A Gift For Everyone On Your List

TastemakerHelen levi

Photographed by Alexandra Genova

If being the Best Gifter is a title for the taking, this year, you’ve got it in the bag—ITG’s 2021 guide has just the right present for every personality in your group chat, from the painfully chic Tastemaker to the Pragmatist who only cares about miles per gallon. Gifting is hard, winning at gifting is even harder, but scrolling through this list is easy. (So is express shipping and ticking the “gift wrap” box.) Get ready to do a clean sweep.


The Tastemaker

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Is there anything more daunting than shopping for the person who usually helps you shop? Helpfully, there are a few routes you could take. The first is a copy of Black Futures. It’s a collection of stories, essays, interviews, illustrations, recipes, and memes from nearly 200 Black thought leaders. Kimberly Drew (formerly social editor for the Met) and New York Times culture writer Jenna Wortham published the anthology last year, and this silver paperback is the 2021 update. If your giftee is more of a gold person, this sculptural toggle necklace from Seattle-based Faris is the move. It’s dainty and wearable, but no one else in the group chat (or even their commuting subway car) will have it.

Look at that gas lamp! It's from a tiny brand called Wolfard Glassblowing Co, and because each is hand-blown, no two are exactly the same. Alternatively, this Ha Ko incense set, which comes from Japan by way of the Takamichi Beauty Room in Gramercy, can burn for a lot less money. Each paper is shaped like a dainty, almost too-beautiful-to-burn tiny leaf. They’re sold by the tin (for a close friend) or singularly (an appropriately cheap gift for your coworkers). Another nice gift for a chic acquaintance is a bottle of Ghia, which is basically a non-alcoholic version of Aperol. It’s mostly grape and yuzu juices, plus botanical extracts like fig, elderflower, and lemon balm. And finally, you can’t go wrong with a delivery of Jeni’s ice cream. If you haven’t tried Jeni’s before, you must—they use high quality ingredients sourced locally, and the flavors are topping-packed but never boring, like an ultra gourmet Ben & Jerry’s.

From $ to $$$: Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham, Ghia Apértif, Ha Ko Japanese Paper Incense, Box of Jeni's Ice Cream, Wolfard Glassblowing Co for RW Guild Glass Oil Lamp, Faris Rocca Toggle

The Aesthete

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This person is a curator. They don’t get paid to do it—they just get off on finding the perfect version of everything. Slowly but surely, they’ve filled every corner of their home with interesting, beautiful things. You know the type? Elevated versions of classic gifts will let them know that you know that they care about that kind of stuff. For example: a puzzle, only it’s not just a puzzle. Once it gets put together it becomes a version of artist Mickalene Thomas’ multimedia Le Déjeuner Sur L'herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires; the original is hanging at MoMA PS1, the puzzle can hang anywhere. Not sure if they find puzzles soothing or stressful? These decorative candles, a collaboration between Joya and ceramic artist Helen Levi, are basically the same idea. Almost like a cheaper version of the Loewe ones, they look so cool on a mantle. And for the particular parent, try this acrylic Four-In-A-Row game. The luxe tortoiseshell frame means they won’t have to worry if the kids leave it out.

Of course, for a lover of beautiful things, jewelry and makeup are generally a safe bet. If you want to splurge, do it on Fyfe Beauty’s Lip Locket, which is the best of both worlds. It came from the mind of makeup artist (and jewelry designer) Jillian Dempsey, who made a similar necklace for her longtime client Kristen Stewart about a decade ago. Open up the silver charm, and you’ll find Dempsey’s creamy Lip Tint. But that’s not all! You can also gift Diana Henry’s cookbook, How To Eat A Peach. Open up the velvety soft cover, and you’ll find seasonal recipes thoughtfully composed into menus. It’s the perfect excuse to host a dinner party and wow guests with a tablescape arranged just so.

From $ to $$$: Le Dejeuner Puzzle by Mickalene Thomas, How to Eat a Peach by Diana Henry, Helen Levi x Joya 5" and 6.5" Sculptural Candles, Anthropologie Acrylic Four-In-A-Row Game, and Fyfe Beauty Lip Locket Necklace

The Pragmatist

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Common gifting advice is to buy something frivolous the giftee would enjoy, but not necessarily buy themselves. Not the case for the pragmatist! If they can’t use it, they won’t love it. To make these realistic receivers happy, give them something that fits easily into their daily routines. For the reluctant back-in-office commuter, what about this insulated bowl? It’s from S’well (the water bottle folks), and keeps lunch hot or cold for an entire workday. But the reason it’s so practical is that the inner chamber is made of glass: microwave-safe and so easy to clean. If they hunch over a computer all day, they also might enjoy Kanjo’s acupressure belt. The spiky little rosettes (“stimulators,” they’re called) activate TCM pressure points and help release tension in the places it builds up most. Strap it around your waist to soothe lower back, neck, and shoulder pain—you can even wear it while sitting at your desk.

Two splurge ideas that are absolutely worth it: a pair of heated socks from Ororo, fantastic for obvious reasons. They stay hot for up to 10 hours, and when you remove the so-slim-you-can’t-even-feel-them batteries, you can wash the socks like normal in the machine. Your frozen-footed girlfriend will love them. And the friend who loves the outdoors will go crazy for a Gathre mat. We know you’re thinking, a leather picnic blanket? How is that practical? But trust us, it is! It’s water-resistant and easy to clean (just wipe it down), and 100-percent effective at preventing wet grass ass. But if you're looking to spend less, consider this $15 ultrasonic scrubber—if you ask an aesthetician, they’ll tell you that the cheap ones are exactly the same as the expensive ones at Sephora. And anyone can use an upgraded cleansing routine.

From $ to $$$: Ultrasonic Scrubber, Kanjo Acupressure Belt, 21 oz Calacatta Gold S’well Eats bowl, Ororo Sequoia Heated Socks, and Gathre Mat

The Internet Boyfriend

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The internet boyfriend is more of an idea: they’re stylish, they cook, they have lots of great books they’re constantly loaning you, and having them in your life kind of makes you look better. Got somebody in mind? Any and all of these gifts are sure to delight. First up is Leatherology’s book weight, which is one of those life-improving gifts you might not have thought of on your own. It holds whatever you’re reading flat, perfect for hands-free beach reading or keeping a heavy cookbook on the right page. In terms of apparel, Machete’s stainless steel and acetate Apple watch bands are unexpected. Each band is a way to update your tech without having to succumb to upgrade fever. Plus, they’re refreshingly affordable. Aimé Leon Dore’s take on a Yankees cap is a cooler take on basics, too. The felty moleskin and neutral tones will have everyone asking where it’s from.

If they’re a whiz in the kitchen, they’ll love this Staub dutch oven with a secret. The secret is this: flip the lid upside down, and it becomes a grill pan on its own! It’s a high ticket item, but the quality will last forever. (Plus, it’s currently on sale.) And if your internet BF's pantry is lacking, head (virtually) to Flamingo Estate. It’s a real place tucked away in the hills of LA, where the honey is sweet, the bathtubs are flecked with cornflower blue light, and an artist-in-residence toils away, trying to capture the property’s natural beauty. Inside the Garden Tour box you’ll find peppery olive oil good for cooking and dipping, hand soap for the kitchen sink, a salty-sweet chocolate bar, and more.

From $ to $$$: Leatherology Book Weight, Machete Apple Watch Band, Aimé Leon Dore Moleskin Yankees Hat, Flamingo Estate The Garden Tour set, Food52 x Staub 2-in-1 Grill Pan & Cocotte

The Homebody

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If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Don’t ask your homebody friend—they were home, minding their own business, and didn’t hear a peep. For the member of your social circle you have to drag out by the teeth, get them the physical equivalent of canceled plans. Curly Q’s heatless curl set 1) actually works, and 2) requires basically no lift for glorious, bouncy curls. You just wrap your hair around the satin pool noodle, fall asleep to The Real Housewives, and wake up like a supermodel. If you think they might get into gua sha, Lanshin’s pro-grade stainless steel version is the best. It’s easy to clean, impossible to break, and (the kicker!) you don’t even have to use it with facial oil. The tool itself is so smooth that any ol’ serum or moisturizer will do. Speaking of moisturizers, Byredo’s make such great gifts. Their tub lotions feel like a mid-weight cream, but soften skin like a rich body butter would. Get one to match your friend’s signature scent, or put your trust into the bestsellers. You honestly can’t go wrong.

Once they’re all lotioned up, they’ll love to wrap up in a colorful Dusen Dusen bathrobe. It’s made of plush cotton terry, which makes it equally suited to slip on after a shower and lounge around in. And isn’t it nice to think that if you gift this Little Market carafe, your friend will think about you doing good every time they pour a late night glass of water? Every purchase helps support a collective of artisans (many of whom have faced job discrimination because of physical disabilities) in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. And their work is exquisite: made of recycled glass, the carafe is hand-blown and etched with 500-year-old techniques.

From $ to $$$: Curly Q Heatless Curl Set, Lanshin Stainless Steel Gua Sha, Byredo body cream, The Little Market French Blue Carafe, Dusen Dusen Bathrobe

The Social Native

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Fluent in Instagram, Twitter, and Tiktok. Responds to every meme you send with, “seen it.” Known to mutter strange phrases like “bing bong” and “the woman was too stunned to speak” under their breath. And even though you might hear them asking for “that damn bucket,” what this person really wants are Harry Styles’ new nail polishes. The marble gumball tops are a decorative fever dream. So is the Glossier Skincare Edit, which is a full mini routine packaged in a molded, recyclable paper case.

The social native might already be keyed into the fact that Westbourne, which used to be a Soho cafe, is now an online-only shop for craveable pantry provisions. Their healthy-ish Snack Set has two flavors of popcorn and what can only be described as elevated Chex Mix—your coworker will love it. A closer friend will enjoy a hand-picked charm from Copenhagen-based brand Maria Black. Charms are cool because you can string them onto anything: they add playful asymmetry to huggie hoops and intrigue to plain Jane chains. If their style is less Scandi-cool and more French girl (it continues to have the internet in a chokehold), go for the pointelle tees from Leset. They’re the perfect fitted-but-not-tight, short-but-not-cropped Jane Birkin silhouette, and the scalloped collar layers beautifully under sweaters in winter. Or, ball out on a Westman Atelier brush set. It’s the only one they’ll ever need—and front-camera ready for tutorial content.

From $ to $$$: Westbourne Snack Set, Glossier Skincare Edit, Pleasing Perfect Polish Set, Maria Black charms, Leset Pointelle Tee Set, Westman Atelier Brush Collection