do homemade treats but this time of the year there's an overload of sweets and most people don't want to eat them themselves or give their children a sugar high while the weather keeps them trapped inside. Here are some less bound for the garbage ideas.

1. A Netflix subscription is a great gift. If the family you're buying for already has a subscription tickets to a movie in an actual theater are equally awesome. Most theaters sell gift cards.

2. When I was younger and babysat I always wanted to give the kids I watched each their very own gift. Unfortunately I was a broke babysitting college kid. An upscale tin of cocoa from Godiva or Crate and Barrel runs about $10. Tie enough peppermint sticks to the top for the family and they've got themselves a Christmas morning treat.

3. Most families with kids can't afford to go out to eat often. The tab rises quickly when you've got five mouths to feed. Yet, a gift certificate to a restaurant for everyone will still cost you less, and be more appreciated, than that same amount spent divided among the members of that family.

4. Crate and Barrel has gorgeous ornaments for amazing prices. Pick however many you feel is appropriate and have them boxed there. It will be extra special if you keep in mind things the family enjoys or their tree color scheme when choosing the ornaments to give.

5. A family membership to the zoo, aquarium, children's museum, or wherever else is a wonderful gift for a family that has younger children.


  1. Those are all totally amazing gifts. Seriously. I want to go shopping for myself right now! :)

  2. I bought the ninjabread men cutters for someone this week!

    And I had been thinking of putting together an etsy gift guide. Heh.

  3. Ninjabread men are magical - those are AWESOME.

    Ok - WHAT is with North America and the horrible lack of afortable men's shirts with french cuffs?? When we were in NZ, wearing French cuffs with cufflinks was normal. Easy. Affordable. Notsomuch now that we're back in Canada. *sigh*

    And... excellent list. =)

  4. Urbancowgirl, I may have already bought that scarf for myself...in two colors.

    Kaimoana, I wanted to post some stuff from Etsy but I think it would be too hard to do a single item because there would only be one of that. Sellers is a good idea though. I'm not familiar enough with enough sellers to post a guide to them but you should. I would read it!

    Mommybyday, Yeah. I know women will spend more on clothing than men typically but I also think women have far more less expensive options that don't look cheap. Maybe it's something about the simplicity of men's clothing that makes it that much more obvious when it's not made well but here in America it is incredibly difficult to find a nice men's shirt for less than around $100. And they only go up from there. I'm thankful I can buy a $50 dress and be set. Men have to do so much more when it comes to anything other than casual wear

  5. Hmm...maybe my sister needs Ninjabread mean :)
    Wonderful ideas!