Welcome to our annual guide for everything we want, covet, crave, and, yes need this holiday. (I don’t know about you, but in my world, little tiny spoons qualify as essential.) As always, the round-up was compiled with cooks, eaters, readers, kids, and parents in mind, and as always, there are lots of free little treats and discounts for YOU sprinkled throughout, so read carefully. Happy holidays!
Redbubble Laptop Stickers (about $2-$5 each) You don’t have to be raising a Hamilton superfan to appreciate the laptop sticker selection at Redbubble. (But if you are:”American Experiment,” above, is a solid choice, but it’s hard to argue with “Outgunned,” “My Name is..” or “Rise Up.”) We’ve gotten in the habit of searching the Redbubble archive any time a friend has a birthday coming up. Got a kid who loves Aziz Ansari? Gilmore Girls? Joe Biden memes? Basketball? Unicorns? A kid who wants to topple the patriarchy? I guarantee they’ll have a laptop sticker (or a t-shirt) that matches the obsession. (Here’s what they look like in situ.)
Little Danville Spoons ($14 for 3) These little spoons fall into the category of “perfect holiday party host gift,” but also in “Things I’d never buy myself but bring me a ridiculous amount of happiness.” My friend Catherine gave them to me as a few months ago and there’s no prettier way to scoop minty-pea dip on a crostini or mustards alongside charcuterie.
The Association of Small Bombs, by Karan Mahajan ($18 for hardcover) I will say right up front: This novel is not a beach read. But it’s impossible not to tear through the National Book Award finalist, which follows the victims and the perpetrators of a terrorist bomb in a Delhi market.
Yummy World Food Plushies ($5 to $50) I guess one of the things that’s so great about kids is that they take you into worlds you’d never find on your own — like for instance, Yummy World, land of… insanely adorable wide-eyed smirking food friends. Sounds strange to the uninitiated, I know, but — breaking! — kids like strange. It’s hard to overstate how obsessed with these (and anything from Kidrobot) my daughter was — she started with the tiny Yummy dessert keychains then worked her way up to the large-ish Plushies you’re looking at here, which have overtaken her bed, in the sweetest possible way. (Shown, the brand new line: Marshmallow, $29; Peanut, $50; Peppermint, $30)
Literary Young Adult Subscription Box Sign up a young reader for a subscription and he or she receives a box in the mail every quarter, containing a brand new YA novel, plus two picks from the author of that brand new YA Novel. Bonus: All come with annotations and notes from the guest curator. (Photo credit: Hypable.)
Lodge Reversible Grill/Griddle ($45) I was listening to Bon Appetit’s Foodcast last week (I know I’m a broken record but: all of you should be listening! It’s so good!) and this grill/griddle came up in conversation between their food director, Carla Music and legendary LA restaurateur Nancy Silverton. Carla said something like “It’s indispensable in the Bon Appetit test kitchen, I don’t know what we’d do without it” and then I thought about mine and realized the same thing, especially as we head into winter months with no access to the grill. Bonus: The griddle side might inspire you to kick off the Sunday Pancake ritual you’ve been meaning to start forever.
“Superpower Tablets ($32 for pack of 4) OK, so maybe I added the “superpower” in there, but these are fun stocking stuffers for your athletic friend or spouse or sister (or for kids who need motivation to drink more water). One tablet in a glass of water transforms it into a fizzy, electrolyte-packed, post-workout reward.
John Derian Picture Book ($45) On principle, I don’t believe in even dog-earing paperback thrillers, let alone tearing up high-end art books, but as soon as I opened up this collection of John Derian’s famous decoupage images (you may recognize them from here or here) it was hard to fight the urge to do exactly what you see done in this photo, namely treat each image like the fine art that it is. The good news? It’s a promotional photo, so I imagine that my urge is sanctioned by its book-loving publisher. As is, I imagine, gifting it to someone who takes their coffee table book selection seriously.
Ample Hills Ice Cream ($36-$45) Truth: When you have kids, ice cream is always in season. Particularly if it’s from Brooklyn’s own beloved Ample Hills. (Many of you might recall the beautiful story AH founder Jackie Cuscuna told on DALS about their legendary Nonna D’s Oatmeal Lace flavor.) Ample Hills sells a special holiday 4-pack ($36) but they also have a choose-your-own, and might I suggest you choose the following: Nonna D’s, The Munchies, Butter Pecan Brittle, Mexican Hot Chocolate, and Peppermint Pattie?
Feminist T-Shirts (Gold, $40; Future, $12) I bought the “feminist” one for myself, but fat chance of me ever wearing it while my 14-year-old is in the house. (Yes, we’re at the age where we swap clothes.) I’m pretty sure she plans on wearing it to the Women’s March on DC in January, but it’s also apparently just right for the tennis court.
D.S. & Durga Rose Atlantic Perfume ($260) I am not a perfume person — more of a scented lotion person — but all that changed when I got a bottle of Rose Atlantic, made by DS & Durga, the game-changing Brooklyn husband-wife team Kavi Ahuja Moltz & David Moltz. With top notes of bergamot, petals, and lemon oil, and “heart notes” of dune grass, “base notes” of salt water, I like to think that now it’s not so much a scent as it is my very own small-batch signature.
Superstars (big kids and little kids, $30+) Even though, in our stuck-in-the-80s minds, retro Adidas sneakers haven’t ever really gone out of style, it’s extremely satisfying to see that the cool kids have finally acknowledged the timeless awesomeness of Superstars and Stan Smiths. (At least until the next thing comes along; please do not be Reebok aerobic shoes.)
Christmakkah in a Bag ($50) Yes, Hanukkah starts on Christmas Eve this year, but I like this little gift box from indie food master Mouth because if ever there was a gift box that embodied the story of my mixed-up, confusing religious life, this is it. Chocolate peppermint cookies, peppermint marshmallows, gelt, a chocolate menorah pop and lots more. As they say “Oy to the World, people!” (#sobaditsgood) Remember, this month, DALS readers get 15% off at Mouth — just type in LOVESTORY15 at checkout.
Signed (!!!) Bestsellers ($FREE$) Contrary to popular opinion, the biggest perk of being married to a book editor is not having access to piles and piles of recycled manuscripts for scrap paper. It’s this: The occasional overstock of signed books by some of his biggest writers, which can then be turned around and offered to YOU. Obviously, all of you should go ahead and read these books if you haven’t already — Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham; Sick in the Head, by Judd Apatow; and When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi (incidentally: the second highest bestselling book of 2016 on Amazon, just behind JK Rowling) — but in honor of the holidays, we’re giving away two signed copies of each to a couple lucky bidders. (Paul’s book is signed by his widow, Lucy Goddard Kalanithi.) But, here’s the catch: Since there are only six copies total, I’m going to make you guys work for it. To be eligible to win, head over to my instagram feed, follow me if you’re not already doing so, then tag someone (on this post) in the comment section who you think would like a copy as much as you. Winning copies will go to you and whoever you tagged and will be announced on 12/20 through instagram. GOOD LUCK!
Marble and Wood Cake Stand ($40) Bed, Bath, & Beyond just launched a new line of tableware called Artisanal Kitchen Supply and I can’t believe how great looking the stuff is for the price. (I first found out about them through this breakfast at Joanna’s; please spend a minute or two checking out how pretty everything is.) It’s hard to pick out just one special thing, but if I had to (hint, hint Andy) I think I’d go with this sweet, understated cake stand. (The hand-thrown dinnerware comes in a close second.)
23andMe DNA Kit ($99-$199) What better time than the end of this oddball year to ask ourselves the most pressing existential questions: Who am I? What am I here for? Well, you’re on your own for the second part, but thanks to the genetic pioneers at 23 & Me you can see how your DNA breaks out across 31 populations, see where your ancestors lived 500 years ago and — perfect for squabbling siblings — explore genetic differences between you and your relatives.
ChopChop for Kids Subscription ($25 for 2 years) Full disclosure, I had never heard of this magazine until a few months ago when they interviewed me about How to Celebrate Everything. Maybe if I had, my kids would be cooking dinner for me by now. So many smart, doable recipe projects in here — i.e. in this issue alone: food gifts to bake and give; how to make party food like turkey sliders, zucchini pizza bites, chunky artichoke-and-bean dip; a bunch of healthy after school snacks, plus games and outdoor ideas to keep kids moving. Here’s another something fun: ChopChop is offering a free subscription to one lucky DALS reader. All you have to do is comment below. (US residents only; Contest ends Friday, December 16, 8:00pm ET. Update: The winner, Julie, has been notified. Thanks for playing everyone!)
Kano Coding Kit ($150) Meanwhile, learning how to cook is nice and all, but learning how to code? Set me up with those kids! This make-your-own computer kit, which comes with a whole host of coding challenges, has won all the big educational awards and is the kind of screen time I think most parents can get behind. (Especially since handing this to their young Zuckerbergs might some day pay off in a country house or something?)
Lastly! Bookplates for The Collected Works of Jenny Rosenstrach 🙂 How to Celebrate Everything, Dinner: A Love Story, Dinner: The Playbook (not shown). As 2016 wraps up — my seventh year producing this blog — a big thank-you to everyone who has supported the DALS mission by reading or spreading the word about my books throughout the years. Remember: I’m always happy to send a free signed bookplate for any of my books should you decide you want to personalize one for a teacher, a friend, a neighbor, a carpool driver who has driven decidedly more than you, the nice dude who teaches your kid how to play cello…or even (especially) for you. Just shoot me an email with the details — who I should sign to, the address I should send to, etc. I can’t promise it will arrive in time for Christmas or Hanukkah if you email after 12/20, but I promise I will do my very best! (P.S. This photo was taken by Alexandra Stafford of Alexandra Cooks who is doing a cool giveaway right now. I love her idea to wrap up my books with a moleskine book — i.e. Your 2017 Dinner Diary made easy.)
Lastly Lastly: Another big huge thank-you to the angels who got in touch over Thanksgiving to sponsor a family in need through Family-to-Family. The response was tremendous and thanks to this amazing DALS community, a lot of parents and kids might sleep a bit easier in 2017 knowing someone was kind enough to reach out and offer a little help. For those of you who missed information about the program, please revisit here and read about all the great ways to be active and engaged in your community during the holidays and beyond.
And guides from DALS through the years:
Happy happy holidays!