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From a funky art print to a new pair of hoops.
Chances are you know your best friend better than anyone — I mean, you don't call them a best friend for just any reason. But even when you know them better than they know themself, everyone can always use a little bit of inspiration, which is why we turned to some influential best friends to help you out: Mary J. Blige, Simone I. Smith, and Liberty Ross. The three women have been friends for years (Mary even sang at Liberty’s wedding as she walked down the aisle) and have cycled through many holidays together filled with gifts.
“My relationship with both Mary and Simone is incredibly special,” says Ross, model and founder of Flipper’s Roller Boogie Palace, who explains she’s been friends with Blige for years and met Simone through her. “It was maybe eight years ago at a Valentine’s Day party that I met Liberty. Mary was there and she introduced me and Todd [my husband, also known as LL Cool J]. We just hit it off. Our sisterhood is the best,” says Smith, entrepreneur and jewelry designer. “I love my husband and my children, but there’s nothing like my girlfriends, my sisters,” she adds.
While the three of them have their own philosophies around gifting (we’ll get into that later), all of them agree: pick something that suits your friend, whether that be a candle featuring notes you know they love, an art print that reminds you of them, or irresistible spices she loved the last time you had her over for dinner.
Read on for more of their selections.
MoMA Design Store Avocado Vase
Ross encourages all of her friends to embrace plant life and have it around the house. But instead of just gifting a plant that’s already fully grown, she suggests this avocado vase that allows you to watch the plant grow from the beginning. “This is a gift that would appeal to most people because aesthetically it looks very cool, and it’s an interesting process,” she says. You start the seed in this vase, then transfer it outdoors once the tree needs more space to grow. “Every morning you can wake up and be like, ‘Oh wow, it sprouted. Or, there’s another little leaf, oh my gosh! It’s nature, sure, but you have to water it and give it enough light, so it’s definitely something to be proud of.”
If they travel too much to take care of a plant, donate to an organization on their behalf instead. “Gifting trees is such a beautiful gift because you’re doing good for the world,” says Ross. Tree People is local to Ross, making it extra special to her, but you can choose any environmental organization that would mean something to you or your best friend.
Price at time of publish: $65
Sister Love Queen Hoops
“I’ve known both Simone and Liberty for a long time. Liberty first reached out to us about collaborating and then we just started creating. It was easy and natural and now here we are,” says Blige about the hoops from Smith and Blige’s line Sister Love created in collaboration with Flipper’s. “Mary was like, “Look, I’m wearing your earrings all the time, let’s do something together. And then we started coming out with a lot of earrings inspired by the 80s — but modernized. We wanted to bring back that edgy, fly, cool girl energy,” says Smith.
Their 18k gold hoops feature fun phrases like “boogie” or a lightning bolt, but for something easier for daily wear, check out this elegant pair of plain gold hoops that your bestie can easily throw on every day.
Price at time of publish: $230
Skin By Mamie Oxygen Mask
Blige has a fairly simple formula for picking gifts for her friends: “Everyone loves candles, wine, jewelry, music – odds are something in there will make sense for any friend,” she says. Start with skincare. Blige personally uses Skin by Mamie from her longtime esthetician (who also works with stars like Angela Bassett and Yara Shahidi) Mamie McDonald, recommending it as an excellent gift for anyone looking for a luxe skincare routine. We like this oxygen mask which includes ingredients like Oxygen Plasma, Glycerol, Aloe Vera, and MSM (an anti-inflammatory). The mask will not only soften and hydrate your skin, but also treat numerous concerns, like acne, wrinkles, discoloration, and more.
Price at time of publish: $53
Byredo Symphonique Candle
The candle that Blige currently loves is now sold out — you can check back for updates on a restock, though — but we named this Byredo candle the most giftable candle of this year because it not only looks sophisticated enough to blend in with any decor, but it also smells irresistible. We also feature more candles here in case you’d like to shop around.
Price at time of publish: $90
Victrola Vintage 3-Speed Bluetooth Portable Suitcase Record Player with Built-in Speakers
Blige, of course, loves to share music with her friends and recommends gifting your bestie vinyl for the holidays (in case you need a suggestion, Blige’s newest album Good Morning Gorgeous is available now on vinyl) because it’s a bit more permanent than streaming. Putting on records while having a night in, and drinking wine with friends will be far more memorable. And this charming suitcase player from Victrola might even become a part of their decor.
Price at time of publish: $50
Estelle Colored Glass Stemmed Wine Glass (Set of 6)
Speaking of a night in with wine and friends, open a bottle of Mary’s favorite Pinot Grigio from her brand Sun Goddess Wines and pour it in these vibrant glasses from small, Black-owned business Estelle Colored Glass. Your friend will love this heirloom quality glassware so much that she’ll be inspired to bring out every girl’s night (and day of the year).
Price at time of publish: $185
Chef Nancie Specialty Salts
“For all the girls who like to cook, Nancie’s salts and spices are just amazing,” says Smith, who uses Nancie’s salts as secret Santa gifts every year during her annual Christmas party and for any friend who needs a little extra spice in their life. This gift set features four different salts, including Viking oak smoked sea salt, Italian black truffle salt, peri peri salt, and black obsidian salt. It already comes boxed, so all you need to do is throw a ribbon on it.
Price at time of publish: $55
Flipper's Riedell 120 Skate
Ross was born into the roller skating business — her parents opened up the first Flipper’s when Ross was a child — so she loves to share her love for the sport with her friends. “It’s in my blood,” she says. “It’s the most joyful community ever, and I love to embrace that side and encourage people to pick up this hobby and sport.” She recommends gifting your bestie a pair of roller skates this holiday, especially if you already have your own pair, so you two can skate together. “Mary loves to roller skate,” Ross tells us. They have yet to skate together because of their busy schedules (we assume being successful entrepreneurs and award-winning musicians must take up some time), but they’re planning on it soon — hopefully, in this pair of Flipper’s skates from Ross’s partnership with Riedell. The vibrant blue and red colorway brings a nostalgic flair to the throwback pair of skates, and it will certainly be appreciated by your friend.
Price at time of publish: $500
Flipper's Roller Boogie Palace 1979-1981
If your bestie already has a pair of skates they love, though, Ross instead suggests giving them this coffee table book filled with photos of the original Flipper’s from 1979 to 1981 that, if you ask us, looks pretty groovy. “I feel like gifting coffee table books is just always so special,” says Ross. (It’s also a favorite gift of Courteney Cox, giving this idea two stamps of approval.) “Even if you don't like roller skating, the imagery alone is super powerful. It's really telling a story of a world that's almost kind of lost in today's society,” she adds. It will transport your friend back to the era and venue, which Ross calls “Studio 54 but on wheels”.
Price at time of publish: $65
Kay Davis It Girl Giclée Print
Ross met this artist through roller skating, describing her as “one of the most creative people that I’ve met. She has a real eye for color.” She suggests buying your friends art prints to decorate their apartments. “I love to get my friends things that are either unexpected or not well known. Introducing people to new things I love is always nice,” she says. Each print is made to order, so just make sure you allow enough time for it to get to you. She also makes wrapping paper that your friend will want to save forever.
Price at time of publish: $98
Kehinde Wiley Mary Little Porcelain Plate
Does the name Kehinde Wiley sound familiar? Well, it should. The Brooklyn-based artist that Ross calls an “amazing, prolific artist” is behind that painting of Barack Obama showcased in 2018 at the National Portrait Gallery. “He recently painted my friend Dr. Dre, and I learned that each portrait aligns with the person who he’s painting. So for instance, if you notice in Obama’s painting, all the flowers are Hawaiian because that’s where Obama is from. And with Dre, all the foliage is from Compton and California. I just love that,” explains Ross. Because a custom painting is probably not accessible to most, Ross suggests these plates instead. She gave them to her stepdaughter last Christmas and can think of a handful of other friends she’s love to give them to. “You can bring them out for a dinner party or you can hang them on the way. It’s such beautiful art. I love the versatility of it as a gift.”
Price at time of publish: $125
La Sonja Polk Designs Zebra Empire Kimono Duster
Smith thinks clothes actually work as a gift for your loved ones, as long as you know their style well. She gave kaftans from La Sonja Polk Designs to her friends (namely, Cookie Johnson and LaToya Jackson — casual) for a vacation they took together. The breezy kimonos and kaftans come in lots of colors and fabrics, so you pick one perfect for your friend’s style. If they’re more of a loungewear kind of gal, though Smith suggests these joggers from Samaria Leah that you can wear both on the couch and out to brunch. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Price at time of publish: $295
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