Holigay Gift Guide: New Year, New You!

I feel strange about New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe it’s because the word “resolve” is a bit of a double edged sword? Sure, it’s associated with making personal changes, but something about the word is also so solemn. When you resolve to do something, it never feels happy, you know? It’s something that you do because you have  to, not that you want to.

But, I love new beginnings. They are freeing. You know that excited, blank notebook page, bright future feeling associated with the start of a new school year in September? I am addicted to it. I want nothing more than to keep growing, keep going, keep challenging, and be a better version of myself tomorrow than I was yesterday. December is particular good time for that kind reflection.

I think a lot of us are on that same page right now. Maybe it’s because 2016 and 2017 each took their toll on the human spirit, but everywhere I turn I see people pulling out supplies for their 2018 vision boards and making new promises to themselves. Perhaps you know someone in the same boat? If so, here’s a list to help you support their goals! We only have each other in this long journey of life. I want nothing more I want nothing more than for you and your loved ones to start off 2018 being your best selves.

PS: Please don’t forget to self-care if you see a little something for yourself on this list! I promise you, you are worth it.

PPS: This is a shout out for all my procrastinators out there! I triple checked, and everything on this list still has a delivery date by Christmas. I got you, boo ;)

Let’s Get Moving!

[1] Go-Warm Plus Fleece Hoodie ($25.00), [2] Reusable Water Bottle($13.85), [3] Fitness Tracker ($30.99), [4] Collapsable Wireless Headphones ($45.99), [5] Yoga Mat ($23.99), [6] Adidas Gym Duffle Bag ($29.99)

Do you know who has two thumbs and hates to exercise? This girl! But the facts are in, and I am on the losing side of this war. Even a small amount of daily cardio has life long physical and mental health benefits.

Autostraddle just complied an excellent list for the hard core gym aficionados in your life, but this is for the gal pal in your life who told you that they are looking to start small. A new warm hoodie to keep their limbs warm during a morning walk or as they leave the yoga studio or community center. A high quality water bottle for hydration. Maybe some wireless headphones or a fitness tracker? Hey, shiny new tech always works for me as a form of bribery. I’m just saying.

Time to Practice Heating Up That Kitchen!

The last few years have been hard to keep up with, and sometimes all you can do in the world is order some take out and try to keep your head above water. That’s ok. But, sometimes it feels good to be in your own kitchen. I often find it therapeutic. Maybe now is a good time to get back to that feeling.

Outside of my mother, no one has taught me more about cooking than Deb Perelman. I cannot wait for her new book! It’s at the top of my Christmas list! I have never thought about growing my own micro greens for salads and herb toppings, but this set makes it seem so easy and fun! I love the idea healing myself as I grow something from soil, even in the dead cold of winter. Oh, and I rarely include something at a $90+ price point on my gift guides, but this Rachel Ray set comes with everything you need for a beginner kitchen. It’s perfect for someone who wants try their hand at homecooking, but has no idea where to start.

Read All The Books! ALL OF THEM, I SAY!

[1] Sing Unburied Sing, by Jesmyn Ward ($12.99) [2] Power, by Naomi Alderman ($25.31) [3] Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee ($20.55) [4] We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates ($16.80) [5] The Mother of Black Hollywood, by Jennifer Lewis ($17.22) [6] Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Caroline Fraser ($23.79)

When I joined the Autostraddle staff this fall, one of the promises that I made myself was that I was going to read more. That monthly A+ Insider “What We’ve Been Reading” section is quite the motivator. I still haven’t made it up to one book a month yet (my personal goal), but I’m doing a lot better. I forgot how much I love reading books! The quiet that it gives you, the ability to get lost in a long form story and new worlds and characters. It can feel peaceful, even luxurious. I also feel like I’m getting back in touch with my nerdy younger self, who never went ANYWHERE without at least two books on her at all time.

You might know someone who’s also looking to get back in the grand old habit. Here’s another cute holigay idea: Buy a few of your friends the same book, and start the New Year off as a newly formed bookclub! Be sure to include on of Laneia’s famous cheese boards for your first meeting!

Get Organized! Rule the World!

[1] Passion Planner ($30) [2] Feminist as Fuck Pencil Set ($3.50+, depending on amount of pencils orderd) [3] Sorbus Acrylic Desk Organizer Set ($14.99) [4] World Map Cork Bulletin Board with White Frame ($25.99) [5] Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock ($32.99)

Many Autostraddle Staff members have strong feelings about the benefits of a passion planner and I am definitely one of them! I got my first one last year after what felt like the four-hundredth AS recommendation, and I have to say it changed my 2017 for the better. I feel more organized now, and more in control of my days and my times. I also find myself better planning for the future. Did I also mention that Passion Planner is  a queer woman of color owned business? Because it is.

Maybe your BFF already has another form of planners or journaling that she’s committed to, that’s ok. Anyone will feel motivated to get the day moving with one of those great Feminist pencils (if pink isn’t their thing, try these purple Queer As F*ck ones instead). Waking up in the morning is one of the hardest things I do everyday, no lie. But, I bet if I had a natural light alarm clock, the job would get a lot easier.

Be Brave! Start from Scratch and Do Something Entirely New!

Few things are as scary as starting something new. It’s awkward and hard and sometimes stressful. But, you also get learn about yourself in a new light, even as you are learning a new skill or trying a new experience. Sometimes that new found self-awareness is the greatest gift of them all (cheesy, I know, but also true). Everything I selected here is designed specifically with a brand new beginner in mind, zero experience required.

The Jasmine Acoustic Guitar is highly recommended for student learning, and comes with a complete “starter kit” for an additional $20.00. The Magnetic Poetry set comes in a variety of languages, and if you buy the “kid version” it will have the English translations on the back! Talk about an easy way to build your vocabulary while you go searching for a midnight snack! After reading Katrina’s great article about boxing in September, I’ve been thinking about trying some classes in the new year. If you aren’t sure what size glove to buy, I did a little research and the average sized women’s hands needs 12oz to start. Maybe you know someone whose 2018 goal is to travel more? I think they would look great with some millennial metallic luggage by their side.

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 709 articles for us.


  1. Excellent list! My resolution for the next year is to eat more fruits and vegetables. I might subscribe to Imperfect Produce.
    This year it was to floss more often and I am happy to say I got compliments from my dental hygienist

    • Ooooh! I like “flossing more” as a goal. It’s specific and relatively small, but makes a big impact. I’m glad your dental hygienist also noticed the difference :)

      Keep going, you are doing great!

    • I had never heard of “Imperfect Produce” before, but I just looked them up and I am so into it!!

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