Happy first day of December! Christmas is my favorite time of year. It is an excuse to spoil the people in your life that make every day better. It is also of course about Jesus, but I will spare you the re-enactment of the meaning of Christmas. I look forward to dressing up and going to late night Christmas Eve services every year. It is also a special memory because my hair caught fire twice at Christmas Eve services, different years, but the same smell of long curly hair on fire from the candles each time. No one can say my life hasn’t been interesting and now I am really careful around candles.
Onto the gifts. Since I am still waking up around 4am (9am London time), I decided to compile a few of my favorite gifts to give. None of these break the bank, other than the Dyson, and I have given all of these as gifts. I hope they inspire you or make you think of particular people in your life. And remember – nothing beats a heartfelt card. It is not about the amount of money you spend. I have shoeboxes full of letters and cards from over the years and they are irreplaceable.
Also, the gift of your time is the best gift of all. Plan a special trip or fun outing. Write a list of your favorite memories with someone and give it to them. Schedule a photo session with your parents. As I get older, these are the keepsakes that I treasure. The ideas below are great, but get creative too!
For the ACADEMIC:
- Book inspired candles. Christmas at Hogwarts is my favorite, but I also have her Pride and Prejudice and Game of Thrones inspired candles. They come in a cute little mason jar. Etsy $11 each or 4 for $40
- Also, search Etsy for first editions and autographed copies of your friends’ favorite books. Books are a great gift and it shows you really thought of the person.
For the BEER LOVER:
- Pottery Barn personalized beer mug. I have bought these for several friends and mine says, ‘LIBBY’S BEER.’ $18 with personalization
For the NEARLY BLIND FRIEND:
- I was a -11.5 before LASIK, so I am a lifetime member of the special club of people that know what it is like to not be able to see their hand in front of their face. For that friend, I recommend an eyeglass beer opener. I have this and it is always a hit at dinner parties. Silver in the City $10
For the WRITER:
- I love stationary. In fact, if I ever get married, I will still have hundreds of random stationary with Libby Simmons imprinted at the top. It is a classic gift and I used to get it every year from my mom from the Monogram Shop in Fort Wayne. It arrived in a gold box, set of 50, wrapped in tissue paper with a tiny gold sticker. This is a great gift for a man or woman. It is just as important for men to learn the art of letter writing and nothing beats a handwritten thank you. Etsy $16 for ten. There are lots of options – I encourage you to shop small though!
For the ANIMAL LOVER:
- Adopt an elephant and send the gift to a friend! For $50 you can adopt an elephant for a year to support the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. This is the perfect gift for anyone and your friend will receive periodic updates via email about their elephant.
For the INSPIRATIONAL, AWESOME, SUPPORTIVE FRIEND:
- These banners from Paper Source are so much fun and I can think of several of my friends that would love these. Choose from ‘Be Awesome,’ ‘Get Shit Done’, or my personal favorite, ‘Everyday I’m Hustlin.’ Paper Source $8
For the CRAFTY FRIEND:
- Calligraphy by Kim Shrack! Full disclosure: I know Kim, so this is not an unbiased recommendation, but there is no denying that she is amazingly talented. Her calligraphy is incredible and she takes custom orders, so shoot her an email and prepare to be amazed! I have the IU Sample Gates print framed in my kitchen and keep every letter and invite she has ever sent me – her handwriting is too beautiful to throw away. Her work also made an appearance on the Kelly and Michael show this morning, so she is kind of a big deal. Manayunk Calligraphy via Etsy – prices vary
For the TYPE A:
- I got a Dyson last year from my parents for my birthday and it is life changing. If you are Type A, this will make you look forward to sweeping. This is also a great price! Bloomingdales $300
For the GIRLY GIRL:
- I love Jo Malone perfume. I do not like anything that is too overwhelming and a lot of perfumes make me nauseous. It should not scream at you. In college I wore Chanel and now I switch back and forth between Jo Malone and Fresh (available at Sephora). You can layer Jo Malone fragrances and I recommend you go somewhere like Saks to smell them all in person. Jo Malone $65-125 depending on size
- My friend Ali got me hooked on the iconic Kendra Scott earrings and any girl in the know will love this as a gift. I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was 18 and waited to have an 80 year old woman pierce them at a jewelry store in Sanibel Island, Florida. My mom taught kindergarten and I had heard too many stories of little girls ripping out their dangly earrings, so I was in no hurry to have my ears pierced. That said, I have two pairs of these and it is a nice alternative to my standard pearl studs. I wear these when I am feeling sassy. Nordstrom $50
For the MIDWESTERN COOL KID:
- The Normal Brand is based in St Louis and their designs are perfect for the adventurous, outdoorsy, Midwestern kid. Start with a baseball hat, but all of their attire is well made and durable. I wear my baseball hat everywhere and so many people ask me about it. Normal Brand $27
For the WINE LOVER:
- Who doesn’t like wine? This cute Kate Spade wine carrier is perfection and a great price to gift to your favorite wino. Kate Spade $20
For the TRAVELER:
- Vintage maps are the perfect gift. I collect them and try to buy them at markets, but Etsy is a little more convenient. Etsy – price varies
For the SPIRITUAL GANGSTER:
- I have this journaling bible and I love it. Amazon $29
For your MOM:
- Philosophy is one of my favorite brands. I have been using Purity to wash my face since high school and I buy the fun sets of bath washes to give as gifts every year. Sephora $25 for three
For the PATRIOT:
- A classic needlepoint ‘Merica hat! Waiting on Martha $32
For your DAD:
- One of my dad’s favorite gifts from me was a personalized silver money clip with our special saying inscribed. Etsy $25
For the COFFEE LOVER:
- You cannot go wrong with a coffee press. Mine is from TJ Maxx, but there are a lot of options on Amazon depending on how much you want to spend. Add some finely ground espresso from Starbucks and your coffee lover friend will soon be highly caffeinated and happy. Amazon $31
- I have a friend that swears by the AeroPress, so I am also adding this to my list to check out! Amazon $30
For the FRIEND THAT IS NEVER ON TIME:
- I have a very nice watch that I received for my golden birthday, but sometimes I want to wear a more casual watch. I really like Daniel Wellington watches and you can switch out the bands. Nordstrom sells them as well, but Amazon has a lot to choose from. Amazon $102
For the YOGI:
- A fun water bottle and class passes to your local yoga place. I love pure barre and fun clothes and a good water bottle motivate me to go. A great gift is also your time. Offer to tag along with someone to ensure that you both go! Amazon $8 for the water bottle
For your PUP:
- Winston loves this food contraption toy and it provides at least twenty minutes of uninterrupted entertainment. It is also one toy that he will not destroy. I found mine at Pet People in Cleveland, but it is cheaper on Amazon. $11
For the ADVENTUROUS FOODIE:
- Try the World is a fun way to treat a friend to a box of surprises from around the world. A country is selected every two months and you can choose a one-time purchase or a subscription for the year. $39 for two boxes
For the LITTLE ONE:
- I have given Jellycats to most of my friends with kids. They are the softest toys and best of all – they do not make any noise! Nordstrom $22
For the COOK:
- An apple pie pan with cover. This is adorable and on sale. I don’t know any foodie that would not appreciate this! Williams Sonoma $30
- I would love to have these monogrammed kitchen towels even though I would be very careful not to destroy them with spaghetti sauce or chocolate. Mark and Graham $29 for two kitchen towels
OTHER LIBBY FAVORTIES:
- Underwear. Yep, I went there. It is one of those things I hate to buy and pay for, so I subtly hint to my mom to help re-stock my supply. I swear by Cosabellas. They can be up to $100 for a 6 pack, but Amazon has them for $50. They are no show and the most comfortable I have found. They are one size and these fit better than the hanky panky brand for smaller people. And if you are a man reading this, I apologize. And yes, they are really called hanky pankies. So, now you know my preferred underwear and whatever you do, do not call them panties. I despise that word. Webster Dictionary did a poll that found most people find the word ‘slacks’ cringe worthy, but for me it is the word ‘panties.’ On a side note, Winston wears them on his head, so they are dog approved too.
- Longchamp bag. I have several and never thought much of them until I went to London last week. I packed it in my carry on and then used it every day while we explored the city. It held all of my necessities: a sweater, scarf, mittens, passport, money, map, souvenirs, umbrella, etc. I saw a lot of people carrying Longchamps in London since it is a Parisian brand. I got my first one in college and they hold up well – You can even wash them in the washer and air dry. Nordstrom – $145 (Etsy also has cheaper, similar looking versions)