Holiday Gift Guide 2015

Let’s take a look at that holiday list, shall we? Organize Christmas menu, make sure you have enough place settings for holiday dinner, trim the tree, make the latkes, pick up cloth napkins to replace dirty old stained ones, figure out gifts for Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Daughter, Son, Teacher…wow that’s a lot of people!? Feeling overwhelmed? OK, here’s something that will help: Let’s take a look at that list again: Organize Christmas menu; make sure you have enough place settings for holiday dinner, trim the tree, make the latkes, pick up cloth napkins to replace dirty old stained ones, figure out gifts for…wow, that’s a lot of people in your life, and a lot of amazing, incredibly lucky ways to celebrate them as they will most likely be celebrating you. Yeah, yeah, yeah, enough with the big picture and enough with the perspective. Let’s do some shopping!

(P.S. In keeping with tradition, I ask you to read allll the way through. There just might be something in it for you.)

Beauty Boxes (Lush, $5-28) If you’ve been in the Lush stores, you’ve probably ogled their displays that look more like candy and cheese than beauty products. They are packaging geniuses over there and even if my girls didn’t love the sweet-smelling bath and beauty products inside their gift boxes, they’d still be overjoyed to see one under the tree. If there is a grandparent in your life who keeps begging you “I need ideas! I need ideas!” First, be grateful. Second, send him or her this link for a few pre-wrapped, can’t-go-wrong options. If you want to come up with something a la carte, start with their bath bombs, our daughters’ favorites. (Shown above, clockwise from top left: Little Snow Fairy gift box $15; Stardust Bath Bomb, $5.25; Christmas Party gift box $28; The Experimenter Bath Bomb, $9)

New York Babka (Breads Bakery,$35 for three) My dad loves babka. Which is a silly thing to say because, I mean, how can you not love babka, chocolate-swirled rolled cakes, that are spiked with cinnamon if you’re lucky. I used to pick them up for him when I lived near the Middle Eastern markets on Atlantic Avenue — now I just pick them up wherever I wander by one that looks good. This week, it just so happened I was wandering by Breads Bakery, home to what New York magazine calls the Best Babka in New York. Sold.

American Flag Throw, (in2Green, $165) You know that aunt/cousin/in-law who disagrees with you on literally everything in the headlines lately? Well, for the time being, I’ll bet you can probably agree on this. Made from soft, washable, recycled cotton, we have them in the TV room, on the couch, in the girls’ beds…I’d say we’re officially addicted.

Keyboard Covers (Amazon, $3-$10) If your kid’s philosophy in life is “Inject Fun Wherever and Whenever Possible” then these are for them. (And probably also for you, because, um, definitely for me.) Shown: Rainbow, but I’m thinking Universe, Owl, and Polka Dots are good stocking stuffer options as well. (Don’t forget to search for your exact computer model; PC options also available, but not as many.)

Fates and Furies (by Lauren Groff, $28) Two givens every time I open up my Facebook feed: A post about Trump and a post about this novel, which tells the story of a marriage that takes place over two-plus decades from the perspective of the two parties involved. It’s a National Book Award finalist and seemingly on every “Best Books of the Year” round-up in America. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my nightstand waiting patiently. (PS: I’d be willing to bet your kids’ teachers would be psyched to use this as an excuse not to grade more papers.)

Balance Board (Carrom, $77) Think of it as training wheels for a Hoverboard. And a little easier on the wallet.

YA National Book Award Nominees ($8 – 11)  Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson; The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin, Challenger Deep (the winner) by Neal Shusterman. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that George O’Connor is out with the next volume in his epic Olympians series. This time: Apollo. (Reminder: My 13-year-old Phoebe started on the graphic novel series about six years ago, and I credit it with kicking off an obsession with mythology that lives on to this day. Don’t make me show you her Medusa Halloween costume.)

The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip
 (by George Saunders, $15) 
For younger kids — or even adults, to be honest — this repackaged classic by George Saunders is one we can’t recommend enough. Here’s what we wrote about it five years ago: “The dreamscape illustrations by Lane Smith, the message about empathy and community and the importance thinking beyond yourself, the heroine’s name (Capable — how great is that?), but really: this one, for us, is all about the writing and the humor. ‘She soon found that it was not all that much fun being the sort of person who eats a big dinner in a warm house while others shiver on their roofs in the dark,’ Saunders writes. ‘That is, it was fun at first, but then got gradually less fun, until it was really no fun at all.’ You want a book that gets talked about at the dinner table? This is a great place to start. Deeply wise, generous in spirit. Hard to overstate our love for it.” Ages 5+

Leather “Ingredient” Bracelet (Delicacies, starting at $75) Why shouldn’t there be a line of jewelry exclusively for the epicure? And why shouldn’t they feature special ingredients in sterling silver? Especially when every bracelet sold will provide 20 meals to those in need through Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry. The company is working with a new celebrity chef (think Marcus Samuelson) every three months,to choose a charity to which to donate the proceeds. How cool is that? How cool are they?

Dollhouse (Smaland, $89) If you have a kid who loves nothing more than disappearing into a pretend world, I have two things to say to you: 1) Make it last as long as you can — you’ll miss listening in on their make-believe conversations sooo sooo much and 2) Look into this dollhouse. I’ve already gone into detail on how sentimentally attached I am to Lundby (I grew up with it), but anyone with a heart can appreciate the sweetness of this happy home.

Baking, (By Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, Food52, $23) It’s the subtitle that really grabbed me here: 60 Sensational Treats You Can Pull off in a Snap. (Specifically the “in a snap” part.) As most of you know, Food52 is a deep, rich, endless rabbit hole of recipes and inspiration, but when you need, say, something for the cookie swap that’s tonight or the bake sale that’s tomorrow, well, you want someone to tell you exactly what to make. That’s what this book is. (P.S. Did someone say Brown Butter Cupcake Brownies?)

Graphic T-Shirts (Target, $5-$15) Parents of toddlers, you probably only have a few more years of controlling what band will be emblazoned on their T-shirt besides Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift. Might as well make the most of it. ShownBeatles and ACDC. (I’m no longer shopping in the toddler department, so I picked up an XS in this classic for my 13-year-old. (Related: This Amazing Album.)

iBlock Cutting Board (Brooklyn Butcher Blocks, $125) Used to be you needed grooves in your cutting board to catch the filet’s juices. Now you need them to prop a tablet. (Brooklyn Butcher Blocks can’t guarantee Christmas Delivery — here’s another option just in case.)

Belgian Waffle Maker (Waring, $53) You know how before you had kids, you used to say things like “Every Sunday we’re going to have a real diner breakfast with waffles, pancakes, an omelet station…the works.” By now, though, you know not to ever listen to your pre-kid self. (She didn’t know anything about Music & Me schedules…or exhaustion.) Don’t beat yourself up! Maybe all you need is a little gear to kickstart you (or your earlier waking spouse) in the right direction. This Belgian Waffle Maker? A good place to begin.

Fatheads ($25-$140) In my day, it was the McEnroe poster thumbtacked to the bedroom wall. Today, it’s the fathead – which, judging by my nephew’s reaction when we gave him one last Christmas – is way cooler. And sure, while Stephen Curry (or Lionel Messi or Maria Sharapova) is never going to be a bad choice for a ginormous wall decal, did you know the company customizes them, too? In other words, what’s stopping you from enlarging your very own midfielder…or ballerina…or Boston Terrier? The possibilities are endless. And maybe a little terrifying.

Holiday Gift Kits (prices vary) I love this idea so much. Instead of just giving a favorite book, my friend Jodi uses that book as a starting point for a holiday gift kit. Like, for instance, Dinner: The Playbook (hey whaddaya know!?) would be bundled with a wooden spoon and recipe ingredients. Not surprisingly, Jodi writes the awesome craft blog Supermakeit (you might remember her adorable Animal Menorah) and has written two of her own books that are well worth bundling — check out her entire round-up.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

PS: GIVEAWAY ALERT! Delicacies, would like to give away two supercool leather bracelets to two lucky DALS readers. Just comment below to be eligible. Winners will be chosen at random. Contest ends Monday, December 14 at 5:00 PM. Good luck! UPDATE: THE WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED. THANKS FOR PLAYING EVERYONE!

Past DALS gift guides:


Other great gift guides: Cup of JoBon Appetit $50-and-UnderBen & Birdy

Babka photo credit: New York Magazine


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Thanks for the great ideas on your gift list!
I love the bracelets! Very clever!
Merry Christmas!



I seriously love that sweet little dollhouse, and now I’m also kicking myself for not thinking of Lush products for my preteen niece. There’s always her birthday, though.


Great gift guide! I’m totally stealing that cookbook kit idea for my impossible-to-shop-for Mother-in-Law. 🙂


I love the cookbook/package idea! What a great way to turn a good book into an awesome gift. Thanks!


I just sat down to research dollhouses for my three-year-old daughter who pretend plays for hours. I’m debating between a kit that I can personalize (lots of time) or something like this one you’ve listed here. AND….babka is something I miss so much from New York, after moving away two years ago. I just looked up your recommendation and it ships! I might need to ask for this from my family! Thanks again.


I am terrible at coming up with gift ideas, so this is very helpful, and I am using quite a few. Thanks — and thanks for the giveaway!!! 🙂


Rhonda – do read it! It is one of my favorite books this year. Read it for book club and couldn’t put it down. We loved it!


Totally would love an epicure bracelet! Thanks for the suggestions.. checking them out right now!


Ooooo what a cool prize! Would love to gift my Mama with the pineapple! Thanks DALS for another great gift guide!

Sonja O

Love the delicacies bracelet! I was planning on looking it up before I even got to the bottom of the post. The egg is my most favorite ingredient of all time, and is what I would get on my bracelet.


Oooh oooh oooh! Pick me pick me! I could pretend like I was going to be a super awesome person and give it to a friend for Christmas, but this treat will be absolutely positively exclusively for my. wrist. only. Because. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this bundle of super duper awesomeness.


Great post! Somehow I missed all the buzz about Fates and Furies, it’s now on my to-read list!


Love your suggestions-as always
I’m buying the YA books now. And based on your previous posts, I bought an Oconnor set for my son who is entering the mythology obsession too – he is plowing thru the myth-o-mania series
My 13 yo just read the lions of little rock and loved it…in case your girls need a new one

Alisa Smirnova

Thanks for the ideas Jenny, and this amazing blog! Its the one thing I look forward to reading most everyday!


I just saw Jodi’s post on her gift kits — and forwarded it on to my family for me. I doubt anyone will go to the trouble but you don’t receive if you won’t ask!


i love lush! just bought an awesome hair masque there about a week ago. also–looks like there’s no link for the wall decals?


Love the list! I’m not sure how I missed seeing anything about Fates and Furies, but I’m adding it to my To Read list now!


Great ideas – thanks for the post. That balance board is just the thing for one of my twins – she’ll love it. And great book ideas, too. Happy Holidays!


Glad I saw this post today – there are definitely some great ideas here! I just put Fates & Furies on MY wish list. 😉 A Delicacies bracelet would be pretty awesome too!


Ooh thanks for the ideas. I, too, cannot wait to read Fates and Furies. Those bracelets are SO cute!

Emily G.

Thanks (…I think) for introducing me to the Delicacies bracelets–I can see getting carried away there very easily… And the cookbook gift kit is SUCH a brilliant idea! Methinks the babka makes the perfect “one for you, one for me” gift, too. 🙂


Love your lists every year–they are spot on! Thanks for putting this together again! And LOVE the bracelets!

Victoria S (aka zEmfIrKa)

Love the idea of then holiday gift kit based on a book or a recipe! What fun!? 🙂

sabrina s.

Great gift ideas! I especially love the butcher block (and that bracelet is pretty darn cute, too!).

Sarah Y.

I have a friend who would LOVE a bracelet, but alas, I can’t spend $75 on her. But if I won one …

Dana Thomas

I’m a long time reader and I recommend your blog to so many people. I absolutely love your lists and recipes. Thank you so much for the time you take to make these posts for all of us to enjoy!


I’d love to win a bracelet! So cute!
And I love the gift kit idea. I feel like sending this post around to my family so they get some ideas.


The American blanket is so great! Perfect for those relatives I have nothing in common with. 🙂

Heather K.

Great unique gift ideas! My daughter would love the Experimenter bath bomb. Thanks for sharing!


Thanks for the giveaway chance.
One of my favorite gift for friends is your bumper sticker MAKE DINNER NOT WAR


This is one of the best holiday gift guides I’ve read this month! I would love to win one of those bracelets!!!!


I love your graphic novel suggestions. My 8 year old is really into them and has not even begun the Olympian series. I’m all over it! (and mama would seriously rock one of those bracelets!)


Would LOVE to find one of those bracelets in my stocking. Lots of other great ideas too. Now I’m headed over to check out Jodi’s blog.

Jenny M

I already eye-balled the wheat thick cut bracelet. I love a gift guide! But I already have both your books. But hey, my brother doesn’t!

Jen D.

Delicacies- what? No wedge of cheese? I am drawn to the cow and the octopus, so lovely and detailed for being so petitely formed.


Great gift guide! Thanks for all of the ideas! I’m a total cookbook luddite (I like a book on which to make notes and splatter things) but I have friends who have embraced the tablets and that cutting board is a stellar idea. Thank you! And thanks for the giveaway opportunity, too! Those bracelets are super cute and the company has the soul that I ask for in a company 🙂


That bracelet — with that tiny sterling silver chicken — would be perfect for my chicken-raising, leather-loving mother. Would love to win!


What a great idea for a teacher gift! I’m grabbing a few copies of Fates and Furies. My 9 year old is desperate for a hoverboard so the ball ace board is goingr under the tree too. Thank you for the list!


Cannot wait to read Fates and Furies….it’s on my holiday reading list. Thanks for the great ideas, and the giveaway!


I love all the gift ideas. Just looked the other day at previous ones. Was wondering where your book list went. I came across it a week or so ago, but now can’t find it. Always love to see what people are reading or want to read.


Thanks for the great ideas! I’ll be getting some bath bombs for sure! Those keyboard covers are so fun…


We did a holiday gift kit using a hardcover copy of Dinner: A Love Story in a crockpot for my brother and his girlfriend last year. Wooden spoon and ingredients inside as well! Cannot possibly go wrong with that kind of gift, especially as they had just moved in to their first apartment with a real kitchen!


I love the bracelets! So dainty and so original. But I really love the idea of the personalized gift and gift!


The holiday gift kit is wonderful! We always have to buy a non-gender specific gift for the gift exchange for my husband’s family and then you just grab a gift from under the tree. Trust me, we’ve ended up with some real “goodies.” Ahem…but I foresee putting together a gift kit this year and, maybe if I’m sneaky enough, I can end up with my own present!


Thanks for this inspiration, you always put together great lists. And OMG, how much am I now coveting a delicate garlic bracelet?!!!! Fab.

Jill Nepper

I left my chickens in San Francisco …
Sonoma, actually, but we are embracing a new life in Boulder, CO! Buff Orpingtons coming soon. Delightful bracelet! Thanks for your tireless inspiration, Jenny.


Today is the day to sort through gifts and see what is missing… and now I have ideas to tuck in the openings. Thanks.


I am looking up the bracelets right now. Love everything about them. Oh and the ya books too. My kids are readers. It is hard to keep up with new books for them!

Jessica S

Such an adorable bracelet! I always love your gift guides for the mix of food and book gift ideas – definitely speaking my language!


Thanks for the always useful ideas…hoping for an update on your running/training progress for inspiration!


I have been waiting for your gift guide to come out. Have some teens and tweens to give gifts to and this provides some great ideas.

Sarah L.

Those bracelets are super cute! What a great idea with the gift basket. I like the idea of giving a gift that is an activity or a learning experience.

Heather Bragdon

LOVE all your ideas! Thanks for doing this every year – especially love your book recs! AND love the bracelet!! THANKS


Fates and Furies is also on my nightstand. I think reading it by the Christmas tree with a glass of wine sounds good right now.

Jane B.

These bracelets are SO fun! I can see so many reasons to give them to friends. Fingers crossed I win one! Thanks DALS for the chance to.


I’ve been waiting only semi-patiently for your annual gift guide post. Thank you for another round of terrific ideas! Of course now I’m re-thinking my holiday master list for everyone.


I love the idea of giving things that will be used. I’m dying to get the Food52 Baking book since baking is almost my favorite thing to do/share in the world. Packing a (your) cookbook in a big glass jar with some fixins for a meal is also a stellar choice for gifting. Thanks for the fun ideas. And of course, I’d love a chicken on my wrist – they used to wander in our yard, but no more… they’re fun creatures to have around.


I’m going to use this comment to say: “I was just thinking how much I love your site & your writing. I recommend this blog to friends all. the. time as they try to get a grip on feeding a family.” But also, that bracelet. We just had conferences and my daughter’s teacher is a total jewelry-file. I would love to be able to give one to her! (However, being a teacher myself, $75 seems a little extravagant for my budget, though, in the light of her awesome teaching, a small price to pay…)

sara hoyle

I bought my sons the Olympians gift set on your recommendation, and they love it as well, I am so super excited to order the next two books, thanks for the heads’ up. (Their obsession began with Percy Jackson, and then blossomed with these graphic novels!!)


So many great gift ideas in this post, and some we’ve already purchased. Thank you!!! (esp for the grandparent suggestions)—


Loved this list! Just ordered Fates and Furies for my mom to round out her gift – thank you for the recommendation!


Oh, I was just trying to decide whether to put Challenger Deep in the basket for my 14 year old son (ahem, ok , me). Yes!


Awesome list! But I would like to add my two cents and say that there’s a small business called Kidecals that makes the most awesome keyboard stickers. I’ve had mine on for 2+ years and I’d rather support them than some large made-in-china distributor. They’re stickers, so it’s a little different than a keyboard cover, but still every bit as fun!

Karen McPhaul

Your blog never ceases to inspire and help me escape after a day of teaching, friending, mommying, cooking……. thank you.
I’d love to be in the drawing for one of the bracelets.


I would absolutely love a delicacies bracelet, but I am also obsessing over books this year. I want all the books and I want to give all the books. a bad problem to have, I guess.


Very cool ideas! I’ve forgotten about Lush and yes, I do need ideas for the grandparents! The bracelets are simple and really cool.

Marcia W

Great gift ideas…thanks! (I’m a teacher and plan to read Fates and Furies over break after I finish entering semester grades:-))


Bracelets are super cute! I wish I had read your gift guide earlier. So many great ideas! Thanks!


I love the cutting board w/ iPad slot, and the bracelet is adorable. My favorite is a toss up between cacao, wheat and onion.


I see you the Medusa costume and raise you an Athena costume. It included an owl on the shoulder. Thanks for the recommendation of the Olympians set.

richard baumgarten

i enjoy your blog a lot. Have also checked out one of your books from the library.

saw this article in the paper last week. seems to mesh well with the themes of your blog. you might want to share with readers.

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