Le Ultimate Gift Guide.

By: Jen Shoop

Though I still strongly endorse my holiday 2017 gift guide (<<I have given every single item on this list away as a gift!) and my more recent gift guide for girlfriends, I’m presenting a couple of additions this year — and at the risk of making for a very unsurprising holiday for my loved ones.  (Sorry, sisters and friends: you will see these items under the tree.)  As with previous gift guides, my parameters are simple: gifts should generally be around or under $100, well-reviewed, and practical.  I prefer to gift items I use and love every day that I can rave about as my recipient opens her gift.  (I.e., no more cheeseboards.)  You’ll note that I’ve sprinkled in “stocking stuffers” — see below the collage for links and details on how I’d package things, along with other cool finds not featured in the image below.  (And if you are looking for more holiday goodness, check out my new holiday section, where I’ve organized all of my gift guides and holiday posts, plus added a little boutique!)

+FOR THE FOODIE: Jeni’s Ice Cream.  Outrageously good ice cream with the most creative flavors.  We sent this to both of our parents last year and they went wild for it.  My Dad in particular has a Thing for ice cream (he likes his served on classic cake cones — which he eats nearly every night) and he declared Jeni’s “the best ice cream.”  He and my mom now hunt it down wherever they go.

+FOR THE MARATHONER / FIT FRIEND: My favorite running shorts ever (they are SO well designed and I like that they aren’t uber-short; I love the zippers, the cinch waist, and the breathability) paired with a Klean Kanteen.  Have I sung the praises of my Klean Kanteen?  It’s all about the sports nozzle.  I must have used cheap/bad sports nozzles my whole life because I usually avoided them like the plague.  They were either too hard to drink out of or they spilled everywhere.  The Klean Kanteen’s offers a bizarrely delightful drinking experience (like, lovely enough that you will notice it), allowing only the appropriate amount out without — ever — spilling in your gym bag.  And having a sports nozzle is awesome, period — who can drink while on an elliptical without water sloshing everywhere?  We gifted one of these to my mother-in-law as an add-on to her birthday gift and she raved about its convenient size.  Alternately: Plantronics earbuds.  These are SO good.  If you or your friend are still exercising with Apple earbuds and finding that they fall out of your ears/get tangled up in your clothes: welcome to the 21st century.  These revolutionized my runs (back when I ran regularly).  They take a minute to sync with your phone (they rely on bluetooth) but I like that you can control the volume and skip songs by tapping the button in your ear vs. going through your phone — so convenient to just keep your phone in your pocket!   They are also water-proof and actually stay in place in your ears.  The first time I used these, I ran a seven and a half minute mile, which is, like, insanely fast for me (I normally hover around nine) — that’s how excited I was to be exercising!

+FOR THE TRAVELER: MZ Wallace Metro Tote.  OK, this is the only pricey piece in this roundup at $215.  But I am a complete convert to the joys of the MZ Wallace line of bags and am convinced I need one of these after raving over their backpacks.  These are super lightweight, come in tons of great colors, and can hold more than you ever should carry in a given day.  (Like, astonishing amounts.)  I love the zippered top, too — the way it’s designed enables you to really pack it to the brim and still zip it all in.  I’ve become increasingly leery of wearing open-top bags on the subway and on the crowded streets of New York (so easy for someone to slip their hand into your bag!); these obviate the problem.  The fabric is also water repellent — maybe not waterproof — but it’s stood up well in the rain without any seepage.  I’d throw in some of my favorite Herban Essentials wipes (I wipe down the tray, the armrests, etc, and these are powerfully scented so they help address any gross odors) and/or The Laundress’s crease release (<<I use this constantly).

+FOR THE NEW MOM: If she doesn’t yet have a diaper bag, I’d again suggest the MZ Wallace Metro Tote.  I would absolutely pick this over anything else on the market, possibly my Goyard bag included.  I love my Goyard but I do wish it had a zipper top and it’s so pricey that I feel badly if I need to set it on the ground or run through the rain with it (though I do).  This is in part why I find myself using my MZ Wallace backpack so often.  I’d also throw in these Think King stroller hooks.  They are simply the best.  Unobtrusive design, repositionable but never slide/slip, and can affix to any style of stroller.  If your friend/sib is the type to geek out over baby gear and not be offended by the fact that she’s receiving something that is in fact for her child rather than herself (I’m one of those people — I’d just as happily welcome a high-end piece of baby gear as I would a new sweater for myself), and she owns a Babyzen Yoyo, you might also consider the Babyzen Yoyo Foot Muff.  I really want one of these but am having a hard time justifying the purchase of a second footmuff (mini already has one for her Bugaboo) for a stroller we use maybe once a week while traveling on the subway together.  Still, I’d be thrilled (!) to see it under the tree.

+FOR THE BEAUTY SNOB: You know who I’m talking about.  The friend who reads Into the Gloss and knows about things like Kate McLeod’s body stones and was into Korean skincare before it was cool.  I love giving beauty products to all my friends but feel I’d especially impress those in the know with this set of Kosas lipsticks.  Kosas is the new new new and lots of chic people swear by their lipsticks (they’re “Goop’s favorite”).  Depending on budget, I’d pair them with either these darling Weezie towels, which are designed for makeup removal (so smart that they’re black; do you know how many towels I’ve stained with mascara?!) or my new obsession: Shiseido’s facial cotton.  These cotton pads may seem like a frivolous expense but trust me on this: you will thank me.  First, the cotton is super soft and absorbent — but, importantly, plush/layered.  This means you can dump quite a bit of makeup remover/micellar water onto the pad without it spilling everywhere/seeping through to your fingers.  And it really removes the makeup without the abrasiveness of one of those textured rounds.  I’m a complete convert.

+FOR THE WOMAN WHO HAS EVERYTHING (MY MOM): Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir.  It took me a few days of use to come around to this stuff, but I’m now permanently hooked.  This is the kind of product you might not think you need, or, to put a finer point on it, your mother — who has everything — might not yet have.  I spritz it on after cleansing my face and then use it on my beauty blender or foundation brush when applying tinted moisturizer/foundation/concealer.  It softens everything and helps with blending.  The elixir has an initially off-putting but gradually appealing scent of bracing mint and something else powerfully pungent (gasoline?).  It smells medicinal and applying it makes me feel like I’ve just opened the door to an arctic wind.  It is refreshing and hydrating and — I just can’t explain why, but I love it.  I might pair this with my RMS Living Luminizer — one of my all-time favorite beauty products — because, again, it’s one of those products that is a little off the beaten path and less likely to be in even a beauty-lover’s cosmetic kit.  This stuff is incredible because it’s completely translucent (applies no color) and can be layered over anything, including a bare face, for a luminous glow.  I typically apply it to my cheek bones and the tip of my nose.  I’ve also used it on bare lids for a kind of dewy look situation.

+FOR THE CARRIE BRADSHAW: For your stylish friend/sister who likes the artsy, one-of-a-kind gifts rather than a mass-produced J. Crew sweater.  (Somehow I’m both in Carrie’s boat and the J. Crew boat.)  This oui ring, which is inspired by a Dior design.  I gave my sister (a fashion designer) this ring several years ago and she went wild over it.  There are other styles/expressions you can find in their Etsy shop, too, but I love the message of this ring: an open-minded YES to the world.

+FOR THE FREE SPIRITED/AESTHETICALLY-MINDED: Be she a poet or a non-profit employee, this friend marches to the beat of her own drum; she’s not interested in keeping up with the Joneses.  Something artisanal from a small Italian boutique would be just up her alley, like these elegant dishes.  How much do you LOVE the script?!  As an add-on: a set of glass straws.  I feel like my sister, who would definitely fall into this category, would love this set.

+FOR THE EVERYWOMAN: I can imagine myself giving the following gifts to literally every woman in my life, at every age and from every walk of life.  First, the Hinza tote.  I bought one of these at the Container Store on a whim and went back two days later to buy a second.  These are such a wonderful, versatile tote.  I use mine for groceries (so nice to keep all your items upright versus flopping around in a Baggu), to store our glass milk jugs before they are recycled, and to house all of mini’s bath items (easy to wipe clean).  They are stylish and multi-purpose and could find a useful purpose in anyone’s home, be she a gardener (gardening tools and gloves!), a farmer’s market enthusiast (the perfect shopping tote), a new mom (a perfect stashing place for a diapering station).  Incidentally, this might be a good presentation vehicle for a gift basket for a new mom!  Layer in a Gathre mat, some Mustela products, a Wubbanub, and you’re set.  Second: Armor Lux slippers (<<currently marked down 50% off).  I have read RAVE reviews over these cozy classics, and who doesn’t love slippers?  I find that slippers and robes are the kinds of things people rarely buy for themselves but love having on hand.  Mr. Magpie insisted he didn’t need either but then — once he had them — wore them daily.  Third, Everlane cashmere crew.  I’m sure you will hate me for refeaturing this for the trillionth time but it is one of my favorite discoveries this year (a friend of mine just bought one for each of her sisters for Christmas on my good word; we spent time agonizing over the colors).  It’s a perfect pricepoint for a splurge-y present for a loved one.  And the style is timeless!   Would be equally as chic on a prepster in pastel pink as it would on a TriBeCa flygirl in basic black.

+STOCKING STUFFERS FOR THE EVERYWOMAN: Sara Happ lip scrub.  OK, have we talked about this?  A friend of mine gave me a jar of this as a hostess gift and I am so grateful to her for the introduction.  It is a must-have in these cold, drying winter months and this is just the kind of thing I would never buy for myself.  A great self-care present.  I also love these velcro cord ties — such a random thing to give someone, but they’ve made my bedside table area so much more manageable and have also kept my iron cord from dangling down and hitting me in the face.  This is splurge-y to the point of ridiculous, but I have heard such good things about Byredo’s chichi hand sanitizer.  Definitely something I’d never purchase for myself but would love to use — especially a good pick for a new mom or frequent traveler, but really, anyone could benefit from it.


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12 thoughts on “Le Ultimate Gift Guide.

  1. OMG Jeni’s [drooling face emoji]. I lived around the corner from Jeni’s Grandview for several years and let me tell you how dangerous THAT was. I love it so much! Luckily (or not???) they carry pints at a grocery store close to where I now live, but those macaron ice cream sandwiches that I love are harder to find.

    Also intrigued by the glass straws but v. nervous about them breaking!

    1. SO good – what’s your favorite flavor?? The other brand we are dying over is Adirondack, which is carried here in New York. Their cardamom pistachio and chocolate peanut butter flavors are NUTS. I also love the story behind the brand — a burnt out banker turned ice cream entrepreneur!


    2. I guess I’m a purist because I usually get salty caramel. It’s just so good that it’s hard to branch out! But I do take the opportunity to taste as many as I can when I’m in the shop 🙂 Pistachio and honey is also a winner. Did you listen to Jeni on How I Built This? So interesting that she came into ice cream via fragrance! The Adirondack chocolate peanut butter sounds right up my alley, too…

      Hope you and your family have a wonderful, relaxing Thanksgiving.

      1. YUM. I haven’t heard Jeni on that podcast, but thanks for the rec – just downloaded it. I’m always looking for new podcasts to keep me company on my long walks with Tilly. Happiest Thanksgiving to you!

        If you do ever venture away from Jeni’s, let me know what you think of Adirondack! xo

  2. Echoing Amy – you have got me hooked on so many different things (Shisedo facial cotton, that caddy next to my stove for oils and salt, MZ Wallace everything) so naturally I love this gift guide.
    Things I’ve added to my personal wish list – an anatomical heart necklace, the Glow Pro (recommended by my friend Abra), a new tube of the Byredo hand sanitizer, cashmere pajamas from MM.LaFleur, and a veritable pile of new books.

  3. I bought that facial cotton on your recommendation and now I’ll never go back. Regularly cotton is so inferior! Can’t wait to try some of these other items on your list.

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