Jars full of blessings and frivolous bling: These are a few of "Oprah's Favorite Things"

From $50 boxes of berries to a gratitude jar, it's the most silliest list of the year. Now enabled by Amazon!

By Melanie McFarland
Published November 24, 2017 3:00PM (UTC)
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Oprah Winfrey (AP/Jeff Daly)

Losing our minds over worthless crap is a proud American holiday tradition, but this year Oprah Winfrey may have bested the toymakers for all time. Thanks to her famous Oprah’s Favorite Things list, streamlined by a partnership with Amazon, an empty jar may be one of the most sought-after items of the season.

The current 2017 edition of Oprah’s Favorite Things is the longest wish list ever, with 102 items curated to delight and amaze and make you feel broke and incomplete. As always, the suggested shopportunities from one of the richest women in the world ranges from the affordably practical to the sublimely ridiculous, with the standard smattering of hideous, comfortable plaid in between.


But the Gratitude Glass Jar is truly some next-level bamboozlement, though Oprah does not see it that way.

“Thi-i-i-i-s!” she rhapsodically cries in a short video on Amazon, waving her hand like it’s Super Soul Sunday. “This is the gift, and this is the gift that’s going to keep on giving.”

How? Well, every day you write something for which you’re thankful on a card with “Gratitude” emblazoned on the outside. You place each of these scraps inside the jar, also bedecked with “Gratitude” in gold leaf or an approximation of it. Then, at a time of your choosing, you or the people you love can select a card at random from the jar to read. Provided your child didn’t write “FARTS” inside of a bunch of them, these cards serve as reminders of how #blessed you are.


How much would you pay for a glass cylinder of oxygen accompanied by 365 paper cards ? $5? $2? The calories you’d burn on the way to the recycling to rummage for materials to make a D.I.Y. version? Thanks to the wondrous power of Oprah’s Favorite Things and a hint of holiday je ne sais quoi, this jar can be yours for the low, low price of $45. (Plus, “do it yourself?” Newsflash: This ain’t Martha Stewart.)

There’s a sucker born every minute, and that’s about 30 seconds longer than it takes to click a button on the jar’s Amazon product page and procure said life-changing, mystical container. Oprah’s sidekick in the video assures us that it “works in every home.” Search your feelings and the pantry shelf where your pasta sauce is taking up space inside of potential “Thanks, Universe” vessels, and you know this to be true.

Black Friday is at hand, people, with Cyber Monday stalking it like the Terminator. And while many Americans remain committed to partaking in a nationwide food court fight club at malls across the country, for many of us holiday shopping means forgoing the in-person battle royale for a cozier experience in the comfort of our own homes.


And Oprah capitalizes on that by lending her name and reputation to all things good and indulgent. The list debuted on Amazon at the beginning of November and people have been going a little nuts in the usual way ever since over the strangest things.

To cover her bases, khaleesi also dispatched her Hand, Gayle King, to The Rachael Ray Show this week, where a member of the audience won one of everything on the list – around $14,500 worth of gifts.


Perusing Oprah’s Faves has been an honored holiday tradition among daytime TV dreamers and connoisseurs of gracious living since 1996, when Oprah found herself living inside a set of especially comfortable pajamas and decided to share the experience with her friends and viewers. The lists in those early years were more modest collections; according to Wikipedia the 2002 edition consisted of 32 entries.

Back then Oprah didn’t have Amazon’s efficient shopping experience at her disposal or an anxious nation hungry for anything good, whether it takes the form of a birdhouse constructed to look like a Dutch Colonial (a reasonable $174.99) or a $2,000 Samsung television that displays artwork when it’s off. But she did have decent taste and an affection for loungewear. She loves her sleepwear, though scanning this year’s ugmo pajama set for the whole family, you can’t be blamed for questioning the state of the former. Oprah is mad for plaid, you see, which is why the list includes winter boots with a plaid upper and fleece interior, and red plaid lumberjack slipper socks. All surefire ways to satisfy a very specific fetish, or guarantee your life partner doesn’t regard you in a sexual way until the last of the kids is out of the house.

In easing the path between curiosity and “Add to Cart,” the famous list is now a clear and present financial danger to those of us who are broke and worried about Armageddon and susceptible to the temporary high that impulse shopping can purchase. That’s why, faster than you can say “Alexa, put me in the poorhouse” (the Amazon Echo Show also made the Favorite Things cut, naturally), you may find yourself justifying any number of ludicrous purchases, especially those that offer the ecstatic bump of retail therapy now with the guarantee of a stress-eating session later.


If you’re going to go that route, why not throw $35 at a bag of English muffins. "I travel with them,” she or the designated assistant who created the copy for the list declares in its write-up, “and even brought a batch to the set of 'A Wrinkle in Time.'"

Want to bet they’d store nicely in those Gratitude Jars that no doubt adorn the stars' trailers?

Give me another time of year when the purchase of a $60 cake, a $45 box of drop cookies or $69 chicken pie devoid of four-and-twenty blackbirds seems reasonable to anyone living outside of a major city with a notoriously high cost of living.  Point to another entity on Earth that could justify why these are more sensible comforts than sheetcaking with the help of a quality cake mix.


Or just calm yourself with a smoothie made from your five-pound stash of organic blueberries, Oprah’s “new definition of everyday luxury” and a veritable steal at $50.

To be fair, the list always includes a number of affordable options such as cubic zirconia earrings, or her offer of life-changing wisdom via her SuperSoul Conversations Podcast for the low, low price of free.

That is the cost of life’s best items, isn’t it? Wisdom, affirmation, thankfulness, pleasure — all of these are reasons for the list’s everlasting appeal from year to year. Either that, or it’s a handy inventory of acceptable tribute for gaining The Oprahess’ divine favor. You know she’s going full-force Aunty Entity after the Apocalypse, right? Think of these items and all that she’s endorsed in years prior as suitable offerings in exchange for her protection.

Until then, let us breathe deeply, give thanks and click “add to cart." And when the bills come, don’t worry. If you’ve followed Oprah’s suggestions, you’ll have the just the place to stick them.


Having said that, if you haven't secured your Gratitude Jar already we regret to inform you that as of this article's publication, it was listed as "currently unavailable" on Amazon.

Melanie McFarland

Melanie McFarland is Salon's TV critic. Follow her on Twitter: @McTelevision

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