39 Philly Gifts For Everyone on Your List This Year
Ditch Amazon and supply-chain woes to support these great local shops. From personalized fine art to a mid-century modern guitar to olive oil and wine subscriptions, we've got you covered. Plus, local celebrities share their go-to gifts.
Anyone can whiz through their holiday shopping by logging on to Amazon — but chances are, everyone you’re buying for has already done the same thing. This season is the perfect time to think outside the ubiquitous brown corrugated box and shop for thoughtful gifts from local businesses — no shipping delays, supply-chain snafus or cheap knockoffs involved.
For the Fashionable Friend
When basic just won’t do
Statement Bag- These clutches are stylish as is, or you can spell out your BFF’s name, nickname or inside joke on a customized handbag perfect for a night on the town. $99 and up at Raeoflightcustom.com.
Multi-Purpose Makeup– Your busy buddy can apply Manasi 7 to lips, cheeks and eyes for a simple and sustainable getting-ready routine. It’s an organic one-stop solution for anyone on the go. $57 at Freedomapothecary.com.
For the Littles on Your List
Polished gifts for precocious kids that will delight parents, too
Words to Build On– Local author Mollie Elkman and illustrator Georgia Castellano’s picture book not only educates kids on what it takes to construct a house; it challenges gender stereotypes. $17.95 at Shebuiltbook.com.
Sweet Sweater– The Irish chain Primark, known for high street design and bottom-dollar prices, now has a location at Fashion District Philly. It’s a must for last-minute gifts like this baby-girl cable knit. $9 at primark.com.
For the Eager Reader
Local authors on the books they love to give
Carmen Maria Machado- author of Her Bodies and Other Parties, In The Dream House, and more
“I have a handful of books that I give out constantly as gifts: Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg, sexy queer historical fiction; The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino, a tender, surprising novel; The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, terrifying, gorgeous, perfect; Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link, indescribable genre-bending short stories; and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby — gut-bustingly hilarious essays.”
Alex London- author of, most recently, Battle Dragons: City of Thieves
“I love giving anthologies as gifts. It’s a literary mixtape. Remember mixtapes? For teens, Battle of the Bands, edited by Lauren Gibaldi and Philly’s own Eric Smith, rocks. It brings together 15 authors and one actual rock star to tell the story of one high school’s epic battle of the bands. I love the energy, wit and insight each of these authors brings to bear. And This Is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them, and Us, edited by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby, is the first LGBTQA+ anthology for middle-graders. It’s designed to comfort, entertain, inspire, and start wonderful family conversations.”
Kiley Reid- author of Such a Fun Age
“When giving books as gifts, the shorter the better. They’re cute, and they aren’t intimidating. They also look great in a stocking. I recommend The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Monkeys by Susan Minot, Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, and Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson.”
Lisa Scottoline- author of Eternal, Everywhere That Mary Went and more
“I’m giving Francesca Serritella’s debut novel Ghosts of Harvard, the story of a young girl who goes to Harvard in the wake of her older brother’s suicide. It’s a psychological thriller you won’t be able to put down, and I would love it even if it were written by somebody else’s daughter. I’m also giving Mercy by David Baldacci, because his thrillers always feature strong, interesting female protagonists, like FBI agent Atlee Pine. And Jodi Picoult’s Wish You Were Here, a beautifully written novel about a young girl who’s got it all until a global pandemic strikes and she reevaluates her life. Need I say more?”
For the Self-Care Starved
And after the past two years, who isn’t? – Laura Brzyski
Nourishing Noms– A gift card to healthy meal delivery service Reap Wellness cues visions of veggie-packed salads, tahini-cacao oats and turmeric quinoa. And best of all, no dishes! $50-$200 at reapwellness.com.
Invigorating Eye Mask– Mount Lai’s rose quartz eye mask, sold at Fishtown boutique Vestige, promises the benefits of a spa facial—reducing eye puffiness and soothing your skin — right in your home. $86 at shop-vestige.com.
Perfect Scents– Designed by a sommelier with “sensory evaluation” training, Old City Canning Company’s candles emit the ideal amount of sophisticated fragrance without being overpowering. $25 at Philadelphiaindependents.com.
For the Dapper Dude
Sharp suggestions from designer Mike Grady, winner of HBO Max’s Stylish with Jenna Lyons
Business-Friendly Bathrobe– WFH culture is here to stay: time to upgrade that ratty old bathrobe. Whether he’s taking a (video-off) conference call or fresh out of the shower, he’ll look amazing in this bold striped robe. $132 at Shopyowie.com.
Look as Good as You Sound– With its geometric silhouette and clean lines, Sturner’s 1129 flagship guitar straddles the gap between classic American design and mid-century modern aesthetics. Don’t like this model? No problem — custom ones start at $1,800. Sturnerguitars.com.
For the Host With the Most
Give your party-thrower a gift too good to end up in the junk drawer.
A Toast-Worthy Subscription- Expand imbibers’ palates with seasonally appropriate bottles sent to their doorsteps monthly. Cornerstone Wayne’s wine club memberships start at $80 a month for two bottles (cornerstonewayne.com). City Winery’s start at $25 for one bottle and offer perks like private winery tours (citywinery.com).
For the Sentimentalist
Turn a beloved object into an objet d’art.
Suitable for Framing– Send concert tickets, family heirlooms and other mementos to Philly-based photographer Stuart Goldenberg. He’ll create fine-art prints of your most cherished possessions. $350 and up at Storiedprints.com.
A Word With…
Celebrities share their go-to gifts
Gritty– mascot, Philadelphia Flyers
What’s on your holiday wish list this year? Like most young adults, I could really use the cash. If you’re thinking of getting me a gift this year, plz make sure it’s expensive; I will be returning it for cash. Also, make sure you gift me the receipt. If I have to settle for store credit, I will not be happy. What will you be giving your loved ones this year? The same thing I give them every year: my love, adoration, and something cheap from whatever store is open late on Christmas Eve. What’s your go-to gift for those who are hard to shop for? This might be the year that I pull the trigger and just get everyone on my list a kitten. Ever met someone who didn’t like kittens? Giving someone a pet against their will is the best, because it truly is the gift that keeps on giving … for 10 or 15 years.
Jake Elliott– kicker, Philadelphia Eagles
What are your favorite places to buy gifts in Philly? I like hitting all the little boutique shops. At Open House on 13th Street, you can get a lot of little gag gifts and some things for the wife. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? When I was eight or nine years old, a new Babolat tennis racquet. I remember coming down the stairs and seeing it by the fireplace. What’s your go-to gift for those who are hard to shop for? When I don’t know what to get, I usually just go to Best Buy and buy whatever the newest gadget is. What will you be giving your loved ones this year? With the world hopefully opening back up, a little vacation down the road!
Jose Garces– chef and restaurateur
What’s on your holiday wish list this year? Being able to spend time with my family. This past year has taught me, over and over again, the importance of family. What are your favorite places to buy gifts in Philly? In Manayunk, Little Apple, this gift shop with cool little things. Tarte in Old City has great pastries. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Tinto’s wine shop. We used the pandemic as an opportunity to do a minor pivot into providing a retail wine program. Now that we’re able to do indoor dining, we’ve brought back the pinxtos but kept the wine shop. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? A set of noise-canceling Bose headphones. What’s your go-to gift for those who are hard to shop for? Roy’s panettone. You can have them shipped almost anywhere, but you have to order them early.
A version of this guide was published as “Making a List” in the December 2021 issue of Philadelphia magazine.