Every year, I sit down and think about the products that made life easier, or contributed to a favorite moment from the past year. Because even though experiences are often what matters most to me, there’s usually some gear involved to make them happen.
This year, we organized our best holiday gift ideas into three categories based on what your recipient might be missing, plus stocking stuffers and a sprinkling of products from both our men’s and women’s lines.
Scroll for our recommendations on:
- Gifts for the young professional
- Gifts to promote balance (or spark joy)
- Gifts for the ones who (seem to) have it all
- Stocking stuffers
Gifts for the young professional
When you’re shopping for someone active, busy, and perhaps short on resources, getting a special gift can make a big difference. Presents for this person might be a significant thing they might not buy for themselves, something to add a bit of flavor to their day-to-day, or a wicked fun toy.
Or, you can take a totally different approach, like with the first item on our list. Forget the title for a second. I’ve found that meditation is a super power. But it can be hard to get into. So I like this book because it’s super funny and analytical, making it a really good read for almost anyone — even if they don’t decide to spend their life on a meditation cushion.
This is a life changing book, and the best one I read this year. Dan Harris shares his journey from what he described as taming the monster in his head to finding the one thing that would help him calm down and gain perspective.
The tripod in the back of the ZeroChroma goes a long way. Sure, I use it to take photos, but also to prop up my phone on other surfaces and even clip it to my computer screen for conference calls. This version comes with several mounts.
What can I say? I’m a kid at heart, and secretly, I think everyone else is too. My son and I literally plan visits to a playground in NYC where we can battle — often after dark, when there aren’t other kids around. Complete and utter fun.
Hands down, the best wireless earbuds available. I use them on calls for hours on end, plus working out and commuting to the office. Durable, long battery life, good microphone noise isolation, quality sound, charging case, and solid bluetooth pairing.
The best way to give a gift like this is accompanied by a recipe of how to use it. A good cast iron skillet takes simple cooking to the next level. This pan will last for decades… possibly a lifetime.
My go-to housewarming present — one recipient I gave this to calls it “the magic salt.” I backed Omnivore on Kickstarter when they launched in 2013, and there is always a bowl of it next to my stove. It makes the flavor of simple things shine.
I know the founder of Satchel and Page personally, but I asked around to get the real take on their products. Here’s the scoop: at the price point, you can’t get better leather. For a gift someone will love 10 years from now, this is a special thing.
Lo & Sons makes a range of bags for men and women. One of our team members travels with this nylon bag, designed to hold a laptop and a lot more. She loves its compartments, durability, sleek design, and suitcase sleeve for easy travel days.
At this stage of life, what someone needs is to look good — without having to spend extra energy on ironing or dry cleaning. A nice pair of pants with a good shirt can go along way to setting them up for success, so we’ve recommended a few options from our line designed for work and play. Plus, all our clothes are wrinkle-resistant and machine-washable, for no hassle wear and care.
$125 (currently $88)
I love wearing these chinos. They are so comfortable (thanks especially to the stretch waistband), plus there’s nothing like adding a stash of cash to our custom travel money pouch pocket. And they dress up great.
$98 (currently $78)
I wear the Zenith shirt everywhere — from hiking in upstate NY to dinners in Italy with my wife, and I regularly bike to the office in it. Great technical performance, and the micro check pattern reads like a solid blue dress shirt.
$150 (currently $120)
These are soft, wrinkle-resistant, and machine-washable, so they’re super easy and comfortable to wear, even though they also look great for work. Rachel (my wife) loves them, especially the actual functional pockets for her phone, keys, and money.
Gifts to promote balance (or spark joy)
These are the gifts that make the biggest difference in the day-to-day life of someone who has a lot of demands on their time… like me, balancing Bluffworks and being with my wife and son. It’s the chapter of my life where I receive the least amount of focus on things for me.
So with the holidays typically focused on the kids, our goal in this category is to suggest a gift that takes care of those who take care of everyone else, or to spark giggly, childhood joy. They need it. (I once gave my wife a piece of paper with song lyrics on it that led to Billy Joel tickets. Man it was fun.)
I find a Lee Child book a complete escape from the stresses of life. The hero (Jack Reacher) is a drifter of an ex-MP who turns bad situations into good using his sharp mind and fast knuckles. Lee Child has written dozens of these — none disappoint.
This happens to be my favorite foam roller, period. Add the benefit of being portable and it’s my top pick. When away — especially on long trips — I bring it with me to stay loose. Worth it, especially after sitting for hours on end in transit.
After my hamstring surgery last year, my physical therapist suggested this to me, and it’s AMAZING. The compression stimulates circulation to speed recovery, and makes me feel incredible. Your loved one will thank their lucky stars (and you) for this.
$ up to you
A subscription to a workout app can be a great tool. For example, Fitbod uses a training algorithm to improve your workout — and make you stronger. Aaptiv has everything from treadmill workouts to yoga and meditation. Give these via a gift card from a site like Google Play.
$ up to you
Give your loved one focused time on what matters, or support their passions. Plan a hike. Schedule a massage. Get tickets to a special show. Buy coveted new supplies for a hobby. It’s all about making something great happen, just for them.
As I noticed the effect of technology on how I process information, I decided to get the actual paper paper. My mental health improved. And something magical happened: I clip articles for my son and paste them on our bathroom wall. And he reads them.
I’m two hours into the estimated 10 hours to learn. Fantastic for training my core, balance, and attention. Every time I get on it, it feels like absolute madness. But it’s not. If you buy one, be sure to drop me a note. (And wear a helmet.)
Freedom. Peace and quiet. It’s not just NYC — it seems like in so many places now, the only way to get away from it all is to be on the water. Oru launched on Kickstarter years ago and now has a full line of folding boats to choose from.
An established professional, squeezed by the demands on their time, shouldn’t have to choose between looking great, feeling good, and something silly like dry cleaning. Separates like our Gramercy blazer or Azores blouse will go a long way to helping them take on the world. And there’s a Threshold T-Shirt for everyone now — a comfy favorite that doesn’t need a lot of laundering.
$295 (currently $220)
The blazer is one of the most popular products we make — and for a good reason. It’s amazing. I can shove it in my backpack and then wear it without ironing. I don’t have to dry clean it, but it looks like wool. And I layer it with everything.
$155 (currently $108)
Speaking of layering, I always prefer this approach to staying warm so I can adjust to whatever condition I’m in. I love our vest over our blazer or under our waterproof field jacket (or all three, in NYC winters). Lightweight, with lots of pockets.
$45 (currently $36)
This shirt was a big one for me. The fabric is incredible, and after launching the men’s short sleeve this spring, we added a men’s long sleeve and a women’s v-neck this fall. Super comfortable, high performance fabric. Amazing for anyone.
$98 (currently $78)
The women on our team love this blouse — we call it our “better-than-silk” blouse because it has the same look & feel, but is machine washable. The elastic cuffs are so much better than a buttoned arm length adjustment. It’s a great wardrobe staple.
Gifts for the ones who (seem to) have it all
People who essentially have everything can be the toughest to buy for, since there isn’t much they need. So the goal is to give a gift that makes them smile, or opens their world to something new they wouldn’t consider getting for themselves.
Whether it’s something small but personal or a more luxurious treat, these gifts work best when you get a little creative and think about the things they love most.
I love magazines because they are an entry to a whole new world: wooden boat building, gardening, travel, vegan cooking… and boy, are they affordable. Plus, the gift lasts all year long. Extra points for one that inspires something BIG, like a trip.
$4 per month
Add the app to your phone, pick your favorite photos, and have the 4” x 6” monthly book mailed to a loved one. The best approach for gifting is to make one before the big day.
$48 and up
Mountains in a glass. Beautiful. These handblown tumblers make a great gift of an iconic peak they know and love. For me, Portland’s Mount Hood is meaningful. It’s also where all the glasses are made. (Portland, that is, not on top of the mountain.)
These scarves are cashmere blends with digitally printed aerial views of cities. Wrapped up, they just look like an interesting pattern of color, but unfolded reveal the city (or region). We’re partial to NYC, but there are many other places available.
$ up to you
For a cheese lover, this is a great gift. They offer different subscription packages (or one-time cheese and chocolate purchases), and you can even note your preferences, just in case you’re not a fan of the stinky stuff.
A good Japanese knife can make a big difference in the kitchen with speedy, effortless cutting, chopping, and slicing. That said, we recommend knife skills lessons as part of the gift, as you can lose a finger in a heartbeat.
My son got his hands on the Hammecher Schlemmer catalog plus a pad of sticky notes and went hog wild. When I saw this particular tag, I became concerned that his idea of our holiday gift budget might be just a little out of whack.
If you know someone with more than a few shoe boxes of old photos, this will save the day. It’s a high quality, super fast (one photo per second), actually works-without-jamming scanner. I scanned and trashed thousands of photos. Expensive, but worth it.
The photo scanner is truly a wonderful gift for someone like your parents (especially if you help with the scanning and sorting). But beware of the result… Recently, my best friend from college sent me a text about how he was speaking at the Smithsonian. I sent him this recently digitized picture of us. The fact that his wife and in-laws were on the text and got my reply was all the sweeter.