holiday gift ideas 2017

I'm a little late posting a list of holiday gift ideas. Okay... very late. Hanukkah has already started and Christmas is only 10 days away, but if you're stuck in a fit of last-minute-desperation, maybe my ideas will be helpful (she announced optimistically).

As with last year's holiday gift list post, I have to do some disclaimer-ing; most of us will agree that the whole holiday gift-giving thing is overblown.  The omnipresent marketing and merchandising in our culture is dispiriting; additionally, many people (myself included) are focused on minimizing unnecessary possessions.  Still, it's fun to make or find the perfect gift for someone we love. And in my mind, giving or receiving books is never a bad thing; books are in a separate category i.e. you can never have too many of them, nor can they ever be considered clutter (the same goes for flowers, fun card games and craft projects).

So, here goes.


1) Instant DIY :: Are you looking for an instant DIY gift (and an especially perfect teacher gift)?  Grab some canning jars and some pebbles, then head to your local garden supply shop to buy narcissus, jonquil or hyacinth bulbs.  Put the pebbles in the jar, add a little bit of water, add a bulb to each jar and tie some festive cord or ribbon around the top. Done. (Just make sure to tell the recipient to put the jar on a windowsill and add some water when the level drops.)

2) Donations to Non-Profits :: As with last year, one of the most meaningful and important gifts you can give these days is a donation to a non-profit in the name of your favorite person.  My favorite non-profits are the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Environmental Defense Fund, and the Violence Policy Center.

3) Tickets to a Performance or Membership to a Museum :: This year my older son wanted to continue our family tradition of seeing the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker.  It's gorgeous (and if you cannot make it to San Francisco to see a performance, you can watch it on DVD). Maybe there's a concert, play or ballet performance you've been wanting to see?  A museum you've been wanting to visit? An ice-skating or hiking adventure? You get the idea...

4) For Teens and Grown-ups :: Paste Quarterly Magazine (in print!), Secret Marvels of the World (from Lonely Planet), A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and The Hedge Knight (graphic novel), The Hound of Rowan: book one of the Tapestry Series (this is a recommendation courtesy of my older son -- he ADORES this series), The Encyclopedia of Early Earth (my favorite graphic novel ever), and Relish (another of my favorite graphic novels), Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout, Red Rising (What?! You haven't read it yet?), Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (I read it this past summer while visiting friends on Martha's Vineyard), and The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater.  Also, if you happen to know anyone who likes to crochet, the book Lalylala's Beetles, Bugs and Butterflies is just a bit scrumptious.

Non-book items? Music by Carolina Chocolate Drops (they were awarded by the MacArthur Foundation this year!), Cards Against Humanity (Viewer Discretion is Advised), any coffee mug or teacup from Anthropologie (they're all gorgeous), and if you're looking for a nice gift for your favorite (but very particular) teenager -- my husband bought a really good set of headphones for our older son.  Also, I am rather jealous of anyone who might be receiving one of these kits from Purl -- especially this one and this one.

5) For Younger Children :: The toddler on my list is receiving a copy of Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant/illustrated by Christian Robinson (for goodness sake, what's not to love?), and another delightful (if peculiar) toddler option is Kuma-Kuma Chan. We also adore Du Iz Tak.  

Non-book items? This Spirograph set, or this one, this Lego set, Kiwi Crate (my son is obsessed), Root & Star magazine, my son loves this craft-kit, these Pattern Play Blocks, the Crazy Faces card game, another card game called Set, Sleeping Queens, and anything by SmartGames.  Thanks to this book my son has become a master at origami, he is also a pro at cats-cradle, and he prefers this yo-yo for perfecting around-the-world (and every other yo-yo trick). 

6) When you are completely baffled and out of ideas :: Slippers.

For more ideas, I like Catherine Newman's suggestions on her blog Ben & Birdy, and Rachel Wolf's list on her blog Clean.


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