Now that my kids are older, I’m trying to ease out of the Mrs Claus business. So I was thinking maybe I didn’t have a lot to offer for gift ideas in 2023, even though I’ve never skipped a holiday gift post since I started this blog in 2010. But you know how little voices whisper in your ear? Last month, my friend Jacqueline said how much she loves the holiday gift ideas. And then this weekend I ran into my friend So Yong at the grocery store, who said, “I need your holiday gift post!”
Ok universe, I hear you, speaking through my friends. I’m not skipping out. And in doing the work, I was reminded that sharing gift ideas here, to benefit others beyond my family, always makes my holiday season better too.
This year’s list is more relentlessly practical than ever – probably reflecting the mood of my year. Here’s what I’ve got for 2023, and here’s hoping 2024 brings more fun. Happy holidays!
THE original ice cream scoop, designed in 1933 by Sherman Kelly of Toledo, Ohio, has an innovative design that holds liquid inside the cast aluminum scoop. The liquid transfers warmth from your grip on the handle into the curved part of the scoop, making it easier to dispense the ice cream. This invention allows ice cream to be rolled instead of squeezed, resulting in an airier ice cream for happy customers and allowing for ice cream shops to maximize scoops sold per gallon. Make sure you have plenty of ice cream on hand when this gift gets opened, because everyone will want a turn to try it out. $24 at Amazon.
Where has Quince been all my life? This direct-to-consumer brand speaks all of my love languages: high quality, natural materials, sustainably sourced, tightly curated, gorgeous colors, and best of all, mind-blowing value. Asians love a deal! And Quince is full of them. Cashmere sweaters ($50), washable silk skirts ($60), leather jacket ($150) down puffer ($130), Italian leather bags ($130), and beautiful linen and cotton bedding.
My daughter loves her linen duvet cover at college, and the globe boho earrings ($50), which are great quality and a fun shape. The cashmere sweaters for men and women are lovely and amazingly well priced, and the cashmere beanie ($30) is super soft too. No connection to the company but I love what this husband-and-wife is doing – selling better goods for less by bypassing the middlemen.
These stick-on coverings neatly address the bra-strap conundrum for that tricky tank top or backless dress in your closet. Comfortable to wear and reusable, and they come in five skin tone shades. $26 at Amazon.
My girls say this is the best curling wand – easy to make loose beachy curls that last – and we’ve tried more than a few. At $30 at Amazon, it’s also among the more reasonably priced.
We have tried every natural (non-alumninum) deodorant on the market, and my daughter finally declared this one the winner for being both effective and non-irritating. This fall I was at an event at a bougie hotel/spa in Napa and noticed they had the same spray in their locker rooms, repackaged in small clear spray bottles and undoubtedly selling for more than the $7 for 8 ounces at Amazon. IYKYK.
My genius doctor-cousin Karen swears by this soap, and she went to the Olympics so we believe her. I’ve been using it for years, and my daughters and mom love it too. It’s gentle and won’t irritate delicate body parts or contribute to urinary tract infections like harsher soaps and detergents can. It’s not cheap, but for those with sensitive skin the cost is more than worth it. $21 for 2-pack at Amazon.
My mom is obsessed with this gardening tool, which was given to her with much excitement, like a secret reveal, by our avid gardener friends. She can’t stop talking about how life-changing this part-digger, part-knife design is, not just for weeding but also for moving/transplanting plants in her yard. I don’t know enough about gardening to say more than that, but it seems like a winning gift for any gardener on your list. $24 at Amazon.
I’m going out on a limb with this recommendation, because I only became a coffee drinker after our family trip to Italy last year. But I’ve become very attached to this smooth, non-acidic, medium-roast blend, and my coffee aficionado guests all seem to love it too, despite my novice brewing skills. So I have to credit the beans, which come from a local roaster in Santa Cruz but are also sold online through Target ($15 for a 12-oz bag at Target).
Skincare is very individual, bur this is one of the few products I would recommend to anyone. What face couldn’t use extra hydration, plus marine collagen and peptides for added resilience? It’s especially great in dry winter months or after air travel, making it an excellent stocking stuffer for Christmas ($35 for 4 sheet masks at LeMieux).
I’m a sucker for a smart, simple mechanical device. No pesky electrical parts, no batteries, just some good old elbow grease. Heat the milk and pump the plunger up and down until the milk is airy and frothy. For me the brief, vigorous arm exercise is a welcome bonus, and it’s fun for kids too. Make yourself a nice lovely latte, or matcha latte, or london fog, right in the comfort of your own kitchen ($16 at Amazon).
Having just extolled the joys of manual milk frothing, I’m turning right around to rave about how much I love this electrical bug zapper. I bought it for outdoor use, but this summer I brought it inside one night when we had some bugs indoors. Every time I was tempted to unplug it, ZAP – the blue light would catch another one. So we left it on until well into fall. It’s not pretty, and the zaps aren’t quiet, but this handy little bug light saved me a lot of obsessing and my family a lot of bug bites. Winter isn’t prime season for this gift, but the right person will still love the prospect of their bug-free future. $30 at Amazon, which is currently offering a $10-off coupon.
A gift that will be cherished by the organization-obsessed. Teachers and crafters love these transparent zip bags for storing games, crafting materials, art supplies, etc. I love them for travel – nothing loose but everything readily seen and retrieved. The PVC is waterproof to boot, which is both handy for storing liquids inside the pouches or keeping documents safe and dry. $10 for 21 assorted sizes, from 4×6-inch to 10×14-inch, at Amazon.
I put these in stockings last year for my sporty nephews in Ohio. You stand the deodorizer in a sneaker and push down, which sprays a freshening spray in two directions to deodorize toe to heel. It’s a silly but useful item, and it’s the perfect size and shape for a stocking stuffer. $20 for 3 at Amazon or $7 each at Target.