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Despite waxing nostalgic about the glory days of Laguna Beach on her new podcast Back to the Beach, Kristin Cavallari has come a long way from Southern California. Now based in Nashville, she’s the founder and CEO of lifestyle brand Uncommon James—which spans jewelry, home goods, and clean skincare—and is currently wrapping up her third cookbook, Truly Simple: 140 Healthy Recipes for Weekday Cooking, due out in April, a follow-up to her two New York Times bestsellers, True Comfort and True Roots.
All that is to say, Cavallari has been busy. But in many ways, she’s still the brazen blonde she was on the show. She still goes to Cabo, albeit with her family, and she knows how to have fun. Yet this time of year, she enjoys being cozy at home, too. “I love putting work on the back-burner and being in the kitchen, cooking and baking with my kids,” she says. “I hate the present stress, but that’s pretty much it.” Even so, she has more than a few ideas for what to give (and receive) over the holidays.
What’s your go-to holiday gift?
A Dry Farm Wines subscription. I typically do six months’ worth. I like it because you can tailor the order depending on if the person drinks red, white, or sparkling.
Do you have a favorite under-$50 gift?
Uncommon Beauty Daily Water Cream, because once you try it, you’ll fall in love. It’s the most hydrating moisturizer, yet doesn’t clog pores. It also gives skin that perfectly dewy glow.
What’s the best present you’ve ever received?
I love when my kids make me something—cards go a long way with me. My love language is words of affirmation, so that’s really all I need. I love thoughtful cards and something that creates a memory, like an activity or a trip.
Any holiday traditions?
We call it “The Elves.” When I was growing up, before The Elf on the Shelf, my parents had elves come every night one week before Christmas, and if we were good, we got a little something in our stocking. And if we were bad, we got coal. I’ve kept that tradition up with my kids their entire lives.
How about dinner ideas?
Homemade meatballs and sauce with ravioli or gnocchi.
Best gift that can be found on Amazon?
A mandoline for the person who loves to cook.
What’s the number one thing on your wish list this year?
Ideal gift in a last-minute scenario?
A MistoBox coffee subscription. The company can just email the gift card over, so it really can be a day-of gift if needed.
What’s something you always have on-hand, just in case?
Any gift ideas for kids?
This year, it’s all about SHARKY’Z slippers. All three of my kids are obsessed with them.
And for guys?
I love gifting men a cool bracelet or sunglasses. RetroSpecs has awesome vintage glasses with a lot of history that have been restored.
What’s your absolute dream gift?
A trip to the Maldives! 🤣
Claire Stern is the Deputy Editor of ELLE.com. Previously, she served as Editor at Bergdorf Goodman. Her interests include fashion, food, travel, music, Peloton, and The Hills—not necessarily in that order. She used to have a Harriet the Spy notebook and isn’t ashamed to admit it.