18 Designers on the Best Gift They've Ever Given

Wrapping presents

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An interior designer’s job is to create visually pleasing spaces—so who better to ask for a beautiful holiday gift idea? From gorgeous placemats that enhance a holiday table, to a platter that can be personalized with an image or name, to a candle that smells like fresh baked cookies, top designers share the best gift they've ever given.

A Cutting Board

The great thing about gifting a wood cutting board? It’s both decorative and functional. “I love presenting friends and clients with a round one—I top it with a Christmas wreath that’s decorated with a bow that corresponds with the recipient’s house so they can hang it on their front door,” says Megan Unger, owner of Megan Robertson’s Designs in Orange, California.

Unique Coasters

Coasters are ideal host or hostess gifts—especially when you find one that goes beyond the basic. “Each year, I put together holiday boxes for my colleagues and always include oversized pink Himalayan coasters. They’re gorgeous and unique and I love that the recipient is able to use them right away to dress up and safeguard their table,” says Noelle Isbell, principal designer at Noelle Interiors in Manhattan Beach, California. 

Flower Delivery

A personalized posy hits on several of the senses and it’s something people don't often splurge on for themselves. “I love gifting an artisan bouquet of flowers which not only adds a festive note to a home, but it can be enjoyed by everyone who visits during the holidays,” says Noel Gatts, founder and designer at beam&bloom in Bloomfield, New Jersey.  

Marble Picture Frame

A marble picture frame can live comfortably both in a formal and casual setting. “I love gifting ones with special detailing, like brass-edging,” says Megan Molten, founder and principal designer at Megan Molten in Charleston, South Carolina. “Prior to wrapping, I’ll fill it with a classic black and white personal photo so recipients can remember a special time in their lives.” 

A Distinctive Vase

A modern and whimsy vase allows you to be creative with styling and design a gift that will always be remembered. “I loving gifting a hanging frog vase filled with blooms so the recipient not only receives a beautiful vase, but a gorgeous floral arrangement as well,” says Gina Gutierrez, founder and principal designer at Gina Rachelle Design in Sebastopol, California.

Oversized Candle

A candle is a thoughtful gift but finding one with a wow factor is what makes it memorable. “I like to elevate the standard candle gifting by presenting the host with a jumbo size, 5-wick candle. The one I give has a combo peppermint and fresh baked cookie scent!” shares Heather Fujikawa, principal designer and co-owner of House Sprucing in Dallas, Texas. 

Keepsake Book

Gifting a subscription to a service that creates a personalized remembrance book is a something the recipient will treasure forever. “The one I love to gift sends the recipient a personal question each week for a year, recording their personal history and preserving memories,” says Leigh Anne Schurr, special projects manager at Marguerite Rodgers Interior Design in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “At the end of the twelve months, the heirloom book is delivered.”

Personalized Wine and Spirit Bottles

Customizing a favorite wine or liquor bottle with a message or logo gives the gift of drink a special touch. “This is my favorite holiday present because my beneficiaries know I’ve taken the time to create something unique just for them,” notes Sara Malek Barney, founder and principal designer at BANDD/DESIGN in Austin, Texas.

Inspirational Wall Art

Homemade gifts from sites such as Etsy add a personal touch to whatever gift you choose. “There’s a seller on Etsy who creates wall art—the one I gift includes words from a poem my father used to read me as a child,” says Laura Brophy, principal at Laura Brophy Interiors in Newport Beach, California. “Called Attitude Poem by Charles Swindoll, it has a meaningful and motivational sentiment that promotes positive vibes and resonates with the human spirit.” 

Tabletop Accessories

Often, the best gift is something a host can use on the spot, and placemats are a gift that check the box on function as well aesthetics. “I love giving something that elevates a tablescape,” says Karen Wolf, founder and designer at Karen B. Wolf Interiors in Short Hills, New Jersey. “I learn towards placemats that are of a generous size—usually 16” x 16”—and come in neutral colors to match any interior.” Adds Gideon Mendelson, founder and creative Director at Mendelson Group in New York City, “Butter dishes receive rave reviews whenever I give them as gifts. I love their shape plus they look great on a counter for everyday use after the holiday meals are over.”  

Custom Coffee Table Book

Creating a scrapbook takes time and effort but the result can be a tear jerker of a gift. “As an interior designer, the ones I make contain images of a client’s home—professional photos of a renovation in progress and the end result—along with meaningful quotes,” says Becky Shea, creative director and founder of BS/D in New York City. “It’s something my client shares with pride when friends and family come over.” 

Food Delivery

Who doesn’t appreciate a food delivery during the holiday hustle? From platters filled with appetizers to festive dessert trays, the gift of grub is always a welcome sight. “I love gifting a 3-month oyster delivery that can be enjoyed throughout the holidays. It’s such an unexpected and elegant treat,” says Michelle Zacks, designer at Michelle Zacks Design in Brooklyn, New York.

Framed Photograph

An artistic gesture is a great way to express gratitude at the holidays and you can never go wrong with a beautifully framed photograph. “I gift one to each of my team members, which began a tradition of building a collection of art in their own homes,” says Michael Cox, owner of foley&cox in New York City.

Small Appliance

From panini presses to smoothie makers, a small appliance can be a thoughtful yet useful gift. “As a coffee lover, I've become a bit of an at-home barista since purchasing my user-friendly espresso machine,” says Amber Guyton, founder and designer at Blessed Little Bungalow in Atlanta, Georgia. “My friends and family are blown away by my java making skills, so now I gift them their own as it’s something I know they'll love and enjoy.” 

Home Portrait

A keepsake custom portrait that illustrates the exterior of someone’s home is an unexpected and heartwarming gift the recipient will hold onto for years. “I love to commission a black and white sketch for my clients that showcases their beautiful home,” says Liz Goldberg, founder and creative director at CAROLYNLEONA in Raleigh, North Carolina. Adds Hayley English, founder and CEO of Hayley English Interiors in Pasadena, California, “You can’t go wrong gifting a beautiful watercolor painting of someone’s house—artwork that will forever remind them of their home and all the memories made there.”

Personalized Platter

Art doesn’t have to be placed on a wall to be enjoyed. “I love to commission beautiful blue and white ceramic platters that can be customized with images, names and dates,” shares Alexandra Kaehler, founder of Alexandra Kaehler Design in Chicago, Illinois.

Customized Jewelry

Inscriptions or monograms add a thoughtful and meaningful touch to any gift, including jewelry. “I was once gifted a pearl and mint garnet necklace with my daughter's birthstone and initials and now it’s my favorite gift to give—it’s truly a beautiful and sentimental piece of personalized art,” says Emma Kemper, owner of Emma Beryl Interiors in Brooklyn, New York.

Holiday Ornament

A tree ornament is something the recipient will pull out year after year, a reminder of a past holiday spent together. “I love gifting colorful ornaments made of natural fibers as they add beauty to any holiday design,” says Ariel Richardson, founder and principal designer at ASR Design Studio in San Diego, California.