Where can you find the nicest scarf? Who makes the best wool slippers? Every year, around this time — like holiday classics on the radio — certain gifts become popular all over again. To determine the very best versions of those gifts, we’re talking to experts, adding our own opinions, and even testing products ourselves to find the absolute best (along with several runners-up).
If you’ve noticed a tendency toward warm things in our holiday gift guides (wool slippers, cashmere scarves, weighted blankets), it’s not a coincidence. Between the cold weather and the short days, this time of year seems engineered for hunkering down with tea and prestige TV. For friends and family members who appreciate a lazy Sunday afternoon, a plush throw blanket may be just the thing to complete their comfort cocoon. “A throw blanket is the perfect gift as you can never have too many and they are so versatile,” says Maggie Lydecker, a design expert at Wayfair. “Use it to dress up a bare piece of furniture or curl up with one on the sofa in front of the fireplace.”
To find the best throw blankets to gift, we sought recommendations from interior designers and decorators for the very best throws to give, along with advice on how to pick one. “I always make sure the throw is neutral so it’s guaranteed to match any space,” says Amber Lewis, CEO of Amber Interiors Design Studio and founder of the blog All Sorts Of. “And let’s be real, everyone wants a throw that they can actually curl up in — so make sure it’s comfortable, soft, and cozy.” While there are throws for all styles and price points, a favorite did emerge.
Nearly all the experts we spoke with suggested a faux fur blanket as the ultimate gifting pick. “Faux fur throws are a holiday staple, and most major retailers release their furs in the fall,” says Alessandra Wood, director of style at Modsy. “These make great gifts because they’re luxurious and a great way to stay warm in the cold months while adding the ‘winter wonderland’ feel to a space.” More affordable and less ethically complicated than real fur, faux blankets are an easy way to indulge a loved one. “They add instant warmth and elegance in any space,” says Decorist creative director Jessica McCarthy.
A few brands came up as possibilities — more on those below — but for a cozy pick at a relatively approachable price point, nothing beats this extra-large throw from CB2. As Lydecker says, “size is super important. Remember to stay within the range of 50 to 70 inches, so it’s large enough to snuggle up in.” At 48 by 80 inches, this is the biggest faux fur blanket our experts recommended. The light gray shade should work with most rooms’ décor schemes and its rich, textured layers make it look much more expensive than it actually is.
Even if you’re budget is under $100, there are still lots of gorgeous faux fur options. Sean Juneja, founder and CEO of Décor Aid, likes that this West Elm throw is “inexpensive, easy to maintain, and has a great look, plus it’s ultrasoft.” Juneja says his company’s designers have ordered 20 of these throws in just the past few weeks for their clients. For friends and family members with bold décor schemes, try an unexpected hue like olive or navy.
An even more affordable throw, this Target blanket comes in bold colors like blue and pink, as well as in neutrals like gray and white. “This faux fur throw in cream brings in a lot of texture and also leaves the room feeling a bit more festive,” says stylist Emily Henderson.
The faux-fur look isn’t for everyone, though, and if your recipient has simpler tastes, you can’t go wrong with a wool throw, especially one from a heritage brand with a legacy of quality. Oregon-based Pendleton has been family-owned for six generations and they’ve been producing wool in the Pacific Northwest since 1863. “Pendleton is a classic that has been around for a very long time and it is for good reason,” says Henderson. “Their plaid patterns are classic, timeless, and will never go out of style.” Plus, their eco-friendly wool is machine-washable.
Based in Minnesota, Faribault Woolen Mill also has an impressive history. “I love a classic Faribault wool blanket,” says McCarthy. “It’s the type of blanket that is crafted to last for generations and still made today in an old historic factory.” In fact, Faribault’s mill has been making blankets, scarves, and more since 1892.
Designers also mentioned herringbone throws as timeless gifts for recipients with a wide range of tastes. According to Lydecker, “a tailored herringbone pattern with fringed ends always blends seamlessly with one’s existing décor.” At just over $100, this cozy, cotton-blend blanket is her suggestion for a reasonably priced herringbone throw. Choose from soft yellow, bright blue, or traditional shades like charcoal or coffee brown.
Even more affordable, this woven acrylic herringbone throw is a Wayfair best-seller, says Lydecker. Since it’s only $26 and not too precious to withstand a few spills, it’s a good gift for a recent grad’s first apartment, or even a college student heading back to a cold climate after the holiday break.
Homepolish interior designer Amy Courtney agrees that “you can never go wrong with a classic herringbone throw.” Her pick is this ultra-luxe version made from Peruvian baby alpaca wool, which comes with its own leather carrying strap. For someone who’s been very good this year.
For a blanket that’s just as cozy as your favorite thick, knit sweater, designers are fans of chunky woven throws. “Chunky knit blankets are like a giant sweater for your sofa. I love these soft and supple knits,” says Wood. “Pinecone Hill’s blankets are 100 percent wool for extra warmth.” The fringe trim and woven look give this luxe throw a handmade feel.
While they’re made from acrylic instead of wool, these under-$100 blankets, two of Lydecker’s picks, also give that “sweater weather” style to a living room or bed.
Going handmade is also an option for gifting a chunky knit throw — even if you’re not the one making it. McCarthy likes to source homemade blankets from Etsy, like this one that can be customized in your choice of color and size. “I’m loving the trend of hand-knit chunky throws made out of […] roving,” she says. “There is something so dramatic about roving as a material and the way it looks once it is knitted into blanket form.”
Of course, there’s always the crowd-pleasing solid cashmere throw. As Wood says, “Who doesn’t love the soft luxury of a cashmere sweater?” She likes this fringe-trimmed Williams Sonoma throw in red for holiday decorating, or in a more neutral color that’ll work year-round.
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