BurghGal’s Holiday Gift Guide 2018

It’s the holiday season again - the time of year where everyone is spending irresponsibly.

If you’re anything like me, you’re stressed out because you’ve acquired gifts for no one on your list, but already spent your entire holiday budget on yourself.

Oh? That’s just me? Okay, sorry.

Well, regardless…here’s the deal. We’re going to find something for EVERYONE on your list. every. single. person. I got you. I promise.

I put a lot of thought into this guide and carefully selected only products that I’ve loved this year. Every gift mentioned I personally use, and genuinely think other people would like.

Last year I focussed on only Pittsburgh-based items for my 2017 Gift Guide. That was great, but I’ve already played that game. No need to do it again. You can still read it here.

This year, pretty much every gift can be ordered online. Booyah.

Happy holidays everyone! Thanks for another awesome year 💞What is your favorite gift for the 2018 holiday season? Help a sister out and leave it in the comments below!

25 Foolproof Holiday Gifts for Everyone on Your List:

1. Brydge iPad Keyboard

photo credit:  brydge

photo credit: brydge

Before I got this keyboard, my iPad Mini sat untouched on my desk for months. Now I use it every day.

The nature of my job means needing to type/write on the go. I love my laptop, but it’s too cumbersome to carry around all day. I’ve also been reluctant to get a MacBook Air (too many dongles and not enough memory space).

An iPad Mini with a keyboard is the perfect compromise. It fits in my purse, is lightweight, and allows me to do just enough work without being distracted.

I really like my specific keyboard. Get it online.

2. Rifle Paper Co. Planner

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 8.00.34 AM.png

I had so many planners before I purchased the Rifle Paper Co planner in 2016. Now I’ll never go back. This is it. I’ve found my planner soul mate.

Idk, man. It’s something about the size and layout. It just works for me. I even wrote an entire blog post on exactly how I use this planner structure my tasks/goals.

If this planner ain’t for you (your loss), I still recommend checking out the entire Rifle Paper Co. website. They have top-notch products. You’ll find something!

Shop online.

3. Sony Digital Camera with Zoom

For the most part, smartphones have advanced to a point where they can replace point-and-shoot cameras. However, they have one major downfall - the zoom.

The “digital zoom” on a smartphone does nothing but distort and pixelate images. You’ll never be able to take a detailed image from any distance with a smartphone. For this reason, I alway carry a digital camera with optical zoom.

I’m a big fan of Sony cameras. For their size, they take incredible pictures. For example, look at this picture I took (by zooming in) in Downtown Pittsburgh yesterday:

I would never have been able to get that detail with a Smartphone. DSLRs are too large to carry around all the time, but this camera is basically the same size as your phone, and is very easy to slip into a bag.

Do yourself a favor and get a camera with a proper optical zoom. My camera of choice is the Sony DSCWX500. It has a 30x zoom and a flip-around screen that's great for vlogging (let’s get real -it's 2018).

Shop online.

4. AirPods


If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’m very embarrassed to admit that I love my AirPods.

I’ve basically made fun of Airpods since they were announced in 2016. For years I sniggered at anyone wearing them. Well, as it turns out, I’m a huge hypocrite.

I'll be honest. Most of the negative things I said about them are true. They are easy to lose. They do look stupid. But damn. I feel like I’m in an iPod commercial every time I wear them.


They are just so convenient. They work seamlessly with the iPhone (for the most part), which is a huge time saver. I also touch my phone less when I’m using them. And, they stay in my ears a lot better than I imagined. I’ve run 5+ miles with them and had limited issues.

Am I going to lose them one day? ABSOLUTELY! But until then, we’ll have a nice run.

Shop online.

5. What Do You Meme

I put this game after the AirPods on purpose.

This is another situation where I poked fun of something…. and then actually loved it.

I wanted to hate this game, but holy crap - it had me in stitches. (Mostly because I think I’m hilarious.) If you're unfamiliar with the premise, it's basically Cards Against Humanity/Apples-to-Apples... but with popular memes.

It's sad, but I think this game is my calling.

Shop online.

6. Brush Lettering Markers


Everyone needs a hobby.

A few years ago I started practicing calligraphy. While I’m no great shakes at it (it depends on the day), it’s fun doing something with my hands that isn’t typing/scrolling.

I send snail mail pretty often and let me tell you - people love receiving innocuous letters that randomly look like a wedding invitation because their name/address is in calligraphy. I use Tombow Markers and highly recommend.

After gifting these markers, encourage the recipient to go on Pinterest, where there are approximately 3 million tutorials on how to brush letter.

Shop online.

7. AllBirds Wool Runners

PHoto credit:  allbirds

PHoto credit: allbirds

Allbirds straight up changed my LIFE. The hype for these shoes is real. I’ve conquered cities in my in Allbirds. They are soooo comfortable. And reasonably supported. And low key enough that I can wear them with…. well, anything. I’ll wear my Allbirds with dresses. Skirts. Leggings. Slacks. Overalls. You name it!

Give the gift of comfortable and supportive footwear this holiday season. I personally prefer the wool runners.

Shop online.

8. Aerie Clothing

photo:  Aeire

photo: Aeire

Let’s get real. The world of athleisure clothing is fickle. We all know that LuluLemon and Athleta are overpriced. Even ~trendy~ brands like Outdoor Voices are extremely expensive.

I’m DONE buying into the designer leggings trend. Enter: Aerie. This brand offers quality leggings, pants, tops, bras, ect. for a fraction of the cost. Plus, everything is super cute and comfortable. I would be stoked to find some Aerie sweats under the tree.

Aerie always has some sort of sale going on, so keep an eye on their website.

Shop online.

9. Donut Sticker (yes, this is my own merch)

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.49.07 PM.png

I only have one item of “merch,” but it’s a good one! (I’m bias.) Behold: the donut sticker I made with my friend @YEAHYELHSA.

Wow! What an excellent stocking stuffer, if I do say so myself. Get one for the the foodie/donut lover in your life! And, while you’re there, be sure to shop the rest of YEAHYELHSA’s Etsy. Everything she makes is faboosh.

Shop online.

10. Handcrafted Ceramics

Mugs, vases, pretty bowls…. handmade ceramics are always a winner. This especially true for housewarming gifts! This gift is a perfect backup for everyone on your list. A few of my favorite local ceramicists include:
- Brian Giniewski
- Jenna Vanden Brink
- bombabird

11. Dried flowers

And, if you get a vase, how about some flowers to go with it? I personally love gifting dried flowers because they last so much longer and can be a statement piece in a room for years to come.

Excellent dried flowers can be found at Roxanne’s Dried Flowers in The Strip, or Farmer's Daughter Flowers on the Northside.

(Yes, those flowers above are dried - not freshly cut!)


12. Bon Bon Bons Chocolate

These adorable chocolates are the perfect gift for the quirky sweet lover in your life (a.k.a. me, fam).

Talk about combining art and chocolate! Bon Bon Bon has crazy unique flavors like creme brulee, strawberry & balsamic, lemon bar none, nog, maple chestnut, and many more.

Order a custom box online, or browse their holiday collection.

13. A519 Chocolates

Speaking of beautiful chocolates, I obviously have to recommend my friends at A519.

This Pittsburgh-based confectionery company makes chocolate truffles that are truly works of art. They are almost too pretty to eat (almost). I don’t know how they cram so much flavor into one little truffle… but they have mastered the art.

These chocolates can be found around Pittsburgh, or ordered online. I personally recommend the winter caramel collection. ALSO they have just started offering a CHOCOLATE SUBSCRIPTION! YIKES! What a gift!

14. Nathan Miller Chocolate

annnnnd more chocolate! I also enjoy Philly-based Nathan Miller Chocolate. They sell far-out chocolate bars. Think camel milk, buttermilk, and matcha. They also offer chocolates from unique countries.

My favorite is the “Gingerbread bar.” It’s great for the holidays!

Shop online.

15. Jeni’s Ice Cream

Nothing says “I care about you” quite like a box of ice cream delivered to your front door. That’s exactly what you get when you order from Jenis.

This quirky company is dedicated to quality, and truly has a flavor for everyone on your list. Think: Boozy Eggnog, Cognac with Gingerbread, Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallows, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, and so many more!

I’ve been a fan of Jeni’s for a lonnnnnnggg time, and I love introducing new people to their products. This is especially great for out-of-town loved ones that you won’t see this season. Just order & pay online, and Jeni’s will handle the rest!

Order ice cream online.

16. Ultra Matcha

Listen, nothing will ever replace my love of coffee, but I’ve discovered there is room in my heart for both coffee and matcha. Some mornings (usually ones that start with yoga and candle burning) I’m in the mood for tea instead of coffee.

The ritual of making matcha is very relaxing, and I do feel better (see: less jittery) when I pick green tea over coffee.

Worst case scenario, it will make a damn fine instagram picture!

I suggest purchasing from Pittsburgh’s boutique matcha company - Ultra Matcha!

Bonus: pair it with a Matcha Whisk


17. Simple Sugars Scrubs

I care a lot about my skin, which is why I love Simple Sugars. It’s a completely natural scrub formulated specifically for sensitive skin.

Gentle enough to use every day, Simple Sugars exfoliates, removes dead skin, and leaves skin silky smooth - really! Plus, it smells amazing. I avoid perfumes because I’ve had reactions in the past, but these products are formulated for sensitive skin, and I feel comfortable trying a wide range of scents.

Shop online.

18. Makeup

For the heck of it, I’m going to share a few makeup items that I’ve been using obsessively this year. I like makeup. I always have. I’ve spent wayyyyy too many hours of my life watching YouTube makeup tutorials to give up this hobby. However, I’m definitely a creature of habit. When I find a product I like, I use it until I’m scraping the pan.

A few products I’ve used nonstop this year:
- Too Faced Sweet Peach Eyeshadow Palette
- Kylie Jenner Highlighter (never in my life have I received more compliments on a single piece of makeup)
- Make Up For Ever Contour Power
- NARS Laguna Bronzer
- Lipstick Queen Frog Prince Lipstick
- Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey
- Supergoop! Daily Correct CC Cream

Still can’t find anything?

Your backup should ~ALWAYS~ be Framed Art and/or a Book.

19. Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood by Mari Andrew

This book is perfect for every millennial that has ever asked, "What the fuck am I doing with my life?" (That's all of us.)

Instagram "sensation" Mari Andrew is known for her quirky illustraions/musings on life. Her debut book is no different, and is filled with introspective, philosophical, and poetic comments on life & love (especially for those in their 20s & 30s).

Here is one of my favorite pages in the book:

Highly reccomend! Grab a copy online.

20. Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Oh my! I LOVE Lin-Manuel Miranda! He's such a brilliant, kind soul.... and so is his new book of "pep talk" poems. This book features a collection of Miranda's "goodmorning" and "goodnight" motivational poems (made famous via his twitter). They are exceedingly clever and the perfect way to start (or end) your day.

One of my favorites is below.

Order Gmorning, Gnight! online.

21. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Another book from another hero of mine: Elizabeth Gilbert! I unabashedly adore Eat, Pray, Love (and pretty much everything Gilbert writes). She is such an eloquent, introspective human, and everyone can benefit from reading her words. Okay. #basic rant over.

In this book, Gilbert tackles the idea of creativity. Why we create. Why we feel the impulse. Why we fight the impulse. Where do ideas come from? Why do they leave us?

As a #writer, I basically cried the entire book becasue I felt so....heard. Great book for anyone and everyone... especially creative types! (*hinthint* that's everyone)

Shop Big Magic online.

22. Paul Hollywood’s Bread

GBBO fans anyone? I sure hope so!

If you're more of a Mary Berry person (who isn't), yes, maybe you should get Mary Berry's Baking Bible instead. However, I think bread making is a GREAT hobby to gift someone. (Everyone needs a hobby!) This book features bread tips and recipes from the bread man himself - Paul Hollywood.

Give someone this book and some fancy flour. Voila!

Shop Paul Hollywood's Bread online.

23. Kalamata’s Kitchen, a children’s book

I didn’t forget children!

This is one of my favorite gifts in the entire guide because it combines so many things I love: books, food, and Pittsburgh!

Kalamata’s Kitchen is a new children’s brand that aims to encourage families to embrace new food adventures, whether it’s trying new foods at local restaurants, or visiting a new bakery.

The second book in the Kalamata’s Kitchen series features local Pittsburgh chef, Chef Trevett, who shares his own food adventures with Kalamata and her trusty “Taste Bud” friends. (!!!!) See a picture of Trevett in the book below….

The book can be purchased at Brambler Boutique (Lawrenceville) and at Chef Trevett’s restaurant Pie for Breakfast (Oakland).

24. Around the World in 80 Cocktails

I don't need to tell you who to get this for. You already know someone who would LOVE this book. Yes - it shares 80 cocktails inspired by different countires around the world. Cheers!

Grab a copy online.

25. Framed Art

Listen up: framed art should always be your backup gift… ALWAYS.

I don’t care who you’re gifting to… your mother, your teacher, your favorite librarian…. everyone always needs a new piece of framed art.

The keyword here is framed. Don’t give someone more work by giving them a print that still needs to be framed. The gift is solving that problem for them. Don’t know where to go? Funny - I wrote an entire guide to getting art framed in Pittsburgh.

A few of my favorite local artists are listed below.

- reconstructingideas
- RedRobotCreative
- Ryan McCormick
- Jen Joyce
- Mapsburgh (cut paper maps)
- Buildings by Shane

Another idea is to print (and frame!) a picture they took on their favorite vacation.

Still need more?

I’m going to direct you over to my “The Ultimate Pittsburgh Gift Guide” post which features over 50 (!) Pittsburgh-based gifts, as well as Gift Guide I made for GoodFoodPittsburgh.com.

Happy holidays, yinz! What’s your favorite gift this year? Leave it in the comments below!

Click to read: My Favorite Pittsburgh Coffee Shops For Remote Working


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