Gift Guide 2023: My Favorite Things Party

Nov 15, 2023

This year, I really wanted to host a Favorite Things party.  If you’re not familiar with these parties, the concept is simple: every attendee brings a gift, usually something under $15, that they really love, and they bring enough for everyone.  So at the end of the night, everyone leaves with a few new “must have” trinkets.  I think it’s a tremendous idea.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to play Oprah for a day?

But alas, it was simply not to be.

Then, I realized, wait a minute.  I have a blog, which is essentially one giant collection of my favorite things.  So why not do a Favorite  Things gift guide filled with affordable things?

Le Pen makes the very best pens.  Period.  They’re extremely fine tipped, fun to write with, and come in awesome colors or basic hues.  I buy the Oriental Blue.  If I were doing a Favorite Thing, I would buy a pack of blue and a pack of black and give one of each.

It’s an inexpensive and fabulous gift.  Watch how quickly they become everyone’s favorite pen.

Do you get bruises?  Sore joints?  Small aches and pains?  Translation, are you over-35 and don’t know why your body seems to be falling apart?

Then Dr. Bronner’s Arnica-Menthol Magic Balm is for you.  Rub this onto what pains you to shrink bruises fast and soothe soreness.

Condiments are a great thing to bring to a gift-swap party.  Whether it be a spice blend from the local ethnic-foods market, a honey, a hot sauce, a jam, a coffee syrup, the choices are endless.

For me, the number one condiment in my pantry is this Roasted Garlic Achaar from Brooklyn Dehli.  I’ve shared this before, and I keep coming back to it because it is delicious.  Mix it into hummus.  Spread it on sandwiches.  Use it in a rice bowl.  It’s also incredible with the chicken nuggets that your toddler didn’t eat.

I bought these $10 Immobird Hoop Earrings during a 1:00AM Instagram binge when I was feeding my then-newborn.  They are the ultimate cool girl earring that is still work appropriate.  I usually wear them with all black, and whether it’s a business suit or leggings and a sweatshirt, they always look fabulous.

Looking for another earring related gift that people don’t know they need?  Locking earring backs.  If you have a pair of earrings that you are terrified to lose, these snap on backs keep them firmly, but comfortably, on your ears.

My kitchen, like the kitchens of all 40-year-old women, is filled with small appliances — toaster ovens, stand mixers, slow cookers, waffle makers, you name it.  As a result, it is also covered in haphazardly stored cords.  At least, it was.

These stick on cord organizers are phenomenal.  Attach one to almost anything with a cord (not hot rollers) to keep things tidy.  Pro-tip: clean the surface with rubbing alcohol and then, heat the adhesive with a hair dryer to get it to stick really well.

Meet the Pony Popper.  If this product had existed in 1996, it would have been sold by a 30-minute infomercial airing on HGTV and the Disney Channel.  Every woman you knew would have owned five.

The small plastic clip adds volume and life to any ponytail.  Even on my shoulder length hair, it makes my ponytail fuller and bouncier.  It’s how you get that supermodel quality ponytail without teasing your hair until it cries out for mercy.

As I’ve mentioned before, I always check luggage.  Don’t @ me, this is my beige flag and I wave it with pride.  But while I love to bring a full-size liquid or gel, I recently discovered these handy pouches for bringing your own shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc. when traveling.

They’re fantastic.  They’re sturdy enough to refill and reuse if you want.  If not, just toss them before you leave for home.

These products were my favorite affordable things for 2023.  Later this week, I’ll post some more affordable gifts for White Elephant gifts and stocking stuffers.

{this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author}

Features, Gift Guide, Posts, Style

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  1. BN says:

    This is a fun post! I love this bunch of inexpensive, useful/beautiful products that I can throw into my Amazon cart for that hit of dopamine. Thank you!

  2. Amy says:

    Who are these people who don’t check bags?!? I love not lugging a suitcase around all day, but I also fly mostly direct so little opportunity for my luggage to get lost. Mostly, getting all my liquids to fit in the quart-size bag is generally not possible.

    • Crystal says:

      Hi, it’s me. I have not checked a bag since 2004. I’ve even traveled internationally for two-week stretches with only an international carry-on and a personal item. Airlines have too repeatedly lost my luggage — somehow even gate-checked luggage?! — and I’ve had people grab my bag from the carousel before I could get there. A few years ago, several of us had our flights repeatedly bumped on our way to Madison, Wisconsin, for a winter wedding — the folks who checked bags (with their parkas) ended up without luggage, desperately running around freezing cold Madison in the *few hours* before the wedding to find wedding-appropriate attire. So while I understand your preference, I choose the hassle of the extra bag over the stress of not having things I need for a trip (and the extra expediency of getting out of the airport without waiting for luggage).

  3. Kristen LeBlanc says:

    This is fantastic, thank you! Great items and ideas. I just moved to a new city/state so I don’t have any local friends yet but I would LOVE to do a favorite things party 🙂

  4. Charlie says:

    These were the dopamine hits I needed today! Thank you. I’m on the no checked in luggage team because of unreliable airlines and wanting to be on the go but I wish I was a checked in luggage relaxation gal.

  5. Michelle says:

    Oh I LOVE this concept and post!!

  6. Laura says:

    Love this idea! I would bring this ginger grater.
    It is a strange looking little tool but makes grating ginger for stir fry and soup SO much more enjoyable!
    https://www.amazon.com/Kyocera-Advanced-Ceramic-2-inch-Grater/dp/B0017OCTTS/ref=sr_1_15?keywords=ginger%2Bgrater&qid=1700248913&sr=8-15&th=1.

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