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
Super 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
‘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.
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!
Speck 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!
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 😉
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.
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.
Portable phone charger – $10
Never be stuck with a dead phone ever again! DONE.
Epicurean 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!
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.”
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!
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.
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!
Food 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!
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?