Oprah’s Favorite Things 2018: Behind the Gifts!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Brotherhood, joy, graciousness, and cheer! And who better exemplifies the essence of holiday spirit than Oprah Winfrey? Every year for the past two decades, Oprah’s Favorite Things list jump-starts the countdown of seasonal goodness, gift-giving and generosity.

As Founder and Editorial Director of her eponymous magazine, its glossy pages amplify her biggest wisdoms and truest lessons of personal growth. And as one of the magazine’s Omagazine Insiders, I read every issue cover to cover for its encouraging “Live Your Best Life” essential message.

So when this year’s Oprah’s Favorite Things rolled out on Wednesday, November 7, the magazine showed its unconditional gratitude by inviting some of the local and visiting Insiders to an exclusive NYC party to celebrate the legendary, annual list — and I was among them!

For O Magazine, the event was also a good moment to reflect on a stellar year by its publisher, Hearst Communications. Event hosts Jayne Jamison (SVP, Publisher/CRO) and Lucy Kalin (Editor in Chief) began the night with the healthy,  celebratory stats: Omag is the number two performer this year of Hearst Communications’s glossy titles with upticks in both ad-space and revenue!

And less than a month ago, Hearst Digital Media, helmed by director Arianna Davis, launched a dedicated website as the magazine’s new e-home. As of November 6, there were 525k unique hits, and the following day, following the announcement of Oprah’s Favorite Things, that number jumped 100k in just 24 hours!

Talk about the ~Oprah Effect~!

This year’s list is the biggest O-list yet, brimming with 107 items, and spanning from high to low with 50 items under $50! Across all price points, the list is a culmination of Oprah’s favorite pastime: expressing gratitude, and the joy and excitement that comes from giving with an open heart. And as a taste-maker, it’s a testament to the wonderful things that she loves.

Want more of the inside scoop? Basically, it was a dream come true, a throwback to the days when Oprah rolled-out her O-list on her syndicated show straight from Chicago to her exuberant audiences! Gift cards, raffles, golden tickets…and so much more!

Omag Editor at Large Gayle King and Creative Director Adam Glassman gave a spirited, witty walk-through of ~30 highlighted items, including anecdotes of how they came to be included on the list. Jamison noted that Adam was the mastermind behind the initiative, and that he and his team canvased the country for every single O-list edition, which starts basically in January of each new year!

Kalin called Adam “extraordinarily gifted” and thanked him for his dedication to the magazine, especially as the key curator behind Oprah’s Favorite Things, which reflected the O-list guidelines: “Do I really like it enough to want to receive it myself?” Kalin additionally called Adam indispensable, outstanding, and a non-stop energy before turning her attention to Gayle, who she called, “an unbelievable source of truth and greatness on television every morning for us on ‘CBS This Morning,'” before mentioning that she dutifully visits the office every single morning after her CBS hosting duties!

The entire evening was a testament to this year’s 2018 O-listees, which you can shop on Amazon, on the new Oprah Magazine website, or in the upcoming December issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, which hits the newsstands on November 20, 2018 (and, by the way, its biggest issues since 2011!) I also posted about it here!

The event was made possible by seven incredible sponsors, some of who made the list, too, and some of who generously supplied lovely gifts. I’ll share more of that in the next post, but basically, here’s the roll call:

Lands’ End (whose Women’s Winter Long Down Coat with Faux Fur Hood was featured on the list, which Oprah called “the coat of the season” when she saw it!); NYDJ; Pandora; Vera Bradley; Ferrero Rocher; Uber; and Nespresso, whose Lattissima One machine was on this year’s list, too.

The scene was festive and bright thanks to designer Stephen Brown (below), the inventive creator behind the home and holiday decor brand Glitterville, whose hand-blown Rainbow Tumblers made this year’s list, too! He also conceptualized the beautifully-wrapped and ribboned gift boxes featured on the December 2018 issue cover!

On bespoke drinks, Pink Panther signature craft cocktails highlighted O-list honoree Tequila Casa Dragones Blanco, a premium, small-batch tequila combined with pink grapefruit! The brand is a longtime Omag friend and favorite as Oprah’s a tequila connoisseur and recognizes it as the best. Even cooler, Adam mentioned that the owner/founder was the first female tequila maker!

Also on hand was an amazing assortment of nibbles taken directly from this year’s list such as:

We Take the Cake bundt cakes in crazy-good flavors such as ginger spice and chocolate peppermint. Gayle said she loves any sort of sugar glaze on pastries, so the bundt cake is often passed around the Hearst Omag offices!

Adam said that Chef Roy of “From Roy” had trained under famous chefs such as Thomas Keller, and perfected the panettone recipe with a moist, not too sweet version such as Gayle’s favorite, banana caramel! He also said that Oprah likes to use it for french toast. *Takes notes furiously for my next brunch!*

Russ & Daughters New York Brunch of smoked fish bagels!  Adam said that the kosher delicacy brand makes the best smoked fish, and then joked that they had catered his bar mitzvah “ten years ago” — and seeing that bar/bat mitzvahs traditionally fall when Jewish kids turn 13, that would make him 23-years-old! Haaaa!

Hancock Gourmet Lobster’s trademark lobster mac and cheese with truffles was apparently organized on two-days notice! As a longtime friend of Omag, the brand’s owner Cal delivered and crafted it on the super-tight deadline!

Also tasty were Eli’s Cheesecake holiday dippers in the shape of Xmas tree, an assortment of truffle snacks from Chelsea Market Basket, and Hilliards’ peppermint bark and Hanukkah peppermint bark in a handcrafted wooden box.

Now for the standout products!

First and foremost, Oprah’s threshold is beautiful packaging, so the majority of the items chosen have significant, beautiful, inventive, or artful packaging, like the La Chatelaine tin of 12 hand creams from the south of France, which Oprah dubbed “a Crayola box of hand creams.”

Also on beautiful packaging, Oprah loved the Margot Elena Library of Flowers bubble bath because she said that it was a beauty product that would look amazing on your bathroom counter.

Gayle then noted that bathing/self-care is one of two of Oprah’s favorite hobbies, the other being reading. On the latter, all the Insiders brought a favorite, evergreen children’s book to donate to the Books for Kids Foundation, which helps low-income, at-risk preschool-aged children, as Oprah always says that books were her path to personal freedom.

Gayle also noted the Sunday Riley Game Changer Kit. She explained that Oprah has great skin thanks to stellar beauty products, and that she stays away from surgery and inject-ables as it’s just not her thing, ‘tho she’s equally supportive of women who go that route. Adam said that Sunday Riley, a beauty brand based in Houston, is part of “Oprah’s go-to beauty regime” and she even travels with it. The Game Changer kit includes the Good Genes and Ceramic Slip Cleanser, which pairs for cleaner, smoother, brighter, plumper skin. Adam swears by it, too!

When she’s not traveling the world to make it a better place, Oprah’s really big on comfortable lounging clothes such as the Cozychic Ultra Lite Caftan from Barefoot Dreams. The Malibu-based brand uses super-comfy, luxurious, lightweight materials for its Malibu-inspired lifestyle products. Oprah loves the caftan because it’s super-soft. Adam continued, “Oprah loves anything that feels like a second skin, and the moment she saw this, she said, ‘Oh, I could live in this!'” We hear you loud and clear!

Oprah also coveted the Vionic Gemma Plush Slippers, which have an orthopedic support built into the foot-bed, so it gives great comfort yet remains invisible. They’re also adjustable to accommodate swollen feet. Oprah described the slipper to Gayle as, “walking on clouds.” Adam said, “When Oprah tried them on, she didn’t want to take them off!” Gayle loves them because the silhouette looks like a clog, which is one of her favorite types of shoes. “I love clogs!” she joked. “I’m trying to make them cool!”

Other notable O-listees:

Face to Face Designs flour sack “live thankfully” napkins with inspirational, grateful sayings on them, a good reminder to be thankful and gracious.

Another inspiration-themed product was the Empowered by Maya J Bracelets. Adam said that Oprah wanted everyone to use these words to describe themselves: brave, grateful, blessed, fearless, inspired, and empowered. Originally, the adjectives were written in present tense, but Oprah wanted them to be in past tense, and the company kindly obliged!

Rabbit Axis Lever Corkscrews, an affordable version of the brand’s coveted bottle openers.

Tory Sport color-blocked tracksuits make athleisure so cool! Team it with a heel to dress it up!

Julep Beauty Divine Shine Lip Gloss Collection that flatters every skin tone.

Un Billion Lacy Totes with soft shearling sides and sophisticated suede fronts.

Black + Decker Helix Performance Premium Hand Mixers in a super-organized design aesthetic and cool colors.

Down-Alternative Jetsetter Mini Pillow, which has fun sayings like, “Life’s a Journey.” And even cooler, it’s made in the USA!

Paravel Fold-Up Bags, a spacious and stylish tote to hold all of your stuff.

TrüMedic IS-4000 InstaShiatsu+ Foot Massager, which Adam said he keeps under his desk at work, and has three different intensities that range from “mild to wowza!” Ha!

Philips Indoor Smoke-less Grill, which can be used indoors for steaks, chicken, and veggies, and tastes like its been grilled outdoors…but it hasn’t! Adam mentioned that he’d grilled the Urbani Truffle Burger Kit on here, too, and that Oprah picked it because she loves anything with truffles.

Aura Wi-Fi Smart Frames, which allows photos to be sent remotely through wifi, which makes a great gift for tech-challenged folks.

Burt’s Bees Family Pajamas, which now comes in an inclusive grey and blue stripe for Hanukkah!

Aarke Carbonator II, a super-stylish way to make sparkling water while cutting down on waste.

Peepers Shine On Polarized Sunglasses and Blue Light Filtering Readers, which Adam said look like a million bucks, but come at an affordable price point. There were special colors and finishes made specially for Omag, and Gayle has the prototypes!

No-Iron Cotton Contrast-Hem Tunic from Chicos. Adam said that Oprah’s always looking for the perfect white blouse, and this one is great because it’s no-iron for ease, and the style is longer to cover your backside when you feel like you need some coverage.

APL TechLoom Bliss’s super-comfy, streamlined, unisex sneakers were created by twin students at USC for their thesis, which Adam said makes you jump higher than any other sneaker…and apparently the NBA has banned them!

Janis Savitt Floating Pearl Hoop Earrings is a mash-up of Oprah’s two favorites jewelry things, which are 1. hoop earrings and 2. a new take on the pearl. Adam described it as “a perfect hoop with a beautiful pearl.”

Glamourpuss NYC Faux Fur Mittens: Oprah doesn’t support the fur industry (*clapping hands emoji*!), so they asked the brand for a luxurious, faux fur version of their real fur version in gorgeous colors…and Glamourpuss delivered!

Well then…what are you waiting for?! Get shopping! Like Oprah says, “You get from the world what you give to the world.”

Before you get shopping, check out my pre-event excitement! My family was so proud that my son and my mom came to wish me off!

Thank you, O, the Oprah Magazine and Hearst Communications for making me the happiest, most grateful, and proudest woman on earth. I’m honored to be part of my fellow Omag Insiders’s mission to share and amplify O, the Oprah Magazine’s core values. Go on: live your best life! xo

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