The Best Gifts We’ve Ever Received (or Given)

The Best Gifts We’ve Ever Received (or Given)

From a nice rug to the gift of self-care, this is proof that you don’t have to spend a lot to give big.
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The best gifts aren’t necessarily the most expensive or the fanciest items out there. Oftentimes, the best present received is something heartfelt and meaningful, as evidenced by the assortment of gifts the Dwell staff has received over the years. Below is a collection of the presents that have warmed our hearts and our spirits. 

Megan Reynolds, Senior Home Guides Editor 

Raw Emotions Lucky Cat Mascot Rug
Length: 131cm , width: 92cm. 100% polyester.

This rug is my prized possession though you wouldn’t know it from its current condition. It’s well loved! It lives in front of the sink in the kitchen, brightening up the vast expanse of white linoleum, and provides a nice spot for the real cat to sit when she tires of the couch, the floor, and my piles of clean laundry. Furthermore, it’s the perfect gift because it truly embodies the spirit of what a gift should be—something that I’d never buy for myself but would secretly covet, adding to and removing from an online shopping cart until I either bought it or forgot about it entirely. Thankfully for me, I didn’t have to endure that process because someone intuited that I’d love it as much as I do.

Kate Dries, Executive Editor 

I absolutely love giving gifts; the satisfaction of finding something that you just know someone is going to freak out about never wanes. So it’s actually hard to pick the favorite of mine. But for what I thought was my partner’s 35th birthday (more on this in a moment), I decided to go all out, particularly because it had been a tough, pandemic-dominated year. His favorite artist is Sol Lewitt, so I spent some time trying to find one that was actually somewhat affordable. (Somewhat being the operative word.) As most of Lewitt’s works go for thousands of dollars, I settled on getting him a print, not dissimilar to this one (though much less expensive). He was so overwhelmed when he opened it he was literally silent for a few minutes, adding a new kind of reaction to my roster, and proving my belief that art that means something can be one of the best gifts you can give someone. What I realized later: he was actually turning 36, and I’d forgotten a year because of the pandemic :) Still, it’s the thought that counts.

Sarah Buder, Culture Editor 

Sculpd Pottery Kit
A Sculpd Pottery Kit contains everything you'll need to sculpt, carve, paint and seal your own pinch pots, succulent plant pots, trinket dishes, vases, candle holders, sculptures and everything in between.

As someone who’s pretty picky about decorating my space according to my own tastes and aesthetic—and the same goes for clothes—I’m always wary of buying things for people unless I feel really, really familiar with their style preferences. With that said, home decor is my favorite thing to shop for and tends to be where I feel most confident making style choices; I really love picking out thoughtful housewares or trinkets that feel specific to a person’s style, sense of humor, or favorite pastimes and make them feel known. I recently gave my girlfriend (who shares my obsession with home decor) a Sculpd pottery kit so she can DIY clay pots, vases, candle holders, or what have you for her own home. I love that DIY craft kits like this provide the tools you need to try out a new skill and create things for yourself. It’s like multiple gifts in one.

Jack Balderrama Morley, Managing Editor 

Nothing warms me more than my fluffy, oversize Virgen de Guadalupe blanket. My grandparents gave it to my family at least a decade ago, and no one in my family has as much taste as I do, apparently, and so I kept it. It’s made out of the hardiest but softest plastic polymers that show no sign of aging and don’t breathe at all. It's perfect for my little New York apartment where the heat has issues, and it’s a welcome reminder on gray winter days of the sunny deserts of southern New Mexico, where my mom’s family is from. There’s an over-the-top religiosity and a deadpan solemnity to it that I associate with the Balderramas and Chicanx culture more generally. It’s a kind of smothering thing, physically and aesthetically. Is it an object I’m supposed to consider seriously? Or is it a surreal bit of family baggage that I just accept, enjoy, and curl up with while I dream? 

Duncan Nielsen, Design News Editor 

Never would I have ever have thought I’d be a Crocs wearer. They are the original ugly shoe, the design’s existence half gimmick, half comfort at the cost of dignity and self respect. But there they are, at my front door where I slide them on for occasional walks with Lou the dog, or to wear in the backyard while futzing with odd projects that aren’t so serious I’d need to wear a proper shoe. I’ll admit, they are comfortable, and better, unlike a fresh pair of Chucks or boat shoes, I care zilch whether they get scuffed or dirty, a liberating feeling when the rest of your closet requires a level of care. 

I have a dear friend to thank for becoming the person I am now, the glutton for cozy convenience at every chance. This friend wears their camo set effortlessly: as duds for Sunday jaunts to score iced Americanos, as late-night kicks to shed paradiddles at their rehearsal space, or as a complement to daily cozy boy ensembles. As part of their wedding party, I was gifted the ones I wear today, which have become daily drivers—as long as the trip stays within a few blocks of my house.

Mike Chino, Senior Design Editor 

I’ve had a crush on Zoe Derring’s mugs ever since I was gifted one she produced for the late, great Trouble Coffee (R.I.P.)—and I was crushed when my clumsy mitts let it slip and shatter one fateful day (R.I.P.). To my great fortune (and despite the fact that I’m a terror who can’t be trusted with ceramics of any kind), I was recently gifted another. This one has fluted edges for a sure grip, and I cautiously sip from it each and every morning.

Suzanne LaGasa, Creative Director 

Self-Care Shower Eucalyptus Bundle
Our customers tell us ALL the time how relaxing and fresh our Eucalyptus Bundles smell (the secret: natural compounds in eucalyptus that release when steamed!). Even better, they last for up to a month in the shower.

When the box arrived it looked like someone had sent me a massive bouquet of flowers, but under the crisp tissue paper was a lush bushel of fresh eucalyptus and thyme. A girlfriend sent me the gift from the appropriately-named Self-Care Shower to encourage a little self-care—which it delivered via aromatherapy and by being so pretty that it encouraged singing in the shower.  

Erin Mahoney, Senior Marketing Manager

The best gifts I’ve given (and received!) have an undeniable longevity to them. A few years ago, my brother and I went in on a classic Barbour jacket for my dad. He wears it often, particularly during the colder seasons. Plus, you can mail in your jacket for repairs or rewaxing and Barbour will send it back looking good as new. I love a gift that lasts a lifetime. 

Ian Zunt, Digital Marketing Associate

The best gift I’ve received actually came along while my family and I were visiting our grandparents out in Minnesota. We were deep in the glove compartment of my Oompa’s [read: Dad’s dad] Toyota Corolla, which had sat untouched for years. Someone pulled out some Target-brand sunglasses that I’m sure came into the world before I did—and that happen to resemble this year’s it-accessory. With Oompa’s blessing, I took them back to New York with me and now think of him every time I throw them in my bag. Not sure if it’s still considered a gift if you both find the item in someone’s belongings and persuasively ask them to keep it, but in my defense they made me feel like a very cool engineer from the ’90s and that’s something worth fighting for.

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