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Okay, I admit it. I’ve been called an “enabler” more than once when it comes to backing friends up on splurge-worthy gifts they want an excuse to buy. I can tell you all the reasons those fall boots will pay for themselves before the year is over, or how that sale is so good you can’t afford not to buy a new vacuum. What can I say? It’s a goddess-given talent.
That said, sometimes I think I must have been royalty in a past life, because if it’s expensive, I am interested. Don’t get me wrong though. It’s very much champagne taste on an “is that fancy wine on sale?” budget kind of story.
These two superpowers come together when evaluating top-tier gifts. Expensive for expensive’s sake serves no one, but spending a little extra to treat someone to a gift they’re going to love for a good long time and feel totally spoiled when they open it feels pretty darn good.
So I’ve rounded up some of my favorite splurge-worthy gifts for everyone on your list. Whether you’ve got some extra cash lying around (lucky!) or you talk the family into a one-gift holiday, these useful, indulgent, or just plain practical gifts are worth the investment.
Splurge-worthy gifts for the entire family
There’s no better toy investment than one that grows with your little one. Designed by child development experts, the Lovevery play gym includes everything you need for developmentally-appropriate baby playtime, from batting to teething to learning to focus. It even converts to a cozy play fort for added fun!
No matter their outdoor interests, dryrobe is the piece of gear they never knew they needed. Part wind-breaking parka, part cozy robe, it’s designed to dry you off and keep you warm no matter the elements. The oversize construction makes it possible to do a quick change underneath while keeping your core temperature up (and without flashing everyone around!). Surfer dads, camping enthusiasts, swimmers–we can’t think of an adventurer who wouldn’t think this is the coolest gift ever. And on the rare occasions they’re on the sidelines? It’s the perfect thing for winter sport spectating.
You know what’s actually priceless? A good night’s sleep. For new parents, the innovative Cradlewise smart cradle provides just that. Launched just last year it’s already proven to be one of the most impressive pieces of baby gear on the market. At once a bassinet, crib and built-in video baby monitor, it knows when your baby is about to wake up and begins to bounce ever-so-gently to lull them back to sleep. (After all, isn’t that the exact movement you instinctively do to get them to sleep in your arms?) Paired with the Cradlewise app, you can check in on your little one from down the hall or across the country. You can also monitor their sleep and movement stats and play white, pink or brown noise to help them sleep more soundly.
Snag it for yourself or send an SOS gift request to the giver in your life with the deepest pockets. You can even schedule a virtual group demo with Cradlewise founder, Radhika to see it in action and get all your questions answered. Prices start at $1399
Ignite their passion for pretend play with this innovative building set from WunderNook. The collection of wooden panels and connectors can be assembled into seven different configurations including a puppet theater, lemonade stand, play kitchen and even kid-sized furniture depending on the whims of the day. It’s simple enough for kids to ideate and build on their own and engaging enough to keep their interest for years. As a parent, you know that’s a rare occurrence! Even better, when they do outgrow it, it can become a bookshelf to keep it in the mix even longer.
The innovative and hyper-informative Ōura ring isn’t just for health-minded tech nerds. As one of the most accurate wearables currently on the market, it’s ideal for anyone who wants to better understand their body and patterns to optimize everything from sleep to fertility and period tracking. With 24/7 heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen sensing and seven temperature sensors, this durable little ring provides a mind-blowing amount of data that’s served up in their app via three daily scores–sleep, activity and readiness. And unlike other wearables I’ve tried, this one feels far less, I don’t know, judgy? The information is provided in a way that encourages you to take good care of yourself instead of telling you at 11:30 pm that you can still reach your goals if you go for a brisk 20 minute walk. (Annd, now you live in a drawer, “smart” watch.) It’s also got a leg up on the competition as it’s super comfortable to wear 24/7 and the charge lasts up to a full week. Prices start at $299
Sunday Citizen• $269
Basically, if Sunday Citizen makes it, I’m in. Their cloud-soft blankets and pillows are beyond cozy (I waxed poetic about their comforter here) and the weighted blanket is no exception. Yes, I know there are less expensive ones out there but I can say this: none are half as cozy and none are filled with crystals. You read that right. CRYSTALS. Maybe it’s my inner new ageiness coming out or maybe it’s just where things are at these days, but I’ll take all the healing and pampering I can get.
There’s nowhere you can’t go with this stroller wagon hybrid that combines the ease and maneuverability of a stroller with the classic fun of a wagon. We tested this one on myriad surfaces and especially love the smooth ride (thanks to those big ol’ wheels) and the cup holders. What’s more, they’ve got an entire eco-system of awesome add-ons to make it the ultimate here-to-there contraption. From travel system adapters for the tiniest riders to cold weather kits to keep little ones warm, it’s a splurge that pays for itself in no time. Need more room? Opt for the brand new Cruiser XL which can comfortably seat four instead!
We all know that Dyson is the gold standard when it comes to home appliances, but they’re changing the beauty and haircare game in a big way with the Dyson AirWrap. This multi-tasking device has everything you need to create salon-level hairstyles at home and the best part is that it’s so easy.
I’m about as low maintenance as it gets when it comes to doing my hair (hello, mom bun) but on those days when I really want to put in a bit more effort, I usually end up giving up between having to grab my round brush, blow dryer, warm up the curling iron, etc etc. This bad boy has everything you need in one device including multiple sized curling barrels for different types of curls, a firm and soft smoothing brush, a volumizing brush and a Dyson hair dryer attachment. It comes beautifully packaged in a navy blue case and even has an extra storage bag if you want to bring it on the go.
And when you want to curl or add some waves to your hair, you don’t even have to do any work! All you have to do is hold the air wrap near your hair and it will automatically wrap a strand around the barrel. Hold for 15 seconds and you’re done! (You can watch the styling guide videos on this page to see how it works.) Whoever opens this on Christmas morning will truly start believing in Santa again—because this is definitely magic.
Doona is one of those brands that just gets it. And while they only offer two main products, they’ve racked up dozens of innovation awards and accolades from experts and everyday parents alike. Their brilliant Liki Trike grows with your child—it can be used from 10 months up to three years of age by adding or removing parts (all which are included in the initial purchase). For example, pedals can be added once your child hits 24 months and then can be unlocked for them to pedal solo once they hit 30 months. Eventually, the trike turns into a mini bike allowing children to fully control where they are going.
Listen, we know erecting a legit bounce house in the living room isn’t for everyone. But what if it’s pretty? We’d be remiss not to mention that such a thing actually exists! Designed by two moms who wanted something they could live with which was still fun for their kiddos, the SMOL bounce houses can be used inside and out. They’re ridiculously attractive and fun (and come with a price tag to match) but when winter is long, it may be well worth the investment. And don’t worry. It comes in pink, too.
It’s safe to say we’re a bit obsessed with the gorgeous grow-with-me rockers from Cassarokids. At once a place to play, relax and imagine, they can be used from age one all the way through childhood. When used as a rocker they can be outfitted with one of Cassarokids gorgeous tufted pillows to become the coziest place to read or snooze. Flip it over and it’s a super fun play structure that can support up to 200 pounds! And if you really want to create a space that’s made for play, it pairs perfectly with their equally stunning collection of pikler triangles and ramps.
Rad Power Bikes• $1999
From hauling kids to groceries, Rad Power Bikes cargo bikes make a great case for ditching that second car. (And beating those ever-rising gas prices. 😵💫) Strong, versatile and super customizable, the RadWagon 4 can go up to 45+ miles per charge, tackling hills and bumps like a total champ. And with add ons like child seats, heavy-duty panniers and deck pads, everyone and everything can ride with ease.
Cozy Earth• $239.25
I think my best life advice is: Level up your bed linen game to 5-star hotel-status. Also, when you gift your partner something bed-related, it’s truly a gift you give yourself. (Last I checked, double-dipping is not against the rules here.) The bamboo sheets from Cozy Earth are a top-pick of mine this year. For one thing, they aren’t nearly as sweat-inducing as flannel ones and they just seem to get better with every wash. Also, they’re free of chemicals so I’m not worried about any harmful materials or treatments to the fabric I’m falling face-first into at the end of every year-long day. (Bonus! They come with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year guarantee. You’ve got nothing to lose!)
Speaking of 5-star hotel bedding, once you start using a silk pillowcase, there’s no going back. Perfect for the bestie who’s battling postpartum hair loss or really anyone who wants to treat their skin and hair right while they sleep, this beauty from Avocado (the green mattress aficionados) is a splurge with a function. I’ve bought the cheaper ones from Amazon and can definitively say you get what you pay for.
Last, but certainly not least in this process, the comforter. Brooklinen’s All Season Down Comforter is the ideal combo of lightweight but warm, allowing you to use it all year long. Best of all, you can rest easy knowing the down fill is ethically sourced from a Canadian farm.
Oxford Pennant• $175
I’ll take encouragement in every form possible. Like this cheery American-made banner from Buffalo-based Oxford Pennant. Made from cut-and-sewn wool felt and designed in collaboration with best-selling author Kelle Hampton, it looks awesome everywhere from a kid’s bedroom to living room gallery wall.
Kinn Studio• $240
Like a leather tote or a denim jacket, a pair of gold hoops is a wardrobe staple that can, if chosen properly, last a lifetime. This huggie-style is a personal favorite because 1. it never goes out of style, 2. it pairs with everything and 3. it’s far more difficult to get yanked out by small hands than its (sassier) bigger sister. A gift that will make them think of you everyday for years to come? Worth it.
And they’re made from 14k solid gold, which unlike less expensive plated, filled or vermeil, means you don’t even have to take them off to shower, swim or sleep.
Solo Stove• $269.99
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’ve encountered the Solo Stove while scrolling, or even IRL at a backyard hang. Their innovative and portable stainless steel fire pits turn any backyard, deck or patio into the coziest outdoor living room. Not only does it give you Eagle Scout-level fire-starting abilities, it also produces very little smoke and keeps the air flowing so all you have to do is add more logs—no tedious tending required.
Is it a couch? A bed? A spaceship? Or a castle? Only your little one will know the answer! Encouraging open-ended play is a Montessori must—and this ingenious kid-sized “couch” with 12 separate foam pieces offers endless play possibilities. The cool shapes make toddler imaginations run wild as they figure out different ways to build a house, fort, or castle, or just some random mish-mash. The most clutch part? Magnets which keep the build together, without being too strong when they’re ready to inevitably destroy it. The pieces are all covered with wipeable and waterproof covers that stay mess-free no matter how much playtime they get!
Le Creuset• $370
Classic for a reason, this French powerhouse has been a kitchen staple for nearly a century. Sure, this thing costs more than your average car payment, but when you divide that over the cost of use, it’s legit pennies. (I might not even be joking when I say it’s itemized in our will.)
The 5.5 quart is the top selling size and I don’t think a day goes by that we don’t use it. It goes from stove top to oven like a champ housing everything from soup to stews to pasta bakes and looks gorgeous while doing it.
The beauty of Cricut is that you don’t have to be a DIY rockstar to feel like one. Their powerful and innovative die-cut machines crack open a limitless world of crafty possibilities, allowing you to create everything from wall art and personalized gifts for your kids’ teachers to party favors and home decor. Customize T-shirts in minutes, help your kiddo bang out the most impressive school projects, and always have a hostess gift at the ready. Honestly, the more you use it, the more addicting it becomes. (Sorry, not sorry.) There are several different machines to choose from depending on your level of expertise and materials you want to work with but if you’re just getting started, you can’t go wrong with the Maker. It can cut over 100 different kinds of materials and comes with mats and blades to get you going. Through their free app Design Space you can find thousands of images for your projects or even upload your own to create one-of-a-kind crafts and keepsakes. Step aside, Martha. There’s a new craft maven in town.
Two dimensional gaming is so last century. With Meta Quest 2, they can legit step into a whole new world to play, connect, create and even “attend” live events like sports and concerts. Just slip on the lightweight (and surprisingly comfortable) headset and bring virtual worlds to life in an immersive experience that’s nothing short of totally mind-blowing. There are currently hundreds of games, experiences and apps that can be downloaded with more being added every day. The future is here, and we have to admit, it’s pretty incredible.
A command center that can also keep you entertained while you cook, clean, or hide from the rest of the household? Yes please. The Nest Hub Max from Google packs a ton of family-friendly functionality into a gorgeous 10 inch display with an impressive built-in sound system. From guiding you through recipes and making video calls to cranking the tunes or controlling all your paired smart home devices, it’s the personal assistant you always knew you needed.
If you’ve got someone on your list who has been extra good this year, slide this bad boy under their tree. Created by Jennifer Aniston’s facialist, the ZIIP looks like a computer mouse and uses powerful nano and microcurrent to firm, tighten and contour skin the very first time you use it. To be perfectly honest, I was skeptical. But after one session I was totally hooked. The free app pairs with your device to walk you through a menu of treatments that target different areas and concerns. My favorite is currently the Brow Lift–a three minute routine which has given my eyes that well-rested awake look I’m always chasing with syringes of botox. It’s a total game-changer!
Forget the Millennium Falcon. THIS is the mega Lego set that dreams are made of. A mind-bogglingly detailed version of the McAllister home complete with booby traps and iconic scenes from the holiday classic, it might take three Christmas breaks to assemble. To quote Kevin, all I can say is “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
A version of this story was published November 23, 2021. It has been updated.