Monday, December 14, 2009

Gift Guide: Recession Edition

Decadence week was fun and all, but let's come back down to earth now, shall we?  Fact is, most of us will not be swaddling our loved ones in cashmere this holiday, as much as we might like to; so today I offer you 10 lovely gift ideas, and none of them costs more than $40. Call this a recessionary gift from me to you...
Williams-Sonoma 10-piece Glass Bowl Set $38

One of the best kitchen purchases of all time, everyone needs this bowl set in their culinary arsenal.  They are utilitarian enough to use with electric beaters as mixing bowls, but pretty enough to be a salad bowl for company.  The smaller sizes are ideal as dishes for dips and dipping sauces for parties, as well as prep bowls.  And because they all stack neatly like Russian dolls, they take up a minimum of space.  Brilliant. 

Oster Immersion Blender from Target $39.99
You've heard me sing the praises of the immersion blender, and this has to be the most affordable one I've come across.  I always say you get what you pay for, and our great one from Williams-Sonoma has really stood the test of time, but I think this could be a good runner-up for the soup maker on your list.  I promise, if you like things blended, owning one of these babies is game-changer.  Oh, Target, is there any way in which you aren't awesome?

 Fat Toad Farm Goat's Milk Caramel Gift Box $22
From one of my favorite local farmers here in Vermont, this caramel is criminally good.  Use it drizzled over ice cream or frozen yogurt, or to decorate a pie plate for restaurant level fancy-shmancy-ness.  Stir it into a cup of coffee to take your morning to 11, or dip apples in it and call it health food.  I am not going to tell you how quickly the husband and I recently made one of these jars disappear.  And I love the wooden box, which could be re-used as a tea box, or thing for babies to put things in and out of or open and close again and again and again... 

Anthropologie Slate Coaster and Chalk Set $14.95
Who doesn't need coasters?  And I love this cool set from "the mothership", Anthropologie.  Slate has such a clean, modern, natural look to it, and with the chalk, this set would be very versatile.  You could use the coasters to label dishes on a buffet or cheeses for a cheese tasting.  You could write peoples' names or initials on them to keep bevvies straight at a party, or deliver your honey his game-time beer with a message ("Go Pats!" or  "I love you!" or "When is football season over again?").  The price cannot be beat!

Anthropologie Earrings
More from the mothership.  Anthro has the best selection of affordable earrings anywhere.  I impulse bought a great pair at checkout for $20 about 10 years ago and they are still my go-to daily earrings.  I am constantly complimented on them and asked if they are vintage and/or real diamonds.  HA!  They no longer make that particular pair, but they have literally dozens of other beautiful ones, many for under $25.  Why not order up a mess of these for your sisters and girlfriends?  Here are two of my faves:

Pave Posts $24 (left)
For the office or a dinner out, these are classy, fun and sparkly.

For a night on the town, these would add a pop of color and a bit of interest to your favorite little black dress.

A Year of Mornings: 3191 Miles Apart $21.95
I love this book, the product of one of my favorite blogs. The concept?  Two friends, living in Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine (3191 miles apart from one another, and two of my favorite cities in the whole country, I might add), take photos first thing in the morning, and post them on the same blog without comparing notes.  The similarities and differences, the change of the seasons, and the amazing shots of each separate, gorgeous city are all striking.  This would be a great coffee table book for your favorite morning person.

Patagonia Micro D-Luxe Scarf $30

I love this scarf from Patagonia.  It is SO incredibly soft, and it is over-sized, so that you can really wrap your neck and head and protect them from the elements.  Best of all, it is machine washable, so you can wear it hiking or running, get all sweaty, and have it fresh and new again the next day (if, like me, you do at least one and usually two loads of laundry per day - such is life with a baby).

Personalized Stationery $11.50
What is classier and more fun to have on hand than your own monogrammed stationery?  Make your own at the fun website Zazzle: they have great designs to choose from, and this one is on recycled paper to boot!  A fun stocking stuffer for anyone!

The original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook $20.47 on Amazon

Yes, I realize I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with Ina Garten.  I am okay with that.  Every home cook, beginner to advanced, needs a copy of this cookbook in their kitchen.  Ina likes to make everyday comfort food "with the volume turned up" and this book delivers recipe after recipe of just that.  If I was only allowed to own one cookbook, this would be it.  Amazing recipes include her incredible guacamole, signature coconut cake, and "Perfect Roast Chicken" which caused the husband to claim one evening, "I would have married you just for this chicken."  Enough said.

What is your favorite affordable gift this season?


  1. This is the best gift list I've read online this season. And I'm finally buying those WS bowls I've been thinking about for years - PD

  2. The only item, if something this sentimental and sensational can be called an item, that I would add would be one of those Blurb Creative Publishing Service or Made on a Mac books. Could be any theme and the recipient and all of posterity will forever thank you. Fabulous list. I wish I'd thought of the Portland to Portland book idea myself. :)

  3. I think I'll go to Anthropologie at lunch :)
    ps did you know that there is a Lululemon two blocks from my house and I never even knew it.


    I'd marry you for the chicken too.