I realize I wind up doing gift guides twice a year, but what can I say? It’s one of my love languages. Speaking of which, I thought it would be fun to categorize the gifts by the five different love languages.
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Acts of Service
Sakara (With a Discount Code)
Sakara is the ultimate act of service because it provides nourishment without you having to lift a finger. New and existing customers can use my code XOJEN to get 25% off during the Black Friday period November 6th-27th; otherwise, the code is good for 20% off for new customers only.
This is the only time of year that Sakara offers a discount to existing customers, and this is the deepest discount they offer. Have at it! Here are my favorites:
- Coconut praline granola – I wait all year to stock up on this (I bought 10 already)
- Meal delivery program – if you have a week (or month) you know is going to be full of holiday parties then at least you can balance it out
- Popcorn trio – for cozy holiday movies nights with the fam
- The chocolate trio – full disclosure: I haven’t tried the broccoli sprout one because it weirds me out, but I got to taste the other two at the Sakara summit last month, and they were incredible.
Skincare as Makeup and Vice Versa
My 10 year old daughter and I are approaching an intersection of life where we’re starting to share things. One thing that her generation seems to be obsessed with is skincare. Here are some of our favorite skincare/makeup products that pull double duty:
- Drunk Elephant Bronzing drops – good luck getting your hands on these (a more readily available and even “cleaner” version is made by Pai Skincare)
- Summer Fridays lip gloss in brown sugar – reminds me of black honey (girls of the 90s, ifykyk)
- Kjaer Weis cream blush
- Merit Flush Balm Cream blush
- Suntegrity 5-in-1 tinted moisturizer (my 10 year old does not use this, but it’s a holy grail product for me)
My Love Don’t Cost a Thing
Not to toot my own horn, but I love one of the gifts I “got” my husband for his 40th birthday. We’ve agreed to take a break from buying each other gifts for occasions, deciding only to buy things when something is absolutely right for that person. Otherwise, we are showing appreciation in other ways, whether it be hand-written cards or arranging a dinner out together (including booking the sitter, making the reservation, etc.).
Steven ran a pretty intense Spartan race at the end of September, so for his birthday in July, I put together a checklist of all the supplies and things he would need to do to be prepared for the race. He LOVED it. One of my greatest strengths is planning in advance (almost to the point of obsessiveness), whereas he’s a bit more last minute, so this was really helpful for him. The best part is other than my time doing research, it cost me nothing. I did make the checklist cute though 😉
The Raffles Hotel in Singapore
If you’re planning a trip anywhere in the world, I highly recommend Singapore for couples and families alike. As for the Raffles Hotel, holy moly was this the best hotel I’ve ever experienced. Are they all like this? If so, plan your next destination around any of their locations. Just be prepared to pick your favorite child because you may only be able to afford to send that one to college.
The Next Best Thing: The Edition Hotels
I’ve never met an Edition hotel I didn’t love. Still a bit spendy, but less likely to tap into the college fund. As an added benefit, it’s part of the Marriott Bonvoy program.
Cadence Travel Containers
As someone who travels all the time, I’m obsessed with these Cadence travel containers. My husband can vouch that I’m always opening my silicone travel tubes and smelling the contents to try to figure out if it’s body wash or shampoo when repacking. The labels for these make it a no-brainer. This is the exact type of gift I love because it’s one of those things that just feels a touch too bougie to buy for yourself.
Calpak Lukas Belt Bag
I can’t believe we all used to make fun of fanny packs. These things are genius, whether it’s for walking the dog or navigating the airport or wandering new cities. I know the Lululemon one is also really popular, especially with the younger crowd, but this one is bigger, and for my life, bigger is better.
Juna Nightcap Sleep Gummies
Quality sleep = quality life. I’m always looking for a natural sleep aid to support travel involving red eyes and major time zone changes. I’ve tried multiple things with varying degrees of success, butI have never, ever taken something as effective as these gummies. The sleep I get with these is the deepest and most consistent (meaning I don’t wake up after 5 hours and toss and turn) I’ve ever had. My husband is also a huge fan.
MyMode by Tracy Anderson
I’ll do a whole review on this soon, but spoiler alert, I love Tracy Anderson’s latest innovation, MyMode. It’s an investment, but there are payment plans available. For how often I exercise (6-7 days per week), it pretty much pays for itself within the first year, after which time, it’s essentially free. #shoppingmath
Airex Corona Mat
Ugh the name, I know, but this has a reputation for the best cushioning, making it excellent for the knees. Everyone swears by this one, and the reviews back it up. It will make working out much more enjoyable for sure.
Alo (With a Discount)
I’m throwing this one in to round out the theme of making your exercise time a quality one. This brand is a shared love between my husband and me.
- Wellness Bra (sometimes it’s nice to have a sports bra that isn’t a racerback) and Airlift Intrigue Bra
- Accolade Crewneck Pullover (I actually have the hoodie, but it makes my long hair too knotty so I’d opt for the crewneck instead) and Sweatpant
- Oversized Sherpa Trench
- ⅞ High Waist Airlift legging (I’d go for full-length if you have long legs though)
- Half Crew Socks
- Triumph Tee, Long Sleeve and Sweatpant
- Co-op Pant
If you use my link, you’ll get 15% off your order. Click here to order.
May Lindstrom Skincare
Anything and everything May makes is a treat for the senses, but my favorites are the blue cocoon and the youth dew, especially for the under eye area. When they aren’t sold out, the good stuff and jupiter are phenomenal. The chocolate box is an excellent way to try a variety of her products. Click here to order.
Kami Speer Wraps
I’ve recommended these before, but it bears repeating. I use mine as a blanket on airplanes, as a shawl for dinners out, as a scarf in cold weather, as sun protection during hot weather hikes and as a spiritual cover during meditation. She offers more than just wraps too. I recently wore a silk slip dress that she made, and I felt amazing all night long. My husband was obsessed, which was a nice bonus.
Silk Eye Mask
I’ve never met an eye mask I love and would wear anywhere unless on a plane because I absolutely have to in order to sleep…until I met this eye mask. It saved me on a recent hotel stay in Miami where there were no blackout curtains. I have a big head so the adjustability is key for me.
Stripe & Stare Bralettes and Underwear
These are so delicate, feminine and soft. They’re perfect for sleeping.
Boll & Branch Sheets
Another repeat, but they’re straight up the softest, best sheets ever.
Words of Affirmation
In Iceland, people exchange books on Christmas Eve and then spend the night reading them while drinking hot chocolate. Sign me up. To make it extra special, you can place a note inside with a quote from the book that reminds you of that person.
If you know someone has a Kindle, you can buy them an Amazon gift card and hand write some suggestions of course, but sometimes, a physical book is nice to have. It’s also nice to support a local bookstore whenever practical (even as I link you to Amazon). I also think these make great hostess gifts, in addition to the usual classics of candles or bottles of wine. My husband would like me to add that gifting Audible credits is nice too because audiobooks are expensive, and they’re nice to have for long commutes or drives.
Here are some favorites from my family:
- Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland
- The School for Good and Evil by Sonan Chainani
- The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
- The Camper and the Counselor by Jackie Oshry
- What the Road Said by Cleo Wade
- The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
- Harry Potter by JK Rowling
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas (I recommend reading this series before reading A Court of Thorns and Roses) – fun fact: we named our dog after a character in this series
- The Mitch Rapp books by Vince Flynn
- Witch Light by Susan Fletcher
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Something I’ve started doing in the past couple of years is I will record myself – on video – saying the things I would write in a card. It can be a great way to express your love and gratitude for people who like to hear and see rather than read.
Look, most of the fragrances aren’t exactly natural, but they smell so good that I just don’t care. I put it in my 20% bucket (I aim to live my life at least 80% disciplined and 20% f*ck it). I wear different Byredo scents for different moods, weather, time of day, whatever. My husband wears one of their scents as well, and it smells so good on him that I wish they offered a subscription so he’d never run out.
My favorites are from Bowered & Bare, especially the Strudel & Spice or Hansel & Gretel’s House scents. I want a home that smells like something you want to eat, so I have these burning year round, even in summer. My husband is addicted to their lip balms.
For less gourmand options, I love Byredo’s Bibliotheque, Boy Smells Ash and Le Labo Palo Santo 14. They’re all a bit moody. Diptyque always comes out with a holiday trio, and I sometimes buy them for the containers alone, but the scents are usually great for the holiday season.
And my favorite chocolate of course. The bonbons are gorgeous, but my absolute favorites are the dark bars (78% or 84%), the almond chocolate bark and the chocolate covered almonds (that I need people to stop buying for me because I WILL eat the entire bag in one go).
Crown Affair Hair Products
The shampoo, conditioner and oil that Crown Affair makes are amazing, and I love the scent. They have a leave-in conditioner and towel set that would make a great gift. Davines is another great brand for cleaner-but-luxury hair brands.
Everlane Organic White T-shirts
My actual favorite white t-shirt costs a bloody fortune, and there’s a 100% chance I’ll permanently stain it. These are much more reasonably priced without sacrificing quality.
Jennifer Fisher or Phoenix Roze Jewelry
Often imitated, never duplicated. Jennifer Fisher for hoops all the way. Phoenix Roze for meaningful symbols, initial jewelry or anything delicate. The owner does custom orders and never judges me when I say things like “I saw this symbol at the bottom of my tea cup, and now I want it as a necklace”.
I hope these help you! Feel free to share the best gifts you’ve ever given OR received! Happy holiday shopping!