Every year, 97% of shoppers are afflicted with the seasonal disease of Present Procrastination. Like clockwork, the symptoms appear come December: forgetfulness, denial, panic and despair.
Skip the drama. Here are three different gift guides that pack a punch for the personalities in your life — and if you don’t know anyone fitting these exact descriptions, hopefully it will get your creative juices flowing.
Best of all? These gifts can be bought online, so you can skip the claustrophobic mall escalator.
The News Junkie is your friend who’s fixated on the latest crisis, whether it’s the Senate torture report, an Ebola outbreak or the saga of Malaysia Airlines. For this obsessive friend, I recommend one of the following:
Manhunt Documentary ($19.98): This HBO documentary follows the 20-year search for Osama bin Laden, including in-depth interviews with CIA agents and analysts. This juicy doc is riveting in its plotting and detail — and your friend will have colorful dinner commentary for the next 6 months, guaranteed.
The Forever War by Dexter Filkins ($13 paperback): One of the finer examples of war-time reporting, this book starts off with a public execution in a soccer stadium. Peppered with memorable anecdotes from Filkins’ many years working in Afghanistan and Iraq, the book includes real detail on what it’s like to be a reporter in a war zone. (Filkins blew off steam by jogging through security checkpoints along the Tigris River.)
Any Album by Morteza Pashaei (digital albums are roughly $9.99 each): Tehran came to a standstill when this Iranian pop star died last month, with huge crowds gathering to mourn. According to the New York Times, this response surprised authorities: “In October, officials used all the propaganda tools at their disposal to call for public displays of mourning after the death of one of Iran’s leading clerics…but no crowds gathered,” the NYT reported. This music gets to the heart of a culture we rarely get to experience — and it also happens to be really lovely.
The Pragmatist is the friend who insists she doesn’t need anything this year. She may not desire an indulgence — but she’s always in need of foolproof basics. Here are the no-nonsense, cult items guaranteed to please:
Yu-Be Moisturizing Cream ($16): This is, without hyperbole, the best moisturizer in the universe. Perfect for dry, chapped winter hands, this cult product is worth the hype. Buy two — you’ll want a tube for yourself.
Stance Drexler Socks ($10): I am not sure how socks got a reputation as a lame gift. Think back to a simpler time (like the Little House on the Prairie days), when socks and a simple orange were blockbuster gifts. This tribal pair would be adorable paired with either pajamas or heels.
Kushyfoot Knee-Highs ($7): To really round out a sock-centric gift, include these Kushyfoot knee-highs. This model features squishy padding on the sole — guaranteeing hours of happy feet.
Marc Jacobs Lip Lock Moisture Balm ($24): This is the most expensive item on the gift guide, but I promise it’s worth it. I’ve tried every lip balm in the book, and this is the only one with a light formula that delivers hours of serious moisture. The bullet shape is way more luxurious than a tube of LipSmackers, too.
The Novice Gourmand WANTS to cook, but hasn’t done anything more advanced than DVRing episodes of Giada. Time to give her a tiny push with these gifts, which add some extra oomph to everyday necessities.
Maldon Sea Salt ($15): I know, I know. Fifteen bucks for salt seems insane. That’s why it’s the perfect GIFT — those little indulgences that seem hard to justify otherwise. Maldon is the official salt of the Goop newsletter — and if it’s good enough for Gwyneth, it’s good enough for everyone on your list.
Pimentón (Roughly $10 at specialty grocery stores): Another Gwyneth Paltrow favorite, the NYT jokingly says this smokey spice is Spanish for “better than paprika.” (Make sure you don’t get confused and buy regular paprika, which tastes like sawdust by comparison.) It’s transformative when dusted across everything from hummus to hardboiled eggs. Pair it with the sea salt, and you’ve got a great stocking stuffer.
The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider ($20): Of every cookbook I’ve ever owned, none comes closer to echoing my preferred method of cooking than this one. Instead of slavishly following a series of steps, you learn how to nimbly create new versions of recipes based on what’s already in your refrigerator crisper. Perfect for newbies or experienced cooks alike.
Mini-Spatulas (Approximately $5): When I received two tiny spatulas after my wedding, they changed my world. Never again did I waste a smidgen of mayonnaise — and no bowl of frosting remained un-scraped! These seem ridiculous in theory — who needs a tiny rubber spade attached to a stick? But for their sheer utility and space-saving capabilities, they earn a special space in every stocking.