20 favorite gifts to give and receive

After I share the bookish holiday gift guide, someone inevitably asks what I’m giving or hoping to receive this year. I won’t keep you in suspense. Today I’m sharing a round-up of gifts I have loved to receive over the years, some of my go-to gifts, and a few things on my own wish list. I hope this helps you finish your holiday shopping.

(For more ideas, check out the 2019 and 2020 editions. And if you’re wondering where the puzzles are—we have a dedicated post coming soon!)

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Custom Foil Metallic Song Lyrics Art

This customizable album-inspired print has made an excellent gift for several people in my life.


We often give Kentucky bourbon as a gift and fun glassware is a great accompaniment. There are so many people I want to give these Baseball Park Map Glasses to! (They’re also available as pint glasses.) The Urban Map Glass is a great option for anyone who’s moved away from a beloved city, or putting down roots in a new-to-them locale.

Bombas Socks

We have given and received lots of socks over the years. My husband Will loves the merino wool socks he found under the tree last year, and even our youngest child has asked for (and received) Bombas socks for several years running now. I also love that for every item sold they donate one item to those experiencing homelessness. We first connected with Bombas because they sponsor What Should I Read Next: get 20% off your first order by using this link.

Homemade goods

Over the years, I’ve given away many a homemade good. Preserved lemons are a current favorite—I use the recipe from from Vivian Howard’s cookbook, This Will Make It Taste Good, and follow her method EXACTLY. They’re inexpensive to make (though pricey at the store), wonderful to have on hand, and make a beautiful presentation.

Other go-to gifts include tiny adorable loaves of pumpkin bread or poppy seed cake, already-frozen balls of cookie dough, peanut brittle, sauerbraten (I made this recipe by special request for my dad for YEARS), and candied grapefruit peel.

Library Cart

I often get questions about where my library cart is from (Ikea, a long time ago) but thankfully you can find these 3-tier rolling carts in lots of places. They have so many uses and I love the colors!

Tea Towel

I get a kick out of the tea towels from Moonlight Makers. They make great gifts on their own or you can use one to “wrap” a kitchen-related or foodie gift.


I love to give and receive tea from my favorites, Rishi Tea (turmeric ginger, please) and Harney and Sons (hot cinnamon spice), and maybe a cute mug, because you can never have too many of those, either. (Fair warning: Will disagrees on that last point.)


I’ve heard of families who buy Christmas pajamas for everyone to wear and that’s the first gift they open. That doesn’t happen in my house anymore but I still think pjs make a great gift. For grown-ups, I always love the soft knit pjs from Soma and this crisp poplin set from Lake.

Beauty Boxes

Beauty boxes make a great gift for the person who seemingly has everything, beginning with tweens. These boxes make it fun and easy to experiment with new products. The women in my household have found a lot of satisfaction in our Allure Beauty Box subscription this past year. Birchbox is another good option I’ve been delighted to receive in the past.

If you’re not sure about a subscription,  Sephora always has tons of fantastic sampler sets to choose from.


Pick out a really nice bottle or two of wine that your giftee might not think to buy for themselves. Or consider a wine subscription: it’s the gift that keeps on giving! As a gift to each other, Will and I signed up for our local wine shop’s subscription this year. Great options exist online, too—like this one we enjoyed from First Leaf.

Birth Month Flower Grow Kit

Such a fun idea for plant-lovers, gardeners, and anyone who appreciates bringing pretty blooms indoors during the dreary months.

Hulu Subscription

Another gift that keeps giving. Give your loved one a Hulu subscription so they can finally watch The Only Murders in the Building, like we’re doing here, or whatever show you’ve been raving about.

Advent Calendar

Advent calendars don’t have to be given before the holiday (nor do you have to wait until December 1 to start enjoying one). I’m already opening up this one from Liberty of London I got as a REALLY nice gift for myself this year. On the more affordable side, check out options from The Body Shop and Sephora.

The Bookworm Pencil Set

I will never not get a kick out of literary pencils. For obvious reasons, I love that this set includes I’d Rather Be Reading!

Coffee Maker

After making coffee with the pourover method for years, Will and I bought a very nice coffee maker as a pandemic gift to ourselves. Eighteen months in, we still love our Moccamaster!


Since we put a lot of thought into what coffee maker to buy, you won’t be surprised to hear we care deeply about the coffee we drink and gift. A coffee subscription is perfect for the hard-to-shop-for coffee drinker. We’re partial to MistoBox, Craft Coffee, and Monarch Coffee. (Whenever someone tells me they’re giving up caffeine—which happens more often than you might think—I always send them a bag of Monarch’s decaf to get them started. It’s our favorite decaf!)

Pretty necklaces

I’ve been drawn to gold necklaces lately, like this elegant Birth Month Flower Pendant and this striking Medallion.

Home State Ice Cube Molds

Liven up drinks with these fun and personal ice cubes. They’re lots of fun, don’t take up much space, and as a bonus, your giftee will think of you whenever they pour a drink. On a similar note, I’ve given whiskey rocks quite a bit.

Parks & Recreation on DVD

We bought the Parks & Rec physical box set as a family gift so we could watch in the car during summer road trips. Hours of enjoyment!

Brooklinen Towels

Brooklinen makes all kinds of linens, but it’s their truly luxurious towels I really gush about. Whether someone is stocking their new home or replacing worn out linens, these top-of-the-line towels are sure to be appreciated. (Brooklinen sponsors WSIRN: get $20 off your first order with the code READNEXT.)

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. Sharon says:

    Wow, some fantastic gift ideas here, thanks so much! Love your blog.
    We have had a Moccamaster for 4 years and Love it. Life changing!

  2. Christina says:

    These are fun ideas! I like the idea of making some goodies to give – especially the one of already frozen cookie dough.

    Fuzzy socks are a regular on my list. I love them and they often end up in my stocking on Christmas morning 🙂

  3. Suzanne C says:

    My notoriously hard-to-buy-for Dad really enjoyed a MistoBox subscription one year for an anniversary present, so I can second that recommendation for coffee lovers.

    Sephora has a great 5 piece set of Origins mini size masks, which are favorites with my mid- and late- teenaged nieces.

  4. Jaimee says:

    I’m so giddy you mentioned Only Murders in the Building! My new favorite show!! I saw your recommendation for a Hulu subscription, and before I read your comment, I thought “I should do that for my parents so they can watch Only Murders”! LOL

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