Our Holiday Gift Guide

good things

We've got this year's shopping beautifully covered, with unique, useful, and delightful finds for every lucky person on your list. Some are handmade, all were handpicked—and each one is a hands-down winner.


By Eleni N. Gage
Photos by Kate Mathis

It's a Wrap!

For an extra-special presentation, we took plain paper, which you can buy in bulk, and made smaller pieces super-pretty with a little paint and an unexpected tag or bow.

Good Gifts for the Kitchen

1. Be a good egg and give Farmhouse Pottery's solid-ash egg board—it's a pretty way to serve a hard-boiled breakfast to houseguests. $85, farmhouse pottery.com.

2. Treat them to dinner all year long with Small Victories (Chronicle Books, 2016), the first solo effort from Julia Turshen, who has written cookbooks with Mario Batali. $35, amazon.com.

3. Cozy up with this gingham-print porcelain mug, which is large enough for morning joe and sweet enough for after-dinner ice cream. $24, shopterrain.com.

4. Sweet-talk them. These bars from family-run Woodblock Chocolate Manufactory, in Portland, Oregon, are delicious stocking stuffers—or thank-yous for teachers and sitters. (Our favorite flavors are Toasted Sesame and Salt & Nibs.) $4 each, themeadow.com.

5. Press here for a present that will make them think of you every morning: Yield Design's French press brews coffee in the traditional way but looks incredibly modern while doing so. $85, yielddesign.co.

6. Use your noodle to come up with something they'll love but might not buy for themselves: Atlas's 150 Aluminum pasta maker. $80, crateandbarrel.com.

7. Say cheese to this handsome set of marble and copper knives. $50, williams-sonoma.com.

8. Give the glow of copper without altering the taste or color of the food you put in it: Martha Stewart Collection's nesting bowls are stainless steel inside. $58 for a set of 3, macys.com.

9. Tickle their taste buds with pickles made at Shed, the James Beard Award–winning restaurant and market in Healdsburg, California. $12 each, healdsburgshed.com.

Make + Give

Sundae Sauces

The best hostess gifts make life both easier and sweeter. Case in point: These homemade toppings turn a pint of vanilla ice cream into a gourmet dessert. A touch of molasses and holiday spices lend the gingerbread caramel a freshly baked cookie flavor, especially when garnished with slivers of candied ginger. The mandarin-lime curd is aromatic and mouthwatering, and works just as well as a silky spread on toast, muffins, or scones in the morning. To stir up a batch, get the recipes on page 145, and pack them in airtight seven-ounce Mason or jam jars (tied with a spoon).

Good Gifts for the Home

1. Make love bloom with this brass-finish watering can, which is sleek enough to leave out on display. $45, cb2.com.

2. Promise someone a rose garden, even if there's snow on the ground, with Plant (Phaidon, 2016), a breathtaking collection of botanical prints, photos, drawings, and even micrograph scans. $60, indiebound.org.

3. Put a ring on it. The designing duo Formafantasma took a cue from a simple band when creating the Bugia candle holder, a practical, sculptural piece to have and to hold. $195, rollandhill.com.

4. Strike a pose for HP's Sprocket wireless pocket-size photo printer. It prints sticky-backed two-by-three-inch snaps. $130, hp.com.

5. Take center stage with these hand-cut glass vessels by Hawkins New York, which come in soft pink or gray. From $45 each, food52.com/shop.

6. Stack the deck—or rather the nightstand—with Hay's Bits and Bobs containers. They hold cuff links and earrings in style—and make sustainable gift boxes for wonderful things that come in small packages. From $9 each, store.moma.org.

7. Gild the lily with a framed foil-pressed map by Alex Elko Design that's as meaningful as it is beautiful. From $67, minted.com.

8. Think pink with these romantic glasses rimmed in 24-karat gold. They're made for red wine but look rosé all day (and year) long. $88 for 4, anthropologie.com.

9. Make sparks fly. Christophe Pourny's all-natural pinecone-shaped beeswax fire starters warm the hearth in winter. $55, christophepourny.com.

Make + Give

Fringed Cocktail Napkins

These no-sew hand-fringed cocktail napkins are already a fun upgrade on the paper variety. Add a stamped monogram in the corner for extra credit, box up four, and you've got an A+ present. To create them, cut a lightweight, loose-weave linen fabric into 10½-inch squares, then use a pin to pull out several threads for a fringed border. Personalize them with a rubber stamp and a fabric ink pad.

Good Gifts for Pampering

1. Make her smile every time she pulls out one of these shiny, happy compact mirrors by Odeme. $28 each, odeme.co.

2. Pucker up! You're likely to get a kiss from the happy recipient of this boxed set of nine tinted balms by Fresh. $77, fresh.com.

3. Refine his routine with the Castle shave kit; it combines retro design and modern ingredients for a clean, close shave. A blend of essential oils preps his skin. $60, detroitgrooming.com.

4. Pay it forward. For each limited-edition tub of Kiehl's rich, grapefruit-scented Faile Crème de Corps sold, 340 meals are provided to hungry families through Feeding America. $38, kiehls.com.

5. Go luxe with an Iles Formula trio of shampoo, conditioner, and hair-finishing serum, developed by celebrity stylist Wendy Iles using antioxidant-rich vegetable extracts. $99, sephora.com.

6. Razzle-dazzle her with YSL's Silver Clash polish. A single coat adds subtle sparkle; a second lights up her whole look. $28, ysl beauty.com.

7. Smooth things over with Aquis's super-absorbent Luxe towel, which fights frizz while drying even the longest, thickest hair. From $30, aquis.com.

8. Sweep her off her feet with Sonia Kashuk's deco-inspired set of four synthetic brushes. They're as soft and effective as tools several times their price. $30, target.com.

9. Take her to Paris, figuratively speaking, with French Girl Organics, a bath-and-skin-care line inspired by the sights and smells of France (think rose-scented lip polish, body oil, and French sea salts for soaking). From $15 each, frenchgirlorganics.etsy.com.

Make + Give

Handmade Soaps

Melt hearts with a gift that's pretty and practical: a set of powder-room soaps that mimics a box of petit fours. We whipped them up with glycerin and goat's-milk soap-making kits, glycerin soap color, flexible silicone molds, and some imagination, dressing up the pale bars with pink sea salt and the orange ones with exfoliating dry oatmeal. Once the bars were ready to be released from the forms (which takes only about an hour), we stacked them in cupcake wrappers and packed three sets in a clear gold-topped box worthy of the treasures inside.

Good Gifts for Style

1. Tell the world she's a wonder woman with a pink leather cuff that transmits magical powers, making the wearer able to slay passersby with her incredible fashion sense. $121, marlowgoods.com.

2. Tie one on the gent who wouldn't be caught dead wearing dancing reindeer around his neck. Alexander Olch's Isaac wool tie is festive but understated. $150, olch.com.

3. Warm her heart, arms, and entire torso with this cozy sweater by Autumn Cashmere, which ties at the nape of her neck in a romantic black bow. $330, intermixonline.com.

4. Time it right with a custom-designed watch—you pick the face, finish, and band, and the folks at Tinker assemble it. $150, tinkerwatches.com.

5. Remind her that she's a gem with one of Page Sargisson's agate rings, punctuated by a touch of gold. Or select a few, so she can stack the set. $150 each, pagesargisson.com.

6. Empower others with a key-ring-cum-phone-charger that lets them juice up on the run, in the car, or from a laptop. $30, nativeunion.com.

7. Help him keep calm by carrying on Stuart + Lau's Monaco Weekender bag, which is lightweight, has a waterproof lining, and is so very handsome. $338, stuartandlau.com.

8. Put a twinkle in her eye with some sparkle for her ears. Debbie Fisher's gold-vermeil earrings go with everything and have just the right flash factor. $120, debbiefisher.com.

9. Be tray-chic and give Pat Kim's stunning wooden catchall for keys and wallet. $80, patkimdesign.com.

Make + Give

Beaded Necklaces

Remember how proud you felt handing Mom macaroni jewelry back in the day? Our two-tone necklaces are made with the same amount of love but produce a more refined result—and they might be even easier to craft. Buy two strands of stones or glass beads, a package of crimp beads, and two tassels on rings. Thread the strands through a crimp bead, one tassel ring, and then back through the crimp bead. Flatten with pliers to secure. Repeat on the other end with the second tassel.

Make + Give

Play-Dough Kit

Dough it yourself, then pack this homemade clay into airtight containers inside a handy case, add a few cookie cutters, and let the games begin. (For a basic recipe, go to marthastewart.com/play-dough; find these Bigso Mini Stockholm suitcases at the Container Store. $7 each, containerstore.com.)

Good Gifts for the Kids

1. Wrap your freshly bathed little one in your arms, but first envelop him or her in Kontex's supersoft Angeline hooded towel. $118, rikumo.com.

2. Turn lunch into a party by serving PB&Js on a tray from Coral & Tusk's collaboration with Fog Linen, featuring adorable illustrations of Paco the dog and Goban the cat. $58, coralandtusk.com.

3. Bring home a pet they'll never have to clean up after (plus five of his furry friends) with Martha Stewart Living's set of six Arctic Animal felt ornaments. $39, homedecorators.com.

4. Color them amused with a combo that will keep hands busy all break long: a USA-map coloring roll by Omy, and a set of six Eco-kids' rock-shaped crayons, tinted with vegetable and fruit dyes. $30 and $10, abchome.com.

5. Equip a mini foodie with Le Petit Chef's knife, peeler, and finger guard, designed to teach knife skills to supervised 5-to-12-year-olds. $49 for the set of 3, opinel-usa.com.

6. Take the high road and give your favorite tween this glitter cell-phone case—it shakes like a snow globe!—instead of keeping it for yourself. $28, bando.com.

7. Go wild for Zuny's faux-leather bookend, which cheerfully keeps Pat the Bunny and friends in place. $53, wayfair.com.

8. Rock a classic with this reissue of the stunning 1970 children's book Listen! Listen! (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016), by architect Ann Rand and her graphic-designer husband Paul, who did the iconic cutouts for the illustrations. $18, papress.com.