HOLIDAY 2018 GIFT GUIDE | Stocking Stuffers, Affordable Kits, Men's Grooming, Luxury Splurges

This post is sponsored by Nordstrom. All opinions are my own.

With the holidays in full swing, I wanted to share my gift guide a bit earlier this year.  Normally I shop last minute because I’m always swamped starting Thanksgiving week with cooking cleaning and hanging on to my sanity in general, but I decided no procrastinating this year!  "Adulting" is so much more fun when I can browse and compare prices online and get all my shopping done in my pjs -- no long lines or throwing elbows or circling for parking.  I’m actually looking forward to wrapping up the gifts this season, but before I share what I bought and what I recommend, here are some shopping tips!

Since I’m four months away from turning 30 and my life has changed so much in the last two years, I have started thinking differently about gifting as well.  I still choose with the person in mind, of course, but I almost always go the more conservative route with skin care and personal care items that actually need to be repurchased regularly.  If I want to make it an extra special treat, I will choose a luxury brand for the element of surprise. I think the way I shop for gifts now shows how much more I pay attention and listen to my loved ones’ immediate and regular needs/wants.  

Nordstrom has some of the best skin care sets between $50 and $200 this year, but my top pick is the Sunday Riley Face to Face Kit.  This 4-piece set is priced at $49! It features useful crowd favorites that amount to a $70 value and can be split up into stocking stuffers or for gift bags.  All four products have proven track records with me and my friends who are pretty picky when it comes to skin care. My favorite of the bunch lately is the C.E.O. Serum, but Good Genes reigns supreme for most.

Sunday Riley is one of my favorite brands because it appeals to all ages and all genders in the goal of achieving healthier clearer skin. Her formulations are gentle but efficacious, and these aren't tiny samples so you can get a real feel for each product.  There are bigger more visually impressive sets but I think this is an all-around winner that should be at the top of your radar.

A beauty tool that I discovered recently while wandering around Nordstrom is the rather fancy and beautiful BeautyBio Rose Quartz Roller.  After using it for a month now, I think it makes a fabulous gift! It might be confusing to some because the concept is an old Asian one and recently made trendy thanks to social media but it works.  This roller can be used on the face neck and body to de-puff, which is why I keep mine in the fridge and sometimes freezer.

I love it in the mornings when my face is swollen, an easy and refreshing pre-makeup ritual that I look forward to. The (cold) pink stones boost lymphatic drainage and eases muscle tension in my jawline, neck, and temples.  I would not skimp and go with cheaper models because it’s the weightiness and larger size and single piece stone construction of the BeautyBio tool that makes it more useful and versatile. Any smaller and I would only be able to use it on my facial contours only. I bought this Rose Quartz Roller knowing it might be a waste of money and sit in a drawer but it's actually worth the price tag and comes in a lovely box.

Now, the mister has been great about adapting an official skin care routine upon my advice, but his beard care and grooming products are something that I neglected.  Lately I see this men’s category as an equivalent to women’s base makeup, and this sort of pampering will change your man’s daily routine for the better.

The Art of Shaving Sandalwood Soap with Bowl is a very traditional approach to shaving that is stylish and. I like watching him use the pure badger brush to foam up the bar into a dense creamy lather. My boyfriend is so impressed by it he never skips a shave anymore!  It’s expensive but made in Italy with quality non-drying ingredients plus the keepsake wooden bowl is refillable. If you know any men that enjoy experimenting with products, try gifting the Art of Shaving Shave Oil as well.

It doesn't seem like a natural step but the oil is a game-changer in every aspect, and those are his words.  It helps prevent redness and ingrown hairs and makes that dreaded five o’clock stubble much less abrasive against my sensitive skin. I chose the unscented version since I wasn't sure how he'd feel about a Shave Oil to begin with but next time I will repurchase Sandalwood to match the soap. The men in our lives deserve to be indulged and have soft smooth skin too!

Despite how important and useful skin stuff is to everyone, I still haven’t met a woman who doesn’t appreciate a touch of color to brighten her complexion whether her choice is lipstick lip gloss or liquid color.  The holidays make it easy to gift useful shades and sets in super fun gift packaging at unbeatable prices, and these MAC Shiny Pretty Things Nude Mini Lipstick Kit and Charlotte Tilbury Matte Liquid Lips Duo are so wearable as well as travel-friendly!  

The MAC minis come in orange bullets so they are easy to spot and can be mixed to make custom shades. I think the shades best suit medium to tan skin tones. CT’s lip products are beloved by A-list actresses everywhere, but the matte liquid formulas are great in the winter to prevent smudging or hair sticking accidents.  This Charlotte Tilbury Mini Hollywood Lips Duo is universally flattering and can be blended to create a vibrant deep berry color that looks as good with a natural eye as it does a smoky eye.

Almost all women tend to have a strong preference for lip formulas though, which is why I like keeping a quality balm option on hand in case color is a non-factor.  The Malin + Goetz Hand & Lip Duo comes in a festive gift wrapped box and hits the ideal price point at a respectable $20. It can be used as an ornament, stocking stuffer, and last minute gift.
I love the Almond hand cream because it isn’t too rich or too fragranced but prevents my dry hands from cracking when my boyfriend and I visit the freezing East Coast.  We discovered how much we adored Malin + Goetz via our regular travels with Delta, so now we use the Hand and Body Washes too! My top pick is the uplifting zesty brightening Lime scent whereas my man prefers the more earthy Cannabis fragrance the brand's bestselling signature.

Last but not least if you really want to treat a beauty junkie in your life, Chanel is always the right answer. During the winter months just a touch of bronzer can totally uplift the rest of your makeup and the Les Beiges Bronzing Powder shade range adds radiance without ending up muddy.  I go through a lot of bronzer and believe it when I say I always come back to this in Medium or Medium/Deep because of the silky smooth texture.

Plus the compact’s ivory and black dual colored lid and styling are undeniably unique and handbag worthy making it a winning luxury gift option!  If face makeup isn’t an option, then check out this incredible deal that Tom Ford released. This Eye & Lip Gift Set is a warm-toned four pan eyeshadow palette with two lipsticks that comes in a Tom Ford keepsake box for under $100. Highly recommend!!

Last but not least, here is a truly gorgeous Chanel Makeup Brush Set this holiday, but it’s $270 so that would be something to gift to the girl that has everything.  It would make a wonderful travel companion since the six brushes included can complete an entire glam look. And that red brush bag is really tempting, isn’t it?  

Ultimately my best advice is to be reasonable and treat everyone to the best of your abilities, but don’t neglect yourself. "Adulting" means we give a lot more than we receive so minimizing the stress and being proactive and balanced makes it truly more wonderful for all.  I wish you all the happiest and healthiest of holidays xo

@nordstrom #nordstrom

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