Vulture’s 2023 Holiday Gift Guide

Everything our pop-culture-obsessed staffers are adding to their wish lists this year.

Illustration: Ellen Marello
Illustration: Ellen Marello

Haul out the holly! (Did you know that in the original lyrics to “We Need a Little Christmas” Auntie Mame’s nephew chides her for celebrating too early … “one week past Thanksgiving Day”? Original Christmas-creep queen.) The Starbucks cups are festive and so are we, which means it’s time once again for the staff at Vulture to round up everything we’re gifting — or hoping our loved ones take the hint and get for us — this holiday season. From Succession merch that will let you live in denial about the show ending, to extremely niche references that will confuse everyone but the most devoted podcast fans, we’ve got everything you need for the pop-culture obsessive in your life. (Unless you can commission them a private jet.)

Gifters, take note: Holiday delivery is not guaranteed for the hand. That said, can you really expect a device for communicating with the dead to obey the calendar dictates of the living? If you’ve seen Talk to Me, the directorial debut of YouTubers turned horror darlings the Philippou brothers, then you’ll recognize this replica of the mysterious tchotchke — rumored to contain the embalmed limb of a medium — that’s key to the supernatural party trick that gets the movie’s suburban teens in trouble. There’s something inherently pleasing about such literal movie merch, but it also just seems like a great thing to have on your coffee table as a dare to fellow scary-movie fans. C’mon, give it a try! You know you want to. —Alison Willmore

No Christmas tree is complete unless it’s got some Wambsgans hanging on it. This “Ludicrously Capacious Tree Ornament” — a nod to Tom Wambsgans’s frequently quoted comment on the size of the bag that Greg’s date brought to Logan’s birthday party in the final season of Succession — will ensure that the spirit of Tightrope Tommy is felt amid your holiday trimmings. (Not a Succession fan? You could always go with the Nepo Baby ornament, the perfect way to say, “Happy holidays to all, including those whose institutional wealth and family connections gives them a natural leg up in society.”) —Jen Chaney

I can’t smoke cigarettes because I have too many other vices, but this ashtray is an integral component of my life, as are its brethren: the “Red Bull & Cigarettes” ashtray, the “Lexi Featherston” ashtray, and the “Bowls and Bowls of Cigarettes” ashtray. All are designed by my friends Matt Harkins and Viviana Olen — the curators of the THNK1994 Museum — with art from Laura Collins, and I display them all over my home like the pieces of fine art that they are, not wanting to mar their perfect faces with the aforementioned ash. The Olsen-centric pieces are particularly stunning, inspired by Mary-Kate Olsen’s doomed wedding to Olivier Sarkozy, which I chronicled back in 2015 on probably the best day of my journalistic life and which famously featured “bowls and bowls filled with cigarettes, and everyone smoked the whole night.” I am probably not allowed within 150 feet of Mary-Kate and Ashley, but these ashtrays make me feel like that doesn’t matter. —Rachel Handler

I’ve been pining for one of Cynthia Lahti’s ceramic women since seeing them in Kelly Reichardt’s Showing Up, in which a selection of them played the role of the work that Michelle Williams’s character is preparing to show. Like any works of original art, these aren’t cheap, but they’re just so lovely — little idiosyncratic ladies dabbled in translucent washes of color. If the statues themselves are beyond your gifting price range, there’s also the option to content yourself with some window shopping. Lahti has a show at James Fuentes Gallery in New York that opens on December 1st. —AW

This is the keychain of a killer, Bella. Celebrate the Hoa-hoa-hoa-hoa-hoalidays and give the world the blue tint it deserves at this time of year. And yes, it works as a filter for your iPhone camera. —Bethy Squires

You just can’t go wrong with a purse that looks like a book. And why not make that book one whose cover traumatized you as a child? Did you know Christmas used to have a ghost storytelling element, and that’s why The Christmas Carol is like that? Time to bring fear back to Yule. —BS

Ariana Grande hasn’t put out an album in three years and 21 days. I understand she has been busy filming two features, running an entire makeup line, and seeing Spamalot, so I don’t begrudge her this, but I am starting to get desperate, and I know I am not alone. If you too have a despondent Ariana Grande fan in your life, or just know someone with olive undertones, I suggest purchasing them this green highlighter topper from her REM Beauty line. If the gift recipient falls into the former category, they can sleep with the makeup under the pillow until the Wicked movie comes out in four or six years and then wear it all over their face like Elphaba. If they fall into the latter, they can just wear it now to dinner or something and get on with their lives. —RH

For all the ham lovers in your life, a Studio Ghibli Ponyo journal is a great way to document all of the many magical fish you meet on your journeys. Complete with a color cover of Ponyo and Sosuke floating on a pop-pop boat, the notebook would be an adorable addition to a stationary-set collection. —Alejandra Gularte

Take it from Hilary Duff and Sutton Foster: Crocheting is cool. It’s a great thing to do with your hands while watching something stressful (cough The Curse cough), and when you’re done you’ve got something cute that you can show off on Instagram. The Woobles makes kits that have everything you need to crochet amigurumi (tiny stuffed animals), including how-to videos for beginners. If you’re lucky, they’ll get hooked (yes, that’s a crochet pun) and you’ll get some adorable handmade gifts next year. —Emily Palmer Heller

This tote bag, featuring an illustrated assortment of New No-Nos from Paul Rust’s beloved Comedy Bang Bang segment, will delight CBB fans and simple misanthropes alike. —EPH

This may not be the most artful-looking T-shirt out there, but it contains Richie’s full quote from season two of The Bear — “I’m not like this because I’m in Van Halen. I’m in Van Halen because I’m like this.” — and that is reason enough to give it as a gift. It would be perfect for your uncle who loves The Bear and regularly gets into arguments about whether DLR VH or SH VH was the better era of Van Halen. (Actually, he believes that the Lee, Roth, and Hagar chapters each have their own distinct merits, a thing he will happily discuss at great length!) —JC

Masaaki Yuasa’s wildly energetic visuals are too good to be trusted to streaming sites that could at any time disappear them into the ether. This Blu-ray set features five of the animator’s features, including the ecstatic college romantic comedy The Night is Short, Walk On Girl, and the psychedelic historical fantasy INU-OH, plus shorts, director commentaries, an interview with Yuasa, and an essay from former Vulture staffer Emily Yoshida. —AW

If there ever were a year to be reminded of the feeling of sensing your money in someone else’s pocket, it was this one. Michael Mann’s 1981 film Thief starring James Caan is a timely and timeless classic, and artist Brianna Ashby’s print captures both Caan’s prevailing disgruntlement and the film’s beautifully neo-noir aesthetic. And for non-Thief fans, Ashby’s web store also includes a number of other pop-culture-inspired portraits and illustrations, including Tom Cruise’s Lestat, Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat in The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Kyle MacLachlan’s three characters in Twin Peaks: The Return. —Roxana Hadadi

Because Peter Falk is never unwelcome, and we all deserve 3,800 minutes of him at our fingertips. —RH

Amazon’s Prime Video may have had the streaming exclusive to the last film of director Hideaki Anno’s decades-in-the-works sci-fi psychodrama, but for more than two years, fans in the U.S. had to wait to add the film to their shelves. No longer! GKIDS has released the fourth film of the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy in both a handsome collector’s edition and a slimmed-down standard edition, similar to its earlier release of the original Evangelion TV series. If you spring for the collector’s edition, you’ll get a gorgeous 4K version of the film, a 28-page book, and a set of art cards — plus all the new bonus material included in the standard edition. —Eric Vilas-Boas

Nestled in the product details for the Marcel the Shell Heavy Metal Figurine from A24 is the information I’d been seeking for years: Marcel the Shell’s official height and weight. Coming in at exactly 0’1.4” tall and weighing 0 pounds and 3.42 ounces (shoes on), this beacon of self-love and possessor of a lot of other great qualities would make the perfect, tiny desk companion to me, personally, in case anyone shopping for me, personally, was wondering! —Anusha Praturu

To put it lightly, the MCU is having a bad year. So if you still have some interest in how the huge machine works, in The Reign of Marvel Studios, Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales and Gavin Edwards so intricately map the beginnings of what’s now Kevin Feige’s media empire to the present Disney+ era. It’s a fascinating oral history that any Hollywood nerds in your immediate circle would love to dive into. —Savannah Salazar

In case you haven’t heard, the IRL movie-going experience is back, and chances are you either know an AMC A-Lister or you are one. This aspect-ratio hat is for them – no matter which side of the film bro or film girlboss side of the divide they fell on this summer. —AP

After Brand New Eyes, and after a painful partial band breakup, Paramore came out swinging with their self-titled record that had hit singles like “Still Into You” and their Grammy award-winning “Ain’t It Fun.” Now, ten years later, you can celebrate the record’s anniversary with a handful of variants all in hues to match Hayley Williams’s many hair colors during that era. I’m partial to the half-orange, half-pink record for the hair she donned for the “Still Into You” music video. A classic!! —SS

Fans of the Blank Check movie podcast will know all about producer Ben Hosley’s “Buried Jeans” saga, in which he thought it would be pretty cool to bury jeans in a deep dirty ditch and let mother nature be his seamstress. Now, Buried Jeans are the centerpiece of Congratulations, a “REAL fashion and lifestyle brand created by Ben Hosley that is very serious.” If you don’t want to splurge on $1,000 dirt-jeans, go for the “Dang Ass Freak” tee, based on a pod catchphrase and “inspired by a puddle Ben saw one time that kinda looked like ET and of course people being dang ass freaks.” —Rebecca Alter

Everyone needs an embroidered baseball cap, especially when that embroidered baseball cap references one of the most thought-provoking subplots in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. It probably wouldn’t hurt to buy the movie on physical media, too, so that “no evil streaming service can come steal it from you.” Nolan’s words! — RH 

Hello, caller. Please listen. I’m in the minority of people enjoying the Frasier reboot — the original series is perhaps my favorite sitcom — and the Frasissance led me to this beauty of a letterman jacket. As the lore goes, Kelsey Grammer bought the entire cast and crew this personalized jacket as a Christmas gift to celebrate the first season, which features the Seattle skyline and logo imagery on the back. Every now and then someone who worked on that season will put the jacket into the internet reseller abyss, and here, a crew member named Jill is selling hers. I can’t swing this $500 price tag, but hopefully another superfan can. I’d wear it to Le Cigare Volant in a heartbeat. —Devon Ivie

If you’re reading a gift guide on Vulture, chances are there is someone in your life that you communicate with exclusively through I Think You Should Leave screengrabs. Let that special someone prove their commitment to Tim Robinson by getting them Driving Crooner car decals, based off of one of the funniest sketches of this latest season, to stick on their driver’s-side window. This premium sticker set comes in a handsomely designed package with the tagline “Some people hate this!!,” but your giftee certainly won’t! —RA

Best Buy will stop selling DVDs, Blu-rays, and other physical media in 2024; the phase-out is rumored to begin as early as the first quarter of the year. Bleak! Hook up the collectors in your life with a gift card so they can load up on as many discs now before they never can again. (Best Buy has a particularly good collection of exclusive steelbooks.) — RH

Grimace isn’t ephemeral. Grimace is eternal. I don’t think I could’ve given you more than two facts about the purple legend prior to McDonald’s launching his birthday PR campaign this past summer, but that blob of joy has occupied every inch of my brain since — often to the detriment of friends and family who have received dozens, if not hundreds, of Grimace images from me in the ensuing months for no reason whatever. (My go-to is Sunglasses Grimace, which fits just about every mood.) This is all to say that the Crocs and McDonald’s collaboration is inspired, and I’ve already forked over $70 to look down and see this dopey king on my toes. Sure, you can go over to Birkenstock and spend $250 on shearling purple slip-ons to be “fashionable” and “hip.” But why not live a little? For added confidence, I’ll be pronouncing Grimace like Versace. —DI

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Vulture’s 2023 Holiday Gift Guide