Welcome to a very festive post here on Toast! It’s that time of year again: the annual Christmas gift guide! This year, I’m splitting up gifts according to a few categories that I find helpful when I’m shopping: big gifts for family and partners, fun gifts for friends, work-related gifts for mentors and coworkers, and secret santa gifts for people I don’t know very well.
It’s such a pet peeve of mine when gift guides are split up into “his” and “hers” because they’re so uselessly gendered. (Anyone with me?!) My mom joked today that she always ends up liking the gadgets and tech stuff on the “his” guides way more than the jewelry and scented candles for “her” and I couldn’t agree more. So, as always, my guide is genderless and more focused on the relationship you have to the person, which I find to be the most important thing when giving gifts.
I’ve also added a whole section dedicated to gifts from local women-owned companies here in Madison. I’m pretty guilty of shopping at the big box stores this time of year, but always prefer to support local artists and businesses when I can.
Hopefully this guide gives you a few ideas of what to get for everyone in your life. I’ve also shared a few sales in here too, so let’s get this party started!
For Close Family & Partners
Leather Gloves – A classic (and pretty safe gift) if you’re not sure what to get a parent or family member. There are a lot of beautiful options at some really reasonable prince points including this hardy ugg pair, these luxurious blush pink ones (currently 25% off with free shipping), and these v extra elbow length cashmere-lined gloves.
Kendra Scott Fine Jewelry – If you want to ball out for a loved one this year, I have to recommend Kendra Scott’s fine jewelry collection. I didn’t even know they made fine jewelry until I worked there, but now I wish I had a bigger budget to buy some pieces for Christmas. Obviously they’re still a splurge, but since they’re made of a bunch of little diamonds instead of one big one they cost way less than other diamond pieces while still bringing a LOT of shine. They’re honestly brilliant in person. My favorites are: the dainty Marisa pendant necklace, the Manet stud earrings, the Isa Pave diamond ring (this is what I would buy myself tbh).
Smart Watch – Another great option for a big gift is a tech watch and there are so many good ones on the market now. Of course there’s the classic Apple Watch for those who want to keep it simple. There’s also the Garmin and Fitbit (on sale for $90) watches for those fitness buffs out there. For the style-conscious, Fossil and Michael Kors (on sale for $179) both make fashion-forward watches in metals like rose gold.
All Birds – I’m actually obsessed with these and may be using Christmas as an excuse to convert everyone else. They’re comfortable, breathable, machine-washable (!), and they’re perfect for going sockless. I have the white pair and they’re my go-to shoes for running around or dressing down my favorite outfits. They’d be a great gift for outdoorsy friends, friends with long commutes to work, or anyone else who wants to feel like they’re walking on clouds.
Cashmere– It’s hard to go wrong with cashmere. It’s a closet staple and the sort of thing people don’t seem to buy for themselves. My favorite places for great cashmere are J Crew (this cashmere hoodie looks gorgeous and this best-seller is under $100), Everlane’s cashmere shop, and Macy’s because they always have insane sales this time of year like this $60 cashmere v-neck.
Lo & Sons Bags – If you have anyone in your life who travels a lot for work or pleasure, a Lo & Sons weekender bag is a great splurge for them. I’ve had my Lo & Sons O.M.G bag for 5 years and it still looks good as new. I’ve gotten so much use out of it and they hold up incredibly well. Plus, they’re having a great sale right now with up to 40% off!
Coworkers and Mentors
Sassy Desk Placard – An easy gift for any work bestie or team member that you feel close with. They’re fun and lighthearted while still being work appropriate. I’m a fan of this classy HBIC sign, this very topical sign, and this pretty personalized one.
Career Books You’ve Read & Loved – Maybe it’s just me, but I love getting great career books. There are so many lame ones out there that it’s nice to get a personal recommendation to cut through the crap. A few that I’ve liked or have had recommended to me:
- Ask a Manager: How to Navigate Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses, and the Rest of Your Life at Work by Alison Green. Her blog, Ask a Manager, is one of my go-to resources for work etiquette and advice so I have no doubt her book is the same.
- What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam. I read this when I was going through a big “I must be a morning person” phase and I def recommend for any early birds or people who are fascinated by routines.
- Wait, How Do I Write This Email: Game-Changing Templates for Networking and the Job Search by Danny Rubin. I had this book recommended to me when I was changing fields and I think it would be a great gift for any recent or upcoming college grads, too!
A nice card saying how much you value their mentorship. If you don’t want to buy something for your boss or co-workers (which I get), cards are always nice. If you have a great boss, let them know how much you appreciate their support and guidance.Keep it brief, but sincere. Those are things people really keep anyway.
Siblings & Friends
Cute Athleisure Wear – Whether your friend is really into yoga or spending the weekend at home with Netflix, cute leggings or a cozy teddy pullover are always in order. My go-to brand for hip, sustainable workout gear right now is Girlfriend – I have these leggings in red with the 23″ inseam and I wear them all the time. Also, how freaking cozy does this teddy fleece sweatshirt from Everlane look?
Nice Candles – I’m very late to the candle game so this may seem like the most obvious gift ever, but who doesn’t love a slew of nice ass candles?! Target has a bunch of pretty, affordable candles. Kendra Scott has luxe candles that smell amazing (we burn one in the store) and are $20 off right now. And if you want to ball out, Diptyque has a gorgeous (albeit expensive) gift set right now.
Card Case – A cute and affordable option for a bestie is this adorable card wallet from Dagne Dover. It’s made of durable coated canvas, carries all the essentials, and it’s $35 (plus 10% off if it’s your first order) with free shipping. I’ve always had little wallets like this and I can’t imagine carrying around a giant, obnoxious one ever again.
Flask – This is my favorite gift to give to friends or family that love a little Christmas cheer. Some cute and classy flasks: this gold slogan one from Madewell, this beautiful etched lily flask, and this probably actually functional flask (currently 36% off).
Modern Charm Bracelet – If you’re looking for something a little more sentimental, I def recommend the Kendra Scott Charms Collection. I actually bought my first charms piece before I ever worked there and I still think it’s one of the best gifts we have. You can go traditional with a link bracelet or a little more funky with hoop earrings (which I have and love) and then add any charms you want. Go big with bling or simple with a star – and you just made gift giving for the next few years super easy for yourself!
For a Secret Santa You Don’t Know Very Well
Little Plant – If your office is having a Secret Santa (I know, cringe) and you get someone you don’t work closely with or is relatively new, a small festive plant is a nice, easy gift. Most grocery stores have little Christmas cacti out or if you’re in Madison check out Red Square Flowers or Good Day Collective for perfect plants.
A Hobby-Related Ornament – So, I get the whole point of Secret Santa is to get to know your mystery person a little better so obviously my advice is to actually have a conversation with them. Even if it’s pretty surface level, find out what they like to do outside of work and get them a novelty ornament related to their favorite hobby. It’s inexpensive and shows the person we made a connection. Hallmark has a stunning amount of weird hobby ornaments so check there!
Baked Goods – If all else fails, go for the sweet spot and whip up something homemade for them. Chocolate chip cookies are always my go-to (I swear by the Martha Stewart recipe), but other delicious options are saltine toffee cookies which are basically crack or chai-spiced cookies. If you have no baking skill whatsoever, the peppermint bark from Williams Sonoma is out of this world.
Local and Women-Owned Businesses
Good Day Collective – I have to mention these ladies first because they were gracious enough to let us shoot all of the photos for this post in their beautiful store! This pop-up collaboration between One-One Thousand, Red’s Mercantile, and Wildewood is located in the old Dream Bank building on the Square and is full of beautiful gifts for everyone on your list. I’ve been waiting for a beautiful lifestyle store like this to come to Madison, but it won’t be here for much longer so go check it out!
House of Gingko Watches – When my new friend Emily told me she had a watch business I was immediately obsessed! They are so classic and look gorgeous in person (I actually mistook it for a high-end watch, not even kidding). And the best part? Each watch sale benefits the Her Initiative, which helps women access clean water and education. A Christmas present you can really feel good about.
Pom Pom Earrings by Allison Kelley – I came across Allison on Instagram and fell in love with her colorful, quirky style. She’s always rocking these adorable pom pom earrings and I had to add them to the guide when I saw her Etsy shop. I’m especially fond of these beaded ‘Fuck Yeah’ ones – so totally fun!
Macrame Home Decor by Maly Vang – Another Instagram discovery, Maly’s Etsy store, Maly Made, features beautiful handmade macrame wall hangings and plant holders. I see this type of work in big box stores sometimes, but I think it would be so much more special to have a one of a kind piece from a local artist.
Jewelry and Fiber Art by Melissa Jenkins – Last, but certainly not least is the multi-talented Melissa Jenkins. I originally saw her work at the Good Day Collective and fell in love with the pieces on her Etsy store. Her work is modern and sculptural and would be a truly beautiful gift for someone with a love for statement jewelry.
What are you getting your loved ones this holiday season?! I’m actually finished with my Christmas shopping already, which has to be the earliest I’ve ever been done. It feels kind of nice knowing I don’t have to run around at the last minute stressing out about finding something – who knew!
Also, if you’re in Madison, be sure to check out my Small Business Saturday post where I rounded up all my favorite local businesses in town. I’d love to hear what your go-to shopping stops are AND if there are any local and women-owned businesses that you love! Leave a comment below!