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Skip pointless presents and give the gift of useful design

This year, designers created beautiful, problem-solving products for every room of the home. There’s something here for everyone on your list.

Skip pointless presents and give the gift of useful design

If you’re struggling to come up with winter holiday presents for everyone on your list, home gifts are a good place to start. During the colder, winter months, many people spend more time nesting and doing cozy things at home, which means that a functional home gift will get a lot of use this time of year. And while it can be hard to figure out someone’s taste in fashion or entertainment, there are plenty of well-designed products that will fit into any decor. Over the course of this past year, designers have created many innovative products that make everyday life at home easier and more beautiful. We’ve culled the very best home goods at every price point, so there’s bound to be something here for everyone on your list.

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Blueland Plastic-Free Cleaning Kit

[Photo: Blueland]

$38 from Blueland

Cleaning products are a dirty business: While they keep your house sparkling, they contribute to the 300 million tons of plastic every year, 150 million of which is single-use and 8 million of which ends up in the oceans. But over the last year, there’s been a wave of startups working to make home cleaning products more sustainable. If you have a friend or relative who has been trying to reduce their plastic footprint, you might consider giving them Blueland’s starter pack, which consists of four forever bottles—three for sprays and one for hand soap—along with tablets that you dilute in water to create the cleaning solution. Once they’ve used the initial tablets, they can order more for $2 a piece. And while you may not ordinarily consider giving a cleaning kit as a present, this one comes in an attractive (recyclable) box that is sure to delight the recipient.

The Inside Home Goods

[Photo: The Inside]

$49-$89 from The Inside

The Inside is an innovative furniture brand that allows you to customize a wide range of furniture. You can pick a fabric from the brand’s large catalogue—including some amazing Scalamadre animal prints—and use it to upholster armchairs, ottomans, or bed headrests. Right in time for the holidays, the brand launched a tabletop collection so you can order table cloths, runners, and napkins in your favorite print. And for under $100, you can order a set in a print that your friend or family member will love.

Nama Anti-Fatigue Mat

[Photo: Nama]

$69-$99 from House of Noa

This small mat is a thoughtful gift for anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet in the house. It’s designed to mimic traditional rug patterns, but it is made from a foam material that takes pressure off your feet. The brand recommends laying it in the kitchen to make baking or washing dishes more pleasant. It’s also a great thing to give someone who likes working at a standing desk. In addition to looking lovely, it is easy to clean and spill resistant. It’s also made here in the United States.

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East Fork Pottery

[Photo: East Fork]

$68-$120 from East Fork Pottery

East Fork Pottery is a direct-to-consumer brand cofounded by Alex Matisse, grandson of the French artist Henri Matisse. Rather than entering the world of fine art, Matisse brought his creative talents to the work of pottery, setting up a studio in North Carolina with his wife, Connie, and his fellow potter, John Vigeland. The pieces they create are earthy and handmade, but, thanks to Connie Matisse’s creative direction, also have a modern aesthetic. If you’re buying a holiday gift to kick-start someone’s pottery collection, I recommend starting with either the mixing bowl or popcorn bowl. They’re large enough to fill with fruit or shared dinner dishes and will get a lot of use.

Bearaby Velvet Napper

[Photo: Bearaby]

$249-$279 from Bearaby

Weighted blankets are scientifically proven to have a calming effect on the body and promote sleep. However, most blankets on the market are made from synthetic materials that don’t allow for much ventilation and circulation under the sheets. Enter Bearaby. The brand, which launched last year, creates blankets that are knit from what looks like enormous, chunky threads of yarn. For the cooler winter months, Bearaby has launched velvet nappers that are cozy to the touch—perfect for curling up on the couch with a good book you’re only planning to read for a few minutes before you doze off.

Year and Day Candle

[Photo: Year and Day]

$60 from Year and Day

Year and Day launched last year as a direct-to-consumer dinnerware brand, with minimalist ceramic products made by craftspeople in Portugal. For the holidays, the brand launched a series of candles that come in a ceramic vessel in each of the brand’s four colors: midnight, daybreak, fog, and dawn. After you’re done with the candle, you can order a wax refill. Or, you can reuse the vessel as a tabletop piece, as a vase, or to hold jewelry.

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Courant Home System

[Photo: Courant]

$200-$275 from Courant

Courant launched a year ago with a beautiful take on wireless phone charging. Each charger the brand creates is wrapped in Italian leather and comes in several beautiful colors, including black, white, pink, and baby blue. The company now has a small portable charger you can recharge simply by laying it on any one of Courant’s other chargers. You can now buy the entire system as a package, too: This is the perfect gift for your techie friend, or simply someone who hates how ugly most phone chargers are.

Ooni Portable Pizza Oven

[Photo: Ooni]

$275 from Ooni

For the home chef, one of the most beautiful products to come out this year was a portable pizza oven that’s designed to be used outside, much like you would use a grill. Ooni’s ovens can be fired up using either wood chips or gas, depending on the model you choose. In addition to looking sleek, these ovens will heat up in 10 minutes, then cook entire pizzas in 60 seconds flat. They’ll transform all of your outdoor eating—whether you bring it to the beach, park, or your porch.

Tonal Home Workout System

[Photo: Tonal]

$2,995 + $49 monthly subscription from Tonal

Over the last few years, several startups, from Peloton to Mirror, have come up with high-tech home workout systems. Tonal is a system that uses AI to adapt to each user’s fitness level. The device comes equipped with built-in digitally connected weights that can alter the resistance based on the user’s progress. The brand’s ever-expanding library of workouts involve everything from group aerobic classes to guided strength training sessions. If you’re planning to splurge on a home gift, this one’s a good bet.

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About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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