Welcome to this year’s holiday gift guide, also known as the best place to shop for the eaters and readers in your life. This year, if you are so inclined, feel free to leave your best go-to gift idea in the comment section. The author of my favorite one will win a free copy Dinner: A Love Story, Dinner: The Playbook, or How to Celebrate Everything. Your choice! (Winner selected on Monday, December 17 at noon ET.) Happy Holidays Everyone.
Swirl Baking Dishes (MoMA, $15-$27) Leave it to MoMA to add one-of-a-kind beauty to…a baking dish. The ceramic is hand-swirled, so each one is different. More important: They are oven-to-table and dishwasher safe. (Andy: Are you listening?)
Temporary Tattoos (Tattly, $5-10) Before Phoebe road-tripped for a big cross-country race this past fall, I handed her an envelope that included a you-are-a-badass note and two “Believe” tattoos from Tattly (one for her teammate) that I thought might help shave a few seconds off her splits. (I’ll try anything.) She loved them and now I want to give empowerment tattoos to every kid all the time for any occasion. I also really liked: Let’s Do This, Believe, Self-Confidence, Warrior Not Worrier. That last one is for me. Great for the stocking.
The Latest Greatest Cookbooks I don’t know about your kids, but mine have this incredible talent for sniffing out a Milk Bar no matter what city we find ourselves in. If yours are the same, they’ll be psyched to open up the neon-lighted All About Cake by Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi ($16). For the friend who knows a little something about cooking, go for Simple the newest Yotam Ottolenghi ($21) and 2018’s best entry in the Everyday genre.
Flour Sack Dish Towels (Food52, $39 for a set of 4) My mom is a woman who prizes utility over beauty for pretty much any circumstance — When we were growing up, her idea of the perfect gift for my siblings and me were underwear jumbo packs. The good news: I just bought her these flour sack towels, which are both beautiful and useful. The bad news: I love them so much I might have to keep them for myself. They’re part of the cool new Food52 product line that crowd-sources development and design ideas. How fun is that? (NOTE: These are currently out of stock until 12/10; check back then!)
What Do People Do All Day ($11) My editor Maria at the Times Book Review assigned me a round-up on what she called “Big Beautiful Books,” the immersive kind that you imagine (hope? dream? cross-fingers) will suck your kid in for hours at a time on long winter days. You can head over there to find one that works for your kids, but I wanted to make a special plug for the My Big Wimmelbook series, which is great for the 2-to-5-year-old set. Something to note: Wimmelbooks are a standard part of young childhood in Germany and in the review I compared the large-format board-book volumes to the Richard Scarry books we all grew up with. Which made me realize — hey! What about Richard Scarry who will never ever go out of style? Especially the iconic What Do People Do All Day, a favorite when I was a kid. So if you don’t have that one, pick it up first.
Homemade Version of a Favorite Store-bought Food. If you’re going in the bake-a-gift direction this year, consider heading down the nostalgia road. My Dad, like all good members of the Bronx post-war Jewish community, loves his Entenmann’s baked goods and passed down that passion to me. I grew up eating their famous, now discontinued, Sour Cream and Nut Chocolate Chip Loaf. A few years ago, I surprised him with a homemade version of it and couldn’t believe how fast it took us back. The recipe, plus more ideas for meaningful food gifts are in my last book, How to Celebrate Everything, on page 19. (Photo credit: Chelsea Cavanaugh for HTCE)
Pre-assembled Gingerbread House Kit ($50, Dylan’s Candy Bar) A kit that gets straight to the fun part: The decorating.
Minding the Store, ($13, by Julie Gaines, Illustrated by Ben Lenovitz) Fishs Eddy is a New York institution and I’ve plucked many holiday gifts from its charming shelves through the years. (My in-laws still drink cocktails from the sweet Todd Oldham-Charley Harper-designed glasses we gave them a few years ago.) This year, you should absolutely peruse their online shelves for the goods and the wares, but please also check out the graphic novel written by the Fishs Eddy owner Julie Gaines. It’s all about her wacky family and running a small business — and Catherine Hong, my favorite source for books and design recommended it, so you know it’s going to be good.
Instant Pot ($70 for 6-quart) Know any hold-outs? (Besides yours truly?) Now that the craze seems to have officially settled into Here to Stay, it might finally be the time.
Sloth Mug (Urban Outfitters, $15) Wrap it up with your favorite hot chocolate (this one is tops) and a bag of marshmallows and your teenager will love you forever — or at least for, like, 10 minutes.
Harmonica ($35) The perfect procrastinate-ACT-studying tool. Naturally, my high school junior is obsessed.
Cheese Knives (CB2, set of 3, $15) For your friend who hosts the best holiday party every year. Or even for the friend who doesn’t.
Fox 8 by George Saunders (Random House $11). For people who like George Saunders (by now you know we sure do!) and for people who have kids who are older than 10 or 11 and are ready for a little darkness to go with their charming animal stories. This one is narrated by a fox (named Fox 8) and beneath the fun misspellings (“reeding my story bak just now, I woslike: O no, my story is a bumer”) and ingenious narration is a powerful story about our lesser angels and our responsibility to the world and our environment. Added bonus: it fits right into a stocking.
In the span of about two hours this past weekend, we planned a five-day trip to Austin, Texas between Christmas and New Years. (As usual, recs welcome!) Only after I told the girls about it, did I realize I missed an opportunity to do the surprise plane-tickets-under-the-tree reveal like Liz did a few years ago. If you still have the time to plan, I’d say go for it.
Other DALS guides through the years:
UPDATE: The giveaway winner has been notified. Congrats Hannah!