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  • Caroline Mullen

Gifts that are Practical, Useful, and Worth a Splurge


I love to give gifts!! I love to receive gifts, too, so if gift-giving is one of your love languages, this is a safe space, shielded from the holier-than-thou “words of affirmation” crew. That’s because finding the perfect thing for someone is like a creepy little scavenger hunt through their brain—I really try to crawl into their skin so as to think about all the things they might love to receive. When I’m stumped on what to get someone for any given occasion, I like to make an actual written list of all the things I know they like—hobbies, TV shows, foods, celebrities, etc.—and stare at it until inspiration strikes.


The other thing is that recommending stuff is literally half of my job. I’ve written a lot of gift guides, read a lot of gift guides, and done a lot of thinking about what is and is not worthy of being a gift. It’s all very subjective once you get granular, but in general, I’d say don’t buy a gift just to buy it. I try to give gifts that are as practical as they are special, so the giftee never has to find it in a drawer three years later and guiltily throw it out—that sucks for both parties involved.


Instead, get them one of these practical, useful, or splurge-worthy gifts.


Things I own and love:


Credit: Global

1. Global Chef’s Knife, $105

The cook I trust most in my life, Celeste, uses Global knives and they were apparently also a favorite of Anthony Bourdain. I got my mom a set for her birthday one year and forgot to return one I had picked up at Sur La Table, so I started using it myself. Aaaand I just… love it. It fits so perfectly in my small, chubby hand, and isn’t heavy or clunky like some other knives I have. If you love someone who loves to cook, get them a nice knife (or two).


Credit: Amazon

2. Sherpa Dog Bed, $45

Dog beds are surprisingly ugly and shockingly expensive. Actually, if I’ve learned anything from a year of dog ownership, it’s that aesthetically-pleasing pet items are often exorbitantly-priced. This bed is not! Shoutout to Ashley Hosmer for the rec. So far, Ozzie hasn’t destroyed it and it looks much better than the Target bed we had for him prior.


Credit: Wild One

3. Wild One Walk Kit or Wise Dog Harness, $98 or $40

Speaking of expensive pet things… Wild One is the “It” dog harness company. Once I sniffed out who made the trendy harnesses and leashes I kept seeing at the dog park, I couldn’t stop seeing them, I had to have a set for Ozzie. But, like so many nice things, he decided to chew up his harness (in a really quite nuanced Cocoa shade). Despair not! I got a tip from our friend and fellow Frenchie owner, Victoria, that Amazon has a pretty much identical dupe, under the brand name “WiseDog.” Lol. So, if your budget is $100, get them the Wild One Walk Kit, but if your budget is $40, the WiseDog harness and leash are basically indistinguishable.

Credit: Amazon

4. Carafe & Glass Set, $21

This is an extremely classy gift, IMO. The cup fits on top of the carafe so you can prevent dust from settling in an open water glass overnight, and I’m partial to this amber color, which is slightly trendy, slightly classic.

Credit: Acne Studios

5. Acne Studios Mohair Checked Scarf, $310

I just bought this scarf on Poshmark after much hunting for a bright, plaid, high-quality wool scarf. I kept coming up short and I kept coming back to this one, so after selling two jackets I never wear, I decided I was worth it. The real-deal, from-the-brand scarf goes for $310, but I got it new with tags for $160. Cha-chiiiiiing. Just double-check that the stitched logo says “Acne Studios” all on one line, I’ve seen fakes with the words on two separate lines.


Credit: Material

6. Material reBoard, $35

I’ve had the Material reBoard for about a year, and it’s frequently my go-to. I actually met the co-founder of the brand, Eunice (hi, Eunice!) at a dinner, and her warmth and passion made me love it that much more. Plus, I have enough kitchen tools that can’t go in the dishwasher, I truly would loathe to wash a cutting board by hand after every meal. Actually, what I mean to say is, I would loathe for Jeffery to wash a cutting board by hand after every meal, because 9 out of 10 times I cook = he cleans. Next on my own list is the mini reBoard for tiny tasks.


Credit: Sephora

7. Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche, from $72

Idk, perfume seems to be losing its strength these days… is it just me? Anyway, I wore this scent in college but thankfully it doesn’t bring up any feelings of yearning or vague trauma when I smell it (you know how some scents just trigger your fight or flight?). It’s fresh, deep, and it’s Chanel, so…


Credit: Brooklinen

8. Brooklinen Sheet Set, from $49

I could go on (and on) about my love for quality sheets—Brooklinen’s in particular—but I won’t. If you love someone, and you’ve got a good budget, get them a nice set of sheets. It’s honestly one of the best gifts you could give.


Credit: Bed Threads

9. Bed Threads Euro Shams, $120

I lusted after these shams for a good six months before I finally pulled the trigger. I try really hard not to fall prey to decor trends, but I am human and I am weak. I can’t help but smile when I look at the squiggly piping on the edge of these pillowcases. They’re kind of gigantic (Euro shams are 23” x 23”), but I still LOVE ‘EM.


Credit: Sheertex

10. Sheertex Tights, from $35

Do I like to wear tights? No, I’d rather be bare-legged under a dress, but sometimes the weather and my pasty winter legs necessitate them. And if I had a nickel for every pair my big toe punched a hole through or got a run from pulling them up, I’d have enough to buy these truly rip-resistant ones.


Things I would love to Receive:


Credit: Amazon

11. Enamelware Bowls, $25

These have been in my shopping cart for a good two months thanks to Paige Wassel’s YouTube channel and her Amazon storefront. Do I need more cereal bowls? No. Do I contemplate buying them once a week? Yes.


Credit: Amazon

12. Checkered Kitchen Towels, $14

These clash with my kitchen, but if they didn’t, I would have had them already. I love the trendy little pop of cobalt and checker, I am but a sucker! Plus, it’s a low-stakes way of incorporating the almost-overdone checkered trend instead of investing in an expensive rug or bedspread you might end up hating.


Credit: Malin + Goetz

13. Malin + Goetz Rum Body Wash, from $25

Every hotel should stock Malin + Goetz, full stop. The rum scent in particular smells like a fancy beach vacation, plus I love a pump on a body wash.


Credit: Birkenstock

14. Birkenstock Bostons (lol), from $120

Listen, I know every bitch and her mother has a pair or wants a pair, okay? But I have a bunion and plantar fasciitis, and I’d really like to own a pair of slip-on Birks for walking the dog in the cold months. But alas, TikTok blew up the orthotic shoes I intended to buy and now I can’t get my grubby paws on them. So if you can snag them for someone this year, you’re basically Santa. Edit: My overseas connect (Sophia, hi Sophia) ordered these for me to pick up while I’m in London. Glory be.


Credit: Baublebar

15. Baublebar Personalized Blanket, from $78

Yet another item I have had on my maybe-I’ll-buy-it list for years at this point. There's a bunch of different styles, but I’ve mostly been stuck trying to decide if I just get one with a “C” for me, or does that mean Jeffery needs a “J” one too? Should we just get an “O” one for Ozzie? Idk. We don’t have a shared last name and don’t intend to (I need to maintain the celebrity of my own last name, obvs), so there’s no clear answer.


Credit: Sephora

16. Tartelette Eyeshadow Palette, $42

I saw this recommended by influencer and former editor, Lindsay Silberman, and honestly it looks like the exact eyeshadow colors I like to use on a day to day basis. It’s got the dark brown and super light cream, plus lots of blending colors and shimmers in cool and warm shades. Methinks I need it.


Credit: Made In

17. Made In 12-Inch Stainless Steel Frying Pan, $109

I am in great need of a quality stainless steel frying pan, for tossing pastas, sautéing vegetables, searing chicken, etc. My cast iron skillet can only get me so far, and this one in particular comes highly rated and reviewed, compared to a much more expensive All-Clad skillet I had been wanting.


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