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The season of gift-giving is officially upon us, which means it's time to start the age-old, head-scratching tradition of deciding who on your list gets what. As experienced gift-givers ourselves, we know that holiday shopping can become overwhelming very quickly — so we have some advice for you. When in doubt, go with a practical present that'll make their lives easier and always get put to good use.
But just because they don't necessarily come with bells and whistles, that doesn't mean practical gifts do not have to be boring. After all, there's nothing mundane about a luxurious weighted blanket that'll keep your loved ones cozy and warm while easing their anxiety at the same time. Perhaps it's time to convert your loved ones to the bidet life, because no one likes an irritated bum or running to the store at a moment's notice to restock toilet paper. There's even something special about a robot mop that literally does all their floor polishing while they sit back and relax with their favorite show.
To help you ease into the holiday spirit, we're sharing a bunch of practical gift ideas that anyone on your list would deeply appreciate. (And they'll think of you every time — perhaps even every day — they make use of it.) In line with the practical theme, you'll probably want to get an earlier start than normal on your shopping list — shipping and stocking delays are still (unfortunately) quite commonplace.
For the beauty buff:
Riki Loves Riki Skinny Mirror
Awenia Rotating Makeup Organizer
For pretty obvious reasons, beauty lovers are our favorite kind of gift recipients over here at Allure. And yes, there are comparatively more practical gifts in the beauty department that'll last much longer than a vitamin C serum they may or may not end up using. Your beauty-loving friends will get just as excited as we do over a well-lit mirror, such as this Bluetooth-enabled Riki Loves Riki option, which can be easily paired to your phone for selfies at the press of a button and includes a magnetic holder/dock.
Of course, any burgeoning beauty collection needs smart storage solutions like Awenia's Rotating Makeup Organizer, which clearly lays out everything they use in their daily routine and doesn't look like a total eyesore.
Glamnetic XOXO Vegan Magnetic Lash
ManiMe Laser-Cut Nail Wraps
Glamnetic is changing the false lash game, plain and simple. The Best of Beauty-winning XOXO Vegan Magnetic Lashes eliminates the need for glue and a steady hand, thanks to a precise, jet-black liner that snaps the short, round, and fluttery lashes into place.
For anyone that doesn't want to splurge on a gel manicure every two weeks, the customizable, laser-cut ManiMe Nail Wraps are so good — and come in all the unique, nail-artist-created designs we could ever imagine — that we gave them two consecutive Allure Best of Beauty Awards in 2020 and 2021.
Benefit Cosmetics They're Real! Magnet Extreme Lengthening Mascara
Olive & June The Complete System
For a truly, one-of-a-kind mascara they won't be able to resist wearing every day, we present to you one of our 2021 Best of Beauty Breakthrough Award winners, Benefit Cosmetics' They're Real! Magnet Extreme Lengthening Mascara. Thanks to a little phenomenon called ferromagnetism, this innovative formula lifts and boosts your lashes to great success without the need for a curler. Allure staffers Nicola Dall'Asen and Sarah Han count this tube as one of their all-time favorites.
Olive & June's The Complete System is an all-inclusive gift that covers everything from nail prep to foot propping for easy access. If you're looking to just gift polishes, the Golde collaboration features three self-care-inspired shades that are just so lovely to look at.
Fenty Skin The Before-Bed Set
Glow Recipe Glossy Skin Spell Kit
In the realm of limited-edition holiday gift sets, we have Fenty Skin and Glow Recipe coming in hot. Prep your skin for maximum overnight rejuvenating with The Before-Bed Set, which includes a niacinamide-packed duo of Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum and Instant Reset Brightening Overnight Recovery Gel-Cream to improve moisture retention, smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and brighten dark spots. Lastly, keep lips looking lush and soft with the Pro Kiss'r Luscious Lip Balm in shade Hint Hint (a super sheer pink).
Speaking of niacinamide, The Glossy Skin Spell Kit is ideal for those who want a natural-looking glow without piling on their favorite highlighter or skin tint. You've might've seen the Watermelon Pink Juice Oil-Free Moisturizer and Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops make the rounds on TikTok, and we're here to tell you to believe the hype. Hello, dewier and brighter skin.
For the Homebody:
Bearaby Cotton Napper
Everlane The French Terry Jumpsuit
As the temperatures start their downwards trajectory, coziness levels must be properly adjusted and bumped up. The Bearaby Cotton Napper helps them get a better and deeper night's rest (or midday nap), thanks to eucalyptus fibers that the brand says stimulate serotonin, increase melatonin, and reduce cortisol. And even though they come in 15-, 20-, and 25-pound weights (and seven colors, to boot), they'll keep hot sleepers cool.
Few things beat the comforting feeling of throwing on a onesie, like The French Terry Jumpsuit from Everlane, for a relaxing day spent inside. Available in sizes XXS to XL and three colors (Washed Black, Field Green, and Apricot), this loose-fit jumpsuit made out of 100 percent cotton is peak snuggly and breathable.
Winc Gift Subscription
Helix Adjustable Pillow
Treat them to a nightcap through a Winc gift card, which starts at $60 for a 1-month subscription (or $100 for two months and $150 for three months) that's personalized to their wino preferences via a few multiple-choice questions. Plus, they'll get access to member-only prices and exclusive wines they can't get anywhere else.
If the dry air is affecting the state of their skin, they'll definitely appreciate a Canopy humidifier, which packs a punch — 2.5 liters of water across 500 square feet for up to 36 hours of running time — without taking up a ton of space. (It even fits on top of most nightstands.) Those aren't the only features worth applauding. Smart sensors increase humidity levels at nighttime while embedded UV lights kill 99.9 percent of bacteria in the water before it's released into the air. They can even pop the various parts into the dishwasher for a quick, mess-free cleanse.
Having the right pillow also totally changes the game. Helix's Adjustable Pillow includes a removable insert so your recipient can tailor the height and support they desire. Plus, the pillow's breathable cotton and gel microfiber fill keep hot sleepers feeling cool as a cucumber throughout the night.
For the responsible jet-setter:
The Ordinary The Daily Set
GHD Unplugged Cordless Styler
While we fully acknowledge that travel plans are still a bit iffy at the moment and should be thought through very carefully (in order to avoid spreading COVID-19 to the origin and destination areas), we do have a few suggestions for those who are taking flight sometime soon — especially to see family over the holidays.
The Ordinary's The Daily Set is a no-frills, three-step skin-care routine that gets the job done without hoarding a bunch of precious space in your carry-on. Their complexion will be thoroughly cleansed and moisturized after a long day of festivities, thanks to the Squalene Cleanser, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, and Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA. (Just be sure to remind them to bring sunscreen.)
The GHD Unplugged Cordless Styler is another 2021 Best of Beauty Breakthrough Award winner that weighs in at less than a pound, making it a convenient and easy-to-use tool that doesn't tie you down to an outlet.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Instant Film Camera
State Bags Bennett Fanny Pack
For the person who's always taking a million photos during their travels, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 is the perfect way to capture precious memories that won't get lost in the messy time continuum that is one's phone storage. The State Bags Bennett Fanny Pack is perfect for hands-free sight-seeing and storing hand sanitizer, face masks, hotel keys, and other necessities while you're out and about.
Lastly, whether the travel in question takes place virtually or in-person, AirBnb will make their trip unforgettable with an impossibly wide, creative range of Experiences that run the gamut from New York City speakeasy tours to at-home meditation with a Japanese Buddhist monk.
For the fitness lover:
Lululemon The Reversible Mat 5mm
Bala Weighted Bangles
Exercise has truly evolved over the past two years with many gyms and fitness classes put on pause or going virtual due to the pandemic. If your loved ones aren't too keen on being in close quarters with other gym-goers (despite everyone probably being masked) just yet, no sweat. Bring the workout to their home with stylish yet effective equipment like Lululemon's The Reversible Mat and a pair of Bala Weighted Bangles.
This particular yoga mat is designed with a moisture-absorbing polyurethane top layer for higher-intensity workouts while the natural rubber base provides cushioning and a textured grip for less sweaty sessions. Available in 18 colors/patterns and 1- or 2-pound weights, the adjustable bangles add the perfect amount of resistance to any workout when worn on the wrists and/or ankles.
Kosas Chemistry Deodorant
Powerbeats Pro Totally Wireless Earphones
Before and during the workout itself, Kosas' Chemistry Deodorant will come in handy with its stain-free, BO-fighting formula consisting of brightening mandelic acid, exfoliating lactic acid, moisturizing aloe vera, and more. (No aluminum or baking soda present, by the way.) And with nine hours of battery life, the Powerbeats Pro Totally Wireless Earphones provide all of the musical motivation they need to cross the imaginary finish line — and the snug fit ensures their earbuds stay in place while working out.
Bumble and Bumble Pret-a-Powder Post Workout Dry Shampoo Mist
Therabody Theragun Prime
While dry shampoo is generally useful for absorbing sweat, Bumble and Bumble's quick-drying Pret-a-Powder Post Workout Dry Shampoo Mist was made for this purpose. Best for fine to medium hair, ingredients like white bamboo extract and silica go to work to give sweaty hair a quick refresh by absorbing excess oil and eliminating odor, while UV filters protect hair from the sun's drying effects.
And for post-workout recovery, the Therabody Theragun Prime does a fabulous job targeting and soothing sore muscles and body tension. They'll hardly believe how quiet the percussive device is while it digs deep into their muscles with an impressive force of 30 pounds and at an equally profound pace of 40 times per second.
For the work-from-home pro:
Logitech Brio Ultra HD Webcam
De'Longhi La Specialista Prestigio Espresso Machine
Working from home has become — and continues to be — the new normal for a lot of people, so you might as well help your friends and family upgrade their at-home office. Improve their Zoom setup with the Logitech Brio Ultra HD Webcam, so they don't have to stare at a dark, grainy display of themselves any longer.
If they usually make multiple runs to the coffee shop every day, De'Longhi's La Specialista Prestigio Espresso Machine can whip up a speedy cup of espresso or coffee at home instead and save major bucks along the way. It even features a LatteArt steam wand to make barista-quality lattes and cappuccinos with ease.
Amazon Echo Show 8
EleVen by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35
Felix Gray Nash Blue Light Glasses
The Amazon Echo Show 8 does pretty much does it all — and in a bigger-than-ever, 8-inch display and 13-megapixel camera. Video call loved ones, set timers/reminders, and stream music simply by asking Alexa. They can also pair Echo with compatible light bulbs, thermostats, and more in order to create the optimal, at-home setup. In other words, the futuristic home of their dreams is here. (Now, if we could only get to Smart House level, that would be incredible.)
Remind your family and friends that they should be wearing sunscreen indoors (rain or shine) by gifting them the EleVen by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35 which, true to its name, feels like a lightweight serum and never leaves behind a ghostly white cast — no matter what skin tone you're working with. In addition to UV light, blue light has also become a hot topic. While more research is needed on the effects of UV-induced damage, tired eyes could benefit from a pair of Felix Gray Blue Light Glasses to ease eye strain from excessive screen time.
For the college student:
Disney and Touchland Power Mist Hand Sanitizer Collection
Pandemic or not, I think most college students — and anyone who leaves their house — would appreciate a device like the PhoneSoap Pro, which uses UV light to disinfect their phones (or any other objects small enough to fit inside, like a pair of keys) in about five minutes. Providing that extra peace of mind? Priceless.
Same goes for the Disney and Touchland Power Mist Hand Sanitizer Collection, which features four chic, fan-favorite scents, including Aloe You, Pure Lavender, Citrus Grove, and Unscented. Each Best of Beauty-winning spray features a colorful, tie-dye-like Mickey Mouse that'll cheer up any Disney fan — or stressed college student as they literally navigate their campus.
Tuft & Needle White Noise Machine
Songmics Laptop Desk
You never know what you'll have to deal with in a college dorm full of rowdy underclassmen. Shun the late-night noise with Tuft & Needle's White Noise Machine, which can be paired with an app for remote control, adjusting tone and volume, setting timer schedules, adjusting brightness, and more.
The Songmics Laptop Desk is a great alternative to a desk or library table when they want a slightly cozier studying situation — say, their bed or the dorm lounge couch. The adjustable wooden desk, which also comes with a small section for a cup of tea or snack (just be careful not to spill) and mini drawer, will keep them focused as they plug away on that essay they procrastinated on.
Hero Cosmetics Emergency Stress Acne Kit
Daily Harvest Custom Gift Box
We can control some things (like turning in assignments on time), while others things we can't (say, pimples that pop up while grinding to turn said assignments in on time). Luckily, Hero Cosmetics bundled up three of its must-have products into the Emergency Stress Acne Kit. Slap on a Mighty Patch (either Invisible+ for daytime or Original for nighttime), the Best of Beauty-winning acne sticker that absorbs all of the gunk out of pesky whiteheads. Follow up with a dab of the soothing, peptide-rich Rescue Balm and brightening Lightning Wand to minimize the appearance of acne-induced hyperpigmentation. Consider breakouts, handled.
Make sure they're not skipping any meals while studying for finals by sending them a Daily Harvest Custom Gift Box, which packs nine nutritious, vegan-friendly harvest bowls (like Sweet Potato Wild Rice Hash), flatbreads (fancy some Portobello + Pesto?), soups, scoops, oat bowls, and more. Anything they want, they choose for themselves.
For the eco-conscious person:
Baggu Reusable Shopping Bags
Oui the People Sensitive Skin Razor
Jenny Patinkin Pure Luxury Organic Reusable Rounds
This year (and last) has not only dealt with a pandemic but also an ongoing climate crisis as global temperatures rise at alarming rates and wildfires continue to burn down forests. For anyone who has had a renewed or ongoing interest in becoming more environmentally conscious, we have a few reusable, durable, and chic recommendations.
Invest in Baggu Shopping Bags even if their city hasn't banned plastic bags in stores yet and Oui the People's Sensitive Skin Razor to ditch disposable razors while achieving their closest shave yet. Jenny Patinkin's 14-pack of bamboo Pure Luxury Organic Reusable Rounds are easy on the skin, can be tossed directly into the washing machine (via an included mesh drawstring bag), and stored in a vegan leather carrying pouch.
Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Water Shampoo + Conditioner Bar
Tushy Classic 3.0
Love Beauty and Planet's Coconut Water Shampoo + Conditioner not only pulls double duty as a two-in-one hair treatment, but this coconut-infused, heart-shaped bar reduces plastic waste and boosts volume and moisture all at once — and just for the cost of a single Lincoln.
Don't try to deny it. You and your besties talk about bowel movements and pooping all of the time as it stands, so why not let those inform your gift-giving decisions as well? The Tushy Classic 3.0 is a bidet attachment that soothes their bum, minimizes the need for wasteful toilet paper, and doesn't require any complicated electricity or plumbing needs during installation. (You might even want to buy one yourself.)
Riding high on an uptick in refillable products (because, about time) are Glossier's Monochromes, a refillable tin eye shadow palette that easily fits in one's palms, pockets, and purses. Each compact comes with a curated trio of colors (like terracotta Clay and lilac Mist pictured above) in three matte, metallic, and satin finishes that complement each other to a T. Once they've satisfyingly hit pan, they can pop the palette out and buy a refill for $18 (versus $22 for the original, all-inclusive product).
For the party host:
Our Place Always Pan
iRobot Braava Jet 240 Superior Robot Mop
For the friend who loves to host dinner parties — or even the person who always makes it their New Year's resolution to cook more (and ease up on the takeout habit) and doesn't succeed — we recommend gifting the Instagram-famous Our Place Always Pan. This unassuming pan assumes the roles of a frying pan, sauté pan, steamer (à la a steel basket insert), skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula, and spoon rest — and in nine gorgeous colorways, we might add. (Plus, it's often on sale, especially around Cyber Monday.)
After all of the guests have left, the iRobot Braava Jet 240 Superior Robot Mop handles the floor cleanup and catches every last bit of food crumbs and whatever else made its way down below, but does not belong.
Poo-Pourri Berry Bum Bum Toilet Spray
Nest New York Pura Smart Home Fragrance Diffuser Set
In terms of reining in and minimizing less-than-tasteful scents in the bathroom and throughout the home, the Poo-Pourri Toilet Spray — in festive scents, such as Berry Bum Bum pictured above — and Nest New York Pura Smart Home Fragrance Diffuser Set have your friends covered in both manual and automated senses.
You've made it to the end. Congrats, and thanks for sticking with us. The lesson here is that no matter who is on your shopping list this holiday season, remember that it's the thought that counts the most. And, well, sometimes it pays off not to overthink and end up spending hours sweating over a gift that may very well have a short shelf life before it's relegated to storage. We hope you've found a useful candidate for that hard-to-please person in your life — or honestly, for yourself.