The Gifts the Strategist Editors Will Be Giving (and the Gifts They Want)
Photo: Courtesy of the vendors
Heavy is the head that wears the crown, especially when you’re a Strategist editor during gift-giving season. Not only are we tasked with helping you, our readers, find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, but we also need to cross everyone off our own lists. To kill two birds with one stone, we thought we’d reveal what we’re wanting and buying this year, in hopes that it will give you some last-minute ideas. Mom, significant others, friends — please avert your eyes!
Smythson Memoranda Agenda
The Memoranda diary is on my list every year, because it is something I use every day. I need to write things down by hand, or I will forget them. This has plenty of room for that while still being trim and compact, so I can carry it pretty much anywhere. It’s a week-at-a-glance, with boxes where you can write things for each day, and every week’s page sits opposite a regular lined page where you can jot notes or to-do lists. Plus, there’s a flap in the back that, with a little finesse, you can slip a checkbook in (for the ten people reading who still write checks).
Lands’ End Men’s Super Soft Supima Mock Turtleneck
A few years ago, I bought four mock turtleneck shirts at Muji, and they’ve become staples in my fall and winter wardrobe. I love throwing them on under crew-neck sweaters, button-down shirts, flannel shirts, and quarter-zip fleeces. They’ve served me well, but they’re starting to wear. So when Scarr Pimentel recommended this Lands’ End mock turtleneck for our list of gifts recommended by 130 people with particular, exacting taste, I immediately put it on my list — in (almost) every color.
Scheurich Froggy Water Supplier
Aside from being the mother of my husband, my mother-in-law is also a plant mom. She tends three gardens on her property, including the one in her living room, which, on any given day, is filled with dozens of plants, from 12-foot trees to tiny cuttings. After reading about German company Scheurich’s cute little doodads that Strategist UK contributor Coco Kahn says make any plant “self-watering,” I bought one to give to her. It seems just the right thing for the woman who gave me my favorite mushroom night-light.
Art Emotion Wood Picture Frame, Black
For our wedding this past May, my husband and I worked with a fantastic photographer, Trey Pentecost, who spent no less than 12 (but more like 16) hours documenting the whole day. A few weeks after the main event, he surprised us with 16-by-20–inch prints that featured several rows of film negatives of various shots from the day, creating a sort of chronological photo montage of it all from start to finish. We wanted to get some photos framed for my parents and in-laws as gifts, but Trey took the guesswork out of that with the prints — which are so much better than any one photo — leaving us with just one decision: what frames to use. Six months later, we wound up with these, from Amazon, which are just like the simple black wood frames with white mats that I used to buy at A.I. Friedman on 18th Street before it closed.
Cuyana Tech Carryall 13-inch
I’ve been eyeing this leather carryall from Cuyana ever since I got a new laptop in July. I’d want it monogrammed with my initials, of course, but I’ve been waffling on the color. I’m starting to think the greige (a.k.a. “stone”) would look nice with my space-gray MacBook, and I don’t think it’d get as dirty as the blush pink.
PRESS Modern Massage Gift Card
What I really need this holiday, more than any laptop case, is a massage. I’ve been meaning to check out Press in Williamsburg, mostly because it’s not too far from my apartment. And doesn’t an orthopedic deep tissue–slash–Swedish massage just sound so nice right now?
Diptique Baies Scented Candle
My mom either has a very specific gift on her wish list — a bottle of Johnny Walker Red, noise-canceling Bose headphones, a scarf that she saw on the Strategist — or leaves us to fend for ourselves. And fortunately for my still Black Friday–addled brain, she knew exactly what she wanted this year: a Diptyque candle. The scent was left up to my (implicitly impeccable) taste, so I went with Baies. But giving my mom just one candle seems a little sad, and I want to make sure she can properly take care of her new, fancy candle, so I’m also planning on gifting a candle snuffer and wick trimmer.
Mad Et Len Graphite Scented Lava
Yes, this is a French-made black iron box filled with scented lava, and yes, I’m actually giving it to someone as a housewarming–slash–holiday present. The scent I actually bought — Spirituelle — is out of stock at Totokaelo, but Graphite was my second choice, because it smells like expensive wet rocks in the Bois de Boulogne or something. It’s ridiculous, but it’s tasteful and chic and an excellent gift for the host who already has Aesop hand soap and too many Cire Trudon candles.
My aspirational gift is a painting by Vera Girivi, whom I discovered via our own Jerry Saltz’s Instagram. Everything she makes is beautiful, but I particularly like these two.
Eckhaus Latta’s Wide Leg Jeans, Almost Black
I would also gladly accept a pair of Eckhaus Latta’s E.L. jeans in black. I have them in white, and wear them so frequently a friend recently asked if I slept in them.
Marni Ribbed Mohair Turtleneck
And I suppose I wouldn’t turn downthis on-sale Marni turtleneck.
J. Press Shaggy Dog Sweater, Pink
Or this pretty pink sweater.
Il Bussetto Polished-Leather Billfold Wallet
We are going away to be away for Hanukkah this year, so aren’t really doing gifts. But my boyfriend’s birthday is New Year’s Eve, and mine is a week later, so there is still some gifting on the horizon. His wallet is a disaster, so I ordered him a new one from Milanese leather company Il Bussetto.
Sophie Buhai Lapis Ring
Maybe I’ve been influenced by all The Sopranos we’ve been watching (and a trip to the movies to see The Irishman), but I’ve recently become obsessed with finding the perfect signet ring. Sophie Buhai — who contributed to our list of gifts recommended by 130 people with particular, exacting taste — makes a classic version with black onyx that’s aptly called the “godfather ring.” But in her new collection, she’s amped it up a bit. The gold vermeil ring has a bulging, oversize lapis stone with the bluest hue that reminds me a bit of antique Greek jewelry and a bit of the movie version of The Talented Mr. Ripley. In other words, it’s everything I want. If someone were to gift it to me, you could definitely call it an offer I wouldn’t be able to refuse.
Milligram 2020 Family.Life Weekly
I bought a daily diary from Australian stationery store Milligram last year and ended up loving it. I’m due for a new one for 2020, and this time, I’d like to try the “Family Life” weekly diary, which includes space for action lists, budgeting, meal planning, and more. As always, it comes with a linen cover with a cool, abstract design. I still have to go in and cross out all the Australia-specific holidays, but I think I can deal if it’s going to help me get organized.
Artifact Uprising Everyday Photo Book
One of the perks of having a baby is that it’s now so much easier to shop for your parents. All they want is pictures of the baby, so pictures of the baby they shall receive! We ordered Artifact Uprising’s Everyday photo book for each set of parents during the company’s Black Friday sale, and although the books have yet to arrive, we’ve heard a lot of good things about the company’s service and quality (and even included it on our roundup of the best gifts for new and expecting moms). We like that the clothbound cover comes in a range of muted color options and that you can customize it with foil stamping. You can also choose whether you want 30, 40, or 50 archival pages in your book. The interface was relatively straightforward to use, with preset templates that you can swap out if desired. Depending on how these turn out, it might finally be time to make a wedding album. (Artifact Uprising offers everything from a premium “layflat” wedding photo book to softcover albums to prints and more.)
Baggu Medium Leather Retail Tote, Citron
I got this for my sister as a thank-you gift for watching the baby during the week of Thanksgiving when she came to visit from Philly. I happened to scoop it up when it was on sale for Black Friday, but, alas, it’s back to its original price.
The Criterion Channel, Annual Subscription
Any film service that offers all four episodes of Fanny and Alexander in addition to the shorter “theatrical version” is great in my book. I’ve been meaning to subscribe to the Criterion Channel since it launched, and pre–winter vacation/hibernation seems like a good time — and better yet if I don’t have to pay for it.
Officine Universelle Buly The Godfather Comb
Something I’ve wanted for years, but that’s unfortunately not available online, is one of Zitomer’s fur headbands. To be clear: It’s not a fur head warmer, which is easy to find, but actually a headband upholstered in fur instead of velvet or cotton. Just incredible. A good alternative, though, would be one of Officine Universelle Buly’s beautiful tortoise combs, which you can get engraved. My favorite is this one called “The Godfather.”
Tranquil Wording Glycerin Soap
I came across these soaps at Pearl River Mart, where they were on sale for the unreal price of three for $1. I bought a couple of three-packs and gave them to friends at a holiday dinner last weekend — they were a hit! The text color and font make them look almost like art objects, and I feel good about sending my friends into the new decade with wishes for harmony, energy, and wisdom.
ViBi Venezia Georgina Slippers
Two things my grandmother loves are Venice and glamorous slippers, so I think she’ll appreciate this elegant silk Venetian pair that are handmade in Italy. They even have a rubber bottom, which is practical for the slippery floors in her house. The shipping is a bit steep, but could almost be justified if I add a pair for my mom (and, okay, myself) to the order.
Naadam Cashmere Sweatpants
Cashmere sweatpants are the kind of thing that feel way too indulgent to buy for myself, but I wouldn’t mind being gifted a pair. These look very soft, and because they’re tapered joggers, I’d be fine wearing them outside the house on weekends. They’re also cropped, so they might actually not be too long for me even though I’m only four-eleven.
2 Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Pizzas
I’m a deep-dish girl living in a thin-crust city. Don’t get me wrong, I eat and adore pizza of any style, but there’s something about deep dish that’s especially transcendent to me. While there are options in New York for pizza traitors like myself (I’m a fan of Emmett’s), nothing beats the real thing flown in from Chicago. I’m a beggar, not a chooser, so while I’d be equally happy with pies from Giordano’s (I’ll let true Windy City denizens debate the finer differences between the two institutions), I know from personal experience that Lou Malnati’s pizzas can survive the journey and last a while in the freezer for when I’m ready to treat myself.
Stickerland Peppa Pig Stickers
My nephew (who turns 2 next month) is obsessed with Peppa Pig. If you’re not familiar, it’s a delightful British cartoon featuring a family of pigs. Each episode is only five-minutes long so they’re perfect for toddlers’ short attention spans. Along with this pack of Peppa stickers, I got him these plush toys of Peppa and her little brother George (which are unfortunately sold out online) that oink, giggle, and say silly phrases when you squeeze their bellies. I’m sure he’ll get a kick out of all of it.
La Colombe Dove Pocket T-Shirt
My husband is a simple man who wants for nothing, which makes him annoyingly difficult to shop for. One thing he can’t live without, though, is La Colombe’s cold brew. I’m getting him a gift card that will probably last him about a week, plus this T-shirt, since a gift card on its own is kind of boring. He’s not a big graphic T-shirt guy, so I’m avoiding the obviously branded styles in favor of this one with just the company’s signature dove that’s hopefully minimal enough for him to want to wear.
I’ve been eyes this cowboy-boot vase from John Derian for ages and I’m really, really hoping someone gets it for me for the holidays. I have a vision of it sitting on the table next to my front door with some pretty snapdragons in it.
Vanity Project Gift Card
To know me is to know I take great pride in my decorative manicures. Especially during winter, when all I wear is an oversize black turtleneck, having fun, brightly colored nails brings me a daily (maybe even hourly) dose of joy. My favorite manicurist is Fleury Rose at Vanity Projects on the Lower East Side. She takes such great care of your nails and also paints the most beautiful, precise little designs. But the manicures at Vanity are definitely on the pricey side, so I’m really hoping someone gives me a gift card there!
Sqirl Bimonthly Jam Club (4 Months)
My family is big on breakfast, which means we go through jam fast. So a lucky someone this year is getting two monthly jams from Sqirl, the admittedly Über-trendy but undeniably delish lunch spot in Los Angeles. I opted for the four-month subscription (but they also offer six-month and one-year ones)!
Men’s Warehouse Egara Navy Martini Socks
My cat’s name is Martini, so every year I gift my boyfriend a pair of Martini-themed socks (that I inevitably steal and wear myself). I found this cute little pair while snooping around the internet.
Sony Noise Canceling Headphones WH1000XM3
I’ve wanted noise-canceling headphones since I started working at the Strategist in June. To be frank, I sit in a chatty corner of the New York office. I have headphones, but I can’t exactly write while listening to music, and my first-generation AirPods don’t have any noise-canceling abilities, so it’s time for an upgrade. I’ve waited this long to purchase them because (1) they are expensive, and (2) I wasn’t sure which ones I wanted. I saw these were recommended by David Pogue, so I made my decision — but that was after Prime Day sales. Then other necessities took priority on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so now I’m hoping I get out of incurring this cost altogether and that they magically show up under the Christmas tree on December 25.
Jacquemus Mini Belt Bag
My mother has been trying to hand me down a no-name leather belt bag for years that I’ve rejected time and time again, so I couldn’t possibly ask her for this. But everyone else: Pay attention. This Jacquemus version differs from hers because, well, it’s Jacquemus, and both the brand and style capture a moment in time my millennial self would be remiss in passing up. I also think it’s the perfect solution to cinching in the waist of last year’s puffer jacket that’s a little too big now.
Cole Haan Men’s Grand Crosscourt II Tennis Sneakers
Since my dad thinks I work at The New Yorker, I have no problem disclosing what he will be getting from me this year. Even if he did happen to stumble upon this story, it wouldn’t be much of a spoiler since he specifically asked for a replacement pair of black leather sneakers. I decided on this specific pair because of the white sole, which my mom, who has to be seen with him in public most often, will appreciate. And the fact that they are Cole Haan, my dad’s go-to brand for shoes.
Bloomingdale’s Cashmere Lined Leather Gloves
My mom fully knows where I work and might read this, but just like my dad, she made specific requests this year. She asked for a pair of leather, cashmere-lined gloves from Bloomingdale’s, so a pair of leather, cashmere-lined gloves from Bloomingdale’s is what she shall receive.
Highbrow, Lowbrow, Brilliant, Despicable: Fifty Years of New York Magazine
A family member recently told me that I’m the hardest to shop for because I “like everything and nothing all at the same time.” I still don’t really understand what that means, but if they’re reading this, I would love this coffee-table book. I aspire to have floor-to-ceiling built-ins in my future house (robust bookcases would also do). Filling that space will probably be a challenge, so I need to start curating my collection now. I’ve wanted this book since before I worked at New York, and now that I actually work here, I want it even more. What can I say, I’m just really proud of where I work.
L.L.Bean Wicked Good Camp Moccasins
I currently sport ten-year-old L.L. Bean slippers, which is definitely way beyond the appropriate amount of time one should hold onto a pair of slippers. They’ve been with me through boarding school, college, seven dogs (including one who loves to chew on shoelaces), and countless trips outside (including in the rain and snow) to take said dogs out, so I would say they’re way past being “worn-in.” In fact, I think it’s time to throw them out. I would love to receive a replacement pair that I can then wear for another grossly long period of time, because I can almost guarantee I’ll never get around to buying myself another pair. Hey, at least I’m honest.
Great Jones Holy Sheet Pan
My dad is starting a cooking Instagram (yes, seriously). His current pans are pretty ugly, and do not make for Instagram-appropriate photos, so I got him this electric-blue Great Jones sheet pan. Because he already has their Dutch oven, I know he trusts this brand and thinks the stuff is well-made (or “truly incredible,” as he once said about his Dutch oven).
SodaStream Jet Sparkling Water Maker
My mom and I drink so much seltzer that at this point we’re probably made up of 50 percent seltzer. I thought this would be a little more wallet- and environmentally friendly for her seltzer habit. Plus, it seems just as easy as buying seltzer in the store, and if she runs out, she can quickly make more.
Insolito Kids Subscription
Though this is a kid-wardrobe-in-a-box situation, what makes it a gift more for me than my son is the idea that my husband would do the work of setting up the subscription. It’s all Italian clothing — the founder moved to NYC from Italy and lamented that she couldn’t find the same sort of high-quality, accessibly priced brands here. So she partnered with a bunch of brands, often reminiscent of a mini Prada or mini Chloe, that offer quality clothing with prices starting at less than 20 bucks. You keep what you like and send back what you don’t (which is very convenient when you have a toddler that grows out of his pants every other month).
Sava Elevate THC Tablinguals
Someone will have to fly to California to get these for me, but will someone please fly to California to get these for me? My friend got a sample from a PR event, and when she shared it with me, I gained a profound understanding of the previously bullshit-seeming term “calm energy.”
PonyCycle Brown Horse with White Hoof, Small
Basically, I got my 2-and-a-half-year-old son a pony for Christmas. I can’t stop watching the video of little kids galloping around on these things, entirely self-propelled, without any batteries or electronics involved (which is better for their motor development, of course). They come in different sizes, depending on your child’s age, and different breeds — Penelope Disick went with a unicorn version at last year’s Kardashian-Jenner holiday gathering. Plus, they’re rideable indoors or out.
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me
Maybe not since Fierce Attachments have I torn through a mother-daughter memoir this quickly. The manipulation, the dry Manhattans, the dinner parties with steamed, soft-shell clams plucked from Nauset Harbor at low-tide: I really hope the movie version gets made. And in the meantime I think my Massachusetts-based mother-in-law will appreciate a gift that — especially with its Cape Cod setting — has a lot of potential for her book club.
Everlane The Hipster Underwear
Instead of paying money to learn how to adult, I would like someone (read: my parents) to buy me something that makes me feel like an adult: an entire set of matching underwear. I think a collection of Everlane hipsters or bikinis from Uniqlo (a Natori Bliss Brief dupe) are more age-appropriate than my current options, many of which still have ironed-in name tags from summer camp.
Mejuri Editor Hoops
I wear gold hoop earrings almost every day, and serially lose them: I recently dropped one down the sink, and before that, I lost a pair at a book talk. I want some everyday hoops that won’t turn my ears green, but for obvious reasons I’m not ready to splurge on anything that is solid gold. So, I’m eyeing the Editor Hoops from Mejuri, which Strategist writer Dominique hasn’t taken off since last Christmas. They’re tastefully thick and, best of all, Dominique describes them as affordable enough that she’s not constantly worried about losing them.
Boys and Sex
After reading Peggy Orenstein’s bookGirls and Sex, I declared a major concentration in sociology. I also began to talk (even more) openly with my all-women’s-college peers about pleasure. Although this part-ethnography, part-feminist inquiry clearly impacted me, I also remember wishing that I’d been able to read it as a teenager — which is why I’m gifting the aptly titled sequel, Boys and Sex, to my 18-year-old brother. The book won’t officially be released until January 7 (but you can preorder it on Amazon now), and has already received praise from no less than Dan Savage and Nick Kroll.
Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug
Hay Été Pillowcase
Pillowcases are really the last thing in the world I need, which is why I haven’t bought them … but I can’t stop thinking about these light-blue wide stripes and how crisp and classic they’d look on my bed!
A.P.C. Half-moon Smooth Leather Cross Body Bag
I love my ratty Strategist tote with every inch of my body, but I need a bag I can wear when a ratty Strategist tote bag just won’t do. I have had my eye on this A.P.C. cross-body for a while if anyone’s out there listening …
L.L.Bean Sweater Fleece Full-Zip Jacket
My mom had this one beloved ribbed, cotton Talbots turtleneck for ages that she recently had to throw out because it had too many holes. Talbots doesn’t make it anymore, but I found the exact one on DePop, so I’m feeling very pleased with myself. Ever the thrifter, my mom will be very proud of me. I also plan on getting her this L.L. Bean cardigan-sweater-jacket situation (my aunt got one for my grandmother last year, and I could tell she was jealous.)
Saks Fifth Avenue Open-Front Cashmere Cardigan
Speaking of my 98-year-old grandmother, two years ago I got her this open-front cashmere cardigan from Saks Off Fifth. She has worn that cardigan pretty much daily since then (even in the summer if she’s around any air-conditioning; she runs cold). One of the elbows has developed a hole, so I plan on getting her a new one.
Baratza Encore Electric Grinder
I updated a couple of our coffee articles this year and I couldn’t believe how consistently baristas, roasters, and other coffee experts recommended this burr grinder. There are definitely fancier ones out there, but this tended to be the most bare bones of the “expert recommended” picks, so it has a semi-reasonable price that still lands it in holiday gift territory as opposed to belonging on a wedding registry or something. I still use a cheap blade grinder — basically what everyone in our article says NOT to do — so I feel like it’s time to practice what I preach. But again, it’s expensive, so it would be nice to receive as a gift.
Master Class All Access Pass
Okay, I’m a little self-conscious about this one. It feels a tad corny. But whatever. I see ads for Master Class on my Instagram feed now and then, and I’m always tempted but put off by the price. I know it’s hard to quantify the value of something like this, but I feel like it would be really fun. I’m mostly interested in the comedy and writing options, and I just saw they launched one with David Sedaris, which is kind of what sucked me back in, if I’m being honest. (They got me with an Instagram ad, they know what they’re doing.)
I also kind of love the idea of doing one of the cooking classes. And I cannot even imagine what Werner Herzog’s filmmaking class is like, but I think I need to know. Basically, I just feel this would be a fun thing to be able to do casually after work some evenings when I’m at home. Maybe explore some new things, who knows. It has Big New Year’s Resolution Energy, and I really want to embrace that even if it’s embarrassing. I also see they’re doing a holiday promo where if you gift an all-access pass you also get an all-access pass, so that’s a nice incentive. As far as last-minute-gifts-that-you-clearly-bought-online-because-you-procrastinated are concerned — an important gift-giving category with which I’m very familiar — I think this might be the ultimate.
Courant Catch 2 Wireless Charger
I think a wireless charging pad is pretty much a no-brainer in terms of holiday gifting this year, right? We’re still at a point where a lot of people don’t have them and a lot of devices are now compatible, so this is the time. I know the Anker charge pads are super-popular, but I think this one makes for a more special gift, even though it’s a good deal more expensive. The surface is covered with Italian pebble-grain leather instead of the hard plastic you’d typically find. It feels less like you’re giving a tech accessory and more like some sort of luxury stationery thing, but it still comes with the high-tech ten-watt fast charger, so it’s not messing around. I haven’t fully decided what I’m giving my parents yet, but I love the idea of giving them this. It’s made to charge two phones at once: They usually charge their phones in the kitchen, where they have two of the little Apple chargers plugged into an outlet, and it’s always a little mess of wires. I’m imagining replacing those with this, and I have a really cute vision in my head of both of their phones charging on it side by side.
McCrea’s Candies Black Lava Sea Salt Caramels Made in Boston
I first tried these when I was home in Boston a couple months ago (McCrea’s is a Boston-based company). I wrote about them in a past Strategist Haul, and when I was back home for Thanksgiving, my parents were really thoughtful and bought some more for me. I brought them back to New York and have been giving them to people and proselytizing the brand ever since. I still cannot believe how good they are, and multiple people have texted me after trying one to ask for the name of the company. All their flavors are great, but this black lava–sea salt one is still my favorite. It just tastes super-fresh and buttery and has a really salty bite. I don’t know exactly who I’ll give these to, but everyone has some $20 gift people on our lists, right? I think in that price range, it’s hard to top this.
Quiet Town The Marfa Shower Curtain
My current shower curtain is depressing. This one, on the other hand, is fantastic. I love the patchwork effect, the durable denim material, and the clay color palette. Yes, it’s expensive, but Santa should be good for it.
Franca Terracotta Stacked Planters
My mom always gets me and my roommate a shared gift for the apartment for Christmas. Last year, it was a blender. This year, I’m hoping to get a terracotta planter for our recently purchased yucca plant.
Hedley & Bennett Bubblegum Classic Apron
My best friend recently got a her first job out of culinary school as a baker at Breads Bakery, so I think it’s time she had her first status apron. The cheery bubblegum color will hopefully brighten her (very) early mornings.
Areaware Moon Chalk
My little cousin just turned 1 and I want to encourage his artistic side. Since he doesn’t have the fine motor control yet for markers or paint, I thought this easy-to-grab chalk would be fun, especially once the weather warms up.
A few years ago I bought myself an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to use for my illustration work, and they have been incredibly useful and fun to use. Now I want to upgrade them both so I can work faster. The pencil I have now charges through the iPad’s lightning port, which is awkward and means I can’t charge the pencil and iPad at the same time. But the newer pencil charges magnetically on the side of the iPad.
My fiancé and I have been talking a lot about getting a Nintendo switch. It feels like the only video-game console you can buy without becoming video-game people. He doesn’t buy a lot of stuff in general, and rarely buys stuff for himself, so this would be a big deal. Plus, after talking to legit gamers for a gift guide recently, I am excited to try Zelda and Luigi’s Mansion 3.
Buck Mason Gift Card
My dad is a big fan of Buck Mason, and their clothes fit him really well. I’m also a fan and own several of their white tees. I’m getting him a gift card so he can try stuff on and pick what he likes — most likely some new chinos.