Yeah, I totally ripped off Oprah. So what? She’s the only one allowed to have favorite things during the holidays? I don’t think so. I looked at her 2015 list, by the way. Very impressive. But I only found two things that I liked.
Correction. I only found two things I liked that I could afford.
Correction. I only found two things I liked that I thought were worth the money whether I could afford it or not.
To be fair, Oprah and I have different tastes. She favors a lot of truffle-y, shiny, glossy thingamajigs. And jars of fancy jellies, like the kind that would be served at Lord Grantham’s table, if Lord Grantham and Lady Cora were with us today. And also real. (Fist bump to Downton Abbey fans.) And why shouldn’t she? Her cash flow is like an infinity scarf. She started from nothing, worked her way to the top and thus deserves to surround herself with as much glitz, shine and opulence as her heart desires.
I, too, appreciate a little bling here and there. But I specialize in practical gifts that solve problems people didn’t even know they had. Or which they wouldn’t think to buy for themselves. Products that help loved ones live healthier. Books that change lives and perspectives. Things that people didn’t even realize were a thing. Where the heck did you even FIND this?!? is what I’m after.
That’s not to say you won’t see one or two (or three) splurge-worthy items on my list to provoke a gasp and GTFOH! when you see the price tag. But they are the exception, and should be ignored by all except those with deep pockets.
Or those who really messed up and now need a *wow* gift to make it all go away.
Long story short, with the exception of two items I straight up stole from her previous lists, Oprah and I had to part ways this year on the definition of favorite. So I created my own list. It’s not for everybody. But it’s my idea of cool things people will still be calling you to rave about months after the holidays have ended. Some are pricey. Some are so cheap it’s stupid. But all are things that will set your gift apart from the standard department store fare. (And just think of the gas and parking woes you’ll save.)
P.S. – Be sure to check back regularly, as the list could grow well beyond 50, depending on what else I stumble across between now and the end of the year. Remember, the party doesn’t have to stop on December 25. You’ve got to spend those Christmas cash gifts somewhere.
Happy Holiday Shopping!
(To purchase, just click on the product’s title link in either the slider, or the post write-up.)
Jaybird Bluebuds X Sport Bluetooth Headphones
Jaybird Bluebuds X Sport Bluetooth Headphones, $135 - $165 on Amazon.Jaybird Bluebuds X Sport Bluetooth Headphones
Alex and Ani Jamaica Charm Bracelet
Jamaica Charm Bracelet by Alex and Ani, $27.Alex and Ani Jamaica Charm Bracelet
Good Night Yoga A Pose by Pose Bedtime Story
Good Night Yoga. A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story, $11 on Amazon.Good Night Yoga A Pose by Pose Bedtime Story
Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Compressor
Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Compressor, $399 on Amazon.Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Compressor
I Love My Hair: A coloring book of braids, coils and doodle dos by Andrea Pippins
I Love My Hair: A coloring book of braids, coils and doodle dos by Andrea Pippins, $11I Love My Hair: A coloring book of braids, coils and doodle dos by Andrea Pippins
Classic Ponte Zip Pocket Leggings by Ann Taylor
Classic Ponte Zip Pocket Leggings, $79 at Ann Taylor.Classic Ponte Zip Pocket Leggings by Ann Taylor
F*ck Feelings: One shrink's practical advice for managing all life's impossible problems
F*ck Feelings: One shrink's practical advice for managing all life's impossible problems, $12 on Amazon.F*ck Feelings: One shrink's practical advice for managing all life's impossible problems
Lavanila Healthy Fragrance Vanilla Grapefruit
Lavanila Healthy Fragrance Vanilla Grapefruit, $49 on Amazon.Lavanila Healthy Fragrance Vanilla Grapefruit
BookBook MacBook Case by Twelve South
BookBook MacBook Case by Twelve South, $79 on Amazon.BookBook MacBook Case by Twelve South
En Route Dress by Athleta
En Route Dress, $69 at Athleta.En Route Dress by Athleta
Roll Up Travel Chess and Checkers by Sondergut
Roll Up Travel Chess and Checkers by Sondergut, $40 on Amazon.Roll Up Travel Chess and Checkers by Sondergut
Jewelinx Daily Jewelry Accessory/Organizer
Jewelinx Daily Jewelry Accessory/Organizer, $20 (2-pair) at The Grommet.Jewelinx Daily Jewelry Accessory/Organizer
Click and Grow Indoor Smart Herb Garden
Click and Grow Indoor Smart Herb Garden, $60 on Amazon.Click and Grow Indoor Smart Herb Garden
Fivesse Gym Bags
Fivesse Gym Bags, $15-$50* at Finesse.com. *70% blow-out sale, while quantities last.Fivesse Gym Bags
2100 Asanas The Complete Yoga Poses
2100 Asanas The Complete Yoga Poses, $23 on Amazon.2100 Asanas The Complete Yoga Poses
What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets
What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets, $27 on Amazon.What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets
Ahnu Yoga Flex - Best Workout Shoe EVER
Ahnu Yoga Flex - Best Workout Shoe EVER, $110 at Ahnu.com.Ahnu Yoga Flex - Best Workout Shoe EVER
The Healing: A memoir of food, family and yoga by Saeeda Hafiz
The Healing: A memoir of food, family and yoga by Saeeda Hafiz, $13 on Amazon.The Healing: A memoir of food, family and yoga by Saeeda Hafiz
Elite Functional Exercise Bodyweight Training DVDs
Elite Functional Exercise Bodyweight Training DVDs, $25 on Amazon.Elite Functional Exercise Bodyweight Training DVDs
Breaking Bad Coloring Book for Adults
Breaking Bad Coloring Book for Adults, $12 on Amazon.Breaking Bad Coloring Book for Adults
Bluetooth Mobile Mini Speaker by Brookstone
Bluetooth Mobile Mini Speaker by Brookstone, $27 on Amazon.Bluetooth Mobile Mini Speaker by Brookstone
Happy Mat by YogaKids Kids Yoga Mat
Happy Mat by YogaKids Kids Yoga Mat, $18 on Amazon.Happy Mat by YogaKids Kids Yoga Mat
Once Upon a Mat: 9 Easy to Learn Yoga Adventures
Once Upon a Mat: 9 Easy to Learn Yoga Adventures, $15 on Amazon.Once Upon a Mat: 9 Easy to Learn Yoga Adventures
The Big O Key Ring
The Big O Key Ring, $28-$55 at OVenture.The Big O Key Ring
DxO One Camera for iPhone
DxO One Camera for iPhone, $600.DxO One Camera for iPhone
Silk Wrapped Soul Bracelet Do No Harm
Silk Wrapped Soul Bracelet Do No Harm, $30 at Uncommon Goods.Silk Wrapped Soul Bracelet Do No Harm
Tall Pedestal Jewelry Dish
Tall Pedestal Jewelry Dish, $48 at Uncommon Goods.Tall Pedestal Jewelry Dish
Jewel Toned Sari Scarf
Jewel Toned Sari Scarf, $48 at Uncommon Goods.Jewel Toned Sari Scarf
21 Tubes by Dean & DeLuca
21 Tubes, $105 at Dean & DeLuca.21 Tubes by Dean & DeLuca
Punjammies by Sudara, $48.Punjammies
Face Mug, $16 on Amazon.Face Mug
Just the Ticket Ticket Stub Organizer
Just the Ticket Ticket Stub Organizer, $13 on Amazon.Just the Ticket Ticket Stub Organizer
Pokket Mixer Mobile Mini DJ Mixer
Pokket Mixer Mobile Mini DJ Mixer, $120 on Amazon.Pokket Mixer Mobile Mini DJ Mixer
Premium Whiskey Stones by Bellavanti
Premium Whiskey Stones by Bellavanti, $17 at Amazon.Premium Whiskey Stones by Bellavanti
Library Socks by Out of Print (Unisex)
Library Socks by Out of Print (Unisex), $10 on Amazon.Library Socks by Out of Print (Unisex)
Mobile Foodie Survival Kit
Mobile Foodie Survival Kit, $26 at Uncommon Goods.Mobile Foodie Survival Kit
Swhiteme Women’s Kimono Robe
Swhiteme Women’s Kimono Robe, $30 on Amazon.Swhiteme Women’s Kimono Robe
Tortuga Travel Backpack
Tortuga Travel Backpack, $199 at Tortuga BackpacksTortuga Travel Backpack
Water Rower Club Rower
Water Rower Club Rower, $1160 on Amazon.Water Rower Club Rower
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, $15 on Amazon.Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Renee Meal Management Tote by 6 Pack Fitness
Renee Meal Management Tote, $170 at 6 Pack Fitness.Renee Meal Management Tote by 6 Pack Fitness
Paderno Spiralizer at Williams-Sonoma
Paderno Spiralizer, $50 at Williams- Sonoma.Paderno Spiralizer at Williams-Sonoma
The Ideaboard Portable Whiteboard
The Ideaboard Portable Whiteboard, $61 by Ideafuel.The Ideaboard Portable Whiteboard
Breaking Bad Complete Series
Breaking Bad Complete Series, $59 on Amazon.Breaking Bad Complete Series
S'Well Sparkling Champagne Stainless Steel Water Bottle
S'Well Sparkling Champagne Stainless Steel Water Bottle, $25-$45 at Nordstrom.S'Well Sparkling Champagne Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Sriracha Mini Keychain Bottle
Sriracha Mini Keychain Bottle (3-pack), $15Sriracha Mini Keychain Bottle
Go Away Funny Glass Coffee Mug
Go Away Funny Glass Coffee Mug, $22 on AmazonGo Away Funny Glass Coffee Mug
Contender Bag by Six Pack Fitness
Contender Bag - Meal Management System, $40 at Six Pack Fitness.Contender Bag by Six Pack Fitness
Tieks by Gavrielli
Tieks by Gavrielli, starting at $195 at Tieks.Tieks by Gavrielli
Flip Belt Athletic Personal Pack
Flip Belt Athletic Personal Pack, $29 on Amazon.Flip Belt Athletic Personal Pack
- Jaybird Bluebuds X Sport Bluetooth Headphones. My husband and I had a problem in the early weekday hours. One small basement. One TV monitor. One 60-minute window. Two separate, extreme-style video workouts that ran an hour each. This wireless bluetooth headset, which he wore to cancel out the noise from my heavy bag workout across the room while he streamed his own workout on his iPhone, saved the day. You can turn somersaults in these and they won’t fall out. I haven’t tried it because I’m scared I’ll break my neck, but I’ve done plenty of Downward Facing Dogs while wearing them. Which is practically the same thing. (Just make sure you upgrade the unit with these earphone tips.) Protects against sweat, designed for music and calls, and lasts 8 hours. The perfect gift for the man who thinks he has everything, whether he’s a gym rat or avid PBS podcast listener.
- Alex and Ani Jamaica Charm Bracelet, $27. Yeah, I get it. Not everybody’s Jamaican. (I’m so sorry.) But I am, which makes it perfect for me. And somewhere among the hundreds of different charms that Alex & Ani carries, there is one – or two, or three (they look great layered on) – just right for your loved one. Which is what makes this such a nice gift. Personalize it according to their passions, hobbies or life outlook.
- Good Night Yoga: A Pose by Pose Bedtime Story by Mariam Gates, $11 on Amazon. Did you know there’s a more zen alternative to shouting “Don’t make me come up there!” from the bottom of the stairs? Make some stressed-out parent’s day with this thoughtful gift. Paired with a Happy Mat (see below), this is a great way to establish a fun bedtime routine that could also help kids experience more restful sleep. Beautifully illustrated, with kids of both sexes and a variety of backgrounds represented.
- Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Compressor, $399 on Amazon. Fancy name for best ice cream maker ever, if you believe the reviews. At this price, don’t even think about buying this for anyone other than a true ice cream connoisseur. Or Paleo fanatic. Or anyone who simply wants to make high-quality homemade ice cream without refined sugars and other junk, including those who are diabetic or have other dietary restrictions. Dump your ingredients, press a button and walk away. Forty-five minutes later, ice cream is served. Fully automatic, no pre-frozen bowls, 12 custom settings from super soft to extra firm.
- I Love My Hair: A coloring book of braids, coils and doodle dos by Andrea Pippins, $11 on Amazon. Adult coloring books are all the rage this year. This one is beautifully-illustrated, and appropriate for ‘tweens on up. The best part is that ALL hair types are celebrated, making this a wonderfully affirming book for young girls and women with curly and textured hair.
- Classic Ponte Zip Pocket Leggings, $79 at Ann Taylor. I live in these Monday through Friday, and so far haven’t run out of ways to make it look like a completely different outfit each time. These are the first leggings I’ve found that are classy and professional-looking enough to wear to the office, when styled appropriately. Perfect for business casual, casual Friday and the weekends…a wardrobe staple she’ll get plenty of use out of!
- F*ck Feelings: One shrink’s practical advice for managing all life’s impossible problems, $12 on Amazon. Who doesn’t love a foul-mouthed therapist? Especially one who teams up with his comedienne daughter to write a hilariously honest, yet highly constructive, self-help book. Give this to that one friend or relative who always seems mired down in some bullsh*t circumstances of their own creation or enabling, is prone to feelings of victimization or who has trouble understanding the difference between things they can influence and control (and thus fix with concrete action) and things they can’t (and need to let go).
- Lavanila Healthy Fragrance Vanilla Grapefruit, $49 on Amazon. I first became a fan of this brand through their all natural, non-toxic deodorant. This fragrance is sure to be appreciated by those trying to make better choices about what to use on their body (it’s free of parabens and other synthetic chemicals, plus not tested on animals), and who prefer a scent that’s clean and not overpowering. I love the citrus-y undertones. Also comes in a $16 travel-friendly roll-on (.32 oz), perfect for stocking stuffers. (You might also be able to find this in select Sephora cosmetics stores, but not all of them carry it.)
- BookBook MacBook Case by Twelve South, $79 on Amazon. I can’t tell you how many times people have stopped me in an eatery, coffee shop or library to ask me where I got this case. It’s supposed to deter thieves by camouflaging your computer as an old book. (Though you have to wonder about a criminal dumb enough to think books with zippers are a “thing.”) Solid protection all around, but I just love how it looks and feels. Bonus: no added heft to my ultra portable MacBook 12, which is important because that’s the whole reason I downsized to a computer weighing only two pounds. If I were you, I’d pay the extra $20 dollars to upgrade to the Rutledge edition. The color is stunning. Available only for Macs. (Versions for iPads and iPhones also.).
- En Route Dress, $69 at Athleta. Some days you just want to wear pajamas to work. Because that could get you fired, you do the next best thing and sport this incredibly stretchy and chic frock in basic black, dressing it up with jewelry, boots, a cardigan and a fetching infinity scarf. Any woman that receives this as a gift will find 101 different ways to style it. And when she travels in it, looking smart and feeling uber comfortable in a cramped plane or train, she’ll remember your thoughtfulness for bringing this piece of wardrobe magic into her life. Age-appropriate for all, and other colors available. (The picture doesn’t do it justice. Personally, I would have styled it with something other than that frumpy sweater the model is wearing, but that’s just me. Just the other day I rocked it with a long-sleeve white collared shirt underneath, a wide belt, boots and chunky jewelry, and it was everything.)
- Roll Up Travel Chess and Checkers by Sondergut, $40 on Amazon. Hide the kids’ charger, feign surprise (“What? Your phone battery is dead? No, I haven’t seen it. Did you look behind the couch? Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I used to beat your Uncle Mark in chess and checkers…?”) and then get them engaged in a real world game of skill and strategy. Great gift for those planning a digital detox, or who want to keep family entertained on the go, cord-free.
- Jewelinx Daily Jewelry Accessory/Organizer, $20 (2-pair) at The Grommet. This is a clever gadget that brings out the super stylist in every woman by letting her fully envision and coordinate jewelry with the outfits hanging in her closet, keeping everything together. No more scrambling to match jewelry pieces in the morning rush; lay everything out the night before.
- Click and Grow Indoor Smart Herb Garden, $60 on Amazon. Everybody knows that one person who goes into deep mourning whenever farmers markets go out of season, and they can’t get their usual stash of fresh herbs. Help them grow their own year round in their kitchen. This one uses NASA technology to ensure a foolproof process.
- Fivesse Gym Bags, $15-$50 at Fivesse. You’ll have to act fast on this one. The company slashed prices up to 70%, so I don’t think their supply will last long. For now, it’s a stylish gift for women who must squeeze their workouts in on the way to work, during their lunch break or after hours before they go somewhere else. Designed to keep everything you need organized and accessible. The attachable garment bag is a must, to keep post-workout outfits wrinkle-free. (At these prices, you can pick one up for yourself.)
- 2100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses, $23 on Amazon. This is the bible of yoga poses. 2100 of them. In full color. Also features the pose name in English and Sanskrit, and identifies the muscles targeted. As a gift for anyone into yoga, you simply can’t go wrong. Unless they’ve already bought it for themselves, and I have no control over that.
- What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets, $27 on Amazon. This is the ideal coffee table book, and a guaranteed conversation-starter for guests. Is there anything more fascinating than peeking into other people’s kitchens and checking out the spread on their tables? (Visually, it is also a sobering indictment on the modern food economy and processed excesses of the Western diet.) Beautifully photographed.
- Ahnu Yoga Flex, $110 at Ahnu.com. Best. Workout. Shoe. EVER. I am 100% confident that just the other day someone close to you complained that they can’t find a decent pair of exercise shoes. Know why? Because EVERYBODY has trouble finding a decent pair. I’m happy to report my struggle is over. (I’ve had a love affair going on with my orange pair for months.) Lightweight with quality construction and just the right amount of support, they feel perfect from the moment you put them on. I don’t care what you’re into – Crossfit, HIIT training, boxing, kickboxing or kettlebell training – this shoe delivers. Plus, stylish enough to run errands around town. (From the same company that makes UGGS, so you know they’re good.)
- The Healing: A memoir of food, family and yoga by Saeeda Hafiz, $13 on Amazon. It’s hard to be zen when your family is messed up. That’s what this book should have been titled. It’s a page-turner about a young woman ‘s self-healing journey through yoga lessons, which brings her face to face with inner demons fed by the domestic violence, addiction and poverty of her youth. How she works through it is inspiring. This is a great book to gift someone who’s had a challenging year, or who needs encouragement going into the new year. (Seventy-one 5-star ratings on Amazon can’t be wrong.)
- Elite Functional Exercise Bodyweight Training DVDs, $25 on Amazon. If your significant other won’t come to the gym with you because he’s too old school for “yuppie workout programs,” try this. Developed by Mark Lauren, an elite Special Ops trainer and bestselling author of You Are Your Own Gym, it’s a no-frills, cutting-edge workout for peak fitness. The only program that’s successfully lured my husband away from the basic calisthenics routine he’d been doing since his days as a high school athlete.
- Breaking Bad Coloring Book for Adults, $12 on Amazon. For fans of the TV phenomenon Breaking Bad who are suffering from withdrawal since the series ended. In case you’ve been in rehab the last several years, let me bring you up to speed: the show is about a high school science teacher turned meth cooker and dealer. (Kids: Not that anyone condones that.) Some call it the best television series ever made. And this coloring book will make their day.
- Bluetooth Mobile Mini Speaker by Brookstone, $27 on Amazon. Ever since the cell phone became everyone’s default stereo system, having portable bluetooth speakers is essential to sharing and enjoying music with those around you. This compact, travel-friendly unit delivers big sound. Is it a Bose? No. But that brick of a Bose is cumbersome, and costs several hundred dollars. And you don’t need all that when you just want to pump up your iPhone playlist in a hotel room, or over at your aunt’s house.
- Happy Mat by YogaKids Kids Yoga Mat, $18 on Amazon. A great gift to encourage physical activity in kids. Toddlers, especially, get super excited over the idea of having their own mat to exercise on alongside parents, or while watching a yoga DVD like Once Upon a Mat (below). I know because I gave this to my twin nieces and nephew, who are 2 and 5 respectfully, and they run to pull out their mats as soon as they see me walk through the door. Best paired with a yoga bag like this one here; they love to try to hoist it over their shoulders and drag it around the house.
- Once Upon a Mat: 9 Easy to Learn Yoga Adventures, $15 on Amazon. The perfect companion gift to the HappyMat above. My twin 2-year old nieces love this video. No yoga terminology is ever used; the poses are presented in the form of a narrated story that keeps the action focused on fun movement.
- The Big O Key Ring, $28-$55 at OVenture. This one’s not new (it was featured on one of Oprah’s list two years ago), but because it’s so awesome, I had to give it some extra shine here. This product has changed my life. No more rooting through my bags for car keys. Or losing them. Or having to fumble with them while trying to juggle grocery bags. Or running out the house and realizing I left behind my license and credit card in another bag that I forgot to transfer. (I bought the matching Big Essentials case.) Worth every dollar for the sanity it’s restored to my world. There’s not a woman alive who won’t appreciate this as a gift, especially if she’s a mother with small children whose hands still need holding. Buy it in her favorite color, there’s plenty to choose from.
- Silk Wrapped Soul Bracelet Do No Harm, $30 at Uncommon Goods. For that crunchy bohemian chick in your life, who makes her own nut milk. Everybody knows at least one. I just thought the purple color was gorgeous.
- Tall Pedestal Jewelry Dish, $48 at Uncommon Goods. I might be the only woman in the world who forgets to take off her jewelry before getting into bed, and then is too lazy to get out of bed to put them in their rightful place. But I doubt it. I would love to have something stunning like this on my nightstand to safely contain them, so I can stop tossing them on the floor. Or losing hoops, studs and backs in the crevice between bed and table when they go flying right after I whip the sheets when making the bed the next morning. Oh, just me? OK, fine. Never mind, then.
- Jewel Toned Sari Scarf, $48 at Uncommon Goods. I never met a sari I didn’t like. They are among the most beautiful garments in the world, and being able to wrap a little bit of that fabulousness around your neck just seems like something every woman needs. The jewel tones are mesmerizing. You know who this is good for? That one special aunt (or mother-in-law) visiting for the holidays for whom you never know what to buy.
- 21 Tubes, $105 at Dean & DeLuca. At first I thought this was a batsh*t crazy price for 21 tubes of spice. But then I kept looking at it, imagining how much delight it would give a true foodie to have this visually stunning set on their counter, filled with only those spices they treasure and use most often to create their culinary magic. Like that gorgeous dude in the movie The Hundred-Foot Journey, who broke down in tears when he discovered his late mother’s spice collection. It’s art, really. (Also a fantastic wedding gift idea.) If I had one, it might encourage me to cook more. Maybe.
- Punjammies by Sudara, $48. Now here’s a gift you can feel good about it. Not only are they beautiful and comfortable loungewear, but your purchase helps to keep women employed there who have escaped slavery and sex trafficking in India.
- Face Mug, $16 on Amazon. Make some kid’s (or adult’s) day with this hilarious mug that also holds cookies and other treats in the bottom. Perfect for dunking. And Netflix binge-a-thons.
- Just the Ticket Ticket Stub Organizer, $13 on Amazon. The perfect gift for that travelista (or travelist-bro) in your life: a dedicated journal to catalogue all the ticket stubs and keepsakes from their domestic and international trips. Because I’m pretty sure you can’t just staple that crap on to your passport, without running into serious problems at customs.
- Pokket Mixer Mobile Mini DJ Mixer, $120 on Amazon. Back in the day, wannabe DJs and MCs needed elaborate turntable setups to mix and scratch tunes at clubs and block parties. Now, apparently, you can get by with nothing more than this Pokket Mixer and your iPhone (or other mp3 player). This would make a great gift for teenagers or young adults who want to showcase their playlist mixing skills for friends at parties.
- Premium Whiskey Stones by Bellavanti, $17 at Amazon. Everyone has that uncle or brother-in-law that would race back into a burning house to save his liquor collection. This is for him. For serious alcohol connoisseurs only.
- Library Socks by Out of Print (Unisex), $10 on Amazon. For book lovers only. Don’t gift these to anyone else, as you’ll be severely disappointed in their “Meh” or “Huh?” reaction. Oh, and they should probably be over 45. No one younger than that even knows what the hell a library date-due card is, or looks like.
- Mobile Foodie Survival Kit, $26 at Uncommon Goods. Don’t you hate it when you stay over at someone’s house, go to rustle up some grub and discover that all they have in the way of seasonings are salt, pepper and an old crusted-over bottle of Tabasco sauce? (I haven’t personally, since I can only be friends or associate with people who love food as much as I do. But I’ve heard horror stories.) No foodie should have to face this risk on the road. Save someone from this fate today…Oh my god, wait. It’s not you, is it? Please buy two. (And get yourself some decent spices.)
- Swhiteme Women’s Kimono Robe, $30 on Amazon. What woman can’t use a silky, sexy kimono robe? Right now there’s a young woman in your life who thinks it’s appropriate to walk into the kitchen on Christmas morning where the entire family is gathered, wearing little more than the tank top (no bra, of course) and booty shorts she slept in. No. Just…no. Buy her one of these as a subtle, loving reminder that nobody needs to see “all of that.”
- Tortuga Travel Backpack, $199 at Tortuga Backpacks. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about this bag, since I already reviewed it’s younger sibling here. All you need to know is that this is the gift that will keep on giving to anyone you know who travels regularly. Sorry, but we are never going back to the days of airlines not charging fees for checked bags. There are people who have trotted the globe for several months with just this bag as their sole piece of carry-on luggage. Too many bells, whistles and features to list here. Check at the bottom of this post for a video demo.
- Water Rower Club Rower, $1160 on Amazon. Please don’t cuss me out for this one. What seems like a luxury buy to you or me, is another’s “last chance” purchase. We both know that somewhere out there is someone with bad knees who just left the doctor’s office, clutching salty lab results and a stack of fresh prescriptions to try to get whatever they just heard under control. They know they need to start a regular exercise program, but anything joint-pounding is out of the question. They also realize that all the money they’ve accumulated in savings won’t do them any good if they’re not here to use it, so they are now prepared to invest some of it in their health…to include equipment they stand a chance of actually using on a regular basis. A row machine can deliver one of the best full-body cardio workouts out there, in the privacy and convenience of home, with little to no impact on joints. I’m pretty sure this is a company that can be trusted. The Amazon reviews are plentiful and positive (4.7 out of 5 stars), and this appears to be the same company that supplies all Orange Theory gyms across the country, which is where I go a few days a week. I have no choice but to use them, because our trainers make us whether we want to or not. I hate them. And I love them. I love to hate them. Or hate to love them. I don’t know, I’m very conflicted. I just know it gets my heart rate up like nothing else. And if I was going to gift myself or another person a major piece of exercise equipment, I’d choose this row machine over a treadmill any day.
- Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, $15 on Amazon. Shonda Rhimes is the creator of NBC blockbuster shows Gray’s Anatomy and Scandal. Besides having a great personal story to tell (and the storytelling chops to tell it), the lesson is inspiring: What if we each said “yes” for an entire year, instead of looking for ways (and excuses) to run from opportunities that either scare or challenge us? Great read, and great motivational gift, just in time for a new year.
- Renee Meal Management Tote, $170 at 6 Pack Fitness. This is so cool. Watch her mouth drop when she zips open the side panel of this stylish work bag to reveal an inner, insulated cooling station for all her day’s meals. Whaaaaat?!?!?? you say. Yes. No more juggling a purse, laptop bag AND ugly lunch sack on her morning commute. I have this bag. When my 22-year-old daughter saw it, she begged for it and I bought her one for her birthday. My thin MacBook and other personal essentials fit inside with ease, along with all the healthy, perfectly-portioned meals I could want to take with me. It’s like walking around with a personal refrigerator on your hip. Except…not, actually, because that sounds rather unappealing and quite uncomfortable, which is the exact opposite of what this bag is about. I don’t use it every day. Just when I want to look fabulous.
- Paderno Spiralizer, $50 at Williams-Sonoma. The popularity of this kitchen tool seemed to skyrocket once folks realized it could be used to make a healthier low-carb “pasta” out of zucchini. Whoever you give it to, they’ll have fun turning all kinds of vegetables into fancy swirly creations.
- The Ideaboard Portable Whiteboard, $61 by Ideafuel. Every family has that one cousin (or two, or three) who always seems to be trying to get a side hustle off the ground. They’ll trap you on the living room sofa for hours, explaining their business concept and how what they’re working on is going to be “the next big thing.” Encourage them with this gift of a portable whiteboard. (The creators were smart enough to include secondary transparency sheets with each individual whiteboard sheet, so you can overlay text and images atop your main working area without disturbing your original content.) They’ll keep so busy with it sketching out their vision and plans, they won’t have time to talk your ear off.
- Breaking Bad Complete Series, $59 on Amazon. It’s infuriating. For months – maybe more than a year now – you’ve been begging that one family member to puh-lease watch one of the greatest television shows ever broadcast. They say Yes, yes, I know but I’ve got so many other shows in my binge-watching lineup that I can’t get caught up. You tell them to drop kick WHATEVER ELSE is in the queue because in no way can it compare to this epic series about a science teacher-turned-meth dealer. They say But what about Orange is the New Black and you insist No, no way, there’s no way that’s better than Breaking Bad, and on and on this goes for the better part of the year. It’s driving you mad. You can’t take it anymore, and finally decide that THIS will be their gift this year. Its presence on their entertainment center will quietly guilt them with each passing day, until they break down and pop the first DVD in. And then…you know you’ve got ’em. They’re hooked. Sigh. Finally.
- S’Well Yellow Gold Stainless Steel Water Bottle, $42 at Nordstrom. Sure, they’ve already got a water bottle. Maybe several. (Who doesn’t?) But they don’t have a metallic *gold* water bottle that makes you feel like Oprah even when you don’t have Oprah’s money. Of course, it keeps drinks cold for 24 hours, hot for 12 hours, is BPA-free, vacuum-sealed and 18/8 double-walled stainless steel. The mouth is wide enough for ice cubes, and the bottles don’t condensate. Also, I’m not sure what prompted a salesperson to point out to me that the 25-oz capacity is large enough to hold a full bottle of wine (Did I look like a fellow alcoholic?), but they claim that was the main reason they bought one for all their friends at Christmas, and it was a big hit. Note that the yellow gold pictured, with the black carrying case, only comes in 17 oz., but there are oodles of other colors, finishes and capacities available between $25-$45. (I’ve also seen this sold at Athleta stores.) I admit, this has become my favorite go-to water bottle of the moment, both for the insulation features and the fact that it’s so light.
- Sriracha Mini Keychain Bottle (3-pack), $15. Because doesn’t everybody carry around their own Sriracha sauce wherever they go? Well, they should. And they will, once you give them this. These come empty, three to a pack, so there’s nothing stopping anyone from filling them with whatever random hot sauce they want. But that would be ridiculous. Because there’s only one sauce that’s worthy. And that’s Sriracha. (By the way, forget the original rooster brand. Have you tried the one made by Fix? It’s to die for.)
- Go Away Funny Glass Coffee Mug, $22 on Amazon. This is the funniest thing I’ve seen for coffee drinkers ever. And highly accurate. (Have you ever tried to talk to someone who hasn’t had their morning fix yet?) At least now the rest of us can have a visual cue on when it’s safe to approach.
- Contender Bag – Meal Management System, $40 at Six Pack Fitness. Another great product idea by the same company who makes the classy Renee version featured above. Except this one is perfect for the gym and other excursions, when you just need to carry one perishable recovery meal, or lunch on the run. The mesh drawstring part is designed to store sweaty clothes and other gear, making it perfect for that gym rat in your life (especially if they eat Paleo and take their own food with them everywhere they go).
- Tieks by Gavrielli, starting at $195 at Tieks. My sister told me I was out of my effin’ mind to pay this much for a pair of flats. That’s because she hadn’t worn them, and didn’t know how magical they were. Ask Oprah. She knows. First of all – and brace yourself here for a little TMI – when you have corns and bunions borne from your younger years of wearing “cute” yet cheap, ill-fitting high heels – you will pay almost anything for shoes that don’t make your feet feel like they’re on fire with each step. But that’s just the beginning. These shoes are VERY high quality, hand-crafted in Italy, feel like butter on your feet, hold up to long hours of standing or walking, FOLD UP INTO THEMSELVES for ease of packing and traveling, look great dressed up or down, and come in a boatload of beautiful colors and patterns. The majority are leather, but select vegan styles are available. Sorry, I’m with Oprah on this one. Tieks can take my money all day long for these. (This is a gift she’ll probably never splurge on for herself, but will thank you over and over again for, for years to come.)
- Flip Belt Athletic Personal Pack, $29 on Amazon. I’m not sure why it took someone so long to invent something like this, but I’m glad it’s here. I don’t know a soul who couldn’t or wouldn’t use one, for any number of purposes: exercising, sightseeing and traveling, running around with kids, attending athletic events, shopping, doing repairs out in the garage. You name it. It’s a singular tubular waistband with multiple openings to hold cell phone, keys, wallet, ID or anything you’d want to take with you without carrying a bag. Minimalist design, fits snug against your body, with no added bulk or bounce. Moisture-wicking and machine washable. Especially useful for fitness buffs.
DxO One Camera for iPhone, $549. I know. I know. I almost choked on my cashews when I saw the price on this one. Then I watched the video below. And read the reviews. And fantasized about never having to drag my heavy Nikon DSLR camera with me to capture perfect shots on the fly. (Because the best camera is the one you have with you. And when are we ever without our phones?) Not sure I’ll make the leap just yet, but I included this item for all the early adopters and gadget lovers in your life who can’t imagine a day spent without taking photos with their phone. As with all new technology, it comes with its share of tradeoffs (lower battery life being one), so do your homework and make sure you read all the fine print and specs.