’Tis the season for giving, and while everyone loves new things, this year we decided to go a very different route, and tapped a number of creative women we admire to ask what they would give that doesn’t come with a huge price tag. Instead, we asked what is your go-to gift that doesn’t cost anything at all?
The model, health and wellness entrepreneur, and founder and CEO of beauty line Kora Organics is also a mom of, soon to be, four kids.
“My favorite gift to give every holiday is time, snuggles, and delicious food I make with love.”
The chef, food stylist, and recipe developer is known for her impeccable taste in and out of the kitchen (we tend to swoon over her outfits as much as her cooking). Formerly the chef at beloved SoHo haunts DeMaria and Navy (R.I.P.), Becerra is now chef partner at Brooklyn’s Ace Hotel restaurant As You Are. Look for her first cookbook, Bright Cooking, next spring.
“I love gifting a sprouted avocado pit. The trick is to buy the larger tropical variety because they always sprout; sometimes they’re called Monroe, Florida, or Dominican, and they can always be found at the corner grocer. The Mexican avocados we are more familiar with oddly don’t sprout. I wrap the pit with a damp paper towel, squeezing out any excess moisture, and put it in a lidded plastic container, poke some holes in the lid and keep it in a dark cupboard. Check on it every couple of weeks and dampen the towel if need be. If I want to get fancy, I purchase this vase for gifting it in.”
This Nashville-based artist’s captivating paintings take our domestic reality and turn it on its head: a goldfish bowl is set atop the rising flame of a stove burner; a woman napping in her bedroom is, like the furniture and clothing surrounding her, shrouded in plastic; shoestrings are tied around someone’s head, forks are poking at cheeks, and basketball is played while outstretched in bed.
“A bag of compliments would be a great gift. I am thinking of doing this for my mom—invite my siblings, family members, and friends of hers to send me a specific thing they love about her. I’ll write each person’s response anonymously on a piece of paper, fold them all up and put them in a bag. A lunch size paper bag will do. So simple, thoughtful, and just a lovely thing to do for someone!”
The model, actress, and host of the podcast Lipstick on the Rim recently added beauty brand founder to her resume with the launch of YSE Beauty.
“I love this question so much. I would say being present is the present. Giving your undivided attention to that person you are with and immersing yourself in the conversation, focusing on the moment at hand, and keeping your phone at bay. We all have such busy lives and I feel like there are times when we can get so consumed in them that we forget to give quality time to that person we are spending time with. It’s making those moments count and having intention behind it. The most important gift is being a good friend, making time for girls’ nights, and always being that person who brings the extra bottle of wine.”
The New York-based designer behind Susan Alexandra, the line beloved for its colorful beaded accessories with a sparkly sense of whimsy—think watermelon slice bags, a delicatessen necklace, and fringed tissue boxes—is also co-founder (along with stylist Doria Santlofer) of sweet knitwear brand Rosette.
“My favorite gift that costs nothing at all is taking the time to call or send someone a message telling them how wonderful they are. There is nothing more beautiful than receiving an out-of-the-blue note saying that you are loved, seen, and appreciated.”
Red-hair transformations have become a trademark for the New York-based hair colorist who has a buzzy eponymous salon in SoHo and a growing roster of celebrity clients like Emily Ratajowski, Maude Apatow, and Lana Del Rey.
“I think writing a poem for someone is so special; it’s a perfect gift that doesn’t cost anything.”
The L.A.-based esthetician who counts Chrissy Teigen, January Jones, and Shay Mitchell as regulars is also a skincare expert (her Instagram is a wellspring of information), and founder of an eponymous skincare line with a devoted following.
“A handwritten note is always my go-to for a meaningful gift, and it’s also one of my favorites to receive as well. A personal, sincere message means more than any material item and it’s something that can be cherished for years.
A swirling candlestick, baby bottles, scrunched socks and loafers, and birthday cake are just a few of the things that have made it onto this wildly talented nail artist’s designs. A regular in editorial and backstage, Kawajiri (who goes by @nailsbymei on Instagram) has also collaborated on projects with Marc Jacobs for his Heaven line and recently fashioned tips for Madonna.
“I love writing love letters; they are the most meaningful gift. Using my own words and taking so much time to express how I feel is more special than buying something!”
The rising-star, Toronto-born gallerist with a space on New York’s Lower East Side that has quickly become a destination has a keen eye for artistic talent (her mission is to celebrate artists who have been historically marginalized) and a trackable sense of personal style.
“A beautiful meal cooked for someone you love. The time, thought, and effort that is put into flavorful and nutritious food warms my heart. The best part of the gift is that you get to share it and enjoy each other’s company at the same time.”
Clare V bags have become a badge of understated good taste among a certain swath of style consumers. Vivier, its L.A.-based founder, creative director, and CEO, who is also known for her gender equity and social justice work, just released her first book with Rizzoli on the brand’s evolution.
“Your time. Often during the holidays, it gets so crazy, and it’s important to remember that even a 5-minute conservation with a coworker about their family, or a phone call to a friend across the country, is an important human connection!”
The California-born, London-based baker and cookbook author (last May she released her fifth cookbook Love is a Pink Cake) is responsible for creating one of the world’s most famous confections: the lemon and elderflower cake served at Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding.
“My favorite gift to give that doesn’t cost anything is to offer to watch someone’s children and give them a little break to do something or pamper themselves. I feel like I know a lot of moms and to even give two hours to them is such a gift. Plus, that way my daughter Franny gets more kids to play with, so it’s a double win.”