It’s official. If you’ve been vaccinated it’s safe to see friends and family who have also been vaccinated, and even solo households of people who haven’t. Cue the reunions of friend groups, parents and children, grandparents and grandkids, and extended communities across the country. It’s a happy and hopeful time.
Also, as of this week, the CDC changed its guidelines around mask wearing and now anyone who’s been vaccinated doesn’t have to wear a mask in most scenarios, indoors or outdoors. Hallelujah! It’s looking like the strict quarantine life of the past 14 months is appearing in the rearview mirror, and I know I’m not the only one who’s feeling relieved. What does this mean? It means you’re safe to reunite with vaccinated friends and family, and that lots more social interaction is hopefully coming your way.
Now, for some of us this is a major relief, and my fellow extroverts are jumping for joy at the chance to pack their social calendars full again. However, seeing people again is also nerve-wracking — and for good reason! We’ve all been holed up in our homes for over a year, and because of that we’re all out of practice with the whole social thing. Talking to everyone — from strangers to close friends— might feel weird AF. You might be wondering if you’re still any good at it? Chances are you are, but there are some things you can do to ease the awkwardness of first encounters. Gatherings with friends, family and close loved ones throughout this summer are sure to be joyous affairs, and will be made even more so with gifts.
Showing up with a host or hostess gift never hurts, especially after a whole year apart. There are so many reasons to celebrate and feel hopeful nowadays, so why not do it with a gift? I’ve compiled a list below of some thoughtful post-vaccine reunion gift ideas for your long lost friends, who you’re hopefully about to see a lot more.
1. A 2020 Photo Book
BEST FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Okay, so maybe you didn’t have as many photo-worthy moments in 2020 as you’ve had in previous years, but a lot still happened and photos are a great way for your friends and family to get caught up. Compile a bunch of memories and create a photo book for your parents who’ve been dying for pictures of their grandchildren, or your friends who couldn’t make it to your small-scale wedding. It was a weird year, but it was also a memorable one, and this way your memories are preserved for years to come.
Mixbook is a great photo book service that’s super customizable and easy to use. They’ve even got a “Year in Review” section with a bunch of books specifically designed to capture a whole year.
2. A New Piece of Luggage
BEST FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T WAIT TO TRAVEL
Got friends who booked their plane tickets out as soon as they could? With the EU saying it’s going to accept travelers from the U.S this summer, many people have got the bug and I for one can’t wait to board a long, boring transAtlantic flight again. This is going to be a summer filled with voyages and adventures, and a great gift for anyone is a lightweight, high-quality piece of luggage. This carry-on is from Samsonite, one or our favorite luggage brands, and meets the size restrictions for Delta, America, United Airlines and others. It’s hardside so it protects your belongings and comes with spinner wheels for easy mobility when navigating airports. It’s got a TSA-friendly lock and a divided zipper interior for organized packing.
3. Moisturizing Tanning Oil
BEST FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T SEEN THE SUN
We’re pretty confident there are some people who haven’t been outside nearly enough this past year, and their first exposure to the sun could result in a major burn. Thankfully, this tanning oil from Sun Bum is designed to help prevent that, and instead give them a glowy tan like quarantine never happened. It’s SPF 15 so it’s protective but also designed to be bronzing and give all skin types that sun-kissed glow. Their whole line of sunscreen is hypoallergenic and free of chemicals like Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, and it smells like coconut for the ultimate summer vibe.
4. To-Go Coffee Mug
BEST FOR RETURNING COMMUTERS
The return to working in an office also means the return of commuting. Joy. Make it a bit easier for your friends, families and coworkers with this Fellow Carter Everywhere Mug that’s vacuum-insulated and super sleek. It’s got an aromatic wide mouth so you get the full aroma experience from the coffee, and has a drinkable lip so you can sip comfortably. The ceramic coating on the inside keeps your coffee from developing a metallic taste, and keeps your coffee warm for up to 12 hours.
5. A New Pair of Shoes
BEST FOR THE STYLISH FOLK
Nothing puts a pep in your step like a new pair of shoes, and new boat shoes from Sperry’s are perfect for summer get togethers with friends and family. They’re comfortable, neutral and nice enough for a variety of scenarios, and this style comes in a few different color options. They’ve also got PLUSHWAVE technology built in for comfort and the full-grain leather structure has rawhide laces built in so you get a super customized fit.
6. Beard Grooming Kit
BEST FOR YOUR BEARDED FRIENDS
2021 is the year of grooming after a long year spent inside not seeing anyone and therefore caring less about appearance. From a long overdue haircut to a spritz of a new cologne — now is as great a time as any to invest in your look and get presentable again. And for your bearded friends, this beard conditioning kit from Shea Moisture might be just the ticket to taking them from Brillo pad to soft and luscious. This 4-piece set is infused with shea butter and naturally rich in vitamins E, A and F. They’re designed to absorb quickly, condition and leave beards clean, nourished and scruff-free.
7. A Journal
BEST FOR THE REFLECTIVE ONES
This past year was a lot to process, and one of the best ways to work through complicated thoughts and feelings (in my opinion) is to journal. This journal is a 52-week guided journal led by a zen master who coaches even the most journal-skeptical through self-exploration, reflection and discovery. Working through everything that happened in 2020 is a great way to note it, mark it and leave it behind as we head into a new phase of the pandemic and life in general. This is a great gift for your reflective friends, or friends who you think could use a little reflection.
8. A Cookware Set
BEST FOR THE QUARANTINE CHEF
Some of us spent quarantine ordering way too much takeout (no judgement), and others got seriously good at home cooking. If this is your friend, this set from Material is a super thoughtful, high-quality gift. It’s essentially a superb version of every common kitchen tool they would typically use, and comes in a set that’ll look great on their kitchen counter. The set includes an 8″ knife, a 4″ knife, a wooden spoon, metal spoon, slotted spatula, tongs and a base. All are designed for maximum usability and aesthetic appeal, and the base comes in a range of colors.
9. BarkBox Subscription
BEST FOR NEW PET OWNERS
Some cooked in quarantine, and others adopted pets. We just can’t sit still, can we? For all your new dog owner friends, BarkBox is an excellent gift to show up with to your first gathering, and first time meeting their new pup. BarkBox is a monthly subscription box filled with treats, toys and other pet goodies your friends, and their four-legged companion, will love. You can gift a few months worth of boxes or a single box for as little as $35.00. They’ve got adorable monthly themes and you’ve got the option to double the toys, treats and chews in the first box for a one-time, affordable fee.
10. Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World
BEST FOR THE BOOK WORM
While this past year is one many of us would like to forget, it’s also one that will go down in history as having irrevocably changed the world. This book is perfect for your friend who loves to read, think and hear from experts about everything under the sun, and is a great book to give to close out this season of our lives. Fareez Zakaria is a best-selling author and CNN host who’s written a book all about the 10 major lessons we can take away from this pandemic year. He covers topics like biological risks, the natural world and the rise of “digital life” and how it’s disrupted our world order.