Top Gift Ideas for 2021, According to Designers

If you’re still searching for thoughtful gift ideas for staff or clients, you aren’t alone. And who better to provide inspiration than fellow designers? Check out these soothing, comforting, locally-sourced, and socially-conscious options that are sure to appeal to all the senses. 

The perfect throw

We’re all in need of a little comfort this year, which might be one reason why cozy, natural-fiber throws are a popular gift this holiday. Jessica Nicastro of Jessica Nicastro Design is gifting this Chunky Alpaca Throw from Parachute Home, while designer Chris Barrett will give this elegant Rose Tarlow 100% cashmere throw.

Luxe bedding

Also fitting in with the theme of comfort, Maneli Wilson of Maneli Wilson Interiors will be giving luxury bedding to clients this season. “It’s elegant, personal, and allows me to have a creative say on how the main bedroom is styled after I leave and the work is done,” she says. Wilson adds that Verderoccia—a luxury bed and bath linen company based in Florence, Italy—is her brand of choice. Specifically, she recommends the Me sheet set, which can be monogrammed to add a personal touch.


When we polled designers last year about their gifting plans, a collective love for biophilia came through loud and clear. Although in the past designers leaned into present-ready plants like black echeveria and other low-maintenance succulents, this year some designers are instead turning to an old classic: Flowers.

Nicastro, for one, is selecting unique, locally sourced floral arrangements and gift boxes from Wildflora. She says, “I think giving anything that supports a local small business is a great idea.”

Fun and games

When Mel Bean of Mel Bean Interiors thinks about gift ideas, she gravitates toward objects that both “look beautiful sitting out, but also are entertaining and bring family and friends together.” She says, “I find a chess and checkers set or a beautiful card set to be the perfect gift that’s not only playful, but can be used over and over again.” Specifically, she mentions Burke Decor Chess & Checkers Set and Jonathan Adler Tiger Lacquer Card Set as optimal presents. Similarly, Brittany Farinas of House of One Interior Design enjoys gifting this marble checkers set from CB2, which she says she loves because “it’s made of a unique green marble stone, and looks and feels extremely luxe.”

Inlay Green Marble Checkers Set

Framed photography

Miriam Silver Verga of Mimi & Hill Interiors relies on Frameology to find wall picture frames for client gifts. “We love the ability to upload our clients’ own images and frame them for gallery walls… It is also a way for us to maintain a project’s overall aesthetics and avoid the clutter of multiple and mixed frames everywhere,” she says. “We are fans of the old-fashioned silver and wooden frames, but Frameology has many options and materials, like acrylic and metal.” She adds that the products are remarkably well-priced, personal, and quick: “No supply chain issues here.”

Henry Black Frame (8″ x 10″)

Shopping small businesses

Hillary Stamm of HMS Interiors always opts to support other small businesses and entrepreneurs. “And there are so many fun opportunities for that during the holidays,” she says, pointing out her gift selection for this year: A curated box called An Inside Crush. “Each box is gorgeously curated for the season,” Stamm says. “The goal of An Inside Crush is to keep your home updated and on-trend for the season. The 2021 winter box includes: Two handmade terra-cotta candle holders, tapered candles, charcuterie board, charcuterie servers, and a little Christmas tree.”

Regional spirits

A number of designers on our list voiced a desire to support local businesses. Backing regional breweries or distilleries is a great place to start. Amy Leferink, owner of St. Paul, Minnesota-based Interior Impressions, appreciates patronizing local Minneapolis business Du Nord Craft Spirit. She says any items from this urban distillery make for a great client gift.

Local faves

Gioi Tran—cofounder and principal designer at Applegate Tran Interiors in San Francisco—looks to local shop Anthem for a range of home products in every category, specifically the vast assortment of accessories and vintage pieces. Tran says, “They also have a trade program”—meaning discounts and designer services—“so it’s an easy way to support our local economy and find the best gifts.”

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