Favorite Things

So Christmas is three days away, somehow. I always dream too big with crafty projects and ambitious decorating themes, and it always sneaks up on me. I didn't make those salt dough ornaments from Pinterest or the toffee I meant to send as gifts. I also meant to do a good job of sharing my favorite things that I recommend as gifts. A good job would have been posting this three weeks ago...maybe next year.

Rejoice, fellow procrastinators! There’s still time to get (or make) these gifts before Christmas though! You may have to get creative when it comes to wrapping a printout of a gift card or subscription. A few hints from my study of denial and deception: wrap in a series of boxes (like Russian nesting dolls) and include nonessential household objects that are heavy and that will make noise when the box is shaken. Jars of quarters, puzzles, and rocks are all good choices.
One of my goals is to work in googly eyes into every post.
For the busy woman who needs new clothes but hates shopping fruitlessly
My first favorite thing is a personal styling shipment from StitchFix. For $20, your lucky girl will receive a box of clothes and accessories personally picked out just for her. She’ll fill out a style assessment, give her sizes/proportions, rate a few collections of outfits, and can even link to a Pinterest board. She can leave comments--I asked for help with finding dresses with sleeves and got two adorable and perfect dresses. They’ll ship a box of items picked out for her (along with cute styling ideas for each item!), she decides what to keep, applying the $20 styling fee to anything she chooses to keep. If the stylist really knocked it out of the park and your girl wants to keep all the items, everything is 25% off the list price. (She also gets to pick how much she wants to spend on each type of item...maybe she likes cheap tops but designer jeans--they’ll match how she likes to spend.) 
My latest fix--a bundle of clothes and styling suggestions

For the gentleman who has everything he needs
Give him beautiful things he'll love. Bespoke Post is a subscription box for men, themed each month with cool artisan products. Themes have included poker night, dopp kits, and crisp autumn days. You can select a box for him, or give him a gift card and let him pick out his own themed box (or boxes, depending on how good he's been this year).
One of Bespoke Post's themed boxes
For the obsessive baker
Guys, a kitchen scale is where it’s at. Baking is all about precision, and this scale will ensure that your flour is perfectly measured so that your cakes don’t flop. This OXO one is backlit and has a pull-out display, which allows the baker to use a giant bowl.

For the scientist who wants to cook but needs fool-proof recipes for positive reinforcement
Cooks’ Illustrated Cookbook is amazing. America’s Test Kitchen is all about science, experimentation, and fine-tuning. Because they test each recipe multiple times in house and with home cooks (I’m a recipe tester for them), I know every dish is going to turn out well. They publish a lot of themed cookbooks (Best One-Pot Dishes, Best Light Recipes, etc.), but this one covers all of the basics and a lot of variation. It’s a wonderful reference cookbook too.

For the pretend Grinch
You know those people who would be just as happy not receiving anything, but whom you feel bad about excluding from present time just because they're a minimalist consumer? Find a cause they're passionate about--animals, children, research for a disease or illness--and make a donation in their name. A charity gets funded, the honoree is touched by your attention to their passions while their home remains uncluttered, and you get to give a heartfelt and generous gift. Nobody can be upset by that, not even someone whose heart is two sizes too small.

Feeling DIY-y?
Good for you! And you still have time! I made a ton of tiny jars of gifts and sent sets to close friends and family. I included salted caramel sauce, chocolate peppermint syrup, and citrus salts. This year, I upped my game and boiled and stirred the daylights out of a liter of maple syrup. . . which makes MAPLE CREAM. Here are the recipes I’ve used and love.

Stocking stuffers
Nivea lip balm: This is pretty much the best $3 you can spend on your lips. After three of my best friends and I finished pho one night, we each pulled out our own tube. You can find them at most drugstores or superstores.
Post-pho glam
Fish spatula: This kitchen superstar lifts cookies, flips steaks, and really shines when handling delicate foods--it’s perfect for frying green tomatoes. Oh, and it also flips fish really nicely. Honestly, if all of your kitchen stuff gets lost or stolen, buy yourself a cast iron skillet and a fish spatula and you’re pretty much set.

Vegetable peeler: Don’t laugh. Besides a fun design, it’s incredibly effective and comfortable. You and this veggie peeler will make very fast work of a butternut squash. That is all I really need to say.

I hope you're enjoying your holiday season as much as I am. I'm hoping that Santa brings me foresight and tenacity this year, so that next year I'll finally make those ornaments and toffee.

Full disclosure: None of these companies asked for my referral; I just genuinely think they're good gifts. However, if you use my StitchFix or Bespoke Post referral links above to make a purchase, I do get a credit. Merry Christmas to ME!


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