Anything from here would be a perfect gift for folks that like to cook and like to eat (that covers a lot of people, fyi). Vanessa and Kim Pham launched this company a few years ago with fantastic branding and a great idea: selling starters for southeast Asian and east Asian recipes like Thai Krapow, Korean Spicy Bulgogi, and Chinese Mala Salad.

Mugs from Not Work Related

These hand-crafted mugs are made by Brooklyn ceramicist Sarah Hussain, who takes inspiration from The Bauhaus movement and the Memphis Design Group. They’re very fun, and they come in a billion designs, but be warned: they sell out wicked fast.


If you’re looking for solid art and design books to gift people, stuff that’s not always featured on display stateside, this shop out of the UK has nothing but gold. Also, check out the stationery and homeware sections for stocking stuffers.

PF Candle Co.

This small-ish vegan candle company is based in California and has an inspired lineup of scents among the (excellent) campfire, teakwood, and oak and moss standards. Send somebody the salty, redwood-esque, eucalyptus-fused Golden Coast. Or Sunbloom, which promises lily, tonka bean, and yarrow. And we totally know what most of those things are.

Pigeon Toe Ceramics

Female-owned and sibling-led (YES), Pigeon Toe’s ceramics are very, very good. They have an almost supernatural affinity for color and pigment, and the style of everything from kitchenware to lighting to home decor has a playful yet sophisticated vibe.

REI Outward Rope Chair

It’s time. Somebody in your life, maybe even you, finally needs nice beach chairs to enjoy the surf, the park, the outdoor concert. No more polyurethane nightmares from the dollar store, stiff and barely tolerated before breaking inevitably down. This collab between REI and West Elm is sturdy, comfy, and priced right.

Fotographiska Membership

First things first: you can walk around the exhibits at NYC’s newest photography gallery/museum with a glass of wine just like a fancy person. Second, the space is an exhilarating breath of fresh air, with new photography exhibits coming in and out all the time. Third, membership gets you into exclusive, sort-of-secret places, like the hidden Chapel Bar, a “destination for communion, cocktails and culture.” See? FANCY.

WWF Adopt A Species Gift 

Looking to not spend money on stuff AND help an organization dedicated to making a better planet? You can Adopt A Species for only $60, plus the symbolic animal plushes are pretty cute, and it’s a nice way to introduce kids to the natural world. New this year: Redback Spider, Flying Fox, and Pacific White-Sided Dolphin, and…Cobra!

Lingua Franca Home Embroidery Kit

Lingua Franca sweaters are iconic and incredibly comfortable fashion statements, and they offer in-person workshops in NYC to make your own. Can’t make it to the city because of, you know, everything? No problem: learn to create your own with their home kit, which includes a 100% sustainable cashmere crewneck in your choice of color/size, a guidebook, video tutorials, and a travel pouch.

Baby Baggu Bags

No more grocery plastic bags! Now in convenient baby form, Baby Baggus are the perfect size to always have one on you, and they’re made from recycled nylon. Plus the pattern selection has gotten even wackier, ranging from the relatively austere Tuxedo Polka Dot to Chamomile Terrier and Madras Metallic.

Girlfriend Collective

Fair trade, size-inclusive, and eco-friendly Girlfriend Collective makes all kinds of excellent things from recycled plastic bottles, including activewear, outerwear, socks, bags. The company is both savvy and quite transparent, you should check out their informative FAQ page.

Material Dock

Magsafe chargers: essential but kind of junky-looking, especially when not plugged into a device. Studio Neat’s wood dock makes a magsafe charger look nice and helps it stop wandering around a nightstand. Comes in walnut and is only $20. The studio also makes elegant scratchpads, notebooks, and other accessories.

Yayoi Kusama’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

We love gifting this charming volume to kids of all ages. Yayoi Kusama is seemingly everywhere these days, from museum retrospectives to botanical gardens to social media feeds. Her work is often so larger than life, it’s fascinating to see her work within (and push the boundaries of) a book format. True to Alice and the world she explores, every page is a surprise.

Klein Extra-Large Nylon Equipment Bag 

Stuff accumulates, that’s a fact. Especially cleaning stuff, painting stuff, hardware and household maintenance stuff. And it always finds a way to spill out of confined areas to create visual anarchy in your home. No longer. The Klein Tools XL Equipment Bag in industrial orange makes a design statement and stores that stuff in one sturdy, portable, made-in-the-USA place.

Dusen Dusen

Another Brooklyn designer that’s blown up over the years (especially with those darned millennials, see here, here, and here), Ellen Van Dusen’s shop makes all kinds of vibrant, patterned, spritely stuff: bedding, robes, towels, dog beds, and more. Perhaps start with a puzzle to get your feet wet?

Eat OffBeat

This NY-based kitchen has amazing, curated gift baskets full of treats and provisions from all over the world, made with love by refugees who also happen to be chefs. Venezuelan Berries Jam, Senegalese Spiced Candied Peanuts, Syrian Barazek Cookies … everything they make just sounds like perfection.

Subscribe to Observatory

Small Planet Links, News, and Observations