I Asked Experts To Pick The Best Holiday Gifts This Year

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You can't read minds. If you could, holiday gifting would be so much easier. Without asking for a list or dropping hopefully sneaky hints, you'd be able to determine exactly what your loved ones need or desire when the time comes to treat them to something. But, with telepathy not on the horizon, the next best thing for the 2020 holiday season is tapping shopping experts for gift ideas. Their tips on what to gift and possibly more importantly, what not to, are a great starting place if you've spent the last few weeks dragging your heels on your annual gifting list.

One thing the experts agree on: This year is different. Givers are taking a more thoughtful approach, and finding a reason to pay it forward. That could mean a gift that gives back to charity, something practical and timeless, or simply treating recipients to a well-deserved luxury at the end of a tumultuous year. You might consider including a handwritten card or even making a gift from scratch if you've taken on a new hobby this year. Small touches can go a long way. Below, find expertly curated gift ideas from the women behind boutiques and retailers that top the list of fashion insider favorites. Like you, they're not mind readers, but they do have a knack for feeling out exactly what people want in their wardrobes (and homes)

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Heather Gramston, Head of Womenswear, Browns

Courtesy Browns

"This year has forced us all to slow down and assess our priorities and how we spend our time and money," explains Gramston. "Gifting this year I think will be more considered with an emphasis on special pieces with enduring appeal." This suggestion applies to fashion, yes, but according to Gramston, if you're feeling unsure, "beautiful homeware is a fail-safe gift, particularly if you aren’t sure on sizing and taste. It’s always better to be on the safe side."

Shop Heather's Gift Picks:

"Without a doubt, jewelry will be one of the top trends for gifting over the festive period and a personal highlight of mine is Marla Aaron’s gold and neon strip lock."

"In addition, Manolo Blahnik’s iconic Mary Jane pumps which we’ve created exclusively for our 50th year anniversary are also at the top of my wish list – you simply can’t go wrong with this classic shape in satin."

"Anything loungewear will be well received and I’m hoping for a beautiful pair of pajamas from our new brand, Deiji Studios."

Telsha Anderson, Owner & Buyer, T.A. New York

With so many changes turning everyone's lives over, Anderson believes that gift giving is especially meaningful this year. "Avoid anything that can't be used and worn in a year's time," she suggests. "Be intentional!" She adds that since so many people are spending more time at home than ever, dressing up their personal spaces is just as important as any fashion gifts you may have in mind. "Gift givers are hopefully finding items that can be useful inside and outside the home. Now's a perfect time to also create home gifts as family or to create thoughtful moments that generate lifelong memories."

Shop Telsha's Gift Picks:

"The first trend I'm expecting (and hoping) to see is a trend of gifting from local boutiques. During the pandemic, we saw a rise in the support of small businesses all around the world and I have faith that this trend will continue during the holiday season and into the new year."

"The second and biggest trend I can expect to see is the gifting of new technology. Since we're all spending the majority of our time at home and/or work from home, the best gift is the gift of technology and discovery."

Tiffany Hsu, Fashion Buying Director, Mytheresa

For London-based Hsu, the key to gifting this year is to consider gifts your recipient can hold onto for years to come. And while she notes this season, travel is off the table, there aren't many other changes to make from your usual gift ideas. Her go-to recommendation is no-size gifts — especially jewelry, bags, or other small accessories. "You can’t have a trip to somewhere as a gift, but in terms of fashion products anything that is timeless has always been a great gifting option. Accessories in specific as they are not sized."

Shop Tiffany's Gift Picks:

"This year it’s all about longevity, therefore I would recommend gold and diamond jewelry as one of my favorite gifts, more than costume jewelry. I would like to have an earring from Eéra to add to my selection. It’s timeless yet so in-the-now, but also fun and not conventional."

"A good cashmere cardigan with a bra-set from Khaite is also something you’ll have forever. We just launched a Capsule with them and the co-od trend is going to continue into the next season. There’s nothing better than a cozy, sexy knit for the holiday season."

"Lastly I would pick a cashmere shawl by Gabriela Hearst. It’s such a luxurious dramatic piece, but also practical to keep forever."

Lisa Aiken, Fashion & Buying Director, Moda Operandi

"To me gift-giving is about joy, not what they need," explains Aiken. "It is the thing that they would love to buy themselves but don’t as they have other priorities. Surprise and delight is what this is all about." This season, she adds that the Moda Operandi customer is leaning towards more thoughtful purchases, too. "Shoppers will be much more considerate of how their friends' lifestyles have shifted in recent months, and will likely be looking for ways to improve the situation with quality home items such as tabletop decor and luxury throws. I also think people will be in a more generous mood given the circumstances and opting for really exquisite items that can be treasured forever."

Shop Lisa's Gift Picks:

"I think luxury sets are going to be on the top of several wish lists this year, be it a cashmere knit co-ord, or a sweat set from The Frankie Shop. There's truly no other trend that takes the ease of loungewear and makes it a fashion moment."

"There's nothing like giving a gift that you know someone will use constantly. The stompy boot is without question the shoe of the season, and given the impending winter months, owning at least one pair is going to be absolutely necessary. I would be very happy to unwrap Bottega Veneta's Tire boots this year."

"Jewelry is always a good bet if you're unsure what to get for someone special in your life. There are so many amazing brands that fit several styles and personalities, whether that's a statement gold chain from Ben Amun, or a vintage-inspired bracelet from Alighieri. You can't go wrong."

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