23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self

What gifts should you buy yourself? What are the things that will improve your life but nobody really wants to wrap and give you? These are all things I swear by! Target seamless underwear, the perfect travel mug, the best cutting board. Click through to see my list of gift ideas! >> yesandyes.org

It’s December! This means your RSS feed is flooded with gift guides that include things like gold staplers and “Whisky Stones.”

And while I love a good gift guide as much as a the next blogger, my gift-giving philosophy runs more towards non-things. You know, tarot card readings and weird exotic plants.

And what do I want you to give me? A really nice colander. Or some lush merino socks.

But a lot of people would prefer to give you a gold stapler when you specifically asked for merino socks and a good colander. 

If you’re nodding along, you get it. Sometimes the best way to get the gift you want is to buy it for your damn self.

To that end, I’m sharing some of the truly day-improving, can’t-imagine-my-life-without-it purchases I’ve made in the last few years. And I asked my friends to share their favorites too so this doesn’t just devolve into a roundup of high-quality cat toys and really good underwear.

Imagine this is Oprah’s ‘Favorite Things’ – except it’s for normal people and nothing costs more than $50.

23 gifts to buy yourself

Things I personally love

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.orgSuper cute apron– $10

I wear my apron constantly. Like, literally once a day. Anytime I’m doing something more complex than chopping an apple I’m wearing an apron. It makes me feel so damn adult. People who have their ish together wear aprons.

(I’m not sure that I have my ish together but I like to appear as though I do. I have a habit of wiping my hands on my pants so this helps with that.)

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Heavy-duty lemon squeezer– $7

Yes, I’m one of those people who drinks hot lemon water every morning because the internet told me to. To be totally honest, I’m not sure it’s doing anything but it certainly doesn’t hurt and it’s a habit now, so here we are.

These two-handled lemon juicers are exponentially better than those grindy, twisty numbers. If you drink hot lemon water (or a lot of homemade margaritas) this will change your life.
23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Car air vent mount for your phone– $8

Whenever people turn on their gps and then put their phone in the cup holder I internally lose my mind. “But you can’t even see the map! And you keep taking your eyes off the road! AND NOW WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE.”

This costs $8 and it keeps your annoying passenger (re: me) calm. Also: it’s safer than putting your phone in the cup holder. 

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Target laser-cut underwear – $3.50

These underwear are so good I’ve been slowly replacing all my other underwear with them. Like, every single pair. Now when I put on lace underwear I scream “What was I thinkiiiiiinnnnng?!!!” and throw them across the room.

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Dr. Scholl’s Massaging Gel Insoles – $18

My heart has not yet grown out of my affection for $15 novelty ballet flats, my legs and back have. These inserts allow you to have your ‘cheap cute shoes’ cake and eat it, too.

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org
Retractable Clothesline – $35

Now that we have a yard, I’m bound and determined to milk it for everything it’s worth: including clothes that smell like sunshine and a lower utility bill. This clothes line is awesome because I’m too vain to mount a permanent one and you can easily take it down and bring it inside for the winter!

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.orgContigo Stainless Steel Travel Mug – $16

CALL OFF THE SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT TRAVEL MUG THIS IS IT. You can twist the cover on and throw it in your bag and it won’t leak. Not even a little. You’ll never buy another one!

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Vegetable spiralizer  – $15

Not only do I drink hot lemon water, I spiralize vegetables. Insufferable, right? I’ve tried various spiralizers and this is my favorite; it takes up the least amount of valuable kitchen drawer real estate.

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.orgGranite Gear reusable shopping bag – $14

Yes, this brand specifically. They’re not as cute or cheap at those Baggu bags everyone has but I promise, these are noticeably better. I’ve owned both! Cashiers regularly ooh and ahh over how nice this bag is!

The whole bag crinkles down to the size of an orange and you can tuck it into a tiny stuff sack that’s sewn to the bag itself. So you won’t lose it! And it has a little clip so you can attach it to your bike or keys!

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

‘Real’ bras that have been professionally fitted – $50ish

A good bra is an investment in your self-esteem. Seriously. Oprah’s right, we’re all wearing the wrong size and it makes our clothes fit weird.

Things my friends won’t stop talking about

There’s a limit to how many things one person can own, right? When I asked my friends about the under $50, life-changing purchases they’ve made, these are things that came up again and again.

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.orgOribe Dry Texturing Hair Spray – $42

My friend Cleo swears up and down by this hair spray – and look at her hair! Also, 418 4.5 star reviews might be on to something!

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.orgSpeck phone cases – $34

I didn’t put a case on my phone; I dropped it and now there’s scotch tape holding the screen together. So. My friend Paddy loooves his Speck case. They come highly reviewed and in all sorts of gorgeous colors!
23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Pre-seasoned cast-iron skillet – $25

My husband is obsessed with his collection of cast iron and I like being able to switch them between stove top and oven. They last forever and they make for great Instagram photos 😉
23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Amazon fire tv stick – $40

Real talk: I have no idea how Amazon fire sticks work, but everyone I know has one, loves it, and won’t stop talking about it. So do with that information what you will.

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Foam roller for sore, achy muscles – $20

What’s that? You’re sick of your partner’s half-hearted, 30-second “massages” when you announce that you’re sore? This is the answer to all your problems. It feels amazing, tucks under your bed, and it’ll probably improve your relationship because your person won’t be annoyed by all your massage requests. 

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org
Portable phone charger
 – $10

Never be stuck with a dead phone ever again! DONE.

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.orgEpicurean cutting board – $24

You know how most wooden cutting boards get kind of fuzzy and onion-y over time? And you can’t put them in the dishwasher? Not this guy!

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Diva cup  – $28

Every woman I know who uses this product sings its praises to high heaven. I imagine it’d be great for traveling when you don’t want to wander around foreign pharmacies, miming “menstruation.”

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Bird feeder – $24

Yes, really. Having birds around is oddly mesmerizing and relaxing and you can mount this feeder right on your window! Even if you live in the city in an apartment building – no trees necessary!

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Liz Lange maternity tank tops (even if you’re not pregnant) – $13

Isn’t it annoying when you bend over and your tank top rides up, showing everybody your choice in underwear and lower back tattoos? Yes. Yes it is. My friends swear by these loooong, more substantial-than-usual tank tops.

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Aeropress coffee and espresso maker – $30

Take it on the road, take it camping, store it somewhere other than your counter top. My coffee snob friends can’t stop talking about these!

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.orgFood processor – $32

Without exaggeration, I use my food processor four or five times a week. Once you figure out those shredding and slicing inserts a whooooole new culinary world of homemade chips opens up to you! Don’t believe me? Here are 12 magical ways to use your food processor!

Bonus

 

23 life-improving gifts you should just buy for your damn self // yesandyes.org

Amazon Prime (One Year Membership) – $99

This is technically over our $50 limit but let’s re-frame this as a $8.25 monthly gift to ourselves. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, it will change the way you shop. It will save you a jillion dollars on shipping and jillions of hours wandering the aisles of Target.

If you live with roommates, you can share one membership! You can use it for photo storage! You can stream music, check out ebooks, and have groceries delivered for a flat fee!

But I want to hear from you! What not sexy, but totally life changing purchases will you be making this year?

P.S. 25 DIY gifts that people will really, truly love

photo by andrew neel // cc

56 Comments

Polyana

My dad got me these tiny reading lights that are perfect for reading after your partner goes to bed. Our bedside lamps are way too bright, so we clip the reading light on to the middle of the headboard (not at all sexy) for when one of us falls asleep and the other wants to keep reading 🙂 The other one we keep in the living room – for when we’re too lazy to get up to turn the light on.

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Kara

Hands down, the best gift guide I’ve read this year. I added about 10 things to my wish list. 🙂

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Julie

Whiskey stones do not work for their intended purpose (keeping whisky cold), but they do maintain/increase the bubbles in bubbly drinks. I use them when I want extra fizz in my beer or when I notice that the glass I am drinking from is ruining the carbonation, which can happen when the glass has been in contact with milk or just been washed with the wrong kind of soap.

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Debbie

I am SO getting my husband that air vent cell phone mount as a stocking stuffer this year! He travels for work a lot and is always in different rental cars, and consequently, has to do a lot of navigating. This will be so easy to throw in his work bag. Thanks for the tip.

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Angela Knox

Ditto the contigo & apron comments. I also have a friend that swears by all things Hydro Flask brand, says their food containers are great for work lunches!

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Cailee

Miss Jessie’s Pillow Soft Curls, literally the only product that has noticeably beaten my hair into submission AND it smells heavenly, like fabric softener!

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Rachael

I bought myself a vacuum in the Cyber Monday sales yesterday. We’ve needed a new one for at least two years, since we were given our vacuum as a hand-me-down 4 years ago, and it’s a $40 walmart special from at least 8 years ago, and really all it does is rearrange the dirt. I feel like such an adult and am going to vacuum all the things when it comes tomorrow. Not at all glamorous, but I can’t wait for the life improving dust control.

Also, my Dad adores the Lee Vining catalogs and always gives us surprisingly useful oddities from them. We’ve gotten real vintage-style tin tinsel for the Christmas tree (better than any modern thing!) , and super strong refrigerator magnets (as in held up the entire refrigerator owners manual strong).

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Blushing Magnolias

A good vacuum cleaner is THE BEST! We moved to a carpeted house this year, and with two pets we decided to splurge on a (clearance) Dyson.

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Anna

Another rad thing about the Epicurian Cutting Board- they are made in Minnesota. By Loll, a totally rad company. And they are made of recycled material. I purchased one for a wedding gift and ended up buying myself one as well.

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Kelsi

Some great ideas here! I’m going to get that air vent phone mount for my beau!

Also, all hail the Diva Cup! Four years with that thing and it’s been so great.

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Blue Moon

I loved my Diva Cup too, until its suction pulled my IUD out of place. I didn’t feel/notice it and I got pregnant (surprise! Thankfully it all worked out).

If you’re using an IUD as contraception, I would not recommend a Diva Cup or any of its sisters.

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April Lammers

If you love Diva cups (and don’t have an IUD… yikes), I’m also pimping Thinx underwear. They have a built-in lining so you don’t have to use a backup pad or pantyliner and they’re super comfortable. And they’re easy to clean and not at all gross as I was kind of worried about when I bought my trial pair. With the Diva/Thinx combo I can almost forget it’s that time of the month if it weren’t for those damn cramps.

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Megan

YES! Thinx have totally changed my life! I cannot recommend them enough to my friends and family.

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Sarah Von Bargen

Ooooh! I’ve been on the fence about them – you may have just pushed me over!

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Kate

I loved the concept of the Diva Cup, but not the fit. Turns out there are other brands! I’m a huge fan of the menstrual cups made by Skoon.

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Whitney

Sarah, this list is awesome!!
I agree with the apron (Sadly, I also have a bad habit of wiping my hands on my hips. WHY CAN’T I ADULT?! I am 33 for crying out loud.), those Target panties (I only wear them and i only buy them in black. haha), the Oribe hair product that is divine!!, The Ninja, and the Diva Cup (I’m a new member of the menstrual cup club and I love it!)
I love my Toddy T2 Cold Brew system because it has reduced my coffee expense drastically- highly recommend.
I’m going to go order that car mount and drop some serious hints about the bird feeder.

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Sarah Von Bargen

Yessss! It makes my heart glad to know that other people enjoy aprons as much as I do! <3

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Liz

Omg! I was sitting here working on my own Oprah’s Style Favorite Things … including Target underwear…and clicked over to read yours and I am just about crying laughing at how great it is and how similar we are. You’re the best, thanks for keeping it real!! (My list is still in edits but so far it also includes uniball pens, Target scented candles, Tend Skin for bikini bumps and Essie nailpolish drying drops…you know, super glam stuff!) xoxo

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Anonymous

I am always looking for underwear that is comfy and stays in place. The lazer cuts look great but they look like half of my butt cheeks would be uncovered.

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LaMesha

If someone bought me gel insoles for my shoes I would seriously be their best friend for LIFE. Plus I’d know they really “get” me because I have the world’s flattest feet and only a BFF would know that type of thing right? Totally going to buy myself some insoles on payday. Merry Xmas to my damn self.

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Blue Moon

Realised I should put this as a comment of its own:

I loved my Diva Cup too, until its suction pulled my IUD out of place. I didn’t feel/notice it and I got pregnant (surprise! Thankfully it all worked out). A friend of mine claims her doctor told her not to use a Diva Cup when using an IUD, but my doctors did not caution me on this.

I know anecdata is not data, but if you’re using an IUD as contraception, I would not recommend a Diva Cup or any of its sisters.

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Bun

Excellent ideas! I wear an apron when I cook with my mom (because I so rarely cook at my house) but maybe I should nick one off her to take home with me 🙂

Speaking of underpants, which is definitely a thing I like to do, I love love love the Hanes X-Temp line. Mostly cotton, with some weird fancy polyester that makes them temperature- and moisture-regulating, which is a JOY. I prefer the low-rise brief cut, because my butt is HUGE (no body-shaming here, The Ass That Ate New Jersey, as a friend once said, is pretty great in its largeitude) and hipsters and bikinis never seem to have quite enough room for it without pulling down too far in the front. I’m doing the same thing with them as you are with your laser underpants (doesn’t that sound awesome, LASER UNDERPANTS? either a band name or just an awesome futuristic product, if my underpants could shoot lasers that would be rad) – gradually transitioning all my underpants to this kind as old ones deteriorate. (Or if/when they’re on special sale – sometimes they’re on Cartwheel, and sometimes, they’re packed 4 to a package rather than 3 and that is a day of underpants celebration!)

Also, I like to say underpants.

[Underpants.]

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Blushing Magnolias

LOVE this! Thank you so much. My family always thinks I’m crazy for actually wanting stuff that I’ll — USE! When I moved into an apartment during college, I asked for a vacuum cleaner. Hello! They are too expensive for a college student. I still think about how great that vacuum cleaner was.

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Alison

I have that apron- it’s great! I also enjoyed checking out the other gifts. Like many readers, I am intrigued by the Target underwear. Will have to investigate. 🙂

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Kim

I keep one of these with my portable phone charger https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0121G8BO2/. Its a short cable so doesn’t get tangled in my purse, and I don’t have to keep track of a bunch of cables when traveling because it can charge whatever device is with me, whether it’s a phone, Kindle, tablet or iPod

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Kirsten

Haus salon in the North Loop had a black Friday special for 20% off of Oribe products. Might still be available!

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