Happy December, All! We here in New England just got our first snow for the winter season, and it is VERY much feeling like holiday time... no complaints here!
Now, I know that given the year we are having, the holidays look a bit different for many of us. We may not be traveling to see family that we usually see, we may be dealing with the grief of not having some of our family members with us for the first time... whatever the difference may be, the most important thing I have been trying to remind myself of, is that spending time with loved ones (family OR friends) and focusing on giving this year is what is most important!
That is why for the first post of the holiday season, I wanted to piece together a list for you of some of my favorite things from the year 2020 that I think would also make amazing Christmas gifts if you happen to still be hunting for something special! These gifts are both practical and fun, and are just things that I know have sparked some joy for me during this crazy time! I have done my best to sort these by category, and have dropped some links for places where you can shop the same items I have been loving. I hope you enjoy!
Health & Beauty
In the year 2020, sometimes the only thing that could pull me out of a down mood was a good pamper session for me, myself and I, OR just making the effort to get up in the morning and put myself together before work or a ride around to get some errands done, etc. That said, one of my goals for this year was to experiment a bit and play around with some products that I hadn’t tried before to truly find some staples for my everyday look; shower, makeup, clothes, hair, the whole deal.
Below are a few of my favorites that have made it back into my routine time after time this past year; repeats that would also make great gifts or stocking stuffers for the ladies in your life this holiday season! And as a reminder, most of these brands have similar items or products for men... we can’t leave them out!
1. Method Body Wash
I have had a VIP subscription to Grove Collaborative because one of my goals for the year was to buy and live more sustainably; to help the environment and my wallet. Happily I can say that through Grove, I have succeeded in switching out much of my harmful, chemical filled cleaning supplies for the house as well as a ton of skincare, with alternatives that I get on my doorstep each month! The Grove membership would make a great gift for someone you know who loves products from brands like Burts Bees, Method, Mrs. Meyers, etc.
That said, I am also a huge fan or a practical gift; something that I can use over and over again or that truly serves a purpose or helps me in my adult life. If the subscription or membership is too much, I have linked below our new favorite body wash scents from Method for you to check out. I have always loved Method’s products for the laundry and for washing hands, but these are AWESOME. I love that the products are cruelty free, and are both wonderfully scented and hydrating for my skin. They have a ton of scents for both ladies and men, and would also make a great stocking stuffer.
2. Beauty Counter Face MakeUp
Okay, in all honesty... this has been life changing! Back in September, I wandered into Sephora with my sister-in-law looking for a product for my face that wasn’t a foundation, but that would still serve as a way to color correct. My skin hasn’t really given my many issues in the form of acne for a long time, it is more so just combination (oily and dry, but more so dry in the winter time) and color issues (you know... the dark under eyes, the veins in my eyelids, and some redness). Because of this, the the consultant in the store recommended Beauty Counter and their tinted moisturizer options.
First impression... this is very expensive compared to what I would usually invest in, but lets take it home and see if it was worth it. Was it? Hands down. Not only did I use this for four straight months before running out (a little goes a long way), I also love the way it made my skin feel. No breakouts, and beautiful glowing skin. Below I have linked both products that I am loving from Beauty Counter on the make up side of things, but would also recommend any of their sunscreens as a stocking stuffer!
3. Quip Toothbrushes
I had used an electric toothbrush from Oral B (I think) for the longest time, but over time I just felt like it was WAY to rough on my teeth and gums, and I truly hated brushing my teeth because it felt like torture. Right before we moved to our new apartment in April, Bryer ordered us Quip toothbrushes online and we have not looked back!
Not only are the bristles very gentle, the toothbrush also comes in its own case that you can both stick to your mirror or flip for traveling. These toothbrushes vibrate, which I love because it makes for a better clean in your mouth, and they also come in great, sleek-looking metallic styles for men, women and kids.
We have a subscription online through the Quip website that allows for us to get new brush heads in the mail, but I did see them retail side at Target as of late if that is more convenient for you!
4. Scrunchies & Headbands
Self explanatory... definitely one of the best stocking stuffers for all your girly girls and those looking to take better care of their hair! I don’t heat treat my hair very often anymore, but truly the largest factor when it came to the damage of my hair (broken ends) was the hair ties I was using; they were super tight and every time I took them out, I could hear my hair snapping. Scrunchies and headbands come in so many great fabrics nowadays (silk, corduroy, suede, etc.) and can heighten an outfit even when you’re just hanging around the house. I have had great luck finding my favorites at Old Navy (linked below) but you can find them just about anywhere for great prices!
5. Facial Cleansers & Tools
I am a very big fan of skin care as of the last year especially, and it really makes me feel more ready for the day (or ready for a good sleep) when I am able to spend some time on me. Below are a few of my repeat favorites that I keep on hand in our bathroom; the cleansing balm is magical and really helps as a first cleanse in taking off my eye make up and loosening up the other make up I have on my face, while the Foreo works as part of that second cleanse with my other foam cleansers; here I feel like I get in a good exfoliating session in, while still being gentle.
6. Hair Care
Another huge investment for this year was the the Function of Beauty customized hair care. Honestly, totally an influenced purchase. Most all of the ladies I watch on YouTube have spoken highly about it, so I finally caved and gave it a try. My expectations were low to start, as I have never really LOVED a sulfate free anything (no suds man... it feels weird). BUT these formulas really blew me away (suds and all), and I saw a huge change in my hair, as well as how often I had to wash it in general.
What is awesome about this gift is that it is 100% customizable; everything from your products color, to what hair goals you have and what name goes on the bottle! You could easily do this on your own if you are familiar with the hair goals of the person you are gifting for, but it would also be really fun to sit and fill out the hair quiz with them.
Also, for after the shower and before a blow dry, the sea salt texture spray is a must have. I have pretty fine hair, so I will take all the volume I can get. This product is both easy to use and works like a GEM.
Your friends and family NEED this vitamin service. You fill out a quiz on the website and based on your answers you get customized vitamin packs that suit your body’s needs. A bonus is that each daily vitamin pack has a fun fact or challenge on it, there are tons of other additions you can add to your box (collagen creamers, etc.) AND the packaging is biodegradable. Love that.
Food & Drink
For most of my life I HATED coffee, but after meeting Bryer, we started with the sugar filled, and now I can enjoy a coffee with just almond milk if I have to (and still enjoy it)! I work for a start up company and have many fun side projects (like my new business venture Monk & Dodi), but that has meant a lot of early mornings and late nights.
New England Coffee can be found online and at supermarkets almost everywhere, and their flavors are so SO good.
And last in the coffee category (but really could serve any drink type lover), for all of us who are staying home to work full time now... the Ember Mug is a MUST HAVE. I bought one for Bryer a few years ago, and now I am the one who uses it the most. The Ember mug regulates the temperature of your drink (and maintains that temp) through an app that you can download to your phone. This is amazing for anyone (moms, dads, working folks) who don’t ever get to the whole cup of coffee until its... cold. Game changer.
Just real quick I wanted to throw out into the universe two of my favorite food items to use for dinner time at our house. This Tuscany Pumpkin sauce... you’re JOKING. I was skeptical when we picked this out, but really wanted to try something different. This was so worth branching out. This cream sauce on top of the Green Giant gnocchi is a delicious way to mix it up, and would be an awesome gift for the health enthusiast or a foodie in your life!
Another way to keep the fluids pumping through you and your family/friends throughout the day is this super cute mason jar cup! This comes in various colors and holds a great amount of water for when you are working or at school all day. https://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Pioneer-Woman-32-Oz-Teal-Mason-Jar-with-Lid-Straw/163498761
Jewelry & Accessories
You all should know that for almost the entirety of my life, I have HATED the look of gold jewelry. I always reached for silver when I was younger, and still very much enjoy the look of a silver/diamond stud earring or my beautiful engagement ring. But for the last year or two I have found a LOVE for gold jewelry; I think it is so classic, so versatile, and so fun to mix and match with when putting an outfit together. I also shamelessly love the way gold looks with my brown hair and eyes.
Below are a few of my current favorite pieces that I love layering together, and the price point is perfect for last minute giving!
Clothing & Shoes
As I mentioned further up in this post, my goal this year was to really buckle down on where I was spending money and thrifting has been where I have shopped for 99.9% of my clothing and housewares. I love it because it allows for picking up some super unique and quality pieces, but for this reason, I don’t have many links for you all on the clothing side. I did want to share a quick two items that have been a staple for me these last few months. First, my Steve Madden cross body bag.
This handbag has been a repeat buy for me! I love an over-the-shoulder bag that holds the right amount of things without weighing three thousand pounds. I love the chain detail on these bags, and they come in a variety of neutral colors and prints that go with any outfit. I have had both a tanish/camel color, and a blush pink. Both were great purchases, and got much use throughout the year! I have linked below the same bag I have in an army green color (jealous to anyone who gets this one) but I know for sure that you can find this style bag at T.J. Maxx almost always! Great price point and a great every day bag for a handbag lover (like my Momma).
Who doesn’t like a great pair of slippers for Christmas? Comfort and joy, plus these are only five dollars! I might just stock up on these; the fluff is so comfortable, but the “sandle” style slipper lets your feet breathe while warming them at the same time. This would be a great addition to a spa themed gift basket!
Books, Stationary & Entertainment
With some of us spending more and more time indoors, it was definitely time for me to find some things to do in the house that provoked a bit of adventure!
One of my most favorite gifts to give and receive around the holidays is a good book. Where most of us have had to put travel and weekend fun on hold, a book is the perfect way to go on an adventure from the comfort of your own home. Below are a few of my favorites from this year!
How to be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery
Becoming a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery
Big Fish by Daniel Wallace
Joy at Work by Marie Kondo
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
Journaling can be a great outlet for anyone, especially with the type of year we are having. In the past I was using smaller Moleskin journals for work and brainstorming for Monk & Dodi and the blog, but when I ran out of room in the last ones, I decided to use these journals instead! What I love about it is that I can craft on/customize the front of them. I have been using scrapbook paper and stickers... so fun for both adults and kids (especially with most kids going to school remotely).
15. Learning Something New
Another thing I have been obsessed with is taking master classes online to learn new skills, or heighten the skills I already have! Masterclass is a great website/resource for anyone looking to do the same, and is so simple to use and sign up for. I will say that they most often are running deals for their subscriptions that allow you full access to all the classes and workbooks, but also someone else (that you can gift to) that same access. Some of my favorite classes have been Storytelling & Humor with David Sedaris, Effective & Authentic Communication with Robin Roberts, Creativity & Leadership with Anna Wintour, Business Strategy and Leadership with Bob Iger, and Self-Made Entrepreneurship with Sara Blakely of Spanks.
Home Decor & Storage
Self explanatory, but super practical and cute to sit on a shelf or floor of any kind! 10 out of 10 recommend.
17. Christmas Mugs
These were a last minute discounted splurge for Bryer and I this year (we have used them LITERALLY every day since) and would make a perfect addition to a gift with a cookie mix or hot cocoa mix! They are both dishwasher and microwave safe (key) and would be something the person you are gifting to could pull out every year at Christmas!
Technology & Electronics
This is huge you guys. Another one of those items with a higher price point...but worth EVERY cent. This was a birthday gift that I received from Bryer this year and I have not taken them off a day since. When I started working form home in March and couldn’t go to the office anymore, these were critical to have so that both Bry and I could work in the same office while on calls with our colleagues, etc. BUT if you have a music lover in your life... I would argue that they need these in their life as well. The sound quality is concert level, amazing, without actually going anywhere!
Another birthday gift I received that I think would make a great addition to a friend or family members writing space or office space is this typewriter-style wireless keyboard! I use this when I am in the zone and working on a fun writing project.
Note: It makes all the noises a normal keyboard would, so just keep that in mind!
20. Meditation Lamp
I personally received this last Christmas and use it all the time! This small lamp sits on my night table and what I love about it, is that it both has different light settings to set whatever mood you are in, but also has a sound machine worked into it, as well as a guided meditation setting; the lady walks you through the meditation (if you want her to) and the lights help you focus on the pattern of your breathing. A great gift for any of your spiritual friends or those just looking to eliminate some stress moving into 2021!
For all of you last minute shoppers, and for all of my supporters and readers, I hope this was helpful for you, or just fun to read! I am hoping that you all enjoy this holiday content as it comes, and I am also hoping you are all healthy and happy this holiday season! Happy gifting!