Features + Gift Guide

Gift Guides 2020: Abra’s Wishlist

I usually love writing this gift guide.  I window shop for weeks to choose the perfect gifts.  I bookmark picks, and solicit input from friends.  But not this year.

In 2020, everything feels heavy.  And the idea of buying or receiving presents is less festive and appealing than in previous years.  All I really want for Christmas is a working vaccine and for the people I care about to survive unscathed long enough to receive it.

But maybe this is a fake it ’til you make it situation?  So let’s build a gift guide in the hopes that a festive mood will follow it into our hearts.

I lost my favorite earrings a few months ago, and my ears have been mostly bare since.  I tried several lovely pairs of CZ earrings, but I’d prefer something special.  So I was on the hunt for a diamond earring that was beautiful and good quality, but wouldn’t break the bank.

These Shield of Strength studs from Stone + Strand keep catching my eye.  The cluster style gives you the size of a .75 ct solitaire without the price.

Another label that makes affordable diamonds is Adina Reyter.  I love these simple cluster studs and these adorable starbursts.  Want to really blow it out?  These forget-me-knot earrings will be your number-one choice for all special occasions.

Whether your a Mom afflicted with before-school chaos or a boss whose mornings never stay on track, most of us aren’t getting to drink our coffee (or tea) while it’s still hot.  Enter the OHOM Self-Heating cup.  The base heats the cup to a perfect 130-degrees and, bonus points, will also charge your smartphone.

Bottega Veneta’s clamshell leather clutch has taken fashion by storm.  But the price, woof.  Luckily Loeffler Randall has this amazing Analeigh clutch for a far better price.  Need to save even more money?  Amazon’s Drop collection has this cute bag.

This self-inking Custom Copper Stamp from Food52 is a nice gift.  It looks great sitting out on a desk and it’s useful for a friend who loves to send letters (or whose holiday card list is getting a bit long).  It’s a little pricey, so if you’re looking for an affordable alternative, Etsy has a number of custom stamp options.

Jenni Kayne’s Everyday Cardigan is a classic.  The styling, the length, it’s the perfect sweater for work or work from home.  The slightly looser fit makes it a very modern choice.

Need personalized jewelry?  So much of these gifts are too cute by half, but I love this Thatch customizable pendant.  It’s sleek and chic, but also sentimental.

For something a bit more modern, I have a soft spot for these Maya Brenner in-line pendant necklaces.  The silver is half the price of the gold.

I posted this baseball cap in a list of co-worker gifts in yesterday’s #BreakThings newsletter, but it is worth sharing again.  I bought one for me, one for my best friend, one for my compatriot at the Legislature and two more just to have around in case.  I also like the brand’s Out of Office cap.

I received this UnHide Faux Fur blanket in a FabFitFun box some time ago.  I use it every day.  When it’s cold, I lay it on my bed, and I am instantly warm.  My dogs love it because it is unbelievably cozy.

When Kyle was working for a company based in Italy, he was gifted the most amazing bottle of Balsamic vinegar.  Aged 25 years, and made only from grapes grown in the Modena region, Italian Balsamic makes the stuff from Trader Joe’s look like swill.

This Gocce Balsamic Vinegar is thick, and gooey, and rich in flavor.  Just a drizzle makes a plain chicken salad delicious.  Want to really blow someone’s mind?  Drizzle a bit on a dish of vanilla ice cream.

These bowls from Food52 have a lovely color palette.  If you have a baker in your family, these would make a good gift to replace older standbys.  These particular bowls are also eco-friendly, as they’re made from recycled bamboo.

Luxurious pajamas are always a nice gift, and one of the few good things about the pandemic, has been that retailers are focusing on cozy sleepwear.  This leopard print from Cosabella is a wonderfully soft and comfortable set.  Shopbop has the most fabulous selection so, whoever is on your gifting list, you can find the best sleepwear there.

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  1. Kris says:

    I have a question about coordinating jewelry. My engagement ring is princess cut and then I inherited a European cut ring which I am planning to have the diamond reset as a pendant. I have also fallen in love with a pair of Asscher cut earrings. Would it look tacky to wear them all together?

    If it’s not “tacky”, should the shape of the diamonds at least all coordinate (round/square/emerald, etc)? I feel way out of my league here since I’ve never had fine jewelry before.FWIW, they are all small and would be for everyday wear.

    December 4, 2020/Reply
    • Kris says:

      Following up to say that I feel a bit foolish asking this question given Abra’s sobering reminder of the current situation at the top of the post. Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

      December 4, 2020/Reply
      • Rachael says:

        We all need a distraction here and there to get by when things are tough 🙂

        FWIW, I think that the engagement ring is a free space – since it’s always on I don’t think it should dictate anything else you might wear. I have a tendency to want to match the general shape of the stones I wear, but if the pieces are small or relate in some other way (i.e., all in the same metal tone) I think it would look great!

        December 4, 2020/Reply
    • KL says:

      Personally I wouldn’t even notice that your diamonds were different shapes/cuts, beyond admiring each of them individually. Mixing metal tones is much more obvious, although I admit that I am lazy and tend to break that rule too (currently wearing silver rings and a rose gold watch).

      December 4, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I don’t think this is an issue. I don’t notice different cuts. Even when layering different metals, as long as you do it thoughtfully, it’s all just jewelry you like, and that’s what matters.

      December 4, 2020/Reply
  2. Aar1 says:

    Abra! Yes absolutely absolutely can relate to this! The gift giving seems like a return to normalcy, but I honestly don’t even want that

    December 4, 2020/Reply
  3. Kim says:

    My dog LOVES my unhide blanket as well! Getting one for my grandma this year since I can’t visit her.

    December 4, 2020/Reply
  4. Crystal says:

    Thank you for the hat recommendation! After seeing it twice (first on your Insta), I couldn’t resist and bought it for my favorite former boss. She’ll love it.

    December 4, 2020/Reply
  5. Rachel C says:

    Thank you for admitting that gift giving and receiving just feels off this year, at least for some of us. People keep asking me for a list, but I honestly just don’t care about gifts. What I really want (to spend the holiday like normal with my family) I can’t have. And material things just don’t have much appeal right now. But I feel like I sound like a major Covid Grinch admitting I would prefer to skip gifts all together.

    December 4, 2020/Reply