An unapolgetically unoriginal gift guide


As time passes, my desire for novelty in my possessions fades.

The fact is, our space is limited, and if your family is anything like mine, you’ve moved several times and have more moves ahead of you. Two-bedroom apartment living has been our past and will be our future for at least 3 more years. This means that while I want our home to be a haven of rest and peace and hospitality, we also just can’t physically (and for me mentally) deal with a lot of possessions.

I’m not anti-novelty. I love novelty. I love traveling to a new place, popping into a newly discovered shop, or breathing in a new vista. But I think there is limited space for novelty with our things. This doesn’t mean we can’t have new items for our homes, it means that maybe our new things, when we need them, should feel just a bit like “old” things and contribute to our homes in meaningful ways. If you missed it, you can read more about giving with intention and how it has the potential to impact our relationships.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if your gifts this Christmas added to the feeling of "home" for someone you love? At least in my experience, although I'm admittedly an odd duck, these things are rarely the novel or trendy items that catch our eye when we’re at Target. The things that welcome me when I walk into our home are things that have a story. The things that are well-made or homemade, the things that we’ve collected over time because we saw a need or a family quirk that would be nurtured by a particular item. Some are just things that tell the story of our family and our particularities. We will forever have books because my husband is an academic, and we will forever have weird brushes and bottlebrush Christmas trees because I have a thing for bristles (it doesn’t have to make sense!). Our houseplants are another part of my quirk, but we all love them because they breathe life into our space. Old apartments with dingy carpet can feel stale, but add a few plants, and the space comes, quite literally, alive.

I think what I’m advocating here is that we take time to get to know ourselves and the threads that tie our past and our present together. When those things are present in our homes, they set the tone for our days, our traditions, our hobbies, and the way we interact with one friends and strangers.

I can’t speak to your particular quirks, but there are some things most of us need. This gift guide is about that. It’s about the mundane things we typically need for a functioning space. Conveniently I think this also makes it a great guide for those trying to buy a gift for that Uncle you don’t know so well, or that person who seems to have everything. These suggestions are for those hard-to-buy-for people in your life, and for those easy-to-buy-for-people, too. They are somewhat universal, and are gifts that I think add warmth, and encourage closeness and conversation. These are gifts that invite us to savor the simplicity of home, and to be people who move in and out and around our space and welcome people into it. Please note that the following suggestions contain some affiliate links.

A cloth or towel: A high quality tea towel is a great gift for anyone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen. For a double whammy, wrap a tin of homemade cookies or homemade baking mix in a new tea towel. I love this linen one from Small Batch Production, or this more ornate Garnier Thiebaut design (pictured).

A special drink: If gifting a bottle of wine isn’t quite your style, maybe a seasonal beverage or something from a different culture would be a good option. I recommend checking Whole Foods or World Market for some great unique drink options. For a non-alcoholic option, consider a gourmet hot chocolate mix, coffee or tea.

Something homemade: The great thing about making something is that the gift itself tells the story of your care, time, and attention. In this instance, the very act of giving can bring closeness. For those of us with limited crafting/artistic abilities, making a beautiful fudge ring or peanut brittle or peppermint bark can be a delicious and thoughtful gift. For those with skills beyond cooking like knitting, or crochet, you’re already well aware of the gift-giving potential of your craft.

Music: It may not warm you physically, but I am always amazed at how our home feels instantly transformed when Cody comes home and turns on some tunes. We use our bluetooth speaker daily and it was one of the best gifts we’ve received. If you are still playing music through your computer speakers, I recommend adding a high quality portable speaker to your wishlist. As far as what music to play, I’ll leave that up to you. An iTunes gift card is a great option, as well.

Socks: Target carries Pair of Thieves socks for men, which are very long-lasting, high in quality and have really fun patterns. They also carry the most adorable Dad + Kid sets (pictured). My favorite quality socks for women are from Madewell.

Soy, Beeswax, or LED candles: Nothing adds warmth to a winter home like candles. One of our favorite candles is Mrs. Meyers Soy candles (pictured), which you can by at quite a few grocery stores, Target, and Amazon. When it comes to LED candles, I’ll admit I was never much of a fan, but then I started to think of them like little lamps and now I’m feeling great about the concept. What’s not to love about a candlelit glow that lasts for hours on end without the fire hazard? 

Candle holders: Never underestimate the beauty of a simple taper candle. Consider a unique holder to add light and warmth to a kitchen table. I love the design of this iron one. These Bluecorn Naturals Beeswax Tapers would be lovely to pair with your candle holder purchase.

Plants or a plant hanger: Plants bring life, clean air, and vibrancy to a space. I can’t imagine our home without them. Two of the plants that even I can’t seem to kill are the golden pothos and snake plants (pictured). I’m dreaming of a Christmas cactus, though. Head to your local plant store or Lowe’s to pick up some beauties to give as gifts.

Note cards: This gift is not only beautiful, but comes with the added benefit of nurturing the receivers relationships. Win win.

A beautiful basket: Natural materials evoke visual peace. I love that baskets not only serve to make our homes more beautiful, but provide a helpful place for holding possessions. We actually keep an empty basket in our living room for clean-up time. It’s beautiful on its own, but also disguises heaps of odds and ends like toys, socks, and hairbands if we need to do a quick clean up. A small, sturdy basket can be a great option for a child to hold little collections or gather things on a nature walk. These are our favorites.

Blocks & Books: If you have a child on your list, don’t shy away from classic building materials or books. Consider these Melissa and Doug Architectural Blocks.