Design

Gift Guide #5: Your Beautiful Sister Who Literally Climbs Mountains and Cracks Up Before Telling a Joke.

carrie fisher tee

T-shirt celebrating wonderful female voices in film, $26. (Also, Ava DuVernay, Greta Gerwig, Tilda Swinton and many more.)

fake plant

Fake plant, from $39, that looks gorgeous and will last forever.

sisters body wash

Sisters travel set, $26, fragranced with 100% natural essential oils, for her to take on trips.

outdoor voices fleece

The coziest fleece, $85, for crisp morning walks and long afternoon runs.

buffalo

Buffalo, $17, a fast-paced word game that’s equally fun for big groups or just the two of you. (Codenames is also great.)

scrunchie

Scrunchies, which are making a major comeback. To look cute and prevent her hair from breaking while sleeping, washing her face and even wearing in public. $12 for five. (Also, these and these!)

new erotica for feminists

New Erotica for Feminists, $11, a book of satirical stories, based on the viral McSweeney’s piece, which might be the funniest book of the year. (I LOVED this.)

peanut butter bon bons

Ridiculously delicious peanut butter bon bons, $12 for four.

lipstick

Stila in Beso, $22. The stay-all-day lipstick of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, this red means business, just like her.

acupressure mat

Acupressure mat, from $25, that feels AMAZING. Plus, some fluffy slippers, because she deserves it.

calendar

Calendar of seasonal produce, $44, to enjoy all year. (More here.)

splendid pajamas

Bonus update: My sister was in town tonight, so she added the cutest pajamas for padding around at night, $88, or adorable heart ones.

P.S. Last year’s gift guide for sisters, and the 2018 gift guide so far.

(Sister shampoo photo by Alder. Scrunchies photo by Loeffler Randall. New Erotica for Feminists photo from Plume. Acupressure mat photo by The Stripe. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images.)

  1. Four days ago, I impulse-bought that Stila lipstick (in Beso, of course) and I LOVE it! I cannot say enough good things about it! The color is phenomenal, it feels like velvet going on, it stays on like a BOSS (even throughout snacking at work, only a little comes off during lunch), it isn’t overly drying, and I got multiple comments on it. I’ve worn it 2/3 days since I’ve gotten it and I haven’t felt this fancy in a while. Simple winter pick-me-up that lasts all day and wasn’t that expensive. Great recommendation!

  2. Lindsey says...

    Really hope the next round of gift guides has less amazon links :(

  3. Stacey says...

    I’m SO sad they hiked up the price of the acupuncture mat shortly after your post! I had 2 in my cart ☹️ But in other news, great suggestions – I enjoy these guides so much!

  4. Tasha says...

    I’d love to see a gift guide for dirty Santa gifts…maybe $10 and $20 categories?

  5. Jona says...

    I crochet scrunchies using velvet yarn if anyone’s interested ;) I think a huge reason for their comeback is Lara Jean from ‘To all the boys…’ on Netflix.

  6. Stephanie says...

    Oh, it really made me smile to see Maria Schoettler’s illustrated produce calendar on your gift roundup today! Before we started dating and we were just friends, my boyfriend gave me her calendar for Christmas. As someone who loves gardening, growing food and volunteering at a community garden in San Francisco, I was surprised by the sweetness and thoughtfulness of a gift he knew I would be able to admire in each season. Each year since, I’ve received her calendar from him. (We even had the pleasure of meeting Maria at a local craft fair last year and got to tell her about this gift tradition!) This year I’m sure I will receive the 2019 version – and now I’ll be hanging it in our new shared apartment together :)

  7. Ellie says...

    Do you have a link to the New Balance rose gold sneakers pictured? So cute!

  8. Nita says...

    Comment unrelated to the post: Can you add a ‘BOOKS’ tab at the top of your blog? I know you have so many articles about books throughout the year but I often can’t find a nice way to tag them. If you have your book recommendations all in one place, for a family who loves books and nothing else, it’d be a goldmine!
    Thanks so much.
    LOVE the gift ideas.
    PS: We don’t celebrate Christmas (different tradition/religion etc. etc) but do celebrate Diwali! I store these ideas for unique takes for Diwali gifting and so far I’m being considered the best gift-giver of all time! Thanks to my secret, this blog! Haha

    • nadine says...

      I’m with you Nita!! I would love a books tab! Every time I go to the bookshop I end up scrolling the blog to find the older posts.
      I don’t celebrate Christmas either but those are always very good recommandation for gifts any time of the year, for me it will be birthdays, when I go visit friends and family, etc.. Thank you Jo for putting so much thoughts in all of them !

  9. Lauren E. says...

    Not sure if I made this comment last year, but I have a semi-odd request that maybe others here have as well? I work for a wealthy family and everyone in the staff gives the bosses small gifts at Christmas. Try buying a “token” for people who have LITERALLY everything, and the things they don’t have, they don’t want or like. It’s impossible.

    Any gift ideas you have for the impossible to shop for/very wealthy would be so appreciated!

    Signed,
    A happy but broke employee :)

    • Sasha L says...

      I would make something delicious: brownies, granola, Oreo truffles…. And I hand written card expressing your gratitude. Or just do nothing at all. Do they really expect a gift, or has it just become an expectation among the employees?

    • Hilary says...

      This is such a good idea for a list! I was once in this situation gifting something to the parents of the family whom I was a nanny for. I chose a bottle of wine from my home country that had a family connection and it was so well received but I think the key was the personal nature of it – having come from a relations vineyard. Any special food or products from where you grew up or are unique to your family? Or do you have a favourite consumable that you can write about – these are my favs, hope you enjoy them too. Good luck!

    • Caz says...

      What about making a donation in their name to a charity you know they would like?

  10. TC says...

    Fake flowers literally last forever. I was cleaning out an abandoned cabin and while everything else had started to degrade, fake flowers from 50+ years ago were still going strong. Not the most environmentally friendly choice.

  11. Nina says...

    Has anyone tried Sisters shampo? I’m having a hard time finding reviews on them. I would love to switch to a cleaner brand but it’s been difficult spending so much $$ trying each one and not loving the products. Hope Sisters is what I’ve been looking for!

    • AB says...

      I haven’t, but it was just strongly recommended on the blog Cupcakes and Cashmere today. I’m in the same boat as you, looking for a good clean option but trying to justify the price. Maybe the sampler pack?

  12. Kim says...

    I recommend two or three different essential oils (favorites are lavender, eucalyptus, and wild sweet orange) and a handwritten note telling your [mom/sister/best friend/lady role model] two or three things you love about them, along with a reminder to do something lovely (even if small) for themselves every day – like add essential oil to the shower stream! I got the tip from this wonderful CoJ beauty routine (https://cupofjo.com/2015/03/my-beauty-uniform-12/). I did this for my mom and sister last year, and I still get texts on random mornings from them telling me things like “Woke up dreading residency rounds at 5 AM – so it was a eucalyptus-in-the-shower kind of morning”. <3 the thoughtful gift ideas in your annual gift guides. Thanks CoJ!

  13. Jennifer says...

    Just wanted to comment that I love the format CoJ uses for these gift guides (i.e., an image followed immediately by its description and comments on why it’s great).

    A lot of other blogs I read present gift guides with a really stylized collage of all the images, but I don’t know what any of it is or the prices until I scroll way down and by then the images are off screen! Just another of the million reasons why CoJ is the best <3

  14. lesley says...

    Thank you for putting cool small business on your gift guides. I discover the best stuff and designers through them.

  15. Ro says...

    I love that scrunchies are back. It’s so funny that just a few years ago people would scream in horror if they saw them, but now they’re the coolest thing ever. They’re also great to have around, like you said, if you want to pull your hair back comfortably while you sleep. You can even wear them around your wrist!

    I also want to shout out those “phone cord” spiral plastic hair ties. I’ve heard good things about them — how they don’t dent your hair, how comfortable they are, etc. They might be a fun option for people who remember scrunchies from their first go round in the 80s, and are panicking at the thought of them coming back.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha love this comment, ro!

  16. Annie says...

    THANK YOU for the hot tip on Ocasio-Cortez’s lipstick! Love a bold red lip and love her. Adding to my wishlist!

  17. Jane B-T says...

    Hi team CoJ! I always love the holiday gift guides, this week though I’m struggling with online shopping via Amazon and other big companies after listening to The Daily on how the workers (especially the women) are treated in shipping warehouses. I hope you all can listen and think about how much you are sending readers to websites that have shipping practices like this. (Here’s the podcast: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/26/podcasts/the-daily/warehouse-workers-instant-delivery.html)

    • annie says...

      so glad you pointed this out. the holidays are particularly grueling and unforgiving at shipment facilities such as Amazon’s and it’s my hope that we all start realizing and minimizing our part in the cycle.

      there is a very human cost to prime 2-day free shipping.

    • Rika says...

      Thank you for the link. Well worth a listen!

    • b says...

      That episode was heartbreaking. I’ve already canceled Prime. There’s also an excellent article on Vox that people are cancelling Prime enmasse. Having worked at Amazon, I can vouch for the awful conditions. Not only is it not fun, you’re never going to move up so there’s no motivation to be successful.

    • Kelly says...

      Totally agree, but also struggling to find alternative places to buy some gifts. Support on how to not support Amazon, et al, but also still purchase gifts that aren’t always super specialty items would be great. For instance, in looking up where to buy the acupuncture mat, amazon and walmart are the only options I can find.

    • Elizabeth says...

      Thanks for posting and sharing this podcast. Until we raise awareness of the true human cost of Amazon shopping no one is going to be motivated to make different choices.

  18. Sasha L says...

    Thank you so much for great gift guides, just ordered that acupressure may for my husband. The one linked was actually $40, so I clicked around and found a similar one for $22, hoping it’s just as good.

    I love those PJs too!! I had a pair just like them, so long ago, I wore them thread bare. Still my favorite.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, sorry about that — the price changes sometimes on amazon based on demand (because lower-priced sellers sell out) so it’s up to $40 now. i changed the link to include a few more at lower prices. hope the one you found is great! xoxo

    • Sasha L says...

      It’s the Cup of Jo effect lol! Everything recommended here immediately sells out because your recommendations are golden 😉

  19. Jay says...

    The acupressure mat photo is by Grace Atwood from thestripe.com – you should give her credit! (She made those green and white checkered floors herself!) She’s a great blogger.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for identifying the photo, jay! adding now, her blog is beautiful xoxo

  20. Alice says...

    Amazing list! I always love your gift guides.
    Ordered the book, ordered the mat, the card game is £32 in the U.K….not ordered!

  21. Nina says...

    Gift guide for your friend who just had a baby please (featuring the best matching socks and pyjama sets)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Ooh I LOVE everything from primary. You can get the cutest sets in different colors. Xoxo

  22. Sarah says...

    I got the beautiful produce calendar several years ago as a gift (from one of the artist’s friends) and after the year was up we cut each month in half and put up the top half of all twelve months (just fruit/veggies and month name) in a grid on the kids’ room wall. They’re starting to learn some obscure produce names now!

  23. Olivia says...

    This is unrelated, and probably far from people’s minds at year end, but I was wondering if COJ could do a post sometime on office politics. Understanding workplace dynamics, navigating office politics gracefully etc. Would be so useful to get your perspective on these things!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      That’s a great idea!

    • Isabel says...

      Love the gift guides. Relatedly, how about a gift guide for co-workers? It would be hugely helpful and I’d love to step up my gift game. Thanks so much.

    • Heather says...

      Olivia, as in-house counsel, office politics is on my mind a lot. Most major HR issues start with small slights, and while most office workplaces in America still equate a certain buttoned-up calm with professionalism, beneath the surface are so many feelings; insecurities, doubts, longings, anxieties, hurt, love…. I think it’s such a great topic and I’d love to read perspectives from COJ readers.

  24. Sandra says...

    I LOVE your gift guides and look forward to them each year, but no to scrunchies. Just….no.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh my gosh, they’re all over New York right now! I actually really love them now, my mind has been changed :)

    • Andrea says...

      I never would have thought in a million years that I would stan for scrunchies but they are magic! I have super fine/thin hair & they don’t dent my hair & it doesn’t break if I sleep with one in.

    • Sarah says...

      That great mat is £60 on Amazon UK!

    • Susan says...

      That’s how I felt about scrunchies until I read about RBG’s love for them. I honestly think she’s a big reason for their comeback. And I’ll do almost anything RBG will.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such a good point, susan!

  25. Alex brearley says...

    Great list, helps me gather some good ideas for my sister. Btw Is Lexi still part of Cup of Jo?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      she took an extended maternity leave with her second baby and ended up staying home longer with her. we miss her every day! xoxo

  26. Julie says...

    Let’s hear more about this mat?!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      one of our contributing writers — kelsey miller — told me about it. she says it’s INCREDIBLE. you can lie on it, or put it on the back of a chair, etc. she borrowed it from a friend and didn’t return it for a year ha!

    • Hani says...

      I bought these for myself and all 7 of my sisters last year—it is INCREDIBLE. You can stand on it or lay on it and it just releases all kinds of tension. (I wear socks when I stand on it, because it IS prickly)
      You have to try it to understand💛💛💛💛

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, hani, that is a ringing endorsement!! xoxo

    • Jeanne says...

      The reviews on this mat are incredible! I’m so intrigued and really glad to know it exists. Thank you Joanna!

    • diana k. says...

      I throw mine on my couch or floor when I get home from work and just sink my back into the little pricklies. It’s like low-budget acupuncture. If I’m having trouble sleeping I lay on it for 20 minutes before I’m ready to close my eyes. It stimulates blood flow and then I move the mat away completely and I can feel my body just release into the mattress. Heaven.

  27. Sharhaiah says...

    I love this list! And I love that you included a lot of things that we can buy on Amazon around $20! I will also have to second your second game suggestion of Codenames! Me and a few of my friends have game nights every Friday and that is a quick favorite of ours! It’s also really good for big parties!

    • Rachel says...

      Codenames is the greatest!! Especially when you have a diverse group of people–you quickly learn about your friends’ obscure knowledge. I always feel like I’m cheating when I’m codemaster for my husband’s team, but that’s part of the strategy, right??? ;)

  28. L says...

    Can we learn more about the mountain climbing? What mountains? Multi-day hikes? Any tips?

    • Jess says...

      Yes please!

    • Sam H. says...

      Yes! I second (or third) this!!!

    • YES!! in case you are (or will be) in california, here’s a great resource for day hikes and outdoor activities (especially around the bay area):
      https://weekendsherpa.com/
      they even have sections like “HIKES AND BEER!… local adventures with a refreshing reward”! :) xoxoxoxo

      (also love the white mountains in NH so much:
      https://www.outdoors.org/lodging-camping/huts )

    • Sarah says...

      I hiked to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro in march with an all female travel group. I loved it so much that I’m going a another trip with them in July! They’re called WHOA Travel and I couldn’t recommend them more.

    • L says...

      Lucy and Sarah, I love these suggestions. In turn, I will plug the best hike I did this year — the Long Range Traverse, a 50-km backcountry hike in western Newfoundland. An absolutely magical place… complete with fjords, waterfalls, ptarmigan, moose, Arctic cotton, and water so clean and cold you can drink straight from the streams.

      https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nl/grosmorne/activ/experiences/backcountry/longrange

  29. Denise says...

    What?! No Joan Cusack t-shirt? I am so bummed. But great idea anyway!

    • AN says...

      Maybe email the Etsy shop your suggestion? Pretty sure Jo has nothing to do with another company’s product selections, ha!