My favorite gifts to give and receive

After sharing our MMD gift guide for book lovers and our 15 bookish gifts for kids who love to read, we heard one question over and over: But Anne, what’s on YOUR wish list?

Today I’m riffing on that question, sharing a healthy round-up of gifts I have loved to receive over the years, and my go-to gifts for giving.

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Regular readers know I’ve become a plant lady these past few years, and my wish list reflects that.

Plants are easy and versatile: you can go big (like I did a couple of years ago, when I got a giant monstera and mature fiddle leaf fig), or very small, picking up a $4 philodendron at Home Depot. You can find something unusual at your local nursery or plant shop, or an online place like The Sill, which I’ve used to deliver gifts to far-away friends. I also love Succulent Studios as another fun option for fun-to-grow, hard-to-kill plants.

A beautiful planter.

I love adding plants to my collection, but HATE choosing planters, so I’m especially delighted when someone else does the choosing. There are so many options but I’m especially drawn to these Ceramic Storage Bookends, because they combine two things I love—books and greenery.

A book about houseplants, or flowers, or their favorite hobby.

From my shelves: Hilton Carter’s Wild At Home: How to style and care for beautiful plants, Igor Josifovic’s Urban Jungle: Living and Styling with Plants, Lauren Camilleri’s Leaf Supply: A Guide to Keeping Happy House Plants, Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest, and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms.


During the winter months, we always have a puzzle going. Some we get as gifts, some we gift ourselves. Your favorites will depend on what you like, but I’m particularly fond of this Floret Farms puzzle that we’ve worked it over and over. (A warning: after loving the flowers we thought this succulent puzzle would be fun, but it was way too hard for my taste!)

I’ve found that independent bookstores often have an amazing selection of puzzles, both literary and otherwise. Take a peek next time you visit the bookstore and see what you can find.

Beauty boxes.

I received one of these as a gift a few years ago and loved it, and have since found a beauty box makes a great gift for the person who seemingly has everything. These boxes make it fun and easy to experiment with new products. This year my teen is getting the Allure Beauty Box (don’t tell!); I’ve also enjoyed Birchbox and Sephora Play in the past.

Food stuffs

Birthdays and holidays are a great time to load up your loved one with snacks they LOVE but wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves.

I went to school in Williamsburg, which is probably why my dad always asks for these peanuts from The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg. This year I ordered him one of every flavor. (Don’t tell!)

Page 1 Books.

Page 1 puts together excellent book bundles. Each bundle includes a book and delightful bookish goodies. There are plenty of options to choose from—I personally adore the I Heart Jane Austen bundle.


I love to give and receive tea from my favorites, Rishi Tea (turmeric ginger, please) and Harney and Sons (hot cinnamon spice), and maybe an adorable kettle.

Diffusers and essential oils.

If you know someone hooked on essential oils, you can always replenish their stash. For years, we used this inexpensive diffuser, and bought oils from Plant Therapy, which are low-cost and easy to order.

I recently upgraded and ordered my first diffuser and oils from the Canadian company Saje and I’m loving them. (The Bliss diffuser blend is my favorite.)

Cozy blanket.

There’s nothing better than a snuggling under a cozy blanket during the cooler months, book and beverage in hand. Whether faux fur or chunky cabled fleece, you can’t go wrong with the gift of comfort.


A coffee subscription is perfect for the hard-to-shop-for coffee drinker. We’re partial to MistoBox, Craft Coffee, and Blue Bottle Coffee.


A stash of great candles feels like such a luxury, and most of my favorites were well-chosen gifts.

I always love to receive (and give) the ones from Anthropologie, and I’m currently burning the Jane Austen library candle I got in my Page 1 box (see above)—it’s currently sold out at Paddywax but they have a whole Library Collection to choose from.

Lipstick or lip gloss

We’ve found giving quality sets—whether small, like the one pictured above, or large, like the huge (and discontinued) Clinique lip gloss set we gave our daughter last year—is a hit with teens and tweens experimenting with makeup.

I love this Clinique Almost Lipstick mini-duo in subtle pink honey and the universally flattering black honey for a small gift or stocking stuffer.

Hunter boots.

I didn’t realize how much it rained in my town until I received great quality rain boots—and quickly noticed I wore them all. the. time. If you want to give a nice, practical gift, for young or old, these classic rainboots are a good bet.

Hunter has the best selection, but I’ve found Nordstrom Rack to have the best Hunter prices.

What’s on your wish list this year? What are your favorite gifts to give? We’d love to hear more ideas in comments!

P.S. Need more gift ideas? Check out these posts:


Leave A Comment
  1. Nancy says:

    I love giving ornaments to our adult sons/wives and children that reflect something meaningful during the prior year of their lives. I am not very creative so thrilled when I come up with ideas. I love giving and receiving books. Gift card to my fave store Anthropologie is also a special treat altho I then have trouble actually using them…wondering is a purchase is “special” enough to actually use my gift silly. With everyone I love I appreciate time spent together….meet up for lunch or dinner or a quick cup of coffee, a day shopping together with lots of time to catch up.

    • Noelle says:

      I too give my son’s and daughter-in-love ornaments reflecting their year. This year I told my husband I didn’t think I would do it. (We had two very big expenses this quarter.) he looked at me like I had lost my mind. So now with 20 days left I’m on the hunt! LOL

  2. Nancy says:

    Have wanted a diffuser for awhile and this inexpensive one with your recommendation may allow me to order it…what oils do you recommend to begin my collection?

    • Julie Friend says:

      nancy-i just started difusing this fall and I would recommend classic oils like lavender, sweet orange and lemon to start. I ordered the classic set from plant therapy which was perfect. My two new favorites are vetiver and bergamot. It’s addictive!

  3. Kam says:

    I love consumable gifts like candles and food which I can burn, eat, and don’t have to find a permanent place for in the house. A gift card to a store like Trader Joe’s or a fancy gourmet food store is ideal. I have such fun purchasing all those things I want to try but never actually buy. Would so much rather get these items than things I have to take to a store, wait in line to return, and then have store credit somewhere that I may not normally shop—all that feels like work. Give me consumables!

  4. Guest says:

    I’m a big fan of experiences over things. A few ideas:
    – Escape room as a family (we had a blast!)
    – Ice cream trip
    – Little gift certificates for various ‘dates’ – have done this for husband and kids
    – My kids have given me handmade gift certificates for a hand massage or foot massage
    – Massage/mani-pedi for adults
    – GC to LEGO store, jump zone, etc. for kids
    – A trip – this can be small or big. You can do a staycation in your own town where you gift a hotel night and a GC for dinner. I’ve also gifted the family a big trip. Use Scott’s Cheap Flights to keep your eye on…wait for it, cheap flights! They recently had flights to Hawaii for $358 per person or Costa Rica for less than $200 per person.

  5. Meg says:

    I LOVE Harney & Sons teas! Have you tried their Vanilla Comoro tea? It’s decaffeinated so you can drink it in the evenings, and it’s sweet (but not sweetened) so it’s a great little treat after dinner. And I love Paris tea in the morning.

    • Amanda says:

      That is my favorite flavor of Harney & Sons, too. Your description is spot-on. It’s a great treat for any time of the day.

  6. Kay says:

    I love the Jane Austen book box and might look for something similar over here in England for myself. Please, no plants for me! Every time someone give me a plant my heart sinks, something else to be responsible for and which I will slowly kill.
    I always enjoy reading these gift guides but could I ask you to consider doing an early one next year, like September/October as there are many who like to shop early. I find that most guides come out late November but usually December and I am hopefully done by then, if I still have shopping to do in December it makes me go into a panic. x

  7. N says:

    Any recommendations for stocking stuffers for my 2 grandchildren: Girl is 20 months and Boy is 18 months. Its been a long time since I have needed to buy this type of thing. I know the usual socks, hair bows, etc but any fun things they will really enjoy?

    • Emily says:

      I have a 17-month-old…we are giving her crayons in her stocking and I’m going to tell you right now they’re going to be a hit 🙂 As a parent, I beg my family not to give her noise-making devices as they drive me insane (though my family gets around this rule by giving her musical instruments which are a huge hit…recommend egg shakers or maracas!).

    • Sarah says:

      At that age my daughter started to really enjoy the Melissa and Doug Water Wow books. She also liked any books that had flaps that opened or unfolded.

  8. Mary Lou says:

    You went to W&M? How did I not know that? I’m class of ’89 (years before you were there).
    By the way, I bought Harney & Sons tea for my daughter a couple of years ago after you mentioned it in a blog post, and it has become a regular Christmas gift. She asks for it every year. Thank you for terrific recommendations of all types–from books to Christmas presents!

  9. Adrienne says:

    These are fabulous ideas! I ordered the Leaf Supply book for my daughter who has a new-found love of houseplants, and I’m eyeing the Page 1 book bundles. Thank you!

  10. Libby H says:

    Apparently there are a bunch of us here — I am class of 2002!

    I brought home a giant jar of Cheese Shop house dressing from my reunion.

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