I can’t remember the last time a holiday season went by where my family didn’t ask me if I had a digital wish list for them to look through. Of course, the answer is always “yes, and it’s fully updated and organized by category and priority,” but in the back of my mind, I’m secretly missing the days where people had to pay attention to you in order to buy you gifts, instead of just hopping online to buy you exactly what you asked for.
Usually, I scan wish lists for ideas around the holidays, but coming up with gifts that you came up with on your own has always been part of the fun of gift-giving, for me. I love putting lots of thought into a gift that is not only memorable, but affordable, applicable, and clever, too! Plus, what if you don’t have a wish list for someone you want to get a gift for? Honing your gift-giving skills can help you out in sticky holiday situations.
A couple of weeks ago, the group responsible for Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Home Goods brought up another good scenario where no-wishlist-gift-giving-skills come in handy:
What if you want to get a gift for someone you who you don’t know very well? Someone who could use some holiday cheer, but you’re not necessarily on “wish list” terms with?
Your yoga teacher, your UPS lady (goodness knows my gal works hard for me!), or the acquaintance who did you a solid favor last year… How do you get gifts for people who aren’t on your regular holiday gift list?
TJX asked me to use their three stores to come up with gifts for people in my life that I don’t know. TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods are ideal sources for gifts that are special and interesting, but are also general enough to be appealing to all kinds of people. Personally, I love creating gift baskets, full of small, less expensive items that makes the gift seem like a bag of never-ending loot.
On this blog, I’ve mostly covered these stores as amazing fashion destinations, but I’m excited to highlight them as the arsenal of gift-giving excellent that they are. So, armed with a gift card and a goal of one gift per store, I set out… right after Thanksgiving. (Oh my.)
1: Gift from Marshalls
My first stop was Marshalls because, well, it’s closest to my house. That’s the boring truth. My gift idea was to seek out something that I could give to any one of my friends, and know for sure that they’ll love it. All I needed to do was find the common denomonator amongst my friends’ personalities…
Gift for: A health-conscious foodie with a sweet tooth (aka everyone I know)
Yes, every one of my friends is health-conscious (into organics, not into white sugar, clean eating, etc.), every one of my friends is a foodie, and every single one of my friends, without fail, has a nearly-incurable sweet tooth. So, should I happen to spend any amount of time with them this season, there will be an awesome gift to spike their blood sugar. (But not too much!)
First of all – this dramatic, white, ceramic bowl is the vessel in which the gift is intended to be given. I love using large items as functional “gift wrap” (a theme you’ll soon notice) and this bowl, full of food or flowers, will make an excellent centerpiece at a dinner party! Plus, it saves paper, and you never think to buy yourself big, cool serving platters, so it’s a nice bonus. You’re welcome!
Plus, I found it in the clearance section!
Scalloped White Ceramic Bowl, $7.50
Now, onto the (99%) edibles inside…
Left to right: Laughing Giraffe Organic Vanilla Snakaroons, $4.99; Ola! Chocoate Banana Chip Granola, $3; Keenwah Chocolate Sea Salt Bites, $3.99.
Lots of flavor and almost no sugar! Those Snakaroons (who are they kidding, they mean raw, vegan macaroons) are particularly delicious, and full of protein and fiber! Same goes for the quinoa bites, which are great to keep in the car for snacking and commuting (that’s not a weird thing to do, right?).
Left to right: Barney Butter Vanilla Bean Espresso Almond Butter, $3.99; Agave Grey Sea Salt Caramels, $6.99; Maple Syrup Grading Sampler, $7.99; Hempz Vanilla Creme Brulee Body Wash, $5.99.
You didn’t know Marshalls sold delicious, GMO-free almond butter? Well, now you do, and this wasn’t the only one I saw. Can you believe that maple syrup grading sampler? Talk about a foodie’s dream! The vanilla creme brulee body wash was too good to pass up, but I do not suggest eating it.
2: Gift from Home Goods
Home Goods was the perfect destination for my next gift assortment. I have only been there a handful of times, but each time I visit, I am more impressed by the sheer amount of home decor and kitchen accessories they have. Food, furniture, fine dinnerware, and tons of decorations everywhere! I spent the most time in Home Goods out of all three stores. There’s just so much to look at!
Gift for: That gal that threw the great dinner party you went to last month
Location: Home Goods
I have gone to a lot of great parties where the food, provided by the host, was phenomenal. It’s a ton of work to get ready to feed a hoard of people, but I love taking the time to piece together a really awesome menu for a dinner party (even though I never do it). I kept that in mind when piecing together this gift basket for an excellent host or hostess.
Though throwing a party is often stressful and can be chaotic, it’s also an opportunity to show off your taste and accumulated skills. Home Goods has literally everything you need to throw an awesome party (including a dinner table) but I could only fit some of the most fun things into this (very cute) basket.
Palm Restaurant Apron, $9.99
I love a good apron, and this one felt restaurant-quality. This keeps food stuffs off of your “entertaining people” clothes! A must-have for any host.
Left to right: The Spice Lab Applewood Smoked Salt, $3.99; Clear Pepper Mill, $7.99; Villa Estensa Balsamic Vinegar, $7.99; Toothpick Holder, $1.99
Here, we have a little collection of fancy accessories for the food table. Local, smoked salt and swanky balsamic vinegar are good accompaniments to finger foods, and the men in my life always seem to be looking for a toothpick, so a dispenser solves the weird problem of having to ask for one!
Left to right: Pasta Partners Roasted Garlic & Parsley Linguine, $3.99; Pasta Partners Rainbow Angel Hair Pasta, $3.99
Really fancy pasta priced at grocery store prices! I mean it when I say that Home Goods has a lot of stuff in it. I picked these up just because they were kind of showy and I like impressive food. Plus, a little color in a brown-based gift basket never hurt anyone.
Left to right: Simply Baked Chevron Baking Cups, $2.99; Roobee Cocktail Napkins, $2.99
I am a big baker, and I’ve always wanted to try out these paper baking cups – no muffin tin required! Plus, they make cupcakes and muffins extra cute. I took the holiday theme and ran with it a little bit, including these baby blue and red cocktail napkins (which you can never have enough of).
RGI Home Burlap Basket, $5.99
As for the gifting vessel, itself – I love this basket. It’s a little floppy, but it’s structurally sound, and the faux leather handles are just enough of a luxurious fabric to make this burlap sack (literally) a little bit more cool.
3: TJ Maxx
For my third gift set, I wanted to find something that I could literally give to anyone. Whoever I meet in the future, these gifts are going to apply to them. I come across people all the time who I discover that I absolutely adore, and I actually have met a great friend right before a giving holiday that made me wish I had some cool, spare, wild card gifts lying around.
Well, I know one thing about all the people in western Washington State right now – we’re freaking cold.
This winter care kit idea was literally inspired by TJ Maxx. My mom, who went with me on this little adventure, can attest to the fact that I changed my mind three or four times about what the theme of this gift was going to be, and she helped me realize that – hey, everyone is freezing right now because we can’t handle temperatures below 33°F, so why not get together some survival essentials to get some lucky human-sicle through the season?
The facts of winter are clear: your skin is dry as hell, everything is cold, and there’s no such thing as “getting your feet warm.” Man, woman, child, or somewhere in-between: this is relevant to you.
DW Home Two Wick Candle in Warm Tobacco Pipe, $7.99
This candle… oh my goodness. Let me start again: I quit smoking last year (my year anniversary is actually on Sunday…!) and I’m not going to lie – there are a lot of things I miss. High risk of cancer and other terrible diseases isn’t one of them, but the smell of good tobacco is, and this candle fills that void. It doesn’t smell like cigarette smoke or anything like that, it smells like dried, cured, rich-smelling tobacco leaves. Plus, it’s beautiful!
Left to right: JR Watkins Sugar & Shea Body Scrub in Coconut Milk & Honey, $7.99; Deep Steep Hand Creme in Honeydew Spearmint, $3.99; Deep Steep Hand Creme in Brown Sugar & Vanilla, $3.99
Here, we have the skincare portion of the winter care kit. A sugar and shea butter body scrub will help to remove all of that dead, dry skin that accumulates during these moisture-free cold months, and two purse (or glove box) sized hand cremes made with herbs and butters will keep your hands (most frequently exposed to the elements!) nice and moisturized.
Left to right: Accessories by Upper Canada Shea Butter Infused Socks, $5.99; Woolrich Wool Blend Socks, $9.99
If you’ve never received socks as a gift, then shame on your family. Shame on them! Socks are one of the best gifts to receive because there’s no such think as “enough socks!” You can always have more, and in the winter, the thicker the better. The cute, striped socks are actually lined with shearling-type material and have shea butter IN THEM. I’ve never seen this before, but I want it on my feet! The Woolrich socks will last for eons, and are perfect for hikes, or staying at home by the fire!
Left to right: Mason Jar Ceramic Mug, $3.99; Caffè Italiano Classic Chocolate Cocoa, $5.99
You’re not doing winter right if you’re not drinking cocoa! I don’t care if you prefer coffee or tea, cocoa is an essential part of the holidays, and sharing it is definitely optional. (Especially when it’s really fancy, Italian cocoa like this stuff!) I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seem this mason jar mug before. It’s perfect! They had tons of colors and they look to hold about 20 oz. aka a lot of cocoa. Since they’re so affordable, I want to go back and get either more red ones, or the other colors and have a mix for myself!
Down The Hatch 5oz. Liquor Flask, $14.99
…and along with cocoa comes liquor. No winter is complete without a little bit of inner warmth, am I right? This is a very liquor-specific little flask, not to be used with other liquids or concoctions! It’s adorable, small, and has “Down The Hatch” engraved on the front. The packaging says “gentlemen’s flask” which we all know is a load of hot holiday coal, but it’s an excellent breast pocket addition to your winter adventures!
Metallic Silver & Canvas Basket, $4.99
And to hold it all – a wintry, versatile basket. It’s nice and neutral and is cover in one of my favorite pattern styles – damask. This is the second smallest basket in this design, but there are much larger ones for laundry, or more likely, your cat’s new bed.
There you go – nearly 30 holiday gifts that are suitable for just about anyone who strolls through your door this year. By no means do I think that any of these need to be offered up in gift basket form, these could easily be broken down and spread into 4-5 gifts each! I just have passion for themed gift assembling and went all out since the prices at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods are so incredibly affordable.
Who would you give a gift to this year, if it wasn’t awkward to hand someone you barely know a gift?
Is there anyone in your life who you didn’t get a gift for last year that you’d like to gift a gift to this year?
I would definitely give a gift to my barista. That girl… Myra Lou – her actual name – is the best. I would happily hand over one of these big treats to her – and maybe I will! (I bet she has enough coffee mugs, but I bet she could use a little booze!)
Maybe I would also give one to my physical trainer. Maybe a basket full of healthy, chocolate-y treats would put a smile on his face! I’m not known for being the most excited about diet & exercise, so coming from me, it would be extra cheeky.
I would really like to give a big, housewarming-style gift to my new-ish, but extremely close friends who just purchased their first house on a huge piece of land with their two little boys. A new frontier, literally! They are extremely generous, loving, and open people and deserve all the best wishes and good vibes for their new home. (Especially because I plan on hanging around – a lot! Dinner party every night!)
Have you ever shopped for gifts at TJ Maxx, Marshalls or Home Goods? How did it go?
* PS: The gorgeous, natural, red rope I used to tie all the baskets together also came from Home Goods! Only $5.99, and I have barely used any of it on these huge baskets!
I worked closely with TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Marshalls on this project, and they furnished me with a gift card to help me create these gifts. Every choice was my own and all my opinions are loud and independent! See more info about my partnerships on our Disclosure.