Oh, I Like That

Great Gifts and How to Give Them

Episode Summary

Join us as we tuck into a conversation about all things gift-related, including some of our all-time favorite gifts to give.

Episode Notes

Now that it’s December, a lot of people are thinking about a topic we like to obsess about year round: gifts. Giving them, receiving them, gift etiquette, gift guides, you name it. If it’s gift-related, we’re interested in it. In this episode we’ll talk about our own Grand Unified Theory of Gift Guides and how to use them, as well as some of our all-time favorite crowd pleasing gifts to give. We also discuss our best practices for keeping gift exchanges chill, fun, and reasonably drama-free.

This episode was produced by Rachel and Sally and edited by Lucas Nguyen. Our logo was designed by Amber Seger (@rocketorca). Our theme music is by Tiny Music. MJ Brodie transcribed this episode. Follow us on Twitter @OhILikeThatPod.

Things we talked about

Places to buy gifts that we mentioned

Episode Transcription

Rachel: Welcome to Oh I Like That, the podcast about things we like and occasionally things we don't.

Sally: Hey Rachel.

Rachel: Hey Sally.

Sally: How are you doing?

Rachel: I'm pretty good. How are you?

Sally: I'm pretty all right.

Rachel: Yeah?

Sally: Yeah. I feel like we're anticipating a potentially longer than usual episode, so I feel like we should just get right into our vibe check, what do you think?

Rachel: Yeah, let's do it.

Sally: So what is the vibe, Rachel?

Rachel: The vibe here is pretty good. It is the Friday after Thanksgiving, our Thanksgiving was great, and I am really excited for the official beginning of the Christmas season, which I look forward to every year. As soon as we finish recording, I'm going to open all the closets and start dragging out the boxes, which are-- it's going to be kind of remarkable because it's a lot of closet space that we're going to free up. So there's going to be two great things that happen today. One is that we're going to make our way through the pile of dishes in the kitchen, which is truly astonishing. Then we're also going to decorate, that's the big, great thing. And then also in decorating, we're going to have our closets back for a little while, which I am very excited about.

Sally: I love that. It indicates to me that the amount of decorations you have is maybe more than the amount of clothing you both have.

Rachel: Yeah. That might be true. And I think I'm actually excited because it's taking up a little too much space in the closets and part of this, at the end of the season, we'll get to repack it in a smarter way and maybe get rid of some things, we'll have to see. Because basically when I moved out of my apartment, we moved all of the Christmas boxes without opening them first. It was like, these are just already packed, they're good to go. So I'm not totally sure what awaits, but I think we'll be able to do a little bit of a culling. So that'll be good. But yeah, I'm so excited to start the Christmas season.

Sally: Yeah. It's officially Christmas season. You're wearing a red Christmas-y wintery sweater, which I love, so I feel like you're very on theme right now. Yeah. And it's a good time.

Rachel: Yeah. What's your vibe?

Sally: My vibe is soda bread.

Rachel: Okay. [Laughs]

Sally: I made soda bread for the first... I made bread for the first time.

Rachel: That's huge. That's a big deal.

Sally: Which I feel really good about. I feel like soda bread is considered baby's first breadmaking journey because you don't prove it. You don't do any of the sort of really intense things that breadmaking usually requires.

Rachel: Okay.

Sally: You know, so basically, it's called a quick bread for a reason. It takes like five seconds to throw everything together and then you just kind of shape it, throw it in the oven, and half an hour later you've got yourself some soda bread.

Rachel: That sounds great.

Sally: Yeah. But you know, as someone who's not an experienced baker, as someone who's not very fluid and competent in the kitchen, even simple things I've been known to kind of beef. So I am happy it turned out good. I feel really accomplished. And I see a lot of soda breads in my future. And likewise, I'm feeling Christmas-y, I'm feeling wintry. I'm going to put Christmas lights up. It's been my inadvertent tradition to wait until the absolutely coldest day so far to go outside with Christmas lights and get really numb while stringing them and also get them really tangled. I feel, as someone who grew up in a Jewish household, Christmas lights are something that only came into my reality when I started dating my partner, who is into Christmas. I didn't realize that this is an industry sorely in need of disruption. And what I mean is, Christmas lights get really tangled.

Rachel: Yeah. There has to be a better way.

Sally: There has to be a better way. And I guess it can be left up to me, the Christmas lights consumer, to figure out how to store them well and to buy things that help you do that. But shouldn't the lights themselves just be a better product?

Rachel: You'd think.

Sally: You would think.

Rachel: You'd really think. They also... I don't know what kind of lights you're using, but part of the reason they get tangled is because of the specific way that they're designed, which also is frustrating when you're hanging them because they sort of twist in different directions.

Sally: Thank you.

Rachel: So I feel like there's a whole problem. There's a whole design problem there that, I'm sure there's reasons they're designed that way, I don't want to shit on the string light industry about something I don't know about, but it is incredibly frustrating.

Sally: Yeah. I mean, perhaps it has something to do with electricity, like having to make them turn on, but I'm getting ready to just put ten lamps in a row on the porch and be like, I did it.

Rachel: [Laughs] Yup, it's over.

Sally: Yeah. And with that, let's chat about a thing, Rachel. I think we're both pretty excited. I feel like we both-- our friendship exists so that we could talk about this topic.

Rachel: Yes, I am so excited. I'm so glad that we're doing this. It's a wonderful way to spend the first day of the season. And that is talking about gifts and gift guides and gift giving, which is a topic that's near and dear to both of our hearts.

Sally: Absolutely. I love to receive gifts. I love to give gifts. I love to think about gift giving. I love to talk about giving.

Rachel: Me too.

Sally: There's just so many things to dig into. So I feel like before we get into specific recommendations, which we are going to do, we're just going to talk about some of our general tips as well as we're going to do some grand unified theory of gift giving talk and just kind of talk about where we're coming from and how we approach this whole thing. So Rachel, we are both people who have created gift guides. You've created a lot more -- as lifestyle journalists, it's a thing you do every year. I've done it a bit, I've dabbled, I feel like I've done enough to sort of understand how it all works, but you are a gift guide vet, so let's just kick it off.

Rachel: Okay. I have so many feelings about gift guides. I read them... I don't want to say competitively, but I read them to see what other people are doing. I respect the ones that are really good, but also feel, you know, a little bit of jealousy that others are really good -- but honestly, that doesn't happen very much because most gift guides are not good.

Sally: True.

Rachel: This is something I will just-- I'm going to speak ill of my colleagues in the industry, and I think most gift guides aren't good. Anyone can make a list of gifts, literally anyone, you can put a bunch of links together, but I think there's a huge difference in creating... well, there's a few things. One is just, anyone can put a list together, but then it's like, if you are a professional person creating gift guides, I think anyone can put together a list of gifts that look really beautiful together, which is I think what magazines... People who have a background in print, they're used to making those beautiful collages where it's about color and the newest thing and advertisers have to be included, probably. So that is one thing. And those can be really fun to read because they're beautiful. But it's an entirely different thing to put together recommendations that people will actually buy and creating gift guides that are shoppable, that you can put yourself in the position of the person reading it and think, "Okay, would I actually give this gift though? What would it be like to open this gift to receive it? Is this for the price..." Like, a $200 pair of socks, which is a real thing in the New York Times gift guide this year, and they don't even tell you why they're $200, which is wild... oh my god, I'm losing my train of thought because I'm so mad about this.

Sally: Well, let me just say regarding those socks, there is a whole gift guide industry that's based on gifts to exchange with other people who will be the first to go in the purge. Like, when we eat the rich, it's the people with $200 socks are going first. And there definitely is a whole industry of gift guides based on gifts that are not just incredibly expensive, but that it's not clear-- they're only that expensive because there's a small percentage of people who have way too much money to spend.

Rachel: Yeah. It's really frustrating. And I think so one of the other things that the socks reminded me of is something that is also, I think, a bit of a holdover from print, which is putting a picture of something in and a link to it without any real explanation of why it would be a good gift or why somebody should buy it. And particularly with things that are either kind of unexpected or fairly expensive, but kind of in general, you do sort of need to explain why you're including it, to my mind. I think you need to kind of say who it's for, why you personally like it if you own it, or if it's something that's super highly rated and people just love this thing, you can mention that too. But you need some kind of... you need a couple of lines of copy in there to explain to people why it's a good gift. And I think so many gift guides skip that part, and I feel so frustrated reading them because I'm like, this isn't inspiring. It just feels really cold. It feels like you just pulled a bunch of things and I'm like, would you buy this for somebody? Genuinely. I don't know, based on what I'm reading. So when I'm writing gift guides, I try to really clearly communicate "I've actually bought this for people before, so if it feels a little strange to you, know that I stand by this enough to actually give it and it went really well." Or, "I own this thing and I love it and swear by it." So just that little bit of extra of why it's so great, I think goes a long way in written gift guides.

Sally: I agree. And I think when you're reading a gift guide, you can tell if the person who put it together were assigned a story by their editor because it's the holidays and they need to get traffic because someone is going to search the phrase gift guides, versus -- and by the way, no shade, we're all working for a living.

Rachel: Sure. That's totally fine.

Sally: But you can also tell the difference between that and someone who's like, "I'm passionate about gift giving being a meaningful experience for people, so that is going to go into what I create."

Rachel: Totally. So my grand unified theory of gift guides is that the gifts either need to be amazing in their own right so that people want to buy that specific thing, or they need to introduce people to a general idea that gives them a sense of inspiration so then they can find a way to make that thing work for them. So like a smart bulb in a recommendation, in a gift guide, they don't necessarily need to buy that specific smart bulb. It's more like, "Oh, I didn't think of smart bulbs and other smart technology as a potential gift for somebody, that's really helpful. Now I'm going to build on that and make it my own." And I think the best gift guides hit that sweet spot of turning you onto things that were totally new to you that you'd never heard before that are super clever or just helping you rethink what a gift can be.

Sally: Totally. I couldn't agree with you more. And I think also another trick to gift guides, and I think also to gift giving, is, you know, if you have an unlimited amount of money, there is no question you will be able to find some really amazing thing to give to someone. But I think the trick is, and this happened a lot at Buzzfeed when I was making gift guides, was that we were thinking of our readers not necessarily as people who had unlimited disposable income and wanted to spend it all in the holidays. They're not going to buy a $200 pair of socks, they're not gonna buy a $50 pair of socks. But you can give and receive really special things at any price point. And I think that that is also one of the fun challenges, both of creating gift guides and of gift giving itself.

Rachel: Yeah. Another thing on the, on the price note is -- another thing that really bothers me is when gift guides are broken up by price, and it's like "gifts under a hundred dollars" and then it's got a $98 pair of socks. And it's like, yeah, if my gift limit is a hundred dollars, I could blow all of that on something that feels like it costs $25. One could do that, but that's not a good recommendation. Come on guys, you need to be giving the most bang for the buck. If something is tiny and costs $100, it needs to be really obvious that it costs $100 for how small it seems. And I don't think most of the recommendations that fall into that category are. You might know that this bottle of, I don't know, some kind of skincare that you bought for somebody is $85, but are they going to know that if they're not a skincare enthusiast? Or are they going to be like, Oh cool, a $30 gift. Most people aren't really judging the gifts they receive that way, but I do think that if you're trying to impress by spending a certain amount, not that you need to communicate exactly how much you spent, but more like you probably want to get something that feels special, that feels... not feels expensive, but just feels worth it, that it has actual value. That's all.

Sally: I mean, and also, let me just say, a little bit later in the episode, I'm going to recommend more expensive than usual socks, and we're going to unpack that and we're going to talk about how socks are a much maligned item to give, but I have some things to say about that. And I think we're just, we're going to take this to some unexpected places, Rachel.

Rachel: Yeah. I hope I don't regret going after $98 socks when we're going to recommend higher than usual socks later on in this episode. The other thing that pops up this time of year is gift guides for specific people in your life. And to me, the worst offender is gift guides for men.

Sally: Mm-hmm.

Rachel: I look at them every year with a critical eye, but this year I'm looking at them and I'm just feeling like, did the people making these... have you ever met a man? Genuinely? Because it's not that these are gifts that men wouldn't like, it's that they feel so soulless in this way that I'm like, it's not that hard to make a gift guide for anyone if you think about specific people when you're making it. And I don't believe that the men in these author's lives would actually like these things because they're usually just so incredibly boring. And this is where the problem of not talking about why you're recommending something comes into play. These gift guides feel like when you create a Facebook account and you don't have a picture yet, and they just give you a gray cutout shape. Like, these are for the silhouette of a man in a way that's ultimately so insulting to men where it's like, all they care about is whiskey stones and a book about rock and roll and that's it. Maybe video games too.

Sally: Yeah. I have to say every gift guide for men and especially ones for dads, are all based on the idea that men and dads are from Norman Rockwell prints or Ernest Hemingway novels. It's the most normatively masculine-- it's like whiskey stuff, grilling stuff, occasionally like a multi-tool with a really beautiful leather carrying case. Occasionally, like, an ax. And my thing is, like you said Rachel, it's a gift guide for a normative archetype of a man. I just feel like these gendered gift guides... I feel like if you're going to do a gift guide for men, the only way they fly for me is if they're just subtweets of men. So it's like towels, and a bathmat, a dish drainer, just things that we all know from the internet--

Rachel: Reddit.

Sally: Thank you, from Reddit, that men aren't very likely to have.

Rachel: Right.

Sally: You know, I don't, I'm not really sure what things... this is what happens when you talk about gender in any situation, trying to come up with a thing that is essentially a gender just doesn't work and it feels reductive and annoying to me.

Rachel: Yeah. Well, I think also, I've read about this before, but I think when people are like, "I don't know what to get for my boyfriend" they're coming from a place of "I don't know what to get for somebody who is seemingly hard to shop for, who maybe doesn't seem to like things in the same way that I like things." And so I think that's what they mean. And actually I'm used to shopping for people like that because of having to shop for my mom, she's a really difficult person to shop for and she's also somebody who I would buy things for her grill. Her tastes align more with a lot of men's gift guides, even though she doesn't drink or wear a very expensive and bulky wristwatch. But there are things there I can usually find for her. But I think thinking about gifts for hard to shop for people is ultimately what people are kind of looking for with these and going through that lens, or just again, thinking about the men you know, and what they would like. And that ultimately might land you in the same place. You might know somebody who would love something video game related, or rock and roll related or whatever, but at least you've kind of done the work to think through an actually good version of the thing, because that's the other thing. The recommendations always feel like you're checking off a list of "Oh, we've got to get something music related" versus "I'm buying for a person who likes music, so here's the coolest and best thing for an actual music lover". I have a feeling that if people were writing gift guides for "Your best friend, the music lover" the recommendations would be so much better than writing "A gift guide for him that's for music lovers." There's something about adding the gender to it which makes people think of men as this totally foreign creature, which again, I don't think that's how they actually shop for the men in their lives, which is why these gift guides are always so strange to me.

Sally: Yeah. I think that that's a great observation. A lot of times it's kind of just the framing of the gift guide not really reflecting how we actually shop for people. And I have to say that when we start to talk about this, all I can think about is how much genderedness there is in gift guides and how a lot of that genderedness goes hand in hand with heteronormativity.

Rachel: Definitely.

Sally: You know, and I think that this also ties back to being more creative and thinking about the people in your life and what they would actually like to receive.

Rachel: Agree. Yeah, I find this at Mother's and Father's Day as well, and it's really frustrating because it's like "Moms like flowers" and it's like... "Dads also like flowers. Lots of people like flowers." I think you can do gift guides that are for the plant lover that is not gendered. I think organizing around interest or not assuming anything on the part of the reader, so that if it's a gift guide for men it's not written through the lens of "he's your partner" necessarily.

Sally: Totally.

Rachel: Maybe he's your brother or your father or your friend's partner. It doesn't have to be "Your man."

Sally: Yeah. Or like a person who's not a man who just likes... they're two separate things. But yes, I totally agree. There are so many times when I look at gift guides for dads, and I see something that's really good for a friend of mine who's a woman who's really handy. Yeah. Those things are just, I feel like so many gift guides are about the reproduction of the normative social order in so many ways. And it is so frustrating. On a lighter note, I just want to say one of my things is "gifts for the (whatever) lover". I feel like people have to be really careful shopping from those, because for example, gifts for the coffee lover, it's likely that the coffee lover either has the stuff that you want to give them from that list, or there's a reason that they don't have it. I feel like getting something for someone based on a hobby or an interest is just very tricky. And I also, this is related to a thing that I think about a lot, which is that I had this friend in high school named Ron, and he really liked the New York Rangers, the hockey team. And so people just, anytime there was an opportunity to give him a gift, gave him something Rangers-related. And that caused him... it was kind of like a snake eating its own tail. That compounded the thing of like, he was the Rangers guy. So he had hats, he had shirts, he had things to hang in his room, he had mugs, he had Rangers chotchkies and it's like... all of a sudden he's become the Rangers guy and now it builds on itself. So it's the only thing -- people are like, "Well, he likes the Rangers so we just give him a thing." And it eventually just doesn't feel like a nice gift to receive, you know? It just feels like people are like, "Oh, you like this thing. So I clicked and this thing is going to get sent to you."

Rachel: Yeah, I agree. Gifting is hard. It's not easy to do.

Sally: It's not, it's not easy to do. I think that getting things for people who you know love a thing, I think it's a really nice thing to do. I just think it's... I guess one of the points that we're going to make over and over and over again is that you can't really be generic about it.

Rachel: Yeah.

Sally: There just has to be some level of personalization.

Rachel: I think one of the things that makes gift giving difficult is that in a lot of cases, it's one of the only interactions you're having with the people you're giving the gift to all year, like when you're talking extended family or in-laws. If you don't live near those people and you don't talk to them very often in a regular way -- which I think is incredibly common and not necessarily anyone's fault or a bad thing -- it's hard to shop for them. You're ultimately struggling to shop for people you don't know very well, and so you do rely on "I'm going to get him a Rangers mug, because that's what he likes." And it's like, well, because you haven't talked to him since last Christmas, when you gave him the Rangers framed poster for his bedroom, and so you don't realize that he's actually really into this other thing. And that's not to say that there's something horribly dysfunctional about not being in super close touch with people. But I do kind of wonder about, what is this ritual of exchanging gifts as sort of the main way we communicate with people once a year? And is there value in that? It is sort of silly to simply exchange gift cards with your siblings if that's all you do every year. We can all look at that and be like, "So we could have each kept our $20." And like, whatever, that's not really the problem. I guess what I'm saying is that is stemming from not having a relationship where you actually have things to talk about or you're staying in touch, and so you don't really know each other well enough to give them a great gift. Now you can know somebody really well and still struggle to find a good gift for them -- that's again, how I kind of feel about my mom -- but I always manage to make it work. And often it just comes from knowing what's going on with her and what she's into and what she might like right now versus what she would have liked last year.

Sally: Yeah, totally. And I think another aspect of this is that, because it's the only time you're exchanging presents, there's a lot of pressure to get it right. And I also think there are people who have really strong feelings about getting presents. They feel like if they get something that doesn't really speak to them or that shows that the person doesn't really know them, they feel maybe really bad about it. I think it can be one of those things where there's just a lot of intense pressure. And I love giving and receiving gifts, but I also grew up in a family where gifts... we're not a very gifty family, but for example if my mom gave me something, she would be like, "If you don't like this, just return it." I feel like if someone is sort of like getting whatever and it feels thoughtless, my takeaway from that is they didn't put that much effort into this and they didn't think about that much, and that has to do with how they think about gifts and gift-giving and whatever, fine, I'm moving on with my life. But I think that there are people who, for whom gift-giving is a sacred ritual, and so they feel really bad when the gift they get seems to reflect not being known by the person who's giving them something. And I think that, I agree with all of the different ways that we deal with gift-giving culturally. I think that we don't make a big enough deal about getting things people are going to like, I think we make too big of a deal about it. I think that it doesn't really matter, I think it matters a lot. I think all of these things that are totally true and a lot of them are true all at once for people. So like you said, Rachel, it's complicated, this shit is complicated. And I think it also gets even more complicated when your relationship with the gift giver is complicated or is one where, like you said, they're an acquaintance of an in-law and there's going to be a gift exchange and so you have to get something.

Rachel: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And I think, you know, I've been in the position of receiving a gift from one of those distanced people and it's not been a great fit for me and it hasn't bothered me. And I say that as somebody who would be pretty upset if somebody who I am really close to gave me a gift that felt the same way. But I think with these other connections, I can kind of look at them and for me that is like, the thought that counts, they tried, they don't know me really well. What do I expect? You know, it's not necessarily their fault that they don't know me very well. I mean, in some instances it might be that you're desperately trying to connect to somebody and they just have a different vision of you and it's coming from a bad place. But I think in a lot of these cases, I'm kind of like, "Yeah, it just, that's that, it's not that deep." But it does feel bad when it's somebody who you thought knew you or you expected to know you, then it kind of hurts.

Sally: Yeah, yeah. A hundred percent. I think one of the complications too, is that it's kind of like one of those things where people are like, oh, so I heard that you're really into -- this happens to me sometimes -- I heard you're really into comedy. Who are your favorite comedians? And I can't think of any, I draw a complete blank.

Rachel: Yeah. Can't name a single one.

Sally: Yeah. So when it's holiday season and it's time to shop for people, I don't remember anything about any of my friends or anything. They're complete strangers to me, I'm just drawing a blank. Which brings me to another tip of mine, which is to basically all year round, just be on the lookout for stuff that people will like. I mean, if you see something and it makes you think of someone, get it and keep it for their birthday or for the holidays or whatever. I have an ongoing list for a couple of people, and I have it in my notes and I just throw links in there as I see stuff.

Rachel: I think that's really smart, especially because you just never know what's going to happen in terms of being able to get the thing that you saw months ago. It might be gone, it might've sold out, might not come in the right sizes anymore. So buying it when you see it is a good move.

Sally: Totally.

Rachel: I think another part of the difficulty of buying gifts and the pressure and the stress is people not really knowing, are we exchanging gifts? Do I need to get this person something? If so, how much should I be spending? And I think that just really adds to the feelings of panic and just buying whatever because it feels right, it feels like roughly the right amount. I am a big believer in being sort of smoothly upfront about whether or not gifts are being exchanged. So I think it's a good idea, particularly if you're talking about maybe a newer friend or a coworker friend, find a way to be like, "Oh yeah, I spent this weekend doing a bunch of Christmas shopping. I got your gift as well." Just to give them a heads up that you got them something. That is a gift in itself so that they're not caught feeling embarrassed and like they messed up. Because people just don't know, there's no real rule. Again, unless we're talking significant others, beyond that I'm kind of like, you don't necessarily know if we're giving each other gifts this year. And I don't think there's any shame in that. So I think it's fine to just find a way to let people know that you got them a little something with enough time for them to give you something as well. Like if you drop a gift on them the day before everybody, you know, on December 19th and it's like, well, that's it. We're not going to see you again until the new year, then they're kind of stuck. So either tell them early or gift early in a way that-- leave it on their desk so that they're not caught with nothing for you when you meet for lunch or whatever.

Sally: Yeah, totally. And I also think that it's totally cool to -- I've had people say, "Hey, we're not giving gifts. I'm not getting you something, please don't get me something." I'm completely in favor of just being super upfront about not wanting to give or receive gifts. And I think also if part of it is that shopping and gifting is stressful or you don't really have the money to spend on it, or you don't want to spend the money on it, another thing to do is with a group of people to do a secret... a secret snow friend, my non-denominational, non-gendered Secret Santa.

Rachel: I love it.

Sally: You know, where you say things under 10 bucks, things under 15 bucks, or you do the thing that we talked about a couple episodes ago which is a secret stanza, where you exchange a poem or, you know, you exchange a thing that doesn't cost money. I think that these gift giving and receiving boundaries are-- I'm really into boundaries in general. And so having them around gift-giving and being upfront about them, I think is also really awesome.

Rachel: I think so too. I think it's a good way to practice setting boundaries. It's one of those that really demonstrates to other people that they can do the same thing. So I think, be the one in the friend group who says, "I'm really struggling this year," whether it's because you're really stressed or you lost your job or whatever reason. And just say, "So, you know, instead of doing gifts this year, I decided to do X, Y, Z instead." And just do that, it'll be fine. If it's not fine, you probably have a bigger problem on your hands. Which doesn't mean it's an easy thing to deal with, but it's probably not about the gift at that point.

Sally: Yeah. That's very well put. Okay, so now that we've talked all about our grand unified theory and boundaries and just gift-giving hygiene, I just want to expose myself as having missed the mark so profoundly and incredibly, last year actually. It's all, I think, amusing and I think that it illustrates me sort of laughing in the face of everything we just said.

Rachel: [Laughs]

Sally: So my partner mentioned at one point last fall in a very casual throwaway way that the Rihanna book looked awesome. Now the Rihanna book is a huge coffee table hardcover book, it's photos of her backstage photos, childhood photos, just a bunch of... it's like 500 pages. There's all this stuff, never before seen photos and posters and just all this cool stuff. I got it. It's a hundred dollar book and I got it as the capstone Christmas present last year.

Rachel: [Laughs]

Sally: I was so excited for her to see it. And [laughs] the look on her face when she opened it was just complete bewilderment. Because the thing is, she loves Rihanna. She likes Rihanna. She likes the idea of the book. She does not want a 35 pound, 500 page, $100 book of photos of Rihanna. This is the kind of thing that you would get for a Rihanna superfan who has to have their hands on every single thing Rihanna has ever touched, which just does not describe my partner.

Rachel: Wow. Wow.

Sally: We laugh about it, because it was just such a hilarious misalignment of everything.

Rachel: When did you realize that you'd made a mistake?

Sally: Absolutely immediately.

Rachel: Oh my god [laughs]

Sally: Because the thing is that when you give this gift, I mean, it is huge and it is heavy and it comes in its own cardboard suitcase.

Rachel: Oh my god.

Sally: So the entire experience of unwrapping the gift -- lifting it up, putting it on your lap and unwrapping it, and then getting through the cardboard suitcase, is such an experience that it indicates: huge gift incoming. And so the entire time... the other thing was that I could tell she didn't know what it was. And that's also a bad sign because if it was something that she really wanted, as soon as she lifted it up, she would've been like, "Oh my God, I bet this is the Rihanna book."

Rachel: Yeah.

Sally: So anyway, that was a hundred dollar mistake.

Rachel: Wow.

Sally: Yeah. So I'm waiting to become very, very close, good intimate friends with someone who's obsessed with Rihanna so I can give this to them. Because it sat on our shelf untouched for about a year.

Rachel: Wow. Actually, at that point I would be like, I guess I have no choice but to read this cover to cover and learn everything there is to learn. Like, there are worse people you could get a hundred dollar book about for somebody. So now I kind of want to check out this book.

Sally: I know, I probably should have just leaned into it and been like, I'm just going to get really into Rihanna now. My thing is like, Rihanna personality.

Rachel: Yeah. That is your penance for this gift, is that you have to read it and learn everything there is to learn and just become a walking fountain of knowledge about her.

Sally: Totally, totally. Yeah. So anyway, that weighs heavily upon me when I shop. I was also, the other thing was just that the difference in my feeling about the gift and hers. Like, I was so excited for her to open it.

Rachel: Oh my god.

Sally: It was hilarious for everyone involved.

Rachel: Wow. That is... I'm going to be thinking about this for the rest of my life.

Sally: It's just such an absolute miscalculation on my part.

Rachel: Yeah. Wow. That was brave of you to admit this, though I've got to say.

Sally: You know, to come on a podcast and talk all about how important gift giving is to me, and knowing the people you're giving gifts to and being thoughtful and to have that in my past, I feel like I had to just be honest about the skeletons in my closet, so. Okay. Now that you know that we have all these opinions about gift giving, but also that we're fallible and that so much of this comes down to people's subjective likes, dislikes, and so on, we thought that we would talk about some of our favorite creative, clever gift ideas. So some of them you may like and, you know, leave the rest.

Rachel: Yeah. And I think these fall under the category of general things that you can then hopefully run with and make your own. They're in that ideas for thinking about gift giving, versus you have to buy this specific thing from this specific brand.

Sally: Totally. Absolutely. Okay. So I love this first one, Rachel, and this is a you thing. Will you kick us off?

Rachel: Yeah. I wrote about this on Buzzfeed several years ago and we can link to that article in the show notes, but basically I'm a big fan of, presentation and packaging will get you a long way. And I really like buying a big amount of something. Typically something consumable like a flavored fancy coffee syrup or a giant bag of coffee beans, or even making a big batch of something. And then decanting it into smaller containers in some way. And then I also love pairing it with something else that's fairly inexpensive. So if we're going with coffee syrup, coffee beans, you might be able to find inexpensive mugs. The dollar store is great for this, but so let's say you get a big bag of hazelnut coffee syrup at HomeGoods or TJ Maxx or whatever, decant that into mini bottles, make sure they're food safe, but you can find them at a craft store, major online retailers. So decant that into little bottles, maybe then you get the giant bag of coffee beans that you also divide amongst little sort of favor sized bags. You get similar mugs for everyone, so you're kind of like batching your gifts. But you can also make the thing yourself. So if you wanted to make a fancy coffee syrup, that would be an option. And then kind of packaging them all together with little gift tags. Again, this is all a thing you can do in a Michaels trip. I don't know if Michaels is really shoppable this year, but I think you can be creative about it, whether it's through Etsy or you're kind of just working what you have this year. But I think that's a really great way to do a fairly inexpensive gift, a semi-DIY gift -- you're making part of it, but not necessarily all of it. Food is a nice gift because it's often less wasteful, it's consumed and then everyone moves on. And it's a good way to do gifts for a bunch of people who kind of fall into the same category. So I think it's a good idea to do batch gifts for all of your co-worker friends, get them each the same thing so it doesn't feel like, "Oh, I got this person something so much fancier." It's removing the pressure of, "Oh, I have to get them the most perfect thing for them ever" if you don't know them as well, or you're not as close, it's just really hard to shop for customized gifts for so many people. And so this is one way to make that easier that I've done a bunch in the past and I highly recommend.

Sally: I love that. That's awesome. That's also such a win for you as a gift giver because it is easy.

Rachel: Yeah. It's so easy.

Sally: Okay. So I am really into Cameo.

Rachel: I love this.

Sally: For anyone who's not familiar with cameo, basically it's a service, it has an app and you can also do it online, where you can basically pay celebrities to send a personalized video greeting to someone.

Rachel: The term celebrity here is open to interpretation. I don't know what exactly... what minimum level of fame one needs to reach to be on Cameo, because some of the options seem a little like they're really pushing the limits of what that word means. But a known person, we'll say.

Sally: Yeah, that's a better way of putting it. A known person. And you know, those people who are closer to... I wouldn't say there are A-list celebrities on there, but anyone who's closer to the A-list or the B-list, they're more expensive. So basically the more sought after the person is the more expensive it's going to be. This is, I think, also a good gift to go in on with other people.

Rachel: Oh yeah, agree.

Sally: You know, if there's some person that you really want to get a Cameo for your friend of, but it's like a few hundred dollars, you know, you split it a few ways. I just think this is a real-- and there are also ones that are much more... You can also get them for like 35 bucks.

Rachel: Yeah, totally.

Sally: So if you have friends who, you know, there's actors from Game of Thrones on there. Again, you're not going to get, like, Kit Harrington and Sophie Turner, but the guy who played Hodor, get a cameo from him. A lot of "guy who played" people, you know.

Rachel: Right, right.

Sally: But also athletes, reality TV people, YouTube personalities. And what happens is you basically ask the person to send a video, they have a week to send it and you have, I want to say 300 characters or something like that to explain what the Cameo is about and what you'd like them to say. So you can say this is for my friend, their name is this. This is how you pronounce their name, it's their birthday. And they really love your show and they love that thing you do. You know, and then when the person makes the video, they'll be like, "Hey, correct pronunciation of your name. I hear that you really like this thing." And it feels really personal and really special.

Rachel: It's really great. You gave me a Cameo for my birthday and it was like, the thing I love about Cameo is that we know it exists, but I always forget about it. And so every Cameo feels like a delight and a surprise to me. And I just was not expecting it. It was Mary from Selling Sunset, which the new season was premiering on my birthday. It was such an incredible thing to wake up to. It was so delightful, it was so funny. I shared with everyone else. I posted it on Instagram, which, everyone wants a gift that they can post for the most part. Not everyone, but you know what I mean. But it was so funny, so unexpected, it was perfectly executed.

Sally: I'm telling you, having someone that you are familiar with from TV saying your name and also sitting in their home talking into their phone, the way that you would send a message to someone that you know, there's something that feels so fun and weird and intimate about it.

Rachel: Yeah. It's wonderful. Highly recommend. That's a good one.

Sally: Okay. So what's next? What have you got?

Rachel: Okay. So another thing that I love is just weird vintage shit from eBay or Etsy. And this one you can kind of personalize based on the person you're shopping for. You could also, in a normal year, go to an antique store or a thrift store and just kind of browse around. So vintage cookbooks and vintage magazines, I think are a really great option. A couple of months ago I bought a vintage Christmas Abercrombie and Fitch catalog from the year 2002. And I don't think that would be the right gift for many other people, but that's an example of something, if somebody bought me that I would be like, "Wow, this is pretty great." And I also bought a 1950s Good Housekeeping -- to me, those two things are a perfect pairing. So think about something that somebody likes in general and then think about, okay, what would be a weird or funny or interesting vintage retro version of this thing, and just find something kind of inexpensive, but funny and weird. Could be an old t-shirt too, that aligns with their interests -- I feel like Sally, for you, 90210 gear--

Sally: Yes please.

Rachel: --or fan stuff would be a perfect fit. So yeah. Usually those things are fairly inexpensive, but feel meaningful because it's clear that you care about the person enough to think about what they would like and get them something kind of funny and weird that aligns with their interests.

Sally: Totally. Yes. A hundred percent. If anyone wants to get me some magazine that had an interview with L. Ron Hubbard in the seventies, I will give you my address. That is, I love that. I love that so much. That's great.

Rachel: Cool. All right.

Sally: All right. So my next one, you're an expert at this one. Basically you put together kind of a variety box of a bunch of different things. So you sent an autumn package to me and Andrea, it had an awesome skeleton hand wine holder, it was Halloween themed, but it also had these little felt acorns that had candles, just really nice autumny stuff. So I like having a theme and getting stuff that all goes with that theme. And, you know, I think that this is the kind of thing where you have an opportunity to just be really thoughtful and think about what the person would like really, really like in the moment. So an example here is that a friend of mine, he and his wife just had a baby. And I was trying to find, on Etsy you can find new parent self care kits. And they're all incredibly intimate, like special underwear and nursing bras and stuff like that. And I was like, I don't know you that well. Or they're weird, like Mama and Papa mugs. And it's just like... that's a bit much, I'm not going there. So I decided to just put a package together, hoping this friend is not listening to this right now. But what I did was I was like, let me go with cozy self-care stuff. So I got these socks that have fleece on the inside, and I got my all-time favorite chapstick, which is the Palmer's cocoa butter swivel stick, which I'm holding up for Rachel to see, is the only chapstick I recognize, it's a butter chapstick. I got Working Hands hand lotion.

Rachel: That is the best.

Sally: Right?

Rachel: Sorry to interrupt you.

Sally: No, because first of all, we're all washing our hands constantly now, but also they're going to be all changing diapers and doing... they're going to need to have soft hands. They have a cat, so I got a little package of cat toys for the older brother cat. And oh, another thing that I feel like I'll talk about more, but this chocolate that I just think is amazing and everyone loves as a gift all the time, so I included that. So it's just kind of a, you're going to be in with your brand new baby, here's some cozy stuff to take care of yourself with. And I think that assembling these kinds of things can also be pretty cost-effective, you know? I got a bunch of things that cost a few bucks basically.

Rachel: Yeah, agree. It's like, stocking stuffers fit well here, that you can kind of add little things to make it feel really special and genuinely useful.

Sally: Totally. And I think it's also good for when you don't really know... like, this is a friend who I'm close with the dad, but I've never met his wife actually. So I don't know what to get, I don't know what kinds of things she would like. So I just went with sort of... I think there's a way to be generic, but also thoughtful at the same.

Rachel: I agree. So I recommend something kind of similar, which is a build your own recipe box or kit, which my friend Julia did as a housewarming gift that was so delightful. So people who've read my blog have heard me talk about this chickpea pasta recipe that I love and have made for years and highly recommend. So she basically put together a little box with all the ingredients. So it had a can of chickpeas, a box of the pasta, a head of garlic.

Sally: That's so cute.

Rachel: I think she probably did dried rosemary. And then she found this single serving tomato paste in a little pouch that was really pretty-looking. I don't remember the brand, but it was just really beautiful. And you can also get like tubes of tomato paste if you don't want to get a single serving of it. And it was so clever that I was just like, "Wow, I've never seen that before." And the idea was like, you've just moved, who knows what food you have handy, here's something that you can make dinner in your new home right away. She also included a recipe, her grandma's zucchini bread recipe as a thing to make in the future, and it had a card, and it was just so sweet and thoughtful, and I thought it was genius. So if there's a recipe that you know somebody loves or that you love, and you can just include the recipe and the ingredients and say, this got me through this period, or I made this all the time when I moved here. I hope you like that as well. I think obviously that applies to moving, but I think you can take that idea and apply it to bigger holidays or birthdays or whatever really easily.

Sally: Oh, I love that. That's so thoughtful. Man, Julia for President. I think also, that is also a really good, just a gift you give when someone's going through a hard time or you're thinking of them, and same with the one that I mentioned before, the kind of variety thing that you put together. I think those can be, they are great for the holidays, but I think they're also just a really, they can make really good "thinking of you" gift ideas.

Rachel: Agree.

Sally: My next recommendation is mugs.

Rachel: Wonderful.

Sally: I'm a huge mug person. I collect mugs, but I also feel like it's hard for me to think of someone in my life who wouldn't enjoy getting a mug as a present because people who don't drink coffee probably, maybe, drink tea.

Rachel: I think that's right.

Sally: You know, I think if I had a friend who didn't enjoy any hot beverages, I probably wouldn't get them a mug. Although, a novelty mug can hold a bunch of pens on your desk, I'm just saying.

Rachel: It's true.

Sally: And custom mugs on Etsy are just my favorite thing to get. First of all, mugs are just really nice now. You can just get really nice mugs.

Rachel: Beautiful mugs.

Sally: Beautiful mugs, whether or not, you know, maybe it's a mug from a fandom that they're in, a mug with really beautiful art on it, a mug with just some fun saying and a font. I don't know. Etsy's a great place for them. Society6 is also another place to get really gorgeous mugs with really beautiful designs on them. And for me, mugs are kind of an evergreen awesome gift to give and to receive.

Rachel: Yeah, I think that's a good rec. You've given me two mugs. I love them both, they're great. I also think that this goes back to the idea of a weird vintage thing. Like getting some, you know, old Garfield mug about hating Mondays on eBay. I mean, you could probably get a brand new Garfield mug about hating Mondays, I don't know. But if you can find one that really feels like it came from the 80s, great. Vintage diner mugs are wonderful, they're that heavy material that feels so satisfying to hold. Fishs Eddy is a great resource for vintage diner stuff, or even modern diner stuff, but diner wear is lovely. So I think thinking about them, it's the kind of thing that if they genuinely like it, that is a gift that you can replicate year after year and kind of make that your thing, that you always give them a mug and maybe you give them a little bit of something else. But I think it's a fun way to, I don't know. It's fun to have little traditions like that with people.

Sally: Totally. Yes. I totally agree. And I got my friend Zara a mug with an oil painting of her cat on the side.

Rachel: Oh, that's great.

Sally: Fucking amazing. You can just do a lot with it. And Rachel, I feel like you've been looking at my eBay history because I was actually so deep in Garfield mugs from the 80s on eBay recently.

Rachel: Are you serious? Wow.

Sally: Yeah. Actually, my cup runneth over with the choices on there and there are so many vintage things that are so inexpensive because there's just never going to be a shortage of Garfield I hate Mondays mugs. So if you want to get a thing that feels vintage and is also like five bucks, eBay has you covered,

Rachel: I also feel like you can lean into a little bit of irony if you want to and get somebody a version -- like, get them a mug that is technically correct, but is also hilariously off. So my favorite thing to sort of troll my team at work with is blogger mugs on Etsy. If you just type in "blogger mug" on Etsy, you will find a cornucopia of options. And like, none of the people I work with are going to have a mug that says "blogger" in a bouncy font, or that says, "so many blogs so little time" but that's the humor of it. So if it's somebody who would find that funny and would use it because it's so clearly not quite the right fit, that can also be a direction to go in.

Sally: God, I love that. All right. So just a couple other recs here. I have recently become aware of vintage versions of board games.

Rachel: Ooooooh.

Sally: Yeah. So now you could do something like, you could go on eBay and you could get truly a version of the board game clue, which is one of my favorites. That was the version that was produced in the 80s, and it has the art and the font from the 80s. But also a lot of game companies now are releasing older versions, but releasing them now. You can get these games in really beautiful packaging. There's -- I don't know if you've seen this Rachel, but Anthropologie has--

Rachel: I was going to bring this up if you didn't, so yes.

Sally: Yeah. So basically Anthropologie just has these really beautiful versions of various board games, and they definitely are a certain aesthetic, but if you have a friend who likes Anthropologie, it's probably going to match their aesthetic.

Rachel: Yeah. They're like, in books, right? Like the box is a book that could sit on a shelf vertically, which is also just smart for storage. My favorite is the Candyland one, which I think, if you've got a kid in your life who likes pink, it's this beautiful pink book, and then it has the Candyland game inside of it.

Sally: Yeah. It's awesome because it makes the games like a thing you can display, not that you'd shove into a closet, you know? And it's just a nice way to sort of upgrade a usual thing.

Rachel: Yeah. I am a huge fan. There's so many options too, particularly with really classic games that you can find so many different ones, but also I love the idea of introducing people to new games as a gift. So if there's a game that is fairly accessible, is fairly quick and easy to learn, is not controversial in a major way, that's also just a good idea for a gift.

Sally: Totally. Yeah, and kind of related to that, I didn't know this until recently, but there are a lot of different kinds of playing cards out there that have really beautiful, interesting artwork. Again, the one thing I will say about the 21st century, if you have an interest or an aesthetic or a sensibility, you can probably find a product that reflects it.

Rachel: Yes. Yeah.

Sally: And there's something that is really nice to me about getting a nice set of playing cards that have beautiful art, or just a thing that your friend likes, and then a nice bottle of something, whether it's a bottle of wine or a bottle of whiskey, or maybe they don't drink and it's some really nice tea or some nice coffee, just basically for your chill at home game night, you know, here's a nice thing. I think that's a really nice pairing.

Rachel: Yeah, I agree. I think if they don't drink, you'd also do a cheese plate or something in that realm, or a fancy jarred popcorn maybe, or a truffle butter popcorn topping or something like that. I love gifts that not just are nice to open, but give them an idea of how to use it. So pairing those things together, it's like, "Yeah, let's play with these cards and make the fancy popcorn." That seems like a lovely gift to me.

Sally: I love that.

Rachel: Okay. So that was a ton of ideas. Sally, do you have any other recs that we didn't cover that are more specific? That aren't just like the idea of something, but it's more, this specific thing is a great gift?

Sally: I'm so glad you asked because I in fact do. The first thing I'm going to say is Urban Outfitters makes a fleece throw blanket that is one of the softest coziest things I've ever been able to touch in my whole entire life. So we'll link to it. It comes in a bunch of different colors, I think. I'm pretty sure I've bought this blanket for a few people. I've bought it for my partner. I've bought more than one. They're just really, really cozy and really soft. It's $50. It's called the amped fleece throw blanket. And again, you know, $50 might not be in your budget, so if that's the case, skip it. But if you're looking for a nice cozy gift to give someone that is both aesthetically very pretty and cozy, but also just the softest comfiest thing ever, it's a great way to go.

Rachel: Oh, that sounds good. I might actually take advantage of that rec and get that this weekend for some people. That is a great one. Well, I also have a cozy gift to recommend, which is not going to be a surprise if you have read any of my gift guides this year or listened to, I think it was our last episode. And that is the Comfy, which as time has gone on, I'm starting to feel like this is the gift of 2020, not just because of the pandemic, but just because it's a good gift. So the Comfy is basically an evolved Snuggie. So it's a pullover thick, cozy plush blanket. I think it's fleece lined. It has sleeves, it has a giant pocket that you can probably fit your cat into, it's got a hood. It is so much nicer than you think it's going to be, it's just really, really, really cozy. It's really warm. I don't know, if you've got somebody in your life who loves blankets or is often cold, it's a great rec. I think it's $39.99, and I think there's probably various $5 to $10 off coupons that you can find for it. But the thing that I like about it is that it's one of those things, so my mom bought it for me as a gift. I thought it was ridiculous and I would never have bought it for myself. And I think it's one of those things that like, it's going to get a laugh when you open it, because it looks ridiculous and it's called the Comfy. So you have that going for you, but then it's also awesome. I just don't think most people are going to buy it for themselves because they are going to think it's silly. So it's good in that sense, but it's also fairly neutral and... I don't want to say it's generic because it's not, exactly, but it's a crowd pleaser. It is something that you could get for both of your siblings, or your partner's siblings, or your partner's siblings' partners who you don't know as well. And I just think that unless you are a total snob or you already have one, I feel like you're going to probably actually like the Comfy.

Sally: Yeah. God, that's such a good recommendation. I mean, that's totally the kind of thing that, like, you send a link to a friend because it's such a funny thing, but if you actually receive it, it's kind of amazing.

Rachel: Yeah. And then you also have the like, "Ha ha, look at this thing I got, I'm wearing it ironically because somebody bought it for me." But you actually just love it.

Sally: You actually just love it, and it's no longer ironic. Yeah, absolutely.

Rachel: Yeah.

Sally: So my other recommendation is three different things, but I think they're all good things to include in a variety box. I wish there was a better, what's a better name for that kind of a gift?

Rachel: Oh, that's a good-- a grab bag? I don't know.

Sally: A grab bag. I love that. Okay. So yeah, this is good for a grab bag type of gift. First of all, we spoke briefly about socks being a maligned gift. It's thought of as boring and so on and so forth. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind about that, if socks have that reputation deservedly for you then so be it. But I am here to say that people who have never worn socks that are not cotton, don't realize that socks can actually be warm.

Rachel: Yes. And wonderful.

Sally: And wonderful. Smartwool socks are my go-to I ask for when gift exchanging with my in-laws and they ask what do you want, I'm like, Smartwool socks. The thing is, they are like $20 or $25 a pair. I actually can't remember, that could be wrong.

Rachel: I think that's about right.

Sally: You know? So it's not the kind of thing where you're going to ask for or give a bunch of pairs. But I think a pair is really nice. They're really warm, and if you live in a place where it gets cold and you're still wearing cotton socks, I want to invite you to see the error of your ways and try Smartwool, which is wool, but not itchy.

Rachel: Yes. I'm long overdue for just writing my sock manifesto. I feel so strongly about having great socks. I have chronically cold hands and feet, it's an actual problem, and so I have to wear socks all the time because otherwise my toes turn blue and purple and it's not good. I highly recommend Smartwool, I have a pair of those -- but I also, based on the tip that I got from a blog reader years ago, looked into Carhartt socks, which are quite similar to Smartwool but are a little less expensive. So you can usually get two pairs for $20 or one pair of a little bit more lux ones for like $15.

Rachel: Oh, nice.

Sally: So that's also something to look for. And I like the two pairs for $20 because again, if you want to batch your gifts, you can give one pair to one person, one pair to the other person, and then they're like 10 bucks a piece. So I think socks in general are a wonderful gift. Even cute ones that are fun, that's a nice gift to add to your gifts for my coworkers thing. But if you want to give socks that are actually going to open somebody to the world of possibilities beyond cotton socks. I think that is a huge gift. So I love this rec.

Sally: Yes. Please, please love yourself enough to try non cotton socks. And I will say that in sixth grade, we did a classroom secret Santa and Ronald -- I remember you, Ronald -- he gave me socks and it was obviously just, it was a random pair of socks. And I remember one of my friends got this giant, huge popcorn bucket sized thing of M&Ms. And I was so envious, I was like, "Why did I get socks?" So I understand why socks have this reputation, obviously I still remember Ronald, but I think the right sock goes a long way.

Rachel: I think that if you are giving socks to somebody who is not an established sock enthusiast, and/or you are spending more than like five bucks on a pair of sparkly, obviously novelty socks, you probably shouldn't give socks as the sole gift because so many people have bad feelings about receiving them. So you need to round it out a little bit, which I think brings us to the rest of your recommendations because this was a grab bag gift.

Sally: Yeah, so that's actually a really good transition because the other two things I want to say, I think are real crowd pleasers and also upgrades for everyday things. One is Maldon sea salt.

Rachel: Mmm, I love that.

Sally: Yeah. So Maldon is this salt that I was introduced to by my partner. It comes in really big chunks, it looks fancy. And if you watched Fat, Salt, Acid, Heat, or I'm not sure if that's the right order of those, but Samin Nosrat's Netflix show, there's a whole thing that she goes into about salt and how people think that all salt is the same, but it's actually totally not. That made me appreciate Maldon in a whole new way, so even people who, I mean, I'm not really particularly a cook, but I sprinkle salt on a lot of stuff and Maldon is amazing. A great gift, and also it looks kind of nice.

Rachel: I got my first ever box of it as a housewarming gift from Emily Fleischaker who we used to work with at Buzzfeed, and that was how I was introduced to it. Great housewarming gift from a food person who knows what's up, and I love it. I think that's a great rec.

Sally: Yeah. That makes me feel, knowing that Emily thought it was a good thing to give makes me feel even more confident about the recommendation.

Rachel: Right [laughs]

Sally: So the other thing is a food thing. And again, an upgrade of a common thing. It's Tony's Chocolonely. Have you ever had this brand of chocolate?

Rachel: I've never had it, but I've seen the bars. They're beautiful. I've always wanted to try it.

Sally: Yeah. The wrapping is really nice. The bars themselves, some of them are scored into weird shapes. It just feels very special. It's also, you can get them in big bars, you can get them in small bars. I'm someone who doesn't really like sweets very much, and I will say that the Tony's milk chocolate caramel sea salt is the best thing I've ever had in my entire life.

Rachel: Wow, okay.

Sally: Yeah, it's really good. They make some seasonal bars. This is the chocolate that I included in the, so you just had a baby, here's some nice stuff to relax with package. They have ones that are holiday themed and holiday flavored. They're just really good. I've included them as gifts in a lot of different gift packages, and people always rave about them. People are always like, "Where did you get this?"

Rachel: Yeah. Also the packaging is just cute and fun. It's beautiful, but it doesn't look like fancy chocolate. It's very bold graphics, which makes it feel very accessible, which I think is important, because you don't want somebody to be intimidated by it. Or I don't know, there's something about a luxury-ish item that feels very down to earth that I think that people respond well to.

Sally: Yeah, it's playful, as opposed to one of those chocolate bars that you see in Whole Foods and you're like, "You think you're better than me, chocolate bar?" Which I feel like a lot of those fancy ones look.

Rachel: Absolutely. So my last specific rec could be added to this gift very easily and that is Mike's Hot Honey. And then I will also say that Chili Crunch is like the 2020 version of that. So I recommended this last year. It was by far the biggest seller from my gift guide that I put on my blog last year, it's like nine bucks, you can get it on Amazon, our local cheese shop has it too so look into that because it's obviously a better way to buy it, but it is just exactly what it sounds like. It's a honey that's a bit spicy. It's really good on eggs, it's good on pizza, you can kind of put it on anything. And so as long as you're shopping for somebody who doesn't hate spicy things, I think it's a pretty good all around crowd-pleaser. It's one that I've gotten it for several friends and that's the gift I gave a bunch of people that year. And then Chili Crunch is similar, but it's an oil with little crunchy pieces in it. Similarly, really good on eggs. It doesn't have the sweet and spicy aspect of it, but it just is a really nice jar, looks great on the shelf, is practical, it can introduce them to something new. So I would highly recommend both of these. And I also think that they would pair well with the sea salt and the chocolate too, for a nice little food gift.

Sally: That's awesome. I wish I liked hot things because I'm looking at the Mike's Hot Honey website and it just looks really appealing.

Rachel: Yeah. It's great. Big fan.

Sally: Honey on pizza. That's interesting, and I like it. I'm into it. Okay. Rachel, I think we did it.

Rachel: We did maybe too much.

Sally: We did maybe too much. And I will say that this isn't even all we had to say on the matter. This represents a portion of gift-related stuff we wanted to talk about. So maybe we'll get to it another time.

Rachel: Let's hope. Thank you for indulging us, though, and listening to us scream about gifts and gift guides and socks and mugs.

Sally: Yeah. And if there's stuff that are your favorite go-to crowd pleasers, things you love to gift, things you love to get, please let us know because we would love to hear from all of you.

Rachel: I would love to see, show us the little gift boxes that you've put together in the past, themed gifts. Please, we can definitely share those with everyone too so that other people can get inspired.

Sally: Yes, absolutely. And we'll do a mailbag episode one of these days, and so all of the things that people write into us, you know, we'll read on air at some point and we'll tell you how to get in touch with us shortly. But before we do that, let's talk about a nice thing to end on. Rachel, what have you got?

Rachel: Okay. My nice thing to end on is that Christmas music is here. I am very steadfast in my belief that it starts the day after Thanksgiving. I don't do it sooner because I like to have it to look forward to. But I have a bunch of playlists that I've made over the years, but the one that I think is the best is actually not one I can take credit for. Katy Weaver made it and tweeted it a few years ago, and it is hours and hours long and it is just the best Christmas playlist. ,So I'll link to it, but it just has a really good mix of classics of things that are new to you, of cool covers. It's just a great vibe. It's great for Christmas parties, which you're not having this year, but for your marathon of making cookies or wrapping gifts or whatever it might be. I love this Christmas playlist so much.

Sally: That's awesome. I can't wait to listen to it. I'm pretty sure that you've shared it with me before and we played it non-stop in our house, so.

Rachel: Yeah, I think I did. Because I think we talked about how her Spotify handle is blakelively69.

Sally: Oh god, that's so good. That's one of those things that I see and I'm mad that I didn't think of it.

Rachel: Yeah.

Sally: Man, that's so great.

Rachel: I know it's a good one. Yeah. All right, Sally, what's your nice thing to end on?

Sally: My nice thing to end on is called Nightline. It is an atmospheric subway riding experience. We will link to it in the show notes. It's on this platform called Itch, which I've talked about before. I guess that you could technically think of it as a game, but really what it is is you choose one of three urban landscapes and you're just on a subway riding through a city. And yeah, it has some subway sounds, some really atmospheric music, it has kind of a Blade Runner vibe. It's like such a nice meditative cool thing. Right now it's pay what you want, suggested donation. So I paid $5 for it. And I just sat there this morning, looking at my computer screen, which was like a subway in motion through a kind of anonymous, but somehow familiar cityscape. And it was just really delightful and pleasant. I'm not sure if that's a sale price and if it actually costs more or has an actual price, but we'll link to it in the show notes. And it's definitely just a really nice meditative atmospheric thing to sit with or have on in the background.

Rachel: Oh great. I'm going to definitely check this out. That's a great recommendation.

Sally: Nice. Thank you everyone. For listening to this episode of Oh I Like That. Please rate us and review us and please tell us all of your thoughts about gifts.

Rachel: You can also follow us on Twitter @ohilikethatpod or email us at ohilikethatpod@gmail.com. You can also follow us individually. My handle is @the_rewm and Sally's is @sallyt.

Sally: And I can't emphasize enough how much we read your emails and messages and stuff and how psyched we are. So please do get in touch.

Speaker 1: Oh I Like That is produced by Rachel and Sally and edited by Lucas. Amber Seger, aka @rocketorca on social media, designed our logo.