Looking for a gift? Lanterns will light up the holidays

Even we shopaholics feel angst when we stare down our long holiday gift lists. There is so much pressure to pick a perfect, thoughtful gift. It's easier if you know some of today's hottest gift items before you tackle the stores.

Here are my favorite gift picks for this year:

* Everyone loves, and can use, lanterns. Because they come in such a wide variety of shapes, sizes, styles and prices, it's easy to find just the right one for everyone on your list. The lantern itself will make a wonderful gift, or take it one step further and fill it with home accents, such as a pillar candle, holiday greens or Christmas-tree ornaments.

* Ornaments make sensational gifts; as you give them, you become part of your loved one's holiday traditions. You'll have a blast shopping for ornaments this year because anything goes, from traditional red and green, to all kinds of metallics, to playful and whimsical.

* Apothecary jars are a bedrock of the Nell Hill's look. Give someone a set of three jars in different heights so he has the basis for a great display. Or spoil him by filling an apothecary jar full of holiday candy, dressed up with a plaid bow.

* Have people on your list who love to entertain? Treat them to some fun and festive holiday dishes to add sugar and spice to their table. You can start a collection for them by purchasing a few place settings.

Or, you select a few key serving pieces, such as a platter, pitcher or bowl.

* Treat the coffee or tea lover in your life to a fun new oversized mug. Perhaps add a coffee-themed basket filled with fresh ground coffee, biscotti and chocolate-dipped stirring spoons.

* Candlesticks are a great pick because everyone can use them somewhere.

* The ABCs are big this year. Random letters and words decorate just about everything from lampshades to pillows.

The romantic in me is also drawn to home-decor items decorated with beautiful, flowing script.

* I am no princess, but right now I'm having a love affair with frogs — whether they are zany figurines doing yoga or sparkly holiday decorations. As soon as we unpack our frog figures, they hop out the door with my customers.

* If you're looking for fun little gifts, maybe for your child's teachers, your co-workers or your neighbors, try a festive tea towel that features a cheery holiday motif.