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Skip this holiday gift guide


No matter how much I’d like to be one of those people who makes notes throughout the year of gift ideas for family and friends, I am but a mere mortal who, in the throes of a panicked gift-buying season, ends up scouring online gift guides that claim to know the innermost desires of the people I hold dear.

And I know I’m not alone. That’s why I was intrigued by a New York Times’ “plant-based” gift guide that purported to have the answers for gift givers buying for anyone who loves plants, a number that exploded during the pandemic as more people found a new gardening hobby.

As a “plant person” I feel qualified to weigh in on gifts that people who love plants would appreciate. In fact I buy for quite a few “plant-based” kindred spirits. And that’s why I’m telling you that most of the suggested gifts on this list should be avoided at all costs.

plant-based clogs
I appreciate the concept behind this hemp plastic shows, but I’m going on record: these are ugly.

The first item that caught my eye was the ugliest pair of shoes I’ve ever seen: gardening clogs made from recyclable hemp plastic in a color that could be called “cardboard box.”

There are also a pair of candles on the list. Candles, by the way, are what you take to a white elephant party, but these aren’t even well suited to that use. The first is a candle that looks like a fennel bulb, which isn’t terrible since it falls under the “quirky” category. But since it is sold out, gift givers will have to resort to the other candle option on the list: a candle that has the “high-intensity fragrance of tomato leaves that evokes the fresh, verdant aroma of vines just before they burst into fruit.”

tomato-scented candle
This candle smells like tomato foliage and costs $404.

I don’t know a lot of people who like the smell of tomato leaves for any reason other than that they signal that a fresh tomato is coming. The largest size of the tomato candle will run you $404 (this is not a typo). For that kind of money you could buy a complete indoor growing setup to grow actual plants so you could enjoy that “verdant” scent AND have tomatoes.

Dirt cologne
Smell like dirt, without spending the day in the dirt.

Speaking of scent, you can also pick up cologne called Dirt, made to “smell exactly like the dirt from fields around the Pennsylvania family farm belonging to our founding perfumer.”

Gardeners, of course, know a better way to capture that scent: simply skip the shower after a hard day of digging in the garden. And if that’s not to your partner’s liking, you can use the $75, one-pound block of charcoal soap, also on the gift guide, to clean up.

countertop compost bin
The Bamboozle Bamboo compost bin comes in a nice selection of colors

Not all the ideas in the “plant-based” gift guide are bad. There’s a nice watering can and a kitchen compost bin that is handy to hold food scraps in until you get them to the compost pile.

But if you’re shopping for a real gardener, I’ll let you in on a secret. They only want three things: Plants, garden tools or a load of compost that they don’t have to move themselves. 

And, unlike a $404 tomato-foliage candle, there’s zero chance that they will burn your house down.

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50 Responses

  1. I don’t know, but I think those recycled hemp garden shoes might be just the thing for when I accidentally step in dog poop in my back yard. 😆

  2. Erin, just wanted to say you are so right…Plants, plants, plants are all I want…that would be my favorite gift for any occasion!

  3. Your brilliant humor is appreciated so much by those of us who KNOW what gardeners really want! I love your videos but I’ve never come to your blog before! Well, I’ll be here in the future!!

  4. Way to make me laugh after a crazy day. I agree the shoes are well…hideous looking. $404 for a candle OMG?!? Wishing you a yours a very Merry Christmas!

  5. Thank you, Erin! Not sure what happened to gift list suggestions this year, but they are more absurd than ever. Mabe it’s the pandemic?

  6. This is awesome!! Dirt candle?? That’s hilarious. To think someone was actually paid to put that list out is a absurd. In case you were unaware, you should definitely look up the writer who spoof re-writes the Williams-Sonoma holiday gift catalog. Always the funniest read of the year!!! Thanks for the laughs-we all need more of that these days!!

  7. Ok but I would wear those ugly clogs in the garden 😆 am I weird? Who cares about filthing up some shoes that already look like dried mud 🙃 Otherwise I’ll take a gift certificate to any garden center, please and thank you!

  8. Very funny. You’d think they could come up with a really easy list. I’ve taken the job of choosing my own gifts-I always get what I want 😊.

  9. You really can not make this stuff up! At one point I thought that you were joking but, no, these are real suggestions. Whoever made that list is not a gardener and hasn’t even been around gardeners for any length of time!

  10. Ha ha ha! Erin that was hilarious! Really enjoyed the read. NYT obviously doesn’t know what gardeners want. Your suggestions on the other hand – spot on.

  11. You are absolutely right on what real gardeners want.
    Today I had delivered and applied a couple tons of compost, that was a applied 3 inches deep in everyone of my garden beds and under trees and shrubs in the yard.
    Well you have never seen a smile so wide as when I looked at that wonderful black gold throughout my yard!
    I am one happy gal this Christmas 🎄

  12. Bravo and hank you. The NYT list is both ridiculous and immoral. It’s up there with NPR Pajamagram ads to buy pj’s for pets. If you want to buy pet pj’s or $404 candles donate instead to charities that support low income families. Plenty of kids could use 1 pair of pajamas because, unlike some dogs, they have none

  13. OMG! Too funny. I remember years ago a candle company whose candles I loved coming out with one that smelled like tomato plant leaves. I thought it disgusting then, and still do. Can’t believe that scent is still around.

  14. This is hilarious. Except the part about the load of compost they don’t have to move. You are so right that would be a great gift!!

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