It’s that time of year, when the world falls in love! Every song you hear, seems to say, “Get me gift cards.” But, while we may be last minute wrapper paper purchasers, we are not gift card givers. At least… not yet. We still have a few weeks to be our most thoughtful selves and not pay for expedited shipping.
Team JtB compiled a hefty list of our favorite gifts to give this year. We hope you find a few ideas here, and maybe treat yourself to a little something in the process.
Happy Holidays, friends!
Vibe: eclectic but you need this
Mom, Dad, Will, Uncle, Aunt…. don’t read this.
I love gifting cookbooks to my culinarily curious friends with the hopes that they’ll invite me over for dinner. BUT rule number 1 of gift giving is to have exactly zero expectations so… there’s that. A few weeks ago I shared my favorite new cookbooks published this fall and there are some gifting gems on that list. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but if you’re gifting for fun and function, Smitten Kitchen Keepers is the book to give.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me (us, really) SPIRAL through life’s big questions. The Spiral is an occasional Instagram Q+A in which you ask me your questions and I give you my advice without really any context at all. It’s always over caffeinated so I made a Spiral Mug about it. It’s a bestie kind of gift.
We’re gifting useful things this year. Not tote bags because we all have approximately one million of those stashed everywhichwhere. Now we’re gifting fancy insulated cups – for hydration.
Gifts that feel like little splurges are my favorite. Consider these little flower sock slippers, this clay face mask recommended by the facially flawless Adrianna of A Cozy Kitchen, this beach vacation smelling body wash, and these little initial necklaces.
I reserve homemade gift giving for host or hostess gifts. It feels like a way to return the care being extended to you at a party with a crackling fire and eggnog. A lovely jar of salty sweet granola (ahem… with the good nuts) is easy to underestimate but it’s incredible over morning yogurt or as a midnight snack. I also like to bring a fancy jar of nut butter and a loaf of banana bread with instructions to enjoy the following morning. We all have enough boxes of chocolate this time of year.
My favorite in my collaboration with Delicacies Jewelry is this sweet strawberry necklace in sterling silver but I also love gifting this little ravioli necklace. Shop my favorites here and use code joycollection15 to get 15% off your order and to help us donate $10 to Second Harvest New Orleans!
In my family we give what we call Whatnot Gifts – they’re little useful tokens we all trade as a way to avoid costly and individual shopping for one another. Whatnot Gifts are often, nice bars of soap, good sponges from Trader Joe’s, Swedish dish cloths – just little… whatnots. This year, my Whatnot Gift for my uncles is this ruler/screwdriver/pen.
If I were to choose one thing from my gift guide with Williams Sonoma, it would be this bowl with a nice wooden spoon (and maybe a cake mix to make inside it)
For the gentlemen in my life (Will please stop reading this) I’m considering a vintage poster from one of their favorite movies, this spice rub library, or a new board game we can play together and with friends.
Vibe: sweet and cute
When it comes to gift giving it might be a superpower (one of them, casually). Listening to people is one of my favorite things to do, so if you mention something you like more than once I carefully stow it away in my brain then write it in a note in my phone. Maybe that means I’m holiday shopping in June, but I am a gift giving master and proud of it, babe. For the baker in your life you can’t really go wrong with giving them a sweet magazine chock full of goodies, recipes, and the best advice (trust me). If I am heading to a friend’s house or gifting to a newer person in my life, I pair the magazine with 3 Nanas Shortbread cookies. It is some of the best shortbread I’ve ever had, and I consider myself an expert. Insanely buttery, not too sweet, but oh so comforting. They make a gluten free version, too! Bless.
Even though I am a Chicagoan, my heart is southern. I mean, I just bought pickle juice popsicles (on purpose!) for goodness sake, and I’m always on the search for “good ice.” You know who has good ice? Sonic. Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. Circle K’s fountain drinks. It’s pebbly and satisfying to crunch on – a dream, honestly. So, if you really, truly love me, you’ll get me this countertop pebble ice maker no questions asked.
I’m entering a new phase of my life and really want to get outside more. This ring from queer owned company, Automic Gold, would make me look extra cute while riding in style on this beautiful bike, which has been on my wish list for over a decade.
Vibe: a Taurus Christmas – cozy, comfy, and filled with food
I received a gift subscription to Literati for my birthday and let me tell you, few things feel as fancy as getting a cute box in the mail every month that contains a book selected by one of your favorite authors. I belong to Roxane Gay’s Audacious Book Club. Many authors have clubs, including Cheryl Strayed, Elin Hilderbrand and Jesmyn Ward. You can gift someone a 3 month, 6 month, or 1 year subscription.
Hear me out. I’ve been on this blog long enough to know that the majority of us have some kind of foot issue, albeit plantar fasciitis, or something else. Friends, I found cozy slippers for us. They have arch support! Pricier option here. Still pricey, but doable option here. Affordable option here. Happy holidays to our feet!
Last, but not least, experiences! I love to gift someone a future experience. In Nashville, some popular ones are gift memberships to our beloved arthouse theatre, the Belcourt, or the Frist Art Museum. This will come as no surprise to you, but this year, I’m giving the gift of a Julia Turshen cooking class. Gift this class to your friend who lives alone, your friend who likes trying new things, your friend who jokes about how she never learned how to cook. Honestly, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this class. You can gift a single class, a class package, or even a gift card. Julia makes it very easy.
Vibe: curated vintage
I think the best gifts have a surprise component. And never, by any means, do I give my nearest & dearest an object they actually need. My brother once gave me a DVD boxed set of Wings—a show we used to love as kids—and I lol’d the second I opened it. The present was so random yet so thoughtful. On that note, here are some gifts I recommend if you want to see instant smiles…
A bouquet of beautiful old books. Gather a stack of books (from your local thrift shop or independent bookstore) and tie it together with a piece of red ribbon. Stunning. You can curate a theme if you’d like or give a grab bag selection and call it ‘whimsical’. I’m hard pressed to think of a more unique present and there are so many beautiful old books out there. Heck, why stop at old books? Throw in some new ones. DM me if you need more recs. There’s literally no other way I’d rather spend my time.
A personalized air freshener. What? Why? Seriously? Because it’s there—that’s why! Some gentle soul out in California is breathing new life into the air freshener industry and we must support her. I was so charmed by this Bob Dylan number, I ordered one for my bestie and one for myself. It’s easy to mail in a card OR you can attach it to a larger present for some extra flare.
A cheeky throw blanket. In my best JTB Spiral voice: Honestly, if you have someone on your list who wouldn’t love this blanket, do you even want them in your life? No, no you don’t.
A vintage postcard. Until recently, I was strictly a ‘gift bag and tissue paper’ kind of gal. You can call it efficiency but, really, it was just laziness. Now that I’m older/wiser, I appreciate how important packaging is to the execution of a present. Lately, my go-to has been using vintage postcards as gift tags. Sometimes, I even go one step further and use them as beautiful bookmarks in the beautiful old books. How’s that for efficiency?
Our love to you!
xo Team JtB
I read a lot of gift guides around this time of year, and I’ve never before enjoyed one so much or made so many purchases off of one! Thank you for inspiring me to go for more personal gifts!
I can vouch for the Charlotte slippers, having just purchased my 2nd pair in two years (primarily because they smelled, but the inside was also thin – if you wear socks with them I’m sure they’d last longer, but who wants to do that?). I first read about them in the comments section of a Washington Post article during early 2020. I bought them and got just about instant relief from a hip problem. My mother also bought them and likes them, though not as much as I do.
That said, their customer service is pretty bad and their sales are misleading. I
need new sneakers, and would otherwise get them from that site, but can’t bring myself to give them more business. Which, in a roundabout way, is even more of a recommendation for the slippers. But they can be had for less. Maybe not 2020 prices (I think I paid around $65 then), but less – under $80. I don’t know about buying from them again though.
I found piles of old, unused library cards when I was cleaning out a classroom over the summer and plan on using them as gift tags!
Oh wow I absolutely love old library cards!!! Good gift tags + bookmarks :)
Thank you Abby for sharing Automic Gold. I had never heard of them but just bought a very cool pair of super unique earrings, a style I had never seen before, but knew I had to have immediately!
Ah that’s awesome!! I’m so glad you got them!
Gah, Abby, now I suddenly *need* that ice maker, which I didn’t even know existed three minutes ago
We went to visit a friend and they had this ice maker and it is a deal changer!!
It has taken permanent residence in my brain *cries*
Kristen A Berry
Thank you Joy and team! Happy Holidays!
So many thoughtful suggestions!! Love Toby’s book bouquet idea! I gifted myself the spiral mug and notebook! ?