With A Bow

The Best Gifts That R29 Editors Have Ever Received

Photo: Courtesy of Venus Wong.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
Oh, Christmas. It's the rollercoaster of emotions in getting overwhelmed and overstimulated in a Lush, and overspending, just so you can get out quicker. Procrastinating until the last minute and frantically scouring Amazon for decent gifts with next-day delivery. Then forgetting the office Secret Santa and hoping no one notices that the candle you hastily wrapped up is from last year. What a wonderful time of year — am I right?
Let us ease the burden. Our jobs are to trawl the internet endlessly and think about products constantly, and we have countless gift guides to our name. So, who better to help you narrow down your search? Read on for the very best gifts that Refinery29 editors have received and found true, lasting joy from (many are self-gifted, too, so you know they are good ’uns).
Photo courtesy of Kate Spencer.
“Hands down, this is the BEST gift I’ve ever given myself. The Breville Barista Pro espresso machine has been the perfect mid-priced coffee maker for me for the past two years. It includes an internal grinder and milk frother and makes the perfect creamy espresso for my daily lattes, americanos, or cortados. I use it every day and couldn’t imagine my morning routine without it. Plus, I find it so fun to be able to make guests a pretty caffeinated treat when they come over. Not to mention, it’s saved me so much money because I rarely go out for coffee anymore.” — Kate Spencer, Sr. Affiliate Partnerships Manager
Courtesy of Esther Newman.
“I was given this exact record player and Bluetooth speakers set in 2019 for my birthday, and it is undoubtedly the best gift I’ve ever received. Collecting my favorite albums on vinyl, playing them on my record player, lighting candles to set a mood, switching off my phone and going screen-free for an evening brings me so much joy. And, it’s true what your parents say — music does sound so much better on vinyl."
"I did a lot of research before asking for this. I know the suitcase-style record players are popular because they’re affordable — and collecting vinyl is an expensive hobby — but they’re well-known for producing a terrible sound and even destroying your precious records. After reading through so many reviews, watching unboxing videos, and talking to friends who already owned this player, Audio-Technica proved the best quality for the best price. Four years later and it still sounds just as great, even after being moved about to various homes (luckily, it’s not difficult to set up. Even for a technophobe like myself!).” —Esther Newman, Affiliate Writer
Courtesy of Tanyel Mustafa.
“This is an unsung gem, genuinely. While everyone was fawning over Baccarat Rouge, I was falling in love with Jo Malone Honeysuckle & Davana. It’s become one of my most used fragrances, and I love how it smells sophisticated, neither too girly nor too masculine for my liking. The moss note balances the honeysuckle, and you’re left with something that’s mature but not dated, sweet but not sickly, earthy but not dirty. It strikes the balance, in every sense, because it also projects without suffocating those sitting next to you. Unlike most colognes that fade within a couple of hours on my skin, this wears well over a day at the office and clings to clothing. I’ll be replacing my bottle when it runs out.” —Tanyel Mustafa, Senior Writer
Courtesy of Charlotte Lewis
“When I moved to NYC two years ago, my girlfriend was appalled at how tiny my bag was. She insisted that I needed a larger one to fit my daily essentials (how could I be a New Yorker without carrying around an umbrella, hand sanitizer, an emergency tote bag, a subway fan, lipstick, lipgloss, Chapstick, moisturizer, etc., etc., etc.?), but I insisted that I really didn’t want a giant bulky carrier as my daily go-to. Somehow, she managed to find the perfect-size bag to gift me.
“This camera bag from Coach is shockingly roomy for how compact it is, due to its three substantial pockets. As far as a basic black bag goes, the gold hardware makes it feel stylish while being casual enough for day and fancy enough for night, and I love that I can use it year-round. It can’t quite fit an umbrella, but the adjustable strap can be unclipped to attach it via wrist loop on those ominously cloudy days when I leave the house. Tl;dr, it’s a perfect bag, and I’ll be using it for years to come.” —Charlotte Lewis, Sexual Health & Wellness Writer
“This is not only one of the best home gifts I’ve received but also the most practical. I live in an area that’s cold and damp in the winter, and my laundry takes ages to dry. Adding a dehumidifier has made a huge difference to my clothes; they no longer feel weirdly damp, even after airing out for days. I’ve also noticed less condensation and mold forming on my window frames since using this in my bedroom regularly."
"This dehumidifier is also whisper-quiet and has a self-regulating function (it only turns on when the humidity exceeds 65%), so we have been keeping this running when we’re asleep at night. It helps our rooms feel warmer, and we’ve found ourselves taking deeper, easier breaths when we’re asleep.” Venus Wong, Senior Travel Writer
Courtesy of Becca Sax.
“I am not an athlete. I repeat, not an athlete. However, I am trying to get back into casual jogging. My roommate who is running a half-marathon raved about the comfort and benefits of APL’s trainers — not to mention how cool they look. After much deliberation, I gifted myself a pair of these high-tech-looking chunky trainers to add a little motivation to actually getting out the door to run. While an investment, these are the best things I have ever gifted to myself."
"They not only encourage me to run each time I see their neon shine on my shoe rack, but they are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. I feel like I’m running on clouds and was able to tackle over 6 kilometers after not running for a few months. My parents both have really horrible backs, so I also gifted them each a pair of TechLoom Zipline trainers. They, too, agree that they are wonderful shoes for coping with chronic back pain. Invest in yourself for the long run (pun intended).” —Becca Sax, Affiliate Coordinator
“Sometimes the best gifting strategy is transparency. I recently turned 40, and two of my best friends sat me down and said, ‘We want to mark this occasion with something special and meaningful, but you need to tell us what to get you because you are a nightmare to buy for.’ (I am, of course, paraphrasing — while I’m sure that was the subtext, even candor has its limits, especially for people as nice as them).
“Anyway, without hesitation, I replied, ‘I would like a framed copy of that photo of us from Tuscany in the summer.’ And that was that! A few weeks later, I was presented with the gift at my birthday party, and (shocker) I loved it; it’s one of my most treasured possessions. Sure, you lose the element of surprise, but as we all know, surprises are overrated. Plus, I often get stressed out at the thought of choosing the wrong present for someone, and it just being yet another possession they need to drag through life (positive take, I know). If I can alleviate that (admittedly projected) concern for them, everybody wins.” —Jessica Aureli, Associate Copy Editor
“I know my limitations in life, and cleaning and maintaining a grill (and not accidentally setting my home on fire) certainly number among them. This Le Creuset grill pan (a Christmas present from an ex) has become one of my most-used kitchen tools, letting me cook things that make it look like I own a grill brush and know how to install a propane tank but without a hint of the effort. And, like all Le Creuset items, it looks beautiful on a table, so I don’t have to bother with effort-taking activities like plating when I use it.” —Sarah Crow, Affiliate Director
Courtesy of Alexandra Polk.
“Although it’s not the most sentimental or heartwarming gift I’ve ever received, this pair of AirPods is hands down one of the best presents ever bestowed upon me. I use them every day, mostly because of the noise cancellation setting. I can block out everything while I’m on the subway, on the bus, or on the street — aka I can actually hear the podcast I’m listening to without blowing out my eardrums."
"However, when I’m walking fast to a destination and need to pay attention to passing cars and don’t want to get overwhelmed while I sift through crowds, I just pause my music and put the AirPods in transparency mode. It feels like when you pop your ears on an airplane and suddenly you remember what it’s like to perceive outside sound. So, if you’re not too into sentimental gifting but rather practical picks, you truly can’t go wrong with AirPods.” —Alexandra Polk, Affiliate Lifestyle Writer
Be honest: Has anyone ever not been excited about receiving a gift that comes in Dyson packaging? I remember opening this box from my partner on Christmas Day 2020, and it made that particularly gloomy holiday so much better. As far as hairdryers go, the Dyson Supersonic is certainly expensive, but after using it every other day for three years, it is absolutely worth the investment."
"It dries my hair so much faster than other blow-dryers and significantly reduces the heat damage. My hair has been looking healthier and shinier ever since, and the different attachments have come in handy when I had different treatments on my hair. I used the diffuser religiously when I had my hair permed, and it was great not having to invest in another dryer that works better for curly hair.” —Venus Wong, Senior Travel Writer
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