holiday gift guide 2019

130 People With Particular, Exacting, Exceptional Taste on the Most Perfect Gift Under $104

(We set a $100 limit but couldn’t leave out Rita Konig’s trug.)

Illustration: Pete Gamlen
Illustration: Pete Gamlen
Illustration: Pete Gamlen

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Here at the Strategist, we spend a lot of time chatting with folks known for having personal taste so finely tuned that it has often become synonymous with their public personae. Whether they are cool people, experts in their fields, or bona fide celebrities, these individuals are recognized for their shared obsession over details. In talking to people like this day in and day out, we hear over and over how their obsessiveness informs what they buy for themselves. But what do people with such strong opinions get the people they love, whose taste might differ from theirs?

To find out, we asked 130 people whom we think have particular, exacting, and exceptional taste about the gifts they’re most excited to give someone else, setting a limit of $100 (which, of course, was exceeded — but not by more than $3). Their suggestions really do include something for every taste and should go a long way toward checking off any still-unchecked-off people on your list. (And if for whatever reason they do not, we have hundreds more gift ideas right here.)

John Waters


“A shocking little book that seems to celebrate the ‘destruction of a house of lies,’ with page after page of photographs of the fires burning in Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral.”

Stephanie Danler

“It’s the most versatile and beautiful countertop item. Use it to store fruit, or as a serving dish. It can go on the stove, in the oven, and even in the dishwasher.”

Bevy Smith

Lelo Sona Cruise
From $65

“Holidays are always tense. So give your overworked bestie a gift that keeps on giving … multiple orgasms.”

Amy Sedaris

Actress, comedian, and writer

“I have given this to a 13-year-old boy, a 24-year-old girl, and a senior citizen. You can also get the bracelets in silver, and you can stack them as well (they come in 4mm and 5mm, too).”

Isaac Mizrahi

“Everyone should have one of these bags, if not more than one. It’s been a mainstay in my world for as long as I can remember.”

Emma Straub

Author and owner, Books Are Magic

“When my husband bought this diffuser at the Muji store at JFK, I openly mocked it, but now I really love it. Buy with nice smelly oils, and you are a dream friend!”

“When my husband bought this diffuser at the Muji store at JFK, I openly mocked it. But now, I really love it. Buy it with nice smelly oils, and you are a dream friend.”

Karla Welch

“These are my absolute fave. I travel with them, because honestly, hotels are the only place I ever have the time to take a bath.”

Jazzi McGilbert

Creative director, LOOM, and founder, Reparations Club

“Weird, but hear me out: After I got these as a wedding gift, they quickly became the best things in my home, hands down. Not only can you change the color, brightness, and temperature of the lighting — you can do it all from your phone.”

Erica Chidi Cohen

Co-founder and CEO, LOOM

Smells like sandalwood and neroli and makes you automatically chill out after a long shower.”

Adam Rapoport

Editor-in-chief, Bon Appetit

“Navigating bike lanes, especially at night, can feel like a roller-derby match. These are super-bright, easily rechargeable, and quick for the cyclist in your life to get on and off.”

Vanessa Lavorato

Co-host, Bong Appetit

“This Lucky Charm Potion from Snakeroot Apothecary always boosts my mood when I spritz it around my house. The rosemary and cedar smell fresh and I love how Rachel explains the properties of the ingredients she uses. Her Smog Lifter Potion is essential for L.A.”

“The spray smells of fresh rosemary and cedar — it always boosts my mood when I spritz it around the house.”

Judy Collins

“To brighten up life all year round. Such a treasure for your home.”