We’ve all got them on our lists: the people who already have everything.
And while it really is the thought that counts when it comes to holiday gift-giving, it’s a lot more satisfying when you know your present will be enjoyed and put to good use.
So I put together this list of gifts that I, an oft-complained-about tough-to-buy-for recipient, would be thrilled to receive this year. And although I’m obviously totally biased (and already own many of these things, so please don’t actually buy them for me*), it’s tough for me to imagine someone who wouldn’t like these goodies.
Without further ado, here are some excellent, universally lovable (I think?) gifts, organized by price point.
Inexpensive — but Awesome! — Christmas Gifts
Here are some gifts under $30 that don’t feel cheap in the slightest.
Also, full disclosure: some (though not all) of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click through to the item and purchase it, I’ll get a small cut. It’s totally cost-free to you and puts a few extra dollars into my pocket… which I’ll surely turn around and use on my own Christmas shopping.
Scratch-off Travel Map – $19.95
Yes, this is a super-stereotypical suggestion from a frequent flyer… but even if you only take a trip or two a year, it’s always fun to track your travels.
This scratch-off travel map is beautiful if not uber-accurate, but at less than $20 it makes a great stocking stuffer. If you’re feeling especially generous, upgrade to a city-marked, pinnable version for about $100.
Moleskine Notebooks – $15+
I know, I know; less expensive notebooks are available. Even nice, leather-bound ones with acid-free paper and the whole bit.
But coming as they do in an array of colors, styles, sizes and themes, there’s bound to be a Moleskine for every name on your shopping list this year. Be sure to check out their Passion Book and City Notebook lines for a more personalized gift.
The Seven-Year Pen – $12.95
Every single one of my bags and purses used to be a graveyard of half-used Bics. So I picked up one of these bad boys several months ago — mostly to see if it could really last seven years with as much scribbling and scrawling as I do.
The longevity remains to be seen (so far, so good!), but it’s nice to have a single, go-to writing utensil. It’d make a great secret Santa or office gift… given you’re confident your recipient wouldn’t lose it. (Which, confession, I definitely did the first time I bought one when I was 23.)
Puzzle Books – $5+
We’re constantly glued to our screens for work, play, and everything in between, so it’s a nice reprieve to have a tactile diversion on plain-old paper. And maybe this is just me, but sitting around the kitchen table shooting the shit with my mom while we each fill out our respective crosswords is one of my very favorite pastimes.
Quest Bars – $25-ish per box
Like it or not, pretty much everyone you talk to is carb-conscious these days — and that we’re constantly busy is a given.
Quest Bars are the best-tasting protein bar I’ve come across if you’re looking for a pick-me-up that isn’t also packed with sugar. But at approximately $2.50 a pop, they’re a pricey snack.
Mid-Range Gift Ideas
Here are some gifts that’ll run you a little bit more, but not too much — on the order of $100 or so.
Everyone who’s known me for longer than five minutes knows I’m a hopeless coffee fiend. And while I’ll totally drink Folgers if I have to, I prefer my java fresh-ground — and bonus points for single-origin.
Started by Suyog and Anu Mody, a Brooklyn-based husband-and-wife team, Driftaway Coffee is a unique subscription box service that delivers amazing whole-bean coffee to you or your recipient’s doorstep. The shipments are customized to the drinker’s personal taste and shipped six hours — hours! — after they’re roasted in small batches. You pretty much can’t get fresher than that.
Suyog was kind enough to send me a sample of the tasting kit that’ll get you — er, your giftee — started. It featured four perfectly-sized samples of distinct, delicious, uber-fresh beans, each with my (literal, hand-written) name on it. Based on your tasting feedback, which you input through a simple app, Driftaway then sends larger shipments of beans with similar profiles on a regular basis. (You choose how often and how much.)
Oh, and the company is committed to fair, sustainable farming, too; you’ll receive postcards printed with stories and highlights about the hardworking men and women behind your cuppa, making this a gift you can feel great about for lots of reasons.
I know I’m gushing at this point, but this is honestly one of the coolest subscription boxes I’ve come across — and in general, I’m a subscription skeptic!
Mighty Music Player — $85.99
For a while now, I’ve had two smartphones — the one I actually use for staying connected and the old, cracked, data-plan-free one I tote to the gym each morning solely as a music device.
(Important note: part of the reason that old phone is shattered and sad is because of how often I’d dropped it in the gym while it was my functioning cell phone.)
After months of being stuffed into my sweaty sports bra, my music phone finally — and unsurprisingly — bit the dust. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my real phone again, and it’s been years since I’ve used iTunes; I get all my music through Spotify, which most MP3 players don’t support.
Enter Mighty. It’s essentially an iPod shuffle built specifically to work with Spotify. It’s tiny, tough, affordable, and the perfect solution for non-iOS gym-goers. It’s even got shuffle and auto-fill options if you don’t have time to mix up some new playlists before you hit the track.
Bellabeat Leaf Health Tracker – starting at $119
Fitbits and other step trackers are all the rage, but let’s face it: even the thin ones are clunky and ugly.
Bellabeat’s answer to this problem is the Leaf, a beautiful piece of smart jewelry that can be worn as a necklace, bracelet, pin, or brooch. Along with steps and distance, it also monitors sleep quality and menstrual cycle, and offers stress management help with breathing exercises and guided meditations.
And it’s pretty. And that’s important. Especially to the types of people who track their steps in the first place.
Really Freaking Nice Christmas Gifts
Got someone to splurge on? Here are some ideas.
Good Headphones – $100+
Whether it’s for the commute, the gym, or the office, everyone needs a good set of reliable headphones. Of course, “good” is the operant word here, and which type and specific model will work best for your recipient depends on their personal headphone habits. (And also now that headphone jacks are apparently evaporating from our devices, you’ll need to carefully factor in the wired/wireless option.)
But if you have a recipient you know pretty well who’s still using their uncomfortable white earbuds, a nice new set of phones may end up being their favorite present this year. And although I’ve put this one in the “really nice” section because of my fancy-pants Bose recommendation (which I totally stand behind; I’ve been using those headphones for a year and I love them), it’s possible to find a comfortable, clear-sounding set for less than $100.
Coravin – $350+
So shiny. So pricey. And, okay, probably not actually a universally useful gift.
But the Coravin is the gold standard solution if you want to taste exceptional wines without wasting whole bottles, or even just to drink your favorite middle-tier wines more slowly.
Whatever, I’ll just cop to it: this one’s on the list in case someone reading this decides to buy it for me. I will love you forever. And I will share the ridiculous-awesome wines I use it on with you.
A Vacation with Pack Up + Go – starting at $400
Gifting a getaway isn’t a new idea, but this is.
Pack Up + Go is a unique travel company that does all the logistics and planning for you — or, in this case, for your recipient. That way, all that’s left up to the traveler is the fun of actually traveling.
Oh, and did I mention that the destination remains a surprise until just before your departure?
The traveler fills out a survey that helps Pack Up + Go determine the perfect spot for their next 3-day vacation, which the company then organizes for them, including transportation, accommodations and a list of must-dos. The final price depends on number of travelers as well as conveyance, and is further customizable by budget, but you can gift money towards a trip starting at the $100 mark. (It’ll take at least $800 for a solo traveler to get going, or $400 a head for a group.)
Happy holidays, all — and good luck with your shopping!
* Except the Coravin. You can totally buy me the Coravin.