Design

Gift Guide #1: Your Best Friend Who Knows Your Emotional Temperature By The Way You Punctuate Your Texts.

madewell velvet shirt

Velvet shirt for work, dinner dates and all her holiday parties. $45.

ottolenghi simple cookbook

One of the year’s star cookbooks — like Ottolenghi Simple, Saladish or Sister Pie. From $17.

educated book

Or the best book you read this year, $17.

lewis pouches

Three beautiful pouches, $48, with a waterproof lining, for carrying essentials around town or makeup on trips. (I take mine everywhere.)

chocolate

Hazelnut dark chocolate, $9, made with 100% natural ingredients.

heart earrings

Heart earrings, $29, to show how much you love her.

uniqlo pajamas pants

Cozy pajama pants, $15, (or a full set), plus…

biore face strips

Bioré Strips, $8, for your next evening hang! Because nothing is more weirdly gross/fun than comparing the dirt you pull out of your pores. (If you want a fancier version, this clay mask is amazing.)

brunch mask

Two brunch knives, $40, for all her jam-jar-scooping, bread-cutting, butter-spreading needs.

astrology mug

A mug to make her Gemini heart smile. $15.

vinegar hill house

Dinner, just the two of you, one of life’s great pleasures.

P.S. Last year’s best friend guide, wife guide, sister guide and mom guide. xoxo

(Dinner photo from Ottolenghi Simple.)

  1. Educated is the best book I’ve read in YEARS! Our book club read it and we all loved it. Made for a nice discussion about our own family cultures and how we see the world through the lens of our upbringing.

  2. Sasha says...

    Having read the reader comment on Friday’s “have a good weekend” post, regarding a great calender, if anyone is into planners/diaries, Emilly Norris (one of the loveliest youtubers out there) has come up with one of the most ideal planners I have ever seen, besides the beautiful curation of it (pastels, trendy illustrations, gold lettering) it is amazingly helpful, practical and has all you need to get organised! (laundry labels, how to tips regarding parties, cleaning, meal planning, quotes and so much more). Just a heads up as this is on my Christmas list! x

  3. Aww, I vote for dinner 💕. I’ve loved your gift guides for so long! 🙏

  4. Michelle says...

    Educated *is* the best book you’ll read this year. At least, it was for me – by far. And I’ve probably read about 25 books this year. It’s going to be my go-to present this holiday season.

  5. Mary says...

    Such great picks! Not sure if it was intentional, but I love that you’ve included gifts under $50 (as much as I love the people in my life, that’s realistically the most I’ll be spending on a gift for them). Can’t wait to see the other guides!

  6. Ann says...

    I love Emily McDowell stuff!!!! Love the shout out to Sister Pie! Yea Detroit!

  7. Ingrid says...

    I bought Simple on release day and have been cooking from it weekly since. Those tomatoes on yogurt!

    This book is my go to gift this year! I think I may even gift it to my mother in law!

  8. Maggie says...

    Yay Sister Pie! I lived just around the corner from them in West Village, Detroit before moving to Philly this fall for a new job. I loved the sense of community in West Village and Sister Pie seriously had the BEST pies/pastries/desserts/breakfasts/ANYTHING. Love seeing Detroit companies & restaurants getting the recognition they deserve.

  9. Madi says...

    Can somebody please solve a years-long question for me? What sort of jacket would you wear with that velvet top? Or with any fancy holiday-wear, really… a blazer? I just can’t imagine going without something to cover my arms in the winter and nothing I picture seems right.

    • Bec says...

      I’d wear a denim jacket where I live as winter is never that cold. In a colder climate I’d probably wear a nice coat and scarf and take them off at my destination because central heating…hope that helps.

    • Maggie says...

      Yes! I am one totally same boat! I have coats, but they all look like I belong on a boat fishing. Maybe a long camel color trench or a pea coat of sorts? Help?

    • Stephanie says...

      I think a blazer would be perfect, but even a green military style jacket would really play well and be unexpected.

    • Abbe says...

      I’m assuming you mean for when you’re indoors but it’s still a bit chilly, a common problem I have! I think a chunky cardigan might look good with that top, or a longer unstructured blazer so you don’t look like you’re at the office. Or maybe blanket scarf you can wear as a shawl (have done this in a pinch). Or snuggle against your friends for warmth (have also done this in a pinch). :)
      But yes I agree! I always have this dilemma when going out for dinner or to parties in the winter because I can get quite cold indoors even with heating — and plus you want to feel cozy when it’s cold out!

    • jen says...

      Funny, I just bought that top, and never thought of what to wear over it. Mainly cause in Phx, there isnt much of a winter and the indoors is always overheated for some reason.

  10. Katie Anderson says...

    Yesssss!! It can officially be the season of gift buying now! Love your guides every year & use them all year long for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

  11. Sarah says...

    I LOOK FORWARD TO THESE EVERY YEAR! Always the best gift guides! Thank you CoJ team!

  12. Laura C. says...

    Your gift guides are so wonderful. I use to mix them, pick ideas from the BFF’s GG for my sister and from the brother’s GG for the husband… It’s a funny game :)

  13. Lauren E. says...

    Every year someone in my life gets a gift from your lists. Can’t wait to start shopping!! ❤️

  14. Erin Sheehan says...

    Yay!! Your lists are my favorite. I always find something for family and friends. Thanks to you and your team for never disappointing!
    Xoxo- Erin

  15. Em says...

    I love all these–perfect for my sis. :) But help! A while ago you had a gift guide that mentioned a cool satchel Alex likes. I want to get something nice like it for my husb., whose satchel has unraveled. Do you remember what the bag was? I’m not finding it in the archives.

  16. Lana says...

    Gift Guide!!! I squealed!!! Please please please do the kids next. Always such hits.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it’s slated for monday!!!

  17. hali says...

    COJ GGs! IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! *twirls*

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahahaha omg i love you, hali.

  18. J-Dub says...

    I recognized Vinegar Hill House right away. At one time it was my go-to place, then service/food/whole shebang went seriously awry. Was it new management? A new chef? Is it back on track now?
    And yes, time spent together is a perfect gift.

  19. Stephanie says...

    Hey Joanna!

    Can’t believe Christmas is coming soon.

    I have read in many different places that pore strips are damaging to your pores. I don’t think I would give them to my friends.

  20. Cynthia says...

    Wonderful gift ideas! I read Educated last summer and I highly recommend it. I also think it is fun to give gifts folks won’t buy for themselves, such as fancy soaps or teas. Spending time with your Mom is the best gift she can give you.

  21. Jenny says...

    Yea!!! The Cup of Jo gift guide!!! So much fun. I look forward to it every year!

  22. AC says...

    How about some gifts for the BFF who isn’t necessarily a woman/female identifying? Mine lives in Jersey with his wife.

    • Sasha L says...

      Yes!!
      How about:
      Tony’s Chocolonely bars
      Some fantastic smelling beard oil or balm, or shampoo or shaving soap
      Smart Wool or Darn Tough wool socks
      An adorable collar/leash and big supply of poop bags if he has a dog?

    • t says...

      It is my understanding that Joanna does the gift guide titles and selections based on the actual people in HER life for whom she buys gifts so each guide might not apply to each reader’s gift recipients. But maybe you will find gift options for your bff when she does her gift guide for her husband.

      But also many of her BFF selections are not super gender specific: a favorite book, a favorite cookbook, knives, a coffee mug, dinner out, chocolate.

    • lil says...

      I have a similar friend, here are my ideas:

      Fancy salt, perfect for finishing a dish
      https://www.amazon.com/Maldon-Sea-Salt-Flakes-ounce/dp/B00017028M

      Shoes for running errands and taking the compost out:
      https://www.crocs.com/p/crocs-on-the-clock-work-slip-on/205073.html?cgid=women&cid=001#start=10

      Good smelling items for any gender-identifying person:
      https://www.kiehls.com/body/musk/

      A new cast iron to have for life:
      https://shop.lodgemfg.com/prodcat/skillets-and-covers.asp

      A hand-written note with a gift card to take their partner to the movies

      Hope this helps :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, these guides are based on people in my life, but we strive to show a range of products and price points overall so you get lots of ideas for your loved ones! :)

      for your best friend, i agree with tony chocolonely bars, they are delicious. if your friend doesn’t have the obama coffeetable book, it’s fantastic. you could also get a game you could all play together, like reverse charades or catchphrase. all the men in my life love beef jerky (inexplicably to me), so i try to find fancy versions of that for gifts. i also love a good cozy sweater, a classic red beanie, or this funny t-shirt: https://www.katiekimmel.com/new-products/linguini-and-clams-shirt

      hope that helps!! xoxoxoxo

    • Sarah says...

      A fantastic unisex hat (that my husband has bought twice and I get compliments on when I wear it):
      https://www.uniqlo.com/us/en/heattech-knitted-cap-409342.html?dwvar_409342_color=COL01#start=12&cgid=men-heattech-collection-accessories

      A pretty key fob to keep his pockets from jangling (honestly, I could use this to keep my keys from scratching my sunglasses in my bag):
      https://www.orbitkey.com/collections/key-organiser/products/orbitkey-2-0-leather?variant=32295717577
      or https://www.etsy.com/listing/249314278/natural-leather-key-holder-leather-key?ref=shop_home_feat_2&ep_click=1&pro=1

    • Natasha says...

      Yes to Smartwool socks! Also, Solmate socks! The few fun+cozy socks I’ve received as gifts still make me smile and think of the gifter a few years later, and I reach for them whenever I have something big going on that day. Another go-to is a beautiful pot (PopUp Greens, Modernica, West Elm) with a plant in it. Also, sometimes, a Holdster (leather thing that wraps around a mason jar so they can drink hot beverages out of a glass jar) and fancy tea. I’ve also been giving friends with young children gift certificates to a local photographer or to a photo book printing service like Artifact Uprising (really pretty books). Ahh this is getting me so excited for Christmas!

  23. Sara says...

    Good list! Where does the food photo come from? Thx

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it’s from the ottolenghi simple cookbook.

  24. T says...

    Somebody better tell me what the tomato dish is. It’s killing me it looks so good!

  25. Elizabeth R says...

    The Great Believers is also a great book to give for anybody interested. Great list. Makes me nervous. Lots of shopping to do!

  26. Amy says...

    I read Educated last month and cannot quit thinking about it! I’ve since obsessively listened to every interview given by Tara Westover and feel like I MUST MEET HER! What a complex and inspirational story.

    • t says...

      How interesting Amy. I also began listening to several of her interviews and I was taken aback by how robotic she came across to me. She answered questions with almost identical responses from interview to interview almost as though she had rehearsed answers for hours on end. I understand answering the same question with the same answer but not word for word. I also began to perceive her as being haughty.

      I then took a step back and realized she is just a person from a very unusual upbringing and has found herself in the spotlight and I don’t actually know her. Kudos to her for becoming who she is AND for writing such a book.

    • Lauren says...

      Just finished it for a book club last week. BLOWN AWAY. What’s more shocking is most of the ladies in my book club did not like the book!!! I really do not understand– a phenomenal story and a brilliant writer.

    • Nicole says...

      I am one of those ladies that didn’t like the book. I found it too sensational. Went down a rabbit hole reading responses from her siblings and a lawsuit from her parents. She didn’t have to make so much over the top. If you have experience with healthcare/rehab, and have read the book I think you may see my point

  27. L says...

    Yay! The BFF gift guide is always my favorite, and I reference past years’ guides every time I need to get a present for one of my girlfriends–no matter what time of year it is. Thanks for these :)

  28. Adri says...

    oh, man, I love that description of a best friend! My best friend just got pregnant, and she requested I don’t buy any baby gifts until she is half term, but I’m dying to get aaallll the cute baby clothes!

  29. Emily L says...

    These are my FAVORITE gift guides! I’ve used a bunch of them and still go back to the old ones for ideas. Unlike some guides I’ve seen, they are very reasonably priced too! Going to start dropping hints for that velvet top…

  30. Rachel Adrianna says...

    I think the thing I look forward to/ love most about the CoJ gift guides every year are Joanna’s titles! All of the people in her life sound so amazing from her perspective :)

    • nadine says...

      Me too! I love the way everything is described.

  31. My best friend picks out the most beautiful calendar for me each year! I look forward to her selection every Christmas! It’s so nice to receive something a little more beautiful or indulgent than I would pick for myself…

  32. Hil says...

    My friend and I are ditching gifts and going to a tea house together! Feels fancy and indulgent but will only run about $20!

  33. t says...

    Educated was pretty good but the best book I read this year was An American Marriage (and A Little Life but that came out in 2015 and The Hate U Give which came out in 2017).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’ve been dying to read that!

    • Hil says...

      I loved An American Marriage as well but I felt like I needed to read it in a book club! I had so many thoughts that I wanted to discuss and no one to chat with!!

    • Heather says...

      I was riveted by An American Marriage!

    • Lindsay says...

      I read Educated and An American Marriage after Obama said they were his fav books of the year. I have been thinking of both ever since. All of my book recommendations come from CofJ & Obama!

    • Val says...

      I just finished The Hate U Give. Really liked it. Now I want to see the movie.

      Where the crawdads sing was really good too and so was Little fires everywhere.

    • shannon says...

      Have you signed up for the Girls Night In newsletter?? They have a monthly book club and both of those books were selections this year! Sounds like you might like their future picks for book ideas.

    • I must be the only person in the world who didn’t love An American Marriage. I really liked the first third and found it full of relevant, interesting details and different perspective….but the rest felt predictable to me, and not particularly new. By the end, I felt like I could’ve been reading about any couple. But that’s just me! My book club picked it as well :) I have NOT read Educated yet and have heard mind-blowing things.

  34. Erin says...

    My best friend and I often give each other fancy tea … the box where you look at it in the grocery store and think “Why is this tea $12?” As gifts go, it’s pretty inexpensive, but it’s not something either of us would buy for ourselves, so it still feels like an indulgence.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that approach to gifts — buying a fancy version of an everyday thing that someone wouldn’t splurge on themselves (a beautiful soap dish, really good crackers, that marvis toothpaste, etc.)

    • Emily L says...

      Such a good idea!

    • Sasha L says...

      I like this too! I try to buy nice/fancy/fun versions of things that can get used up or worn out, like socks, soap, candles, tea & coffee, CHOCOLATE, makeup/hair/skin stuff. It feels like giving things that will delight on the daily and won’t clutter up anyone’s life.

    • Wendy says...

      The best gift I ever bought my husband was a set of the very best pencils (from Levengers). He prefers to write with pencil and he absolutely loves these!
      A luxury version of an everyday item, especially a consumable item, is the best gift. I would say this goes DOUBLE for anyone over age 50.

  35. Claire says...

    JUST texted my BFF yesterday and said, thoughts on nixing Xmas gifts to one another this year and do a dinner instead? I need nothing. I want nothing. Just time spent laughing with you over good food. Perfection.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i told that to my mom! she asked for my wishlist, and i was just like HANGING OUT WITH YOU! i really just want to watch rom coms and have her play with my hair, lol.

    • Claire says...

      Will we ever be too old for our moms to play with our hair? #nope

  36. Ok wow, we’re doing this. Haha. Gift guides means it’s officially the holidays. :)

  37. Sally says...

    Thank you for this thoughtful gift guide with AFFORDABLE ideas!

    • Cait says...

      Second this. Special and thoughtful does not have to equal expensive, thank you for ideas that prove that!

    • Heather says...

      Hear hear!!!

  38. Hannah says...

    I find giving the gift of time like a massage together or dinner out is the BEST and most memorable gift to give anyone. Also, a big YES to vinegar hill house. That is all :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      their chicken is incredible!

  39. NADIA SHADRAVAN says...

    I think the link for the clay mask is wrong. It goes to Biore cleansing strips. I wanna know the mask! :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      just fixed!

  40. Erzsi says...

    Oh hooray! These gift guides are my year-round source for gift ideas for loved ones. Always exciting when the new batch starts up again!

  41. Virginia says...

    I LOVE Cup of Jo gift guide season! One thing: The clay mask link isn’t working and I’m dying to see… :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oops, fixed!