To me, there’s nothing quite like the gift of a book. And at a time when many of us could use an escape, a good cry or a good laugh or something to inspire us – books can provide that. So without further ado – A Very Bookish Gift Guide for 2020. There are mistletoe-filled romances and challenging literary novels, books for parents, partners and friends – and yourself of course. Nearly 50 of them in total!
Disclosure: If you’re able to purchase these from your local bookstores please do so! I’ve also linked everything on Bookshop.org which is an awesome resource that supports indie stores across the country. However, in the product carousels below the images link to Amazon – as it was the best way for me to show all the covers.
Click to the next page for all of my recommendations!
Strand Bookstore – While I have a solid handful of bookstores in this city that I truly love, the Strand will always feel like my home base bookstore. They’ve been around since 1927 and I’ve been visiting for over 13 years, since I first interned in the city. Like most indie bookstores this year, they need more support than ever this holiday season. Right now if you buy $100 in gift cards you’ll get an extra $20 gift card.
Margaux NY – If Audrey Hepburn needed a modern-day source for the perfect ballet flat, she would come to Margaux. I was kindly gifted the pointe ballet flats and I feel approximately 25x more chic every time I wear them. Their shoes come in wide, narrow and regular or custom options and the Italian leather continues to mold to your feet over time. Like I said.. perfect. They’re 20% off sitewide this weekend, but if you miss the sale – code: STEELE10 will get you 10% off your first pair.
The Koop New York – A Black, female owned business out of Brooklyn that makes some of the best selling candles I’ve tried. They’re offering 30% off right now and while things tend to sell out quickly, if you sign up for their newsletter you’ll be the first to find out about restocks.
East Olivia – I’ve followed Olivia on Instagram for a few years now and am always blown away by her incredible floral installations around the city. She’s since opened her own shop and also sells dried arrangements online that are so, so pretty. A thoughtful gift for a flower loving friend spending lots of time at home right now.
Madame Matovu – My favorite vintage store in the West Village. Go for the beautifully curated clothing, accessories and artwork – stay for the conversations with Rosemary, the owner and a longtime New Yorker.
CW Pencil Enterprise – This female-owned specialty pencil shop on the Lower East Side is a writer’s dream with pencils from around the world plus stationary and other bits and bobs to outfit your desk. The kind of niche place that makes me love this city so much.
McNally Jackson – If the Strand is the original NY bookstore, McNally Jackson is her slightly more literary older sister. They’ve got 4 locations including a new spot in South Street Seaport with a beautiful cafe, but also take online orders – and with sales down 70% this year, every order counts.
Dobbin St Co-Op – An expertly curated Brooklyn-based vintage store with two locations. I’m partial to the one in Greenpoint), where I’ve had good luck finding cool, mid-century homegoods.
Gigi New York/Graphic Image – a Long Island based company that carries beautiful handbags and leather accessories. I’ve been carrying this black leather crossbody bag for 5 years now and I swear it still looks as good as new. They were also kind enough to send me a leather 2021 planner which would make a beautiful gift this season to those of us looking forward to a fresh page in the new year (ahem.. everyone).
Fishs Eddy – Nearly 12 years ago when I first moved to New York I remember reading about this quirky Union Square home goods store and taking the 6 train down to visit. Now I’m just a short walk away and still love stopping in to find unique dishes and gifts.
First, a few disclosures. If you’re not in a position to shop this holiday season, please skip ahead. I hate the way that Black Friday sales can feel like they pressure you to buy all the things. It’s perfectly okay to tune it out. That being said – I’ve still got a small handful of gifts to buy and I’m also using this weekend as a chance to buy myself some basics that I need and have been setting aside money for – knowing that they’d go on sale right now. So that’s my approach.
And lastly, I’m going to be sharing 10 great NYC-based small businesses tomorrow to consider. I encourage you to try and come up with a shopping strategy this holiday season that includes small businesses – here in New York or in your own local community. They truly need the support more than ever right now.
Okay – on with the show. Here are the online sales I’m shopping this weekend and what I plan on picking up:
Sandro Paris (40% Off Sitewide): I have swooned over pieces from this French brand for ages and this sale finally has things in a somewhat attainable price range for me. It’s still a bit of a splurge compared to my usual purchases but this dress is a forever piece to me and between the classic fit and the ‘S’ (for Sandro.. but also Steele!) embroidery – I think I may finally finally treat myself to it.
If we’re being honest – I’m still coming to terms with the fact that this holiday season will have more occasion for leggings and far less for sequins. So in an effort to balance being comfortable and cozy at home but also still feeling a bit festive, I came up with 10 outfit ideas that will be perfect for the season ahead. Lots of relaxed denim, cozy sweaters and simple styling. Hopefully this inspires you to find a new piece or two that will make the holidays feel special or wear something you already own in a new way. The full IGTV video is here and all outfit details are below.
From the general consensus that I’ve gathered on the internet – a lot of us are struggling right now. We’re tired from the election/news cycle, we’re missing our family and friends, we feel daunted by the thought of renewed Covid-19 restrictions (my dear friend in Minnesota just went into full lockdown again in their town), we’re sad that the holidays won’t look like normal this year. I get it. And I feel all of it too.
My family just made the tough decision not to gather for Thanksgiving this year – a first for us all aside from the year that Adam and I were in LA. My brother in law traveled recently so he needs to quarantine, my niece and nephew are still in daycare, Adam still works in the office – so even to have just my immediate family together (3 different households) would put my parents at risk who are in regular contact out of necessity with my two grandparents, both in their 90s. A meal together just didn’t feel worth the risk.
Which means Adam and I will celebrate here in the city for the first time. Since I wasn’t about to attempt to cook a full turkey dinner in our small kitchen, we ordered a multi-course meal from a favorite local restaurant (Friend of A Farmer) to-go. It feels like a great way to support a local business and also get something that still feels special. In a situation that felt like sort of a bummer, I’m now really looking forward to a small, quiet holiday – just the two of us.
It’s that approach of focusing on simple joys that I’m trying to take to heart for the whole rest of this uncertain season. I’m talking Little Women-era basics at this point. The things that you’re otherwise always too busy to slow down and really revel in. Things that feel cozy and content. Here are a few of the simple joys I plan on indulging in this season.
Pick up a holiday scented candle (this one is a favorite) and string some lights. Now that it gets dark early I find the warm glow so comforting in the evening.
Treat yourself to a new flavor of tea or coffee to make at home. I’ve been loving a cup of peppermint tea in the evenings while I read.
Take a long, hot bath – extra bubbles too.
Handwrite letters (or holiday cards!) to friends and family that you might not get to see in person this season. Mail like that really makes people’s day.
Bake something – even if it’s out of a box. We just got a gingerbread mix from Trader Joe’s I’m excited to try. I love when the whole apartment smells like something fresh out of the oven.
Devour a new show – I mentioned on IG stories but The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix is incredible and I’m planning to dive into the latest season of The Crown today (Princess Diana here I come!) – or have a holiday movie marathon. Love Actually is always my favorite.
Play an old-fashioned board game. We bought Scrabble last year and it’s one of our favorite at-home date nights. We usually mix up a cocktail and put on our favorite records too. Finding an online game to play with a friend could be great too though!
Speaking of cocktails – is there anything a homemade hot toddy can’t solve? If whiskey’s not your thing – substitute a hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.
Pick up a new book and get lost in it for an afternoon. I’m currently reading Royal Holiday which is super sweet. And I plan on sharing a whole round-up of other cute holiday-themed books soon!