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2023 Holiday Gift Guide

Stefan Loble

Giving creative holiday gifts brings me a lot of joy, so I'm pleased to present our annual Bluffworks holiday gift guide.

Whether you give something small that leaves only crumbs (chomp!), or a piece of  gear so impactful it changes your loved ones path of adventure, I hope you find inspiration.


A great technological gift can be more than giving the thing. It’s often about solving a problem or curating a solution for someone who needs help figuring one out.

One of my most important items are sleep earbuds that I wear every night both when traveling and back home. The Anker Sleep Earbuds ($129) are a good entry point if you’re skeptical about sleeping in earbuds all night. 

Everyone is aware of a kindle as a gift - and maybe the best balance of price and functionality is the Kindle Paperwhite ($140) - but the real gift lies in connecting it to Libby Reading App (FREE) via your loved one’s library account.

I’ve recently had a need for a home camera, and am impressed by the Wyze outdoor security camera. Both the battery powered ($80) or wired versions (two for $65) can add peace of mind while you’re away. I have found them great with playback, motion detection and night vision. 

For taking the party on the road, we can vouch that the
JBL Clip 4 speaker ($45) is the one. Durable with great sound.

A related tip: if you’re hemming and hawing about if apple earbuds are worth buying for an iPhone user, they are…purely for the instant connection, tight relationship with Siri, and Find My capabilities that can even locate individual earbuds. 

Lastly, the most wonderful technology might be an anti-technology gift. The Light phone ($299) is a phone that allows you to step away from your phone, either by swapping your sim or augmenting it. You might stuff a kid's stocking with one (think modern day

lump of coal) until you realize some Gen Zers are embracing being less connected.


Everyone I know loves bags. The flip side of them often being an investment is that they make impactful gifts. In this category, it’s tough to top the special-ness of a gift from Satchel & Page (starting at $275), literally prepared to last a lifetime.

A go-to bag I find to be the best combination of structured and collapsable is Nomatic’s Navigator Collapsable backpack ($70). On the other end of the spectrum would be gifting Matador’s GlobeRider 45 ($350) to set-up someone for a big trip.
 Matador’s GlobeRider 45 ($350).

Or, you could dive headlong into helping someone switch to ultra lightweight travel with Gossamer Gear's Gorilla 50 liter Ultralight Backpack ($217). It weighs just 30 oz -- less than 2 lbs! - which means along with their The One shelter (1 lb) you can still

add a sleeping pad plus some other stuff and be under 5 lbs.

For extra gear,  I lean on a large open tote bag ($55) like these from Rareform. Tough, waterproof and upcycled from old billboard tarps, they’re a one-of-a-kind piece that will become someone's personal bag. 

To manage small things, I love having a few extra purses around (one for cash and passport, another for language flash cards) and fun ones like these ($24) from Rickshaw bags are the way to go.

Of course, we’re also partial to the organization of our BluffCube packing cubes ($15 and up). Still the best on the market, they make me happy everytime I use the side zipper to access something inside. 

Culture and Food

If you can’t instantly teleport your loved one to an exotic culinary destination, maybe you can bring one to them.

You will be stunned by the spices from my favorite spice company Diaspora, who offers a best selling pack ($60). Quick, what’s the most important spice of all? Salt of coarse, which is where Jacobson Salt Co ($11). comes in. They are from Netarts Bay,

Oregon where we were married, which leads to the fact that you should buy someone an oyster knife ($12), and make a pact to learn to use it. 

For inspiration, a good cookbook is the way to cut through the noise of online recipes to real magic. I am biased towards something expansive - like Dishoom ($19) for Bombay comfort food or The Indian Cooking Course ($34) for getting

acquainted with a whole new cuisine.

I love putting together custom boxes that show I am specifically thinking of someone. On the utilitarian side, if I was to equip a young person just getting started (think college grads), a hand-assembled pack would be this versatile knife ($42) (serrated knives are sharper and more

versatile), kitchen shears ($7), this handy measuring cup ($11) that I use every day - although, I still covet this beautiful one ($25) - and oval measuring spoons ($12) that fit into narrow spice jars. 

If all this gets too serious, and the person you love just wants to eat, or cause other mayhem in the kitchen, gift them Kitchen Confidential ($9). Tony was way more than his shows and once your recipient reads the first ten pages, they’ll never forget you gave it to them.

For someone less hands-on, you can’t go wrong with splurging on a flavor they'll enjoy, like the incredible collection of Sichuan sauces from Fly By Jing ($35) or superior cocktail mixers from Cheeky ($36).

Universal Yums ($192) will ship a monthly box full of snacks from around the world, and after the fact will report on which snacks were the best, second best, and weirdest. How fun.

If it’s really, really the Christmas Eve kind of last minute, you can see if your liquor store has a bottle of our favorite whisky ($100).

Adventure and Sport

Where food is easy and consumable, adventure gear can be harder because we are all so picky. But there a few things standout -- 

My first pair of go-to shoes are Tropicfeels hybrid shoes (about $100). I bring them because they cover general activity, being in the water, and most adventures or workouts. I have since fallen in love with my Glyph minimalist shoes ($135) which serve as an extra pair that effortlessly fits in my bag,

and I end up wearing at moments from lounging around to dressed up, when everything else I have are hiking boots.

A memorable gift would be a watch from Vaer. They hit the sweet spot of stylish, durable, and affordable. Mine is the D4 Meridian - Navy USA Solar 38mm ($290), that as solar powered through the face will never die.

On the road, I rely on a good book light ($16) for more than just reading. But when I travel with my family our MPpowered inflatable light ($25) has become precious for gathering us all together in some place cozy.

I passionately use my Magware flatware set ($35) all the time, except when I'm worried about security nabbing it, and instead carry a tactical spork ($7).

Arcade makes fun and colorful stretch belts ($35), with soft materials I adore.

Handgrey will organize your keys with a beautiful key ring clip ($87)someone might not splurge on alone. And every passing year increases my appreciation for a ready collection of Velcro ties - color coded ($13) even -  as we all become our fathers. 

But now, we should get serious. There are a whole host of mad things to buy on Alibaba. Maybe you can support someone in pursuing their side-project dream by buying them something unexpected, like a commercial food dehydrator (get the big one), a backyard

oven or even a monkey bike ($1,500).

But if we are speaking of monkey bikes, the right thing to do is send your loved one on a grand adventure. The Adventurists bring together like-minded people to curate the kind of travel I love. They have since expanded from mini-dirt bike rallies to horses

and boasts, and oh boy. You should do it.

Inspiring in the form of a different horizon is to make a plan to attend Camp Indie. Surrounded by creative do-ers, its a ticket for reimagining and redesigning a life. 

For looking back - most often with a loved one in their twilight years - Storyworth provides thoughtful questions in the form of weekly story prompts to help your family member create their own life story book ($90).

Or, closer to the moment, you can turn this year’s and next year’s and the year after that’s pile of digital photos into something more tactile through the monthly photo books from Chatbooks ($12 / month). We still enjoy the ones we made. 
Photo from The Photobook Guru

Off The Rails

Lastly, if the state of the world has you feeling like you need a laugh, these salty socks ($14), offensive-ish crayons ($13), and 52 fart cards ($9) won’t hurt anyone.

But my favorite has to be the gift boxes from Prank-o ($9). I have had years of great success with them, including on Christmas morning.

Good luck, and Happy Holidays.


Stefan Loble



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