The distance between a meh gift and a good gift is vast. A good gift honors a person’s inner perception of herself as well as the person she aspires to be. Here’s an example. This year my best friend gave me a Michael Graves tea kettle with a tiny bird attachment that “sings” when the water is boiling. Not only is it a useful gift, but it conveys a deep understanding of who I am (a person who drinks a shitload of tea) and who I secretly wish to be (a person who cares enough about utensils to source well-designed ones).
You may think a good gift requires planning, insight, and a stroke of divine inspiration—but you’re wrong! It’s much easier. All you need is this post, 48 hours, and Amazon Prime.
I have personally tested all of the following items—not just the concepts, but the exact products cited. In compiling this list I hope that my sheer possessive materialism will benefit you and your loved ones over the holidays!
You have two days left. Why don’t you gift…
A ridiculous amount of mini wine
Nothing is better than sneaking a bottle of wine into a movie. This 24-pack of mini rosé bottles ensures that your recipient will be prepared for a solid year of intoxicated moviegoing! Rosé pairs well with popcorn and candy. The 3-ounce bottles are easily concealed in a purse.
An Instant Adult Kit™
This is like Jason Bourne’s “go kit”, but instead of a passport and burner phone it contains everything a person needs to act like a damn adult. Package the following in a Glossier pouch: one Tide pen, two Advil packets, an understated Essie, a Nick’s Stick (clean protein). Some of these items come in multiples; either keep the surplus to yourself or make a fleet of adult kits for all your sloppy friends.
Their very favorite bean
Everyone has a favorite flavor of Jelly Belly. Did you know you can buy single flavors in bulk? If you don’t know your recipient's favorite flavor, just buy a custom selection that will look pretty in a bowl.
A relaxing sensation
Everyone is dry brushing. I can vouch for this model. It’s luxurious and costs less than $5.
A Willy Wonka-esque magic powder
Forget adaptogens. This is the real magic powder. It’s just organic freeze-dried strawberries, but it can be sprinkled like fairy dust over anything: smoothies, pancakes, oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream. It can be made into a “high vibe" “strawberry latte” with ashwaghanda or whatever. Turns everything pink. Yummy. Highly Instagrammable.
A mobile anti-boredom device
Books can be a boring gift. So let’s re-brand them. Let’s call them “mobile anti-boredom devices.” Here are some of my favorite devices to gift—they are all new, all respectable, and all pageturners. The Trespasser by Tana French (crime, but literary). Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (urbane, suspenseful). Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (I stayed up all night). New People by Danzy Senna (tart, memorable). The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy (scorching yet breezy memoir). Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (sparkling). Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (provocative, addictive).
A Marie Kondo fan pack
Know anyone who loves “tidying” and being organized? Stoke their obsessiveness with a labelmaker (this is the best, and it’s only $24) and a couple of minimal refill bottles. Here’s a photo of mine “in action.”
A reality-altering mini-trip
Experiential gifts are big right now. The only problem is that you can’t “wrap” an experience. Except for this one! Miracle Fruit tablets temporarily convert all sour-tasting things into sweet-tasting things. It’s mind-bending. Run to the grocery store and buy a lemon, a bag of salt-and-vinegar potato chips, and a jar of pickles to include with the tablets.
A repulsive bonding experience
An old favorite. This is a great gift for couples (mom and dad, for example), because they can go through the whole gnarly process together. You may have to explain it and say “trust me” a lot.
The chance to be royalty for a meal
Nobody doesn’t want to eat gold. For the impossible gift recipient, wrap a jar of edible gold with a list of serving suggestions: Sprinkle on breakfast cereal. Finish avocado toast with a light dusting. Throw it on a steak. I’ve bought this brand and found it satisfying, but there are others.
Photo via Getty.
Or wait until after Christmas and get our favorites ON SALE!