2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Let's just get this out of the way: I love Christmas. I love everything about it (everything!).
I love Hallmark Christmas movies, Christmas cookies, spending time with family, Christmas trees, Christmas music... and, of course, Christmas presents.
Let's get one thing out there, my love language is ✨ gifts ✨. I used to be ashamed of that. It felt like a lesser love language, like I'd be somehow more virtuous if my love language was acts of service or something. But I'm calling BS on all of that --- and here's why:
For those of you who look down on us gift-loving folk, let me break it down for you. I don't love gifts because I just love things (although, in the spirit of Christmas transparency, I do love thing!). I love gifts because, to me, they're a tangible way to say, "When you weren't around, I was thinking about you. I listen to you. I know you."
And also, if we're being transparent (this is a safe space, is it not?), I love winning Christmas. I am highly competitive, and even if I'm only competing the last-year version of myself, I want to give the very best, individualized gifts that leave people with a huge smile on their face or a tear in their eye. There is no greater Christmas feeling.
Even when I was younger, and my parents would give my brother and I a $20 bill and tell us to buy gifts for the entire family, I loved meticulously walking through Target or Walmart and finding the perfect, $5 present for my brothers or parents. It's like a treasure hunt (another thing I love, but I digress).
And finally, I'm not so good with the expressing feelings through words all the time, so sometimes you just put all your love into a Christmas present and hope that the other person gets the message. As Michael Scott said "Hey man, I love you this many dollars worth."
2021 Gift Guide:
Last year, I did a want, need, wear, read gift guide for my newsletter subscribers. I'm bringing that same format to all of you this year, enjoy! And let me tell you, I wish I could've included some of the gifts I've already purchased for family + friends this year, but those will have to remain a secret for now. Maybe they'll make next year's guide. 😉
Indulgences, fun presents and superfluous products.
Happy Box Custom Care Package
I recently sent one of these to a friend and I loved the whole process! You get to customize a care package with a wide variety of sweets, self-care products, fun stickers and other assorted treats. These are great for long-distance friends and family, or for a Dirty Santa party. I ordered one of these, and it was delivered within a few days, so it's also great for last-minute gift givers!
Lush Gift Box
I am obsessed with Lush, I love how everything smells good and feels good. They have a ton of gift sets, which are perfect for anyone who needs to indulge or relax or treat themselves this Christmas.
Practical gifts for the practical people in your life (looking at you, Mom).
Is this cheating, because these are technically books, and could probably fit under the "Read" category? Maybe, but I think cookbooks are a perfect gift for the person in your life who loves practicalities. I've chosen three cookbooks from my personal collection that I love and use regularly. JapanEasy's premise is pretty self-evident -- it makes Japanese cooking, well, easy. Every recipe comes with a rating of how easy or difficult it is, and explanations on how to find uncommon ingredients. 30-Minute One-Pot Meals is the ultimate practical cookbook. It will give you delicious meals and cut down on your cooking + clean-up time. Finally, Tu Casa Mi Casa has tons of authentic Mexican recipes including a few salsas and an absolutely delicious torta.
Jewelry, clothes, and shoes, oh my!
Moon and Star Pave Earrings
I am already a big fan of this Etsy shop called Caitlyn Minimalist. A few years ago, when my grandfather passed away, I had a portion of a letter he wrote me engraved on a necklace, which I purchased from this shop. I wear that necklace all the time, and it is still in great condition.
I wanted to recommend something from her shop this Christmas, and I found this earring set. I think this would make a great present for the jewelry fanatic in your life, or just for yourself #treatyourself.
Everlane Women's Puff Sweater
I included a pair of Everlane jeans in my newsletter gift guide last year, so here's a sweater I think would make a great gift. It's the perfect time for cozy, puffy sweaters that are also super cute.
I also love that their clothes are timeless, made to last and ethically sourced.
Recommendations for the reading enthusiasts that you know.
If you've been following along, you know I set a goal to read 50 books this year. While I'm not quite finished (4 more books to go!), I've gotten through a lot more books this year than years past. Here's four of my favorite books that I read this year, I would highly recommend any of them for the reader in your life.
Project Hail Mary
By far, my favorite book of the year was Project Hail Mary. I did not know what to expect going into this book, I barely even knew the synopsis.
The book begins with an astronaut waking up on a spaceship with absolutely no memory. His other two crew members are dead, and he alone has to figure out a) What his mission is and b) How to save the Earth.
This book absolutely captivated me from the first page. I couldn't put it down, and even though it's only been six months since I read it, I already want to read it again to see what I missed the first time. It was dazzling and heartwarming and beautiful. If you're a fan of Interstellar or The Martian, I think you'll enjoy this book.
This is a great audiobook, but I'm sure it's also a great read. A more lighthearted option, The Guncle follows Patrick (or Gay Uncle Pat - GUP for short, a former sitcom star, who is placed in charge of his niece and nephew after their mother dies and their father checks himself into a treatment center.
Now, I realize that sounds incredible heavy and tragic, but this book isn't that at all. It's full of laughter and warmth, and offers a really honest look at grief and love and family. I laughed out loud so many times, I cried, my heart was utterly warmed. I grew to love this little, unusual family, the weird neighbors, and every other character in this book.
Maybe it's not the wisest for me to read this book about a devastating pandemic, during a pandemic, but I did it anyway. Station Eleven follows a world immediately before and years after a flu pandemic kills 99% of the world's population.
It follows a diverse and lively cast of characters, and shows their lives as they unfold over the course of twenty years. Also, it's being made into a TV series premiering soon on HBO Max, so it's a great companion novel as the show releases.
If you're looking for a pure, unadulterated romantic comedy, The UnHoneymooners is for you. When Olive Torres's identical twin sister gets married, everyone eats the fish from the buffet, except for her and the best man (who she despises). Naturally, the entire wedding comes down with horrific food poisoning, and someone simply has to go on the bride and groom's honeymoon, which they won in a sweepstakes.
Since Olive is the bride's identical twin, and the best man is the groom's brother, they impersonate the couple and go on the honeymoon together. Hijinks ensure, and love blooms in Hawaii. We can all see where this is going -- enemies become lovers, blah blah blah. It's extremely cheesy and cute and uncomplicated, which is nice when you're also reading about the end of the world and pandemics.
I hope you enjoyed this little gift guide, and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season.
Let me know in the comments: What's the best Christmas gift you've ever received?