Five years ago, I gave my mother the perfect (for her) Christmas gift. It was a German cookie jar that featured a rosy Santa feeding doey-eyed woodland creatures. My mother—who is notoriously difficult to shop for—happens to collect German-made Christmas décor, woodland creatures, and Santas. It was as if God placed this cookie jar in my life purely to give to her. She loved it.
Every year since that successful day, my mom has asked me for a gift receipt within hours of opening my gift. This year, I’m requesting a wish list.
Although I derive great pleasure in finding just the right gift for the people nearest to me, finding said gifts is time consuming and can leave me scrambling—and purchasing Starbucks gift cards on Christmas Eve.
In case you find yourself in a similar situation, I though I’d share a few of my favorite holiday gift ideas. This mini gift-guide is loosely broken into sections by price and interest, and it includes both items I’ve used and loved for years and fresh finds that caught my eye. Not surprisingly, this guide guide is heavy on the kitchen gear, so if you have an aspiring chef, ardent home cook, or college student in desperate need of culinary equipment in your life, it may be especially useful.
ULTIMATE HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2015
For food lovers, travel enthusiasts, girly girls, and manly men
Fun, Girly Gifts Under $35
Volcano Candle. This pretty candle will make your entire house smell like Anthropologie within a few moments of being lit. It’s pricey, but you only need to burn it a few minutes at a time for full, scented effect.
Aveda Dry Remedy Oil: Perfect for ladies who straighten their hair. A few drops keep the ends looking glossy and healthy. A single bottle will last for months and months.
Aveda Thickening Tonic. No root volume? No problem. I think of this as a hair miracle in a bottle.
Bare Minerals Moxie Lip Gloss. I received this for a gift and fell in love. It’s light, not goupy with a refreshing bit of mint.
Benefit They’re Real Mascara. For giant, gorgeous lashes.
Manly Gifts Under $30
Grill “Sportsula“ Flip burgers and support your favorite college team.
Snazzy Pocket Squares. For the dapper gentleman in your life.
Super Hero Socks. Complete with cape.
Flash Light Grill Tongs. Don’t let darkness interfere with your grill game.
NFL BBQ “Brand.” For those who are serious about showing their NFL spirit.
Fun Gifts for Anyone
The Game of Things. My favorite game to play with friends. And wine.
Catchphrase. Never gets old.
Gifts for the Booze Enthusiast
Electric Wine Bottle Opener. I made fun of this initially and am now obsessed.
iPhone Case Bottle Opener. Even better than a pocket knife.
Whiskey Stones. Keep your cocktails cold without watering them down.
Practical Gifts for Travel Buffs
Packing Cubes. For a frequent traveler, these are a lifesaver.
Mini Hair Dryer with Convertible Voltage. Small but mighty and can be used abroad.
And now…Holiday Gift Ideas for Kitchen Enthusiasts (or college students with empty cupboards)
Kitchen Gifts Under $30
Cookie Scoops. Perfect for cookie dough, ice cream, muffins, and more.
Baker’s Half Sheet. From roasting veggies to baking homemade pizza to making sheet cake, I use these almost every single day.
USA Pans Bakeware. I’ve used almost every brand of bakeware out there, and USA Pans are my favorite. Nothing sticks to them, they’re easy to clean, and my goodies cook evenly and brown beautifully every single time. In addition to this entire set, you can find lots of individual pieces here.
The Brownie Pan for corner lovers.
Olive Oil Drizzler. I keep this on my counter and use it almost every day.
Mandolin. Slice like a boss.
Digital Kitchen Scale. Surprisingly handy and versatile, especially for hard-core bakers or those who may be watching what they eat.
Silpat Mats. A must own for home cooks of all levels. Dishwasher safe, these are perfect for everything from cookies to vegetables, kand they keep food from sticking, cut down on parchment paper waste, and make washing pans a breeze.
Magnetic Measuring Spoons. They’re easy to store and two sides means less stopping your cooking to wash dishes.
Nesting Mixing Bowl Set. I love that these come with lids to double for storage and have non-stick bottoms.
Stainless Steel Measuring Cups. No baker can have too many.
Gourmet Ingredients Under $20. Put them together for a baking bundle!
Espresso Powder. One of my all time favorite “booster” ingredients. Add a bit to your hot chocolate or brownies to amp up the intensity of their chocolate flavor.
Espresso Powder + Vientnamese Cinnamon Combo Pack. Two of my favorite splurge ingredients—great quality and flavor!
Cookbooks and Magazines
Cook’s Illustrated. Some of the best tested recipes on the planet, plus the science behind them.
Martha Stewart Living. Classic.
Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. This is the book I cook from more than any other. Every recipe is spot-on.
Dessert for Two. Perfected small batch baking, for those of us who love our dessert but need some quantity control.
Food52’s Genius Recipes is another on my wish list.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer. The holy grail of baking appliances. I kiss mine good night. Just kidding. But seriously.
Le Creuset Dutch Oven. If our house ever catches fire, I’m ditching my wallet and saving this baby instead.
Le Creuset Braiser. The other piece I’m saving.
Milk Frother. It might seem silly, but I received one for Christmas last year and fell in love.
Countertop Oven. One of my all-time favorite appliances. I use this almost as much as my full sized oven. It’s just as accurate as a full size oven, but much faster to preheat and it uses less energy too. It’s perfect for roasting small batches of vegetables, reheating leftovers, or cooking frozen pizza. My pick for anyone who dreams of having a double oven but doesn’t have the space/budget, college students, and those who don’t have an oven at all.
Panini Press/Electric Griddle. Once you toast your sammies, there is no going back. We even “panini” our PB&Js. This model has interchangeable flat plates, so you can use it as a flat top griddle too.
Set of 2 Calphalon Non-Stick Pans. NOTHING sticks to these babies. Perfect for sautéing veggies and scrambled eggs (a.k.a. the emergency dinner of champions).
Programmable Slow Cooker. I have and love this model.
Ninja Blender. The individual smoothie attachment is perfect for small households.
Diamond Blender. An excellent, affordable all-purpose blender.
Cuisinart Food Processor. I purchased mine eight years ago, and it still works as well as the day I bought it. A food processor isn’t an “every day” appliance for everyone, but when you need it, you need it.
And if you are giving a gift to a food blogger…
Check out a few ideas on my Photography and Food Blogging Resource Page.
Or just send chocolate.