So we may not be the only ones posting a Holiday Gift Guide this week, but we’d like to argue that DALS is probably going to be the only place you can stop by for a Family Dinner Holiday Gift Guide. Which is another way of saying that every gift, recipe, ritual, moment you see here is either family-related, dinner-related, family-dinner related, or, in keeping with the spirit of the blog, s#$t we like so much we just needed to tell you about it. (See #1 above, Pantone Ornaments from Seletti — for all your design geek friends!) Be sure to read carefully — there’s something in it for you, too. — Happy Holidays from The DALS Team!
2. Mauviel Copper Roasting Pan ($280, 11 3/4″ x 8 5/8″) A Big Ticket Item for Big Ticket Home Cooks. Copper pots — any size or shape or model — are the gold standard for cookware. This was a present for Jenny last year; amazing what passes for romance in this house. But roasted chicken thighs have never looked so good. — Andy
3. A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. Let’s put aside the fact that he’s doing life in prison right now: Phil Spector could make music sound good. We pretty much put this album on repeat for the entire month of December. Even when we’re eating Latkes (see #6). You can hate Christmas records and love this. Darlene Love singing “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)”? That alone is worth the price of admission. — Andy
4. Bangles ($20 each) I bought some version of these for our babysitter — but I can’t be too specific in case she’s reading. There are a zillion options to choose from at J.Crew. — Jenny
5. Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich (ages: 8-adult). This book is my new obsession. My friends are so incredibly sick of hearing about it. But let me just show you the first paragraph, and you tell me: “All stories begin with ‘Once Upon a Time.’ And that’s just what this story is all about: What happened once upon a time. Once you were so small that, even standing on tiptoes, you could barely reach your mother’s hand. Do you remember? Your own history might begin like this: ‘Once upon a time, there was a small boy’ — or a small girl — ‘and that small boy was me.’ But before that you were a baby in a cradle. You won’t remember that, but you know it’s true. Your father and mother were also small once, and so was your grandfather, and your grandmother, a much longer time ago, but you know that too. After all, we say: ‘they are old.’ But they too had grandfathers and grandmothers and they too could say, ‘Once upon a time.’ And so it goes on, further and further back. Behind every ‘Once upon a time’ there is always another. Have you ever tried standing between two mirrors? You should. You will see a great long line of shiny mirrors, each one smaller than the one before, stretching away into the distance, getting fainter and fainter, so that you never see the last. But even when you can’t see them anymore, the mirrors still go on. They are there, and you know it.” OH MAN, I AM DYING. IT IS TOO GOOD.— Andy
6. Potato Pancakes on the first night of Hannukah. With Martha’s edible dreidls for dessert, bien sur. — Jenny
7. Ruhlman’s Twenty, ($23) by Michael Ruhlman. Every time I’m in a bookstore I am drawn to this one. The title refers to twenty culinary techniques which, if learned, will turn you in to a real cook — the kind who understands why things happen the way they do and not the kind who follows recipes to the letter without thinking. Which explains his first technique: “Think.” —Jenny
8. Black Maple Hill Bourbon ($33). Jenny bought a bottle of this for me a couple birthdays ago and it one of those things that disabuses you of the idea that all [insert product here] are basically the same. Oh, the $12 stuff is just as good. No one can tell the difference between x and y. It’s all marketing. That stuff’s a ripoff. I’ve said it, too. And I was wrong. Use sparingly, but use well. Also: what a label. — Andy
9 & 10. Trader Joe’s Gift Tags As if we needed another reason to love TJoes? Templates for these gift tags (and also a garland which was a little too ambitious for us) are sketched right on their paper grocery bags. Remind me why all stores aren’t doing this? PS: While you’re at TJoes, pick up the (#10) Gingerbread House Kit for a holiday activity with the kids that doesn’t require a degree in Baking from ICE. And it’s from Germany, so it feels legit. — Jenny
11. Concert T-Shirts ($20-$25) Jenny calls my new concert t-shirt obsession my “mid-life crisis.” To which I say: better than a new girlfriend or a Porsche. It’s true, though. I have been wearing these out lately, and I have no excuse. It just feels good to put one on; it feels less good, after putting one on, to walk by the full-length mirror in your bedroom and catch a glimpse of yourself and think, Man, who’s the dorky old guy trying to be a kid again? (From left, Neil Young, Nick Lowe, and The Drive-By Truckers.) — Andy
12. Beans from Joe the Art of Coffee ($11.95). There are way more days than I care to admit when my medium-sized cup of this stuff, purchased from Joe’s coffee cart in Grand Central Terminal, is the highlight of my work day. Seriously. — Andy
13. The Christmas Cookie Ritual Simple, buttery cookies, made with grandma, and slathered in sugar and sprinkles. What’s not to love? I could never quite figure out, though, why the cookies themselves, as tasty as they are, are only half as tasty as the raw dough. That never seemed quite fair. The family recipe is here. — Andy
14. Magnetic earrings. A pair of these should put off the ear pierce begging for at least a month or two. If you can’t find them at your local junky accessory store at the mall (which is where I found these), you can find some version of them at Claire’s, where they sell for $8 a pair. (Buy 2 get 1 free.) -Jenny
15. Marta Barware from CB2, ($1.50-$2.50 per glass) Every time I order these I think the same thing: Did they get the price wrong? It’s crazy how inexpensive these glasses are given how pretty our chocolate milks and cocktails look inside them. If you’re having a holiday party and not serving a special cocktail because you don’t want to cough up the dough for the extra (or proper) glassware — here’s your answer. — Jenny
16. Make Dinner Not War bumper stickers ($4 for 1; $10 for 4 — includes shipping) If you need me to give you a reason, please see previous 389 posts. — Jenny
17. Bon Appetit Subscription ($20 for first gift subscription, second is FREE) Have you noticed how much a part of the conversation this magazine has become? I like to think this is because Andy and I show up six times a year writing our “Providers” column, but I think it might also have something to do with Marcus Nilsson-shot stories like these. —Jenny
18. In2green Organic Cotton Blanket ($150) GIVEAWAY!!
Their classic cable knit baby blanket has long been my go-to newborn gift, so you can imagine how delighted I was when they started making full-size, bonafide cotton throws for grown-ups. Here’s the best part: They’ve been nice enough to offer a free blanket to one lucky DALS reader. Rules: Comment below with the best gift you’ve ever given or received. (As always, you must be a newsletter subscriber to be eligible, so do that first if you’re not already signed up.) Winner will be chosen at random this Friday. — Jenny
19. Pixar Short Films Collection. ($15) The downside of taking this DVD with us on road trips is that Jenny and I have to sit up front while the kids get to sit in the back, watching. We all have our personal favorites — Phoebe (“One Man Band”), Abby (“Lifted”), Jenny (“Boundin'”), and me (“Birds On a Wire”) — but really, they’re all genius. There’s something nice about how short they are (a few minutes each); they’re like little treats that we can dole out accordingly — and use as bribes if necessary — with minimal parental guilt. Why is it that letting the kids watch stuff from Pixar feels somehow healthy? — Andy
20. MOMA Spherical Ice Tray Set ($13) I’ve never been to Japan, but I hear this is how they roll, ice cube-wise. If so, I like their style. Drop one of these bad boys in your Black Maple Hill bourbon — or, really, the kids’ pineapple juice — and now we’re talking. One of those little silly things that makes life more fun. — Andy
21. Billy Kirk Black Laptop Bag ($290) If you’re going to splurge on one thing this holiday, make it this. Andy bought it for me last year in khaki and tan and not a day goes by when I don’t get a compliment on it. -Jenny
22. Flying Pig Farms Gift Certificate It’s been well-documented by now: we like pork. And we’ve yet to find pork that tastes better than the stuff they sell at Flying Pig Farms, which we only discovered after friends sent us a gift certificate a few years ago. We ordered a roast and some chops and some bacon, and none of it was bad. Now it’s a go-to present for friends who know from pigs. It also takes our ragu to another level. — Andy
23. Sambas for Kids ($30-$50) How good? These are Abby’s and are only a few weeks old — that should tell you how well-loved they are in our house. –Jenny
Update: The winner of the in2green blanket is Katherine (#115). Thanks for playing everyone!
Potato latkes photo by Andrew McCaul; Pork shredding photo by Jennifer Causey
Best gift I ever received was my sister coming home from Iraq on leave for the holidays.
It was a legendary Christmas – we received The Clapper, The Sports Illustrated Football Phone and a Chia Pet – people, if it gets better than that, I don’t want to know about it.
I was pretty pumped to get my original Cabbage Patch Kid in the early 80s (that apparently my grandmother fought for in Abraham & Straus). The best gift I’ve given was a surprise week in Paris for my husband’s 30th birthday.
I just ordered A Little History of the World. I’m intrigued. Hope my 8 yos will be too!
I’m hoping for a copper roasting pan for myself. Hubs has a Big Green Egg on his, so while we are very much in love, the gifts are generally of the more practical sort.
Best gift ever – a gorgeous engagement ring.
The best gift I’ve ever received is this current fetus I’m toting around… The best gift ever given? The year my husband and I were engaged we were completely broke. I started writing him a blog about our time together, and then wrapped his laptop and put it under the tree. It was awesome.
Nothing beats a homemade card with a poem from your significant other.
My kids will only wear Sambas. The last pair lasted him 2 years. And he is tough on his shoes.
The best gift I ever got was glass blowing lessons. It was a totally out of the blue present, but it turned out that glass blowing was my dream hobby I just didn’t know it. Now I have two gorgeous bowls that I love so much and are great for entertaining.
I found out I was pregnant with my now 7 year old on Dec 21, 2003. Best present ever! Added bonus – that is also my birthday!
Oh how I love this post. Thank you from a frazzled working mother who has not yet started shopping… Favorite gift: I gave my mom a trip for the two of us to Biltmore in Asheville to leave the day after Christmas. She still talks about it.
In terms of “stuff” nothing beats the complete freak out scream I had on Christmas morning upon seeing my Cabbage patch Doll in the hallway closet after I found a note from Santa in the tree to look for it in there. I was like a contestant on American Idol who just got their yellow ticket.
As for non stuff, the best gift I got was a surprise visit from my dad right after my parents divorced. It was going to be our first Christmas without him and needless to say, the divorce had put a pall on the day. But he showed up mid morning to watch me open presents and it was perfect. It was also the last Christmas we spent together as a family, but it was probably the best one I ever had.
Best gift I ever received–a fried egg wrapped in tin foil. Not kidding. One of my students proudly gave it to me saying, “It’s a treat, Miss!” As you can imagine, there was quite a back story on this little boy, but it made him so happy to give this gift. I was happy, too, after I got over the shock.
Best gift I ever received was the look on my aunt and grandmother’s face when I surprised them at my college graduation with my cousin Jake who came home (as a surprise) from Iraq in December of 2002. I was in on the surprise and we snuck him into a donut shop that my whole (huge) family was meeting at before my morning graduation ceremony. He popped out and asked “What’s everyone having?” and I thought my whole family was gonna pass out! Jake and I are like brother and sister and were very, very close to our grandparents, so it was incredible to be able to give them such joy that year. To this day, anytime I’m down, I think of that moment and I’m instantly cheered up. 🙂
Best gift I’ve given was probably the set of homemade seed starter pots for my super-frugal father who doesn’t like people to spend money on him (I made them from discarded TP rolls).
I may have surpassed it this year — we’ll see — I made a throw pillow for my mom from one of her father’s sweaters knit by her mother and using the down from my old pillow. This was not an original idea; my cousin did it for mom’s sister two years ago.
The very best Christmas gift I ever received was a trip to Paris. I had never been and dreamed of going with my husband. He booked a trip (flights, hotel, train tickets), arranged for babysitters (who also took over hockey duty!) and presented the gift in the most creative and clever way. It was the honeymoon we never had and was practically perfect.
Last year, my photographer husband printed and framed a wall of photographs of us and our kid, with room for expansion (for the extra kid, natch). We had thousands of photos, but few printed and displayed. Made this then-pregnant lady weep.
Best gift I’ve ever given will be given this year to my parents who celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary this year. I found a beautiful custom platter on esty (customsepia.com) that will have my parents name at the top and then every family menbers name along the sides. It has a beautiful design in the middle with our family last name and year. It’s gorgeous and I’m sure my parent’s will love this platter as much as I do.
that blanket is gorgeous. one of my favorite gift ideas was something my friends and i did a couple of years ago – we exchanged our favorite books, so each of us ended up with eight or so great new reads, and no one was out more than $20 or so.
My loving, perceptive husband long ago figured out that what I most long for on Mother’s Day is a little time out from the hard work of being a mom. (I reciprocate on Father’s Day.) Every other holiday, though, all I really want is to be with my husband and kids.
Best gift I ever received was a hot water bottle from Marks & Spencer while I was in university. To this day – I still use and I hope to get my kids one as well.
Best gift ever received was a suprise trip to Paris for New Year’s Eve!
My son was born the day before Mother’s Day and one week before my birthday, so he’s for sure my best gift ever.
The best gift I’ve ever given: When my best friend’s mom died 12 years ago (we were 23) i took all of her mom’s race shirts (they ran together a lot) and sewed them into a quilt. Never mind that I had never used a sewing machine before, nor that it is really hard to make a perfect square out of an old tee. It was a little lopsided but full of a lot of love. She adored/s it and I felt amazing giving it to her.
I think the best gift I’ve ever received was a cookbook. Not just any cookbook. My great-grandmother was one of the founding members for the Oklahoma Women’s Christian Association, and was in charge of compiling their annual cookbook. 1964 was one she was particularly proud of, and handed out many copies to my family. However, she passed before I was old enough for my own copy. Earlier this year, I contacted OCWA to see if I could buy a copy. Not only did they remember my Mamaw, they sent me a copy of her book free of charge. (I suspect it was actually from one of their collections.)
The best gift I ever received was a recipe box filled with recipes from great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and my mom. I have so many favorite go to recipes in there many of which I no longer need the recipe card to make. The tradition continues and as the next generation grows up, they get a recipe box filled with family favorites!
The best gift I ever received? A dollhouse my grandfather made for my mother. It had been entirely remodeled and updated by my father and siblings and was a complete surprise when I came down the stairs and saw it under the tree on Christmas morning. I played with it for years and treasure every memory of it.
GI Joe Sea Wolf Submarine circa 1975
So hard to name just one best gift ever, but the sheepskin wooly slippers my Aunt Alice made and sent to me about 3 weeks after I traced my feet on scrap paper and mailed them to her, embroidered in tiny blue seed beads with one initial on each slipper, were pretty fantastic. Also fantastic: she commented that my feet were exact replicas of my dad’s (who died years ago) – and she was right.
The best gift I was ever given- I look just like my mom! Trust me, that is a great gift!
Best gift I’ve ever received, besides my actual children, was the pair of boots my husband brought to the hospital after my first was born, “to help you get back on your feet.” I still can’t believe he came up with that on his own!
Last Christmas was our first Christmas together and we were recently engaged. My then-fiance didn’t have a lot of money and he is a hard core rock and roll fan (Beatles, Rolling Stones, CCR to name a few). I knew little about his other love, so he hand crafted a “Rock and Roll Trivia Kit” replete with useful information written in question and answer format on 100 index cards. Some cards even had photos of musicians I was supposed to identify. A year later, he still questions me: “Name all four members of Led Zepplin!” And the best gift to him is that now I know the answers!
last christmas I had all of my (30+ year old) siblings write down their favorite memories of my parents and of growing up. I printed them off on little cards. we snuck out in the middle of the night on christmas and hung them (all 150!) on the tree. my parents couldn’t have been more surprised when they woke up. we spent two hours christmas morning crying and laughing and smiling- before we’d even opened a single “gift”. best christmas present ever.
best gift: my husband (married dec 29, 2007). okay, and my 14 cup cuisinart food processor.
One of the best gifts I received in recent memory was from my parents: A check plus babysitting time so I could go to the outlet mall with my sister (she got the same gift) AND NO KIDS.
Every year I tell my mom that she is the best gift. I know it sounds cheesy, but it started a long time ago. We’ve been through a lot as a family, and my mom always made every effort to hold us all together. There was a time where she couldn’t really give us big gifts; I know she felt bad about it, and that’s when we started to verbalize that having each other as a family is the best gift!
For our first wedding anniversary, my husband bought me a print of a photograph I fell in love with two years ago and almost forgot about. The best gifts are the ones that show the other person knows you better than you know yourself. Happy holidays!
One of the best gifts I received was when my oldest sister started working and splashed out on really awesome gifts for me and my other sister.
The best gift I ever received was a spontaneous trip on the coast to a B&B with my husband. I am not so spontaneous, and fought the idea (What? Right NOW? Are you nuts? Do you have any idea how expensive it will be?) But the overnight was worth it, wandering the beach, in the evening, and so close to the ocean we had to shut the door because the waves were loud enough to keep us awake. What a great trip that was!
best gift i ever gave:
my parents were moving and i discovered a box of old books that had belogned to my grandmother and aunts. My aunt Mary passed away about 12 years ago so i wrapped up the books that had belonged to her and gifted them to my cousin Janel. she was brought to tears and so was i.
Great lineup! The Phil Specter Christmas album is my favorite, too! My dad (who’s not exactly Mr. Christmas–but who IS Mr. Wall-of-Sound) would play it every year on continuous repeat while we decorated the Christmas tree with “It’s a Wonderful Life” on mute in the background (my dad swore the only part of the movie that mattered was the last 30 minutes.)
Also, I have a “frequent buyer” card at Joe’s!
Thanks for the giveaway!
the best gift i ever got was a designer handbag that i bought for myself. it was so great to buy something to celebrate the fact that i was finally making enough to treat myself without sacrificing rent, food, etc. the best gift i ever gave was a trip to las vegas to my mom so that she could see one of her favorite artists (mexican singer luis miguel) in concert.
Best gift I’ve ever given was a trip to Sundance Film Festival for my husband – a writer, and aspiring Hollywood insider. He loved every moment of the trip.
A ticket to Argentina, that introduction to travel changed my life forever.
Ugh I would LOVE an In2green Organic Cotton Blanket. The best gift I ever gave was actually a similar cableknit blanket that I handknit for my best friend for almost a year to give as her wedding present. I have never made another because they take so long, but she was so happy it was definitely worth it.
My husband gave me a memory card type game to play with the kids…that he made himself…with photos of our family making up the pictures to match.
Thank you for all the ideas! Do you by any chance have a recommendation for an everyday/frying pan? I want to get one for myself for Christmas and having a hard time picking one. 🙂 Thank you in advance!
A few years ago, my husband and I decided to stop giving each other “big gifts” to save some money. We found we were just as happy filling one another’s stockings with the obligatory family traditions (fruit, nuts, toiletries, and candy), so we stuck with it! The best gift is to spend time with one another without stressing about expensive gifts.
best gift received… getting a bass guitar and learning to play at age 44! rock on freaky bro!
Best recent gift that I received was a miniature dobos torte made for me by my niece for my birthday. I am Hungarian but haven’t been back to Budapest to see family in 25 years. My niece loves to travel and cook. The time and effort she put into making this seven layer cake was evident. It was delicious and so incredibly thoughtful.
Last year my mom gave us 10 “Night’s out” where she will come up and watch the kids. She lives about 2 hours away so babysitting events have to be planned. We have used those nights for everything from an opportunity to go to Target sans Kids, to dinner and a movie night outs with friends. This month we actually get a night in- mostlikely to do some kid-free wrapping and she is going to take the shopping.
I really hope it is a girt that is repeated this year!
Best gift I ever received was new windshield wipers and wiper fluid! I needed both desperately but couldn’t get around to taking care of them myself. My then-boyfriend noticed (without me asking) and sneaked into my car during his lunch break to install the wipers and fill up the fluid. Such a treat!
The best gift I ever received was a photo album from my best friend when we graduated from high school. She and her mom had collected pictures of the two of us from 1st grade through 12th, including one of us gardening naked. Almost 20 years later, it still makes me crack up and cry.
The fact that both my husband and I have two weeks paid time off at the holidays! Makes for lots of relaxed family time!
The BEST gift I ever got was my son! His due date was my birthday but he came a week early. Hi smile, giggles and hugs are continuous gifts that I get to receive everyday. I am so lucky!
The best gift ever was last year – we had a 100% analog Christmas. No electronics or things related to electronics (like video games). And the children did not utter a single word of complaint. We had a lovely, peaceful day and I felt like husband and I had pulled off one of the ultimate parenting missions – the kids understood and appreciated the real nature of the holiday.
best gift I ever gave was a Maxfield Parrish print that my ex-husband admired in a store in Ocean City, MD……..I drove from Philadelphia to go back and buy the print for him.
Best gift ever: when I knit shawls for my mother-in-law, her four sisters, and their mom. Two months of work, but totally worth it — they look great!
My two favorite gifts ever came from my mother-in-law (of all people)! My Kitchen Aid Mixer and a cope of Julia Child’s ‘Art of French Cooking’ which was handed down to her from her Mom. Three generations cooking from that bible!
Right on about the BMH bourbon. I had it recommended to me at Cakes & Ale in Decatur, GA, then bought a bottle a few weeks ago. It hasn’t lasted as long as I’d hoped…
One of the best gifts I have received has been your blog. I was the source of my inspiration for my website. Jenny kindly referred me to Ava who created a beautiful site for me. I know we have never met but your blog helped propel me into a new career…so thank you again!
Best gift I ever gave was a housewarming gift for our daughter and her boyfriend: We put in a vegetable garden, everything from digging up the soil to amending, fertilizing, and planting. They are now confirmed gardeners!
Best gift I ever received? When I was nine, my mom made me a green polyester elastic-waist floor-length skirt. Wearing it, I felt beautiful and grown-up and oh-so-chic, which was the actual GIFT.
The best gift I have ever recieved was not a Christmas gift, but a wedding present from my parents. My husband and I were poor recent grads and were paying for our wedding ourselves. We had run out of money and couldn’t afford a hotel room for the wedding night. I had resigned myself to spending my wedding night in my parent’s guest room, when they surprised us with a suite in a beautiful downtown Baltimore hotel! It was amazing!
Best gift I’ve received in a long time was a framed photograph of my sister and me along with a small sign that said “sisters.” She had a very old photo of us, taken on our Mom’s back steps, cropped, edited and enlarged. Brought back a lot of good memories.
Best gift ever? Last year, we got a copy of the Night Before Christmas and read it to our little 6 week old embryo. This year, we get to read it to our 4 month old little man. It seems like a lovely start to a family tradition.
The best gift I’ve ever given was a joint effort between my mother and I last year, we gave 24 people gift boxes stuffed with assorted baked treats that we made ourselves. We’ve already had requests for certain cookies if we did it again and people asking to be on the list. 🙂
Best gift ever is a yearly Christmas lunch with a friend that I miss and don’t get uninterrupted time with nearly often enough. It’s a lovely tradition that’s way better than anything I get to unwrap. 🙂
I love giving my mom the annual family photo calendar. It’s such a treat for her b/c we all live in different corners of the state. New, happy, family faces to view each month. 🙂
My daughter was born two months before my birthday. My husband took pictures of her and of me holding her, printed and framed them. Almost six years later they remain among my favorite photos of my daughter.
Best gift I ever received was my (now) 5-year-old boy, born days before Christmas. He and his 18-month-old brother have made Christmas magical again for us.
last christmas, my mother gave me a beautifully framed photo of my grandparents wedding portrait. i love it. i can’t wait to display it on the escort card table at my own wedding, this coming september.
When I was maybe five or six my dad and I used to talk a lot about how I would open a restaurant when I grew up and how I’d call it “Little Sarah’s Sandwich Shop.” That year for Christmas my parents got me a toy kitchen and made a big sign over the top that said “Little Sarah’s Sandwich Shop.” It was a “thing” gift, but at that time I felt like it was a dream come true.
My best gift was the year I gave my sister the 12 days of Christmas. I had them delivered by friends during dinner our family dinners so she’d never suspect they came from me. The big reveal was her 12th gift given to her on Christmas morning.
My husband spent a year writing down little things he loves about me on little pieces of paper, then put them all in a box covered in pictures from the past year. In a fire, I’d grab our daughter and that.
The best gift was the year I gave my sister the 12 days of Christmas. I had them delivered by friends during dinner our family dinners so she’d never suspect they came from me. The big reveal was her 12th gift given to her on Christmas morning.
Exactly one year ago I was giving birth. In the pre-baby preparations my husband got neglected, so when Christmas arrived unexpectedly (hey, I was a new mum, OK?) I found myself without a gift. I stuck a ribbon to the baby’s nappy and handed her over to her dad for a cuddle. He said it was the best present ever, although I have to admit it was quite labour intensive for me 😉
The first year my oldest child could write she gave me a homemade card. A treasure that is priceless to me all these years later.
Best gift received is anything made by my kids…always makes me tear up! Best gift given might be the real kid-sized cooking utensils my 7-year-old is getting this year…the kid LOVES to cook!
It’s a tie – opera tickets from my husband (who had never been to an opera prior to that so it was a huge leap of faith for him) and cooking classes with a James Beard award winning chef from my parents. Both were extraordinary experiences.
It was a gift last year to spend a quiet Christmas at home with just our little family, shortly followed by the arrival of its newest member.
wow, the comments above are pretty amazing. And so generous of In2green. I’d pick about 40 other people above before me, but thought this was a sweet idea so I’ll play. It’s a small thing, but the best present I ever gave was last year on my Dad’s birthday. He and my stepmom were out of the country for the winter and I wouldn’t see him for his birthday, and birthdays are big in our family, so it felt strange to miss it. I made a “Happy Birthday Dad” sign and took it around my work neighborhood in NYC. I asked strangers, co-workers, deli guys, my UPS guy, street vendors to hold it up while I took a photo. Then I put the photos together in a slideshow and emailed it to him. He said it made him feel so connected to home, he loved it. And I loved feeling like I was a part of his day from far away. Thanks for the great ideas. (And I love that Phil Spector album. For me, nothing says December like Darlene Love. )
Unexpected grace and compassion from my family when I made a very, very big mistake!
My husband having my favorite pair of earrings (not very expensive, and thus I wouldn’t have fixed them) repaired. They are one of maybe three pairs I wear.
I am obsessing about the Pantone ornaments…I have called several the stores listed as a distributor but alias it has been in vain! Please, do you know somewhere on-line I can buy them?
Best gift I got was from my husband when he had a co-worker plan a 2-hour meeting with me on my birthday, but then had my co-worker hand me a bday card (from my husband) at the start of our “meeting” telling me I had a massage appointment in 15 minutes.
love the blanket!
the best present i ever got is a toss up – either the trip to mexico my husband (then boyfriend) surprised me with (i was so excited because i had never been before!) and we had only been dating for like 3 months, i think he knew it was a good investment! haha – or the crib he bought for the baby still in my belly. he splurged on one so beautiful that i never would have paid for but loved dearly everyday it was used by our two kids. that’s it.
Best present ever was the sewing machine my husband bought me for our first Christmas together. I get to think of him every time I use it, and he gets to think of me as he sees the, um, “state” that I leave the kitchen table in middle of a project 🙂 He might regret it, but I never have!
Best gift ever: nieces and nephews!
Material gift: A Nook ereader that I gave to myself. Love it.
The best gift I ever received was everyone in my family and my husband’s family being together at our house last year for Christmas. No need to split the holiday among three sets of parents and best of all, our two kids (then 2 years and 2 weeks) woke up in their own beds on Christmas day!
My bright red Panasonic tape recorder when I was nine was the best gift ever. I secretly recorded my Mom and her best friend’s conversation not realizing an extra marital affair was the topic. It took a long time to wind the tape back into the cassette with a pencil after my Mom yanked it out of the recorder.
hmmm. best christmas gift i’ve ever gotten? definitely our dog bing when i was a kid. he’s already 12 now!
My husband gave me a necklace after my son was born that I truly love wearing – both b/c of the jewelry and the occasion.
best gift I’ve ever received-a poem from my husband.
Best given: a pair of Tiffany’s earrings to my best friend on her 30th birthday. She was so surprised and so grateful. Giving does make you feel good!
When I was 8, my grandmother gave my cousin and me each a Chrissy doll.
We always say that was our best gift as children!
The best gift I ever got was my dog Sadie. Love that girl!
Having just spent a night out hearing other women’s trials and tribulations of getting pregnant and difficult pregnancies, I realize the best gift I’ve ever had is the relatively easy process I went through to have my beautiful, healthy son. And I really love the Frye boots my MIL gifted me with one year. She’s the best.
Best gift i’ve ever gotten was an ugly watch with changeable faces from my best guy friend. It included a gift reciept so I guiltily returned it. I was quite surprised when it turned out to be a fairly expensive (at the time, for two college students) watch, and it made me realize how much my friend cared about me and wanted to give me. Fortunately, my husband has gotten a lot better at gift buying over the years, but the memory of that very first gift is the most special.
I love giving books (especially to my kids), and I think my favorite gifts ever received are the ones from my Grandmama–she has a grab box each year–we take turns picking from it. I now have lots of special family dishes and things that I absolutely love. Every time I look at them they make me smile.
I think the best gift I’ve ever gotten was a good set of knives. I didn’t know I needed it (I was using the ‘free gift’ ones you get from Time magazine), and it changed my cooking, and made me start to cook like crazy!
One of the best gifts I have ever received was on Mother’s Day. I was in the thick of toddlerhood with my twins and feeling very crazed, frumpy, blah,etc. My brother & his wife surprised me with 3 summer dresses that a “more together” woman would actually wear and that I really loved. They gave me hope that I could return to feeling good about myself !
The first Christmas I shared with my husband, we lived overseas. I was less than jolly – I missed my family, had to work a long shifts on both Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and our heater was K.O.ed! When I got home from work, my husband – not a cook in slightest – had surprised me by preparing a complicated Christmas dinner. All of my favorite foods from home. Best Christmas gift ever!
When I was expecting my first child, my best friend contacted my sisters, mom, MIL, and old friends and asked each to write a short essay/note with their favorite story of motherhood or advice. She put them all together in a book for me, and this was 10 yrs ago when there weren’t 100 options for doing so. It remains a priceless treasure.
The best gift I ever received was the engagement ring I got last year!
driving lessons. It was a liberation !!!!!!!!!
The best Christmas gift I ever received was a proposal from my now husband on Christmas Eve 4 years ago. He wrapped the ring in a huge box and mixed it in with my other presents. 🙂
In 1890 my great-grandparents built a new house and outfitted it with new furniture and dishes. About 100 years later, my parents rebuilt one of the chairs from that house (it had fallen apart completely) and gave it to me for Christmas. Two years ago my parents gave me a fork and knife from the house. I framed the utensils in a shadow box and hung them in the dining room. I wasn’t given just items, but a bit of history to cherish and share with my children.
I think the best gift would have to be my trip to South America with my brother! It was amazing and where I met my boyfriend of 3.5 years!
I’m kind of a sucker for homemade gifts to give and receive.
My mom always dreamed to stay at the Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World. We went in late November one year to see the park decked out for Christmas. Her birthday is Dec 23. I booked one night out of our stay for her at the Grand Floridian. They even upgraded her to a water view! She loved it and felt totally spoiled. I got a good rate, and made a dream come true. Hard to top that!
The best gift I’ve ever received was from my husband on our 5th wedding anniversary this September. In order to surprise me with a week-long trip to London (including childcare arrangements for our toddler son), he made me the most amazing dinner. He doesn’t cook and doesn’t care for most foodie dishes. However, he rose to the occasion and made
Tuscan pork spare ribs with an amazing assortment of Italian and Middle Eastern herbs and spices. The trip was unbelievable, but it was the dinner that warmed my heart.
homemade things from my kids that they are very proud of. Now that they are on their own, when they send me a handmade card with heartfelt sentiments, it melts my heart!
WE all survived the teen years!
hmmm…the best gift I’ve ever received is probably the trip to Minnesota to see my dear friend Holly…my husband gave that to me for my last birthday…super memories & nothing left to clutter the house 🙂
About ten years ago, when we started “living on our own,” my Aunt compiled a cookbook for me and my sister. She sent recipe cards to all of the special women in our family–my mother, her sisters, close family friends, old neighbors, even the nurse who cared for my father when he was sick. (She also wrote down recipes from family members who are no longer w/ us — my grandmother, the man who cooked on the VA farm where my mom & her sisters grew up) All of the cards are organized in a three-ring binder cookbook w/ plastic insert-pages for the cards. We come from a long line of fiesty southern women who are amazing cooks. Having all of those recipes in one place (in their handwriting) is a communion of sorts for me whenever I look through the pages. Nan’s potato salad (onion, homeade bread & butter pickes, Nature’s Seasoning Salt, Duke’s), Gammie’s “James River Waffles,” Mom’s ham biscuits, Doris’s “one-hundred year old cake,” then there’s the watermelon pickles, southern cavier w/ hominy, sour cherry jam, world’s best pecan pie . . . I could go on & on . . .& on. If my house caught fire, I’d grab my baby, my husband, and my cookbook 🙂
best gift ever? giving birth to 3 beautiful children. corny,I know, but true… 2nd best gift ever: homemade presents made by them.
Best gift I ever got was a marriage proposal!
Best gift received was 36 holiday cards from my long-lost birth father. One for every year he looked for me after I was stolen as a baby & sold on the black market.
Best gift received: college education, free and clear. Best gift given: This year I am surprising my husband with flying lessons. He’s always wanted to do this but has never been able to. Shhh, it’s a surprise!
Best gift ever? Probably the car my dad gave me before I graduated from college. It saved my life. I could do adult life and didn’t take on debt. Runner up: Le Creuset 7ish quart dutch oven in red.
rolling pin from my grandmother, I still think some of the flour on it is from her!
best gift given: handknitted socks by me!
best gift received: my swiss army watch.
best gift ever = my cat. find it hard to receive a gift that beats one that love you back 🙂
The most thoughtful gift I ever received was a little plastic Yoda from my Dad. He has a matching one, and we keep them on our work desks, which are states apart. I think of him whanever i look at it. Regardless of what is happening in life, we are always able to bond over sci-fi.
The Christmas before my husband and I were married, he presented me with a small-ish wrapped box as we were finishing with gifts. I opened it to reveal a KitchenAid pouring shield, which confused the heck out of me. That is, until he got up and went to the other room, returning with the KitchenAid. Sixteen years later, that mixer has made LOTS of memories in the kitchen!
The best gift I ever received was a Choose Your Own Adventure book custom made for me by my boyfriend, Calvin!
the best gift i ever received…a 4 1/2 quart dutch oven from my mom that i have used at least once a week since i got it last christmas!
the second best gift…money from 4 dear friends to replace said dutch oven when it fell and cracked, because they love my cooking that much!
I’ve received many wonderful gifts, but one of my favorites was a new sewing machine. I had spent the holiday season lamenting the fact that I couldn’t make any homemade items since my machine was broken. We really couldn’t afford it, but somehow my husband found the money to order a shiny new Janome. I started sewing that evening!
Best Gift – My dad took me to see Rent after I had seen a sneak preview song on the Rosie O’Donnell show and mentioned I wanted to see it. It was so cool that he remembered after all those months and surprised me with tickets when it came to our city.
The best gift I ever received was my new 10-speed bike. My whole family conspired to surprise me (including two big brothers made their dislike of me clear on a daily basis) with it. She was a turquoise blue huffy 🙂
Best gift ever…real pearls of my own! Romantic, over the top gift from my amazing hubby!
Best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten was actually 6 days late: when my second child was born 5 days early and put me out of my pregnant misery. Happy New Year baby!
Toe shoes the Christmas I was 9 and ballet obsessed.
best gift ever: belgian waffles at 10 pm from a food truck on the street. good surprise
I love your 24 things! 🙂
Hmm… I really had to think about this. I’m more of a giver than a receiver, so the best thing I have ever given was presenting my best friend with her very own Longchamp bag in neon green! It was filled with home-baked goods, hand-written notes, and plenty of hugs 🙂
the best present i ever got was the news that my newborn and very preemie baby did not have to have open heart surgery. the pediatrician told me on christmas eve. that baby is now thirty five and i cry with happiness every time i remember it
Best gift ever would be my brother coming home from overseas during the holiday. I don’t think we fully appreciate what our men and women overseas sacrifice for us to have everything that we have.
My best gift as a child was a beautiful dollhouse. My Mom filled it with furniture she made and even little rugs that she needlepointed. Just brought it to my house now. It needs some fixing up, but I am hoping that it will make my daughter as happy as it made me.
My son, born 12/20, and hands down, the best Christmas present ever!
The best gift I received (at 12)was a handpicked selection of beads and jewelry making gear from my cousin. I actually hated it at first, but after a couple of months ignoring it I experimented with it and became hooked.
best gift ever: a 6.5 qt dutch oven from my mom…
Best gift I ever gave was a suprise dim sum 10th birthday party to my daughter. Our kitchen was under construction, so we couldn’t host the annual family party. Had the relatives (many of whom had never eaten dim sum, good sports they were) get to the place first and then we showed up. The look on her face was priceless as she tried to figure out why the 12 of them were there. She had convinced herself she wouldn’t be seeing her family as I kept blowing her off when she asked.
Best gift I ever received: a handmade canoe from all our friends for our wedding. We use it and cherish every summer.
Since I’ve been using it pretty much every day lately for holiday baking, I’m going with the Kitchenaid mixer I received last year.
Not to sound all Lifetime channel but…the best gift I was ever given was my toddler’s life. When my 18-month old’s kidneys failed, we were desperate to find a donor. Neither my husband nor I were matches. My hero of a sister stepped up and donated her kidney, without hesitation.
Now a year later, my sister jokes about how the scars are an AMAZING conversation starter at the beach and my toddler is a speeding superhero who sings at the top of her lungs.
Thank heavens for the amazing selfless people like my sister who desire to save lives and act on it.
My most beautiful Christmas gift this year is my gorgeous new granddaughter, Ida Rose.
such goodness in this list (many, many items have been noted/added to my wishlist).
best gift ever? the year that I received my very first (unexpected, due to the very high demand at t the time) cabbage patch kid. =)
The best thing I’ve ever received was the year we got our puppy for christmas, he’s my favorite thing in the whole wide world!
Best gift ever? My husband proposed marriage to me!!
The best gift my hubby surprised me with was a case of It’s It ice cream sandwiches from San Fransisco. I ate every one of them, even at breakfast.
This was actually a gift to my boyfriend, but it truly was the best I’ve ever seen. It was some kind of promotional program from the Lawrence Welk show, signed by Lawrence Welk!
The best gift I ever gave was a surprise party for my grandfather’s 80th birthday a few years ago. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several months prior. This was when he was still able to talk a bit and have pretty good grasp of what was happening around him. My uncle and I gathered pictures of his life and our family together and he put them together into a video. We got a cake with toy cars on it (my grandfather had restored antique cars before he got sick). And we all sat around talking for a very long time. He sat next to me and held my hand. And then, as we were all gathering our things to leave after a long and joyous celebration, he gave me the best gift I have ever received: I hugged him goodbye and told him that I loved him. As I let go he grabbed my hand and told me that he loved me, too. That was one of the last times he was really “there.” We lost him a little over a year ago.
Best gift: a case of lint roller refills. Seriously. We have a yellow dog, and I wear black suits. (OK, the portable record player 1972 was pretty cool, too.)
Last year I found out I was pregnant on Christmas, after almost a year of trying….that just can’t be topped!
My favorite Christmas present ever is a small french press from my now boyfriend of three years. Its inexpensive, unromantic and utilitarian but I use it every single day. We are suffering through a long distance relationship at the moment, so I use my french press and coffee drinking time to think about all the good memories I have with him and all the wonderful things we will accomplish when we are together again! Sappy, but true. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity!
Being able to Skype with my husband on Christmas while he was deployed. He was able to watch our daughter, who, at the time was only 2, open her gifts. It’s hard to be away from those you love the most.
The best gift I ever received for Christmas was my daughter. She was born three years ago at Christmas time. Technically, the big day was the 27th but that’s close enough.
Best gifts every year are the stockings given and received, all the little thoughtful, “I saw this and knew you’d love it…etc.”
When I was 7, I wanted a Baby Alive doll that crawled. Santa left me a note saying that the elves needed more time to make it. I waited three whole days for the doll and she was magical!
My parents had gone shopping Christmas eve and entered a store where they were required to check in the bag with my doll. They forgot the bag on the way out and the store closed. It did not open for three days…and Santa was able to bring me my doll!
My dad gave me one of my grandmother’s cast iron skillets. I didn’t even know he had it. What a wonderful surprise.
The best gift I ever got was the full set of Anne of Green Gables books when I was 15. I read those books voraciously back then and still read them today.
My son, who was born on Christmas Day! 🙂
When I was living in England and feeling totally homesick, my mom sent me a beautiful watercolour painting of my childhood home for my birthday.
I was 8 years old. Jewelry box with a ballerina who spun to music when opened. There was also a personal note from Santa. Wonderful memory, and I still have that little box!
I loved getting my first iPod b/c it was unexpected, I told my husband we couldn’t afford it and he went ahead and got it anyway.
My boyfriend, in a tuxedo, surprised me at work on December 21st. I was stunned and looked out the window to see that he had arrived in a limo. He dropped to one knee, presented the ring and gave the most beautiful proposal we were both in tears when I said, “yes”. Naturally, we left my office and I was shocked to see my son in the car – he and my bf had planned the whole thing! We went home so I could change and so a dear friend (also in on it) could stay with my son. My now-fiancé and I had a fairy tale evening out on the town that was what dreams are made of (ours, anyway).
The best gift I ever gave and received was a trip to Europe with my mom. Instead of buying gifts we treated ourselves to a 3 city European trip over Christmas. It was amazing and worth every penny!