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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 2015

It’s time, it’s time for my holiday gift guide! Last year was the inaugural version of this post and it was very well received. Many of you requested a second edition this year and I am happy to oblige. Don’t overlook last year’s post though – there are still plenty of great ideas there. Let me also encourage you to give with intention. Don’t just buy for the sake of buying something! Find local retailers and support small business and fair trade whenever possible. You’ll be glad you did!

Starting out with food-related gifts since, after all, this is a food blog.

  1. I really can’t help myself, I think Jeni’s ice cream is the best gift ever, period. Unless someone has a food allergy or doesn’t like ice cream like Ross, I consider this the best possible gifting option. Now that Jeni’s has reopened their online shop, I have been feeding my addiction on a very regular basis. You truly can’t go wrong with any of their pint collections, but in my last order I tried one of the ice cream sandwich sets and it was out of this world. UPDATE: The phenomenal folks at Jeni’s have offered a coupon code for my readers. Use code AnniesEats for 10% off your order now through December 31, 2015. Hooray! 

2. For anyone looking to get into baking or maybe someone in need of an equipment upgrade, any bakeware from the Williams Sonoma GoldTouch line is ideal. This is hands down my favorite bakeware and I use it nearly exclusively. The various sets they offer are a pretty good value so I recommend those as opposed to single pans.

3. For the baker in your life, a package or three of high quality vanilla beans is a perfect option. Though I used to buy in greater quantities for cheaper prices, I have switched over to this brand because they are fair trade certified. The quality has been really amazing – I love these!

4. This immersion blender with the whisk attachment gets very frequent use in my kitchen. I never use the chopping attachment (in fact I think I got rid of it) but the blender itself and the whisk have been incredibly useful.

5. Anyone who loves to bake needs serveware worthy of presenting their finished creations. Any nice cake platter is a welcome addition and in my opinion, you really can’t have too many. Milk glass cake stands are my absolute favorite – they are so lovely!

6. When I first purchased my tortilla press I honestly thought it might become a rarely used unitasker but to my surprise, we use it at least once every two weeks. It just makes homemade corn tortillas sooo much easier, and since the taste and texture are far superior to store bought, it’s hard not to go homemade once you have tried them. We love our tortilla press!

7. No, that’s not a ghost square – it’s a pastry mat! A good quality pastry mat is a really nice thing for any baker to have. I have had this one for many years now and it is still in excellent condition.

8. Yes, this juicer would be a reeeaally nice gift. This might be ideal for someone you live with so you can both enjoy it! I invested in this juicer a month or so ago and though I didn’t expect it, I use it nearly every day. It is awesome!

9. I know I recommended this last year but I love it too much not to mention it again. This pizza stone is a boss. I have used the heck out of mine and it is still going strong. A pizza stone really is essential for the best homemade pizza, and who doesn’t want the best homemade pizza? No one, that’s who.

The (mostly new) cookbooks I have loved best this year (plus one old favorite!)

  1. Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi – I realize the Milk Bar cookbook isn’t exactly new, but this year I have really fallen head over heels for it. This book is not for the faint of heart but most definitely is for those with an insane sweet tooth who appreciate that sometimes a perfect dessert is completely worth a bajillion steps and possibly specialty ingredients. I’m totally on board – everything I have made from this book has been superb and I basically just go around looking for occasions to bake more often from it.

2. Mix Shake Stir by Danny Meyer – I grabbed this book at the library back because, duh, cocktails. Only once I was home and examining it more closely that this was a book of cocktails from none other than the geniuses behind famed NYC restaurants such as Eleven Madison Park and Gramercy Tavern. I bought it immediately upon returning my copy to the library, and have we have really enjoyed all of the drinks we have made from it. Despite such esteemed origins, the recipes are mostly quite simple and fairly low maintenance.

3. The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen – There are not many cookbook releases I have awaited with such anticipation as I did this vegetarian cookbook from ATK. Thankfully it completely lived up to my expectations and I am still cooking from it on a weekly basis. This is a perfect option for anyone looking to incorporate more meatless meals into their life. We can’t get enough of this book!

4. The Best Mexican Recipes from America’s Test Kitchen – Nearly as glee-inducing as the ATK vegetarian cookbook was the ATK Mexican cookbook. Given that we make Mexican food at least 1-2 times per week, this has become another go-to for me in my menu planning.

5. The Bouchon Bakery Cookbook by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel – I know, I know, this is a repeat from last year but I really can’t stress enough just how much I adore this cookbook. It is truly a work of art! The recipes are spot on in the way only Thomas Keller et al recipes can be, the images are breathtakingly beautiful and the tone is fun and just makes me want to run to the kitchen and start baking right away.

6. The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas – Another book I am so very glad I checked out of the library on a whim. Doesn’t it seem like every bakery has their own cookbook these days? With so many of them on the market, they tend to blur together for me but the Dahlia Bakery book stands out from the crowd. It has a perfect variety of both classic and less traditional baked goods as well as a few savory items. All the recipes I have tried so far have been fantastic. This is a great addition to the bookshelf of anyone who loves to bake!

7. More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless – When my man Rick Bayless comes out with a new cookbook, I don’t even have to question it. I’ll be pre-ordering. The recipes are completely approachable while still being authentic with fantastic results. And obviously, more great Mexican food is always a good thing. Always.

8. Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold – Another book from the Momofuku restaurant group and another that is most definitely not for the faint of heart but most definitely is worth your time. Liquid Intelligence is a somewhat mind boggling beverage book. Dave Arnold has put so much effort into crafting the perfect versions of cocktails with lots of help from science. The book is very science heavy, but in the best way. If there is a cocktail lover in your life with an interest in science, buy this book for them. Trust me!

9. The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt – Okay, this is one book I don’t actually have yet, but this is on my personal wishlist (ahem, family.) From the author of Serious Eats, one of the absolutely most reliable and epic food blogs, I have no doubt this book will be amazing. The tagline after all is “Better Home Cooking Through Science.” Right up my alley!

 

  1. After eyeing the Mamuye tote from Live Fashionable for quite some time, I finally invested in it for myself this year. I absolutely adore this bag. It is beautiful and understated, extremely well constructed, and ethically made. In other words, it is perfect. This would be a lovely generous gift for someone special in your life. Also, keep your eyes peeled – I’ll soon be sharing an additional review and giveaway for other awesome items from Live Fashionable. I know you’re going to love it!

2. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned these little Bite lip duos, but I really can’t say enough good things about them. I now have five or six of them rattling around my makeup bag and I always make sure to have one or two with me wherever I go. My absolute favorite combo is the lingonberry/tangerine but I have been loving the pomegranate/palomino and fig/date lately as well.

3. On a weekly basis (no exaggeration), I visit the Tiny Galaxies Etsy shop and drool over piece after piece of Sara’s lovely jewelry. The pieces of hers that I already own are some of my very favorites. Lately I’ve had my eye on these show stopping black geometric earrings with gold glitter. These are so perfect for the holiday season and winter in general. (Hint hint to anyone looking for gift ideas for me – these are on my list!)

4. Hey, did you guys know I adore Erin McDermott? I know I mention her nearly every month but for good reason. I love her amazing jewelry and it is so perfectly my style! I received this Courtney necklace as a recent item in my monthly luxe box and I instantly fell in love. I now wear it several times a week. It is so lovely! I let Erin know I would be featuring this item and she offered a 30% off coupon code for my readers. So sweet of her! Just enter “annieseats” at checkout for 30% off the Courtney necklace. (Read on below for an additional deal from Erin!)

5. I love finding sources for unique, small scale fashion and Shop Apricity is a new favorite of mine this year. I have a couple of dresses from this shop and they are fantastic. This River dress in ruby is particularly eye catching and would be so perfect this time of year. If you’re unsure about committing to a dress as a gift for someone else, they also offer gift cards.

6. I use this MAC paint pot  in shade “chilled on ice” as the base for every single eye makeup look, every single day. It is a creamy blendable base that acts as the perfect primer while also adding a subtle neutral shimmer. One pot lasted me for a solid two years, even with daily use!

7. This has been the year that I have finally figured out what the heck I’m doing with my eyeliner, in large part due to the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof liner (and also thanks in part to Nicki Minaj, my eyeliner idol.) This is another item that I have with me almost everywhere I go and I always buy in duplicate. It also lasts a really long time, even with daily use. Can’t recommend it highly enough!

8. I can’t even tell you how many warm fuzzies it gives me to find local artisans with amazing creations. I was over the moon to discover the talents of Rana Salame, a local jewelry artist. I have a few pieces of hers and get compliments on them all the time. She has so many unique and lovely items in her Etsy shop. Right now I’m especially loving these hot pink gems, as well as these and these.

9. This dress caught my eye months ago and I waited impatiently for an Anthro sale, which are too few and far between for my taste. Finally I scored a deal with this and I absolutely love it! It is unbelievably comfortable while also being pretty smokin’ hot – how often do those two things come together in one dress?

As I mentioned above, I have an additional perk courtesy of Erin. I have written many times before about how much I love her year long, monthly Luxe Box subscription as a gifting option. It is a very generous gift for a special someone – spouse, mother, sister, best friend, etc. It is a year-long monthly jewelry subscription and I adore it. I have had my own subscription for a couple of years, and have purchased several subscriptions as gifts. It is such fun to have a surprise package of jewelry each month. I love it and I know the recipients I have gifted with this have loved it as well. Erin has offered my readers an extra month free if you purchase a luxe box subscription. Just leave her a note in the “special instructions” part of the order form and let her know you are an Annie’s Eats reader. She’ll take it from there!

 

Home decor and accessories – there is something for everyone!

  1. The prints from Draw Me a Song are unlike anything I have ever seen. Quite frankly, I’m obsessed with them. The vibrant illustrations perfectly paired with hand drawn typography just right for the chosen song – I love every single thing about this shop. I only wish there were infinitely more prints because I think they are so fabulous! Because these ship from France, they may not be available for holiday delivery here in the US. However, I would certainly be willing to have a gift delayed a few days if this is what I were getting! I especially love the Beyonce related prints and am pretty sure many of them will be finding their way into my home.
  2. Many of you have been anxiously awaiting the post about my craft area and I promise, it’s coming soon! If only I didn’t have to have everything just so… Anyway, one item I bought for the craft area was this fun wooden block pen/pencil holder from seller Hurd & Honey. It currently houses my rainbow array of Sharpies and I love it! This would be a fun gift for any neat freak, especially if they love to arrange things by color :)
  3. When I find a really good product, I get excited. When that product is really awesome and made locally, I am positively thrilled! Teehaus soaps are simply fantastic and I buy them at every opportunity. I use them myself, I put them in our guest bathroom and I always include them in gift packages of Indiana-made good stuff for visitors. The lavender milk and honey one is my absolute favorite but there are so, so many great scents. The rosemary lemon and peppermint tea are runners up for sure.
  4. Urban Wood Goods is an Etsy shop I have been frequenting as I have been decorating our house over the past year. We have a few things from them and I adore their work! Great quality, love the look of it all – just awesome stuff. This little console table is one I put in our foyer and I love it. Mine is the basic version but I love that these can be customized with baskets, etc.
  5. I have posted often about the fair trade movement and I am really excited to see that at least some larger retailers are starting to make a change to offer more fair trade certified products. West Elm is hands down my favorite large home decor retailer, and they have really expanded their fair trade offerings this year. They have lots of great rugs but the thing that caught my eye most are these awesome floor poufs. A few of these will definitely be making their way to my living room soon. Who wouldn’t love one of these?
  6. How great is this set of hand drawn playing cards from Etsy seller 1canoe2? I love these! Such a simple and unique gifting option. I may need to invest in these since we just taught Andrew how to play war and now that is how we spend 75% of our free time. (Also check out the rest of her Etsy shop – tons of gorgeous paper products, prints and more!)
  7. Another locally made product that I positively love! The candles from The Onyx Exchange come in a range of wonderful scents (Americano is my fave, big time.) Even better, they are made in upcycled wine bottles and are made by job training participants who need help with getting a second start in life; such as offenders, refugees, homeless, etc. How great is that?! I routinely buy out the stock of Americano candles when I find them in local shops but luckily you can buy online so you don’t have to worry about following in my wake :)
  8. Rifle Paper Co. makes pencils?! How could I possibly resist? I couldn’t, of course. For home or the office, little details like beautiful pencils make a difference!
  9. For someone in your life who loves home decor and also has a craft side, this Knitting Without Needles book would be great! I might have purchase this as an early gift to myself and am so excited to make some of the projects included.

Forgive me friends, but I am reposting the entire eco-friendly gift section from last year. I use all of these items on a regular basis and though I don’t have many suggestions of new eco-friendly gift options, I still wholeheartedly recommend these. If you have a friend or loved one who could use or might appreciate a nudge in the direction of greener living, these ideas never go out of style!

1. Rume grocery bags are my number one item for encouraging eco-friendly living. These bags are the greatest and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

2. I shudder to think of the number of cups and bottles that get wasted each day when we could all just use reusable bottles instead. I have my Life Factory glass bottle with me every day and love it.

3. For those who bake a lot, a silpat is a great alternative to using parchment paper every time you bake. I’ve had mine for ages and they are still in great shape.

4. Skoy cloths are a biodegradable wipe that can be used instead of paper towels, sponges, etc. We love these and they last quite a long time before they need replacing.

5. Remember that grocery bags aren’t the only source of waste at the grocery store. Plastic produce bags are just as bad if not worse! These mesh bags from Flip and Tumble are a perfect replacement.

6. You may remember this awesome all-in-one lunchbox from my lunch post and Instagram series. This is sort of a gift to you as a parent as well as to the child, and it definitely helps streamline the lunch packing process.

7. Wool dryer balls are a great alternative to classic dryer sheets. Every little bit helps!

8. Rume snack bags are another item we use a lot, mostly in my own lunch for crackers, sandwiches, etc. Love them!

9. Another option to help break that paper towel habit are these unpaper towels from Etsy seller Natural Linens. We use these daily and love them.

Books are my favorite gift for any kid, any occasion. Needless to say, our kids get a lot of books for the holidays. Here are our favorites from this past year!

  1. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty – Oh, how I adore this book. For so, so many reasons! The fact that it features a female protagonist who is not a princess but instead, a girl who wants to become and engineer, is fantastic. Let’s have lots more books like this! It also touches on bravery, self confidence, and learning from your mistakes. I just think this book is incredibly wonderful.
  2. Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty – Another excellent book by the same author. I really hope she writes 20 more in this series because we think they are fantastic!
  3. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires – This shares some similarities to Rosie Revere but mostly drives home the old adage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” My mom used to repeat this to me constantly so I am especially fond of things with that message.
  4. Basically anything by Shel Silverstein. I know everyone is familiar with Shel and his greatness. This is mainly just a reminder to anyone who might have forgotten to introduce their kids to this genius. We adore our Shel Silverstein books and have such fun reading these poems aloud! (My personal favorite – “If the World Was Crazy”.)
  5. Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal – A fun and funny book on the themes of self acceptance, non-conformity and celebrating our differences. All centered around a bunch of punctuation marks!
  6. My Blue Bunny Bubbit by Maggie Smith – This book was recommended to me by a reader last year and I can’t thank you enough for the recommendation! This book is so perfect for us with the beloved toy bunny and themes of knitting and sewing. I also love the whimsical illustrations.
  7. The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts – It is entirely possible that this is my all time favorite kids book. I can’t begin to convey how adorable it is or how much I love the overall message. I can tell you that I cry almost every single time I read it. This book’s message is so important for all kids of all ages.
  8. The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock – This book is a fun and fascinating portrayal of the life of the artist Vasily Kandinsky, a pioneer in the realm of abstract art. Andrew is especially interested in art and this book always leads to lots of great discussion about art and its value, and what exactly abstract art is. Always an enjoyable read!
  9. Just when I believed I couldn’t love Rifle Paper Co. more, they went and made a set of classic books in the Rifle Paper motif. Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Heidi, and The Little Princess. Guys! This is a dream come true. I was trying to wait until Caroline was a little older before gifting her these but I think it will have to be this year. I just can’t wait any longer!

I am hoping to update the post in the next few days to include some toy/non-book gift ideas for kids, but I want to give that a bit more thought rather than just recommend random things just so I can go to sleep :)

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.

  • Kristin

    I absolutely hate shopping, but now I want to start immediately. What a great assortment of beautiful gift ideas. Thanks so much!

  • Amy Burden

    I have decided that we must be friends, I literally clicked on every link and love them all! Wonderful list!!

  • annieseats

    Aw, yay! That makes me so happy!!

  • Sarah

    I actually use the chopping attachment for my immersion blender! I find that it makes the perfect fine mince of a large quantity of peppers or garlic when I am making salsa (or a big bowl of pico). It’s basically the only thing I use it for, but I love it for this.

  • Angela

    I love this post. It is quite thorough and I appreciate how much thought and awesomeness you put into these. I check all of it out. Thank you. :)

    I bought the Mamuye tote awhile ago and love it so much. It holds up so well and is just lovely. I am saving of the tirhas saddlebag. I also have those tiny galaxy earrings and they are my favorites.

  • Jessica

    Loved the gift guide. Where can I find a pattern for the advent calendar you made– so cute!

  • Page Kremer

    Where is that advent calendar from?? So pretty!

  • Lauren Ochoa

    I love this…if nothing else it’s eye candy

  • annieseats

    I made it using this kit from Purl Soho: http://www.purlsoho.com/kits/sewing/advent-calendar-kit.html

    It was such fun to make!

  • annieseats

    I made it using a kit from Purl Soho: http://www.purlsoho.com/kits/sewing/advent-calendar-kit.html

    It is such a fun project!

  • Erika

    I’m glad you shared a new vanilla bean source! Every time I ordered from the old source, my vanilla beans would MOLD, no matter how carefully I sealed the bag. Nothing hurts more than throwing away so many vanilla beans!!

  • Jennifer Jennings

    You have such a remarkable knack for finding great stores on Etsy! Every time I visit that website to look for something I find it too overwhelming. Thank you for posting this. These are all excellent ideas!

  • Molly Snyder

    I don’t remember this from last year, but I LOVE it!

  • Cate Hartnett

    I recently read the Rosie Engineer book and she loves it. It’s one of her favorites!

  • Ruthie

    Thank you so much for this wonderful list, Annie! Not on this list, but I’ve become a devoted Boden shopper in 2015 because of your stellar recommendations. Thank you and happy holidays to you and your family! :)

  • Angela

    Love your gift guide. Not sure if you know about this but I also love Rosie Revere and the author lives in my neighborhood. She actually just posted this announcement tonight in my neighborhood mom’s group. Super cool news and thought you might be interested:

    Rosie Revere, Engineer

    It has been a long time coming, but I’m pleased to report that Rosie Revere, Engineer will be blasting off into space this Thursday, December 3rd!
    As previously reported, Rosie has been selected to be part of the Story Time from Space (STFS) program! STFS is a project that fosters literacy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning by having astronauts on the International Space Station record a reading of selected children’s books. A video of the astronaut reading the book from space will be available in 2016 (more to come on dates, etc.)

    Rosie is packed and ready to go on her space journey aboard the Orbital ATK Resupply Mission, scheduled to launch this Thursday at 5:55pm EST from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Author Andrea Beaty will be attending the launch. We will have photos and videos of Andrea’s launch visit to share.

    You can watch the launch live on the NASA website at: onlinehttp://www.nasa.gov/

  • annieseats

    I love to hear that! So glad that you enjoy my recommendations, and that you have become a fellow Boden lover. Happy holidays to you as well!

  • Meghan Jenson

    I love the friends’s jokes :-) Icecream hurts my teeth

  • annieseats

    Angela, I am completely floored by this! I cannot believe you live in her neighborhood. This completely makes my day! I think these books are so incredible. AH! So exciting!

  • Angela

    Yes, super exciting! I also told her you requested 20 more in the series and mentioned your blog post!! ;-)

  • Wow Annie! As ever, such a thoughtful, wonderful selection of great ideas – thank you so much for taking the time to put this together for us.

    I now have the eyeliner in my basket on a shopping site, and I’ve just tweeted Erin to ask if they ship the jewellery to the UK – fingers crossed!

  • John Smith

    pretty interesting stuff, thanks for sharing.

  • Amy

    Thanks for the thorough gift guide! I’ve been coveting the Erin McDermott line for a couple of years and you convinced me to splurge on the Luxe Box this year. I will be looking forward to the packages each month!

    I also have the ATK Complete Vegetarian Cookbook and the mesh produce bags, so can attest to both of these being super gift ideas. In fact, I’m giving some as gifts this Christmas!

  • Stacia

    Which color of mac paint pot- there are like 25 choices!

  • Miranda Johnson

    I love your gift guide–thank you for all of the wonderful suggestions! One option for your eco-friendly list you could consider is silicone lids that you use instead of plastic wrap. I’ve used them with your ice cream recipes (instead of covering the bowl with plastic wrap I pop on one of these reusable lids). :) If you/readers haven’t tried them here’s a link to show you what I mean. Hope that it’s helpful! http://www.amazon.com/Charles-Viancin-2903-8-Inch-Medium/dp/B00JZPGV7W/ref=sr_1_4?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1449347256&sr=1-4&keywords=silicone+lid+flower

  • Cs

    I use the stila eyeliner also along with the better than sex mascara by too faced. Best combo ever. Love the gift guide!

  • annieseats

    The one I mentioned in the post – chilled on ice. It’s the best!

  • Stacy

    Love this post! I ordered quite a few kids books from this post and last years as well. So excited for my kids to get them. I love the Goldtouch line from WS. I had no idea they had sets. Those have been added to my wish list for my husband. Always excited when you do a new post – these kind or food!! Happy holidays to you and your family!

  • Stacia

    Thanks I look forward to trying it. However, I still do not see that mentioned in the post. Where is it mentioned??

  • annieseats

    Ack, you are right! I had included it initially but revised it while sleep deprived and must have forgot to reinclude that info. Thanks for catching it!

  • Aimee

    I know you like sustainable packaging and I thought I would pass along something I came across recently. I make a lot of cookies and cakes for different occasions and wanted something that was cute enough to also double as a display for the baked goods but was convenient to use for transport. I found these cute boxes on this website https://piebox.myshopify.com/collections/cookiebox. I know I’m going to gift some of these to my baker friends this year.

  • annieseats

    Yes, thanks! I have a pie box myself and love it. That’s a great idea. I’ll try to remember to include in next year’s gift guide as well!

  • Lauren D

    I need a new tote and this one looks amazing. Are there any interior pockets? Would this hold up well under daily use?

  • annieseats

    No interior pockets other than the one little attached pouch, but I have found that to be all I really need. I keep essentials in there (nail file, eyeliner, ear buds, etc.) I use my tote daily as my main bag and I has held up beautifully.