Unruly supply chain, so much Zoom, and a bit of forgetting How To People could make this shopping season bumpier than it should be. And with everything you do, don’t you deserve an easy button?
We agree, and that’s what inspired us to ask our colleagues to offer up the best ideas we’ve seen, heard, bought, and received so you can be the hero to your people.
Shop, wrap, and be your best gift-giving self!
Now we’re cooking
- Sous vide cooking sidesteps many protein prep pitfalls, and just requires having one key kitchen item. Anova nailed it with the Anova Precision Cooker Nano, and forever retired our DIY cooler chest with a PID controller hanging out. For the uninitiated, think of sous vide as cooking with a water oven — place your steak in a ziplock bag with seasoning, place in pot, attach Anova to side, and set the temperature. Then walk away and live your best life while your meal gently achieves a food-safe temperature over hours. While we’d always recommend enjoying the best cut of meat you can afford, sous vide also makes cheaper cuts shine — no overcooking woes. Also great for cooking vegetables like potatoes, asparagus, and cauliflower to perfect textures.
- Did we mention finishing? Many sous vide delights benefit from a browning step (Maillard reaction FTW). And while we’re sure you’ve got cast iron chops and an enviable grill, there’s nothing like a pro-grade torch to sear, melt, and brown while you watch. Searzall by Booker and Dax is a torch attachment crafted to perform and bathes your food with a double-screened flame for even heat treatment.
- Fresh Sr. Mechanical Engineer Terence Tam, who’s been at the helm of our company grill at HQ, recommends Thermoworks’ user-first ThermoPop® kitchen thermometer for a stocking stuffer that’s affordable yet battle tested and durable. And if your recipient is a little more pro, then splurge for the Thermapen® ONE which is instant read and folds up for a chef pocket carry. And if you’re splurge shopping for the family smoker pro, take ’em digital with the Billows™ BBQ Temp Control Blower and theSmoke X4™ Long-Range Remote BBQ Alarm Thermometer. Their neighbors will thank you.
- When Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. collaborates with water conscious comfort shoe maven Freewaters, things sell out fast. Bold designs with timeless throwback feels from the man himself in a comfy all-weather slip-on so you can take your coffee mug on a block walk rain or shine. We got ours and suggest you hustle to get yours, or at least sign up to be notified if your size runs out.
- These faux leopard print vegan flats from Kallie & Co are a happy contradiction with a devoted following. Hard to deny the versatility of their look, and then considering that they’re actually comfortable all day long, well, these are the kind of footwear that make your other shoes feel unloved. Ethically sourced from Mexican artisans, and cruelty-free.
- ECOVIBE is small BIPOC-owned business in Portland’s Alberta district, and until restrictions were lifted, usually had a long line outside the door, rain or shine. Houseplants remain indispensable and in limited supply and are a visually calming and functionally cleansing influence in our lives. Minimal and stylish, ECOVIBE’s wares are all appealing and giftable. I personally love their Modern Sprout Glow + Grow Kit’s candle that becomes a seed pot.
- Our Sr. Design Strategist Ben Jensen is a fan of the Portland favorite and certified B Corp Looptworks, an organization that reuses textiles to make new products. Check out their collaboration with also B-corp Nossa Familia Coffee using heavy duty coffee bags to make duffles, totes, and packs with a look that pops.
- Send a digital invite for your recipient to pick a just-add-water beverage to be delivered to their door from Giving a Cup. Time it right and schedule-a-cuppa for a few days out. Select coffee or tea from a few great options. Comes in a classy fold-out and feels special, and they give two meals to end hunger for each cup sent.
- Always short on time? So many things to do? Usually clutching your phone? Double your freedom, let go of your phone, and catch a better angle with this easy-on-the-eyes phone stand from OMOTON. It has 270 degrees of rotation, superior stability, and can accommodate thick cases. We appreciate the bevel work.
- Overhead lights are good for reading paper, not for showing your face on video. The solution? A ring light from Yarrashop. Sure, this can hold your phone too, but just you wait, with enhanced lighting, you’ll look so much more pro that the Zoom audience will listen to your points better when you’re off mute. Can you see me now?
- With a peppy name like Hobonichi Techo, you know you’re in for something great, and it is worth reading about. Now in its 21st year, this Japanese productivity notebook/journal is an ideal gift for the thoughtful ruminators, the life hackers, the sketchers, and organizers in your life. With a variety of covers and formats, you’ll find your style match, and the real joy will come out in daily use. Buy online or support your local stationery shop.
- Do you Muji? Fresh Sr. Project Manager Mariana Araújo is a fan of this no-logo minimalist brand that’s affordable but still feels wholesome and luxe. We figured you might need a Muji backpack that doesn’t pledge allegiance to a corporation. The brand also creates many great home goods, clothes, and particularly popular among us design types — notebooks and pens to grab.
- Blackwing is to pencil snobs what Air Jordan is to sneakerheads. Most people use pencils to scrawl a hasty note before losing them in a drawer next to all the chapsticks they can never find. Blackwing’s gift subscription program solves this by replenishing your recipient’s pencil supply with limited edition, aesthetically inspired pencils, starting with the 651 model, a Bruce Lee tribute pencil. You can also just buy one-time gear that any sketch artist and graphite hypebeast would cherish. Also consider searching your zip code in their dealer map — the store results are places you’ll love.
- We gotta mention mindfulness to pair with creativity, as the two are inextricably linked. Our teams believe in the power of Calm so much that subscriptons are an employee benefit at Fresh. We all use Calm differently, from audio stories to unwind ourselves or settle our kids, to guided meditation, to in-the-zone working music. Calm always produces new content and top shelf experiences on mobile and web. Give a year of Calm to a creative you love.
- Much has been made about the rise of Peloton, and a myriad of major home rowers, bikes, treadmills, weight sets, and even mirrors have graced our consciousness. But how many people have gone back to the unadulterated schoolyard pleasure playground rings? These wooden Gomex Gymnastic Rings are generously sized, work indoors or outdoors, and height adjustable with sturdy carabiners on the 8.5-foot straps so you can let not-yet-grown-up kids play too with a quick click.
- What better exemplifies the tortured creative process than a green LEGO typewriter? LEGO’s Idea series is reliably delightful for us grown-up kids — serving as decor, design statement, and of course, an indulgent romp putting it all together with LEGO’s top-of-class instruction books.
- Going meta, assembling a 3D printer is an advanced manufacturing whoa moment. Prusa’s instructions are clear, easy, and dictate a regimen of included gummy bears to celebrate your progress. You can buy one assembled as well, but, why? The Prusa MINI+ is a great starter filament printer, or you can spend more for performance and feature upgrades.
- If filament isn’t your thing, the Anycubic Photon S is a great resin printer, and at the time of publishing this guide, has steep discounts for Black Friday. While resin prints tend to be limited in size, the detail level might be worth it for making figurines or finer fit parts. Expect to have a constant barrage of orders from household kids, who naturally seem to think that 3D printers were put on the earth to make them toys. Joke’s on them — for grown-ups, the printer is the toy.
- Listen, if you’re not traveling again yet, you will be soon. And that means you’ll be just like us, and constantly looking for a place to charge your portable devices. What if your wall charger could also be a portable battery? Say no more, say no more. Anker, already the premier purveyor of long lasting portable batteries, went ahead and combined two great needs into one with the Anker PowerCore Fusion III. Charge your devices, with or without the wall.
- There’s a nostalgic feeling when we hear the sound of a tape measure extending then clattering on the floor with a noise not far off from a Star Wars blaster twang. And remember that little spike of fear that you’d get thwacked when retracting? We remember those times. Of course, once you have a laser measure, regular tape measures feel barbaric. Point, push button, read distance. The Bosch GLM 20 is a nice usable entry point, or you can get more serious if measurements are part of your job.
- For smaller measurements, say for example to spec or test your 3D printing pieces, you could use any old digital caliper device. Or you could become a Mitutoyo aficionado (the natural consequence of ownership) — and pick up the Mitutoyo 6” calipers and never wonder if you measured correctly again. Sorry, tape measures.
They don’t have this
- OREO has always been an innovative food brand, which is pretty cool given that the cookies-and-cream treat is generally uncontested as the most popular cookie worldwide. For the person who has everything, a pack of custom dipped and sprinkled OREOs with a picture or message in the center will surprise them and taste great when they (hopefully) share.
- Fresh Chief Product Officer Marcelino Alvarez recommends Yeti, the brand with a meteoric story of building quality and taking the market by storm. Yeti’s double vacuum construction maintains heat and cold well beyond our expectations. Their wide mouth stainless steel water bottles just feel right, and wouldn’t you know, they have a customization option for your hard-to-surprise friend. There’s a few different ways to customize, but hard not to love the bold two or three monogram initials look.
- Zany socks pepper the walls and racks of gift shops everywhere, vying for your attention by referencing pop culture, alluding to hobbies, spouting cutesy puns or dogged irreverance. And while you can get a half chuckle flashing holiday appropriate socks at a party, everyone knows these things are a dime a dozen. Enter customized DivvyUp Socks, stage left. Photos of pets, faces, and words that say what you mean, in a comfortable high-quality sock with solid customer support. Goodbye throwaway stunt socks and hello favorite foot warmer.