A Gift Guide For All The Special Snowflakes In Your Life

They say it’s better to give than receive, but not when gift giving feels like a burden. We all want to give the people we care about (or the people we pretend to care about) meaningful presents, but it’s not always easy. Whether giving a gift is an act of love or simply an obligation, you don’t have to overthink about it any longer because I’ve already done that for you. Here are my favorite gifts for all the difficult people on your list. No matter what your budget is, any one of these gifts will guarantee a smile and potentially a thank you card. 

Your Significant Other’s Mom

You Hooked Up 5 Times and Have No Idea Why You’re Even At This Dinner ($)

Even if you are meeting the parents a little sooner than you would have liked to, you still need to bring a nice holiday gift. A personalized Go-Comb is perfect for those occasions when you need to make a statement that won’t affect your bank statement. For $21.99, this personalized comb has a mirror on the back and fits in any wallet. What says, “I actually care,” more than something you had personalized? The Go-Comb is my favorite budget gift for everyone on my list this year.

Sucking Up Chic ($$)

With notes of pomegranate, mandarin, pine, cloves and cinnamon, nothing smells like the holidays more than Nest’s Diffuser. Designed to fit with any décor, this reed diffuser will remind your SO’s mother of how wonderful you are every time she walks past it. 

Future Mother-In-Law ($$$)

Kate Spade’s Charlotte Street Platter is one of my favorite gifts of all time. I’ve purchased it twice, once for my mother-in-law and then for myself. If your future mother-in-law is into entertaining, she can never have too many platters. Remember, if you’re probably going to spend the holidays with this woman for the rest of her life, no gesture is too grand. 

The Man In Your Life

Dudes are the hardest to buy gifts for. You want them to think you care, but not too much. These ideas are also great for boyfriends, dads, brothers, etc.

Beyond FWB ($)

Treat him to a fancy but affordable grooming product bundle from Dollar Shave Club. While we know this is a gift for him, it’s also a gift for you because he will smell like a clean walk in the woods and not like the “drunk frat dude,” scent so many men’s products are unfortunately infused with.

Boyfriend ($$)

If he’s been carrying around the same old laptop bag since college and now he has a real job, it’s time to help him upgrade. MRKT’s Mateo Briefcase is made from durable felt and vegan micro suede. It fits a laptop and has tons of pockets to help organize his stuff. It’s a serious bag, while being stylish and so not stuffy.

Ring On It Zone ($$$)

If he’s put a ring on it (or is about to), you need to reciprocate. So, go big with a pair of shoes from Beckett Simonon. Featuring a variety of timeless styles, every pair is handcrafted in Europe or South America. Much like your love, these shoes are very high quality and designed to last for years to come. 

That Hippie/Vegan/Yogi Person In Your Life

OM ($)

Feel The Love Transformation Cards are like having an entire deck of mirror messages. Because who doesn’t love positive affirmations?

Heart ($$)

Designed by #GirlBoss Peri Donch, Peri’s Ombre Everything bag is made of 100% sustainable cotton canvas and hand-dyed in Los Angeles. It’s super hippie chic and machine washable, which will be helpful when her bottle of Kombucha accidently leaks inside her pretty purse.

Namaste Friends Forever ($$$)

Mindful Mosaic’s Core Chakra Gift Box was carefully curated by creator of Core Chakra, Dani Havasy. It contains everything you need to balance your chakras (even if you have no ideas what a chakra is) from essences to crystals and even yummy treats.

Your Fashionista Friend

You know that friend whose style you equally admire and are intimated by? She’s hard to buy a gift for because you know she might judge you. But that’s why you love her.

On Fleek ($)

Even if you can’t shell out for a coveted Christian Lacroix purse, you can buy an equally stylish notebook.

Influencer ($$)

Jac Vanek knows what is important. This zip pouch speaks the truth with enough room for tweezers and at least five of her favorite eyebrow products. 

Best Dressed ($$$)

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Celebrity stylist Ali Levine’s collaboration with Sterling Forever has some of the chicest accessories this side of the red carpet. No matter what your friend’s signature style is, she will love the Roman Numeral Bracelet.

That Boring Couple Whose Party You’re Obligated To Attend

We all know that even the even the strongest booze won’t help get their party started. But you know what will? Spank The Yeti! ($25) Invented by a dirty-minded lady, think of this game as F*ck, Marry, Kill on crack, where you learn a whole lot abut the people you are playing with and laugh hysterically. You’ll have so much fun, you won’t even have to fake a reason for leaving early. If Spank the Yeti is a little too naughty for this couple’s taste or they have a kid, Schmovie is a more appropriate, but equally fun choice. 

White Elephant Party  

Picking up a Starbucks gift card along with your latte the morning of the party makes you look like a jerk. This year, buy a gift that will get stolen more than once like this Black Marble Cheese Board from CB2. 

Becky With The Not-So-Good Hair

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Do you have a friend with hair issues who is always asking to borrow a rubber band? Why doesn’t she have her own? It’s because she doesn’t have the Maria Shireen Hair Tie bracelet. Sophisticated, but sneaky, these bracelets look like trendy bangles, but are designed to hold hair ties. There are several styles starting at $35.

Your Friend Who Is Almost Annoyingly Obsessed With Her Cat

She will be equally obsessed with the LoveCats ring from Cat Bird ($32). Handmade of bronze in Brooklyn, she will be the trendiest lady outside the litter box. 

Your Friend Who Loves Her Dog So Much, It Has Its Own Instagram Account

Get her a hand-printed tea towel from Best In Shore ($15). There are a variety of breeds available (only the cute ones) and a portion of sales is donated to animal rescues. Bonus karma points included.

Your Pregnant Friend

Everyone is buying her stuff for the baby, so why not be the cool person who buys her something she can use right now? Say hello to Hello Mellow’s Mommie To Be Gift Set ($68). It contains everything her changing body needs to relax including a scrub, body oil, body butter and the brilliantly named, I Can’t See My Feet Soak. Made of entirely of safe ingredients you can actually pronounce (even if you’ve had 6 champagne punches at her baby shower), Hello Mellow was created by Tracey Feldstein, a #GirlBoss, healer, and massage therapist.

Your Friend With A New Baby

People with new babies tend to get a lot of swag, but 45 books, 37 receiving blankets and 25 onesies later, what this person really wants is a night out. Get them a gift certificate to Helpr, which is a new app where they can book a pre-screened babysitter On Demand. It costs $21 per hour (3 hour minimum), so it’s reasonable and will be much appreciated.

 Your Busy Friend Who Has No Time For Herself

Get her the Iluminage Deluxe Anti-Ageing Gift Set. It has an eye mask, gloves and socks made with patented copper technology that helps fighting aging while you sleep. Help her multi-task in ways she didn’t even know she could.

Holiday Travel: Carry On Bag Necessities

Welcome to December. Is it really the most wonderful time of the year if you have to go to the airport? In any other situation, a complete stranger yelling at you to take off your clothes and shoes is considered a violation. But, there is one way to try and tame travel stress (other than a valium and a glass of wine), which is to be equipped with a large carry on bag that has everything I need to make my flight more comfortable. 

The Bag

I always travel with my MRKT Martin Travel bag. It has enough room for everything I need and more. I also use it on weekend trips. Made entirely of vegan felt and microsuede, it's stylish and durable enough to be squeezed under the seat.

Snacks Snacks Snacks

I always travel with tons of snacks because Terminal 3 at LAX, which is the only terminal I fly out of, literally has zero healthy food options. (Zero! If don’t believe me, read the Yelp reviews.)

I’m really into Perfect Bars right now. High in protein, they’re packed with superfood, non-gmo, gluten-free ingredients. They’re also filling, so I don’t end up eating junk food on the plane. My favorite flavors are Almond Butter and Maple Almond butter, which taste like spooning actual almond butter out of a jar, but in bar form. The Blueberry Cashew flavor is also pretty delicious. I usually bring extras so I can eat them for breakfast on the go.

I also love Heath Warrior Chia Bars. Between 100 and 110 calories each, these small, but mighty snacks have 1000mg of Omega-3, 4 grams of fiber and 3 grams of plant-based protein. There are several flavor choices, but my favorites are coconut and dark chocolate. They’re light, but filling, so they're good for before or after working out (which is something I try to do when I travel) or for those times when you know you're going to eat dinner in an hour, but you're starving. 

Purely Elizabeth's Ancient Grain Minis are practically made for travel. Gluten-free, non-gmo and vegan, every bag has 2oz of ancient grain granola. You can mix into yogurt (which is readily available at most airports, even LAX) or pour milk right into the bag. It won’t leak, I promise. 

Cashmere Wrap

When I’m on a plane, I either sweat like I’m taking a spin class or shiver like I’m in a cyrotherapy session. So, I wear a light top and carry a cashmere wrap. It’s a blanket and fashion accessory all rolled into one. The one I'm wearing in the picture is from Vince and I’ve had it so long, it's practically vintage. 

Talbots currently has a beautiful cashmere wrap. While that store isn’t exactly one of my go-tos, there aren't many affordable cashmere wraps available this season. Cashmere doesn’t come cheap, but friends don’t let friends buy wool blends. Treat yourself. Traveling is hard enough. 

Neck Pillow

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I always try and catch a few zzzs on the flight, so a neck pillow is a must. Skip the ones they sell at the airport because they’re overpriced and generally mediocre. Instead prepare early and buy The World’s Best Neck Pillow. It’s comfortable, machine washable, cheap and apparently the world's best.

Decléor Aurabsolu Mist

Nothing makes your face feel gross quite the way re-circulated airplane air can. Decléor Aurabsolu Mist is travel friendly and smells like herbal heaven. You can also spray some on a cotton ball in place of your regular toner.

Thank you to Chin-Chin Hao for the beautiful photos. 

Mad Rabbit Kicking Tiger Pops Up In Los Angeles

When I was invited to the Mad Rabbit Kicking Tiger (MRKT) pop-up store opening in Los Angeles, I wasreally excited. I love handbags, especially unique ones (don’t all accessories start to look alike after a while?) that aren’t just different, but also thoughtfully designed and a little bit (dare I say it), practical. 

MRKT bags are designed by Tom Pen, who is a Harvard-trained architect. Yes, I know, because if you went to Harvard, being great at one thing isn’t quite enough… As you can imagine, these bags are kind of like houses, they’re nice to look at, but also structured in a way that makes them super functional. Don’t we wish every aspect of our lives were more like that? Most of the bags and accessories are chock full of interior pockets, so you can organize your wallet, keys, phone and the eight lip glosses you absolutely must keep on you at all times (okay, maybe that is just me).

Most of the bags for Fall are made of felt and vegan leather. (Every bag is actually vegan). I love felt! It’s lighter than leather, but also durable, which is good if you have a lot to tote around or tend to be hard on your accessories. It’s also a dream fabric for Fall. Living in Los Angeles, it’s always kind of summer whether it’s fall, February or the fourth of July. I’m not complaining about that of course, but dressing for warmer seasons can be a little bit of a challenge. Creating a summer ensemble can be almost effortless, whereas dressing for fall (and especially winter) takes some thought and planning, at least for me. So, accessorizing is an easy way to dress very internationally for the season without worrying about what temperature it is outside. And obviously, if you live in a place with real seasons, MRKT’s bags look great with cashmere sweaters and wool peacoats, for example.

Another thing that sets MRKT apart is that many of the accessories are designed in a way that, at least in my opinion, can fall into the category of gender-neutral, with a little added dash of whimsy. While this style isn’t something I specifically seek out in my own wardrobe, I know this can be really important to other people.

Here are some of my favorite pieces from the event. 

So, if you are in Los Angeles in July, stop by MRKT’s pop-up at Liberty Concept Space, which is located at 8366 ½ Third Street.