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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

Things I’m Loving: Holiday Gift Guide 2016

It is December 1st, and as Caroline says, the MOST exciting day because it is almost the holidays! Ha! As in past years, I have been hard at work putting together a gift guide for you. This year I have broken it down into food and kitchen items, cookbooks, fashion and beauty, decor and crafts, kid books, and kid toys. (You might want to check out gift guides from 2015 and 2014 as well – they still have lots of great ideas!)

I have also included a number of charities fighting discrimination, inequality, and more at the bottom. Please keep in mind that rather than buying an unnecessary gift simply out of a feeling of obligation, your money could be put to better use donating to a worthy cause. I personally would love nothing more than donations made in my honor to any of these great causes, so please consider this in your thoughtful gift giving. (And to give fair warning to any offended by my suggestions who feel moved to send a hateful comment or email, please know that I will make a donation to the organization you choose to criticize. Comment or not with this in mind.)

  1. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream – In my book, there is almost nothing better than the gift of ice cream, and the best ice cream is Jeni’s ice cream – simple as that. The friends who know me best know this. They text me when there are Jeni’s sales and they send me Jeni’s when I need a gastronomical pat on the back or a high five. I have yet to find someone who, upon receiving a shipment of Jeni’s didn’t absolutely love it. My favorite Jeni’s gifting option is the Pint Club. I gave a couple of these subscriptions last year and they were very well received. If that’s out of your price range, I think the ice cream sandwich pack might be the other greatest thing ever. Someone, please send me some and let me avoid sharing without having to hide in the laundry room. That’s the dream!
  2. Walnut Cake Stand from A Heirloom – My cake stand collection continues to grow and these beautiful and unique stands from A Heirloom are my new favorites. They are just so gorgeous and inspire me to bake every time I look at them!
  3. Suite One Studio ceramics – I have been a longtime Suite One Studio fan but finding her work via her site has become more and more difficult due to ever increasing demand. Thankfully, she recently launched a line with Anthropologie and it has made it much easier to score some of these lovely pieces.
  4. Glass mixing bowl set – I gifted myself a set of these gorgeous milk glass mixing bowls earlier this year and I adore them. These would be a wonderful gift for any baker in your life. It is unlikely that they would splurge on such a nice set of bowls for themselves when something more utilitarian would do, but there is no doubt of that the added charm such pretty equipment provides.
  5. Gilded rim glassware – Though I generally try to avoid doing just such things, I purchased a pair of these gilded rim coupe glasses for the sole purpose of drinking rose slushies. They are so lovely that I have since expanded my collection of this glassware. It is the perfect pale pink  and the gold rim as the perfect touch of elegance.
  6. Krups spice grinder – It was, of course, my desire for amazing spicy margarita salt (guajillo salt to be exact) and not my desire for freshly ground spices that led to this purchase. But that is irrelevant. What matters is that this thing is awesome! Though it is billed as a coffee grinder, it works great for spices as well and is sure to get plenty of use by any avid cook and/or mixologist. So much potential here!
  7. Cuisinart citrus juicer – I know I’ve posted about this thing before but I’m telling you, this citrus juicer is a game changer – particularly if you love margaritas as much as I do. I have had mine for a few years now and still marvel at how much I love it every single time I use it.
  8. Sphere ice trays – I don’t have these yet myself, but I’m definitely about to. I’m always looking for new ways to up my cocktail game and sphere ice balls are a great way to do it. One of my favorite cocktails at a local restaurant (Fire & Ice at Delicia) features this very sort of rock. I’m thinking with my  by sea salt and the ice spheres, my margaritas are going to be even more awesome because of them.
  9. Pyrex measuring cups – So simple and yet, I believe one can never have too many Pyrex measuring cups. I use them constantly and break them on occasion, so having a nice stock of them in various sizes is always a good idea.

 

  1. Food52 Genius Recipes – It is hard to choose a favorite new (to me) cookbook of the year but if I were forced to, it would be this one. This book is full of incredibly doable recipes, things that you want to make and can, right this instant! Most of the recipes are quite simple with short ingredient lists. I have made more than I can list from this book and I have loved nearly every recipe.
  2. Tacolicious – I know I already mentioned it this year, but I just can’t say enough good things about the Tacolicious cookbook. The name itself, the beautiful photos, the bountiful mouth-watering recipes for all kinds of amazing Mexican food, including killer cocktails – I love everything about it. Buy it for a friend that loves to cook and then cook from it together. Good times all around!
  3. Cravings – I can hardly tell you how much this book surprised me. I know darn well not to judge a book by its cover but I suppose that is exactly what I did with this one initially. Why is Chrissy Teigen trying to write a cookbook, I wondered. Well, because she’s a darn good cook with great recipes to share, that’s why! Once I got over my preconceived notions about what this book was and was not, I was able to appreciate that it is bursting with recipes I am dying to make, almost all of which will make my jeans tighter and each completely worth it. Every recipe I have made from this book has been superb!  As a bonus, Chrissy’s writing is very witty and fun.
  4. Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book – This beautiful book of pies has been on my radar for quite some time, as it is the origin of my forever favorite salty honey pie. I finally got myself a copy and it is a treasure, both in inspiring, unique recipes and lovely photos. Perfect for the baker in your life.
  5. Dorie’s Cookies – I have been a longtime Dorie fan, as have all who have been in this blogging biz for many years. When I first heard of Dorie’s cookie book, I’ll admit – I didn’t see the point. I have plenty of cookbooks with plenty of recipes. Why bother? However, enough of my friends raved about it that it piqued my curiosity. I am SO glad I bought this book! It is far more inventive and interesting than I could have imagined for a cookie book, and the most important part – there is an entire section of “cocktail cookies”, i.e. cookies meant to be enjoyed with cocktails. Sold! I’ve already made five of them and all have been fabulous. I must say the photography leaves a lot to be desired, but the recipes shine regardless of the images.
  6. Momofuku – I have sung the praises of the Milk Bar cookbook time and again, and this year I finally ventured into the savory side of the Momofuku enterprise. This book is full of completely drool-worthy recipes and those I have made so far have turned out perfectly.
  7. Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks – I may have recommended this book before, but I have rekindled my love for it in the past few months. If you love guacamole and margaritas, 1) you need this in your life, and 2) we would probably be great friends.
  8. Tartine Bread – Visiting Tartine was one of the highlights of my year for sure! Before I was even back home I had ordered the Tartine bread book and enjoyed experimenting with the basic bread recipe the last couple of months. Though I still have plenty more I want to make from this book, I can assure you it is full of gorgeous photos, reliable recipes, and invaluable baking expertise.
  9. The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook from ATK – I refer to this book almost every week while doing my menu planning. Many of our favorite, most frequently made recipes come from it and it is always a source of new inspiration as well. This is a great option for anyone in your life who may be interested in shifting to more meatless meals.

 

  1. Erin McDermott – It wouldn’t be a Things I’m Loving post without showing some love for the fantastically sweet and endlessly talented woman. Erin’s beautiful handmade jewelry has been featured in a strong majority of my past posts, and for good reason! It is lovely, fashionable, and versatile. I couldn’t even begin to list all of the favorite pieces of jewelry I have from Erin, but one of my most recent favorite additions has been this art gala necklace. Mine is yellow, but the turquoise is also beautiful! I receive so many compliments every time I wear this. Also, great news! I let Erin know that I would be featuring her and she graciously offered a coupon code for my readers! Use code annieseats for 25% off your purchase. Hooray!
  2. Krochet Kids basic white tee – It may sound…well, basic, but the basic white tee from Krochet Kids that I added to my wardrobe this summer is hands down one of my favorite clothing items of the year. It fits beautifully, the fabric is perfect, and it is clearly of quality construction. I have talked about this wonderful company before. They sell quality products but more importantly, they are doing amazing things. Though I am an avid (obsessive) knitter and thus have no personal use for them, their many crochet and knit hats would make excellent gifts as well.
  3. M.Gemi gift card – Ever since becoming interested in ethical fashion, I have been dying to find a source for ethically made, truly beautiful shoes of the sort that I adore (read: identical to J.Crew.) I do not buy shoes in quantity, though I have acquired a decent collection over a long period of time, but I do look for quality. M.Gemi has been my answer and actually, since discovering them months ago, I haven’t bought any other brand since. Yes, they are costly, but you get what you pay for. “Buy better, not more” is a mantra of the ethical fashion movement and this brand is a good example of that. Now, if you are made of money or you are an unbelievably generous gift giver, you might consider gifting an actual pair of these gorgeous shoes. However, I think a gift card would be an excellent option as well. It would at least help offset the cost of a pair, and allow the recipient to select their favorite.
  4. Bite lipstick in cayenne – I marvel at just how different shades of red lipstick can be. 50 shades of red, am I right? I have several reds but the only one that I love, and the one that garners endless compliments is cayenne from Bite Beauty.
  5. Half Moon Druzy Necklace from Salame Jewelry Designs – There isn’t much better than finding a local artist who is incredibly talented and makes things exactly your style, which is why I was so thrilled to discover Rana’s work. She has so many beautiful items but her druzy pieces are my favorites. I bought some earlier this week for gifting and now am trying to decide whether to keep one for myself. Decisions, decisions!
  6. Bitchstix – With that name, you just know it’s going to be good, right?! Bitchstix is an awesome local company that makes spectacular lip balms, sunscreen, cocoa butter and muscle rub. What makes these a million times better? All net proceeds go to domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs.
  7. Nasty Woman shirt from Wicked Custom Apparel – I have a few shirts from this super fun Etsy shop and I love them all, but this is clearly my favorite. (Even more than the Bey ones! Gasp!) I used the custom muscle tank option to create this shirt and it is truly fabulous, just like the nasty women in your life who also need one!
  8. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Set – I have long and often sung the praises of these Fresh Sugar lip treatments. I consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of them and at any given time, you can find at least 1-2 in each of my jackets, bags, and desk drawers. My favorite shade of all is tulip (a sheer hot pink) but I love having an assortment to choose from based on my makeup and outfit each day. I prefer the mini to full size version any day so you better believe I bought this set as soon as I saw it.
  9. Tiny Galaxies Jewelry – I know I recommend Sara’s work a lot, but for good reason! Her delicate, sparkly and unique designs are so beautiful and always make perfect gifts. I love all her creations but an particularly enamored with her new gemstone collection. Dying to get my hands on a pair of the opal studs!

 

  1. Beyoncé wrapping paper – Guys, I can’t even tell you how thrilled I am that this is something that exists in the world. Wrapping paper with Queen Bey and lemons. Yes, of course, I already bought some. Yes, of course, you should wrap any gifts you choose to give me in this. This is just a mic drop on wrapping paper as far as I’m concerned.
  2. Rifle Paper Bon Voyage calendar – This is my gift to myself every single year. I love Rifle Paper Co.’s impeccable aesthetic in all that they do, and this calendar provides a lovely pop of color to my boring office walls while simultaneously feeding my incurable case of wanderlust. Their other calendars are lovely too but this one will always be my favorite.
  3. Celestial Coaster Set – Not that I often remember to use a coaster but when I do, I appreciate a pretty one. These celestial coasters are so beautiful and eye-catching. It is hard to choose a favorite color – I want them all!
  4. DIY ever-changing wall art – Consider making your own version of my ever-changing wall art project. It is such a fun way to display favorite photos! The kids love helping me switch the photos out periodically, and almost every new visitor to our house compliments this playful display.
  5. Purl Soho embroidery kits – Purl Soho is my dream craft site. They have a simple, modern, and eye-catching aesthetic. Their projects are easy and fun and I have yet to have one turn out less than perfect. Their embroidery kits have caught my eye of late and I have some plans to make one in the near future. This is a fun gift option for someone who enjoys both decor and crafting. The four seasons kit is especially cute!
  6. Wax & Wool hand poured soy candles – Since becoming virtual friends with Kjerste, the talent behind Wax & Wool, etc. I have become an avid fan and daily user of her candles. They are so lovely and the scents are just perfect. I am extremely picky about fragrances but hers have been on point with each seasonal collection I have tried. The shop’s flat rate shipping is definitely something to keep in mind. Maximize your gift giving with less spent on shipping!
  7. Artifact Uprising wood calendar – I am positive I have recommended this before, but I truly love this personalized calendar. I buy one for us every year and it hangs on our refrigerator. We look at it every day and every month, we look forward to flipping the page and seeing what the next picture will be (I NEVER look ahead!)
  8. Surfboard print from Draw Me a Song – I’ve been outlining this post for months but in hindsight, I’m thinking I should have made a specific Beyonce category. I know it would have been hugely popular with me, that’s for sure! I have had this print for quite a while now and it makes me laugh every time I look at it. Who wouldn’t love that?!
  9. DIY Ombre Pillows – If you are into sewing at all, or want to be, these pillows are a super simple and fun project. There is so much possibility here with different sizes and shapes, different color combos. Just looking at this photo makes me want to sew up a bunch more!

 

  1. I Dissent by Debbie Levy – I don’t really have words to adequately convey all that I love about this book, but hopefully it speaks for itself. It is about an incredible woman who has done and is doing amazing things AND it helps reinforce the understanding that dissent itself can be patriotic. This book is a little text heavy and I worried it was a bit old for Caroline, but she asks to read it with me all the time and sometimes I find her reading it to herself.
  2. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt – I’m no good with reading aloud, for the most part. I do it, but Ben has the fun voices and accents on lockdown. My general monotone doesn’t lend itself to entertaining reading. However, this book is perfect when read with my mild snarky undertones. And, it is hilarious. Every page makes me giggle and it’s impossible to choose which crayon’s plight is my favorite. (But I mostly favor beige. What about you?)
  3. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty – Another wonderful read from the brilliant author of my other favorites Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect! Though Rosie is still my favorite, this one especially tugged at my heartstrings given my undergraduate background in science.
  4. The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak – Most of you are likely familiar with this book but if you aren’t, you need to be. I bought this last year for Caroline for Christmas when I found a signed copy at our local bookstore. I hadn’t seen it before but fell in love instantly. She was apparently already familiar with it from school and it was, hands down, her favorite gift of all. She stopped opening gifts entirely just because she wanted to read this over and over. Such a simple brilliant fun book.
  5. I am Jazz – In a time when it has become clear that an alarming number of people lack acceptance, empathy and understanding for people of different backgrounds than them, I feel that instilling a deep understanding of equality in our children is the true solution. I will be keeping this in mind when selecting books for my family and am adding this one to our collection for the holidays. This specifically helps children understand transgender individuals and struggles with gender identity. (A Mighty Girl is an excellent resource for all sorts of books in this vein. Please check this page out!)
  6. Who’s in My Family?: All About Our Families by Robie Harris – Along the lines of the book above, this title introduces the idea of all sorts of family models beyond the stereotypical family unit. This is another great way to help create caring and supportive allies amongst our children at a time when acceptance is greatly needed!
  7. Ted by Tony DiTerlizzi- This book CRACKS ME UP. It was never on my radar, I’m still not totally sure who gave it to us, but I love it so very much. Every time we read it, it has us rolling with laughter.
  8. Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems – This book never gets old for me. Mo Willems, you wonderful dude – I love so many of your books and this one is no exception. The question, should I share my ice cream, is indeed a serious one that must be examined from every angle and carefully reasoned through. The elephant’s facial expressions in this book are entirely perfect.
  9. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (illustrated by Anna Rifle Bond) – I already mentioned my obsession with Rifle Paper Co. above, so it is obvious then that the Rifle Paper versions of several classic stories is, in my mind, one of the greatest things since margaritas. I will be buying all of them eventually but for now, we have Alice in Wonderland and we have been LOVING reading it. (Side note – they are releasing a line of Alice fabric from Rifle Paper soon and I may die of excitement when it comes out. I CANNOT WAIT.)

 

  1. String Along Bead Kit – I bought this set of beads for Caroline this year for her birthday, and we have had such fun making bracelets, necklaces, and even bunting for over the fireplace. Such fun!
  2. Paris, New York, London coloring books – I bought Caroline this NYC coloring book and she adores it. SO DO I! These pictures are so fun and charming and different than typical coloring books, and we love to color in it together. She has been begging me for a trip to NYC since. (Hopefully next year!) She received the Paris one for her birthday and since then, has begged for a trip to Paris as well. She is getting the London one this year. Looks like we’ve got a lot of traveling to do!
  3. Melting Snowman Putty – This is a totally random stocking stuffer item and it is SO MUCH FUN. Endless entertainment for both kids (and also me.)
  4. Doorway puppet theatre – If you sew, you could easily make one of these yourself. A puppet theatre is always such fun for kids to play and be creative. We had one as a kid but it was made of wood and therefore, took up quite a bit of space. A cloth version is awesome because it can be easily put up and stored away. Lots of sites sell cute puppets but my kids often just use their many stuffed animals, no puppets required.
  5. Tegu blocks – These magnetic blocks are such fun! We were just recently introduced to them and they are awesome!
  6. Prime Climb – We are getting this game this year. It helps practice multiplication and division and I’m hoping it will be a more fun, less rigid way to strengthen Andrew’s math knowledge. Can’t wait to play with him!
  7. National Geographic Gemstone Dig – This was a huge hit last year! Caroline received the gemstone set and Andrew received the fossil version. They had such a blast digging for the stones and matching them up with the included booklet. And of course, now they both have “treasure” to carry around. Ha! I highly recommend it.
  8. Kazoo Magazine – I was so thrilled to come across Kazoo, a magazine for girls that “inspires them to be strong, smart, fierce, and above all, true to themselves.” I immediately purchased a subscription for Caroline and she LOVES it. Although she is just at the early side of the age range for this, we read through it together and she truly enjoyed every story, game and activity. It is quarterly which I think is good, because each issue is more appreciated and they are less likely to accumulate without being read.
  9. Sun Art Paper – Oh my goodness, do you remember sun art?!!! I LOVED this stuff when I was a kid. I had totally forgot about it but came across it while browsing and I know our kids will love to experiment with it too. This will be a great stocking stuffer.

 

This is just a short list of organizations that are working to do good in a time when our world needs it most. Since each of these amazing organizations can express their mission and work far better than I can articulate, I will simply list them here and encourage you research them, and to donate. Remember that monthly donations make a lasting impact so if that is an option, please consider it!

  1. Planned Parenthood
  2. American Civil Liberties Union
  3. Southern Poverty Law Center
  4. Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network
  5. National Resources Defense Council
  6. International Rescue Committee

Please remember, if you choose to send a negative comment or email regarding these organizations, I will make a donation to the organization you criticize. 

Disclaimer:  These posts are a way for me to share the things I love with you, simply because I love them!  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small commission. This helps to offset the costs of running this site and allows me to continue providing you the content you enjoy.

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