If You’ve Waited This Long To Buy Presents, Here’s A Gift Guide

I love to buy people holiday presents, but I hate remembering to have to do it the day after Thanksgiving, when I’d much rather lie on the couch getting mad about the Great British Bake-Off finale. I missed the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals this year, which doesn’t seem to even matter because the deals just…kept happening after Monday anyway? Also, when items get put in a gift guide on a national publication’s website, I find by the time I’m frantically Googling actually good gift guide for ideas the stuff on those lists is already out of stock.

So! It is now the first week of December and you’re on the hook for winter holiday gifts for everyone. How do you know what to buy that a) is not insanely expensive b) firmly cements your place as an incredible gift-giver and c) will almost* definitely arrive in the next three weeks? I’m HERE TO HELP, and if you’re expecting a Christmas gift from me this year this is your cue to stop reading.

*Obviously I cannot guarantee this! I’m sorry!

For your well-meaning friend who moved to the west coast for a tech job four years ago and still calls it “Frisco”:

These West Elm Golden Gate Bridge mugs should do the trick.

For your friend who misses showing up at Mood Ring at 2:30 am:

For anywhere from $62.25 to $165, depending on how much you like your friend, this sign can be yours! Your friend can turn it on and bask in its glow as she fondly remembers the feeling of standing in the fetid, humid back room at her favorite queer astrology-themed bar in Bushwick, sucking down a yerba mate cocktail and wondering how long she has to give it until she can call it a night and get a Lyft.

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For your friend who loves miniature versions of normal-sized things, even when they’re neither functional nor convenient:

I admit that this started because I saw an acquaintance get a Bonne Maman advent calendar full of 25 mini jam jars for the month of December and I was very jealous. But why not channel that feeling into an assortment of miniature Bonne Maman jam jars in a cheeky gift basket? Your friend will also get some clotted cream, scones, and English breakfast tea. A delightful snack!

For your friend who’s still baking bread even though the rest of us stopped in May:

This banneton basket is under $30 and will make their bread look nicer, allegedly.

For your friend who adopted a pet this year:

My roommate got her cat a taco truck-shaped cardboard scratching post/thing to hang out in and Blu loves it (cats love boxes!). But honestly I think this shark-shaped bed is even cuter and as a bonus is not made of cardboard.

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For your friend who could always use another eccentric doodad:

Some people have impeccable taste and can decorate their apartment with an assortment of random stuff that would simply collect dust and look like a heap of junk in my apartment. I have tried being one of these people, and I’ve ultimately had to admit I’m just not very good at it. But if I were one of those people I would definitely want this bathing lady catchall from Coming Soon to sit on my dresser next to my little vanity mirror and hold a bunch of change or palo santo or prescription SSRIs.

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For your friend with a BFA:

Oh…I don’t know…….what about this Hieronymous Bosch “The Garden of Earthly Delights” 1000-piece puzzle???

For your friend who would otherwise Seamless a breakfast sandwich and probably tip under 20%:

Let them make their own! It’s stupidly easy with this Hamilton Beach breakfast sandwich maker. I bought this for my boyfriend in college and benefited from it immensely.

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For your friend who saw Dead & Company once and now it’s a major part of her personality

Indulge her (but not too much) with some tie-dye socks.

For your girlboss friend who supports female-founded businesses

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She’s wearing sensible nude-colored pumps, taking Zoom calls in different time zones, and inexplicably craving wild-caught smoked salmon on an everything bagel. Get her what she really wants for the holidays: sustainably sourced tinned fish from Fishwife, a new LA-based female-founded company serving such canned delicacies as smoked albacore tuna hook-and-line caught in Northern California.

For your friend who only wakes up early for the farmer’s market:

She’s first in line with a coffee in hand to pick up some gourds and a bunch of herbs. And with these reusable Baggu bags she’ll immediately stand out from the identically dressed, mom jean-and-Birkenstock wearing crowd at the greenmarket on Saturday morning.

For your friend who’s definitely going to give herself bangs again in winter quarantine:

Get her some professional haircutting shears. You’re not enabling her, just best preparing herself (and, by extension, yourself) for the inevitable.

For your friend who already has a lot of kitchen stuff:

Perhaps this is your friend who already owns a bunch of nice pots and pans but still requests “cooking stuff” for Christmas. Try these really nice multipurpose brunch knives, which they almost assuredly do not have. Great for the person in your life who’s making a lot of fancy toasts or simply wants to put together an PB&J.

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For your friend whose apartment could use a pop of color:

Cold Picnic’s bath mats are so tasteful and cool your friend won’t even mind that the gift you gave her this year is a bath mat.

For your friend who misses Manhattan, but not enough to actually go there right now:

Bring her a taste of Dimes Square with the Dimes cookbook. It has all of the recipes for the meals you feel a little weird about paying for and eating for weekend brunch because you still feel hungry afterwards.

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For your friend who panic-fled the city in April and bought a house “upstate”:

If there’s one thing people who used to live in Williamsburg and now live in the Hudson Valley love, it’s talking about the car they bought when they left the city and had to start driving to Stop & Shop. If there’s another thing they love, it’s taking you to all the local restaurants and bars when you come visit and crash on their new couch in their beautifully restored farmhouse outside of Hudson. Thank them for their hospitality with a gay candle from local establishment Lil Deb’s Oasis, a very good restaurant where I once sat silently at a table of 7 people for two hours because I ate an edible an hour before dinner.

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i’m a freelance writer and editor. you can also read me in places like the new york times and vanity fair.

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