By now you know I’m not huge on gifts. Josh and I don’t do any of the traditional gift-giving (Christmas, birthdays, or anniversaries), but boy do I enjoy treating someone I love to a little surprise when I’m truly thinking of them.
But I also just like buying myself stuff when it’s on sale (and stocking up on things that are really, really good).
And so, in that spirit, I wanted to put together a little guide with some of the best items I’ve ever discovered and introduce you to small businesses run by incredible people. The best mascara I’ve ever used? I’ve got a 20% off code for you. All my favorite books & games? I rounded those up, too. Whenever possible I included discount codes along with their location and ownership info so that you can make intentional decisions about who you purchase from.
In some instances, Amazon might be the most affordable place to find certain items (such as board games). A simple search should connect you. Please shop wherever is most comfortable for you + your budget.
Hope this will be helpful (or at least fun to read through!) and that you discover some thoughtful and meaningful gifts for yourself or those you love this season.
Isadore Nuts – When we were back home in MN a friend gave us a bag of these nuts. They were so good I brought two more bags home with us. You honestly cannot go wrong and they make great gifts, stocking stuffers, or additions to your holiday gift baskets. Made in Golden Valley, Minnesota, with a staff that is 50% people with disabilities and 50% POC, immigrants, and women.
Craft Boner – Looking for unique (and hilarious) gifts? Look no further than this collection of notepads, cards, + other goods created by my internet friend, Kiwi Schloffel. This notepad makes me wish I had a work wife. Take 15% off everything through Nov. 29, no code needed. Woman owned and based in Denver, Colorado.
Rae and Jane Boutique– Founded by a couple of gals I grew up with in rural Minnesota, Rae and Jane boutique curates simple, classic pieces made of high-quality fabrics. This sweater is a perfect Madewell dupe. Take 25% off everything with the code BLACKFRIDAY.Woman & mama owned, based in Minnesota.
Shop Candice Luter – Every single item in this Etsy shop is worth drooling over! Candice creates gorgeous minimalist wall décor for your home. Her stuff never goes on sale, but visit her shop now and you’ll find 10% off on many listings (!!!) grab one before they’re gone. Black & woman owned, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Transfigure Print Co – You know I love a good statement t-shirt, and one of these “protect trans kids” tees is next on my list. Their shop also has other great slogans. Sign up for their newsletter for a 10% off code.Trans-owned, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Aesthete Modern Clay – Handmade polymer clay + metal earrings created by owner, Julia. Each piece is unique and gorgeous! Get free shipping with the code SHOPSMALL through Sunday.Woman & LGBTQ+ owned, based in Minneapolis, MN.
Some of my all-time favorite reads! These are all linked through Bookshop.org, which benefits small, independent book shops. You could also check with your local stores.
Being Mortal– I gave a copy of this to our parents and grandparents several years ago. Not exactly full of “holiday cheer”, but an important book that so many of them have thanked me for introducing them to.
Anti-Diet – Perhaps the perfect gift for the family member who always comments on your size? Or the one who thinks they’re a “health coach” but are really in a pyramid scheme? But really, the holidays are a minefield of diet culture and negative self-talk. This was one of the most important books I read in 2021.
The Deepest Well– This book helped me understand how interconnected poverty is with negative health outcomes. I’ve thought about this book so much throughout the pandemic, and would encourage anyone to read it – it’s a short, fast read.
Where the Crawdads Sing – If you’re looking for a cozy escape this winter, curl up with this book. It has a beautiful story, but also takes place in such a gorgeous landscape. I loved reading it (also coming out in June as a movie!).
Summer at Tiffany – This book follows a couple of gals from the University of Iowa when they set out for NYC to work at Tiffany for the summer. If you love Mad Men or Mrs. Maisel, you’ll love this easy breezy read. Great gift for moms or grandmas.
Unbroken – One of my favorite books of all time, it tells the true WWII story of Louis Zamperini. I think it makes a fun gift for dads or grandpas who enjoy reading. Although it’s a biography, it reads much like a fiction novel (the movie is also wonderful).
I tried to find these through independent shops — but it was not that easy. A lot of local game shops don’t have an online presence, so I’d encourage you to take this list to your local stores and see how it goes!
Hive– If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen us playing this game non-stop over the pandemic. The strategy is similar to chess, but simple (and faster paced). This shop is based in MN.
Best Self Co. Question Boxes – We have several of these and I love grabbing a handful for date nights, vacations, Zoom calls with friends, or dinner parties! Literally just a box of questions but such great conversation starters!
Swish– We’ve been playing this game for years. I love that it’s super travel-friendly and that the cards can be washed off or sanitized.
Carcassonne– We started playing this game a couple months ago and loved it! A fun one for family game night.
Odin’s Ravens– This is our current “go-to game”. A great game for 2-people and only takes about 15-20 minutes to play. Approved for ages 8+.
Dominion– Another one of our all-time favorites. We’ve been dragging a bag of Dominion cards around with us since 2015. Good for 2 people or more. This shop is based in MN.
The Daily Page Planner – How could your 2022 look differently if you aligned your work and wellness each day? That’s what The Daily Page is designed to do. Take 15% off with the code PLAN2022 through January 1. Woman-owned, family operated, and created in Minnesota on a woman-owned printing press.
Mildliner Highlighter Set – Got an avid reader/researcher/organizer in your life? This is the dream gift, truly. These highlighters are double-ended — they have one traditional, wider end, along with a fine-tipped side! So great for taking notes in books. I absolutely love them.
Journal Workbook Bundle – Thinking of getting into journaling in 2022? My friend Kate is quite literally the queen of journaling, and she’s created some beautiful guides to help you build your journaling practice. Take 25% off all workbooks with the code ITSGRAVY at checkout. Woman-owned, based in Minnesota.
Pomodoro Timer – Did you know that most of us work best in chunks? Something like 25 minutes of focused work with a 5 minute break is ideal. I love time-blocking my entire day, and this pomodoro timer works perfectly for timing each work/break session.
The Forever Calendar – I created The Forever Calendar because I wanted to be able to see an overview of the entire year in one place. You can frame it and use it year after year. Great for business owners who are planning product launches, sales, and marketing campaigns or folks with complex schedules — but I also once got a glowing review from a sheep farmer. Take 15% off with the code PLAN2022 through January 1.Woman-owned, family operated, and created in Minnesota on a woman-owned printing press. Atomic Habits – Another great read for anyone who is trying to change their routines or habits (or just improve them!). I’ve read this one twice!
World’s BEST Mascara (really!)– Long, fluffy lashes without any crappy ingredients? You bet! I think the secret is in the unique, rubber-bristled brush, but the formula is also wonderful. Washes off gently and has ingredients that promote lash growth. I’ll never use anything else. Take 20% off with the code REVIVE20. Woman and family owned.
Vitamin C Facial Serum – My holy grail skincare product that I’ve used for 7 years and counting. I also love their Vitamin C Cleanser and Skin Savior. They are having their biggest sale of the year! Take 25% off with the code OLOCYBERSPREE. Woman-owned, based in Georgia.
Konjac Sponge – The simplest and most affordable way to elevate your skincare routine is to start washing your face with a konjac sponge. It makes even the most basic cleanser feel luxurious. Take 25% off with the code OLOCYBERSPREE. Woman-owned, based in Georgia.
Exfoliating Gloves– I gotta tell you a secret…this year I stopped dry brushing. I switched to using these exfoliating gloves in the shower instead and absolutely love it. It has all the same benefits as dry brushing — but I feel like it’s more effective and easier for me to actually do. Pair it with a bar of handmade soap and it is the ultimate shower experience. I love these ones because they are made from recycled material.
Face Rollers – I don’t think I’m that high-maintenance…but I sure do love a good face roller and I think these make a great gift for anyone. This set is an amazing value.
Neck Massager – Have I been talking about this neck massager non-stop for 7+ years? Yes. Great for the person who always has a headache, or anyone who works on a computer all day!
Osprey Porter Travel Bag– One month in Asia. Five weeks in the US. Kayaking through Croatia. This is the only bag I’ve used for every trip over the past decade and I can’t recommend it enough. Great gift for the wanderlust traveler or college student.
Rothy’s Shoes – I love Rothy’s because they are comfortable as heck, but ALSO because they are made out of recycled water bottles scooped out of the ocean! Bonus: you can also machine wash them. Take $20 off and get free shipping through my link.
My Favorite Water Cup – Give the gift of hydration! This is the “magical cup” that I swear by for staying hydrated throughout the day.
Life-Changing Vacuum – Lame gift? Maybe. It was my gift to myself on my 35th birthday and I have no regrets. Best purchase ever. Makes a great gift for people in small spaces, or older people who need a light, portable vacuum.
Rocksbox Subscription – I’ve been using Rockbox for honestly 8ish years. It’s basically Netflix for jewelry (get 3 pieces in the mail, wear them, then send them back or purchase pieces you love). Any piece of jewelry you’ve seen me wearing was probably from RocksBox. A subscription makes a great gift — and one thing I noticed using it, is that I spend less money on clothes because I always have new jewelry to pair with my favorite outfits. Try it free for one month (that means free designer jewelry for Christmas/New Years!).
Creative MarketGift Card – This is the marketplace for online business owners! Know someone launching a shop, blog, or website? A Creative Market gift card is truly an incredible gift for them. They have tons of items at 50% off this weekend, so head over to check it out!
Disclaimer: For the most part, this is just an honest-to-goodness list of things I love! Where possible I shared discount codes or commissioned links. Some of them may provide me with a small commission, most of them don’t. These help support my business and giving back initiatives.