11 Holiday Gifts (For The Rest Of Us): 2018 Ed.
I didn’t celebrate Christmas growing up and we only kind of celebrate it now. Andres did do the gifts and tree thing growing up, but he’s Buddhist now and isn’t interested in the ‘blow-your paycheck-and-feel-anxiety-over-things’ thing (phew). So even though we don’t celebrate “Christmas”-on-the-day, we do celebrate Noche Buena, the night before Christmas, with Andres’ family. It’s one of their Cuban traditions and it’s actually really nice. I look forward to it each year. We have a nice dinner with family (no gifts) and . . . Mariah Carey’s Christmas Album plays on repeat (obviously).
Having said that, I DO understand that December is holiday season and it means much more than just Christmas (in the US).
For me, it’s the one month of the year where I make it a point to see many of my friends who live all around the City. Since I live/work/play in Brooklyn, I rarely leave the borough. Getting over that bridge is psychologically cumbersome. If I do venture over the bridge, it’s to Queens, to visit family. I rarely visit Manhattan . . . It’s just so crowded and I get claustrophobic . . . But it’s only December 7th and I’ve already been there twice, for two parties...
December is ALSO the month where those of us who don’t give gifts to our family still give gifts to colleagues, etc… as a token of appreciation. It’s built into US culture. Growing up, my mom would make trays and trays of her famous baklava and gift festive tins to colleagues and neighbors (she learned the recipe from a Greek coworker when she immigrated to the US). Trust me, Shatila has got NOTHING on my mom’s baklava. Mom would also gift a piece of gold Indian jewelry each year to each employee at my father’s office. Similarly, we get gifts for the staff at Baby G’s daycare and our building.
So, I put together a list of holiday gifts for those of us who aren’t shopping for our moms/dads/partners/kids. I really think each item is special. FYI: I had SOOOO much fun putting this together.
For Your Unique and Nontraditional Coworkers, Neighbors or Friends
Arguably, the best smelling winter candle of all time. This Voluspa Moso Bamboo, $28, is the one candle scent that every person who enters my apartment comments on. It’s woodsy and musky yet not overbearing. It gets us into a hygge mood. The glass jar and lid are also gorgeous. These are my choice for Baby G’s daycare staff this year.
I swear that Soap & Paper Factory’s Roland Pine Soy Candle, $28, is the closest scent to a Christmas tree that you can find. Although Andres doesn’t miss Christmas presents, he does have nostalgia for the fresh pine scent. So this is our substitute and it’s not overbearing.
Honeybells, $44.99, are the sweetest, most perfect pieces of citrus that have entered my mouth. My old boss used to send these as gifts and they are sooooo juicy and sweet. They are also only available once per year. It’s a no-fail gift.
Le Labo Santal 33, $80-270, is my new favorite perfume. And I don’t wear perfume (at least I didn’t). It smells like leather, cedar and spicy cardamom. It is SO unique, it’s gender-neutral and doesn’t make me nauseous like 98% of perfumes out there. I just bought the $6 sample from the Tribeca store because I had to know what the “secret” cult scent smelled like. I’m almost out and this will be the first bottle of perfume that I plan to buy in over 15 years.
(Psst: Order by December 19th for Free Shipping!)
For Your Best Friend(s)
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, $20, is the best lip balm I’ve used in my 38 year history. I use it all-the-time, not just for sleeping. Seriously, it’s the only product that keeps my lips moisturized throughout NYC winters. I especially like the wand that comes with it. It feels bougie.
Framebridge has these Instagram Mini Frames, $39, which are so easy to put together. Just upload an Insta picture, choose a frame and voila. I have ordered two of these and I love how they turned out. A special photo cred shout-out to Bonnie Oliva-Porter for taking the photo in the frame during our wedding.
Bhang Butta, $50, is a CBD salve for your vag. It has been sold out for MONTHS and is finally back in stock. I met the owner of BreadxButta in Brooklyn last September and she is dope. She uses recipes from her Puerto Rican Taino roots to create healing salves and much more. 15% of all sales go directly to the Hispanic Federation to support Puerto Rico & the people affected by Hurricane Maria.
These Jennybird Otis Sticks, $80, are the perfect trifecta of funky, sleek and unique. I’m sure someone will pop into your mind the moment you see these.