2019 Holiday
Gift Guide

Well-made, as ethical as possible, and truly beautiful… here are gift ideas that receive Tsh’s hearty praise this year! Support shops and artists that do good work.

(p.s. A few affiliate links are used here, which means at no extra cost to you, we get a small commission when you make a purchase through these links. Thanks for supporting our work!)

At Home in the World

A few years ago I wrote a memoir about my family’s school year traveling around the world, living out of backpacks — a great gift for armchair travelers. Pairs well with a tee in a language you love.

Story Worth

StoryWorth makes it easy (and legit fun) for family members to share stories via weekly emailed story prompts — questions you’ve never thought to ask. Answers are then compiled into a published book.

100 Days to Brave

Help someone spend 100 days discovering they’re braver than they knew and stronger than they thought possible. This 100 Days to Brave Deluxe Edition by Annie F. Downs contains 10 additional bonus days!

Live in Grace, Walk in Love

NYT bestselling author and speaker Bob Goff’s new book, Live in Grace, Walk in Love, leads you through an entire calendar year of meditations on how you can step out in love and confidence in every aspect of your life.

Book of the Month Club: YA Edition

A great gift for the YA fan in your life: a YA Book of the Month subscription. Like the OG version, every month they choose one from five selections, then it’s delivered to their door. I love this.

Spark: A Guide to Ignite the Creativity Inside You

We all have a bit of creativity inside us, waiting to burn brighter. Sometimes all we need is encouragement.” Spark, a fill-in-the-blank guidebook, written by our Managing Editor, Andrea Debbink, was a 2018 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Gold Medalist!

Booked: A Traveler's Guide to Literary Locations

If you love following my Literary London trip, make your own literary journey through the pages of this book. I recently sat for hours in my local bookstore with this gem.

The New Yorker Subscription

I’ve always wanted to read this historic magazine regularly, so I’m asking for a subscription this year. Some of our greatest stories have come from these pages.

Full Focus Planner

This is my absolute favorite planner. Makes a great gift for that goal-focused, go-getter (or who wants to be) person you love. Pairs well with an erasable Frixion pen.

Clothing & Shoes

At Home Tee

Tell the world you love the world in one of 18 different languages. Choose from an assortment of tees, tanks, sweatshirts, hoodies, and more.
(tip: I prefer the male tri-blend t-shirt in. medium)

Kids Ruffle Dress

Tea Collection makes fantastic, well-made kids’ clothing, and this simple pullover dress is a great example — pair it with tights and a hair clip. They’ve also got great babywear, sweaters, and pajamas.

Cable Knit Sweater

Gandys is owned by orphaned twin brothers who dedicate a portion of the proceeds to supporting other orphans — and their gear is beautifully-made, too. A classic men’s cable-knit wool sweater is great for the hard-to-get-for guy.

Evolution Hoodie

Made from recycled coffee grounds and recycled plastic bottles, this super-soft hoodie has over 20 nifty features for adventuring, but works just as well for curling up on the couch. I love this!

Bombas Compression Socks

I grab my Bomba’s socks out of my drawer before any of my other socks — they’re my fave. And compression socks are a gift for long-haul traveling, training, or for anyone with circulation issues. These come in fun colors!

Water-Resistant Slip Ons
TOMS water-resistant slip-on booties come in a variety of materials — these are great for everyday wear yet look just a skootch nicer than a sneaker. Makes you look like you made an effort while still keeping it laid-back.
Long John Pajamas
Hanna Andersson is the go-to brand for pajamas that last forever (seriously, they can be passed down with zero wear or fading). Lots of great patterns in organic cotton, and tons of sizes if you’re into a family matching set.
Allbirds Runners

My two pairs of Allbirds are my go-to everyday shoes — they’re so comfortable. They’ve got plenty of options for men, too … go for the breathable ‘tree’ fabric if you live anywhere warm-ish — cozy without suffocatingly hot.

Dinosaur sweater

So many items from quirky Mod Cloth make me laugh, and this is no exception: it’s a cute sweater for a teen, or really anyone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Pairs well with this tote bag.

Jewelry & Accessories

The Moonscape Necklace
This Moonscape necklace from Muro Jewelry’s Galaxy Series is handmade from all-natural resin, jeweler’s brass and sand, created in celebration of the 50th year of the Lunar Landing. Because of the hand-made process, each pendant is unique.
Copper & Leather Earrings Set

I have several items from Happy Little Lovelies, and I wear them all the time. These copper and clay earrings come in a variety of colors for a little burst of happy — makes any outfit look more like an outfit, if you know what I mean.

Leather & Brass Bracelet
These handmade leather bracelets are made of genuine buttery-soft cowhide and brass rings used in saddles found in tack supply stores. Simple without the bulk, this snap-clasp bracelet is a staple that can go with both casual and dressy outfits.
Passport wallet
Made from 100% full-grain, long-lasting leather, this minimalist travel wallet is great for everyday use, too — it looks even better as it ages. Slots for your passport, cards, and cash, it has what you need and nothing you don’t.
Tech Backpack for Kids

Now’s a great time to get an affordable backpack for the kids that need ‘em, and Land’s End makes the sturdiest packs that last for years. This tech style provides room for gadgets and laptops — pairs well with a lunch bag and water bottle.

Knit Wool Monkey Hat

Hand-knit and sewn by Nepalese women, this wool hat from Ten Thousand Villages is fleece-lined for extra coziness. This is a fun gift for tweens, teens, and young-at-hearts. (There’s also monkey mittens!)

Food & Drink

Iva Jean's Fudge
Made by the nicest lady, I buy several boxes of this fudge every fall. Made with organic and locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible, our favorite flavors are butter pecan, brown sugar bourbon, cappuccino, and peppermint bark.
Reusable Snack Bags

This set of five reusable sandwich and snack bags are kid and adult-friendly and have tons of uses including travel, makeup, and Christmas cookies. Give a gift that’ll both save money and help the environment by reducing wasteful, single-use plastic bags.

Pourigami Coffee Set

I supported this as a kickstarter earlier this year, and I can’t wait to take it on a long trip — it’s a metal coffee pourover-making device that can fold down into your pocket. Pairs well with a sampler of good beans.

Butcher Box Subscription

For the foodie or hard-to-buy-for person on your list, a Butcher Box delivers high-quality cuts of meat to your doorstep in an insulated frozen box (we loved our steaks!). Choose from over 20 different cuts of beef, pork, and chicken — and right now they have a special “bacon for life” gift with every new membership.

Wine Bundle or Subscription
First Leaf stands in as your friend who sommeliers as a hobby —  they curate a wine subscription (or one-time box) from their hundreds of award-winning, decently-priced wines. A good gift for the wine connoisseur (or wanna be) in your life.
Cast Iron Skillet

A good cast iron skillet is a foundational staple for a working kitchen, and Lodge is one of my favorite brands and it comes foundry seasoned. Great for a budding home cook, it pairs well with the new 20th-anniversary edition of one of my go-to cookbooks.

Grooming

Phlur Fragrance

If you listen to my podcast, you already know my die-hard love for Phlur. Just trust me on their high-quality, non-toxic approach to fragrances, and give either Hepcat, Moab, or Olmstead & Vaux. Great for any gender.

Sleep Well Gift Set
This Sleep Well Holiday Gift Set from Some Call Me Crunchy includes a Sleep Tight Essential Oil rollerball and a 2oz jar of Sleepy Time Foot Rub. Comes in a lovely gift box — I’ve loved everything I’ve tried so far from this sweet company.
Mini Makeup Kit
A great makeup brand focused on clean ingredients, this travel set includes a multi-stick, mascara, lip conditioner, and serum highlighter. A good gift for teens, or really anyone who likes playing around with non-toxic makeup.
Travel Shave Gift Set
You know from my podcast that I love (and use) Harry’s products. This limited-edition toiletry bag includes their fantastic razor with Winston handle, shave gel, post-shave balm, and body wash. A solid gift for either men or women (my husband, Kyle, loves his Harry’s stuff).
Coffee Tangerine Scrub

UpCircle’s Coffee Body Scrub with Tangerine is made with top-quality coffee grounds sourced from artisan coffee shops. It also includes sea salt, coconut oil, grapefruit, and shea butter for killer moisture and post-scrub hydration. Sustainably made with reused and repurposed ingredients and packaging.

Holiday Footcare Set

Plant Therapy’s beloved peppermint lotion is paired with a wood foot massager and holiday fuzzy socks in a custom box for a great cozy gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list. (This is also my go-to brand for top-quality, affordable essential oils.)

Coconut Milk Bath Soak

I love the Herbivore brand, and their coconut vanilla milk bath is like a mini-spa in your own bathtub. Leaves your skin feeling silky-smooth with a pleasant-but-not-overpowering scent. (They also make a nice charcoal soap bar.)

Skin Care Gift Set
Mario Badescu is my teen daughter’s go-to skincare brand — it has worked WONDERS! This gift set includes enzyme cleansing gel, witch hazel & lavender toner, facial spray with aloe, chamomile & lavender, vitamin C serum, and seaweed night cream. All paraben-free.
Birchbox Subscription
If you’ve got someone who simply likes trying lots of beauty products, go for a Birchbox subscription — every month it’ll send a mix of makeup, hair, and skincare samples along with helpful tips on how to use the included products.
Match Striker + Holder

A handcrafted ceramic match holder from Tiny Hands Pottery that includes a clay striker zone, this is beauty and functionality on collision. Matches are included. They’re giving you free shipping when you order two or more; automatically applied at check out. Offer good until 12/13/19.

Artist Pad Collection

This Artist Pad Collection from Legion is a set of twelve 9×12 drawing and watercolor pads, including the renowned Stonehenge, Lenox, Yupo and Stonehenge Aqua papers. This high-quality set offers every artist a delightful range of untouched, unrivaled and sometimes unexplored surfaces.

Let's Get Cozy throw

This Let’s Get Cozy throw from Sweetest Beginnings is the perfect companion for a family movie night.

Gift Box for a Grieving Friend

If you’re struggling to know what to give a loved one dealing with grief and loss right now, this box is it: this thoughtfully curated box includes a journal, candle, mug, herbal tea, pencils, and more. So much better (and more practical) than flowers. Enter code SIMPLE for 10% off. 

Custom House Portrait
Artist Bea Baranowska works from photographs to create a charming illustration of a beloved home — a fantastic gift for someone with a sentimental place in mind. Takes 1-2 weeks to create, so order early!
Homesick Candle
Homesick creates scents that embody certain cities, states, countries, milestone events, and more — a good gift for someone missing a particular place …think college student, long-distance friend, a loved one who just moved, or someone who simply misses their favorite place on earth.
Personalized Stationery

Personalized stationery is a throwback (in a good way) to when we wrote with our hands and put stamps on envelopes. That makes the impact of a handwritten note even bigger — give this set of stationery with a pack of pretty stamps.

Copper Bartender Set

Made from artisans in India, this five-piece bar set is made with hand-carved shesham wood handles and includes a muddler, double jigger, strainer, stirring spoon, and bottle opener. Pair it with a set of moscow mule mugs.

Flat Wrap as Art

Here me out: artisan-quality flat gift wrap makes fantastically affordable framed art, and I love the selection from Paper Source. Cheese! National Parks! The Solar System! Sign Language! All so fun. (I use them with Ikea’s Ribba frame series.)

Toys, Games, & Fun

Artist Mini-Pad Set
The Artist Mini-Pad Collection from Legion includes all 12 of their artist pads in an adorable 2.5″ x 3.5″ size — just the right size to find the right match of materials, experiment, create, and fall in love.
Embroidery Kit
Give your favorite DIYer an embroidery kit to try their hand at a new hobby or to settle in with one they already love. The optional-included embroidery hoops provide instant framing for a sweet wall collage.
Eureka Crate
My engineering-minded, science-y kid got a Eureka Crate subscription last year, and it’s STILL his favorite day of the month when a new kit arrives. It says ages 14 and up, but my son is 9 1/2 and can finish them in a few hours. He loves that they’re more practical and less toy-themed.
Bark Box

It’s a gift subscription for your dog and/or dog fan! Every BarkBox has at least two innovative toys, two all-natural bags of treats, and a chew, curated from each month’s unique themed collection. Ginny, our beloved family dog, loved hers.

Mechanical Music Box
Feed special paper strips into this hand-cranked “box” to hear old-fashioned melodies; this makes a great gift for a budding musician and music lovers alike. Comes with three blank paper strips, a hole puncher, an instruction manual, and a pre-punched “Happy Birthday” song strip.
Stick-lets Fort Kit
This kit pairs with one of earth’s best toys ever: the stick. These fasteners help create endless structural possibilities, unleashing maximum fort potential. The flexible silicone makes them easy to use for even smaller hands.
Arts & Crafts Supply Library
This collection is an open-ended library of unlimited ideas — over 1,000 crafting pieces for all sorts of ideas. Comes in a reusable storage box, this is a great gift for the kid whose favorite type of play is creating with her hands.
Custom Memory Game
Take the classic memory game and give it a personalized twist: Paper Culture takes any photos you submit and creates with them a beautifully-made keepsake game.
Door Pong
Attach the clamp to a doorway, adjust the length of the string, and voila: a ping pong table without the huge, space-hogging table itself. Great for small spaces or for traveling, it gets great reviews from kids!
Ancestry Gift Subscription
For the family member interested in your heritage, give an Ancestry subscription, which gives them access to billions of records, both in the States and globally. It’ll help them rekindle old connections and form new ones, adding more branches to your family tree.
Game of Phones
Create a tabletop scavenger hunt with your collection of smartphones — instead of staring at your phones, interact with the people holding them. It’s a hilarious way to get to know each other.
DIY Miniature Library

Okay, I legit want this — build a miniature model of a library (or a greenhouse, or garden, or coffee shop) filled in amazingly intricate details. Gah! The adorableness, I can’t stand it.

Stocking Stuffers

Enamel Pins

Nerdy in all the right ways, these enamel pins are fun decor for backpacks and beyond — Mister Rogers, Shakespeare, Marie Curie, and more.

USB-Rechargable Book Light
A tiny LED booklight that’s USB-rechargeable and emits warm (not blue) light? Sign me up. These are adjustable to two brightness levels and are completely foldable for easy travel. We’re all getting some in our stockings this year.
Coconut Gel Mask

This four-pack of coconut water-infused face masks hydrate dry winter skin; it’s a fun skincare treat to share with others (maybe paint each other’s nails while you wait).

Sky Tops
I’ve known these as “whirligigs,” but whatever you call them, these wood hand propellers make for a classic stocking stuffer. Weirdly addictive.
Fix-It Kit
Perfect for keeping in the car, the college dorm, the backpack, wherever, this little repair kit comes in handy for lots of little conundrums. Includes a hammer with LED flashlight, long-nose pliers, tape measure, slot screwdriver with assorted bits, and socket extension.
Personalized Key Ring
Turn a favorite photo into a simple, affordable key ring — a great stocking stuffer or gift topper.
Cord Organizers

These are useful cord organizers that tidy tangled messes and help you keep track of those easily-losable little guys.

Event Tickets
Give the gift of time — find global discounts for travel excursions, museum tickets, performances, and more, then tuck the tickets into a stocking.
Famous Finger Puppets

Stick these weirdly funny finger puppets to the top of stockings and get a laugh — everyone from Bob Ross to Harriet Tubman to Schrödinger’s Cat and more.

Contributor’s Favorites

Andrea

These limited edition mugs from Best Made were inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s precept of Order. Each offers an inspiring reminder to do whatever good we can in our daily lives.

Christine

Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson is “…a memoir of Andrew’s journey and a handbook for artists, written in the hope that his story will provide encouragement to others stumbling along in pursuit of a calling to adorn the dark with the light of Christ.” 

Crystal

Board games like Forbidden Island, Carcassone, or Ticket to Ride are Crystal’s go-to gifts for the holidays. 

Caroline

After noticing several of my friends post on their social media about Sarah Bessey’s latest book, Miracles and Other Reasonable Things, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. It is a stunning story that brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion, which is no easy task for me. This book will be on my gift-giving list this year!

Katherine

This beautifully designed 2020 calendar by Suzanne I. Vinson includes 12 loose calendar pages and 1 print. The calendar pages can be cut down to 5×5 by cutting off the dates, and framed at the end of the year.

Tsh
I’m a moth to a flame when it comes to a good-smelling, clean-burning candle. When it’s nerdy and bookish? Even better. I’ve loved a number of Frostbeard’s scents over the years — including Christmas at the Burrow.

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(Psst… Want more ideas? You might also want to try our Ethical Shopping Guide.)