14 No-Fail Gifts That Work Every Time, According to Resident Hana Asbrink

Picks so good, you'll want them for yourself.

December  1, 2021

If there's one thing I'm good at that isn't kitchen-related, it's buying gifts. There's nothing more gratifying than giving someone the most thoughtful gift, which from my experience, marries style, utility, and a touch of "wow-I-didn't-realize-I-needed-that" whimsy.

The following gift ideas are a trusted assortment of beloved items that I own and are so good that I’ve already gifted them to my loved ones (or in the case of some, let people borrow and never saw them again).

If you've started on holiday gift shopping but hit a bump in the road, you’ll want to take a look at these works-every time winners.

Photo by Amazon

1. Apéritif: Cocktail Hour the French Way, Rebekah Peppler, $18.99 $15.29

Trust me when I say I have a lot of cookbooks. Rebekah Peppler's Apéritif may have come out in 2018, but it’s the one book I consistently give to others, and also consult most regularly. Not only is it a great reference for lower-in-alcohol drinks, but there’s a section devoted to fantastic nibbles to go with said tipples. Crack this guide open and Paris will never feel closer.

Photo by Material

2. Material reBoard, $35

You know something is good when your own mother "borrows" it, never to be seen again (a-hem). This BPA-free cutting board by Material is my go-to, and there are plenty of fun colors to choose from. There's even a slightly smaller mini reBoard that serves as an excellent cocktail partner for all of the drink ingredients and garnishes called for in Apéritif above. A bonus: The reBoard is made entirely of kitchen plastic scraps and renewable sugarcane. Also, dishwasher-safe!

Photo by Cultiver

3. Cultiver Jude Linen Apron, $80

I own a few great aprons, and none get the amount of questions like this one. Aside from its perfect shade of pink and organic feel, this linen apron from Australia-based Cultiver is a great solid weight, and made with quality. I appreciate the dual pockets and easy-to-maneuver shape; there's no need for a belt-like strap to keep it on.

Photo by Rocky Luten

4. Five Two Airtight Silicone Lids, $40

Just as the Material reBoard hit the mark with my mother, these Five Two silicone lids were great for my mother-in-law, who has essentially eliminated her usage of plastic wrap and assorted coverings. She had me order several for her fellow Korean ajumma friends, if that's any indication of its popularity!

Photo by Bag Shop NYC

5. Bag Shop NYC Large Foldable Reusable Nylon Bag with Keychain Attachment, $7.99

Talk about a perfect stocking stuffer! I'm such a fan of gifts that are both fun and practical, and this handy tote checks off both boxes. It’s by Black- and Latino-owned Bag Shop NYC, which is run by Aisha Ndiaye and Jose Cosme. The rip-stop material is lightweight, durable, water-resistant, and folds up nicely to fit in any bag you carry around. The keychain attachment comes in handy for anyone who always forgets their reusable bags at home. I especially love the design's homage to NYC plastic bags, which we're all trying to use less of these days!

Photo by Stick With Me

6. Stick With Me Bonbons, $25+

Chef Susanna Yoon is a veritable Willy Wonka of our time, a chocolatier and artist whose pastry and confectionery skills were honed in the perfection-seeking kitchens of Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller. Her shiny, hand-made treats at Stick With Me are dazzling, refined, luxurious, and fun. The bonbons might get all of the love on Instagram, but don't sleep on her truffles, caramels, brittles, candy bars, and mini pies!

Photo by Ty Mecham

7. SIN Handmade Uni Candlestick, $38

Talk about a small gift that makes an impact. Virginia Sin's ceramics are modern, playful, and minimal in a way that will suit any home. This handmade candlestick is made from unglazed terra cotta, lending a down-to-earth feel and just-right punctuation to a tabletop or mantel.

Photo by Cometeer

8. Cometeer Mixed Box Subscription, $64 $48

While I appreciate the effort that goes into a well-brewed cup, I don't always have freshly roasted beans on hand. The coffee in Cometeer's capsules are flash-frozen at the peak of their flavor—all you have to do is drop a frozen capsule in a mug and add hot water! Truly couldn't be easier and tastes like you went to the fancy coffee roaster down the block. My husband (the coffee snob in this house) enjoys it, so I know it's good.

Photo by Ty Mecham

9. Stelton Erik Magnussen Thermo Vacuum Jug, $85

I married to Swede, so that means there's a lot of coffee in my life. This Stelton jug is a classic—it looks neat and keeps beverages hot for a long time. It's great for having friends over for a fika, or just keeping drinks warm and flowing for all those still-working-from-home days.

Photo by Marimekko

10. Marimekko Pieni Unikko Plywood Tray, $90

A stylish tray is one of the most versatile home pieces. They can just sit there and look pretty, of course, but they're also great at pulling double-duty for obvious transporting assistance, as well as corralling loose items in the kitchen (oils, spices, seasonings) or living areas (remote controls, candles, the not-yet-read New Yorker).

Photo by Ty Mecham

11. Hawkins New York Oversize Wool Throw Blanket, $295

There is no couch or bed that hasn't benefited from an oversized, cozy throw. This sumptuous blanket by Hawkins New York comes in a multitude of gorgeous colors and is begging for a lazy day nap recipient.

Photo by Falcone

12. Falcone Bake Set, $122

I don't know anyone who doesn't love classic Falcon enamelware. This nesting set can be used to cook up a whole host of dishes in the oven, but the versatile pieces can just as easily be used on a cooktop or in a freezer. They're also great for mise en place, or just showcasing some pretty seasonal fruit. The inevitable chips and dings on the surface only add to the charm.

Photo by Rocky Luten

13. Technivorm Moccamaster 10-cup Coffee Maker with Glass Carafe, $329-$369

Have I mentioned I love coffee? This was a gift to myself during the height of the pandemic, and wow, am I patting myself on the back for this move. The price tag for this fancy drip coffee maker is definitely special-occasion-worthy, but if the last 18 months have taught us anything, it's that we deserve all the things that make us happy. Get the nice coffeemaker for someone you love (and maybe even yourself)—no regrets.

Photo by Svenskt Tenn

14. Josef Frank Coaster Italian Dinner, $44

I've had some version of these vibrant Josef Frank-designed coasters in my apartment for the last decade or so. They would bring a little fun (and utility!) to anyone's home, and cleans easily with a damp cloth.

Still looking for the perfect gift? Let us know who you’re still shopping for below and we’ll drop some great gift ideas!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate and Skimlinks affiliate, Food52 earns a commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
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Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.