It’s officially holiday romcom reading season! By this point in the year, my mind typically of mush from my full-time job and an otherwise busy schedule, so a couple of years ago I started gravitating towards really light, fun holiday books in December – and it’s since become one of my favorite seasonal traditions. Sure, they’re sometimes a little bit cheesy, but they’re also full of heart and go down easier than a cup of eggnog. Besides this year’s new releases I’ve also included a few that I loved from years past as well as a couple that aren’t romance focused at all – but still perfectly seasonal. Happy holiday reading!

And a friendly reminder – I’ve linked these to Amazon so that you can easily see what they are – but independent bookstores need your support, especially at the holidays. And since it’s Small Business Saturday, why not pick one of these up from your favorite local shop?!

On My Reading List This Year:

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox: I’m reading this now and it’ a mix between movies The Holiday and The Parent Trap (a city to country + twin swap) plus both twin sisters are bakers, one as a host of a British Bake Off-esque show and one in a family run bakery. Lots of hijinx so far.

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer: I finished this last week and honestly, it was so fun to learn all about the traditions of a holiday that I’m only surface-level familiar with. There’s not a ton of diversity in these holiday books, but this one did a really nice job of weaving that into the storyline – apparently the author, similarly to the main character, suffers from chronic illness as well. I loved the bubbe (grandmother) character too.

A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire: From the author of Wicked (that inspired the award-winning musical), this book is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Wild Swan’ fairytale – and takes place in New York City at Christmastime in the 1960s. It’s one of the books I’m most looking forward to this season.

The Christmas Dress by Courtney Cole: This one centers on an unlikely friendship between a young aspiring fashion designer and an older resident in her same apartment building and a certain dress brings them together. As previously mentioned, I love when older women get to be main characters in books (it so rarely happens) – so this one was an easy sell to me.

Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis: A blizzard traps two people together one night and then fate keeps bringing them back together. Feels a little like Serendipity which is one of my all-time favorite movies.

Always in December by Emily Stone: A woman who hates the holidays runs into a man who gives her a reason not to. Set in New York, London and Edinburgh (three places I love) so this was an easy sell to me.

The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin: Paris at Christmas.. in a bookstore. Need I say more? I actually picked this one up last year and didn’t have time to get to it so I’m hoping to this year. Sounds very sweet.

Past Favorites:

One Day in December by Josie Silver: The one that started it all. I read this 2-3 years and was instantly hooked on this genre. It’s a classic girl meets boy, girl loses boy to girl’s best friend story. And takes place over the span of almost a decade and I couldn’t put it down.

In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren: It’s Groundhogs Day meets Christmas in this book giving one girl many chances to get it right.. or wrong. A fun, festive read I liked last year.

Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva: A reimagined tale of what Charles Dickens life looked like as he wrote his beloved Christmas Carol. I loved going back in time to 1800s London and reading this fictionalized account of how his family and friends (and mainly himself) might have showed themselves in his famous work of literature.

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris: I’ve mentioned it many times but Sedaris on of my favorite authors. This compilation of his holiday-themed essays is a short, funny read that includes reflections on his time spent working as an elf in Macy’s Santa-land.

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory: Loved that the main couple in this book was in their 50s roughly, it had a Royal storyline (the daughter is a stylist for a Kate Middleton type Duchess) and was diverse (all of the main characters are Black) – and a fun trip to London too! A nice book if you’ve had your fill of the usual 20 somethings falling in love.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss: This was one of my favorites that I read last year. The main character is reluctantly seeking love after focusing on a career that she loves and balancing relationships with her family and friends. She felt really well-rounded and realistic. Spoiler – love ensues.

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I try to be really strategic when it comes to Black Friday/Cyber Monday – because honestly (and I say this as someone who makes their full time living in Ecommerce) marketing surrounding these sales can really push you into buying things you don’t need just because they’re on sale. That being said – I use this as a time to pick up gifts and a handful of selects items that are either classic wardrobe staples or pieces that I otherwise wouldn’t want to pay full-price for (like a fun holiday skirt that I will only wear a handful of times).

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and may the discounts be ever in your favor this weekend.



  • I have a few nice wool overcoats for winter, but I needed another heavy duty puffer and this Lands End one is perfect for casual weekends. In fact, every time I’ve worn it so far I’ve been too warm – which is a good sign that it’s going to actually hold up to a New York winter. Their whole site is 50% off + free shipping.
  • I just got this long cardigan (40% off right now) in and am swooning – I’m going to share two ways to wear it this weekend. But suffice to say it’s the new (slightly unexpected) standout of my holiday wardrobe. Plus – this velvet blazer, these jeans in a simple straight leg, and this cute plaid bag – are all wardrobe favorites of mine and they’re all 40% off too.
  • This gold mirror (we have it in our room at the lake house) is nearly $100 off right now. It can be hung vertically or horizontally and I love that it is simple enough to fit with almost any decor.
  • I shared the Sarah Flint Perfect Pumps in my last blog post and I truly can’t say enough good things about the quality, comfort and fit. They’re a definite ‘splurge’ – but when you factor in how often you’ll wear them and how long they’ll last, the cost per wear feels quite practical. My code SARAHFLINT-BASTEELE gets you $50 off 1 pair, $100 off 2 pairs, $150 off 3 pairs or (if you’re feeling wild) $200 off 4 pairs.
  • This Grecian bust pot I bought last year is 30% off – it looks great on it’s own or filled with flowers.
  • This plaid wrap dress I wore on Thanksgiving is an extra 25% off its sale price – along with all the rest of the discounted designer styles at The Outnet.
  • My new favorite clean mascara is 20% off right now in the brand’s only sale of the year. I’m thinking of trying their brow gel too.

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I rarely subscribe to the idea of hitting certain milestones by certain ages, but I do feel fairly strongly about the fact that by the time you’re in your 30s you should have a few specific items in your closet that are fail proof. A really nice blazer. A pair of jeans you feel great in. And the perfect black pumps that don’t hurt your feet.

My closet was, until now, lacking the latter. When NYC-brand Sarah Flint asked me to sign on to be a brand ambassador I jumped at the chance. I’m long admired the female founder’s mission of wanting to create high quality, timeless shoes that are *actually* comfortable. All of the shoes are handmade in Italy and has a legion of devoted fans that include Cindy Crawford, Meghan Markle and Amal Clooney.

I chose the ‘Perfect Pump 85’ in black suede because I knew they’d go with anything and everything and stay in my closet for years to come. And the comfort factor? Truly next level. I feel like it absorbed the shock of the concrete sidewalks and actually had arch support that nestled all the way up to my high arches – which has never once happened in a pair of heels for me.

Right now – you can use code SARAHFLINT-BASTEELE to get $50 off 1 pair, $100 off 2 pairs, $150 off 3 pairs or $200 off 4 pairs during their Black Friday sale. And even after that passes, my code will get first time shoppers $50 off a pair. The perfect pairs are waiting.


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Perhaps, quite selfishly, one of my favorite posts to write each year is this round-up of the thing that are on my own personal holiday gift wishlist. Do I *need* any of this? Mostly not. But if I decide to gift myself something or if someone reading this is looking to gift me something, here are plenty of things I want. And if you’re having trouble thinking of things to put on your own wishlist – maybe one of these will be a fit!
  1. Silky Pajamas – I’m very into the idea of these luxe looking pajamas with a celestial print.
  2. British Designers At Home – I rarely buy coffee table books (because in full transparency we don’t have a coffee table) but I’d find space for this one about the real homes of British Designers. I love that lived-in, quirky English style.
  3. Oversized Hair Bow – Wouldn’t be mad at accompanying tickets to Paris while we’re at it.
  4. Red (Taylor’s Version) on Vinyl – I think this one goes without saying.
  5. Harney & Sons Holiday Tea Set – I love specialty teas in winter and this duo (Hot Cinnamon Spice and Holiday) sounds so festive.
  6. Statement Earrings – I’ll likely be cashing in on my employee discount for these beauties.
  7. Plaid Bag – Adds such a fun, festive touch to an otherwise simple outfit.
  8. Silver Party Heels – These would be so cute with sparkly socks and jeans or tights and a party dress. Code: Steele15 will get you 15% off if you’re similarly swooning.
  9. Tickets to Moulin Rouge on Broadway – I really want to get back to a Broadway show after over a year of not having that option. Moulin Rouge feels like it would be such a fun one!
  10. Holiday City Mugs – These festive mugs come in New York, London, Paris and Los Angeles versions and I’m very tempted to collect the full set.
  11. 1990 Sweatshirt – Adam is a 1990 baby and I love this vintage looking red sweatshirt as a nod to him.
  12. Taper Candle Holders – I like that these feel organic and seasonless. They’d be so pretty with a colored taper candle.
  13. Light Tortoiseshell Glasses – I finally made it to the Eye Dr. since pre-pandemic and my prescription changed slightly. A perfect excuse for a new pair of glasses.
  14. Work Horse by Kim Reed – I’m fascinated by the underbelly of the New York restaurant scene. I love that this memoir takes you inside the world from a woman’s perspective.


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I’m notorious for waiting too long into a season to think about winter coats. But with a little bit of pre-planning, I’m fully stocked this year thanks to Talbots, who consistently make outerwear that I truly love.

I find it nice to have a few options on hand each season that can hold up to a variety of weather, from crisp fall days to truly chilly winter ones. Plus ones that work whether I’m headed for a walk in the park, a day at the office or out on a date.

Exhibit A is this black and white wool coat. It’s a really nice, thick weight and I love that I can wear it with a simple sweater and boots for walking around the city – but I could also put it on over a dress and feel super chic for a night out.


Next up is this ivory puffer coat. I like that it’s hip length so that it doesn’t totally overwhelm my frame (I’m 5’4″ for reference) and the big portrait collar makes it feel modern. Bonus points for fleece-lined pockets. Toss it on over your favorite fair isle sweater and you’re out to door for running holiday errands, ice-skating in the park or hot chocolate dates.


Last – but certainly not least – is this veryyy luxe looking green velvet blazer. It’s also a really nice weight meaning it works for days that are cool but not cold. I can’t wait to wear this to work to feel festive or dressed up with a silky slip skirt and heels. Now who wants to meet me for a glass of champagne so I can have a reason to wear this blazer again?


*Thank you to Talbots for sponsoring this post and to you all, as always.

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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.