holiday gifts 2022

The Gifts the Strategist Editors Want

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

We look at a lot of products at the Strategist. All of our trawling and scrolling means we often stumble on gifts we’d actually like (and yes, the pressure is on from our family and friends to gift well, too). Here, we’ve pulled together the items that our editors want to receive this holiday season, in the hopes that you’ll gain some gift inspiration of your own.

Dominique Pariso, writer

I tried these jeans on in Judi Rosen’s shop a few months ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about them since. My butt has never looked better than it did for those few blessed minutes in the dressing room. They really are magic — so I’m hoping to find them under my tree this year.

I usually ask my parents for a new bottle of perfume each year. Marissa Zappas is my favorite perfumer and I would love to add their smoked jasmine black-tea scent to my collection. It has notes of bergamot, black tea, and jasmine and is supposed to evoke “cold stone, flowers budding and dried, strewn about tea leaves and tarot cards, and a locked wooden gate.”

And, because I’ve been very good this year, I would also like a pair of these Mary Janes …

Kitty Guo, junior writer

When I first heard about a Dalai Lama x Flamingo Estate collab, I thought it was a very fun and clever joke. But it’s real, and I very much want it. This set includes a jar of saffron honey, four artisanal soaps, and a candle containing ingredients the brand say they sourced high in the Himalayan mountains: rhododendron, marigold, turmeric, sea buckthorn. A portion of proceeds will be donated to The Gaden Phodrang Foundation of the Dalai Lama, which aims to promote peace, humanitarianism, and the protection of the environment.

The only thing keeping me going through these dark, cold days is the dream of being on the beach next summer, smothered in Vacation’s whipped mousse sunscreen. I wouldn’t say no to the brand’s five-pack of retro dessert-themed lip balms either, as the combination of dry outside air and my radiator is doing a number on my skin right now.

Maxine Builder, editor

Another Christmas, another opportunity for me to ask for a pair of running sneakers. I’ve been swapping between Hoka Cliftons and Bondis, but I wanted something with less cushion and more stability, especially because I now suffer from the occasional bout of knee pain. After doing a fair bit of research — including our mega-guide to picking the best running shoes — I put the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22s on my wishlist.

Apple AirPods Max

I acknowledge that this is an ambitious gift to put on a wish list. But around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the price dropped to $449, and that felt like a slightly less ridiculous amount to pay for headphones. And what good is a wishlist if you’re not going to shoot for the moon once in a while? (I did, however, make a note to my family members that if they were going to buy a pair to please do so while they were on sale.)

Jenna Milliner-Waddell, associate editor

My wish list goes from delusional to slightly more realistic. Though I really want a new apartment, the next best thing would be furniture to redecorate my current one. I just started year three in a place that I’ve outgrown, with no extra storage and a lumpy stained sofa that’s now too worn-in for my taste. These two pieces from Crate and Barrel would immediately fix both of those things. The wardrobe is the perfect size for the only free wall in my apartment and would provide the concealed storage I need. And the compact recliner sofa is perfect for my studio, still letting me put my feet up without taking away precious square footage at all times. It’s also the only attractive recliner on the market. I’ve checked.

I imagine 2023 me having a five to nine before my nine to five where I have a slow start to my day, do my dishes from the night before, work out, and come home to my Higher Dose infrared sauna blanket for 30 minutes before hopping in the shower and getting ready for work. This is the very thing standing in between me and my best self.

More realistically, I hope this art book from photographer Cameron Hyman is under the tree. I’m obsessed with his black-and-white photography, especially the way he captures Black women. He is also based in St. Martin, a place I grew up visiting with my family — I love looking at the island through his lens.

Erin Schwartz, writer

A good two-part gift for a cocktail person is a non-obvious alcohol and the fussy little glassware to go with it (although you should double-check that they can spare the cabinet space for fussy glasses). This year, I’m hoping for a good aquavit — once we hit the winter solstice, I like to sing a gloomy hymn, recommit myself to finishing Fear and Trembling, and stock a bottle of Nordic liquor in my freezer — and in my fantasy, I am drinking it out of aquavit or schnapps glasses, which are delicate and a bit silly, shaped like a shot glass with a long stem. (Not technically an aquavit glass, but I also love these Ultima Thule cordial glasses.)

Sammy Daly, deals editor

I usually ask for art for every birthday and holiday. I recently came across Hannah Bess Ross’s prints and would love to receive this print — the patchwork border is especially wonderful.

Most metals irritate my piercings, so when I find something I like, I stick to it. I bought these last year and would like another pair or two. I love that these are little (perfect for mixing and matching!) and have a hinge closure to stay firmly in place (since I never take them out).

Emma Wartzman, kitchen and dining writer

A few years ago, I splurged on a set of Sarah Kersten’s gorgeous handmade ceramic breakfast bowls. They’re my favorite pieces of tableware now, in perfect condition even with daily use (for dinner, too) and after being thrown in the dishwasher to clean. My goal is to slowly collect more of her stuff, and next up on my wish list are a couple of ramen bowls to replace my chipped porcelain Ikea ones.

I’ve owned the same quilt from Target since I moved to New York eight years ago and — while it’s held up remarkably well — it has finally started to look a bit shabby. I’d love to replace it with one of the quilts I’ve long admired from this Brooklyn shop. They’re certainly not cheap, but I can dream!

Tshepo Mokoena, senior editor

A friend of a friend once gifted this mask to me on a whim. That year, it saved my sensitive skin after a spate of late-night parties and brutal work deadlines. I’m more of an Ordinary, CeraVe person with skin care, so rarely spend as much as this on one product. Selfishly, that makes it an ideal present. I’ll be patiently waiting.

Let me not tempt fate, but after about four years of slaughtering a series of houseplants, I’m getting better at keeping them alive. My living room gets a lot of bright, indirect light that would suit both this calathea and bird of paradise. The dream is to eventually cultivate a little jungle of plants. Just as long as my over-watering days are truly done.

Lauren Ro, writer

Every Christmas growing up, my grandmother, an exceptional seamstress, would buy me a pair of shoes to wear with one of her creations. One year she got me some shiny, pilgrim-eseque loafers with tassels that I still wear. I now adore all things patent. And so these Mary Janes from Carel have been on my wishlist for a while, and a recent (small) discount code was enough to make me hit buy as an early Christmas present to myself. They are surprisingly comfortable for a narrow shoe, allowing me to wear them straight out of the box with no socks. The low heel makes them feel a bit more casual than the Kina style Dominique wants, too. I think my grandmother would love them.

Ambar Pardilla, writer

Now if we’re talking about my completely out-there wish list, I desperately need these shoes. They remind me of something Louis XIV would’ve worn. The magenta satin, teardrop crystals, and rhinestone petals are completely impractical, but I don’t care. I would parade around them everywhere.

I mean come on, it’s a crocheted cherry. It’ll be a nice addition to my beret collection.

Winnie Yang, senior editor

I use clay cookware frequently — you’ll often find the Rancho Gordo bean pot and Toiro Kitchen Mushi Nabe bubbling away on my stove — and I’d love to receive a cazuela to replace one that broke long ago. Permanent Collection’s new roasting tray seems like an especially nice version.

I’ve been circling back to these periodically over the last few months. I love everything about them, and might like them even more in the Forest colorway, but would most of all like them on my feet.

Latifah Miles, writer

I just feel more put together with a pair of earrings on. I have a small pair of gold hoops that I wear daily (including to bed) and I love them, but I’d like another pair of slightly larger, everyday gold hoops that I can basically live in as well. These 15mm hoops are light and dainty — while still being noticeable and beautiful.

My grandmother planted the baking seed in me when I was a kid, and while I’ve always considered myself a good baker, this past year I’ve sought to be a great one. That means trying more complex recipes and upgrading my tools. I currently use a hand mixer that I swiped from my parent’s house when I moved into my first apartment a decade and a half ago. It definitely gets the job done, but I know my baking skills could develop even further with a stand mixer. There are a few to choose from out there but the KitchenAid is the gold standard — if it’s the only gift I unwrap on Christmas, my holiday will be complete.

Chelsea Peng, senior editor

“Prominent keychain” is at the top of my wish list this year because locking myself out has become an expensive and irksome habit (pandemic brain). This peekaboo copper mussel from Belgian jeweler Wouters & Hendrix, as recently spotted on Stephanie Broek’s feed, would be just the thing for a giftee who’s over carabiners or your forgetful pal who once had to walk a mile in their inside clothes to retrieve a spare, a.k.a. yours truly.

[Editor’s note: The price is listed in euros, but we’ve figured out the conversion to dollars here.]

Liza Corsillo, senior writer

I’ve been eyeing this compilation of letters written by the Moomin creator for months. I don’t know much about her life outside of her fabulously illustrated and beautifully weird children’s comic books, but this promises to lift the veil. It also seems like a book I will be able to jump in and out of easily without losing the thread.

As a soon-to-be new mom, I am at an awkward life stage for sneakers. Most of the ones I see and like on other people aren’t really my style or don’t end up looking cool on my feet. I am in search of some relatively neutral, but not dorky, Nikes that will make me feel good while out strolling with the baby. So far I’m considering the Waffle Ones and the Daybreaks in gray or black and white but I should really go to an actual store and try them on. (In which case maybe I want a sneaker gift certificate as a gift.)

Jeremy Rellosa, writer

I’ve used Snow Peak’s super high-quality camping equipment before (my titanium mug will most definitely outlast me), but I’ve never owned a piece of the brand’s apparel. I’ve had my eyes on many pieces, like the Takibi down jacket, but this simple, soft, 100 percent cotton sweater is at the top of my wishlist. Its mock neck is perfect for winter layering and I like how it comes in three subtle colors that you can wear with pretty much any outfit.

My coffee table feels naked without some type of surf-related magazine or photo book (like The Surfer’s Journal, or Afrosurf) and this design-heavy collection of interviews is right up that alley. It features interviews with surf giants Gerry Lopez, Steph Gilmore, and Mikey February — my personal favorite surfer.

Louis Cheslaw, associate editor

I’ve tried these boots on in C & J’s Soho store too many times this year not to mention them. It’s a crazy amount of money, which is why I don’t have them on my feet right now, but you’re getting a lot of shoe here: They’re designed for the most miserable winter conditions and are made (in Northampton, England) to last a lifetime by a company that’s been doing this since 1879. The broguing makes them more refined than your average boots, but the heft of the bouncy Vibram sole makes them casual and comfortable enough to wear with jeans, too.

I wear my navy Tricot V-neck against a white T-shirt almost every day at the moment. I’d love a V-neck sweater in another color, and the V on this one is pleasingly deep. I already have a few pieces from Another Aspect (a Danish men’s brand with a great, waste-minimizing philosophy) and they’re all excellent quality.

Rachael Griffiths, writer

I’m the type of person who feels naked without a ring on (almost) every finger, so I always appreciate a good-quality one. This one’s from Vivienne Westwood — no concerns about green fingers there — and as well as the medieval armor vibe, I also like that it’s a slightly darker color to standard silver. It also reminds me of Zendaya’s Joan of Arc outfit at the “Heavenly Bodies” Met Gala (which, four years later, still has me in a chokehold).

I’ve spotted these rings in Dua Lipa and Rihanna’s selfies before, but it wasn’t until I came face to face with a display of them in London’s Victoria and Albert museum that I fell in love. Particularly, I want the mocha shade, as it’s closest to my go-to lip color — but I’ll gladly take any, if you’re feeling generous.

Tembe Denton-Hurst, writer

I’ve been wanting a crossbody bag for a while now. All roads eventually led to this one from French label Polene. The Numero Dix bag is inspired by the equestrian world and saddlery and has a very classic, timeless silhouette; it reminds me of the Celine Ava but without the $1,000 price tag. There’s lots of nice-looking neutral shades available, but I’m partial to the black, which I think will go with everything.

I’m also drooling over these wedge boots from Miista. My friend Telsha has a pair of Givenchy boots that have this very exaggerated arched silhouette (she also has incredible taste in footwear), and I really like those, but they’re hard to track down and seem impractical for my wide, flat foot. These feel like a compromise, and would serve me well for many seasons to come.

I’m always keeping my eye out for prints and artwork for my apartment. I came across this artist via a TikTok gift guide and have been plotting on it ever since. The prints are eye-catching, affordable, and very limited edition, so I don’t have to worry about it becoming the next Blue Nude. I like that this figure looks like he’s wearing mohair, and the colors tie in with those of my home.

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.

The Gifts the Strategist Editors Want