A Gift Guide You Can Trust
Because I have high standards. And I have actually tried these things.
As a magazine editor turned freelancer, this was the first year in a long time that I didn’t work on a gift guide. It’s been nice to have a break from the all-consuming consumerism. But I miss the opportunity to highlight small makers and brands…and put my late night browsing to good use.
After all, I’m still a person looking to buy thoughtful presents for my loved ones, and you probably are too. So this week on Amateur Hours, I’m taking a small deviation from hobbies to pull together a mini gift guide of my own. (Full transparency: A few of these brands have sent me PR mailers in the past, but unlike all the media brands out there, I’m not making any affiliate $$$. I’m just sharing my own gift ideas with you.) Let’s get into it.
10 Gifts To Show People How Thoughtful You Are
Even the person who has everything wants one of these.
As a perpetually cold person, I’ll always be into the idea of gifting cozy cold weather gear. These colorful plush blankets from L.A. brand Everybody World definitely fit the bill. They’re colorful, customizable, and made from recycled/leftover yarns at a factory in New York. The product page says it best: If you or someone you know has a name that starts with a letter, then this is the perfect gift.
It’s perfect for: New transplants to cold places, the anemic.
My friend Pearl recently gifted me a Dymo 1800 label maker from the ‘70s. It’s almost embarrassing how much joy I’ve experienced from labeling my entire pantry in neat embossed letters. The experience of using the labeler is similarly cathartic. In a time where it seems that every modern appliance comes equipped with a screen and wifi, vintage Dymos are charmingly analogue. Just load in some embossing tape, spin the wheel to your preferred character like dialing a rotary phone, and let the neat letters soothe your soul.
It’s perfect for: Design nostalgics, people who organize their pantry as a form of self-care.
I put hot sauce on just about everything, but fiery condiments are even more essential when the temperature drops. The classic hot pepper sauce from Shaquanda Will Feed You—made by Brooklyn-based drag queen Shaquanda Coco Mulatta—brings big Barbados energy with a lush blend of habaneros, scotch bonnet peppers, turmeric, and ginger.
It’s perfect for: Heatonists, dreamers of tropical vacations.
The most important thing about this pepper grinder is that it works extremely well—wildly better than the cheapo grocery store grinder I was using before. It powers through fragrant Diaspora Co peppercorns with ease! But the ultra-colorful design from Dusen Dusen is also incredibly cute. I leave it out on my kitchen counter and crack a grin every time I make eye contact with one of the lil faces.
It’s perfect for: Design lovers, people with shitty pepper mills.
Bring joy to your return to the office, bring professional-ish vibes to your WFH office, or just remind yourself that time is real with a 2022 calendar from Official Rebrand and friends of the brand. Each month features a different piece of artwork, plus the zodiac seasons and other “important queer dates.” Proceeds will be spit between the artists with 20% going to support queer asylum seekers through Rainbow Rail Road.
It’s perfect for: Your friend who never knows what day it is.
Two Transcendent Wine Clubs
Zwann’s Wine Club: Wine buyer Zwann Grays, the wine director at Olmsted in Brooklyn, is letting folks bring home her excellent taste through Copake Wine Works in upstate New York. Her monthly club includes six natural-leaning hand-picked bottles—the highlights from her own personal stash.
Thirsty Thirsty Wine Club: Alexis Schwartz, who helms the natural wine tasting club Thirsty Thirsty, runs a wine/herbal medicine pairing through Helen’s Wines in Los Angeles. You’ll receive four bottles every other month connected to a seasonal theme, paired with tasting notes and readings on how the bottles were made.
It’s perfect for: Natural wine obsessives, indecisive drinkers.
Damn Good Mezcal
Let’s be real: Booze is always a great holiday gift. I’m decidedly Team Agave when it comes to picking spirits, and Madre Mezcal is as excellent mixed into margaritas and palomas as it is sipped straight up. It’s produced by three families in Oaxaca: Jose Ines Garcia Morales and his family in San Dionisio, the Vasquez family in Miahuatlan, and Carlos Blas and his family in Matatlan.
It’s perfect for: Agave lovers, drinkers who want to transition from shots to sipping.
Winter is definitely scented candle season, and right now, I want my home to smell like a crackly campfire. Keap’s Wood Cabin candle isn’t cheap, but it’s powerful enough to imbue your apartment with log cabin mystique even while unlit. I’ve heard good things about the hinoki candle from Brooklyn Candle Studio too.
It’s perfect for: Lumberjacks and those who love them, anyone with seasonal depression.
A bit of shameless self-promotion: I edited a mushroom cookbook for Smallhold! It’s a 10-recipe love letter to cooking with fungi, featuring many chefs I admire and my own recipe for a Shiitake Bloody Mary. An all-star team led the visuals, and I’m very proud of how it came together. All the proceeds benefit The Fungi Foundation, a global non-profit dedicated to preserving and researching fungi.
It’s perfect for: Mushroom people, vegetarian/vegan cooks, aficionados of trippy coffee table books.
Don’t wait too long to hit purchase. Hanukkah starts November 28!