Merry Capitalism, friends!
Better yet, happy gift giving season of 2021. We survived not just another year, but another year in a pandemic. It’s at long last my favorite season—the season where we demonstrate our love and value by purchasing things for each other. My love language has always been gifts.
Years ago, this started as a dysautonomia themed gift guide, but last year I pivoted to Shannon’s Favorite Things, because to be honest, I sort of covered all of the appropriate dysautonomia gifts. There’s only so many times I can tell you, give POTSies fancy salt, water bottles, comfy clothes, and cute pill containers.
My annual favorite things DO include items that are great for the chronically ill, as I am very chronically ill, but will also include random products that I have come to really love that anyone will enjoy, along with my favorite section—links to my friends’ online stores!
A couple of these items have been mentioned in previous gift guides, but these are links to specific items I purchased this year that I really, really loved.
I don’t make any money off of these recommendations (however I would like to, so if you’re a business reading this, hit me up, I’d love to be your spokesperson). I believe all of these would make great gifts, and if you give one of these and the recipient doesn’t love it—just message me and I’ll accept it instead.
My Favorite Things
Microplush Blanket by Bare Home
I believe I’ve said it before that blankets are always the correct gift to give.
When I moved to Chicago, I was only able to bring two blankets with me because I could barely fit anything in my car. It was devastating, as I am rarely seen without a blanket. The first thing I did when I got to Chicago was pick out replacement blankets, and WOW, this one was perfect.
I got the king sized blanket in green and it’s the perfect size to wrap myself in while watching TV on the couch or snuggle with in bed—I can use the extra blanket to prop myself up with.
Warning: if you live with a toddler, they WILL try to steal this blanket.
Goosebumps Adult Swaddles
If you’re looking for something less fleece-y, a little more lightweight, then the adult swaddles from Goosebumps are the way to go.
For years I was very jealous of babies for many reasons, the primary of which being that they had these great super soft lightweight blankets but I couldn’t find one that was Shannon sized.
I tweeted out this complaint and a friend sent me a link to the Goosebumps website which makes adult swaddling blankets. It’s the perfect blanket for summer—you still get the protection and comfort of being wrapped up without the heat. Absolutely phenomenal.
25oz Double Wall Stainless Steel Tumbler with Lid & Straw
On a whim this spring, I grabbed this tumbler at Target because I told myself I was going to start making my own knock off Starbucks Pink Drinks at home and I needed a cute tumbler to make them in.
I gave up on trying to master the Pink Drink recipe within about 5 minutes (I am many things but barista is not one of them)—however I fast discovered that this is the best tumbler I’ve ever owned, and I have owned many.
It keeps drinks cool for a full day, it’s easy to clean, looks great, and it’s only $9.
Grab one of these with a Starbucks gift card to anyone on your shopping list and you’re golden.
Project 62 Citrus and White Oak Room Spray
In other Target finds, I found my all time favorite room spray, which is from their Project 62 Aromatherapy Collection.
I first got it as an oil diffuser which was stellar, and then found it as room spray which I love using on my bed, pillows, in my closet, etc.
It also comes as a candle—in a 14.5 oz jar, 5 oz mini jar, and a 10.5 oz tall jar. The candle isn’t as strong of a scent in my experience, so I recommend going with the room spray.
Capri Blue Volcano Candle
The biggest (literally) find of my year though was the Capri Blue Volcano candle.
It came high recommended from a million different influencers, and I was skeptical as hell. $30 for a candle? Really?
Well look at me now, I am not an influencer but I am still trying to influence you to buy this candle.
The volcano scent is this really nice citrusy sugary smell, and it also complements the room spray above.
I got so hooked on this candle that I bought what I thought would be a candle maybe twice the size of the standard 19 oz candle… and I ended up with what I now lovingly call MegaCandle.
He is my son.
I also highly recommend any of the other Volcano scented products—I use the bar soap and it’s fantastic.
If you’re looking to buy a 60 oz MegaCandle for yourself, check out Anthropologie here.
Verilux HappyLight Luxe
Winters in Chicago are long and the days are very short, so I decided to upgrade my SAD Therapy lamp.
I went with the Verilux HappyLight Luxe which I love because it’s thin like a tablet which makes it super easy to store, has different light coloring options, has self timers, and is really lightweight.
This is perfect for your loved ones up north.
Trader Joe’s Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream
Like most millennial girls raised in the suburbs, I used to be hard core into Bath & Body Works. And yes, I do still have two Bath & Body Works lotions on my bedside table at any given moment.
But every winter, my hands get dry to the point that they crack and it gets painful to apply most lotions.
A couple of years ago, I picked up the hand cream at Trader Joe’s on a whim and it’s the best I’ve found. It’s really thick, moisturizing, and actually works. They also come out with seasonal scents—in the spring they have a great rose scented version.
You can find it for sale at Trader Joe’s for about $4-5.
Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Organic Lip Balm
Going along with skin care, it took me ages to find a great lip balm. I used to swear by C.O. Bigelow’s Mentha Lip Balm Stick (also of Bath & Body Works) but at $7.50 a stick, and given the fact that I lost almost every single stick before I got ¼ the way through, it was not working out for me. (Great product if you can afford it though!)
I love Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Organic Lip Balm, you can find it at most drug stores, but I always pick mine up at Target.
(Pro-tip: Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Liquid Soap is also amazing, and I’m also pretty sure that Dr. Bronner’s is 100% a cult, but wow the products smell great and just clean really, really well.)
Bubble Pop Fidget Toys
Emily sent me a care package that had my new favorite stress item—bubble pop fidget toys. The one she got me was in the shape of a circle, but they come in almost every shape imaginable from ice cream to Pokemon to gigantic game boards.
You can turn these into a game you can play against someone else, but I find the most peace popping the bubbles back and forth and keeping my fingers occupied while I use my anxiety combatting strategies to calm my mind.
- Target, Chuckle & Roar Pop It! Fidget and Sensory Game, $7.99 (the one Emily got me)
- Amazon, Bright Moon Five Piece Fidget Pop Pack with Dinosaur, Unicorn, Food shapes, $17.99
- Amazon, COOPEA Pop Fidget Game Board, $14.99
TowelSelections Terry Bath Towel
I’ve written about bathrobes before, but I got a new one this year which is my absolute favorite I’ve ever had.
I used to be ride or die into Lands’ End’s bath robes (they ARE phenomenal!) but this Turkish Cotton bathrobe from TowelSelections on Amazon is my new favorite because it’s not as overwhelming and bulky as the Lands’ End ones. It’s so much easier to dry, clean, and in my opinion has a much better color selection.
UBOTIE Colorful Mechanical Keyboard
This March, I switched from working on the phone team at work to being a member of the chat team, which means that I am typing frantically all. day. long.
I have always been a very tactile person and really love the touch and feel of the keyboards I type on, so I decided to invest in a mechanical keyboard because the sounds the keys make bring me so much joy.
I also wanted a keyboard that was going to look great in my room—so after trying out three different keyboards, looking for the right balance of cute and perfect touch and keystroke sound, I found my dream keyboard—the UBOTIE Colorful Keyboard.
I tried multiple UBOTIE Keyboards but the Colorful one had a much more satisfying keystroke, so I’m really in love.
Moleskine Daily Planner
When I was in high school, I became one of those elitists who swears by Moleskine journals. I do keep dozens of other notebooks to jot down quick notes in, but for the journals I intend on keeping for years and years to come—I always go with Moleskine.
A few years ago, I noticed that I was less interested in writing out long daily entires like I did as a teenager, but still wanted a way to keep track of what I did every day. I turned to the 18 month daily planner journals and would either write a quick entry on each day, paste things like ticket stubs or pictures on that day, or just jot down that I went to a doctor’s appointment, ran errands, had meetings at work—whatever. It also helps me win a lot of arguments, because I can pull open my journal and say “no! we didn’t go there on that day, and I have the proof here.”
It’s easy to do and makes a great gift.
Twinkle light EVERYTHING
IKEA has been my favorite place for this—a few years ago they sold twinkle lights in a glass bottle, then twinkle lights in a plastic glass dome. Now you can get a glass dome, stick your own twinkle lights in there, and there you go! It’s a great gift or light fixture for your own house.
Almost every store that sells Christmas decorations will also sell very inexpensive, lightweight string lights you can use to bunch up in anything from a mason jar to an old lantern. It’s perfect mood lighting for any room you’re in and also makes a great gift.
Emily also bought me an amazing set of string lights that you can hang photos from—it hangs on the wall opposite of my desk so it’s what people see during all of my zoom calls and I get tons of compliments.
- IKEA, BEGÅVNING glass dome, $9.99
- IKEA, VISSVASS string lights, $4.99
- Target, Room Essentials LED Fairy Lights with Metallic Photo Clips, $10
The trait people compliment me most on is my skin, and now that I’m getting older, I feel like I actually need to take care of it. I got the PMD Clean in a CauseBox subscription last year, so it’s the only tool I use to help me clean my face.
I have a very love/hate relationship with it.
I absolutely love that it’s a super easy way to use—I just put some cleanser on the silicone brush, turn it on, and it feels like I’m getting a deep clean without tearing all of my skin off.
I absolutely hate that it looks and sounds like a sex toy.
So, if you’re looking to give a great, luxurious gift to someone in your life who loves skin care and also embarrass them by making them think you got them a sex toy—
THIS IS THE GIFT FOR YOU.
Souarts First Aid Bag
Pill organization is a super personal business for us with chronic illness. I have utilized a few different systems over the years, but before my move I knew I needed a new container that I could potentially lock since I’d now be living with a three-year-old.
I found this container and I absolutely love it. There’s pockets inside and I’m able to carry all of my prescriptions in it. It’s waterproof, and even if I carry it around, all of my pill bottles stay standing up and organized.
Products from my friends
Yes! This is the best thing you can buy of all. I have very talented friends who create amazing things and you should buy everything they sell.
My friend Brianna and I connected through Dysautonomia International. She is the kindest, most humble person with outrageous talent and donates it to great causes. My favorite works of hers are her paintings, but she also does the most stunning chalk murals that will blow you away. She takes commissions and is so great to work with.
Check out her instagram and connect with her here
Jackie and I met in middle school art class where she was, as you can guess, the star student. Today she is an abstract artist in North Carolina who focuses on the intersection of color, light, and shape. She sells original paintings, prints, and color catchers which are amazing stocking stuffers.
Jacob and I met at work where he’s a graphic designer. He dabbles in every type of art from sketching, graphic design, sculpture, and handicrafts. He sells amazing frames with handsculpted flowers out of ribbon and paper and adorable Christmas ornaments.
My friend Laura makes everything from fabric Christmas ornaments to jewlery to knitted headbands. My absolute favorites are her flower pendant necklaces. Each is absolutely one of a kind, and she even posted a tutorial on how to make them!
You can view all of her listings and reach out about a custom order on her Facebook page
Natasha and I became friends through volunteering for Dysautonomia International. A few years ago she launched her new business, Vacayability, which is a review website for businesses that rates their accessibility for those with disabilities. Vacayability also has an online store you can buy travel accessories from. She also has a separate business where she sells candles that look and smell delicious!
If nothing from this list above seems right, you can always make a donation in the name of someone you love to the best non-profit in the world, Dysautonomia International. This winter there is a matching grant from an anonymous donor, so your gift will go twice as far.
And in case these ideas weren’t enough—
You can view my previous gift guides here:
However you celebrate the season, please be safe, take good care of yourself, be good to others, and have a great holiday season.
And when in doubt, just give cash.
All my love,