Gift-giving can feel like our collective love language at the Strategist — and our family and friends have come to expect nothing but the best. We’ve already shared the gifts we Strategist editors want to receive. Hopefully, this list of the gifts we’ll be giving is also helpful for any last-minute shopping you’re doing. Read on for some gift inspiration — unless you’re one of those loved ones, in which case, please immediately close this tab.
Tembe Denton-Hurst, writer
Two of my friends are getting this puzzle from Le Puzz, which is both an activity and affordable piece of art. This one is from a collaboration with artist Lenworth McIntosh — a.k.a. Joonbug — and depicts stretched out figures bent around each other. It’s stunning and playful. The box itself also features drawings by the artist, making the entire thing a collectible piece. I also bought one for myself, and once I’m done assembling it, I’m considering putting it in a frame.
I give books every year, to everyone, because I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as a non-reader — only someone who hasn’t found something interesting to read. This year, I’m giving a range of reading materials in various mediums, including copies of the latest Apartmento magazine (the now-iconic Solange apartment tour is the cover), a copy of my favorite novel I’ve read this year, and this coffee-table book, which is taking a lot of effort not to keep for myself.
Rachael Griffiths, writer
Everytime Midsommar (starring Florence Pugh) gets brought up in conversation, my friend will, without fail, make a point of mentioning that Hereditary — director Ari Aster’s previous film — “is actually way better.” Her consistent delivery of that line meant that I just had to buy her this festive recreation of one of the … less festive locations from the latter film. Maybe someone will buy her a Midsommar-themed gingerbread house, too, and we can see which film tastes better?
My sister wants home gifts to decorate her first property. After years of living in tiny apartments, she’s realized she only has enough furniture to fill her new living room. We both love Gilmore Girls — an annual autumn rewatch was tradition in our house growing up — and this lamp is almost identical to one I spotted in both Lorelai Gilmore’s house, and the Dragonfly Inn. The one in the show is green, but this one is even better because it’s in my sister’s favorite color.
Arielle Avila, writer
I gifted my grandparents a custom Shutterfly calendar filled with photos of the family last year, and it was such a hit that I had to order it twice (one for their room and one for their study). They told me they want another for 2023. This time though, I’m trying Artifact Uprising because the design is a touch nicer than Shutterfly’s, and it has a perforated photo section so my grandparents won’t have to keep the entire calendar at the end of the year.
I was truly struggling with what I should gift my sister, until I was looking through a past Don’t Dillydally and remembered that Tyler, the Creator has a beauty line. While I don’t have quite the budget to get her the perfume, the brand also sells decently priced Moleskines embossed with a quote and his logo. My sister journals almost every day, so I think she’ll appreciate a notebook from one of her favorite musicians.
Louis Cheslaw, associate editor
I’ve already given this perfect novella to loved ones this year, and am going to keep at it. It’s the kind of story that you can finish in one or two hours, but that will completely reset your day (or week, or month.) It’s a work of historical fiction set in 1980s Ireland, but all you really need to know is that it’s a tale of personal courage, love, and risk-taking.
I’ve been writing with this fountain pen for years, and it’s one of the best-designed, best-value things I own. I recently discovered that you can get (and give) it in a festive dark green, so I’m going to grab two or three for my closest friends so we can be in a little club.
Jeremy Rellosa, writer
A lot of my friends spend time outdoors, and while on hikes with them, I’ve noticed how they’d point out various things in the wild: “Oh, look at those cool wildflowers!” one friend would say. I thought it would be cool to give them guidebooks that could tell them a little more about the flora and fauna around them — especially while they’re outdoors. There are many guidebooks out there, but the Audubon Society’s guides have a classic, timeless feel to them.
Gifting someone a print is always a risky move, because it implies that they’ll hang it up or display it somewhere in their home. I feel confident that these cool printed maps of various locations around the world — which are shaded and designed to look 3-D — will make an impression. Muir Way makes a bunch of different types of prints, including topographic and hydrological maps.
My go-to gift this year was a chocolate babka, which I gifted eight times (so far) for all sorts of occasions: housewarmings, birthdays, picnics, trips to visit friends in different cities, and family get-togethers, and it feels even more appropriate to gift one during the holidays. My Manhattan relatives say Breads make the best babka, but my favorite is from Mekelburg’s.
Liza Corsillo, senior writer
My father is always complaining that his head is cold — a symptom of being bald — and can never have enough warm winter hats. This Reigning Champ beanie, like their sweatpants, is both cozy and structured so he can wear it around the house or out to dinner with my mom.
I don’t have a perfect recipient in mind for this set quite yet. I just love how simple and classy they are and it makes me want to buy a set for everyone I know (including me.) They’d be perfect paired with nothing but plain white lights on a little tabletop tree.
Dominique Pariso, writer
I also plan to order a few of these very luxurious lip balms from Buly 1803. The cases come in just about any color combination you can think of and the embossing is included which adds a nice personalized touch.
[Editor’s note: The original price is listed in euros, converted to dollars by us here.]
Chelsea Peng, senior editor
Immigrant parents are impossible to shop for because they think everything is a waste of money. However, I know for a fact that my dad wants a SAD lamp after seeing mine. This one resembles an iPad, which should earn extra points because immigrant dads, while very against their kids buying them anything, still like to flex on ’em with gadgets.
My brother is in his final year of med school (I don’t know how we’re related either), which calls for lots of dressier occasions. A J.Crew Ludlow suit is kind of a rite of passage, but Brendon Babenzien’s loucher, giant-fit-Chino-era Kenmare feels cooler and younger. I’ll even throw in a fitting with a former fashion editor (me) with two feedback rounds, for which I’ll waive my standard rate.
Latifah Miles, writer
My 10-year-old is a budding artist with aspirations of being a video-game designer/comic-book illustrator one day. He has a YouTube channel that he wants to put more energy into and requested an Apple Pen to help bring his illustrations to life. This is a tricky age to buy for, because they are developing more individualized interests, but I really enjoy buying him things that bring him closer to perfecting his hobbies — and finding more joy in them.
Kelsie Schrader, managing editor
My mom works truly constantly and is also currently in school to get her transitional doctorate, so I don’t think she ever rests these days. There is nothing I can give or say to her to get her to relax at least sometimes, so instead of trying, I’m just giving her this nice robe — which I have also owned and loved for a few years now — in the hopes she enjoys her mornings and evenings more. She’s been wearing the same not-especially-plush robe for as long as I can remember, and she’d probably say this robe is too expensive, but it’s been a little luxury in my daily life, so I’m hoping it’s one for her, too.
I get my grandma a puzzle every year and then force her to do it with me, even though she really doesn’t enjoy the process and ends up just watching Hallmark movies. This year, I’m getting her this Smokey Bear one from the Landmark Project. My grandpa (her husband, who passed years ago) was a forester and a huge tree lover. He planted thousands of trees in his lifetime, and he and my grandma both loved Smokey Bear. I’m hoping she’ll enjoy doing this puzzle a little more this year given the imagery, but if not, I’m certain she’ll appreciate that 10 percent of proceeds from the purchase go toward wildfire prevention education.
Winnie Yang, senior editor
My daughter has been asking for a Squishmallow for more than a year now, and more recently has been asking specifically for a fox one. I was really reluctant to add to her already sizable stuffed animal collection, but what can I say? Child persistence: 1, parental resistance: 0.
Ambar Pardilla, writer
I’ll only cop to this since it was delivered early (it’s very hard to hide an entire treadmill) so it’s not a surprise anymore. I bought it for my dad since his old NordicTrack, which he scored at an incredible deal, broke down recently. I knew he wouldn’t pay this much for another (I bought it during Black Friday). I’m no exercise-equipment expert, but with 30,000 hyperenthusiastic reviews, I felt like it was a safe bet.
Lauren Ro, writer
I came across this adorable baby chair while looking for a rocking horse for our 6-month-old and sent it to my parents, who ended up buying it for him for Christmas. (Thanks, mom and dad!) I love its simple design and the fact that it looks a little more modern than the ubiquitous monogrammed roll-arm sofa for kids. It comes with a soft, removable activity center that doubles as a kind of restraint tray. It’s definitely pricey, but it’s roomy enough to accommodate him as a toddler, and its grown-up aesthetic means I won’t mind keeping it around the house.
Tshepo Mokoena, senior editor
It’s no surprise that we’ve already highlighted Kin’s non-alcoholic drinks as expert-approved potential gifts on the Strategist. But I live in London, where the brand’s less well-known (and where we’re known for drinking a lot more). This set, with a couple of extra bar accessories, will help liven up Dry January for a friend who observes it, or sit nicely on the bars of my sober friends.
I’ve noticed an uptick this fall in the amount of candles that friends have lit when I go round to visit. I have two friends from college in mind, who live together, and would appreciate this snuffer and trimmer set. Candle care can seem like more trouble than it’s worth — until someone else does the heavy lifting for you.
Maxine Builder, editor
My mom is very much the mom who tells you that she doesn’t want anything for Christmas. But this year, she even went so far as to buy her own Christmas presents, which really bummed me out! So I bought her a brand-new bathrobe from Brooklinen, in pink and white vertical stripes, because they’ll match the light pink slippers she’s already gifted herself. (And Mom: It was 25 percent off for Black Friday, and I used the Strategist’s affiliate link, so you really can’t get mad at me for spending money.)
I knew I would be getting my dad this coffee-table book for Christmas as soon as I wrote a blurb about it back in October. He has a collection of dozens — and maybe even hundreds — of the Grateful Dead’s live recordings, both official and bootlegged, so I knew he would appreciate it. But I’m feeling especially cocky about this gift because he told me it was on his wish list … two weeks after I bought it.
Emma Wartzman, kitchen and dining writer
We’ve recommended Fellow’s expert-approved electric kettle countless times. It’s the nicest-looking one on the market, with exacting temperature control and hold, and a gooseneck spout for gentle and precise pouring. When I was at my boyfriend’s parents’ house last month, his dad mentioned that their old model broke and they’ve since been boiling water in a pot on the stove for tea. Time for an upgrade.
My boyfriend likes whiskey, but has never bought a nice set of rocks glasses (he just uses various regular tumblers to sip from). Every time he drinks from one somewhere else, he comments on how nice it is. I’m thinking of getting him a couple of these classic-looking ones to have on hand.
Erin Schwartz, writer
Since reading Allison Rodman’s guide to fake food-themed items, I’ve been trawling the website of Fake Food Japan, which has an incredible stock of realistic food-themed hair bands, USB drives, and phone charms. I especially like this natto business-card case.
My grandmother is a particular combination of hard and easy to shop for. She loves a lot of things, arranging them diligently, but I’ve also been hesitant to give her bigger items she’ll need to find a space for. And so I’ve been gifting either small things or consumables recently — cookies from my neighborhood, yarn — and I think I’ve found the right balance with this tin of dark chocolate robin’s-egg-shaped candies. She loves sweets and loves reusing a nice-looking box, and as a Vermonter, she’ll appreciate that it’s from the Vermont Country Store.
Jenna Milliner-Waddell, associate editor
A couple of years ago I tried to buy my dad a new robe for Christmas (he has this tattered red robe that’s probably as old as me). I found one at Century 21 that I thought was perfect. He told me to return it. It was too plush, too nice, too new for his liking. I’m trying again this year with this Tekla robe that I bought on Black Friday. The cotton is clsoer to what he currently has, so I’m hoping it won’t be too warm and overwhelming for him. Plus, I think he’ll be delighted by the hood.
My mom’s biggest complaint the last 12 months has been her lack of eyebrows. She’s not quite Whoopi, but she’s approaching it. She’s tried a few oils to bring them back but I think a proper serum would be good to add to the mix. I’ve done my research and have been most compelled by the claims Vegamour users make. That’s where I’m leaning right now.
Kitty Guo, junior writer
My mom turned 60 this year and is already complaining about forgetfulness, so I’m planning to gift her a bottle of the Hao Life’s Sharp Focus supplements, which are intended to improve memory and enhance cognitive function. She’s generally skeptical of pills and pharmaceuticals, but The Hao Life’s products are rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine and incorporate familiar ingredients she’d find in any Chinese herbal medicine shop, like ginseng, lion’s mane, and jujube seeds.
One of my friends studied computational chemistry and recently wrote an open-source Google Colab notebook for “interactive protein-ligand docking” — for fun. He’s very smart. He’s also a fine cook, so I’m planning to gift him Synergetic Stew: Explorations in Dymaxion Dining. It’s technically a cookbook, but really, it’s an homage to architect, engineer, systems theorist, writer, designer, inventor, philosopher, and futurist Buckminster Fuller, whose omnivorous brilliance I think my friend will appreciate.
Sam Daly, deals editor
This film is very cool — it gives your photographs that grainy, black-and-white look of old monster movies. I’ll be giving these to my brother, who’s always experimenting with different types of film.
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