If you’re like me, you absolutely love to shop. But even we shopaholics feel a bit of angst when we stare down our long holiday gift lists. There is so much pressure to pick a perfect, thoughtful gift that you’re tempted to start your shopping marathon at the candy store, where you can draw on the power of chocolate for inspiration and reinforcement.

While I’m a huge fan of chocolate and its amazing powers, you might have an easier time with your holiday gift shopping if you instead arm yourself with a list of some of today’s hottest gift items before you tackle the stores. Need some suggestions? Here are my favorite gift picks for this year:


I often give lanterns as gifts because everyone loves them and can find a place to use them in their homes. And, because lanterns come is such a wide variety of shapes, sizes, styles and prices, it’s easy to find just the right one for everyone on your list. The lantern itself will make a wonderful gift, or take it one step farther and fill it with home accents, like a pillar candle, holiday greens or Christmas tree ornaments.

Nell Hill’s Books

Does anyone on your list like to decorate? Then you’ve got to get them an autographed copy of one – or all—of my books. Each one is filled with luscious photos and lots of great tips on how to make your home lovely and livable. The full line of Nell Hill’s books is available at all the Nell Hill’s stores and at Nell Hill’s Online.


I think ornaments make sensational gifts because when you give one, you become a part of your loved one’s holiday tradition. When they hang the ornament on the tree, place it under a cloche on a side table or work it into a stunning holiday centerpiece, they will think of you. You will have a blast shopping for ornaments this year because right now, everything goes. We are seeing it all this holiday season, from traditional red and green, to all kinds of metallics, to playful and whimsical.

Apothecary Jars

Apothecary jars are a bedrock of the Nell Hill’s look, and that’s because these graceful containers can be reinvented millions of ways in your seasonal and year-round decorating. Right now we’re seeing apothecary jars in a wonderful variety of shapes and sizes, from tall and slender to short and fat. Give your loved ones a set of three jars in different heights so they have the base of a great display. Or, spoil them by filling an apothecary jar full of holiday candy, then dress it up with a lovely plaid bow.

Holiday Dishes

Have anyone on your list who loves to entertain? Treat them to some fun and festive holiday dishes to add sugar and spice to their table. You can start a collection for them by purchasing a few place settings. Or, you can select a few key serving pieces, like a platter, pitcher or bowl. At Nell Hill’s this season, we are smitten with this wonderful earthenware set, which features a very subtle winter motif on the plate’s edge. It is so neutral, it looks perfect paired with your everyday white dishes or with whimsical salad plates. Plus, the design is winter themed, so you could use it all winter long, not just during the holiday.

Festive Mugs

Treat the coffee or tea lover in your life to a fun new over-sized mug. I like this set because the mugs look so old fashioned, and they sport cheerful holiday sentiments, like “It’s a wonderful life,” and “This house believes.” You could give a set or tuck one into a coffee-themed basket filled with fresh ground coffee, biscotti and chocolate-dipped stirring spoons.

Tea Light Holders

Candlesticks are another great pick for holiday gifts because everyone can use them somewhere in their home décor. At market this year, I fell hard for this edgy, contemporary line of glass block  tea light holders. They are stunning displayed in a mass, tossing glittering candlelight around the room.

Anything with Letters

The ABC’s are big, big, big this year. You’ll find random letters and words decorating just about everything from lamp shades to pillows. I adore the look of these letter-clad accents because they are clean and contemporary and lend a bit of fresh air to your decorating.

The romantic in me is also drawn to home décor items decorated with beautiful, flowing scrip, like this fabric lined metal basket. This would make a great gift for teens and young adults, who could use it to hold everything from laundry to magazines.

Anything with Frogs

I am no princess, but right now, I am having a love affair with frogs. I can’t seem to get enough of them at market, whether they are zany frog figurines doing yoga or sparkly holiday decorations, like the one picture here. Neither can my customers, because as soon as we unpack the frog figures, they hop out the door.

Tea towels

Everyone can use fresh tea towels to brighten up their kitchens. If you’re looking for fun little gifts, maybe for your child’s teachers, your coworkers or your neighbors, try a festive tea towel that features a cheery holiday motif.

Nell Hill’s Gift Card

Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is the chance for them to pick out something they truly love. That’s why Nell Hill’s gift cards are one of our hottest sellers during the holidays. You can pick up a gift card at any of our locations, by phone or through Nell Hill’s online, at www.nellhills.com.

Next Week … We shouldn’t have favorites at Nell Hill’s. But we can’t help ourselves. When we start unpacking each new shipment of holiday goodies, each of us usually picks out a holiday decoration that is our absolute favorite. Next week, a few members of the Nell Hill’s Atchison team will confess which holiday treasure is their favorite this year.

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20 Responses to “My Favorite Holiday Gift Picks”

  1. lynne@lynnesgiftsfromtheheart Says:

    Your shops are always full of inspiration. My girlfriend and I are headed to Atchison tomorrow, looking forward to coming home with “lots” of goodies. Wishing you the best on this beautiful Monday morning. hugs ~lynne~

  2. Cathi Rafalski Says:

    LOVE these ideas ~ and totally agree! I’m hoping that you might be designing again for us one day!!! Our Garrity House Candlesticks are still one of my favortie pieces! (Willow House, formerly Southern Living at HOME!)

  3. Linda Pinion Says:

    You are always so helpful in your blog posts. I too think that ornaments are a great gift. Every year when I take out my decorations, I think of the person who gifted me. It’s really all about making memories and then sharing them!

    Happy Monday!


  4. Elizabeth B. Says:

    Wonderful! Look forward to next weeks’ Atchison group Christmas favorites…glad the Open House was so wonderfully successful again…I’m homesick for big “A”….BB

  5. Lynn S. Says:

    It would really be helpful if you would include the price with the items shown. That way, we can save time calling and asking for one more thing!

  6. Helen Says:

    I wish that I had purchased more while I was there last week. It was lots of fun!!

  7. Joanna Says:

    Sorry I missed the Open House. Could you do a blog with pictures. I really enjoyed seeing it last year. Thanks

  8. Mary Ann Says:

    I’m coming from CA in a few days, I know I’ll make it Briarcliff…maybe even Atchison! Can’t wait!

  9. Lee Says:

    Where are the mugs available for purchase? I can’t seem to find them on your website, or on Google.

  10. Mary Carol Says:

    Yes Lee, the mugs are available for purchase in our Atchison store—call 877-367-1086 for more information.

  11. Rosanne Says:

    Did you start working on the “customer service” aspect of your business yet, Mary Carol? So what did you do with the merchandise that I returned at my own expense, and then you refused me a refund? I sent your company name to the website that alerts Americans that your company DOES NOT SUPPORT THE TROOPS. Don’t you just love blogging? ;>D

  12. Jerilynn Olson Says:

    I love that basket with the fabric liner and the printing on it. I bet you could also find something similar where the fabric is blank and you could get a permanent fabric marker and have a shower or party and have everyone sign it as a gift to the new bride or a child going off to college or as a house warming gift. How fun. Everyone can use a basket for all sorts of things.

  13. Jerilynn Olson Says:

    Rosanne, I’m sorry you had a poor customer service experience. Maybe there is some kind of misunderstanding or they just haven’t finished working on your problem yet, whatever it may be. I had a great CS experience. I was very happy and relieved that my problem was taken care of so easily and quickly. I had ordered 3 glass serving stands from here. One of one design and two of another design. Well, when the package arrived I received the one bistro stand but only one of the bird topped stands and there was only days away from the wedding reception. I called and the gentleman was so nice and understood what happened and I had my missing stand within a couple of days. I was soooo relieved because I hadn’t had much experience purchasing from NH.

    As far as not supporting the troops. I’ve never noticed anywhere on their blog or elsewhere where they discuss their political views. What would constitute “supporting” the troops? Sending money? Sending gifts? I don’t do those things, but I for one am thankful to those who are in the military in any capacity that work or even have to fight for our freedoms. Just because someone doesn’t have the same ideas or views as you does not mean they are wrong or are bad humans, it just means they don’t agree with you and sometimes we just have to agree to disagree. I come from a military family. Navy and Seabees. I pretty much grew up without a father because he was always on a ship somewhere. He left just before I started kindergarten and came home when I was in the fourth grade, then there was Korea, Okinawa……but he did what he needed to do. I’m not chastising you but maybe you needed to take a different approach with your customer service issue. Sounds more like a misunderstanding. Do go back and maybe try a softer approach with this. My Grandmother always said you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Good luck.

  14. Rosanne Says:

    Dear Jerilynn Olson,
    I AM a troop. I’m currently stationed in Germany, but will be returning to Afghanistan soon. I placed an order on line for over $300. One of the items was horrid looking, so I returned it at my expense, in the same package, accompanied by the receipt. Mary Carol’s “customer service representative” told me they had never received it and I would have to prove to Nell Hill’s that I had ever purchased any of their merchandise. I had mailed the item insured so I provided Nell Hill’s with a copy of the insurance form, plus a scanned page of the web page from USPS verifying they had in fact received my merchandise; and in fact, that a representative had signed for it. After emailing them that and putting a “tracker” on my email to verify they received and read the email, I heard nothing. No explanation. No refund. And they have the merchandise I paid for. Any more suggestions? For me, it’s a simple lesson learned: Don’t do business with Mary Carol Garrity.

  15. Jerilynn Olson Says:

    Rosanne, that does sound frustrating, but take a deep breath. I worked in CS for several years. So I can tell you stories girl. I don’t know Nell Hills CS policies, but understand that with most companies it can take up to 90 days for you to see your return reflected on your credit card or to receive a check for the credit. I bet you will be getting a refund because you do say you have the tracking proof. So that should do it. Now don’t get mad, I’m just trying to help you. Did you perhaps maybe get a little upset and maybe blow your top on the phone to CS in frustration because things weren’t going as quickly or the way you thought this situation should have been dealt with? Really, CS is or should be all about making you happy within reason. They don’t want to cheat you but remember they are people too and mistakes happen all the time for all kinds of reasons. When you return an item it can take over 30 days before the return is even reflected on your account. I returned a package this past summer to Toscany (I think that is the name) and it took 8 weeks before I received a confirmation email from them that they even received my return and then my credit card didn’t reflect the return for another 3 weeks. Perhaps with the holiday’s coming maybe they have some new reps working the CS phones and maybe they just weren’t as knowledgeable as they should be. Also, if customers are abusive (not saying you were) to the rep on the phone, that should not be tolerated either…the customer isn’t always right. I do think you should be getting a refund especially since they now have proof of receipt of your return. Patience will probably be your friend in this situation. Keep copies of all your receipts. When calling, always get the name of the rep and the dates you called, that really helps. AND using your Visa or Mastercard gives you extra protection as a consumer especially since you are overseas because then you can put a hold on the charge with your credit company while the situation is in dispute. Maybe the high guru of CS will see this and read about your frustration and they will contact you and this could be taken care of very quickly. If you are working this out in emails with them, remember to make your point clearly and simply. Don’t get too complicated because maybe they just weren’t understanding you either. It is also very possible that they just made an honest mistake. Follow up and check on the status of your return. Good luck.

    Oh, you might be thinking I sound like I have something to do with this company. I don’t know them at all. I have no connection to them at all. I live in Portland, OR. Have never seen or visited their store. I’m just an online customer.

    On another note, thanks for the work you do in the service for us. I do appreciate you and the other troops. My wish would be that this would all be over with soon and all the troops could return home to their loved ones and families for the holidays….now that would be a Merry Christmas or a wonderful holiday for all.

    I’d love to know how this all works out for you. You could email me privately at JerilynnO@gmail.com and let me know the outcome. Good luck on your transfer back to Afghanistan.

    Happy Holidays!

  16. Rosanne Says:

    What is frustrating for me is that I emailed them all the documents they required and now they will not respond to my email at all. I was not rude; although my subsequent blogs have become sarcastic because of their refusal to respond to my polite requests for a refund. I will not get a refund. I have been emailing Mary Carol (thanks again Ms. Garrity!) every day for weeks. I have never had any company’s customer service section just blatantly ignore a customer; even if I didn’t like the response, at least I got one. This is indicative of their real policy: MAKE MONEY AT THE EXPENSE OF THE CUSTOMER AND SCREW THE CUSTOMER. It has been extremely disappointing for me to find out what kind of person Ms. Garrity really is. I had the impression that she was all about “customer service.” She could’ve dropped me a line at any point, but she thinks she’s above all that. If I had the opportunity to run that type of business, I would always place my customers first.

  17. Mary Carol Says:

    First of all Rosanne, I want you to know that we will get to the bottom of this situation and believe you me—we will make it right. At this point I need to do some more research. Many of these things (on-line shopping, blogging, facebook) we are new to, and working our best to work through them—but my customers and customer service mean everything to me and have for 30 years. Just please be patient and we will work through this. We made a change over on our on-line set up and staff several weeks ago and I am sure your situation must have fallen through the cracks.

    Please accept my sincere apology Rosanne, this should be the least of your problems when you are serving our country. Again I promise we will make this right! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the service you give to our country—and I sincerely support the selfless serving of our troops.

    In the future–so you have a direct line to our on-line Customer Service–here it is—-888-767-1523, or atchoff@nellhills.com.

  18. Jill Says:

    Hello Mary Carol ~

    I am absolutely thrilled to be reconnected once again with my favorite store in the world, Nell Hill’s! I became a fan of yours while living in St. Louis, planning for my wedding in 1997 and then was wisked away to Seattle to start my married life… I am so excited to see all the positive changes you have made since my first day shopping with you in Atchinson (everything you suggested, I bought of course!).

    Mary Carol, although I can’t make it to Atchinson in person, I am ready to buy some of your online items and make some Christmas present suggestions! Would it be possible to include the prices, size/measurements and perhaps estimated shipping costs with your suggested holiday gift ideas?

    Besides the over-the-top shopping experience, there are so many fabulous items that are missed by not being able to shop in person. When do you think you will have your entire store represented online?

    Happy Holidays!

    Phoenix, AZ

  19. Jerilynn Olson Says:

    See Roseanne! They heard you loud and clear and they do care. I told you this must be a simple mistake. Don’t be surprised if this takes a few more weeks with the holiday ordering happening but looks like they are on it now that the head honcho has it in her hands. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff and you are testiment to that. Just be patient and this should get fixed soon.

  20. Rosanne Says:

    Mary Carol,
    Thank you for your response. I do not want to get any of your staff in trouble, but if I forwarded the email to you that I received from your customer service, I think you would be upset as I was. I have been venting on your blog because after my initial inquiry to customer service, I was completely ignored. One email telling me I had to prove I had ever even purchased anything from Nell Hill’s, (after spending over $400) and then no response. Every day I sent an email hoping for a response; and I know they were read. I didn’t feel I should have to call at my own expense from overseas either. So I blogged in an attempt to gain your attention, and I displayed bad manners for which I sincerely apologize. I have purchased every single one of your books over the years and have always been inspired by your ideas. I have always admired you, so when I received that kind of response, I took it personally. I apologize, I wish you all the best and I hope you will accept my apology. These are stressful times and I need to learn “grace.” There are days when I just want to be back in the good ol’ USA and I do get homesick for my family. So please understand I do hold you – and all my fellow Americans – in the highest regard. Thank you Jerilynn for reminding me of what’s really important.

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