We know we’re not easy to buy for. We Millennials are products of an age where you can use your phone to find three new sweaters and a pair of jeans on Amazon, buy them, and have them delivered to your door in fewer than 48 hours. But our capacity for instant gratification doesn’t mean you can’t still surprise and delight us this holiday season. Here’s a list born of a few simple truths. Sometimes we need permission to choose experiences and self-care over things. We love it when someone else gifts us with tiny little luxuries that are also practical and we could use your help prioritizing ideals over cost and convenience.
These items are guaranteed to take center-stage in a Gen-Y Instagram story come Hanukkah or Christmas. But if you want more general advice, go browse stores like the Old Port’s Pinecone Chickadee (for anything quirky and cute), Gus & Ruby (for fabulous, well-curated stationery products), and Mexicali Blues (for colorful accessories and delicate sterling silver rings). Or Bullmoose, which has nine locations in Maine, each with an enormous collection of new and used media, as well as CD, DVD and video game mystery grab bags for a few bucks each.
There are few things more satisfying for a color-obsessed, bullet-journaling type than a new set of pens. Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens write like butter and fine-tip Le Pen pens come in unique colors. Or, you could go completely classic and get a set of 115 Sharpies in every size and color. You’ll find plenty of these online but if you want to browse locally to choose the perfect set, check out one of Sherman’s six locations, including on Exchange Street in Portland (pictured throughout the gift guide photos in various sizes and shapes, from $8.99–$13.95) or Portland’s Artist & Craftsman Supply (540 Deering Ave).
The Charging Station
A dead phone battery is a constant and ever-present threat hanging over our heads. (Our moms are very familiar with our propensity for running out of juice.) What’s worse, losing a charger is almost as easy as losing a sock at the laundromat. Chargers and portable batteries are expensive, though, and it’s often difficult to justify the money when we can make do with whatever cobbled together option we keep by our bedside. Getting an extra charger or portable battery for your niece’s iPhone will make you a holiday hero. If you really want to indulge us, get us an American-made Conway Electric gizmo. Seen here is a guaranteed-to-last power cord with two-USB ports that claim to charge 3X faster. You can find it with a 12-foot cord in bright red ($148) or other fun colors locally at Flowers & Candy at 10 Exchange in Portland.
Drinking from plastic is quickly falling by the wayside. Young people are becoming more and more focused on reusable, environmentally friendly water bottles and straws. In fact, the city of Portland just banned plastic straws in October, so sustainable products are increasingly a necessity. Find glass straws and bottles at Grove Collaborative, and buy other non-plastic drinking products at local retailers from L.L.Bean to Target (and smaller gift shops in between; if you’re passing through Wiscasset, Rock, Paper Scissors has the prettiest colors of the S’well brand flasks we’ve seen.)
Almost anything from L.L.Bean would be a slam dunk, but Wicked Good Women’s Slippers would make an especially excellent gift. Look, the Millennial mindset is, why spend the money on slippers when you have socks? But that doesn’t mean we don’t want something with a sole (LOL) purpose of keeping our feet warm on frigid winter days. Bean’s has sold 4 million of these in the last five years. The classics come in three colors and are $89.99 at llbean.com or in the flagship store in Freeport. Miss Maine is wearing the moccasin style ($79) in vintage red on the cover and has them tucked into her Erin Flett tote here.
The Gift Card
We know that you’re probably reading this list in order to avoid getting your daughter another gift card, but hear us out. Gift cards for experiences, like for making jewelry at local bead shop Caravan Beads or for concert tickets at the State Theatre in Portland, make it so that young people have an excuse to just have fun. It’s difficult not to use gifted cash to pay for food or store gift cards to shore up a winter wardrobe, but a certificate for a nice dinner at Scales or a gift card for Bayside Bowl or Muse Paint Bar are opportunities to make memories. Also, we love massages, so consider Soma Massage & Wellness in South Portland or Nine Stones Spa in Portland.
Maine is a special place, and we love to show it off, whether we live here or not. We’re smitten with the hand-embroidered, finely-detailed Maine and Portland pillows shown on the cover ($185 at Home Remedies, 83 W. Commercial St., Portland). For something wearable, check out LiveME, which produces well-designed products with simple slogans about Maine activities from fishing to hiking to drinking beer on hats, hoodies, t-shirts, stickers etc. Online at livememaine.com or available at stores in the Old Port.
The Streaming Service
If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s the necessity of streaming in a Millennial’s life. If your Millennial already has subscriptions for essentials Netflix (starting at $8.99 monthly) and Spotify (starting at $9.99 monthly), gifting them access to another streaming service could make their year, starting with HBONow ($14.99 monthly). Hulu ($5.99 and up monthly) is also a great option, but the exclusivity of HBO and the manic popularity of hits like Game of Thrones make it a special treat. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try gifting a subscription to Disney’s brand new streaming service, Disney+ ($6.99 a month or $69.99 for a year of visual comfort food) or Apple TV plus ($5 a month), both of which debuted in November.
Wireless earbuds are revelatory. Being able to listen to your favorite podcasts while keeping your phone safely tucked in your pocket and yourself free from the annoyance of accidentally yanking head phones away from your ears every two minutes is sublime. There are lots of brands out there, but Powerbeats3 Wireless earbuds have excellent sound quality, are good for Apple users, and the wire to connect them behind your head makes them infinitely more difficult to lose.
The Conscientious Cosmetic
Tarte Cosmetics is a high-quality national brand of cosmetics that prides itself on “offering eco-chic, cruelty-free cosmetics & hypoallergenic, vegan skincare.” Their bestsellers include colorful eyeshadow palettes and lustrous face powders, along with mint-flavored matte lipsticks and luxurious body butters. If makeup isn’t your millennial’s style, but they do need some all-natural pampering, definitely check out Lush’s fun gift baskets, filled with bath bombs and face masks (they are online and at the Maine Mall). You can find Tarte products online or at Sephora at the Maine Mall.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Subscription boxes make excellent gifts for millennials. They are monthly or quarterly reminders to practice self-care and revel in our favorite things, and they come with products curated by experts. There’s Causebox, a service that sends seasonal boxes with conscious and ethically designed products. Birchbox was one of the first and still one of the best for makeup. The Bookish Box gives a new book every month along with other little gifts that fit the theme. There are subscription services for every hobby and interest. For many more ideas, check out mysubscriptionaddiction.com.
Hannah Johnston is a recent graduate of Connecticut College, where she studied creative writing. She would like any of the things on this list for Christmas, but is particularly eager for a gift certificate for a massage.