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Posts Tagged ‘holiday giving’

For future Hanukkahs, this is my experience with making sufganiyot.

First let me say that I have never had sufganiyot before, so I had nothing against which to measure my results. I read somewhere that they are somewhere between a beignet and a donut, but I have never had a beignet, so in my head I translated “beignet” to “fritter,” which is denser than a donut. (They are also, according to Smitten Kitchen, like Polish pączki or Russian ponchiki or Italian bombolini, none of which I have had either. Clearly I need to expand my donut eating habits.)

Because I don’t like oil spattering all over my kitchen, I sought out an air fryer version. (There is still oil involved in the air fryer recipe, so it seems like it still adheres to Hanukkah tradition.)

The Spruce Eats had a recipe for air fryer sufganiyot, but the recipe didn’t work for me. Not only did it require me to scald milk (an instruction that had no additional details; I had to look up what scalding meant and then look up what temperature the milk would need to be to not kill my yeast), it also had a couple of confusing directions (do you roll the dough out to 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch thick, because the recipe stated both). Unsurprisingly, the dough refused to rise. I still air fried a few, for practice, and they LOOKED adorable but were unpleasantly dense and kind of bitter. They reminded me more of biscuits or scones (neither of which I like) than donuts. This is all to say I DO NOT recommend the Spruce recipe.

I tried a second recipe, from Tori Avey, that worked MUCH better. First of all, NO SCALDED MILK which made me feel scammed by the whole scalding milk nonsense earlier. Secondly, it has vodka in it, which I found appealing simply for its novelty. (WHY is it there? I am sure there is some reason; in fact, I’ve heard of adding vodka to pie crust to make it flakier? Like it evaporates more quickly than water and lightens the dough? I am quite possibly making this up.) Third, the dough rose very nicely; it’s possible that it could have risen more if I had left it to proof longer, but by that point I was up against the clock — I still had to make the fish and green beans and latkes. (Remember, by “make the latkes” I mean removing them from the Trader Joe’s box and baking them.)

I used a glass to cut the rounds. I might experiment, in future years, with making them slightly larger. They are very small — between two and three inches in diameter.

I used the air frying instructions from the Spruce article (except that I pre-heated the air fryer for three minutes and sprayed the inside generously with cooking spray): I put four of the dough circles into the basket, brushed them with oil, fried them for 2.5 minutes at 350 degrees, then flipped them, oiled them, and fried them for 2.5 additional minutes.

I used seedless raspberry jam for the filling. I have a little plastic squeeze bottle that was ideal for filling the donuts. I used a shish kebab skewer to puncture each little sufganiyah and then filled each one with jelly until I could feel the jelly pushing back against me; a couple of times, the jam erupted through a weakness in the meridian of the donuts, but this happened rarely. After they were filled, I sprinkled the tops with powdered sugar.

The Tory Avey batch was much lighter than the Spruce version. I really liked the texture — still a little more dense than a traditional yeasted donut, but lighter and fluffier than a scone or a fritter. The dough was slightly sweeter than the first recipe I tried, too.

I do wonder if they would have been lighter and airier if I had allowed the dough to proof a little longer? The one “issue” I had was that the jelly didn’t really FILL the inside — it made more of a little well in the center. And if the air pockets in the dough were bigger, I think that would allow for more jelly filling.

AFTER I’d made both batches, I saw recipes for sufganiyot on Smitten Kitchen and The Kitchn that are WILDLY different from what I tried, so it might be fun to give those a go in future years.

These are the perfect size for eating like three or four in a sitting.

Perhaps the BEST part of the sufganiyot experiment is that we had too many for the three of us to eat (they are better eaten when warm), so we made up a plate and took them across the street to a neighbor. Please do not mistake this easy breezy sentence for an easy breezy decision: I fretted EXTENSIVELY about it. What if the sufganiyot weren’t very good? I mean, they were good compared to the first batch, but I had never tried the real thing and maybe they were a very poor attempt. And what if my neighbor didn’t want to eat something prepared in a home kitchen during a pandemic? And what if she wasn’t Jewish? Something she said to me in the past — the exact nature of which has since exited my memory — left me with the impression that she was Jewish, but I could have misapprehended what she’d said or misremembered the conversation. Or what if she is Jewish but can’t eat gluten or sugar or is allergic to raspberries? What if she was eating dinner and we interrupted her? Ugh. So many reasons NOT to do it. But a generous impulse should be embraced and followed through!

Our neighbor is this absolutely lovely woman who has a dog Carla loves and who is sweet and patient with Carla and very friendly to me. She’s had a really hard go of it during the pandemic and yet she is supervising remote learning for her grandkids AND working full time and I just wish I could help her more. (She has nearby family, so she has not once taken me up on my offers to help.) We took over a plate and at first it went HORRIBLY. We could see lights on in the house and could hear talking, but no one answered the doorbell. I even knocked, just in case the doorbell wasn’t audible, but — despite Carla’s dismay — we decided to leave. I felt super uncomfortable: maybe they were all eating dinner together! maybe they didn’t want to answer the door during a pandemic! maybe they were purposely ignoring us! So we went back across the street.

But then, just as we were about to go into our house, we heard people leave the neighbor’s house. Carla, who was carrying the plate of donuts, rushed back over with me training awkwardly behind, my glasses suddenly COMPLETELY fogged over at that exact moment even though I had been wearing them and my mask the entire time. I felt So Awkward.

But Carla asked for our neighbor, and her family called into the house and asked her to come out. Carla handed her the plate and told her we had sufganiyot to share and asked if she celebrates Hanukkah and when our neighbor said yes, Carla said that she did, too, and our neighbor just seemed so surprised and delighted. The neighbor’s daughter told us a charming anecdote about visiting Israel during Hanukkah and seeing sufganiyot in storefronts everywhere. The grownups seemed thoroughly unbothered by our presence and our little offering, which helped me feel less awkward. (Although it would have definitely helped if I could SEE.) Carla got to pet the neighbor’s dog AND the neighbor’s daughter’s dog, which made HER day. And then we said goodby and left.

Later, our neighbor called and left me a VERY sweet voicemail, saying thank you, and assuring me the donuts were good, and expressing shock and pleasure that she wasn’t the only Jewish inhabitant of our neighborhood. The whole experience made me feel very glad I’d fought through my frets and gone ahead with the generous impulse.

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With everything (that word is doing a LOT of work) going on these days, and the attendant underlying doom, I am continuing to hyper-focus on making the holidays Extra Special. My husband has cut me off from buying any more presents for Carla (although there are still so many things I could get her! as though overwhelming her with material goods will help at all!), and I’m not really sure which new vessel I can pour my Making Things Special panic into next. The panic and the wheel-spinning have consequently drained a lot of the holiday spirit from my preparations. So I am trying to FORCE myself into feeling appropriately festive. Perhaps if I just jam myself as hard as possible into holiday-ish activities I typically enjoy, I will find the holiday spirit somewhere among them.

Here’s what I’ve been doing so far:

Enjoying Winter: We have gotten, so far, approximately 20 inches of snow. Carla and I spent more than an hour outside the first day, while the snow was still falling – I was trying to remove some of the snow from our poor trees, which were bowed low to the ground with the weight of winter (relatable) and she happily slid down the slide, molded snow penguins, crawled through the snow, ate handfuls of the fresh top layer, and flopped around making snow angels. I also decided to shovel the walkway, thinking of the poor postal workers having to trudge through all that white, but of course my work was covered by a new frosty layer by the time we came inside. Oh well. At least there was less to shovel when next I attempted it. By the time we came in, our hoods were full, our hair was crusted, and our cheeks were rosy.

I find snow festive and cheering, especially when I can play in it with Carla. Heavy snow is her favorite type of weather, and I totally get it. (Although I fear for the health and well-being of our poor trees.) Once the snow stopped, we had glorious sunshine. And brilliant sun transforming the snow into a shawl of diamonds is MY favorite kind of weather.

Seeing Through the Kiddo’s Eyes: This week I got to unveil Carla’s Christmas-anticipation activities. I feel weird calling them Advent Activities, because 1) I had to do a quick Google search just to remember what Advent IS (sorry Mom) and 2) I am not really equipped to teach Carla how to appreciate the season from a religious standpoint. This is not to say that we won’t dabble in some religious education this month; Hanukkah arrives on December 10, so we will be revisiting the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil and honestly it seems like a more poignant message than ever this year. As does the hopeful joy of the Christmas season – so much anticipation and gratitude and delight over the birth of the person who is meant to be our salvation. 

Back to my regularly scheduled secular celebrations: My husband and I got Carla this LEGO Advent Calendar, and she is delighted each morning to open it up and find a new little character/item to build and play with. But I also saw this beautiful reading calendar on Everyday Reading a few weeks ago and immediately uploaded it to the Staples website to be printed and picked it up, curbside. I’m glad I got it early; it gave me a chance to look over the daily reading activities and order some appropriate reading material from the library. (Our home Christmas book collection is a little thin.) Carla has been having a lot of fun coloring the image associated with the day and she has been reading the books out loud to me, which I feel is Educational on top of being festive. 

Easing Into Christmas Décor: We have not yet decorated for Christmas. Although I have put up the wreath my mother sent me; she sends me one each year and it is one of my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE things about the holidays. It smells so fresh and lovely and it looks welcoming and festive (it’s the only outdoor holiday décor we have, so it does a lot of work) and this year it has tiny little lights, on a timer, that make it that much more special and lovely. I may start bringing out the Christmas stuff bit by bit, rather than doing it all at once, although this will all be mood dependent; if I get a big rush of decorating energy, I will certainly not tamp it down.

Holiday-ing Day-to-Day Mundanities: I have finally allowed myself to start using the Twisted Peppermint lotion that makes me feel very Christmassy. (Should I get the matching shower gel? Or try the Gingerbread Latte lotion, which could be fun or disgusting and there’s no way to know?) (Although I have discovered I need to use it sparingly; I applied it two days in a row and found it more cloying on the second day than on the first.) I put out the Christmas hand towels – some in the powder room and two in the kitchen; I need more holiday towels, I think. My husband was, surprisingly, on board with buying Christmas family jammies this year so we have matching sleepwear that is bringing me a lot of glee. (We aren’t even wearing the jammies regularly — we did it once — but just the THOUGHT is enough to make me preemptively happy.)

Making a Holiday Playlist: Just like holiday decorations, I can’t start with Christmas music too early because I get sick of it. But it DOES help foster that festive feeling. So I am compromising by making a playlist of holiday-season/winter songs. (I like a good mix of Christmas carols and wintery bops.) This does require me to listen to a song, to ensure that it qualifies for placement on the list. But I am not listening to seasonal music nonstop. I acknowledge that may not be as real a distinction for you as it is in my brain. So far, my playlist has: “Last Christmas” by Wham, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by John Legend (a song that is rightly though exhaustingly controversial, but I like the way John’s version sounds and I don’t mind his contemporizing of the lyrics), “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes, and five songs from Gwen Stefani’s “You Make It Feel Like Christmas” album. It’s a slow start indeed, and I welcome any and all suggestions. 

Sending Out Holiday Cards: We DID decide to do holiday cards, and took our photo on Thanksgiving when we were already wearing Real Clothes for family zooms… and our cards arrived this week! They definitely look homemade (which they were – I designed them) but I am trying very hard not to care. I keep telling myself VERY LOUDLY INSIDE MY HEAD that no one will care if the borders are slightly different sizes or that the photos are kind of blurry. NO ONE CARES. They just want the card. Plus, the cards will be looked at close-up probably once, when they are opened, and then they will be hung up on a mantel or a wall or a doorway and will be enjoyed from afar. (Exception: If you are able to have your mother over during Card Season, in which case she will remove her glasses and get right up in there and examine each card very carefully and ask if that is the same Wendy you went to high school with and didn’t she have three children instead of two and wasn’t her husband a fire fighter, is he still with the fire department, and have you heard how her sister is doing after her surgery, shoulder surgery wasn’t it? Moms are the best, truly, and I cannot wait to do this very thing to Carla someday.) 

These things are already working a little, so far. And just writing them down has tamped down the holiday anxiety a bit. What are you doing to feel festive?

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THE GROCERY STORE WAS OUT OF BANANAS. 

I am choosing to view this unsettling omission as a temporary result of needing the banana space for Thanksgiving-specific items. (Although the banana area is now half-full of pineapple, which is perplexing on many levels.) Who knows. Maybe no one eats bananas over Thanksgiving weekend. And I was at the store early on a Monday morning, so it’s possible the banana truck just hadn’t arrived yet? Yes, let’s go with that. I don’t even EAT bananas, but I don’t think I could handle a banana shortage. It would cause a banana panic, and no one needs that, although it is rather fun to say.

The chicken section was a little thin, too – and the breasts themselves looked kind of wan. I don’t care for a wan breast. But I bought three packages anyway; they were on sale and we’re facing down a Winter Storm Warning and we’re in the middle of a pandemic. But there were paper towels on the shelves and everything else seemed to be in stock. Well, except for cleaning sprays; that shelf was still pretty bare. I bought a bunch of canned veggies and some cereal for the food drive at my husband’s hospital, and both canned veggies and cereal were abundant. Notwithstanding the robust stores of food and supplies, I still feel a strong wave of Impending Doom which crests while I’m in the grocery store. (I seriously still cannot pass by a package of flour without gazing at it longingly. GET IT TOGETHER.) 

Today’s doom is, in part, brought to you by a little trip I took to Home Depot yesterday. (The other part is the Winter Storm Warning and the neverending pandemic, obvs.) You can order curbside service at Home Depot, which I VASTLY prefer to wandering the aisles of Home Depot, hoping to glimpse a wisp of Home Depot staff member in the distance, let alone actually interact with someone who can direct you to the correct aisle. Curbside service, which I have used twice now, is prompt and masked. Yesterday, I ordered and picked up a sled for Carla. This will ensure that the foot of snow we are promised will turn out to be a measly inch of watery sludge. Anyway, I was waiting for my curbside order when I saw a family exit the Depot with their cart full of paper towels. 

At first, I thought they were geniuses. Of course Home Depot sells paper goods! And if you can’t find paper towels at Target, Home Depot is a good bet. (They also have hand sanitizer and lots of cleaning supplies. Hot tip.) Or perhaps they were in the store for normal Home Depot reasons and just happened across the paper towels and marveled at their presence and bought some — beats going to Home Depot AND Target/Costco/your-paper-towel-purveyor-of-choice. But then I quickly slid from congratulatory musing to alarm, and the tableau shifted from one of Happy Family Grabs Bounty Whilst Picking Up Lightbulbs to that of Shrewd Preppers Seek Out Last Paper Goods At Unlikely Source, as when you see disaster films showing people jogging from, like, a Toys R US, with a cart full of bottled water and baby food and ammunition. Okay, maybe not Toys R Us. My panic-fantasies are dated and inaccurate.

I am always on the precipice of panic, it seems, and seeing someone else with paper towels is enough to send me scrabbling over the edge, it seems. Even though lack of paper towels is NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. Even if our supply of paper towels could use a little plumping, perhaps next time I visit the grocery store, we can certainly survive WITHOUT.

Speaking of paper goods, though of a different sort: I could use some more wrapping paper. We are down to maybe four semi-used rolls and one fresh one, which feels a little risky. I have done SO MUCH wrapping and it just now the very beginning of December. Yes, many people plan ahead like this Every Single Year, but this is new to me. And while I am pretty sure I am done with my Christmas shopping, I do keep buying justonemorething and other lovely people keep sending us gifts that also require wrapping. I don’t like to be low on wrapping paper, is what I’m trying to tell you. 

I guess you can add a little Holiday Apprehension to the list of Doom Source Material. Some days it feels delicious and festive, other days — like today — it feels tiring and stressful.

Then there’s the other potential/likely source of doom: the resumption of remote learning this week. I think (I HOPE) it will be better than it was in the spring. But I am still dreading it. 

This, the week after Thanksgiving, in a Period Of Doom, I am not feeling like cooking at all. AT. ALL. And yet we still must eat, I suppose. Myself, I could probably hibernate all winter on the mashed potato intake of the past week alone. But my daughter probably needs regular feeding. And all the doom and dread makes me crave pasta. One must carbo load to be able to outrun The Fearsome Something that is sending spikes of panic through one’s endocrine system.

In any event, meals must happen. So here we go, an attempt at a menu plan for the week. 

Dinners for the Week of December 1-December 7

What are you planning to eat this week, Internet? Are you still working on Thanksgiving leftovers? 

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One of my favorite categories of articles to read is the Gift Guide. I love Ultra Specific gift guides (gifts for dog lovers! gifts for vegetarians who also eat bacon! gifts for aunts!) and I love Big Broad Gift Guides alike. It’s so fun to see the latest trends in giving (and to see whether Hot Honey will be on the list YET AGAIN), they are a cheering distraction from all the dire news, and sometimes I actually find a gift or two for whom I know the PERFECT recipient! As usual, I have been collecting ideas for gifts ALL YEAR and have put some of them together into a brand new gift guide for your reading distraction.

Even though I bookmark possible gifts all year, I am terrible about a) putting them together in a post and b) actually buying them for their intended recipients. This year, my patented Gift Giving Anxiety is paired with a thick dollop of Shipping Times Are Uncertain and a hefty pour of This Year Needs to Be EXTRA Special, so I’m feeling a little panicked already. Have you already completed your holiday shopping? PLEASE SAY I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS BARELY BEGUN.

Ahem. This is a post of diversion and joy! (Not overwhelm and panic.)

Without futher ado, here is a VERY random assortment of gifts (and many, many books!) I am considering for people on my list (or, you know, hoping to receive). As usual, this is not sponsored, but the Amazon products use affiliate links, through which I get a few cents if you make a purchase. Also, if you are expecting a gift from me this year, please be warned that there are SPOILERS AHEAD. (And check out the 2019 Gift Guide and the 2018 Gift Guide for other gift inspiration, even if the links may no longer be live.)

All photos are from the websites linked to in the gift descriptions.

Just Dance: This has been one of my favorite purchases of the pandemic. It’s available for the Nintendo Switch but I think you can also get a Playstation version. It’s a really fun way to move your body (I get SO sweaty and tired after a couple of songs) and bond with your kiddo, partner, or roommate. 

Man Crate Puzzle Box: My husband and I love to play puzzle-style computer games together, and this physical-world option sounds really fun and cool.

Fondue for Two: My in-laws have a tradition of fondue for Christmas Eve dinner. But I don’t know if they would go to all the trouble when it’s just the two of them. This little fondue set would be perfect! Also, it’s adorable.

George & Viv Hand and Foot Cream: Hand cream is one of my favorite things to get for Christmas, and I have been using it SO MUCH now that I am washing my hands and using hand sanitizer more obsessively than ever. This set comes with foot cream – which I also love – and looks so cute and festive.

Just Add Gin: Speaking of my in-laws, which we were, just a minute ago, I have married into a Gin Family. Which is great, because I, too, love gin. This collection of gin mixers would be perfect for several people on my list. Including myself. By the way, if you haven’t tried it yet, Mouth.com is a GREAT company for hard-to-shop-for people, and for people who prefer consumable gifts. I’ve ordered a couple of gift boxes from Mouth during the pandemic, and they have been excellent and fun. 

Bourbon Gift Set: Another fun gift for alcohol fans is a tasting collection of mini-bottles. It’s hard to find the right combination of not-too-expensive and enough-for-more-than-just-a-taste. This collection is a little on the pricy side, but it has good sized samples.

Club Bubbly Gift Membership: A champagne/prosessco/sparkling wine club? Yes please! If I were to request a splurge gift, this would be it. 

Bubbles and Rose Wine Club: Or there’s this slightly-less-extravagant – but still fun! – option.

Peanut Butter Fix: This collection of delicious treats would be perfect for my husband, whose favorite food is peanut butter. However, I just got him a Mouth gift box for his birthday, so perhaps I will save this one for Father’s Day.

The Nut Fix: And while we’re drooling over the gift boxes at Mouth, why not consider this package of artisanal nuts for the nut nut in your family? 

Work Gloves: If you have someone on your holiday list who works outside a lot, these gloves look perfect – tight fitting, warm, and durable. 

Fingerless Writing Gloves: An entirely different type of work gloves, from the TogetherDifferent Etsy store. These would be perfect for the hopeful writer you know… or pretty much anyone who’s hunched over a computer in a cold corner of the dining room trying to work from home.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett: This was one of the best books I read all year. I still think about it. A beautifully written story about identity and the face we present to the world – and how that complicates how we see ourselves – this would make a great gift for the avid reader on your list.

Wedge Fund: It’s probably clear by now that I love to give edible presents. As far as food gifts go, this cheese-and-charcuterie sampler looks delicious. 

Offbeat Pickle Box: Or this collection of unusual pickled treats – peaches! beets! cauliflower! – would be really fun for the pickle-lover on your gift list.

Peanut Butter Sampler: I have already mentioned that my husband is a peanut butter NUT, and this sampler might be just the ticket for him this year. 

Crab Cakes: My parents love getting crab cakes from, of all places, our local grocery store when they visit. Since they won’t be visiting us for the holidays this year, they will have to wait a looooooong time to get some, so it might be fun to send them some delicious crab cakes as a gift. 

Maya the MermaidFor one of the kids on your holiday list. These dolls are adorable – and each doll purchased means a donation of 10 meals to hungry children all over the world.

Singin’ Smart Educational Songs: When Carla found so much joy learning the 50 Nifty United States song earlier this year, I went looking for other educational songs she might enjoy. This CD has songs about the branches of government, state capitals, bones of the body, and more. 

ChopChop Magazine: For families who like to cook together, this magazine seems perfect. Published by a non-profit organization that aims to help build nutritional curiosity, STEAM skills, and literacy by delivering content to families, teachers, doctors, and libraries. It would be fun to pair a subscription with an apron.  

Build-It-Yourself Woodworking Kit: Carla saw this in the Lakeshore Learning catalog and requested it for the holidays. I know she would LOVE it. 

Young Woodworker’s Project Kit: She also requested this, which allows kids to make three pre-designed projects.

Black Women Writers Card Collection: One of my favorite gifts to give (and receive) is beautiful greeting cards. This collection, featuring vivid illustrations and quotes from black women writers, would be a delight. 

Wooden Succulent Planter: This beautiful geometric planter – made of sustainably grown wood – would be perfect for the friend trying to spruce up their home office, or a family member with a green thumb. (Or not-so-green thumb – even I have been able to keep succulents alive!) Plus, with every product sold, Oakywood plants a tree.  

Historic Women Who Dared Wine Glasses: I love these stemless glasses – each one features tidbits about feminist icons like Sojourner Truth and Marie Curie. 

Ninja Blender: This is a splurge, but it’s totally worth it. My husband and I got really into making mixed drinks during the early months of the pandemic, and our decade-plus old blender wasn’t cutting it. So we bought a Ninja blender and it is AWESOME. I love the separate blender cups because you can make a single serving of a drink, or a smoothie, or salad dressing, or avocado crema, all without dirtying the entire blender. It sounds like an airplane taking off when it’s in action, but it can blend the bejeezus out of things. Highly recommend. 

Lavender Eye Pillow: If you know any teachers or any parents who have been overseeing remote learning this year, might I suggest a soothing eye pillow from LaSalleAve Soap Shop on Etsy? I can just imagine how calming it would be to lie down for five minutes with a warm, delicately scented weight over my eyes after dealing with Zoom lessons all day.

Sleep Spray: Or maybe some calming sleep spray to help a stressed-out friend or loved one get to sleep at night.

White Willow Bath Bombs: Speaking of self-care, these bath bombs sound amazing. If chamomile tea is a cure-all, then steeping your body in a chamomile bath must be even better, right?

Long-Distance Touch Bracelet: This gift makes me a little teary – it seems extra appropriate during pandemic times, when we get to see our long-distance friends and family members even less often than usual. They come in pairs, and when you touch yours, the one your giftee is wearing will light up and vibrate! What a nice way to remind your loved one you are thinking about them.

Amethyst Face Roller: I guess the ubiquity of jade face rollers on gift guides over the years has finally worn me down, and I want one. Except I want this amethyst version because it’s PURPLE.

Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown: Carla and I read this book together over the summer and LOVED it. Plus, it’s a true story! You can go online and watch a video about the biblioburro, which made the book that much more fun and interesting. 

Animal Print Masks: Carla would love these reusable face masks from the LolaLovesIt Etsy shop – they come in beautiful animal prints and have adjustable ear loops, which I have found to be VERY important in face mask success. 

Sacagawea by Lise Erdrich: Growing up in the Western plains, I loved books about Native American life and legends – I hope to instill in Carla knowledge and appreciation of the original inhabitants of the Americas. One of my favorites was the story of Sacagawea, but the interpretations I read as a child were by white authors. This version’s author and illustrator are each Native American women.

Diapers: Maybe not a gift to wrap and put under the tree, but as you make your Target and Amazon orders, it might be easy to add a pack of diapers (or period supplies) to your cart and donate them to your local branch of the National Diaper Bank Network.

Vet Academy: This workbook uses arts and crafts, puzzles, and quizzes to show what life would be like as a veterinarian. Carla would LOVE this.

Moon Cycle Art Print: It’s very tricky to buy art for someone else unless you know them VERY well, but this moon cycle print from NonilyStudio is so beautiful, I imagine you know SOMEONE who would love it.

Let’s Stay Home Print: This appeals to my introvert heart. Plus, it’s VERY appropriate for 2020, especially as we are headed into a new peak of coronavirus cases.

Alpaca Blend Hand-Knitted Ornaments: These ornaments from Heifer International support South American artisans – and they are SO cute. 

State Pride Coasters: I’m always on the hunt for good coasters, and these are very attractive.

Beeswax Wrap: These reusable food wraps from TheTravelingBeeShop are SO lovely. You definitely have someone on your gift list who wants this starter pack.

Reusable “Paper” Towels: Is there anything more on the nose for 2020 than paper towel replacements? I think not. These cotton towels from CozySimpleLiving on Etsy are so pretty and eco-friendly AND will give anyone uneasily watching the newest paper-towel shortage a sense of much-needed relief. Or you could try a reusable roll from Ecozied – they are made from wood pulp (!!!) and the designs are adorable. 

Reusable Sponge Cloths: This is where I admit that I can’t stand sponges. Yuck. But I got a trio of reusable sponges a few years ago and LOVE them. Now that they are wearing out, I’ve been looking for new ones and these Swedish sponge cloths look perfect. I think you’d have to really know your recipient before buying these for someone, but I’m guessing I’m not the only person who would enjoy getting them as a gift.

Fudge Sampler: This gift would be perfect for someone hard to shop for. Or for a colleague, or your kids’ teachers, or someone else you want to spoil without going overboard or getting too personal. While I haven’t tried this specific item, I have had excellent experiences with Nuts.com offerings, so I think it’s a good bet.

Hand Soap: I don’t know about you, but I am ALWAYS on the hunt for soap these days and would be very pleased to get some as a gift. The packaging of this Hand in Hand soap is so cheery – plus, with every purchase, the company donates a bar of soap and a month of clean water to a child in need.

A Cozy Blanket: A blanket is an evergreen gift. The offerings at Beyond Buckskin are absolutely gorgeous – and all the products on the site are created by Native American artists.

The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh: Speaking of evergreen gifts, a really good, fast-paced thriller is always welcome under my tree. This book was based on such an intriguing premise and I devoured every word.

Banneton and Little Crock: I have an enduring love for beautiful and/or odd serving dishes. This little bread and butter/jam set is ADORABLE. I can think of at least five people in my life who could use one of these under their tree. 

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: This has been on my to-read list since it came out earlier this year, and I finally ordered it as a treat for myself. 

Family Scavenger Hunt: This game looks like it would be great fun to play together – and a good excuse to get everyone up and moving. 

Family Feud Home Game: Despite the fact that I can never, ever spell “feud” correctly on the first try, I adore Family Feud and have managed to drag my family along with me. This looks like it would be a fun game to play together. 

Jeopardy Card Game, Junior Edition: In honor of the late, great Alex Trebek. My husband and I like to play Jeopardy on our Amazon Echo, but it’s a little too advanced/high speed for Carla to join in. This card game might allow her to finally experience the joy that is Jeopardy.

Kids Against Maturity: This game sounds pretty fun to play as a family, too. Maybe a bit too old yet for Carla though.

What Do You Meme?: Speaking of family games, my husband has been asking for this one, and it gets great reviews. 

Stet!: This game is on my gift list for a dear friend who happens to be a fellow grammar/usage snob and who gave me my beloved copy of Dreyer’s English

Dreyer’s English Day-to-Day Calendar: I just discovered this daily calendar and now it’s on my personal wish list.

Pranayama Wrap: Speaking of my personal wish list, I am definitely asking for this beautiful wrap. It has thumbholes!

Stack the Cats: This balancing gift from Etsy’s KnightingaleCrafts is so lovely, and I think any cat lover (maybe Carla?) would really enjoy playing with it. I feel like it would be the perfect desk fidget while listening to Zoom lectures or trying to edit a chapter. 

Londontown Holiday Mini Collection: I always ask for a holiday nail polish collection. This is the one I’m eyeing this year. 

Sunrise Alarm Clock: My whole family has a difficult time waking up in the dark winter months. I’ve heard great things about these clocks… maybe it’s time to buy one and try it out.

Bunch O Balloons: Listen, this may no longer be the right season for water balloon gifts, but these were SUCH a hit over the summer – and they sold out so frequently – that I think they would be a great Christmas option. Carla and her friends went through thousands of these during our infrequent backyard playdates. (My deepest apologies to the environment.)

Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World: Carla and I studied Frida Kahlo together this summer, but I wasn’t in love with the books I was able to find at our library. A friend raves about Anholt’s books on artists, so I’ve got this book in my Amazon cart. 

Kids’ Croquet: This is billed as indoors/outdoors croquet, but we don’t have croquet-safe spaces inside. Perhaps it would be good for those living in warmer climates, though? Or something to keep in mind for next year?

Plush Octopus: There is no way I can justify buying Carla yet another stuffed animal. But SOME child needs this, desperately. It is SO CUTE.

One Leaf Rides the Wind: Carla and I also studied a little poetry together this summer, and she was super interested in formal poetry. This book looks like such a beautiful introduction to haiku. 

Beginner Sewing Machine: Carla’s big gift this year will be a sewing machine. She has been SO interested in sewing and designing outfits for her stuffed animals over the past seven or eight months that I think she would really make use out of a sewing machine. I got a ton of GREAT, very specific, VERY helpful advice from Swistle readers about what to get her, and it seems like a beginner option is not ideal (the commenters recommended something durable and high quality, because it will be both easier to use and more likely to LAST). So I have asked around and am considering this Real Sewing Machine. But… it’s so expensive, and the beginner version is much more affordable (especially if Carla decides she doesn’t like it). Decisions, decisions! Made even more complicated because I have NO IDEA how to sew or what you need to operate a sewing machine or what I’m doing.

Art Paper Center: This amazing giant roll of drawing paper would get a TON of use at our house. (When I was a kid, I would have gone wild for the create-a-story paper center as well.)

Stuffed Animals Sewing Kit: While I think Carla has moved beyond the simplicity of this kit (this child taught herself how to make button holes and sew buttons onto fabric), I think my niece would LOVE it. (She’s almost two years Carla’s junior.)

A Computer Called Katherine: A picture book about math and outer space? That centers a real-life Black, woman character? Yes, please. 

Rainbow Post-Its: I don’t think there’s any way I could justify spending $31 on sticky notes, but Carla would LOVE THESE SO MUCH. Honestly, so would I.  

Mini Kane Backpack: Still rainbow, but on the opposite end of the practicality spectrum: this adorable backpack. And with every bag purchased, this company supports American children and families in need – including by donating fully packed backpacks.

What Are You Going Through? by Sigrid Nunez: The author of one of my all-time favorite books (The Friend) has just come out with a new book. I MUST have this, and I am guessing your book-loving gift recipients need it, too.

The Searcher by Tana French: Speaking of new releases I really, really want for myself. I am a die-hard Tana French fan and want to read anything she writes. 

Shed No Tears by Caz Frear: Same thing goes for Caz Frear, whose protagonist Cat Kinsella is electric. This book isn’t out until December 1, but I’m hoping it will still arrive in time for the holidays.

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline: I suppose if we must think about gifts for OTHERS, and not OURSELVES, I would strongly consider getting this book for my husband. He loved Ready Player One, after all.

Evening Star Coffee: Do you have a coffee lover on your gift list? My husband is a coffee superfan, and I feel like I’ve bought him every coffee toy on the planet. But I can always find him interesting coffee to try! I love that this company uses family farms and native communities to source, process, and produce their coffee. 

Coffee of the Month Club: This coffee-of-the-month club sounds doubly awesome – you can treat your favorite coffee lover’s caffeine habit PLUS support a team of firefighters and first responders with one gift!

Sarjesa Tea: Tea lovers like me are always looking for new brands to try. The tagline of this company is “real Canadian tea, supporting real Canadian women,” which sounds like a great reason to try their Earl Grey.

Larry’s Coffee: Or perhaps your coffee-loving giftee would like this variety pack from Larry’s, which is the overall winner in Leaf Score’s 2020 list of best sustainable coffee brands.  

Bread Bag: We’re all accomplished bread bakers now, right? (No.) These bread bags are very cute and would be good for homemade and store bought bread. Maybe paired with a loaf of YOUR homemade bread? Or some yeast and fancy flour? I mean, that would be the height of pandemic gifting, right there.

Olive Oil & Vinegar Dipping Set: If you want to encourage someone’s bread baking habit, give them something delicious to dip the bread in! This option from Williams Sonoma has specialty flavors of oil and vinegar plus little dishes in which to pour them.

Jams & Spreads: Or something delicious to spread on top of the bread. This Holiday Jam from Stonewall Kitchen would be very seasonally apropos. Personally, I love this American Spoon apple and onion jam. It pairs well with a slice of brie, and I hear you can slather it on bread, slap some gruyere on top, and make a rockin’ good grilled cheese. 

Bread Baker’s Apron: You will understand why I love the personalized apron from Peculiar People Design. (My name is never used as an example!) But I also love this Bread Is Pain option from Neurons Not Included. 

Baguette Baker: For the bread aficionado who has everything?

Silicone Pot Holder: You know I am all about practical gift giving. This OXO pot holder is nearly identical to my current favorite. And I could use another one…

Murder on the Red River by Marcie Rendon: As a mystery-novel junkie, I am always on the lookout for new authors. Especially those who have a bunch of mysteries I can devour. This award-winning novel is the first in the author’s Cash Blackbear series. Rendon is a citizen of the White Earth Nation and I love that her books center Native American characters.

Kitchen Cube: This all-in-one measuring device would be perfect for the person who loves kitchen gadgets. I am so intrigued! 

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell: I read two Lisa Jewell books this summer – Then She Was Gone and The Family Upstairs – and really enjoyed both. I like Jewell’s writing style a lot and both books were fun, twisty thrillers. I’m guessing her newest book will be excellent as well.

Black & Decker Handheld Vacuum: If you really want a romantic gift, this handheld vacuum is… not the right choice. But it IS the right choice for all your daily vacuuming needs. As I posted about a while back, this little powerhouse is a hard-working member of my family and I love it and appreciate it deeply.

Lesser-Mentioned Beverly Cleary Books: Carla and I are reading through the Ramona books again, and it’s obvious why they are so beloved. But Cleary has so many other stand-alone characters that I remember fondly from childhood. I just reread Ellen Tebbits this summer, and am now reading it again with Carla, and I think the main character would resonate with LOTS of kids. Emily’s Runaway Imagination is a fantastic book – I think about the pie crust chapter more often than seems strictly healthy. Mitch and Amy is a classic. Somehow, I don’t think I ever read Muggie Maggie, which is a serious oversight that MUST be corrected. 

Science in a Jar: If you know a child who likes science – and who has a parent who enjoys helping them with science as long as there’s not a lot of HOOPLA involved – this book is excellent. Carla received it as a gift last year, and it’s been an enduring favorite. It contains a wide variety of simple experiments and most of them require very little in terms of Extra Purchases. My favorite was when we bought white carnations and used some scientific principle I am forgetting to color them with food coloring. We also used jars filled with water to paint our nails, turned eggs into rubber using vinegar-filled jars, and this weekend Carla wants to make a cloud in a jar. Highly recommend.

Ask a Scientist: Carla is such a curious and inquisitive kid and she has SO many questions about SO many topics these days. I think this book would be excellent in both satisfying her curiosity and encouraging her to continue asking questions. 

Why? Over 1,111 Answers to Everything: This book might scratch a similar itch.

Bees: A Honeyed History: At one point this summer, Carla had a brief fascination with bees. This beautiful book has been in my Amazon cart ever since. 

Outdoor Explorer/Bug Catching Kit: Carla’s uncle got her something similar to this kit for her birthday and we have since spent MANY MANY HOURS outside looking for bugs. It was a very successful present, is what I’m saying. 

Beginner’s Science Lab: Carla requested this specifically and I am strongly thinking about it. 

Arts & Crafts Supply Center: This is another gift Carla specifically requested. The Kid Made Modern arts and crafts supply library, which she got as a gift last year, was HUGELY popular with her, so I know she’d love this version. But I don’t know if I can stand the thought of finding pom-poms and pipe cleaner fluff all over my house for another year. Maybe YOU or someone you know can.

Alma and How She Got Her Name: Carla and I read this together over the summer and LOVED it. It’s such a beautiful story about family pride and cultural traditions and reading it sparked some lovely conversations about how we decided on Carla’s name.

Play Money: I think this might be just a titch too young for Carla now, but it might be perfect for my niece. 

Rubik’s Cube: I broke Carla’s 3×3 puzzle cube a few days ago, so I think she needs a new, bigger one. 

Wireless Headphones: Speaking of broken, SOMEONE broke Carla’s headphones. And since we have remote learning in our future, we need a new pair. 

Mozart Music Cube: If you have a baby/young toddler on your gift list, please get this for them. Carla had an earlier version of this music/instrument combination toy when she was a baby and she LOVED it. 

Bamboo 7-Piece Nesting Bowls: This set of beautiful bowls would be an excellent gift for the cook in your life.

Mini Silicone Spoons: Speaking of fun colors, this set of mini spoons would be fun and practical! (I bought two mini silicone spoons from Joann Fabric last year and they have been one of my favorite and most-used kitchen purchases.) (Joann doesn’t seem to carry them anymore, hence the Amazon link.)

Striped Mixing Bowls: I couldn’t resist adding these bowls to my own wish list. They are so pretty!

Rainbow Whisks: I have also found that having more than one whisk – and a small one, at that – is very useful to have around the house. These rainbow whisks are super cute, to boot!

Gumball Machine: Carla made a recent offhand remark about wanting a gumball machine, and I remember getting one when I was a kid and loving it. This would be so fun for kids of so many ages.

Blankie 3-Pack: This would be a perfect gift for a new baby. I mean, no one can predict which lovie is going to become The Beloved. But if you give THREE of the exact same blankie-with-doggy-head, then your recipient can breathe a little easier in case one of them gets lost or pooped on or accidentally set on fire. 

Happy Blankie: Here’s where I make my annual plug for a Happy Blankie for the baby/child in your life. The company donates a blanket to a child in need with every purchase, which is awesome. Plus, the blankies are amazing: cool and satiny on one side, soft and plush on the other, in a variety of adorable shapes and colors. My daughter has the pig version, and it is her One True Lovey and I am pretty sure she will sleep with it for the rest of her life. 

Garmin Vivofit Jr. Watch: It seems like every sevenish-year-old I know has this watch. And I understand why – it’s awesome. Carla got one for her birthday and it helps her understand time better. It has little pre-set timers she can operate, which means that she brushes her teeth for the right amount of time and can go swing for thirty minutes without me having to bother her and can tell without me hovering when we need to get out the door for school. It monitors her physical activity and gives her rewards (in the form of a little video game and watch skins) if she has 60 or more active minutes. AND, best of all, we can assign her chores that she can mark complete on her watch and use to earn points toward… whatever we want. It’s an excellent multi-use watch and I have a friend whose eleven-year-old loves his as well. 

I Am Enough: Carla’s class read this book at school this year – and did a whole study on respect and self confidence, which I loved. Carla came home and asked if we could get it from the library, which we did. I love the lyrical beauty of the words as well as the message. It’s a book that would be a good addition to anyone’s home collection.

The Wonder of Birds: National parks have had a hard time during this pandemic year, so buying something from your favorite park’s gift shop (and maybe pairing it with a donation in your gift recipient’s name?) is a great way to support these national treasures. This book – about the miraculous aviary world – sounds absolutely fascinating. 

Aspen Leaf Ornament: This ornament is so pretty – and I think it’s so cool that it’s an actual aspen leaf, preserved in rose gold.

Glacier Map Socks: These socks would make a great gift for so many people.

Yellowstone Puzzle: Have we had a long enough break from the early pandemic puzzle craze to need a new one yet? I think so.

Book Club Puzzle: Speaking of puzzles, my husband would LOVE this one. It’s 1,000 pieces. It looks hard but not TOO hard. And it features books! 

Adventurist Backpack: Or perhaps an adult in your life needs a new backpack? I think a lot of us have spent more time exploring the outdoors now that indoor activities aren’t advisable, and this backpack would be EXCELLENT to take on a hike or a picnic. The design is so sleek it reminds me more of a handbag than a backpack. Plus, with each backpack sold, the company donates 25 meals to families in need across the U.S.

Pajamas with Feet: Listen. The concept of pants with feet does not appeal to me. I need my feet CLEAR. If I could help it, I would never wear socks. But my husband NEEDS these. He is due for a new pair of flannel pajama bottoms. And he can’t stand to have cold feet. So this seems PERFECT. (Plus, if your feet get hot, there is an option to fold up the footies.) Way to go, random Instagram ads! You know my heart yet again! 

Pair of Thieves Underwear: I have it on good authority that these boxer briefs are very soft and comfortable.

Fancy Socks: This is far more than I prefer to spend on socks, but my husband LOVES socks with unusual patterns, and these are VERY attractive. 

Steel Owl: I have been seeing ads all year, claiming that I would like these birds, and in fact I DO, and have several people for whom I think they would make excellent gifts. 

Schitt’s Creek Dish Towel: You know I can’t resist a fun dish towel. You also definitely know someone who would appreciate one that says Love That Journey For Me.

Cat Dish Towel: As far as dish towels go, this is the one I am coveting for myself this year.

Friends Trivial Pursuit: I have a dear friend whose all-time favorite TV show is Friends. This would be perfect for her.

I’ll Be There for You: And I can make it a themed gift and add this really great book, which I read and enjoyed at the beginning of the pandemic. 

Disney Princess Collection: Carla had a Big Accomplishment this summer and earned this collection of Disney princesses as a gift. After you get past removing them from the very secure packaging, it is an excellent group of dolls. There are ELEVEN of them, first of all, which is awesome. They are roughly the size of Barbies (though they can’t share Barbie clothing) and there are a LOT of them, which is awesome. My only (mild) complaints are 1) Moana, who admittedly has a different body type, is nonetheless disproportional compared to the other dolls, which annoys me and 2) WHERE IS MERIDA? I guess she doesn’t really count as a Disney princess, but she’s my favorite. And 3) Why isn’t Belle in her signature yellow dress? Anyway, if you are looking for a knock-their-socks-off gift for a kid who still enjoys princesses/playing with dolls, this should do the trick. It’s pricey, I know – but you can get a pack of seven princesses from Target for much less. (But you do get fewer dolls.)

Aerogarden: Carla already had a kids’ version of this at-home gardening system, and I got a bigger one for Mother’s Day, and I LOVE THEM. Fresh herbs all the time – or lettuce! Or tomatoes, which we haven’t tried! It is very easy to operate, sustain, and clean, and it’s fun to do with kids or by yourself and it’s wonderfully cheering to have something green growing even in the winter months. 

Leapfrog Magic Adventures Globe: This is on my neice’s holiday wish list, and frankly it looks awesome.

LEGO Brick Box: Even though we got Carla a medium-sized bin of LEGO for her birthday, we also got her a LARGE bin of LEGO for the holidays. A) It was on sale at Costco and B) she plays with LEGO ALL the time and will definitely love and use additional bricks.

Jurassic World T-Rex: What kid wouldn’t love a dinosaur for the holidays? Carla and her grandparents got to visit a dinosaur exhibit at the zoo a few months ago, and Carla LOVED IT. So they sent her this T-Rex as a holiday surprise. 

Photo by Jana T. on Pexels.com

Digital Orchestra Subscription: If you have a music lover in your life, consider buying them a subscription to their favorite performing arts organization’s digital concerts… Or making a donation in their name. This year, performing arts organizations all across the country are suffering. These are most often non-profit organizations that rely on a combination of ticket sales and donations to cover their costs. With greatly reduced ticket sales, and with new challenges to face (like how to pivot to digital programming, and how to keep their artists safe), the pandemic is hitting orchestras, dance companies, and operas really hard. There are so many worthy causes to support – especially this year – and I know that when you have limited funds to give, choosing between an orchestra and a food bank seems like a no brainer. But as you are purchasing presents for people this year, consider whether supporting an arts organization might fit into your gift giving plans. 

Photo by Lucie Liz on Pexels.com

Gifts of charity: Obviously, we all know how to make charitable donations if we so choose, and there are so many wonderful organizations that are doing great work in our country and around the world. It’s a personal thing, when and how much and where to donate. Besides gifts of cash, which are always needed, I think we are all aware that giving food and supplies to our local food bank, buying books from our favorite independent bookstore, or purchasing gift certificates to our favorite local restaurants are great ways to combine gift-giving and philanthropic support. I wanted to share two new-to-me options in case you are looking for a way to give something that feels more tangible/personal than money. Carla and I usually shop for a child in need by grabbing a child’s wish off of an angel tree in a local business. Obviously, we’re not really going into local businesses these days, so I looked for an alternative and discovered that WalMart and the Salvation Army are offering an online Angel Tree program through which you can buy gifts for kids in need and WalMart will ship them directly to the Salvation Army of your choice. This removes the element of walking through the aisles of Target and picking out toys for a specific child, and it eliminates the need for wrapping the gifts, both of which I enjoy sharing with Carla, but obviously doing it all online is a much safer option this year. I also recently learned about Choose Love, which allows you to buy things like food, blankets, and winter clothing for refugees arriving in Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S. 

That’s all I’ve got, Internet! I hope you find something for everyone on your list! And of course I would love to hear what YOU are already planning to buy/receive for the holidays.

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I am 99% sure that my Christmas shopping is complete. But there’s always that last-minute panic that I didn’t do enough, and so I am thumbing through all my last-minute ideas to see if there’s one final something I really need to get for someone on my list.

One of my go-tos for last-minute gifts is subscriptions. They tend to make for great last-minute gifts because you can order them at the — wait for it — last minute, print out a cute little confirmation email and stick it in a card, and voila! An instant gift. Or you can send them via email from your bed on Christmas morning.

Plus, I’ve tried a good number of gift subscriptions. It may be that I am not a creative gift giver, or that I have people who are VERY hard to buy for. It may be that most of my family lives far away, and so shipping is always a factor. It may be that I love the idea of receiving (and, therefore, giving) regular gifts that arrive in the mail. Whatever it is, I have tried a LOT of gift subscriptions. So I feel like I have a good handle on what’s a good value or a fun treat or not worth the price.

Here are some of my favorites – tried-and-true as well as new.

For (Mainly) Grown Ups:

Peanut Butter: My husband loves peanut butter more than pretty much anything. So I got him a peanut butter subscription from Amazing Clubs a few years ago… and we kept renewing it every six months because he loved it so much. Eventually we quit, but I would definitely renew the subscription again in a few years.

Books: My brother got me and my husband a joint Book of the Month Club membership that we loved so much we extended it for a few years. The selections each month are great and if none of the books speaks to you, you can defer your choice to the next month.

Coffee: My husband liked his Craft Coffee subscription so much, we extended it for several years.

Puzzles: I recommended this puzzle-of-the-month club in my gift guide last year. And I ended up getting my husband a subscription and he loved it so much I renewed his subscription for Father’s Day. You get access to SO many puzzles, and you can either accept the puzzle that the company suggests for you or choose your own.

Clothing: I have tried both Trunk Club and Stitch Fix, and I LOVE Stitch Fix. The boxes are smaller than Trunk Club (which means fewer items), but I like the variety. And I think the algorithm they use to determine what clothes you will like is better. Getting a subscription to Stitch Fix (personal link) would be amazing.

Socks: I got my husband a Sock Fancy subscription for his birthday. He is loving it so far – so many outside-the-box socks for him to try!

Cookies: We tried a couple of cookie subscriptions, but they were disappointing. However, that was a few years ago when these subscription services were brand new and hadn’t worked out all the kinks. So I am eyeing this cookie subscription from Cravory as an idea for some of the people on my list with a sweet tooth.

Bacon: My dad is a big fan of high quality bacon, so one year we got him a bacon subscription from Zingerman’s. It’s pricey, that’s for sure, but it’s GOOD bacon.

German Food: My husband LOVES German food, and I think he would get a kick out of this German Food Box, which offers 6-8 authentic German products in each box. It’s very expensive though – so I’m still just thinking about it.

Spirits: I got my father a Scotch tasting kit from Flaviar last year, which he enjoyed. And I think a gift subscription would be a really nice gift for someone you really love who particularly loves spirits. The year-long gift membership is very pricey ($300 as of this writing), but your giftee gets one tasting kit each quarter, four full-size bottles of premium liquor, and some other intangibles that might appeal to your giftee or might not.

For Kids:

DIY Science: If you have a kid on your wish list who loves science and/or putting things together/discovering how things work, I highly recommend the Kiwi Co subscription box. (I know, I know – this was on last year’s gift guide as well. But it’s really good!) Carla’s grandmother got her a subscription back when she was a wee “koala,” and we were able to switch to a “kiwi” when she needed something more challenging and she loves it. She’s now at the age where she can complete the activities herself, which is really cool. Less cool is that then we have Beloved Projects all around our house for eons until I angst myself into finally, stealthily throwing them away. There are crates for kids from age infant (how????) to age 11 – and even crates that appeal to people of all ages.

Books: While I have not tried it yet, this BookRoo chapter book subscription sounds great for Carla.

Magazines: Carla loved her High Five subscription until she outgrew it sometime during kindergarten. So I am thinking of subscribing her to Highlights – a magazine I remember with great fondness.

National Geographic Kids magazine would also be a good option – especially because she’s so interested in science and animals lately.

Stickers: Swistle did a post on Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Club awhile back, and I immediately bookmarked it as an option for Carla. I can think of many kids – and grown ups! – who would love a monthly delivery of stickers!

For Families:

Gift Memberships: Some of the very best gifts we’ve ever received have been gift memberships to local museums and zoos and botanical gardens.

Sandwich Kit: I know this is a pretty specialized gift for a specific type of person, but we got this Reuben sandwich kit for my parents when they stayed with Carla earlier this year, and they loved it. It’s a HUGE amount of food, but it’s such a treat for a Reuben sandwich lover.

Bagels & Lox: Or you could buy someone a special spread of bagels and smoked salmon. Or go REALLY fancy and get this one from Zabar’s. I haven’t tried either of these, but I think it would be so fun to send someone brunch.

Escape the Crate: I haven’t tried this, but it sounds like such a good time. Every other month, you get an escape-room style game delivered to your home to play with your family and friends.

Cooking Class: My husband and I have taken a couple of cooking classes at Sur La Table, and they are really fun. I think there are even classes that younger kids can join, too.

Digital Gifts:

The following don’t come in the mail, which makes them perhaps even more appropriate as last-minute ideas:

Storyworth: I have been reading about Storyworth for years – and this might be the year I give it to my parents and in-laws. I would love to have them start recording their memories for future posterity.

MasterClass: And, for literally everyone on my list, including me, I have been thinking about a subscription to MasterClass. There are so many options here! Lessons taught by actual experts in their fields! Because it’s pricey, I am going to hold off on this for 2019… but it’s something I am really glad to know about for future gift-giving opportunities.

Audible: My husband asks for an Audible gift membership literally every year. Will this be the year someone gets him one?

Amazon Prime: Although we are definitely cutting back on our use of Amazon – for so many reasons – Prime could be an excellent gift for a lot of people on your list. It’s not just free shipping, you also get access to tons of movies and TV shows.

Disney+:This isn’t cheap, but I am really wondering if we should give my niece a year’s membership to Disney+.

A Fantastic Book: Yes, you could totally give your friend or family member the gift of endless reading options with Kindle Unlimited. But I also want to plug my friend Kristina’s excellent first novel again. It’s called Weight of Memory, and it’s a spine-tingling but surprisingly heart-wrenching book about one woman’s quest to preserve the memory of her dead brother. She is publishing the book via InkShares, which is kind of like a Kickstarter for writers. You can read sample chapters before you buy, but a digital copy is just $10 and it will not disappoint.

Gift Cards: This is the easiest digital gift there is, which makes it seem a little boring. But I don’t really know ANYONE who doesn’t like getting a gift card to one of their favorite retailers. Etsy. Amazon. Barnes & Noble. Target. iTunes. Starbucks. Your gift recipient’s favorite restaurant or donut shop. Your local independent bookstore. Your local skating rink. There are so many options that might offer digital gift cards!

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Holy moly, Internet. It’s DECEMBER. We have just a few short weeks to get all our holiday shopping done. I don’t know about you, but I have purchased exactly one (1) gift so far. YIKES. Time to get going.

In lieu of buying, I have been doing a LOT of perusing. ALL YEAR I have been bookmarking fun gift ideas and taking note when someone on my gift list mentioned something I could possibly wrap in shiny paper and put under their tree. I have ended up with far more gifts than I could ever buy, and solid ideas for most everyone on my list. And, since it was so fun last year, I thought I’d put them all together in a gift guide – and maybe you’d find some inspiration for your own December shopping.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this very eclectic mix of things that appeal to me and the specific people I love. Perhaps you will find something for someone on your holiday gift list. Perhaps you will find something you need to put on your own wish list. Or maybe, like me, you just enjoy reading gift guides in all their forms. (As per usual, some of these links are affiliate links, which means I may make a few pennies if you end up buying something.)

Let’s begin where any gift list should, with books:

Books 2019.png

Photos from amazon.com, inkshares.com, and barnesandnoble.com

  1. You should definitely get the writer/reader/dog lover in your life The Friend by Sigrid Nunez, which is not only the best book I read this year but one of my favorite books of ALL TIME not to put too much pressure on it.
  2. Another one of the best books I’ve read in a LONG time is Inland by Téa Obreht. It is beautifully written and obsessively researched, and it’s just so GOOD. Also, I went to a reading by the author and she is the type of person you want to become best friends with.
  3. Normal People by Sally Rooney was also excellent, in an entirely different way.
  4. If you’ve got book lovers on your list who prefer thrilling, plot-driven novels, then definitely consider Recursion by Blake Crouch. It’s part sci-fi, part mystery, all edge-of-your-seat excitement. And, as a fan of ALL Crouch’s work, I believe it is also his best-written book to date.
  5. Or, for the detective novel set, might I recommend The Lost Man by Jane Harper? The setting – the Australian outback – is the biggest star in this book, but the characters and the beautifully crafted plot have ensured that I will buy anything Jane Harper writes.
  6. Speaking of authors who are so good I will read anything they write: Sophie Hannah (whose next book comes out in February – squee!!!) released a new novel earlier this year. The Next to Die  was, per usual, excellent.
  7. My friend Kristina wrote a very spine-tingling but deeply heart-wrenching book, Weight of Memory, and you can pre-order it (and read a few of the early chapters!). It’s so good, Internet.
  8. For those people on your gift list who like aliens, comics, and/or witty observations of everyday human moments, you will hit the jackpot with Nathan W. Pyle’s Strange Planet.
  9. And, while Maggie Smith’s book of affirmations Keep Moving isn’t out yet, I highly recommend her book of poems, Good Bones, to tide you or your soul-of-a-poet loved one over until May.
  10. In nonfiction, consider Semicolon by Cecilia Watson or Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer. I already have the Dreyer book, but I am asking for Semicolon for myself; I got it for a friend and he loved it, so now I really want it. I also put I’ll Be There for You: The One About Friends on my wish list, because it looks cute and I love Friends.

Reader gifts 2019

Photos from etsy.com, uncommongoods.com, and amazon.com

11. You could always pair one of the above books with a set of literary bookmarks from CarrotTopPaperShop.

  1. And maybe this bookworm t-shirt from NinetoNone.
  2. Oooooh… and this is pretty splurge-y, but I love this set of city skyline bookends. Not a huge selection of cities represented, but maybe your book lover also lives in one of these places…?
  3. And any reader needs a booklight. I am strongly considering getting this one for my husband. It’s really for me, because I go to sleep before he does and wake up the instant he turns on a light.

Biggie.jpg

Photo from amazon.com

15. Carla learned to read over the past… six months or so. Like, actually read. HOWEVER, little perfectionist that she is, she gets easily frustrated when she doesn’t know every single word instantly. Fortunately, she adores all things Piggie and Gerald because they are a) amazing and b) make her feel successful at reading by herself. For your own just-now-reading gift recipients, I highly recommend any of the Mo Willems canon, especially the Elephant and Piggie Biggie! which is essentially five books in one.

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Photos from amazon.com and storiarts.com

16. We’ve been really getting into some good chapter books lately, as a family. And I am lobbying hard to read Roald Dahl’s Matilda

17. This Matilda pillow cover would be a great gift to accompany the book.

18. Or maybe you know someone who would prefer a Little House on the Prairie theme? Here’s the box set of the Little House on the Prairie books.

19. And the accompanying  the pillow cover.

20. Oooh! You could also do an Anne of Green Gables themed gift! With a pillow cover

21. And the complete set of books

22. And if you want to go Full Anne, might I also recommend the Megan Follows TV series? I have literally never received a themed gift in my LIFE, but I also think it would be super fun!

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Photos from amazon.com and etsy.com

23. Speaking of themes that I would like are universally appealing… If you know someone who likes to bake, or likes to think about baking, or likes to look at beautiful baked goods, I highly recommend the Great British Baking Show Seasons 1-5. This show (also referred to as GBBO) is SO SOOTHING. The contestants are lovely and kind and there is no drama of the type that permeates American competition shows. Also, you get to weigh in on whether someone’s Charlotte is well-baked when you have no idea what a Charlotte actually is. It’s great fun.

24. For the GBBO superfan, you could always buy a fun apron from PenCraftE…

25. Or a T-shirt from HandmadeJoyDesigns…

26. Or a cookbook. I own this one and, while I can’t say I have made a single thing from it, I really enjoy imagining that I am about to bake one of the scrumptious goodies featured inside.

Baking bundle

Photo from barnesandnoble.com

27. And who says Great British Bakeoff fans are only grownups? Carla loves to bake with me, and, if she were a little younger, I would totally consider buying her this kids’ cooking set. Honestly, it’s probably GREAT for a six-year-old, but… I don’t have enough room in my kitchen for more of this stuff.

 

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Photos from amazon.com

28. Carla has been really into magic lately, so I am considering getting her a magic kit. This one seems very similar to one I had – and LOVED – as a kid.

29. For the budding magician, a cape, hat, and bunny would also be very useful.

30. And these foam balls would be a great accompaniment.

Studio in a box

Photo from kidmademodern.com

31. This studio in a box would be wonderful for kids who have an artistic bent.

Kahlo book

Photo from amazon.com

32. Maybe pair it with a great book about Frida Kahlo?

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Photos from amazon.com

33. I have it on good authority from A Friend Who Knows Such Things that the Blinger is a hot ticket item for the first grade glitterati. (This is totally a kid-size BeDazzler, right? Anybody remember the BeDazzler craze?)

34. Another coveted item among the first graders is the Rainbow Loom. I cannot tell you how many bracelets and necklaces Carla comes home with on a daily basis. Her friends LOVE making these things (one of her friends has an ENORMOUS collection that he brought over for a playdate and his mom says he spends HOURS looming). I am leaning toward getting Carla one as well. Of course, I have to overcome my resistance to a having a million tiny rubber bands popping up all over my house first. (Her friend has an expansion pack similar to this, I think. But I would get Carla the starter kit first.)

35. Something Carla got for her birthday and LOVED was a Fairy Garden. It comes with dirt and seeds that you plant… but it has little fairy toys and furniture and stuff, too. She loved it but eventually we went away for the weekend and everything died, so we cleaned it out and will have to start again.

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Photos from amazon.com and papersource.com

36. Carla has been really into journaling lately. It seems like a kindergarten/first grade kind of thing, but I bet it last a LOT longer than those two years. Especially since this is the time when kids are just learning to write. Anyway, here is a cute journal.

37. And a set of colored gel pens. I think Carla would FLIP OUT over this collection.

38. Or a really cute narwhal pen.

39. Oh my goodness. Or this journal-and-pen set that has everything a kid in Carla’s cohort could ever want: unicorns, flappable sequins, and a pen with multiple ink colors!

 

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Photos from amazon.com

40. Carla is a huge lover of stuffed animals, and this year she went CRAZY over something called a Rainbowcorn. It’s a stuffed animal but has that “unboxing” and “element of surprise” appeal that so many kids gifts do these days. She got a big one as a gift for her cousin and loved it so much that we got her one for her birthday. And then she got a little one as a gift for something else and we just bought another little one for her Girl Scouts gift exchange. I think it’s safe to say they are popular with kids anywhere from age 3 to at LEAST 7.

41. Last year, we got Carla a cat-a-day calendar for her bedside table. We made it to mid September before we stopped looking at it, which I think is pretty good for us. I am considering getting her another one this year. I like this one because it is mini and would fit better on her nightstand.

42. One of her friends — age four — requested a globe as a gift, much to his mother’s surprise and delight. A globe is clearly a great gift at any age. I am thinking about this interactive one for Carla and/or my niece.

Games 2019.png

Photos from target.com, amazon.com, and electricliterature.com

 

43. If you’ve got a family-with-kids-or-grandkids on your shopping list, I want to recommend Qwirkle, which is a very fun family-friendly game. It’s a distant relative of Scrabble, I’d say – you have to connect tiles based on color or shape and you get points for the number of tiles you add. Carla started really getting it at about age five but it’s challenging enough that it is actually pretty fun to play it as an adult.

44. The adults in my family really love Linkee, which is all about finding connections. You get a card with four questions, and as you ask the questions and people answer them, you have to find what links them together. It’s very fun. I wonder if Carla is old enough, at this point, to play?

45. As far as new games I’m looking at, Papercuts, which is supposedly a literary game in the vein of Apples to Apples/Cards Against Humanity, appeared on one of this season’s many gift guides and it sounds like tons of fun.

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Photos from teasquared.ca and amazon.com

46. If you know a tea drinker who needs a gift this holiday season, might I HIGHLY recommend Tea Squared Tea? I had some of this tea in a beautiful little restaurant (Cluny Bistro) in Toronto and it was the BEST Earl Grey I have ever had. And I drink a LOT of tea. I had the pyramid tea bags, but I see that Tea Squared also offers a variety of subscription services. As a tea drinker who also enjoys getting regular presents in the mail, that sounds VERY fun.

47. And here is where I plug my favorite tea kettle. My husband got it for me as a gift years ago and I use it every day. Every. Day.

48. My husband also got me this set of polka dot mugs for some gift-giving occasion or other, and they make me happy every time I open the cupboard. They are so cheerful! And big enough for a nice, large cup of tea.

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Photos from collage.com and amazon.com

49. For the puzzle lovers, no puzzle has ever been so adored as this custom photo puzzle that I got for both grandmothers one year. Of course, the puzzles each featured an ADORABLE picture of Carla, which is what made them so special.

50. My husband is one of the puzzle lovers I referenced, and I have this puzzle on my to-buy list for him.

51. And, for the serious puzzler, you should highly consider this set of puzzle sorting trays. I got this for my husband and he uses it every time he completes a puzzle.

 

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Photos from tiffany.com, beautycounter.com, nordstrom.com, crabtreeandevelyn.com, and uncommongoods.com

52. I got my hands on a sample of Tiffany Sheer this summer and loved it. I don’t normally wear a lot of fragrance, but this was very light and feminine without being super flowery.

53. As long as we’re talking about cosmetics (perfume is a cosmetic, right?), you might also consider this gift set of facial oils. I LOVE the skin brightening oil and use it almost daily. Well, nightly. And I have just gotten myself a bottle of the plumping oil which I’m super excited to try. Especially if you or your giftee live in a dry, cold climate, this would be such a nice treat.

54. If you are looking for another good smelling gift, I highly recommend the Nest fragrance diffuser – my husband got me one of these a few years ago and I LOVED it. This one comes with three separate fragrances – Holiday, Birchwood Pine, and Sparkling Chassis. I bet it will help your house smell like the holidays – and extend the holiday joy – for months!

55. When it comes to luxurious treats, hand cream is always on my wish list. This collection from Crabtree & Evelyn sounds like such a nice way to pamper my dry skin in the winter.

56. And as far as pampering goes, I would LOVE this overnight foot care kit. Cozy socks and nice-smelling cream? Wonderful.

57. After our recent conversation about jammies, I started looking around and fell in love with these Rachel Parcell Thermal Pajamas. So cute! I could totally see myself wearing these. Maybe not to actually SLEEP in, but as House ClothesTM wendiwendy.

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Photos from amazon.com

58. I already did my favorite books for adults, but I forgot about books for kids! There are a couple of new books in series Carla loves that I am putting on her “something to read” list. Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty just came out in November and Carla already owns and loves Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist and I really enjoy their messages of female empowerment and intellectual curiosity… and the excellent rhyming.

59. I see that there’s a new addition to Shannon Hale’s Princess in Black series, too: The Princess in Black and the Bathtime Battle. These books are a little bit more… goofy than anything else, but Carla enjoys them. And they are nice for young chapter book readers.

60. Carla has been checking out books of animal facts from her school library every week, so I am also eyeing a big book of animal facts, maybe like this animal encyclopedia.

Luxardo Cherries.jpg

Photo from amazon.com

61. My husband expressly asked for Luxardo cherries this year. I will take any help I can get in finding him a present he wants, so I will get him the cherries! You can get a two-pack from amazon, or a single bottle from Williams Sonoma if you a) want to spend less and b) can go to a Williams Sonoma or get free shipping and/or c) you are uninterested in supporting the other company I just mentioned.

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Photos from zingermans.com, etsy.com, and uncommongoods.com

62. Speaking of food gifts, one of the most successful gifts I’ve sent in recent years was the gift of cheese. If one of your gift recipients is a cheese lover, I highly recommend this Zingerman’s customizable gift basket of three cheeses and crackers. (Zingerman’s also has a quarterly cheese club, which sounds so decadent.) If you don’t want to spend quite that much on your cheese fan, iGourmet also has a cheese sampler and so does Wisconsin Cheese Mart.

63. You could always make your own cheese tray or give a cheese gift certificate – and maybe pair it with this adorable cheese tea towel from HoneyBrushDesign. Or this cheeky cheese tea towel from TickledZebra. (You know I love tea towels.)

64. Oh my goodness – if your cheese lover is a TRUE cheese head, maybe you need to give them this cheese grotto? This is totally a gift for the kind of person who already has everything.

65. Or, for the cheese lover who has everything, maybe a DIY goat cheese kit?

 

Coffee gifts 2019.png

Photos from williams-sonoma.com and amazon.com

66. While looking at cheese – yum, cheese – I came across this fun gift crate for coffee lovers. It has a French press, a half pound of Illy whole bean coffee, and two of Williams Sonoma’s waffle weave towels (which I have and LOVE).

67. My coffee-connoisseur husband already has a French press. (And a fancy coffee machine. And a Chemex and an Aeropress, both of which would make excellent gifts for a coffee lover.) Anyway, I am always looking for new coffee gadgets for him, and I think this travel espresso brewer would be super cool.

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Photos from etsy.com

68. Drinks make me think of coasters. I love these blue agate coasters from OwlKraft– but they are quite pricy. I guess that’s what makes them a good gift, because I would be hard pressed to buy them for myself.

69. Same goes for these beautiful wooden hexagon coasters by ManchesterWoodcraft.

70. Ooooh or these geode coasters from Dock6PotteryandTile. So pretty.

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Photos from amazon.com

71. You know who else loves geodes? Carla and most of her classmates. This is not a new thing, by the way; she’s loved them since preschool – but a break-your-own geodes kit would be an excellent gift for a child of many ages. I’d say maybe 4 to 10, depending on the 4- to 10-year-old in question.

72. Another science-y kit we’ve used with great success in recent years is a crystal growing kit. It’s a fun project for kids to do with their grandparents while you are out of town, if you ask me. But definitely a very cool and semi-educational gift.

73. Also for Carla, we are strongly considering this VTech kids video camera. My only fear is that I will then become the subject of her documentaries.

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Phots from potterybarn.com, nordstrom.com, and westelm.com

74. One of the people on my gift list this year requested a new cozy blanket for her living room. I am in love with this buffalo check throw  in pretty much every color.

75. Or this plush throw  with fringe also looks very soft and cozy – and there are so many colors to choose from!

76. Ooooh – or this faux fur throw . So soft!

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Photos from everythinghappy.com, nordstrom.com, and potterybarnkids.com

77. Kids need blankies too – my particular kid’s favorite blankie is from Happie Blankie. These blankets are plush on one side, satiny on the other, and come in a variety of animal shapes. Best of all, the company donates one blanket to a child in need with every purchase.

78. Now that she’s older, I would probably get Carla something a little bigger. Maybe this wearable cat blanket?

79. Or perhaps I should be shopping for a sleeping bag – even though I am so far resisting the idea of sleepovers. This shaggy head sleeping bag looks very cute and comfortable.

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Photos from boden.com, justice.com, amazon.com, and nordstrom.com

80. Carla has been asking for cozy slippers. I like these faux fur-lined options from Boden a lot.

81. Or these unicorn slipper booties would be a big hit.

82. Or maybe these fox slippers.

83. Maybe my husband needs a pair of slippers, too?

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Photos from flaviar.com, thespiritco.com, and selfridges.com

84. One person on my gift list has requested a repeat of a gift from last year: a liquor sampler. This year, the request is for bourbon, so I am considering this New York whiskey collection . Each of the three samples is 50 ml and this is the company I used last time with (apparently) great success.

85. Or, possibly, this American bourbon tasting set . The samples are teeny (3 cl each), but there are five of them.

86. As long as we’re thinking of alcohol gifts, I wouldn’t mind receiving this gin bauble  in my stocking. Cute and fun and different!

 

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Photos from schocolat.com, etsy.com, zingermans.com, and nueskes.com

87. Speaking of delicious gifts I wouldn’t mind receiving: how about a box of chocolates for someone with a sweet tooth? We used this particular chocolate company for the candy “bar” at our wedding, and the chocolates are beautiful and delicious.

88. Your chocolate lover might also appreciate this “chocolate is salad” tea towel from VintageMarketEugene.

89. Or maybe some decadent drinking chocolate?

90. And if you aren’t into chocolates (I get it), maybe a caramel sampler like this onewould be more your speed? I mean, your gift recipient’s

99. Or how about a bacon sampler? We got this for my dad one year and he loved it.

Home Gifts 2019.png

Photos from crateandbarrel.com, neimanmarcus.com, joann.com, amazon.com, and williams-sonoma.com

100. If your gift recipient, like me, enjoys fun decorative accents for the home, might I also recommend this plaid vase? I have been eyeing it for a long time and would LOVE it for my bedroom.

101. I have been looking for a new serving platter to replace my favorite blue one that chipped… and it strikes me that beautiful servingware makes a great gift. I, at least, find it hard to spend money on things I pull out only a few times a year, even though I want them to be nice. I rather like the uneven edges of this platter – and it’s nearly the same blue as the dish I’m replacing.

102. This oval platter is gorgeous and goes with our other blue and white dishware.

103. This matching serving bowl is also so pretty.

104. One of my favorite and most-used gifts is a lovely wooden salad bowl. This one is also quite beautiful and comes with matching salad tongs.

105. In the practical kitchen gift category, I highly recommend these mini Wilton spatulas from Joann Fabric. I use them ALL the time.

106. And – less practical, but still very useful – I have to plug the cake turntable (plus icing tips!) I bought myself for Carla’s birthday this past summer.

107. I would also enjoy some lovely hand soap and lotion, for after I’ve done all the dishes.

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Photos from amazon.com, rei.com, and nordstrom.com

108. One of my friends is very eco-conscious (I admire her and try to emulate her where possible) and so I am thinking about getting her this set of bamboo utensils. She has to eat out quite a bit for her job, so I know she’d get a lot of use out of them. And they are so pretty!

109. My mother-in-law is fretting about the straw ban. She LOVES straws. So I think we will send her this beautiful collapsible stainless steel straw and cleaning kit.

110. OH! Also in the eco-friendly category is a reusable bottle. Carla got one for her birthday one year WITH HER NAME ON IT and it was seriously one of the best gifts ever. (Until she lost it at camp. Which… how???? There is one other Carla who attended her camp, and wouldn’t you know that the hot pink stainless steel water bottle you brought home wasn’t yours?) Anyway. I have a S’Well bottle like this one and I love it. If you have time, you can take it to Things Remembered and get your gift recipient’s name engraved on the side.

111. You could add a water bottle cleaning brush to your gift, too – I have one very similar to this one (but in boring grey) and it makes me feel much better about not putting my bottle through the dishwasher.

Bangle

Photo from nordstrom.com

 

112. Let’s close out this gift guide with something frivolous and pretty, like this Kate Spade bangle. Do I need this? No. Do I want it? Very much yes. Perhaps so will someone on your gift list.

 

That’s it for this year, Internet! I hope you find something for everyone on your list. And if you have gifts that you are really excited about giving – or receiving – let me know about them in the comments. I love to hear about fun gifts!

Happy shopping!

For more ideas, check out last year’s gift guide, which has lots of great options!

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