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My 2021 Ultimate Gift Guide

My job is writing on the internet. That means, naturally, I have written a lot of gift guides in my career. I have written gift guides for fashion lovers and makeup enthusiasts and bookworms. I have written gift guides for people who love boardgames. I have written gift guides that only include gifts that are subscriptions to things. You name it, and odds are I have written it at some point. Sometimes, I’m able to include some things I personally love on these lists — but oftentimes, I’m writing them while trying to tick a lot of different boxes. Things like price points and SEO and affiliate partners and so on and so forth.

What I haven’t written in all these years, though, is a gift guide just of things chosen by me. These are the things I’m obsessed with, things I consistently buy for other people, or just things that I’ve received and absolutely loved over the years. These are things that I would squeal with delight if I received, or go, “Huh, that is going to be so useful.” Basically, this is a list of all my favorite things. Am I Oprah? No. Is it fun to pretend? Yes, absolutely. *Grabs giant wicker basket of produce*

But before I get started I did want to note a couple things. First: There’s a lot of pressure to buy, buy, buy during the holiday season. Constantly. And while I wrote this guide to be helpful, my goal was not to make you feel like you aren’t going to survive without the things on this list. Obviously, you don’t need me to tell you that you’ll be OK without the Taylor Swift-themed sweatshirt, but I felt the need to reiterate it.

More importantly, I wanted to encourage everyone to shop locally if you’re able to this holiday season at any point. For those who are in Philly, please check out my Philadelphia guide for a list of stores that I love.

Alright, without further ado, here is my ultimate gift guide. I tried to break it down into categories that you all requested, or I thought would be helpful. Happy browsing/shopping!

Gifts For Yourself

Let’s kick things off with my favorite type of gifts: Gifts for you. To be honest, 99% of the gifts on the list are things I would give (or have given) to myself. These particular items, though, are the things that I tell people to get over and over and over again. Aside from the books, I use or wear each of these items every single day — no exceptions. And the books? Well, these are the reads that I can’t shut up about (but if you’ve already read them and want to know about more of my favorite reads, scroll on).

  • SHOP HERE: PAPERWHITE KINDLE // I resisted buying a Kindle for years. Now, it’s helped me read more than ever and I *love* being able to hold a cup of tea in bed while reading every night (and not having to use a bedside lamp and keep Jake awake while I read). It’s just the best. Plus: This one is waterproof, meaning you don’t have to worry about it in the hot tub, pool, bath, etc.

  • SHOP HERE: THE PUSH // This book is one of my favorite thrillers of 2021. I haven’t flown through a book like I flew through this one in years. It also really made me think about… so many things. But, it’s heavy. Trigger Warning for: Post partum depression, post partum psychosis, childbirth, death of a child.

  • SHOP HERE: AQUIS MICROFIBER HAIR TOWEL // I’ve been using an Aquis microfiber hair towel to dry my hair every day for four or five years at this point. I gifted one to my mom for Christmas a few years ago and she immediately repurchased after leaving it in a hotel room. In other words: Once this is in your life, you will not go back to drying your hair any other way. Plus: It cuts blow dry time in half.

  • SHOP HERE: EVERYDAY GOLD HOOP EARRINGS // I love costume jewelry, but I also love sturdy, long-lasting, gorgeous pieces that I can wear again and again and again without them being uncomfortable or fading or getting ruined. These gold hoops are the perfect width, thickness, and weight for everyday wear. Highly reccommend!

  • SHOP HERE: EVERYDAY THREE STONE GOLD NECKLACE // I get a lot of questions about this necklace. I’ve worn it every day and night for like seven or eight years now. And though I don’t remember the exact brand, I found an identical necklace. There’s no better gift than the one you see in the mirror every single day.

  • SHOP HERE: PARACHUTE WAFFLE ROBE // This is another thing I own that I gift to other people regularly. I absolutely love it, and it’s the only robe I’ve found that’s perfect for every single season. For reference, I’m a size 14/16 in dresses and I have the L in this.

Gifs For Difficult Men

Why are men… so hard to buy for? Whether I’m Christmas shopping for my husband, dad, FIL, or brother, choosing the perfect gift is nearly impossible. From discussions we’ve had on Instagram, it seems like most of you can relate. I don’t claim to have it all figured out when it comes to difficult men gift-giving, but I am confident that the below items are a very good start.

  • SHOP HERE: RACCOON ANARCHY T-SHIRT // Listen… I posted this random T-shirt Jake bought on Instagram and then 50 people bought it immediately. I don’t know what that means, but the shirt does make me laugh, so… maybe it’ll work for the difficult man in your life.

  • SHOP HERE: PROJECT HAIL MARY // Anyone who knows me knows that I would talk about how great this book is for hours. Days. Weeks, even. It’s great for anyone and everyone, but if you happen to have a man in your life who is into space, science, or aliens (or is looking for a way to get more into reading), this is a book for them. When in doubt, gift someone — anyone — this book this Christmas. It will be a hit. I promise.

  • SHOP HERE: SEPHORA COLOGNE SAMPLER // The thing I love about the Sephora perfume and cologne samplers is that not only does each kit come with a handful of sample-size fragrances (great for travel!), but it also comes with a coupon that someone can exchange for a full-size fragrance. In other words, it gives someone options for choosing a fragrance they like the best! I’ve given this to my dad, brother, and a few other people, as well, and they always seem to like it.

  • SHOP HERE: COLD WAVE INSTANT BEVERAGE CHILLER // Not everyone likes buying pitchers of cold brew. Sometimes all you want is a regular iced coffee. Or you want to chill a glass of white wine or liquor instantly. This pitcher does that. It is very handy and very satisfying to use.

  • SHOP HERE: 23ANDME ANCESTRY KIT // This is great for the person who doesn’t want more “stuff” in their house or their life. Part of being human is being curious about where you came from, and if the person you’re shopping for is particularly into history… even better.

  • SHOP HERE: MAGNETIC WRISTBAND // I got this on a whim as a stocking stuffer for Jake a few years back, and he’s used it maybe more than any other gift I’ve ever gotten him. Basically, it allows you to keep nails and screws handy while you’re using your hands for other things. It’s super helpful for hanging photos, etc.

  • SHOP HERE: NORTH FACE FLEECE // Jake recently purchased this and I’ve gotten a few questions on it, so I thought I’d include it. It looks a little more put-together than a traditional pullover fleece, but it’s just as cozy and warm. I also really love the red color.

  • SHOP HERE: CAMEO // When in doubt, buying someone a Cameo is such a good idea. I’ve done this a couple times for my dad with different sports stars, and it’s been such a fun experience. It’s also a super easy process. Just find a celebrity, write a message requesting your video message, and they send it straight to your phone.

Gifts For People Who Have ~Everything~

Ah, the people who have everything. We know them. We love them. We are deeply annoyed by them when trying to get them a gift. Still, there are options. Sure, they’re a little obscure, and often more practical than luxurious, but there are options!! Here are a few of them.

  • SHOP HERE: APPLE TV REMOTE HOLDER // If there’s anything we can all agree on it’s that whoever designed the Apple TV remote hated us all. So much. This remote makes the slippery, tiny Apply TV remote into a easy-to-grip, normal sized remote. It’s very satisfying — and a great stocking stuffer.

  • SHOP HERE: VACCINE CARD HOLDER // I saw this on Etsy and I thought… yes. This is the thing to get someone who has everything. Personally, as someone who has been carrying their vaccine card around for the better part of a year in a slowly disintegrating plastic sandwich bag… this would be a welcomed improvement.

  • SHOP HERE: INVERTED UMBRELLA // Once you use an umbrella like this, you will never go back. It is life-changing. Guaranteed to make you ask, “Wow, why haven’t umbrellas always worked this way?”

  • SHOP HERE: PERSONALIZED SOCKS // Everyone needs socks. Everyone has socks. But not everyone has socks with their pet’s face on it, and we should all work on fixing that.

  • SHOP HERE: WAX SCENT TABLETS // I’m obsessed with this gorgeous wax scent tablets. I put them in entryways, closets, drawers, etc. They’re super unique but really effective.

  • SHOP HERE: CANDLE WICK TRIMMER // Trimming the wicks of your candles regularly makes them burn more evenly and prevents them from smoking. It makes the entire candle experience more enjoyable. I have one of these in each room.

  • SHOP HERE: COCOFLOSS // This is the floss that turned me from someone who never, ever flosses into someone who goes to the dentist and leaves with a major ego boost because the hygienist says, “Wow, you floss, don’t you?” You may be thinking, “Isn’t all floss the same?” This is the same question I asked before experiencing CocoFloss. As soon as I tried CocoFloss, though, my world was changed. This stuff is incredible. It makes every other type of floss seem worthless. It will improve your dental routine. Unfortunately it may also turn you into someone who talks about floss whenever they get the chance, but… that’s OK.

  • SHOP: SCENTED COASTER // When this coaster makes contact with a hot mug, it releases a comforting, spicy aroma. It also keeps your mug warmer for a little longer. Cool, right?

  • SHOP: EMBARK DOG DNA KIT // If you know someone who adopted their dog, this is the gift that they will get a HUGE kick out of, but would likely never buy for themselves. It’s also how we found out that Winnie is part Chow Chow, Miniature Poodle, Australian Cattle Dog, Pit Bull, Beagle, and more.

Gifts For Moms + Mother-In-Laws

I feel like this is one category of gifts that can be easy to overthink. In general, I try to gift things to my mom and mother-in-law that fall into one or more of the following categories: Practical, sentimental, or something I’ve used and loved. Etsy is a great resource for the sentimental, personalized items. I also love to gift beauty items that are either really fun and feel like a treat OR are super effective. More information below!

  • SHOP HERE: LUSH BATH BOMB SAMPLER // If you are buying a gift for someone who loves to take baths, there is no more festive or luxurious bath bomb set than those for LUSH. If you’re going to buy bath bombs, buy LUSH bath bombs. That is all. .

  • SHOP HERE: SEPHORA PERFUME SAMPLER // Similar to the cologne sampler, this set is just a great way to feel like you’re gifting a thoughtful, non-giftcard gift while still allowing the recipient to have some choice (the set comes with a coupon for a full-size fragrance). It’s an incredible value!

  • SHOP HERE: CBD RELIEF BALM // I can confirm this CBD Relief Balm works. If your mom or MIL is dealing with aches and pains or works out a lot, this lotion can offer a lot of relief (and it’s not as intimidating as other forms of CBD).

  • SHOP HERE: BEST BODY LOTION EVER // Look, this lotion is all over Instagram. So is the body wash (not worth it, IMO). But this lotion is… the best. It absorbs quickly, is unscented, and keeps skin hydrated and smooth. I was really skeptical, but I love it. I would feel confident gifting this to anyone, especially if I wasn’t sure what their favorite scents were.

  • SHOP HERE: CUSTOM ENGRAVED NECKLACE // Being totally honest: I just saw this was on sale and bought it for myself as a gift for the new year. The brand offers free engraving, which is such a wonderful touch. You could engrave a special message to your mom or mother figure, or you could be like me and get it for yourself and write a reminder to yourself that you want to focus on for the year ahead. It’s just a really pretty piece that would last for years to come. Always worth it.

  • SHOP HERE: CHARCUTERIE BOARD // I was gifted one of these a few years back and I have used it COUNTLESS times since. It’s just a universally helpful item to have in the kitchen.

Gifts For Cozy People

If you know someone who loves to be cozy, this list is for them. Or for you. Or, based on my current credit card statement, for me, too. I found myself purchasing (or wanting to purchase) the few items on this list that I don’t already own. I just like soft things so much, what can I say? Anyway, here are some cozy things for cozy folks.

  • SHOP HERE: GIANT TEA SAMPLER // There’s nothing I enjoy more than my nightly ritual of making a cup of hot tea and drinking it in bed while reading. It’s just the best. But I hate running out of tea or trying to choose a new flavor at the grocery store. This sampler solves that problem!

  • SHOP HERE: SHERPA SLIPPERS // Give me all the sherpa items. At all times. Plus, these are only $20! Would be an adorable stocking stuffer.

  • SHOP HERE: CUTE GLASS MUG // No one needs more mugs and yet they all spark so much joy, so… why not add this cute one to the mix?

  • SHOP HERE: LANEIGE LIP SLEEPING MASK // I’ve used this stuff on my lips every morning and night for four years. I can’t live without it. It’s is a winning choice for anyone on your Christmas list this year.

  • SHOP HERE: PERFECT FLUFFY PILLOWS // I purchased these pillows recently and now I’m replacing all my pillows with these. They are the perfect, full, squishy, fluffy pillows.. They remind me of the pillows in nice hotels that make you go, “Wait, why don’t my pillows ever feel like this?” Except these are actually affordable! Highly recommend.

  • SHOP HERE: MERRY COOKIE CANDLE // I’ve never been so tempted to eat a candle as I was with this one. It is absolutely the most delicious-smelling cookie candle. So cozy.

  • SHOP HERE: THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY // I always describe this book as an adult bedtime story. Although the subject matter is heavy (Trigger Warning: Suicide/suicidal ideation), I found the story very soothing and fable-like.

Gifts For Book Lovers

Making this list… almost broke me financially. I wanted to buy every single item, probably for the same reason that I wanted to buy every single item on the previous list. Books make me feel safe and warm and cozy in a way that nothing else can. Anyway, if you know someone who loves to read, I have a pretty good feeling they’ll be into these gifts.

If you’re interested in shopping my favorite books, I have another post rounding them all up in the works (stay tuned!). There are also some faves sprinkled throughout this post.

  • SHOP HERE: OLD BOOK CANDLE // I can’t confirm whether or not this candle smells good, but the reviews are great and I can confidently say I would *love* to receive this as a reader.

  • SHOP HERE: BOOK EMBOSSER // I love the idea of using an embosser to create an at-home library. One day when I have my floor-to-ceiling book shelves and cozy reading chair and fireplace I will buy one of these.

Gifts Under $50

When I got to this category of the gift guide, I pretty much abandoned any type of curation other than thinking about items that I am obsessed with. So, if you happen to be shopping for a 20-something who loves “All Too Well,” Great British Baking Show, and pretty gold jewelry… you are in luck. If not, maybe one of the other categories will help you?

  • SHOP HERE: CUSTOMIZED SIGNET RING // Did I buy this as soon as I saw it on Etsy? Yes. Seriously, though, this is a really cute ring that could be personalized super easily. We love a sentimental, yet non-cheesy gift.

Gifts For Under $25

As I’m posting this, on my tenth hour of creating this gigantic gift guide, I’m realizing that I listed the “All Too Well” sweatshirt in both this guide and the $50 and under guide. It’s technically $40, so it doesn’t belong on this one, but… it’s amazing. And I am too tired to replace it. One fact still remains true, though: I would buy every single item on this list if I could (I almost did).

*Gyllenhaal, to be clear.

  • SHOP HERE: PHOEBE BRIDGERS MUG // Because I’m sure there. areother people out there whose interests include listening to Phoebe Bridgers and being sad.

  • SHOP HERE: CLAW CLIPS // I use claw clips every single day. They’re super in right now, but just generally convenient. Another great stocking stuffer!

Alright. Phew. That was a lot. I need a glass of wine.

Wishing you all the best holiday season. May it be filled with cozy vibes and lots of joy.

  1. Bethany Mader

    November 22nd, 2021 at 1:29 am

    This gift guide is 10/10! I always buy myself a Christmas present and there’s so many things on this list I want!

  2. Ashley Benay Davis

    November 22nd, 2021 at 8:30 pm

    Just ordered floss and the apple remote cover for my brother who has literally everything and is the worst to buy for. THANK YOU. Maybe now he won’t act dejected and say stuff like “nobody understands me” this year. We don’t, but at least we can pretend now!

  3. Maggie

    November 5th, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    I’m really looking forward to your 2022 gift guides!! I didn’t start following you until you became a cohost on BOP, but I did immediately dig into your blog archives and ordered a few things from the book lovers section for a friend’s birthday in May.

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