holiday gifts 2022

A Gift for Every Type of Best Friend

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy of the retailer.

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Even if you’ve been lifelong confidants, it can be hard to shop for your best friend. You may want to surprise them with a low-stakes pick-me-up. Or perhaps you’re looking for a way to show how deeply you appreciate their always being there (and never judging the occasional reckless decision), with the perfect holiday gift.

To help you find the most special-est something for your bestie — no matter the occasion — we’ve rounded up dozens of gifts that are sure to please any type of BFF, whether they have a flair for the dramatic or are known for their famously level head. To guarantee a selection of “gifts they might actually want,” as we like to say, we searched high and low through our archives — each of the presents below has made an appearance on the Strategist before, from delightful doodads to highly practical machines. Not only are all of them available on Amazon (with some shoppable at other retailers as well), we’ve organized every present by price point to make it easier to stay within your budget. And if you’re still stuck on what to give whom, we also have a “holiday hub” with hundreds more gift ideas for everyone on your list.

Under $25

For the best friend who (literally) lives in the dark

“If you live in a somewhat dark apartment (or your work space is in a sun-deprived corner of your house), it’s a real godsend” is how costume designer Alison Freer describes this Memphis-esque “miniature sunlight-mimicking lamp.” It helped with her quarantine-induced insomnia.

For the best friend who likes to show a bit of leg

These figure-skating tights are a favorite secret of Strategist writer Rachael Griffiths — who doesn’t actually figure-skate but says that while they’re “silky when rubbed between your fingers,” a “rogue nail” won’t snag on them.

For the best friend with a desk drawer full of candy

Fishwife co-founder Caroline Goldfarb reaches for these jelly-filled pouches whenever her “sweets cravings hit hardest,” usually after the post-lunch afternoon slump. She says the jelly is so liquidy its texture is between slurpable and slightly chewy.

For the best friend who can’t sit still

Although these handy, multipurpose ties are technically for tidying up cables and other gear, Strategist junior writer Kitty Guo discovered they’re an excellent fidget toy thanks to their just-right resistance and the feel of their textured rubber coating.

For the best friend who loves the spotlight

“It’s great for parties when no one’s paying attention to you,” says performer Annie Hamilton of this tear-generating stick.

For the best friend who remembers anniversaries better than Leslie Knope

Marimekko Postcards
$20

We here at the Strategist can’t resist Marimekko’s pretty prints. It turns out we’re not the only ones: Designer Tala Safié introduced us to these patterned postcards that don’t contain any pre-written messages, making them practical for any occasion.

For the best friend with an elaborate vitamin regimen

Food editor Alyse Whitney calls this pill organizer her “Mary Poppins Medicine Cabinet” for how much it can hold. “This makes me sound like a dealer, but I’m just making sure no one, including myself, is ever in any discomfort. I’ve saved friends from bathroom emergencies, allergy attacks, and period cramps using my magical little pink box,” Whitney writes.

For the best friend who sprouts avocado pits on their windowsill

If food scraps in their trash can are now verboten, get them the best compost bin out there. This one is not only easy to clean, it’s rather elegant. Tonne Goodman, sustainability editor at Vogue, carries hers to New York’s Union Square compost center.

For the best friend who’s a part-time tarot reader

If your pal is looking for a little spiritual guidance, they’ll likely find inspiration in this oracle deck featuring illustrations by Iranian painter Rassouli and poetry from Rumi. Writer Gabriel Mac relies on the deck’s wisdom in “moments of confusion, existential terror, or light boredom.”

For the best friend whose hair is newly natural

When we asked experts about the tools you need to care for natural hair, hairstylist and salon owner Nigella Miller advised starting with a wide-tooth comb like this one. As we wrote, the design “makes it easy to glide through hair when it’s wet and detangle without ripping or tearing.”

For the best friend who just moved into their first apartment

Cherry Toilet Bowl Cleaner
$18
$18

Helena Barquet and Fabiana Faria, owners of the design shop Coming Soon, recommended a brush just like this cheery cherry-shaped one in our guide to housewarming gifts. “If you’re invited to someone’s housewarming, that probably means you’ll be back and using their bathroom at some point,” Barquet says. “And you’ll want it to be clean.”

For the best friend who always has room for dessert

These sweet but not saccharine Italian black cherries can top anything, especially as the “sour stone fruits are less cloying and more complex than American maraschinos,” according to Strategist contributor Ashley Mason.

For the best friend who needs some encouragement

BuildLife Motivational Water Bottle
From $13
From $13

This one-gallon jug counts Goldfarb, actress Julianne Hough, and musician Anderson .Paak as fans. It’s “vaguely threatening,” Goldfarb explains in an ode to the bottle, but the “one-gallon behemoth cuts through the BS, forcing me to honestly come face-to-face with my water intake.”

For the best friend whose dog has an Instagram account

Strategist audience-engagement manager Mia Leimkuhler’s chewing-prone dog, Reggie, can’t get enough of this plush hedgehog, which Leimkuhler affectionately calls “Reggie’s hedgie.” Get one for your friend’s pup to cuddle up with.

For the best friend whose cat has an Instagram account

Animal advocate Hannah Shaw, a.k.a. the Kitten Lady, turned us on to these rattling mouse toys, which “make enticing sounds that spark cats’ curiosity — and kick their hunting instincts into high gear.”

For the best friend who is always doodling

Let their phone or tablet become a canvas with this digital paint brush. Strategist contributor Grace Banks praises how the Butoch lets her pretend she’s David Hockney gliding the brush across the iPad screen. “It’s given me a rush of back-to-school nostalgia. Using the brush feels meditative,” she writes.

For the best friend who’s the first to crack a Claw

After becoming a hard-seltzer drinker, Strategist writer Dominique Pariso came to the realization that most koozies don’t fit the slim cans of White Claw and other brands. This one has the right “degree of insulating power” to keep the cans perfectly cold.

For the best friend who prefers a bottle of white

Yeti Rambler Wine Tumbler
$18
$18

Nicola Nice, founder and CEO of Pomp & Whimsy gin, calls this stemless wine vessel “the Swiss Army knife of glassware” (even if it’s not technically glass). Made from stainless steel, it’ll keep their sauvignon blanc chilled for hours, and the magnetic-locking lid prevents spills.

For the best friend who doesn’t have time to wait for pour-over

For an early-morning caffeine fix, former Strategist writer Chloe Anello recommends these packets for those in a hurry who like their coffee black. “Even though it’s clearly not fresh — it is freeze-dried coffee powder — somehow this tastes like it was just roasted,” she says.

For the best friend who dreads doing chores

DII Swedish Dishcloths
$15 for 3
$15 for 3

You can’t save them from having to wipe down their countertops, but you can make the task a little bit more pleasant with these lemony (and sustainable) Swedish dishcloths.

For the best friend who needs a new challenge

These kindercore-colored bands will add a hint of resistance to just about any exercise routine. They’re a favorite of Pilates instructor Kate Garfield for their versatility; you can use them for everything from cardio to barre.

Under $50

For the best friend who gets all puffy when they cry

Instead of an expected pack of sheet masks, surprise them with these eye patches from Iceland that Strategist beauty columnist Rio Viera-Newton praises for their “cooling effect — meaning that they feel chilled without even having to put them in the fridge.”

For the best friend with cold feet

$33

Every year, New York senior editor Jessica Silvester picks the same gift to give to the women in her family — these Eberjey slipper socks started the tradition and were a big hit with a trio of aunts.

For the best friend who HIIT too hard

So they can work out any knots, get them this foam roller that’s a tried-and-true of marathon runners and American Ballet Theater dancers for its ridges, which mimic a massage.

For the best friend who just bought low-rise jeans

“The cringe, dirtbag aughts are back,” declares Magasin founder Laura Reilly, noting, “Gas may not be cheap right now, but actually good gas-station sunglasses sure are.” Just make sure to draw the line at letting your friend thrift Ed Hardy.

For the best friend who plans their day to the minute

The Hobonichi Techo is a longtime Strategist favorite with associate editor Louis Cheslaw complimenting its “hard-wearing cover, thin (but quality) pages for a slim profile, lie-flat opening, and compact size.” Pariso adds that it’s so durable it looks just as good on December 31 as it did in January.

For the best friend who loves to accessorize

For their precious jewels, this ultrasonic cleaner gives professional-looking results.

For the best friend who dry-shampoos daily

Let their tresses get the detox they so desperately need with this shampoo. When Viera-Newton used it for the first time, it left her hair cleaner than ever before. But the “most game-changing aspect” of the shampoo is how long the results lasted: “Not only did it look matte when I came home in the evening, but the following morning I woke up and there wasn’t a damp, greasy patch in sight,” she says.

For the best friend whose hair is in a permanent ponytail

“If you want to get more fancy with your hair ties, the Slip silk skinny scrunchies are the way to go,” says New York City–based session hairstylist Cassandra Normil. They are gentle on both damaged and processed hair.

For the best friend who appreciates the power of a good shower

Trinity Mouzon Wofford, a co-founder of the wellness brand Golde, calls this water filter an “essential for living in the city” since it removes the buildup coming through her 100-plus-year-old pipes.

For the best friend who’s tired of LaCroix

AAPI-owned Sanzo offers flavors like lychee, calamansi, mango, and yuzu to delight any palate that’s pamplemoussed-out.

For the best friend who always orders extra foam

When Suyog Mody and James McCarthy of Driftaway Coffee asked their team to recommend the best milk frother, this model came out on top. Creative consultant Harling Ross, who uses an older version of the Chinya, is another fan. “This frother gives me the perfect foam-to-milk ratio and temperature every time,” she says.

For the best friend who’s trying to become the next Claire Saffitz

Help them level up from box-mix cookies to a truly impressive dessert with this Bundt pan that Great American Baking Show winner and cookbook author Vallery Lomas uses to make her perfect pound cake.

For the best friend who lives for embellishment

Strategist senior writer (and artist) Liza Corsillo has used these fabric paints to give new life to everything from old T-shirts to pillowcases to pants. The water-soluble paints, she writes, “deliver intense, rich colors and don’t feel stiff or plasticky on the fabric when they dry.” And it’s the type of gift that can keep on giving: As thanks, your bestie just may whip up a custom tee for your next birthday.

For the best friend who wishes they lived in a Wes Anderson movie

iSoHo Trimline Phone
$32
$32

Let them live out the fantasy with this retro-inspired phone that’ll come in handy for late-night gossip sessions.

For the best friend whose skin-care routine begins and ends with SPF

Get them the very best of the best: The EltaMD UV Clear is beloved by dermatologists, who say this sunscreen is lightweight and fights breakouts.

For the best friend who can’t keep even a succulent alive

There’s no shame in going fauxespecially when the fake plant is as real-looking as this lush silk pothos.

For the best friend who’s always cursing their autocorrect

This portable keyboard turns Strategist writer Katherine Gillespie’s phone into a tiny typewriter. Although it’s certainly not as heavy as one: “It folds up into a slim nondescript rectangle that can easily slide into a tote bag or between packing cubes,” she writes.

For the best friend who wants to be TikTok famous

$30

This tabletop ring-light-and-tripod combo — which has the approval of the voice of Lisa Simpson (actress Yeardley Smith) — is ideal for shooting video. It’s easily moved from room to room and has three color modes (cool white, warm yellow, and daylight) and ten brightness levels.

Under $100

For the best friend who’s fed up with Instagram

Polaroid Go Instant Camera
$80
$80

Maybe they share former Strategist writer Jordan Bowman’s philosophy of instant film: “There really is something transcendent about experiencing a special moment, then holding an image of it in your hands a few seconds later.” The Polaroid Go has made that experience effortless, he says, shooting more focused and brighter pictures than Fujifilm’s instant cameras.

For the best friend who never misses an Architectural Digest house tour

Japanese Interiors
$66
$66

It’s one of our favorite coffee-table books of 2022. Vogue Japan editor Mihoko Iida showcases all sorts of abodes — “from smartly arranged urban spaces to airy, expansive nature retreats” — that embody “the aspirational vision of some of Japan’s top architects, including Arata Endo, Kengo Kuma, and nendo.”

For the best friend who (hand)writes the most thoughtful cards

This fountain pen is a favorite of Iva Dixit, an audience editor at The New York Times Magazine who has been teased by friends for her self-described “troglodyte-like insistence on writing everything.” The pen seems to be a “love letter to the internet’s fountain-pen obsessives” as it makes even chicken scratch look elegant.

For the best friend who hates ironing

This stubborn-wrinkle–fighting machine counts Uma Thurman’s stylist as a fan. And Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla says unsteamable items surrender once the steamer is in its eponymous “turbo” mode.

For the best friend who’s getting into gaming

Strategist tech writer Jordan McMahon calls this mobile controller his favorite portable gaming console. “If I have some time while I’m waiting for my doctor’s appointment or have a long commute ahead of me, I can pull out the Backbone, snap my phone into it, and get lost in one of my favorite games,” he explains.

For the best friend whose battery is low

Fire Island’s Tomás Matos makes sure to bring this portable charger everywhere, as “not being able to call an Uber is the worst feeling in the world.”

For the best friend who could use a new best friend (in bed)

Dame Fin
$77

According to our luxury-vibrator testers, the fingerlike Fin feels like silk with a low-powered motor that’s not overwhelming.

For the best friend who needs a hug

$63

Strategist associate editor Jenna Milliner-Waddell calls this weighted blanket a dupe for the famous Gravity Blanket. “I now define my life as pre–YnM blanket and post–YnM blanket,” she says. Plus, the cooling bamboo cover means they won’t wake up sweaty.

For the best friend whose car is a bike

$55

In our bikepacking gear guide, Bikepack Racing Podcast co-host Ezra Ward-Packard offered this wisdom: “Even worse than getting your bike stolen is getting it stolen with all your gear on it.” A lock is non-negotiable — and this one is perfectly lightweight.

For the best friend who’s mostly fragrance free

If “laundry detergent” is their signature scent, they might like this Lake & Skye perfume. It converted restaurateur Missy Robbins, who — up until she found the fresh fragrance — used only “neutral-smelling moisturizers and soaps.”

For the best friend who finally learned how to flip an egg

This Lodge five-piece collection is our pick for the best cast-iron cookware set. Strategist kitchen-and-dining writer Emma Wartzman praises its ability to rise to and retain high heat.

Under $200

For the best friend whose office setup is hurting their back

Chiropractor Randi Jaffe likes that this standing-desk mat allows for “subconscious movement,” so you won’t stay in the same spot for hours on end.

For the best friend who pores over the size of their pores

When Guo tested out the Vera, she found the lighted makeup mirror allowed her to get tight close-ups of her face or reflect her entire head, neck, and shoulders “to dust some highlighter on my décolletage,” she said, “or curl and straighten my hair.”

For the best friend who’s learning to sew

It’s one of the most well-reviewed sewing machines on Amazon with basic features for a beginner.

For the best friend who believes everything tastes better fried

Two air-fryer enthusiasts — Jennifer West and Rebecca Abbott, the recipe developers behind Air Frying Foodie — rave about this Cosori model. “I don’t think I’ve come across something you can’t fit in the basket,” Abbott says.

For the best friend who practically lives in the great outdoors

Make sure they have everything they need for their wilderness adventures. Golde co-founder Trinity Mouzon Wofford also added this very cooler to her wedding registry. Wofford has taken it on picnics, used it for get-togethers on her back deck, and even for storing groceries in the car.

For the best friend who just bought a house

Welcome them to their new home with this mat that Kelsey Keith, Curbed’s first editor-in-chief, put on her wedding registry. She says the colorful stripes awoke the “latent prep” in her.

For the best friend whose book towers are about to topple