6 Perfect Gifts for the People Who Kept You Going This Year

This post is sponsored by Paybright by Affirm.


Almost by definition, the holidays are a time for gratitude, reflection, and letting those that we love feel the full weight of our appreciation. People can gripe about the commercialization of the season, but it’s easy to scratch at the shiny veneer and see just how precious the opportunity is—and how finding the perfect gift is a thoughtful, caring way to physically show your love. 

Every single person on the list below would, without a doubt, be fine if my only holiday gift was a warm hug or a handwritten card. They don’t need to unwrap anything to understand and believe how much I love them. But each and every one of them also deserves a tangible token of how much value they bring to my life, and how I’ve clocked it, again and again, throughout the last year. 

As I set out to find the quintessential gifts, opting for a pay-over-time model proved to be a helpful move. Paybright by Affirm breaks up the cost of an item into multiple payments so you see exactly what you’ll pay upfront and over time; plus, you’ll never be charged late fees. When you check out, you choose the convenient payment schedule that works for you. Read on below to see the gifts I bought the most important people in my life, and why.

For My Mom

I’m lucky enough to have a mother who’s been my biggest cheerleader for as long as I can remember. She’s the one person who I know will pick up the phone at any hour, talk me down—or talk me up—and generally never seems to get tired of my voice. 

I’ve been saying “I love you” for over three decades now (since I could talk, really), but this holiday season I wanted to spoil her. She’s someone who will hardly ever buy the thing she wants and forever sticks to a tight budget. I’ve heard her talk about this much-lauded kitchen tool for years, and the ability to break it into four, interest-free payments finally means I can manage to buy it for her. 

Cuisinart Style Precision Stand Mixer & Bonus Decorating, $499.99, thebay.com (When you choose Paybright at checkout, only four bi-weekly payments of $124.99).

For My Partner

Gift-giving is tricky between my partner and me. We’re not typically big-spenders and are quick to buy smaller things whenever we need—or really want—them. It works out most of the time but makes shopping for special presents nearly impossible since the little items are almost always no longer needed. Not to mention, I never have mountains of savings that allow me to buy the pricey gadgets or tech stuff he’d have on a dream list. 

With Paybright, it’s now easy to give presents that he’ll really appreciate. We both commute from the suburbs to the city for work, which involves lots of loud situations. I know he’s been eyeing these top-of-the-line noise-canceling buds as an alt to his standard headphones, but they’re not cheap. Paying for them in monthly installments versus one big charge on my credit card makes it feasible. 

Bose QuietComfort® Noise Cancelling True Wireless In-Ear Earbuds, $349.99, thesource.com (Available in easy, monthly payments when you choose PayBright at checkout).

For My In-The-Thick-Of-It Colleague

It’s inevitable for those we work closely with to start to feel like family. The hours add up quickly, and the highs and lows of the workplace can mimic the twists and turns your real family navigates together. “Work wife” gets tossed around a lot, but the term can seem too playful for the rock that my closest colleague has been: A person that gets it, without asking; can pick up your slack when you need it; spot errors or problems before they have time to derail your work; commiserate and inspire in equal measure—and is an amazing happy-hour friend. 

Amongst our hours and hours of conversation, we’ve spent time bemoaning bad-weather commutes and how annoying it is that practical accessories and clothes aren’t usually that attractive. It’s why I know, without a doubt, she’ll appreciate these cool-as-hell waterproof boots (and Paybright is why I can make them work in my holiday shopping budget). 

Sorel Out N’ About Conquest, $160, brownsshoes.com (When you choose Paybright at checkout, only four bi-weekly payments of $40).

For My Sister

My sister and I are the type of siblings who have said the meanest, cruelest things to each other at times… but would also be there, whenever, if the other one needed something. Our relationship has evolved so beautifully as we’ve gotten older and the vestiges of our teenage selves have faded away. She’s an amazing person who’s very different from me, to be sure, but is confident, capable, and kind. I feel lucky that she’s my sister.

We tend to buy each other smaller gifts that are under a budget we both agree on, but she just had her second baby, and this feels like a year to break the rules a little. The rocker in her nursery is the same one she had with baby number one, and it was secondhand to begin with. I know she’ll use a plush glider multiple times a day, and I want her to be comfortable. By breaking it down into payments, I can provide a spot for endless snuggles. 

Viv + Rae Bontang Swivel Glider, $869.99, wayfair.ca.

For My Long-Distance BFF

The pandemic and quarantining made me rethink and restrategize how I stay in touch with close friends who live far away. Previously, we’d all mostly relied on sporadic messages and texts with in-person time that came, maybe, once a year. It wasn’t perfect—I wish we could have seen each other every few months—but it worked. And then the pandemic came, and we went longer than ever before without seeing each other except on a screen. 

The lessons we learned throughout all of it were many, but the biggest, friendship-wise, was to cherish the people you have. Even if we didn’t see each other physically, we leaned on each other more than ever. Coming out of that, it just feels right to surprise my far-flung, soul-sustaining bestie with a gift, even though we typically wouldn’t exchange holiday presents. She’s been eyeing this bag for a while now, and paying in installments makes it budget-possible. 

See by Chloé Mara Crossbody, $630, thebay.com (When you choose Paybright at checkout, only four bi-weekly payments of $157.50).

My Coach

The way some people rely on and work with a therapist is how I am with my life coach. I promise you I would have found those words ridiculous even two years ago, but when I decided to reach out for help navigating some professional choices, I quickly realized it was the best thing I could have done. Like a therapist, she offers me a judgment-free space to say my innermost thoughts and worries out loud, but then comes out with a strategic plan that’s designed to help me create my best possible life.

So, she’s someone who definitely deserves to see my appreciation. While I feel really close to her, the uniqueness of the relationship makes gifting tricky; I don’t want to give anything too personal. A luxe candle in a holiday scent is spot-on—and the mega-size is the sort of amazing gift you’ll never buy yourself. 

NEST New York Holiday Candle, $150, sephora.com (When you choose Paybright at checkout, only four bi-weekly payments of $37.50).