Know Someone Notoriously Difficult to Shop For? These Tastemakers Want to Help You Choose the Perfect Gift
Complete with timely presents to classic ones, this ultra-curated list is one to bookmark.
No matter who you are, we'd wager that there is someone in your life who is unilaterally difficult to shop for. It might be your mom, who taught you everything you know about great taste; or perhaps it's your millennial younger brother, who has a contemporary eye few relatives in his family know how to meet. Whoever it is, when the holiday season—or their birthday—comes around, you begin to scratch your head. What type of gift could possibly make the cut?
Ultimately, the best way to shop for that selective someone is to turn to experts, across all aspects of the market, who share his or her specific aesthetic. That's exactly why we tapped several of our favorite tastemakers, from fashion experts and interior designers to chefs and boutique owners: Here, they share the gifts that are on their lists, whether to receive or to give. They have their finger on the very pulse of gifting (after all, it's oftentimes built into their very own brands!), which means these experts are well-equipped to guide you towards the perfect gift.
Whether you decide to go with a small footed bowl that can be used as a jewelry catchall, a vessel for burning palo santo, or the ethically-sourced bathroom linens that will kick his or her space's color scheme up a notch, you're bound to find a curated, one-of-a-kind little something on this ultra-tailored list. One thing is for certain: There's more than enough gift inspiration for one holiday. So, come back ahead of your hard-to-shop-for loved one's next milestone—we'll be here.
Sonoko Sakai: Eye Pillows
Chef and cookbook author Sonoko Sakai says to bookmark these calming eye pillows, which are made on Martha's Vineyard. Nubby raw silk noil fabric encases an insert of restorative herbs and essential oils. After freezing or heating, simply pop one over your eyes, inhale, and relax.
Shop Now: Above the Flower Shop Calming Chamomile + Rose Eye Pillow, $40, abovetheflowershop.com.
Nickey Kehoe: Meaningful Candle
Helmed by dynamic duo Todd Nickey and Amy Kehoe, Nickey Kehoe, a home furnishings and decorative accessories shop, is a treasure trove of gifts. One particularly great option is the Bernard candle—which holds particular meaning to Nickey. "The scent is a remembrance, an homage to the untold story of Todd's grandfather, Bernard, a gentleman who believed in style as a guiding force," says Kehoe. "He embodied grace, charm, and fearlessness, seeing the world not as it is, but as it should be. Bernard is the expression of their kindred spirit—a shared love of finding beauty in the world."
Shop Now: Nickey Kehoe Bernard Candle, $105, nickeykehoe.com.
Nickey Kehoe: Interior Design Book
Kehoe and Nickey's new book is a must for an interior design enthusiast. The volume highlights the team's well-honed aesthetic—a masterful combination of the classic and the contemporary—through a collection of 15 residential interiors that span Los Angeles from east to west.
Shop Now: Golden Light: The Interior Design of Nickey Kehoe, $42.90, amazon.com.
Darryl Carter: Photo Album
"We may not be where we want to be this holiday, and we may not be with all those we want to be with. With that—gestures are all the more meaningful," says interior designer Darryl Carter, who advises gifting a photo album. "Though seemingly bygone, it will not get 'lost in space.' Memorialize sentimental family moments, or, as I am prone, memorialize stages of construction from beginning to end."
Shop Now: Red Tree Photo Album, price dependent on book selection, redtreealbums.com.
Darryl Carter: Decanter
Justina Blakeney: Tea Subscription
"Tea is such a soothing thing, and it's so fun to be introduced to fantastic new teas from around the globe, every month it's like going on a whole new tea adventure right from the comfort of your own home," says Justina Blakeney, a designer, artist, author, and the founder of Jungalow.
Shop Now: Sipsby Tea Subscription, four teas for $15 per month, sipsby.com.
Bobbi Brown: Beauty Supplement Set
"As you'll see by the name, these products are my inner beauty essentials—and my ultimate gift box," says celebrity makeup artist Bobbi Brown. "With a combination of biotin, collagen, and probiotics, these products work together to promote healthy skin, hair, and nails, while also nourishing the gut and microbiome."
Shop Now: Evolution_18 Bobbi's Beauty Favorites, $64, evolution18.com.
Bobbi Brown: Bandana
"I love Everlane's 100% Human collection, which donates profits to the ACLU. This includes my favorite bandana, which has been my go-to during the pandemic for extra face coverage," says Brown. "It's cool, comfortable, and you can throw it in the wash after each wear to avoid mask-ne."
Shop Now: Everlane The 100% Human Silk Bandana in Blood Orange, $28, everlane.com.
Hana Getachew: Towel Set
"Just like all of our products, they are handwoven in Ethiopia, in a fair-trade environment," says Hana Getachew, the founder of Bolé Road. "These particular tea towels are also hand-dyed and are made with hand-spun cotton. They are pre-washed and machine-wash safe, of course!"
Shop Now: Bolé Road Textiles Tea Towels, $135 for set of three, boleroadtextiles.com.
Vicky Tsai: Matcha Starter Kit
"This is my go-to gift for fellow matcha-lovers," says Vicky Tsai, the founder of Tatcha. "Ippodo is one of the oldest and most respected matcha brands in Japan, and green tea is full of antioxidants that are great for both the body and skin. Whenever I travel to Kyoto, I always make time to stop by their shop for a cup (or two) of their glorious tea."
Shop Now: Ippodo Tea Match Starter Kit 6 (Deluxe Edition), $180, ippodotea.com.
Athena Calderone: Footed Bowl
Designed by Athena Calderone, an entertaining expert and the creator of EyeSwoon, and Cameron Bishop, the creator of Beau Rush Ceramics, this footed bowl, with the prettiest patina finish, is versatile and sophisticated—your giftee can use it for storing jewelry, burning incense, and more.
Shop Now: Athena Calderone x Beau Rush Petit Footed Bowl, $85, athenacalderone.com.
Caroline Scheeler: Mint Tea Candle
Caroline Scheeler, the creative director at Jayson Home, loves these mint tea candles, which come in three sizes. Handmade in Marrakech by a mother and son team, the candle is crafted from natural soy wax and infused with a curated blend of perfumes developed in Grasse, France—and is a wonderful hostess present.
Shop Now: Jayson Home Moroccan Mint Tea Candle, from $48, jaysonhome.com.
Temidra Willock and Tanya Willock-Morsch: Surf Art
Sisters and co-owners of Hidden Gem New York, a concept boutique in Southampton, hand-make these artful surfboards—using a mixture of acrylic on wood with a resin finish—in a vast array of sizes. They make the ultimate wall piece for a friend who loves the ocean (and color!).
Shop Now: Hidden Gem NY Flat Surf Board, $135, hiddengemny.com.
Temidra Willock and Tanya Willock-Morsch: Hope Cards
Jenni Kayne: Votive Candle Set
Sample some of clothing designer and lifestyle expert Jenni Kayne's best-selling candles in votive form—your recipient can experience Ash, Cedar, Aspen, and Musk. Ask them for their favorite, and gift them the full-sized iteration on their birthday.
Shop Now: Jenni Kayne Votive Candle Set, $125, jennikayne.com.
Maria Cornejo: Crochet Orbs
"I love Magda's hand work," says fashion designer Maria Cornejo of the creative's delightful crochet objects, which can be purchased from the Zero + Maria Cornejo store. "It brings so much joy and beauty, which is much needed right now."
Shop Now: Magda Sayeg Crochet Balls, price upon request, zeromariacornejo.com.
Maria Cornejo: Zero
Cornejo loves looking at the evolution of her eponymous collection—"and remembering all the energy and teams both in design and my daughter Bibi's beautiful imagery and her father Mark Borthwick's unique eye." Your go-to fashion guru will, too.
Shop Now: Maria Cornejo Zero 1997-2017+, $85, zeromariacornejo.com.
Yasmin Kahn: Oyster Knife
Matt & Britt Witt: Maple Syrup
Sheila Bridges: CBD Gumdrops
Considering everyone's collective stress level in 2020, interior designer Sheila Bridges says you can't go wrong with treating your loved ones to a few CBD treats. "Gumdrops or bath salts!" she says. "There are lots of great CBD products to choose from."
Shop Now: Lord Jones Grapefruit Hemp-Derived CBD Gumdrops, $50, lordjones.com.
Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch: Candlesticks
These candlesticks, which come in a myriad of sizes, will bring your loved one's tabletop to life, says Robin Standefer, the co-founder of RW Guild, which she helms with her husband, Stephen Alesch. "Stephen turned the first one for me as a gift, and they remind me of our meadow,," she adds.
Shop Now: RW Guild Reed Candlesticks in Blackened Brass, from $210, rwguild.com.
Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch: Antique Vases
"For years, our friend, Janbaz, has been bringing us these authentic cups from India," says Standefer, noting that they were originally made for lassi yogurt drinks and hand-engraved in Moghul-style, featuring botanically inspired pictures. They're silver-washed in brass and can easily double as a vase for someone who enjoys flower arranging.
Shop Now: RW Found Engraved Brass Vases, $80 each, rwguild.com.