Let’s take a look at that holiday list, shall we? Organize Christmas menu, make sure you have enough place settings for holiday dinner, trim the tree, make the latkes, pick up cloth napkins to replace dirty old stained ones, figure out gifts for Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Daughter, Son, Teacher…wow that’s a lot of people!? Feeling overwhelmed? OK, here’s something that will help: Let’s take a look at that list again: Organize Christmas menu; make sure you have enough place settings for holiday dinner, trim the tree, make the latkes, pick up cloth napkins to replace dirty old stained ones, figure out gifts for…wow, that’s a lot of people in your life, and a lot of amazing, incredibly lucky ways to celebrate them as they will most likely be celebrating you. Yeah, yeah, yeah, enough with the big picture and enough with the perspective. Let’s do some shopping!
(P.S. In keeping with tradition, I ask you to read allll the way through. There just might be something in it for you.)
Beauty Boxes (Lush, $5-28) If you’ve been in the Lush stores, you’ve probably ogled their displays that look more like candy and cheese than beauty products. They are packaging geniuses over there and even if my girls didn’t love the sweet-smelling bath and beauty products inside their gift boxes, they’d still be overjoyed to see one under the tree. If there is a grandparent in your life who keeps begging you “I need ideas! I need ideas!” First, be grateful. Second, send him or her this link for a few pre-wrapped, can’t-go-wrong options. If you want to come up with something a la carte, start with their bath bombs, our daughters’ favorites. (Shown above, clockwise from top left: Little Snow Fairy gift box $15; Stardust Bath Bomb, $5.25; Christmas Party gift box $28; The Experimenter Bath Bomb, $9)
New York Babka (Breads Bakery,$35 for three) My dad loves babka. Which is a silly thing to say because, I mean, how can you not love babka, chocolate-swirled rolled cakes, that are spiked with cinnamon if you’re lucky. I used to pick them up for him when I lived near the Middle Eastern markets on Atlantic Avenue — now I just pick them up wherever I wander by one that looks good. This week, it just so happened I was wandering by Breads Bakery, home to what New York magazine calls the Best Babka in New York. Sold.
American Flag Throw, (in2Green, $165) You know that aunt/cousin/in-law who disagrees with you on literally everything in the headlines lately? Well, for the time being, I’ll bet you can probably agree on this. Made from soft, washable, recycled cotton, we have them in the TV room, on the couch, in the girls’ beds…I’d say we’re officially addicted.
Keyboard Covers (Amazon, $3-$10) If your kid’s philosophy in life is “Inject Fun Wherever and Whenever Possible” then these are for them. (And probably also for you, because, um, definitely for me.) Shown: Rainbow, but I’m thinking Universe, Owl, and Polka Dots are good stocking stuffer options as well. (Don’t forget to search for your exact computer model; PC options also available, but not as many.)
Fates and Furies (by Lauren Groff, $28) Two givens every time I open up my Facebook feed: A post about Trump and a post about this novel, which tells the story of a marriage that takes place over two-plus decades from the perspective of the two parties involved. It’s a National Book Award finalist and seemingly on every “Best Books of the Year” round-up in America. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my nightstand waiting patiently. (PS: I’d be willing to bet your kids’ teachers would be psyched to use this as an excuse not to grade more papers.)
Balance Board (Carrom, $77) Think of it as training wheels for a Hoverboard. And a little easier on the wallet.
YA National Book Award Nominees ($8 – 11) Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson; The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin, Challenger Deep (the winner) by Neal Shusterman. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that George O’Connor is out with the next volume in his epic Olympians series. This time: Apollo. (Reminder: My 13-year-old Phoebe started on the graphic novel series about six years ago, and I credit it with kicking off an obsession with mythology that lives on to this day. Don’t make me show you her Medusa Halloween costume.)
The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip (by George Saunders, $15) For younger kids — or even adults, to be honest — this repackaged classic by George Saunders is one we can’t recommend enough. Here’s what we wrote about it five years ago: “The dreamscape illustrations by Lane Smith, the message about empathy and community and the importance thinking beyond yourself, the heroine’s name (Capable — how great is that?), but really: this one, for us, is all about the writing and the humor. ‘She soon found that it was not all that much fun being the sort of person who eats a big dinner in a warm house while others shiver on their roofs in the dark,’ Saunders writes. ‘That is, it was fun at first, but then got gradually less fun, until it was really no fun at all.’ You want a book that gets talked about at the dinner table? This is a great place to start. Deeply wise, generous in spirit. Hard to overstate our love for it.” Ages 5+
Leather “Ingredient” Bracelet (Delicacies, starting at $75) Why shouldn’t there be a line of jewelry exclusively for the epicure? And why shouldn’t they feature special ingredients in sterling silver? Especially when every bracelet sold will provide 20 meals to those in need through Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry. The company is working with a new celebrity chef (think Marcus Samuelson) every three months,to choose a charity to which to donate the proceeds. How cool is that? How cool are they?
Dollhouse (Smaland, $89) If you have a kid who loves nothing more than disappearing into a pretend world, I have two things to say to you: 1) Make it last as long as you can — you’ll miss listening in on their make-believe conversations sooo sooo much and 2) Look into this dollhouse. I’ve already gone into detail on how sentimentally attached I am to Lundby (I grew up with it), but anyone with a heart can appreciate the sweetness of this happy home.
Baking, (By Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, Food52, $23) It’s the subtitle that really grabbed me here: 60 Sensational Treats You Can Pull off in a Snap. (Specifically the “in a snap” part.) As most of you know, Food52 is a deep, rich, endless rabbit hole of recipes and inspiration, but when you need, say, something for the cookie swap that’s tonight or the bake sale that’s tomorrow, well, you want someone to tell you exactly what to make. That’s what this book is. (P.S. Did someone say Brown Butter Cupcake Brownies?)
Graphic T-Shirts (Target, $5-$15) Parents of toddlers, you probably only have a few more years of controlling what band will be emblazoned on their T-shirt besides Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift. Might as well make the most of it. Shown: Beatles and ACDC. (I’m no longer shopping in the toddler department, so I picked up an XS in this classic for my 13-year-old. (Related: This Amazing Album.)
iBlock Cutting Board (Brooklyn Butcher Blocks, $125) Used to be you needed grooves in your cutting board to catch the filet’s juices. Now you need them to prop a tablet. (Brooklyn Butcher Blocks can’t guarantee Christmas Delivery — here’s another option just in case.)
Belgian Waffle Maker (Waring, $53) You know how before you had kids, you used to say things like “Every Sunday we’re going to have a real diner breakfast with waffles, pancakes, an omelet station…the works.” By now, though, you know not to ever listen to your pre-kid self. (She didn’t know anything about Music & Me schedules…or exhaustion.) Don’t beat yourself up! Maybe all you need is a little gear to kickstart you (or your earlier waking spouse) in the right direction. This Belgian Waffle Maker? A good place to begin.
Fatheads ($25-$140) In my day, it was the McEnroe poster thumbtacked to the bedroom wall. Today, it’s the fathead – which, judging by my nephew’s reaction when we gave him one last Christmas – is way cooler. And sure, while Stephen Curry (or Lionel Messi or Maria Sharapova) is never going to be a bad choice for a ginormous wall decal, did you know the company customizes them, too? In other words, what’s stopping you from enlarging your very own midfielder…or ballerina…or Boston Terrier? The possibilities are endless. And maybe a little terrifying.
Holiday Gift Kits (prices vary) I love this idea so much. Instead of just giving a favorite book, my friend Jodi uses that book as a starting point for a holiday gift kit. Like, for instance, Dinner: The Playbook (hey whaddaya know!?) would be bundled with a wooden spoon and recipe ingredients. Not surprisingly, Jodi writes the awesome craft blog Supermakeit (you might remember her adorable Animal Menorah) and has written two of her own books that are well worth bundling — check out her entire round-up.
Happy Holidays Everyone!
PS: GIVEAWAY ALERT! Delicacies, would like to give away two supercool leather bracelets to two lucky DALS readers. Just comment below to be eligible. Winners will be chosen at random. Contest ends Monday, December 14 at 5:00 PM. Good luck! UPDATE: THE WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED. THANKS FOR PLAYING EVERYONE!
Past DALS gift guides:
Babka photo credit: New York Magazine