Let me start by saying the holidays should not merely be a time to drain your bank accounts in the name of generosity. It should be a time for gratitude, for taking care of ourselves by relaxing and indulging, and for spending time with the people we love. But this is ‘Merica, and here, we like to buy things.
Well Hanukkah is already well underway, and Christmas is coming up fast and loose. But if you have yet to snag all of your gifts, don’t sweat it! Below are some of my favorite things—and I do love things—that you can buy for your friends/family/that person you’re doing it with. And if you’re feeling self-indulgent, then just buy them for yourself! No judgements!
Full disclosure: Nearly all of the items I list below—unless otherwise noted—I purchased myself. No one has paid me to endorse any of the below products, and if I did receive one for review, I am endorsing it only because I think it’s amazing. No one paid me for any of this, and I don’t receive buckets of free swag, unfortunately. If you want to send me your swag to review, feel free! But I will only rave about it if it’s truly swoonable.
For the kitchen toy collector (novice chef, seasoned chef, hoarder, whatever)
The Vitamix – This is a high-end present (read: expensive) but from my super dutiful research—I have broken a ton of blenders—it’s the best. I use it for everything from smoothies to soups to hummus and even to make my almond-crusted tofu. But if you want to get your kitchen connoisseur a new toy and don’t have the benjamins to lay down on the Vitamix, I suggest…
Cuisinart SmartStik Hand Blender- This immersion blender is super fun and a great way to make mashed potatoes, creamy soups and more right in the pot. I love finding excuses to use an immersion blender because it’s really fun to stick it into a pot of boiled potatoes and come away with creamy, smooth mashers. Although I couldn’t find them online, this version DOES come in festive colors, so check local stores if you think your friend would prefer a purple hand blender.
For the vegan newbie
Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook - Those new to veganism can usually use a helpful hand guiding them to superior cookbooks, because the market is slammed with vegan books right now. My favorite cookbook still to this day is Veganomicon. And if your giftee has a sweet tooth? I love Hannah Kaminsky’s line of vegan dessert books. (Full disclosure: Kaminsky is a friend of mine, but that does not make her books any less awesome. Only more awesome.) Check them out: My Sweet Vegan: passionate about dessert, Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season, Vegan a la Mode: More Than 100 Frozen Treats for Every Day of the Year.
DIY Vegan starter kit – Don’t want to get them a cookbook? Make them a vegan starter kit! Go to your local co op, or shop online, and load up with “weird” ingredients that they may be too intimidated to purchase on their own. Suggestions:
Vital Wheat Gluten
Ground Flax Seed
Bragg Liquid Amino
…. and some awesome vegan chocolate bars. Because I am sure even Hitler liked chocolate.
For the lazy vegan who has (almost) everything
Tofu Xpress Tofu Press . When I first heard about this product I was torn between thinking it was the most awesome and obvious invention ever, or something I don’t need because I am fine using a stack of Harry Potter books. So I emailed them and requested a sample to possibly review. I was still skeptical when I pulled it out of the box- it sort of reminded me of a less sturdy Pyrex dish with a spring lid.
BUT HOLY CRAP THE TOFU. The first thing I did with it was press tofu to make a scramble. Now let me tell you, this is a great gift for the lazy because despite knowing that tofu tastes 90 percent better after a good pressing, I only do it if I have someone else to impress with my meal. How sad, right? I don’t feel like lugging out all my HP books and making a big sopping mess just for myself.
However, I am now a sworn Tofu Xpresser. You see, my HP books often smash my tofu so that after pressing it is very ugly and deformed–sort of like how in the beginning of the HP film series Voldemort is only mildly unappetizing but at the end he somehow lost a nose. But the Tofu Xpress kept my tofu in its natural square shape while removing all the liquid and making it chewy and delicious. I used it again two days later, and not only did I press my tofu, but I then MARINATED IT right in the dish, and then pressed it again. It was so easy and now I am forever a Tofu Xpress devotee. So buy your lazy vegan friend this tofu press and they will forever thank you.
For your roomie/old college buddy/drinking buddy/friendly office spouse
Coloring for Grown-Ups: The Adult Activity Book - This coloring book, which I stumbled on in the humor section of Barnes and Noble, is hilarious. You can color an elevator full of people making funny faces, using your own judgement to see who you think farted. (Color them red!) Or take a dude with a stache and suit and doodle in the difference between a hipster and an executive. Lots of funny drunk/sexy references, and the perfect coffee table book for anyone in their twenties/who still likes to booze/who has a sense of humor.
For your really vain friend (we all have one)
The Clarisonic skin brush. There are cheaper knock-offs, like the Olay version . Personally, I know the Clarisonic is pricier, but Olay tests on animals. You can decide on that one. Additionally, Clarisonic worshipers swear the high-end version is superior, but I have never done a comparison. My boyfriend calls this my “face toothbrush” and I love it. I was skeptical of all the stupid infomercials showing some acned girl using it to scrub away her blemishes. I don’t know if this made me have less acne. But I do know it made my skin smoother, and more vibrant, with visibly reduced black heads, and that’s good enough for me.
For your hipster coffee house friend
I love my French Press . I will argue that it delivers a superior roast when compared to normal drip or any K-Cup crap. Plus, it’s more environmentally friendly than those individual brews that need to be thrown away after each use. If they’re super crunchy they can even use the grinds for their compost, but at the least they will have better coffee than everyone else. I have the tiny one that makes only one cup, because I wake up alone 5 out of the 7 days of the week (wahhhh!) but if your friend is shacked up, or just a caffeine freak, get a bigger size.
For someone who you want to have an orgasm.
For ladies.…The Hitachi Magic Wand. That is all. Mine is named Bruce Willis, and it changed my life. As someone who often reviews sex toys, the arrival of the Hitachi produced an entire drawer of unwanted second-class toys I no longer had a need for. Seriously, none of that magic bullet shit. Hitachi: They make TVs, power tools, and orgasms.
For men and ladies and couples.…Maximus lube. This is the best lube around. I have written about it a zillion times, and no, they aren’t paying me to do so. I LOVE IT. I received a sample size to review a year or two back, and now it’s all I buy. It’s technically an anal lube, but the Hitachi is technically a “back massager” so whatever–use it anywhere you like.
Okay guys, tell me what you’re giving, or what you hope to get, this year! Or tell me to stop being so superficial, because the holidays are about love and not consumerism.