holiday gifts 2022

Every Holiday Gift Guide From the Strategist

We’ve got something for every brother, birder, dog lover, and more.

Animation: The Strategist; Photos: Aeropress, Backbone, Baggu, Bloomsbury Publishing, Butouch, Ember, Infinity Pillow, Intelligent Change, KONG, Kryolan, Nike, Pelican, PlaSmart, Starface, Tenzi, Twelve South
Animation: The Strategist; Photos: Aeropress, Backbone, Baggu, Bloomsbury Publishing, Butouch, Ember, Infinity Pillow, Intelligent Change, KONG, Kryolan, Nike, Pelican, PlaSmart, Starface, Tenzi, Twelve South

Gift-giving season is well under way, and here at the Strategist, we pride ourselves on having a spot-on holiday gift idea for every person on your list. That’s because our team of obsessive shoppers has been doing the legwork, a.k.a. writing and thinking about presents, all year long. We’ve combed through our archives to come up with beloved products we’ve written about before, as well as going directly to the source and asking grandparents, teenage girls, and many more types of recipients for their recommendations. The result is this guide of 88 expert-backed options — many of which we’ve tested ourselves — and even some new items that are just too special to miss. So whether you’re looking for something for your never-satisfied nephew, your world-traveling best friend (who’s also a hiker), your new co-worker, or your child’s kindergarten teacher, we’ve got you covered.

It’s now too late to meet almost all drop-dead shipping dates for delivery before December 25, so we suggest doing a final check of our list of holiday order-by deadlines — or prepare to go in store to pick up your gifts in time for wrapping. However, we’re confident the items in the guides below will still make perfect presents even if they arrive after the big day. While we’ve updated this post for the last time, we also found (actually useful) e–gift cards and subscription boxes that keep on giving into 2023. And, as always, if you want to stay on top of our gift coverage, sign up for our newsletter.

Jump ahead

Last-minute gifts

The Best E–Gift Cards

If you have an idea of where they like to shop but aren’t sure what to get them exactly, an e–gift card will let them pick out their own perfect present this holiday season. Choose from brands like Madewell and Disney+ or encourage them to try something new with a voucher to ClassPass. Find more recommendations for e-gift cards here.

The Best Subscription Boxes

If you’re out of ideas on what to give as a gift or want to avoid a shipping-delay nightmare, subscription boxes are your best bet. We curated a list of the most giftable services around, from Brother Vellies’s handcrafted home items to this Bokksu subscription that includes more than 20 delightful snacks and teas sourced from small family businesses in Japan. Find more monthly subscription gifts here.

The Best Gifts for Your Whole List (That You Can Buy at Nordstrom)

To help you streamline your shopping this year, we dug through our archives for the best offerings at Nordstrom — a Strategist favorite for everything from beauty favorites to kids’ toys and more. Sera Rogue, the owner of Brooklyn gardening company Red Fern, recommends this self-watering smart garden for people who want to grow fresh herbs year-round. If you’re on a tight deadline, pick up your order at a local store and receive free gift wrapping until December 24. Find more Strategist-approved gifts that you can buy at Nordstrom here.

The Best Gifts for Your Whole List (That You Can Buy at Target)

This weighted blanket is a favorite of Strategist associate editor Jenna Milliner-Waddell, who calls it a dupe for the Instagram-famous Gravity Blanket. As a self-proclaimed hot sleeper, she says “using the blanket doesn’t make me any hotter, even on warmer nights.” Target’s same-day delivery service will be available on December 24, but slots will likely be very limited, so your best bet is to stop at a physical location to get this and other items in our guide. Find more Strategist-approved gifts you can buy at Target here.

[Editor’s note: This blanket is not available in store, but it may still arrive by December 25 if you pick the two-day shipping option online.]

Gifts that might sell out

The Top Toys for 2022

Every year, we reach out to toy-trend experts to hear their predictions on the hottest, most coveted toys that are likely to sell out fast. To get you from the research to buying stage ASAP, we’ve collected light-up dollhouses, an inflatable T. rex, and this magic crystal ball that kids will be begging for this holiday season — all in one place. Find more toy gifts here.

The Top Tech Gifts for 2022

It’s challenging enough to get ahold of the hottest tech gadgets the rest of the year, and as we get closer to the holidays, stock inevitably becomes even more limited. Luckily, we found the ultimate gadget for people who like to scribble in the margins: Kindle Scribe, which allows readers to drop a sticky note with handwritten text right over any paragraph or sentence. “I’ve been using this feature to note why I highlighted a particular bit of text, which helps me remember its significance later,” says Strategist tech writer Jordan McMahon, who has tried every single Kindle since 2013. Find more tech gifts here.

Best Advent Calendars

Opening a little treat each day makes the countdown to December 25 far more fun, so we found plenty of self-care-, toy-, food-, and drink-related Advent calendars — like this Bean Box calendar, which contains 12 limited-edition holiday-inspired blends from roasters all over the U.S. Each sachet is labeled with a gradient scale indicating the intensity level (with a mix of lighter and darker blends in the box), and recipients can choose between ground coffee or whole beans. Find more Advent calendars here.

Best Beauty Advent Calendars

We rounded up the best beauty Advent calendars for trying new products or restocking on old favorites, like this one from Neiman Marcus, which is chock-full of products from top brands like Sunday Riley, YSL, Tom Ford, Hermès, and Dior. Find more beauty Advent calendars here.

Gifts for him

The Best Gifts for Dads

Some dads are movie critics who’d appreciate a new way to spice up their popcorn at home. Others are podcasters (in their own minds) looking to kit out their sound booths with professional microphones. And some are golfers ready to turn the living room into a practice course. For the last dad, try this setup with three different holes (or pins) that “make it kind of like three practice greens in one, since each requires a slightly different approach,” says John Rotunno (who happens to be the dad of a former Strategist senior editor). Find more gifts for every type of dad here.

The Best Gifts for Husbands

We’ve curated a list of 70 gifts guaranteed to appeal to every type of husband — like this heated massager for soothing his stiff neck and shoulders. “The massaging knobs genuinely feel like hands, kneading aching muscles and working out sore spots,” says former Strategist senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson. Find more gifts for every type of husband here.

The Best Gift for Boyfriends

If he has been denying your requests for a wish list, this guide is for you. We found lots of gifts for all kinds of boyfriends — including a foldable smartphone keyboard, a pasta machine, Hua Hsu’s favorite spicy peanuts, and this trio of moisturizing lip balms. Find more gifts for every type of boyfriend here.

The Best Gifts for Brothers

For the hard-to-shop-for brother, this ultra-versatile gadget comes with a screwdriver, bottle opener, ruler, serrated edge, and more. But our favorite feature is the bowl and pipe stem built into the tool’s body. “Compared with a one-hitter — perhaps the most famous camouflaged-pipe option — the Geekey wins out with its more generous, easier-to-pack bowl,” says Strategist contributor Aleta Burchyski. Find more gifts for every type of brother here.

The Best Grooming Gifts

He likely has a favorite brand of razor and shaving cream, but you can always elevate his routine with an editor- (or celebrity-)approved grooming gift. Lenny Kravitz has been using this trimmer and its many attachments since junior high, and it’s one of the things he can’t live without. “I can shave with them and look like I got a real close shave like I used a razor,” he says. Find more grooming gifts here.

Gifts for her

The Best Gifts for Moms

Sourcing the right gift for your mom might feel like an impossible holiday mission, which is why we’ve created a list of all the best options for mothers everywhere. Known as the “breakout stars of quarantine workouts,” according to former Strategist senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson, these minimalist Bala weights will add a little resistance to her regular walk around the block. Find more gifts for every type of mom here.

The Best Gifts for Wives

The perfect present for your wife does exist, and it might just be in this roundup. Many of our picks for her are available on Amazon, like this pen-size cleaning brush for wiping her phone screen clean or sweeping away crumbs on her keyboard. Find more gifts for every type of wife here.

The Best Gifts for Girlfriends

Whether it has been three months or three years, shopping for a thoughtful gift for your special someone requires some digging. If you’re looking to spice things up, this small Dame Fin vibrator will act like an extension of your fingers, making it great for couple’s play or for them to use solo. Find more gifts for every type of girlfriend here.

The Best Gifts for Sisters

You may have very similar tastes to your sister(s) — or perhaps you’re drastically different. Flight attendant Katherine Gibbons likes to spritz on these Mario Badescu facial mists after a long day of flying. She says the scents — which include lavender, aloe vera, chamomile, and cucumber — are calming and can be sprayed over makeup. Find more gifts for every type of sister here.

The Best Gifts for Mothers-in-Law

Your mother-in-law can be just as tricky to shop for as your mom can. Strategist senior editor Jen Trolio has bought this digital-picture frame for multiple family members including her mother-in-law. “We can all add photos to one another’s frames too — it’s almost like having a private mini social network that is blissfully Zuckerberg free,” she says. Find more gifts for mothers-in-law here.

The Best Gifts for Pregnant Women

If she’s pregnant (or recently pregnant), we’ve rounded up lots of comfortable and relaxing gifts for the mom-to-be in your life — from an electric massager that’s better than a masseuse to this plant-based belly oil from a Black-owned brand that “is really good for your skin and is superluxurious,” says Hill House Home founder and CEO Nell Diamond. Find more gifts for pregnant women here.

[Editor’s note: This body oil may still arrive by December 25 if you select expedited shipping from Bluemercury.]

The Best Gifts for New Moms

This “not obviously a diaper bag” diaper bag is beloved by Strategist writer Lauren Ro for its thoughtful design, which can be worn as a backpack or converted into a tote via a shoulder strap. Ro says it has insulated pockets for bottles and waterproof ones for wipes, plus a removable caddy for diapers that also makes it easy to attach to a rolling suitcase. Find more gifts for new moms here.

Gifts for kids and teens

The Best Gifts for 6-Month-Olds

Teethers make great gifts for 6-month-olds because, at this age, kids are often experiencing the pain of incoming teeth. This bright, textured-silicone raspberry one is designed to let them chew safely. Find more 6-month-old baby gifts here.

The Best Gifts for 1-Year-Olds

For kids who love music, this multifunctional bench features a pullout xylophone and three wooden balls that can be banged on with a mallet. Publicist and mother of two Sonya Li Casino says her now-3-year-old son loved it so much, “I ended up purchasing it for a few other 1-year-olds.” Find more gifts for 1-year-olds here.

The Best Gifts for 2-Year-Olds

Toys that inspire imagination while developing motor skills are a good bet for 2-year-olds who can’t sit still. One Strategist editor’s son was so motivated by this Melissa & Doug cleaning set that he took his first official steps while holding the broom. “Kids always want to be like big people. So if they see you using something, they’re going to want to do it, too,” says Dr. Roberta Golinkoff, a professor of child psychology at the University of Delaware and co-author of Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children. Find more gifts for 2-year-olds here.

The Best Gifts for 3-Year-Olds

Whether it’s used during indoor or outdoor play, this PlasmaCar will get your toddler moving without any batteries or even pedals. Find more gifts for 3-year-olds here.

The Best Gifts for 4-Year-Olds

As critical thinking and motor skills begin to sharpen around 4 years old, this clay-dinosaur craft kit, which is a STEAM-learning toy (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics), will allow your kid to learn about prehistoric times through play. Find more gifts for 4-year-olds here.

The Best Gifts for 5-Year-Olds

For art-curious 5-year-olds, toys that offer open-ended creation make memorable gifts — like this kit, which includes rainbow-colored beads that can be arranged in endless combinations onto pegboards in all kinds of shapes. “By this age, they’re not going to eat the small pieces, so you don’t have to worry about that. My grandkids have a lot of fun with these,” says Dr. Roberta Golinkoff, a professor of child psychology at the University of Delaware and author of Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children. Find more gifts for 5-year-olds here.

The Best Gifts for 6-Year-Olds

These kid-friendly walkie-talkies will remind kids that “communication doesn’t have to be through screens. There are other ways to chat instead of Snapchat,” says Zibby Owens, who hosts the podcast Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books. Plus, this set has a two-mile range, three different channels, and a built-in flashlight. Find more gifts for 6-year-olds here.

The Best Gifts for 7-Year-Olds

With this kit, 7-year-olds can dig into a molded block of clay and use chisels, brushes, and a magnifying glass to uncover highly realistic fossils. “It makes kids feel like real scientists,” says Elizabeth S., a nanny for the New York–based SmartSitting agency. “I gave this gift to a 7-year-old, and he and his 9-year-old sister were digging for the better part of a rainy day inside. Next time I saw them, they couldn’t wait to show me what they’d uncovered.” Find more gifts for 7-year-olds here.

The Best Gifts for 8-Year-Olds

For ages 8 and up, this combination science kit and art project — which comes recommended by Chris Byrne, a.k.a. the Toy Guy — contains enough parts to build a dozen butterflies plus all the color dyes, markers, and other supplies they’ll need. Find more gifts for 8-year-olds here.

The Best Gifts for 9-Year-Olds

Keep your 9-year-old from turning to electronics when they’re bored with this fast-paced dice game that combines rapid number recognition with “silly competitiveness,” says Maya Smart, a mom, literacy expert, and author of Reading for Our Lives: A Literacy Action Plan from Birth to Six. Find more gifts for 9-year-olds here.

The Best Gifts for 10-Year-Olds

Engage your 10-year-old on a deeper level with this kit that will “appeal to STEM true believers,” says Rumaan Alam, a novelist and father of two. This toy combines components to form working circuit boards like the ones inside a television or radio, or one of more than 100 different projects. Find more gifts for 10-year-olds here.

The Best Gifts for 11-Year-Olds

From books to toys to puzzles, we aimed to cover both the latest trends and classic crowd-pleasers when we narrowed down the best gifts for 11-year-olds. This fast-paced, quick-decision-making game is a favorite of Strategist writer Latifah Miles and her tween son. The rules are easy to understand and the gameplay is quick enough that you can play a few rounds at a time. Find more gifts for 11-year-olds here.

The Best Gifts for 12-Year-Olds

When choosing a gift for an almost-teenager, the 18 experts (including actual 12-year-olds) we spoke to recommended items that give a recipient freedom to experiment with new interests. Lori Jepsen, who reviews and blogs about toys for Toysenberry, recommends this light box because “it has so many options for kids to express their creativity,” including “colored letters, emojis, and a background light that changes color with a remote.” Find more gifts for 12-year-olds here.

The Best STEM Toys for Kids

Magna-Tiles are mentioned all across our site — and while they’re not new to the STEM-toy scene, they’re a great gift option because they’re designed to encourage kids to go big with their creations. Play expert Yesim Kunter says the different colors, transparencies, and shapes allow kids to learn “how things come together to make something.” Find more STEM toys for kids here.

The Best Gifts for Tween Girls

Tween girls (ages 9 through 12) can be tough to please because they’re still learning about their own preferences. But this cotton-candy-colored throw will be a surefire hit because it’s approved by model and actress Reed Harlow-Grayce LaRocca, who first spotted it on TikTok. “You can’t beat it on chilly mornings,” she says. Find more gifts for tween girls here.

The Best Gifts for Tween Boys

We spoke to tween boys to get a sense of the gifts they’d like to receive this year. We consulted a few toy and game experts, like Jackie Cucco, a senior editor at the Toy Insider, who recommended this fast-paced board game that puts players in “the hot seat with only five seconds to name three things based on a card prompt,” she says. Find more gifts for tween boys here.

The Best Gifts for Teen Girls

It can feel like doing high-level math shopping for teenage girls — so we went straight to the source and asked members of this age group which gifts they’d want to receive this holiday season. These true-and-tried string lights — which respondents raved about in our teen poll — feature clips to hold 20 Polaroids or printed photos. “They kind of give a calming and soft aesthetic to the whole room,” says Sydney, one of the high-schoolers we surveyed. Find more gifts for teen girls here.

The Best Gifts for Teen Boys

Video games like the latest Madden game or Call of Duty might (predictably) be on your teen boy’s holiday list. But if he’s satisfied with his current game collection, this TikTok-approved sunset lamp, as seen in our latest teen poll, will enhance his bedroom gaming setup with 16 different colors. Find more gifts for teen boys here.

The Best (Strategist-Approved) Children’s Books

To help you determine the best books for kids, we sifted through everything we’ve written about to create this list of the board books, picture books, chapter books, and even cookbooks that would make great gifts for any child (and their parents). Lisa Knowlton, the children’s buyer at 192 Books, recommended The Family Book when we asked about the best books for LGBTQ+ families. “The general message is that all families are not the same but they basically and ultimately all care about similar things like love,” Knowlton says. Find more children’s books here.

Gifts for friends, family, and more

The Best Gifts for New Grandparents

Of the grandparents we spoke to for this gift guide, several said they look forward to cooking with their grandkids. This cookbook, containing kid-friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, is designed for just that purpose. Find more gifts for grandparents here.

The Best Gifts for Best Friends

Make new memories with your best friend when you give them this digital paint brush that Strategist contributor Grace Banks uses to turn a phone or tablet into a canvas — perfect for your next craft night together. Find more gifts for every type of best friend here.

The Best Gifts for Co-workers

Whether you’re back in the office or working from the comfort of your couch, you might want to get a nice gift for a co-worker. For the one who’s tired of schlepping their laptop in a tote bag, get them this Baggu cotton-canvas carrier that Elizabeth Tamkin, content and partnerships manager at Kule, uses. It’s extremely durable and sturdy, comes in fun patterns, and is machine-washable. Find more gifts for every type of co-worker here.

The Best Gifts for Bosses

Getting a gift for your boss is a fantastic idea, but deciding what to give them can feel daunting, especially if you don’t know much about their personal life. This infinity travel pillow can accompany them on business trips or long commutes — and it might encourage them to dream up all the ways they can promote you. Find more gifts for every type of boss here.

The Best Gifts for Doctors

We surveyed medical professionals for their gift recommendations and took note of the best presents they’ve ever received — including self-care items and experiential gifts like this Spafinder voucher, which is redeemable at hundreds of locations around the country. Find more gifts for doctors here.

Photo: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

The Best Gifts for Teachers

For those interested in expressing appreciation for our teachers after a difficult couple of years, check out our roundup, in which we talked to more than 25 educators to find the best gift ideas — like this science-themed, temperature-sensitive mug. Find more gifts for teachers here.

Gifts at every price point

The Best Tech (and Techish) Gifts Under $50

To help you snag the perfect affordable tech gift, we put together a list of 31 gadgets and gizmos that will be a delight to unwrap (and use), including these nickel-size Bluetooth trackers to help locate your keys, bags, or anything else you stick them in. Find more tech (and techish) gifts under $50 here.

113 Carefully Selected, Unusually Special Gifts Under $50

A team of devoted Strategist editors worked for months to bring you a selection of more than 100 gifts that you won’t find anywhere else — most of which are also brand-new. These delightfully off-kilter offerings include dressy dishwashing gloves from Laila and Nadia Gohar that also come in red. Find more unusually special gifts under $50 here.

The Best Secret Santa Gifts Under $25 (That You Can Buy on Amazon)

Secret Santa exchanges should be a mix of surprise and fun, which is why our list includes a stainless-steel press for perfect homemade ravioli, a manatee-shaped infuser, and this aromatherapy stick that helps Strategist contributor Sara Gaynes Levy fall asleep in just five minutes. Find more Secret Santa gifts under $25 here.

The Best Gifts Under $25

Cleaning gadgets aren’t the most glamorous, but they could be just the thing for the neat freak on your list. Strategist editor Maxine Builder calls the Drillbrush, a brush attachment for your power drill, the best thing that ever happened to her shower. Plus the “nylon bristles were gentle enough that I couldn’t find a single scratch afterward,” she says. Find more gifts under $25 here.

The Best Gifts Under $10

Recipients with a sweet tooth will get a kick out of these retro violet candies that were popular in 1940s New York City, according to Debi Mazar, who likes to give them to friends. Find more gifts under $10 here.

The Best Gifts Under $5

Cheap gifts don’t have to feel cheap, so we’ve rounded up thoughtful, quality gifts under $5 that you can buy on Amazon. If you know someone who needs a little Zen, wrap up these incense sticks that Piper Perabo says can make any room “feel familiar and homey.” Find more gifts for under $5 here.

Gifts for every hobby

The Best Gifts for Gamers

If the gamer in your life is serious about becoming a content creator, this USB microphone is a great starter mic and comes recommended by Bijan Stephen, host of the Eclipsed podcast, Twitch streamer, and games journalist. Find more gifts for gamers here.

The Best Gifts for Dog Lovers

No matter what breed they have, the dog owner you’re shopping for is most likely dealing with fur. Strategist contributor Zoe Denenberg learned about this “affordable, effective, and easy-to-use” brush from her mom, who recently opened a dog-care and grooming franchise. Find more gifts for dog owners here.

The Best Gifts for Cat Lovers

It can be baffling to buy an actual gift for a cat parent if you aren’t one yourself (or if you’re strictly a dog person). But when we consulted a panel of cat experts for their recommendations, Strategist contributor Julia Gomez Kramer pointed to this highly practical odor eliminator, which is “surprisingly powerful” and “has done wonders at neutralizing the smell of stinky litter in our apartment.” Find more gifts for cat lovers here.