Design

The Cup of Jo 2020 Gift Guide

2019 Cup of Jo Holiday Gift Guide

Today, we’re kicking off our holiday gift guide! Our first post — for best friends — is coming up today. Over the next couple weeks, we’ll update this post with more links, as we publish more guides. As always, there will be a mix of budgets and personality types, which we hope will be helpful. And, this year, we’re excited to highlight lots of small shops, independent makers, BIPOC artists and women-owned businesses. We hope you enjoy these guides!

Gifts for kids
Gifts for best friends
Gifts for brothers
Gifts for sisters
Gifts for dads
Gifts for moms
Gifts for girlfriends/wives
Gifts for boyfriends/husbands
Gifts for people who are hard to shop for (co-workers, teachers, in-laws, teenagers!)

Here’s the complete 2019 gift guide, if you’d like to see. Off we go! xoxo

(Illustration by Alessandra Olanow for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Sofia says...

    Would you consider a gift guide for nieces/nephews/teenagers? A bit older than the ones for kids, and I feel like the brothers/sisters ones are more geared towards adults. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes! Teens coming up in the hard-to-shop-for guide xoxo

    • JenniferinAustin says...

      Yes! I second the neices/nephews/teenagers list request! Thanks, COJ fam!

  2. Meg says...

    Oh, man! I kind of miss the weird/cool/funny photo of the guy wearing all the stuffed animals (nothing against the great illustration). You know the one!

  3. Kelly says...

    Yesssss I’ve been waiting for these lists! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!

  4. Darby says...

    I love your gift guides! I look forward to them every year:) I was wondering if you have ever considered doing one for couples? Sometimes I want to get a gift for a couple, or even a whole family, instead of individual gifts.

    • Yes, I love this idea! We pick couples out of a hat for family gifts, so some couple gift ideas would be super helpful.

  5. Sarah says...

    I love looking through these lovely things and ideas year after year.

    We’ve finally convinced my little brother (now 28) that it’s time to switch from our traditional gifting free-for-all (which always results in many gifts from everyone to everyone) to a secret santa. We’ll all draw names, give one gift, and get one gift.

    I’m really looking forward to it. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I LOVE that idea! we started that with our family a while back and it makes it so much better. instead of a bunch of random stuff, you get one really thoughtful gift. hope it goes really well for you guys!

    • Alice says...

      We do this too! We do it between my brothers, their partners, me, my partner, my cousin, and his partner. We all still buy for our own parents and all of us buy for all of the young kids, but we eight 30-somethings just each pick a name. So. Much. Easier (and so much cheaper- even spending $50 on one person is less than you’d have spent on six other gifts!)

  6. How about a gift guide for the person who has everything!!!

    • Ali says...

      Or the person who hates everything. Seriously. I have one to buy for who has no interest in flowers (they just die), any kind of treats (they’ll make her “fat”), any kind of *things* (they’re clutter- this includes any kind of accessories). It’s SO HARD. Last year I got an experience gift, and halfway through the year she decided she didn’t want to do it and got the place to refund the voucher and asked me to just transfer her the money. Help??

    • Andrea says...

      Ali: This sounds like someone who likes the power of rejecting you through your gift. Don’t get anything. Just send a card and maybe a photo of the two of you. You’ve done enough.

    • anni says...

      That is hard! How about a donation in their name to a charity?

    • A.N. says...

      Ali: wow – I have to just say, that person sounds so rude and ungrateful! I’m sorry. I would just buy them a book on gratitude, maybe? ;)

    • Agnès says...

      Ali, it seems that this person doesn’t want any gift!

  7. Hannah says...

    Hi Kate! Around $50 to $75. This friend is a workholic who is still recovering from a health condition that came about from her high stress demanding job and not taking the time out of her day to take breaks, relax, get enough sleep or even take a lunch break

  8. Janet says...

    Love your guides! I look forward to reading them all and trying to resist buying everything for myself. :)

    In 2016, I chose to donate to a nonprofit/charity in honor of each family member. It was fun doing the research, finding something that would be personal and meaningful to them, and learning about so many great organizations. For dad, who plays the guitar, I gave to a public school’s music program. For my Mom I chose Madre, a global women’s human rights organization. For my teenage brother, I fulfilled wish-list items for a Syrian refugee his age.

    I’d love to see this suggestion in your guides! (PS: This can also be an awesome petty gift and/or way to productively channel your family holiday rage, like donating to Emily’s List on behalf of your anti-choice parents or The Loveland Foundation in response to your ALM-spouting uncle, whether you tell them about the donation or not.)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes for sure! donation ideas are coming up shortly. thank you so much! xo

    • Cynthia says...

      Donations are a great idea, as we all have too much stuff any way. Last year, my husband and I decided not to buy each other gifts, and instead help our daughters and friends in need. We are doing the same thing this year. We don’t need anything, and we’d rather help others.

  9. M says...

    Not me hitting refresh all day in order to see the first post!

  10. I know it is wise to spread the content out, but I have heard from small business owners that shipping is going to be crazy this year — perhaps posting them sooner is wiser?

    Thank you for your ideas and festive cheer!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, we want to do them early this year for that reason — great minds! :) thank you!

    • Katie says...

      Yes, thank you for putting this together early! I always look forward to your lists– they usually inspire a few purchases!

  11. Amanda says...

    You all always do such a great job offering very different ideas but as much as I love shopping for others am I the only one who wishes we could kind of just skip it this year? (except for the kiddos of course).

    • a.n. says...

      i feel like we “need” it more than ever this year!

    • Hilary says...

      I definitely see both sides of it. We’re tightening things financially right now, so I’m spending more time on homemade gifts for friends and family. It’s been boosting my spirits making them, and I know the recipients will appreciate a little something during this challenging year. If anything, I think I’m sending things to more people than usual just because a few folks can’t be with family/friends for the holidays this year.

      (If you’re wondering what my homemade gifts are this year: cookies, fudge, little Christmas watercolor pictures, cinnamon ornaments, and handwritten notes.)

  12. Susan says...

    I look forward to this every year, thank you! xo

  13. Sid says...

    So excited for these!!! I so much appreciate the time and hard work that goes into your gift guides. I often revisit previous ones when I need inspiration.

    • Allison says...

      agreed!! I look at your old gift guides year-round when I need birthday & other inspiration. I’m so excited for the small- & BIPOC-owned business focus this year (I assumed there would be :).

  14. Vanessa says...

    SO EXCITED FOR THIS. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

  15. ML says...

    thank you, thank you, thank you!

  16. Caroline says...

    Thank you, again and again, every year. I must say: the hardest part of your gift guides is restricting myself from gifting myself (even the guide for dads).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      :) :) :)

  17. Agnès says...

    We are so broke this year that the only bought gifts will be for my son (7 y old); I am lucky that my husband is a maker so I’ve asked for a bathtub tray and if he has time, a kamishibai. I am really excited! I have no clue what I can make for him though! I hope you include a section of things to make in your gift guide!

    • Sid says...

      I personally think that gifts you make yourself are so much for meaningful.

      If you need a bunch of beautiful ideas for handmade gifts check out: https://readingmytealeaves.com/?s=gift

      I’m not very crafty so I usually bake something like favourite cookies or a make a simple candy like truffles.

    • Em says...

      Ooh, this is such a great suggestion, Agnes! The last few years I’ve been sewing gifts (aprons, linen tablecloths, fanny packs, pajamas, etc.), propagating easy care plants (pothos, zz, snake, etc.), preparing homemade foods (chai tea mix, spicy pickles, spiced pecans, etc.), and creating “voucher books” for those I’m closest to (a night of babysitting, a coffee date on me, etc.) and they are always so well-received and very affordable. I would love to see even more ideas!

    • Katie says...

      My husband is very hard on clothes and his belongings in general, so he has a pile of stuff that needs repair all the time, and although I can’t sew for real, I know how to use our sewing machine, and am pretty decent with a needle and thread. Can you gather a bunch of stuff that needs mending/repairing, and do it all in one fell swoop, including things that need to be glued? This stuff is so time consuming, and it’s always so nice when it’s done.

    • caitlin says...

      Hi Agnes! I totally get that and I love doing/receiving homemade gifts! Is homemade food an option? Every year my dad asks for homemade jam or fudge. I’m making kimchi for my husband this year! Does your husband like goofy, fun things? I recently saw a homemade giant jenga tutorial on pinterest…you might even be able to make it out of his wood scraps! I’ve seen a lot of cute IOU date night type things (movie night, fondue for dinner etc) such as popsicle sticks in a jar. You could make it a little more adult for fun (plus it’s free!). Good luck!

    • Andrea says...

      Oh Agnès, my heart goes out to you and every family in this situation. I find the best gifts are the “no money spent” ones! So much thought and creativity can go into them. Some ideas, what about his absolute favorite cookie, brownie etc. Or a scrapbook of your family memories. You could research and find all the world happenings the year he was born and compile it all. You could do a playlist of his favorite songs or bands from high school. One year money was extremely tight for us and I took a jar & decorated it up nicely and put a ton of memories on little pieces of paper and rolled them up and tied with string and filled that jar and gave it to my husband and he absolutely loved it and got very emotional. He’d pull out a few a day to read and still has them. So just a few ideas that I hope help. And I promise you it can still be a wonderful and festive Christmas for your family. Big hugs!

    • Claire says...

      Agnes, good comments and there are so many good ideas in these comments! I will add this idea: write him a poem- whatever form that looks like to you. Or a list of your top 10 or 20 or 100 things about him you are grateful for.
      And may the coming year bring your family great abundance.

    • jane says...

      I second the poem idea and suggest embroidering it on something – anything – or diy framing it. Since he is a maker you could send him this link in a handmade card; this guys channel is amazing:
      XioXi’s Culinary Idyll
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTB0cnZQR4s
      Hours of relaxing inspiration!

    • Lily says...

      I echo Agnès’s request and I’d also love to see a Cup of Jo post with more ideas along these lines!! The Cup of Jo team is always so creative with the gift guides and this could be a great addition!

      My immediate family has done a “5 hands” theme for gifts the last few years and it’s been so sweet and has taken the pressure off spending or feeling like gifts must be new things. Gifts can be hand-made, second-hand, hand-me-down, time spent hand-in-hand, or helping-hand themed.

      My dad loves to go to Goodwill and the 5-hands theme has given him license to be really creative and sentimental with his gifts. The last three Christmases he’s used those sheet magnets you get with company logos or ads on them and glued on photos of my brother and I from our childhood, sometimes along with photos of him and my mom from their childhood, with a theme (ex. we are all holding fish, have spaghetti on our faces as toddlers, etc.). He usually gifts them in a tin he finds at Goodwill. Last year he found a paperweight at Goodwill and glued on a photo of my favorite family dog (who passed away in 2016).

      My mom gave me one of my grandmother’s cookbooks that my grandmother had made notes in and my mom had flagged her favorite recipes. My brother got supplies for all of us to make ornaments as an activity one year and that was so fun!

      My partner snuck a pair of my boots out of my closet and took them to be repaired for me last year (a task I would have taken forever to get around to). He’s great at/enjoys sharpening kitchen knives so he did that for my mom as her gift last year (and she loved it).

      I had a friend give me a tube of my favorite toothpaste for Christmas last year and it seems like a funny gift, but it made me feel known and also made me laugh.

      These are some of my most cherished gift-memories :)

    • Kristin says...

      Lily, I absolutely LOVE what you shared!!

    • Alice says...

      In terms of a homemade or very inexpensive gift: bouche de noel (I think you’re in France)? Homemade biscotti and some lovely coffee? A Christmas cake? Turkish delight? A batch of marmalade?
      I’ve also done lots of homemade voucher type gifts before- some NSFW (ha!) but also things like “one massage at a time of your choosing” “breakfast in bed every Saturday for a month”, “I will do [xyz chore] every time it needs doing for the next [insert timeframe here]”, “I promise I will drive home from [xyz event where there will be drinking and you’d normally argue about who has to drive!]”, and you could include a couple for when things might not be so tight- a voucher for an aperitif date, or for a coffee date?
      I’ve also had great success with a kind of advent calendar for January- with each day being a thing I love about them, a fun (cheap/free) activity, or a memory. It’s so nice to have a gift that keeps on going :)
      I hope these help! Sending hugs to you.

    • agnes says...

      Oh my gosh everybody who replied, thank you SO much, I am moved to tears by your kindness and solidarity. I am definitely getting ideas from all of you. I am printing this and keeping it in my own feel good jar (I love the idea of mending that pile of socks/trousers/elbows in sweaters). Lots of love from Paris. Joanna, you’ve managed to create such a warm and real community, thank you.

    • Agnès says...

      Just came back to thank you all again: I’m making pear jam (from pears I was given from a very abundant garden), embroidered handkerchief (vintage andkerchieves and I embroider poetry), and a few ideas from Reading My tea Leaves, which is so good. I am so relieved and actually enjoying the process as I have no other choice so it’s great.

  18. Jennifer says...

    Yay! I love your gift guides!

  19. cristina says...

    Yay, I love the gift guides. My extended family won’t be gathering in person, so there will be fewer gifts this year for sure! And my immediate family have been talking for the last few years about minimizing gifts since we’re all adults/young adults with small spaces and don’t need as much/can’t spend as much. We’ve talked about doing a secret Santa, exclusively experience gifts, or gift limit of some kind. But I’m noticing the impulse, because it’s been such a shitty year, to crank everything UP for the holidays! We’re trying to make a plan.

    Anyways! Would love a post with different readers’ perspectives on how gift-giving is changing this year! Or maybe folks will comment with their thoughts? thanks friends :)

    • Anna says...

      I love this idea! Especially keen on learning about “hand/home made” gifts for those of us that aren’t particularly crafty :)

    • Sara says...

      As our immediate family grows, we’ve tried Secret Santa, couples gifts, individual gifts… you name it, we’ve tried it. This year, we’re doing stocking stuffers – each person gets everyone else a small gift. Combined, everyone should have full stockings, but not an overwhelming amount of extra stuff. We’ll see how it goes…

    • Madeleine says...

      Our family does a special gift exchange every year that we call “Gifts of Self.” We draw names and each person makes a handmade gift for the name they drew. The best part is seeing everyone’s creativity, especially from the family members who aren’t typically very crafty. We have had essays and letters, promissory notes for time together, sweet kid sewing projects, and everything in between. It is the most treasured Christmas tradition every year.

    • Em says...

      My sister won’t be coming home for the holidays this year and is feeling down about it, so the family is preparing a “12 days of Christmas” box where there is a small themed present each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas (wish-listed items, a $20 Target gift card for holiday decor, some face masks and lip balm, a Trader Joe’s gift card for wine and cookies, some local foods from home, a board game, pictures of the family, and several novelty items…everything is either practical, consumable, or just fun). The gifts from everyone are intermingled, but it allows for two weeks of celebration so she feels less alone while she’s several hundred miles from home.

  20. Hannah says...

    Perfect timing! I want to get a get well gift for a hard working friend who just returned back to work, so if you have any ideas specifically for that, I’m all ears (or eyes)

    • Kate says...

      What’s your budget? I love helping think of gifts. I keep a list on my phone throughout the year so I can make a note whenever someone says something that makes me think of a good gift for them.

  21. Sara says...

    Can’t wait! I always look forward to the gift guide. I’ve been around here awhile and I always used to love the photo of the person covered in beanie babies!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha yes! we loved that picture until it started seeming creepy!

  22. celeste says...

    I don’t have the money for presents this year but thanks in advance for the window shopping color!

  23. L says...

    I’m so glad you think of teachers, but am always perplexed why teachers are “hard to shop for.” Write us a nice note and get a gift card if you want to give a gift (go in on a gift card with other people if you so desire). Boom. Done. Want to do more? Send a note to the principal or superintendent about how wonderful the teacher is. I’ve gotten a few of those and they’ve always made me cry happy tears, and they’re nice to look back on on the hard days.

    Signed, a 15 year teacher (who is the wife of a teacher, daughter of a teacher, niece of a teacher, sister of a teacher, and cousin of 2 more teachers) who has quite enough stuff (although I always appreciate the sentiment).

  24. Lynn says...

    All presents this year will be gift certificates for small restaurants or other independent businesses in the recipient’s community. They need support so badly!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s on our first guide, actually! xoxo

    • martha says...

      Be sure to check if the establishment is accepting cards at this time. We were gifted enough to do it up at a restaurant for our anniversary, only to be asked to save the gift cards and pay cash instead.

    • liz says...

      Martha, respectfully, the point is the use the gift cards after this mess gets better, not in the middle of it : ) Restaurants need the cash right now.

  25. Shelley says...

    Yay! So excited to get my shopping done with your help! I wait to start every year to see what you’ll post.

  26. Kelsey Wright says...

    What about Story worth? Get weekly prompts to record your loved ones life stories. My sister gifted this to my parents last year and I can’t wait to hear all they had to say. Such a special gift for everyone with a lasting memory.

  27. a.n. says...

    thank you for starting early AND for showcasing small businesses! COJ comin’ in clutch!

  28. CaraM says...

    My favorite time of year – I was wondering if these would come out early! Thank you, thank you, thank you! At least one or two of the gifts (if not sold out) come from your guides, and they are always the gifts that get the most compliments. For example, my 10 year old niece loved the wish bracelet from Cat Bird. To this day, she won’t stop talking about it! Love to the Cup of Jo crew!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      aww that makes me so happy, thank you!

  29. b says...

    Thank goodness. I’m in need of a gift for my turning 93 years old grandmother.

    • Julie says...

      Not sure what she likes, but I have gotten my grandma, and another woman who was in a care facility one of the beautiful dog photo books, like The Dogist.

      https://www.thedogist.com/

    • Agnès says...

      My dad turned 90 a few months ago; I really couldn’t find anything he would need or care for! BUT he got a nice meal, his oldest friends, his 3 children and a delicious cake! I really feel that passed a certain age you couldn’t care less about the gift, you just need presence. I’m wondering if you can visit your grand-mother? is it allowed where you live? (fingers crossed). Flowers are always so so nice.

    • Anne says...

      So tricky! We usually get food baskets for our grandparents. Harry and David has some nice smaller ones that come with fresh fruit, a cheese, and some nuts or another treat. It’s a little predictable but they seem to enjoy it and they don’t really seem to need or want very much.

    • Julia says...

      We always get our nana (94) consumables: a bottle of port (her favorite bev! We found a brand that’s tasty and comes in a perfect-sized bottle so it’s easy for her to open & pour), some treats she can share with her neighbors in her retirement community, and something like a candle or really nice hand cream. She doesn’t need more STUFF but she loves little luxuries that she can consume. She also loves cards.

    • b says...

      Thank you both!

      Agnes, I went with my parents to see her yesterday (she lives in an independent living facility), but visits are cancelled effective today for who knows how long, unfortunately.

    • Stacey says...

      Every year for Christmas I gather photos from everyone in the family, and make a calendar for my 97-year-old grandma using Shutterfly. Each month has a different assortment of photos of different people, usually doing something in that month (Santa hats at Christmas, brunch in May for mother’s day). She LOVES it! She tells me every year that it’s her favorite present, and she looks forward to it. She hangs it in her kitchen, and loves being able to see photos of family every day (especially these days!). It’s quite a time investment, but not too bad price-wise if you time it right – Shutterfly always has a 50% off calendars sale in December.

    • Agnes says...

      Hi B, I do the same as Stacy for the older family members: a calendar with the latest pictures of the family. They always love it, and it can be displayed in a nursing home room and may be a nice way to stay at least kind of connected even if you cannot visit.

  30. liz says...

    Thank you for focusing on small businesses. with covid cases soaring right now, they need our support more than ever

  31. Julie says...

    Thank you for starting early!!