Best Holiday Gift Guides from Around the Web

You’ve pored over your December magazines and perused a mountain of catalogs; you’ve braved the holiday-music-blasting mall and gone down an ecommerce rabbit hole. Still stumped for present ideas? These 10 stores and sites pack hundreds of original, covetable ideas, from layup stocking stuffers to one-of-a-kind tokens

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For the gadget fanatics on your list, this comprehensive guide presents a welcome alternative to pacing the aisles at Best Buy. The gear is separated into easy-to-navigate product sections—from digital cameras to portable speakers—and hyperbolic tech-speak is helpfully distilled into layperson-friendly specs (How heavy is it? What’s the battery life? How much data storage?). You’ll find the site’s top rigorously reviewed models at a range of price-points—headphones from $99 to $400, for example—whether you’re looking to impress an underappreciated spouse or appease your text-challenged in-laws.


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This Pennsylvania and Connecticut-based pair of home and garden stores are a trove of rustic-but-stylish gift ideas for outdoorsy types—not a plaster gnome or tacky animal figurine in sight. Instead, their discerning gift guide offers unusual, prettily packaged hostess gifts (bumbleberry chunk honey, birch bark-patterned drinking straws); investment-worthy travel gear (leather-trimmed Oaxacan rug duffels, Dubarry’s waterproof Galway leather boots); and unfussy gardening tools, like heavy-gauge steel watering cans and cast-stone planters.


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Photo courtesy of Terrain

Fug Nation

The duo behind the celeb-following blog Go Fug Yourself (a.k.a. the Fug Girls) is better known for deadpan snark than benevolent goodwill. But this year’s gift guide delivers a dash of both. It’s full of clever, pointedly affordable finds like the Princess Bride-inspired Bottle of Wits wine and chalkboard decals for those who can’t commit to blackboard paint. Best of all, a portion of all proceeds goes to Talk About Curing Autism (TACA), a national nonprofit that aids families affected by autism.


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Photo courtesy of Fug Nation


It’s a well-documented trend that products designed with style-savvy men in mind are often quickly commandeered by their female counterparts. (See: boyfriend blazers, oxfords, mason bags, and your favorite T-shirt). This men’s lifestyle site offers a batch of quirky and cool finds fit for both sexes, most under $100. Some favorites: the Ryan Gosling coloring book (an obvious stocking stuffer for any teenage girl), Glenrothes’s three-bottle mini scotch sampler, and a cozy, colorful striped camp blanket by Pendleton.


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Photo courtesy of Valet


Two-year-old online shelter mag Anthology tapped a cool-kid contingent of design, food, art, fashion, and travel bloggers to compile this aesthete’s gift guide. Chronicle Books design director Sara Schneider, for example, finds the perfect Japanese-made apron to wear while whipping up holiday feasts (no tricky ties; extra-deep pockets); Kate Singleton of Buy Some Damn Art tracks down a party-flaunting pair of ombre tights; and Designlovefest blogger Bri Emery recommends geometric Kaleido serving trays by Swedish designer Clara von Zweigbergk for an envy-inducing dinner party accent.


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Photo courtesy of Anthology


The site mashes up intriguingly decadent merch from around the world, hand-picked by heavy-hitters like chef Daniel Boulud, designer Donna Karan, and Liz Claiborne COO Tim Gunn. This year’s 100-item list is dotted with delightfully one-of-a-kind, budget-be-damned gifts: a bespoke fragrance by New York perfumer Julia Zangrilli, a private cooking lesson with chef Soa Davies (formerly of Le Bernardin), a customized indoor putting green, and more. You’ll also find more conventional presents for under the tree—think fine jewelry and cashmere galore.


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Photo courtesy of AHAlife

Jennifer Chong at Luvocracy

Two million Pinterest followers can’t be wrong: top pinner Jennifer Chong has taste. At, the California-based food photographer shares her top edible gifts for the season. Forget the overdone chocolates and gingerbread; Chong’s offbeat finds include chocolate-covered potato chips and Thomas Keller’s gluten-free pancake mix (paired with small-batch bourbon barrel maple syrup, of course.) Most are beautifully packaged, as well—just add ribbon.


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Photo courtesy of Luvocracy

Grain Edit

Step away from the picked-over “two for $20” table at Barnes and Noble; classic design blog Grain Edit has you covered. The site’s editors rounded up their favorite books of the year from both big-name publishers and indie presses, creating the ultimate present guide for graphic designers and typography lovers. The beautifully illustrated stash incorporates a wide range of mediums, from vintage British aviation posters to Louise Fili’s typography.


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Photo courtesy of Grain Edit

A Beautiful Mess

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to mean braving harried crowds or blowing through your budget. The crafty duo over at A Beautiful Mess believes that the best presents pack a personal touch. The pair offers up step-by-step guides to 40 DIY present ideas, like hand-painted sneakers, artful calendars, and a cozy pair of sweater-made mittens. Sit back and reap the “[gasp] you made that?!” raves.


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Photo courtesy of A Beautiful Mess

Three Potato Four

Graphic designers-turned-Philly shopkeepers Janet Morales and Stu Eli are lifelong collectors. Luckily, they share their impeccably honed old-timey (but never twee) aesthetic with the rest of us bumbling gift-hunters. You’ll find repurposed artifacts and Americana accents fit for history buffs and vintage lovers, like throwback store signs and sturdy totes stitched from 1940’s work aprons. 


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Next: 37 Gifts They Won't Forget


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Photo courtesy of Three Potato Four

First Published Mon, 2012-12-17 11:50

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