2023 Modern Gift Ideas From Editor-in-Chief Caroline Williamson

11.20.23 | By
2023 Modern Gift Ideas From Editor-in-Chief Caroline Williamson

When coming up with gift ideas, I tend to think long and hard to make sure it’s something I really want and that I’ll actually enjoy. I have to really envision using something before I even think about asking for it so it doesn’t become clutter in my small apartment. I also don’t want anyone’s hard earned money to go to waste if it’s something I end up not needing. That said, my gift ideas are generally all over the place, from things I really want and wouldn’t necessarily buy for myself to practical asks of things I need. Below you’ll find a sampling of ideas that have popped up on at least one year’s wish list, if not more!

multicolored striped soap stacked x 3

A24 x Wary Meyers Test Card Soap \\\ $16

I don’t know if it’s the delightful color choices, the stripes, or the nostalgic nod to the old test patterns shown on TV way back in the day when a show wasn’t being broadcast, but I love this soap. It’s handmade with glycerine in small batches featuring eight stripes of vibrant colors with a fresh, light scent that has top notes of sweet basil, peppermint leaf, and flower buds.

dimly lit glass globe ball light

14p Portable Light by Bocci \\\ $250

The 14 Series originally launched in 2005, but Bocci just recently transformed the ball-shaped design into a portable, candle-like light. Two poured-glass domes come together and filter light through three ambient light settings. It would be so easy to bring this lamp outside for dinner under the stars, set it on your bathroom counter while taking a bath, or leaving it bedside for an elegant nightlight. The imperfect glass casts a rippled, watery glow that anyone would love to carry around to elevate their life at a moment’s notice.

orange and white modern turntable

Hym Duo Turntable with Detachable Bluetooth Speaker \\\ $369

As someone who is a lifelong fan of vinyl, I’m always intrigued by all the new turntables that come out and this one really caught my eye. If you know someone with limited space that loves playing records like me, you’ll want to get them this 2-in-1 set. Not only is it a visually impressive design, it’s clever in that a portable Bluetooth speaker pops out from the turntable allowing one to listen to vinyl anywhere in their home. The overall design itself is so compact that it can also be considered portable and moved to any room one might want to take it. If orange isn’t their thing, the Hym Duo also comes in neon yellow and an all-black versions.

angled closeup of knurled black cabinet pull knots

Cross Furniture/Cabinet Knob Set by Buster + Punch \\\ $60 pair

Over the years, I’ve been slowly making upgrades to my apartment and next on my list is my small kitchen. I figured I can’t be the only one on the hunt for small but mighty ideas to overhaul a space without gutting it. They may fit in the palm of your hand but these cross-knurl knobs will transform any kitchen cabinet (or furniture piece). It’s like when you add a necklace or pair of earrings and it making your outfit, these knobs will definitely make your kitchen or bathroom that much better. I’m sure we all know someone who has recently moved into a new space or they’re trying to pull together a renovation. Help them out by contributing a pair (or enough for every drawer and cabinet) to elevate the heart of their home.

angled view of silver ring that resembles a twist tie

Twist Tie Ring by e for effort \\\ $88

When you were a kid, did you ever snag the randomly found twist tie from the loaf of bread and pretend it was a ring? Well, I did and this sterling silver rendition brings it all back! It comes in sizes 4 – 9 with each size being cast in its own unique shape from an original mold made by the artists. I love simple band rings, but I really love unusual ones and this ring is that. So if you have anyone on your list that leans towards unique jewelry, this one is for them (and me)!

trio of pink and yellow shiny modern salt and pepper grinders

Salt + Pepper Grinders by Ettore Sottsass for Alessi \\\ from $130 each

If you know a fan of Ettore Sottsass or someone who loves to cook and likes colorful kitchen gear, these Alessi grinders fit the bill. Available in three sizes – Short, Medium, and Tall – and made from sustainably sourced beechwood, these grinders are like small colorful sculptures that are functional. It would be impossible for someone to use these and not have a smile on their face! PS: If they’re not a fan of pink, there are two additional colorways (yellow and red) to choose from.

built Concorde LEGO model on red shelf in front of deep blue wall

LEGO Concorde Set \\\ $199

It’s long been established that I’m an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) and I love all things aviation as well, so this set hits it out of the park for me. And like me, I’m sure we all know someone that already loves LEGO sets or has been tempted to buy them but hesitated due to the cost (it can be an expensive hobby). Either way, they’ll love having a new set to tackle over the holidays this year. When they’re done, the Concorde will look so sleek and cool on their shelf reminding them of you and the fun they had building it.

smoked gray glass decanter with egg shaped stopper that doubles as a glass

Mr. & Mrs. Night Water Set (Tall) by Nude Glass \\\ $155

I’m someone who can’t go to bed without water on my nightstand and I know I’m not alone. For those seeking nocturnal thirst quenching, help them elevate their late night water drinking with this adorable glass set in a moody green hue. The cup with its subtle sleeping face works as a bottle stopper (or, let’s be honest, a top to keep dust and flying creatures out). They can have sips whenever they like and set the glass back into the top of the bottle till next time. When not in use or just empty, the bottle doubles as a design object that will look good anywhere it lands.

multi colored geometric bath rug on floor

The Island Mat 03 Bathmat by Proba Home \\\ $85

Since I renovated my bathroom to a black and white color scheme, I’ve had fun adding super colorful textiles and accessories into the mix. There’s nothing better than the sight of playful designs and happy color palettes when you’re barely awake in the morning trying to get up and ready for work. While most people stick to the basics in the bathroom – beige, white, cream, various shades of gray, etc. – there are those of us that are at the opposite end of the spectrum and long for something fun and a fresh, new bathmat can do the trick.

styled down shot of brass canister with lid open and red-tipped matches hanging out

Brass Match Canister by Mersea \\\ $54

Just as much as I love the idea of a cool lighter, there’s still nothing better than striking a match to light a candle (or whatever). It just elevates the whole experience when setting the mood with a candle burning. While the traditional box of matches is functional, it leaves a lot to be desired visually. This brass canister can be left out anywhere as it looks like a small design object, but hidden inside are matches at the ready. Two surfaces of textured brass make striking easy, and with “Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flame.” engraved on the side, it makes it a practical yet thoughtful gift someone will use for years and years and think of you.

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Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.