Without sounding like a horribly bitter Grinch who isn't thankful for all the incredible things in her life—because truly I am!—I'm going to make an earnest attempt at describing my past experience with presents.
Every year, without fail, I compile a list of all my most coveted birthday/holiday gifts—a Michael Kors watch, a new Coach clutch, etc.—small designer goodies a young twenty-something would die for, but let's face it, can't really afford to splurge on. But every year without fail, I awake—once I was actually not awaken, only to arise two hours after my family opened gifts, totally Kevin McAllister'ing me and forgetting I was home—to the same presents: A pack of movies from the Wal-Mart clearance bin, a "gift set" of drugstore-brand body wash, and a velvet throw that somehow always gets re-gifted later that day to our dog. (Usually not by my doing.) I actually received my Christmas present from last year in October of this year—a stale bag of gummy bears had been half-eaten and resealed.
Now I love my family and I've accepted this shall forever be the situation in the Schallon househould, but I share this experience with you because I've vowed to never, ever, ever become that gifter. So, in an attempt to rid stockings everywhere from bad bodywash sets and $5 DVD packs, here is a list of awe-inspiring gifts—half of which cost less than $50!—that even Scrooge would approve.
1. Garance Dore's "My Cape" Poster, $40:
I'm no artist—that would be our resident illustrator, Tanya—but I could stare at fashion sketches all day, every day. In my past life as a copywriter for a fashion house, I'd spend lunch breaks perusing all the design prototypes, wishing I had the ability to create things so stunning. Thankfully, appreciating art doesn't require quite the same skills, and any fashionista (artist or no) will love these posters of blogger-illustrator Garance Dore's best works.
2. Femme du Coupe "Le Sirop" Cocktail Syrups, $14.95:
It's not my proudest gifting moment—but I've actually been known, on more than one ocassion, to tie a ribbon on a handle of Smirnoff and call it Christmas. (In my defense: It was college, okay.) Throw these fashion-inspired cocktail syrups into the mix, though, and instantly a bottle of champagne feels all the more couture. Make it extra sweet by rounding up all the ingredients to these yummy drink recipes that come with each syrup!
3. Catbird Rose Gold Heart Ring, $96:
Confession: My best friend and I went through this phase at one point where she'd only wear things with stars on them, and I only hearts. Seriously, I owned everything from heart-print blouses and bed sheets to heart-shaped picture frames and post-it notes. (Embarrassing, I know.) This dainty rose gold ring still lets me, uh, heart the shape without looking like a 12-year-old styled my outfit.
4. Sugarfina Artisan "Mama & Baby Bear" Gummy Bear Mix, from $5:
It's no secret around StyleBistro HQ that I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with gummy bears. They're delicious, and colorful, and they're itty-bitty animals—helloooo, what's not to love? But these artisan treats from Sugarfina break the bounds of adorable by packaging momma- and baby-sized gummies in pretty Tiffany's blue boxes. Sold.
5. Urban Outfitters Love Bird Trinket Dish, $6:
At just $6, this tiny tray is small enough to slip in a stocking but just big enough to hold all a jewelry addict's favorite trinkets. I bought a similar style awhile back from Urban and it's a life-saver for stashing my everyday rings and watches—hey, after testing tons of beauty products each week my vanity gets kind of messy from time to time. (Read: Always.)
5. Aerin Lauder Gold Comb, $40:
Speaking of polishing up vanities, this gold-tone comb will give yours the Midas touch.
6. Estee Lauder Zodiac Powder Compacts, $70:
Another win from the Lauder family are these gilded limited-edition zodiac-sign compacts. Compulsive horoscope-checkers and makeup enthusiasts alike will die for these ultra-glam and super-personal gifts! (Just make sure you know their birthday...)
7. Beer Holder Sweatshirt, $29.99:
So... Let's circle back to booze, shall we? In what might just be a complete-180 from the aforementioned ultra-luxe golden beauty products, we have this—a plain ol' cotton hoodie with, yes, an insulated pouch for your bottle of beer. (Bud Light, obv.) Back in my small suburban hometown, bonfires and beer-b-ques are a staple around this time of year. One problem, your hands get mighty cold from that frosty bev, and gloves warm your ice-cold drink right up. Here's the solution—gift it and your guy friends will love you for it. Promise.
8. Diptyque Paris Feuille de Lavande Scented Oval, $45:
My former roommate used to stash these scented solid ovals everywhere around our musty 100-year-old apartment—in the coat closet, the bathroom, from a nook in her window—and ohmygod did our place smell amazing. The attached ribbon lets you hang the fragrance anywhere, but the best part? Unlike Diptyque's cult-fave candles, you never have to worry about blowing these out before leaving the house.
9. Michael Kors "Layton" Chronograph Glitz Watch, $250:
Chances are you're probably joining me in this wish—Michael Kors is the most searched designer on the web, with his favorite menswear-inspired watches clocking in at the second-most Googled MK-related thing. (Outlet stores are first.) I actually already own a chronograph watch in rose gold—as does half our team here at StyleBistro HQ—but I love it so much, I'm counting (no pun intended) down the days until I can get another in silver.
10. Kate Spade New York Le Pavilion iPhone 4 Case, $40:
Fact: If you're ever in a gift-giving rut and can't think of an idea to save the life of you, anything polka-dotted from Kate Spade wins every time. Hands down. Really, can you think of anyone on your list who isn't obsessed with the quirky-cute brand? Didn't think so.
Do any of these items top your shopping list—for giving or getting? What about these other items from our Holiday Gift Guide? I'm dying to know! Share your wish list with me in the comments, below.