I know it might be hard to believe, but I’m actually pretty good at gift wrapping. I know that my ADHD tendencies, my gross beauty habits, and my generally type B personality make this seem improbable, but it’s true. The reason I'm so good at gift wrapping is because of my mom. When I was younger, I used to spend hours helping my mom wrap presents for holidays, birthdays, toy drives, and really any sort of PTO event that required gifts of any kind. My mom wasn’t just a good gift wrapper — she was the greatest gift wrapper. She not only taught me all of the basic gift wrapping techniques, but she also taught me how to curl ribbons, create bows, wrap odd-sized presents, stuff gift bags, and pretty much make any gift look like it was wrapped by a professional at a department store with too much time on their hands.
However, as with most of the crafty things I did as a child (see: scrapbooking, making friendship bracelets, and needlepointing), over the years my hectic adult life has caused my former devotion to the art of gift wrapping fall by the wayside. Though I do understand that it is OK that I currently do not have the extra time between work, working out, freelance work, cleaning, and occasionally seeing my friends to devote hours to gift wrapping, I do sometimes miss being able to create beautifully packaged presents for my loved ones. Gift bags offer one solution for those who, like me, lack the time to gift wrap properly, but another great solution I’ve stumbled upon in the past few years is gifts that are already packaged to look gorgeous.
I know it might seem like a cop out to buy presents that are already packaged like beautiful presents, but as someone who loves giving gifts and is a sucker for some great packaging, I personally think it is a resourceful and perfectly acceptable solution. See below for my guide to the top gifts this season that you can give without having to gift wrap, even if you’re actually pretty good at it. (Seriously, though, big shout-out to my mom for teaching me all of my useful life skills.)
Speaking of my mom, if you have someone in your family who loves to receive flowers, a bouquet like this one might be a great choice for you. The vase for the flowers is already a wrapped present! Can it get more perfect than that?
I’m actually addicted to super-nice candles. It’s not the most glamorous of addictions, but it certainly is an expensive one. (Seriously, I once told my boyfriend that $40 sandals were "too expensive," but then promptly dropped 50 bucks on a luxury candle. It's a problem.) However, my weird obsession aside, luxury candles make great gifts because they usually already come in beautifully decorated boxes (oh, and they smell really really great).
LAFCO Candles, $60
LAFCO is specifically one of my favorite brands for really nice candles. They are definitely pricey, but they are also huge and last a very long time (90 hours, according to the packaging, but I’ve been able to burn some of my LAFCO candles for even longer). They are all named after different rooms in the home and packaged in beautiful boxes tied with black ribbons. For a holiday gift, I’d recommend In Ski House, which smells like Feu de Bois, or Club Room, which smells like Sandalwood.
Nest Candles are also some of my favorites. They have colorful, shiny packaging that easily emulates gift wrap, and with the Nest Holiday Candle Trio Set you get three festive candles in the scents Holiday (cloves, cinnamon, orange, pomegranate), Birchwood Pine, and Hearth.
Caudalie Mask Trio, $39
I was first introduced to Caudalie by an overzealous Sephora beauty expert, but in hindsight I’m thankful for her enthusiasm for the environmentally friendly skincare brand. This Caudalie gift set comes in classy and eye-catching packaging and contains three highly effective skin masks; a Glycolic Peel mask for brightening and renewing texture, an Instant Detox mask to draw out impurities, and a Moisturizing Mask to hydrate and protect. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who relishes a good face mask Netflix binge.
Kiehls Crème De Corps is a classic for a reason, and this gift set puts the cult-favorite body cream and body wash in a quirky and beautiful holiday tin designed by Brooklyn artist Jeremyville. I love this because the decorative tin can continue to be used for tchotchkes, makeup, or food after the present is opened.
In another awesome artist collaboration, Shu Uemura teamed up with Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami to create limited edition holiday makeup and haircare products. My favorite is the Cosmic Blossom Brush set, because it comes packaged in an artist-designed wristlet that looks great as gift wrapping, and it would also be an adorable place to keep earrings or loose change moving forward.
Another tactic I like to utilize when buying makeup gifts is to buy palettes that are designed so beautifully they don’t even need any exterior packaging. This Tarte Palette contains 10 different shades of Tarte’s famous clay blush and highlighter, and it is packaged in a glorious purple double-sided wheel palette. All you need to do is put a ribbon around it, and you have the perfect holiday gift. (Seriously, I’ve wanted this gift really badly ever since I held it at Sephora last week. It’s perfectly weighted and oh-so-adorable.)
If you prefer to give makeup as stocking stuffers, YSL is currently offering complimentary custom engraving on their lipsticks (that’s right, complimentary, as in totally free). Who needs wrapping paper when you can get a gift message engraved directly on your present?
This is the ideal gift for the posh caffeine addict in your life. Not only does it include two excellent blends of Equator coffee and two Williams-Sonoma coffee mugs, but it also comes packed inside a wooden box that can function perfectly as a gift wrapping substitute. (Once again, as another bonus, the box can be reused afterward to store kitchenware, sweaters, or really anything that tickles your fancy.) Williams-Sonoma also offers a bunch of other gift crates with the same packaging — there are several cheese crates, a Moscow Mule set crate, and even a Smoked Salmon Trio gift crate.
Another habit that my amazing mom instilled in me at a young age was the writing of thank you notes and cards (seriously, my mom is the best). As an adult, I make a point to always have a stockpile of various thank you cards, birthday cards, and stationery cards at the ready at my desk. Though it may seem self-serving to give the gift of thank you cards, I personally would love to receive this gift. As a bonus, the 52 different thank you cards are contained in a beautiful box that can double as gift wrap with the mere addition of a bow.
My boyfriend cannot get enough of Jack Black products. This kit is a great gift for that person in your life who respects no-nonsense, highly effective skincare. And, luckily, it already comes packaged in a festive gift box to make it even more of a no-brainer.
When in doubt, wine is (almost) always an appreciated gift (you should be sure you know your audience, obviously, in this case). Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most popular white wines in the country, and it’s both affordable and high-quality — as evidenced by the fact that I discovered it when I walked into my local wine store and asked, “What’s the cheapest white wine you have that’s actually good?” (Always keeping it classy over here.) For this holiday season, they released a limited-edition gold holiday bottle that you can dress up with a bow, throw under the tree, and then enjoy later with your whole family after the gifts are opened. Kim Crawford also makes a pretty great pinot noir. You’re welcome.