gifts they might actually want

The Gifts That Best Friends Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ellen Bennett Want to Give Each Other

Photo: Courtesy of Jesse Tyler Ferguson

About seven years ago, actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson walked into the offices of Hedley & Bennett — Ellen Bennett’s apron company (that now also makes very good masks) — to design his custom apron, a gift from his husband, Justin Mikita. “We didn’t know each other, but by the time he walked out, we were two peas in a pod,” says Bennett, who made Ferguson a member of her gorgeous Technicolor wedding party a few years later. “He felt like a long-lost brother from another mother.” It helps that Ferguson, who also runs a food blog turned book called Food Between Friends with recipe developer and author Julie Tanous, is just as into food as Bennett is. (“We talked about food and restaurants and aprons,” Bennett adds of their meet-cute.) So we asked the pals to share the gifts they’d like to give each other this holiday season — all of which happen to be great gifts to give your own best friend.

From Ellen to Jesse

There are two things I believe every good cook should have in their home: a good cutting board and a good apron. I have this cutting board at home and it lives on my counter. It is a no-regrets perfect gift for any foodie in your life.

The Waxman is Hedley & Bennett’s coolest apron and a great gift because it’s super durable, beautiful, and easy to clean. Every good cook should have a good apron, and this one is one of our best. It’s handmade here in L.A., made with leather straps and wax canvas.

I don’t wear perfume and neither does Jesse, so this is the perfect gift. It looks nice, smells nice, and you can keep it near your kitchen sink to have after cooking and then handling the inevitable ton of dishes.

This is from a beautiful brand in Marfa, Texas. I love everything it does and would give this blanket to Jesse for a few reasons. Jesse grew up in New Mexico and I would love to give him something that reminds him of home. We went to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta a few years ago and this blanket reminds me of that adventure. Lastly, Jesse and I both love color and this blanket just reminds me of him so much.

I love this bowl and am obsessed with Mud and all its ceramic colorful dishes. Not only is this bowl oven-safe and durable, it’s beautiful as well, and the color pops so beautifully on a kitchen counter.

From Jesse to Ellen

My cooking partner Julie gave me one of these last year and I love it so much. In my opinion, there is nothing more essential in a kitchen than a really good cast-iron pan, and Smithey makes one that is so pretty, you won’t want to put it in a drawer. Ellen inspired me to hang my most used pans over my stove, and I know this one will look great hanging over hers — as long as she doesn’t use it to make bacon when her pet pig Oliver is in the house.

What better gift is there for a culinary lover like Ellen than a cookbook? I’ll tell you: a cookbook that you wrote yourself! Now, listen. I know everyone didn’t have time to write a cookbook last year. That’s why I took care of it and wrote one for you. My cooking partner Julie and I created over 100 recipes inspired from our upbringings and hometowns (Albuquerque, New Mexico, for me and Cullman, Alabama, for Julie). It won’t hit shelves until March 9, 2021, but that shouldn’t stop you from preordering it for your friends.

My new favorite place to buy spices is the Spice House. Yes, the spices are incredibly aromatic with unbelievable flavor, but what really hooked me were the stunning, chic jars that they are packaged in. They look so beautiful on my spice rack, constantly beckoning me to take them for a whirl. Gift one of the “best seller” or “starter” sets and then build from there! Once you own the jars, you can order refill packs for a fraction of the price. Its website also has a great blog that offers innovative recipes and spotlights on some of its more unique spices.

Sadie’s Hot Salsa
From $31 for 4
From $31 for 4

Sadie’s is one of the most famous New Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque. It is also where I worked as a host for a few years during high school. It started in a bowling alley at a counter with a few stools and grew into a local institution that still boasts long waits during peak hours. Needless to say, it is famous for its salsa, which (thank you, internet gods) is available online. I order a case and then give them out as gifts over the year. I usually get a Why are you giving me a jar of salsa look when I hand them to my friends, but that look quickly evaporates into an Oh my God, this is the greatest salsa I have ever had look. I had the pleasure of taking Ellen and her husband, Casey, to Sadie’s on a trip we took together to New Mexico, so I think the look she will give me will be the latter.

We can all use a little more Zen in our lives these days, and the newly formed Marvi Designs are a simply MARVI-lous way to do that. These beautifully funky designs are all handcrafted in Los Angeles from natural wood. Every design, from its cutting boards to its small stash boxes, is a one of a kind design. My personal favorites are its beautifully unique planters. I have a few around my house, and they always remind me to stay calm and carry on!

Ellen is one of the hardest-working people I have ever met. Sometimes I need a nap after watching a day of her Instagram Stories. After an 18- to 20-hour day, when she finally has an opportunity to lie horizontal, I want to make sure it’s in a beautiful and comfortable oasis.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Ellen Bennett & Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s BFF Gift Guide