Two years ago, I decided to stop buying presents for people (kids were still an exception). Supplies to make things, sure, or containers to put things into, yes, but I didn’t want to do the whole “obsess over what to buy people” thing anymore. I didn’t want to fight crowds in parking lots or even spend hours searching for the perfect thing online.
It’s not that this is a completely stress-free thing to do — there is still difficulty in coming up with new ideas or even implementing those ideas. But I do like it better. It’s more satisfying and more fun.
I realize it’s not for everyone, though. And I’m fine with that. I think there’s something genuinely beautiful with picking out something cool for someone you care about, too.
But I also know that coming up with ideas is sometimes a challenge. Consider this list a starting point. Also consider it as me saying “This is stuff I like.” Or quite often, “This is stuff I want.” It’s vaguely categorized and affiliate links are used where appropriate (because, quite honestly, part of the reason I turned to making gifts was because I’m broke).
- Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess
This book is very much overdue and I can’t wait for it. Yes, you can look at the whole thing online, but that’s just silly. Vess’ art deserves more than a computer screen. And he deserves your money.
- Little Otsu Book Lover’s Bundle
You get a bunch of great stuff (books by Jo Derry, Lilli Carre and John Porcellino as well as some other odds and ends) and you get to support one of San Francisco’s coolest publishers and stores. This package is a steal.
- Gruff Rhys – Candylion
If you know me in real life, you know how much I love the Super Furry Animals. So why one of lead singer Gruff Rhys’ solo albums rather than an SFA album? I think this is more approachable in a lot of ways — it’s mostly acoustic guitar and a little bit more romantic — while not abandoning his trademark quirks. You can also head over to the Candylion website and print out your own Candylion to make as well as watch an entirely too-cute video of Rhys and singer Lisa Jen. (And if you don’t buy CDs anymore, this is available to download, too.)
- The Taste of Tea (Limited Edition)
I love this movie. Some friends who have tried to watch it have claimed it is “slow” and subsequently gave up on it. But these friends are very wrong. This movie has so many wonderful things — yes, it’s surreal and silly in places, but it’s also a heartfelt exploration of family. It also has one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen on film (I would start crying months later just thinking about it). I know Katsuhito Ishii is mostly know for weird, trippy movies and stoner comedy, but this is something else entirely.
(I’ve linked to the special edition because it has a wonderful making-of documentary. But yes, it is pricier than the regular edition.)
- Golden Half camera
This is a fun little film camera — it’s basically a toy. It shoots two images per frame of a roll of 35mm film, so you get twice as many photos. I like the shots that I’ve seen coming from it and I do think we’re at the point where we’re absolutely romanticizing shooting on film (and perhaps, rightfully so). I also figure if it’s cool enough for Ayako Fujitani, it’s cool enough for me.
- Mr. Bunny Moods rubber stamp set
Everyone loves Sewing Stars, or at least, everyone should. Teresa is a grad of Rhode Island School of Design, which is not surprising at all, and definitely has a wonderful sense of design and cuteness. I carried a pouch with Mr. Bunny on it as wallet until it basically fell apart. All of these stamps are wonderful, but mostly, I like Mr. Bunny with his cup of coffee, because that’s me in the morning.
- Koi Watercolor Pocket Field Sketch Box
I have one of these and I’ve tried to use it on many occasions. The “try” part is not at all the kit’s problem — it’s a lovely little thing and I absolutely adore the portability of it — I am just not as good of a painter as I think I should be. I keep trying, though.
- Gelaskins ‘Bunny Blossom’ by Kozyndan for your iPod/etc.
I think Gelaskins are great. I immediately bought this for my netbook as soon as it was available. But I also love Kozyndan and that specific image (I have a print of it hanging on my wall). Sadly, I have no devices that it would fit on, but I’m sure you do. (Gelaskins also has a lot of other really cool artists and skins for a lot of devices — I just figured I should pick one thing.)
- 2-foot Ice Bat
Ice Bat is my favorite of the Uglydolls. I didn’t even intend to have a favorite Uglydoll. You probably don’t intend to, either, and think “Oh, I’ll just buy this one.” And then, suddenly, you have a collection.
I think Uglydolls are a wonderful thing — David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim have remained independent in the face of success, and I think that’s amazing. And the story is that Kim sewed one thousand Uglydolls herself before either of them thought, hey, maybe we should get someone else to do this.
I think everyone needs an Uglydoll, personally, even if they don’t need a two-foot tall Ice Bat.
- Gama-Go Bling Buffet Go-Right bag
I suppose, kind of like Uglydolls, I never meant to have a collection of Gama-Go T-shirts. I bought one and the next thing I knew, I had three. I don’t particularly have $88 lying around, especially to spend on someone else, but you might, and this bag is quite cool.
If it’s a little out of your price range for a gift (or for yourself!), I also like the Sleeping Giant Coin Purse. And the T-shirts are always good.
- Poketo “mood” bottle opener
If you also know me in real life, along with my love for SFA, you are likely to know that I love beer (sadly, beer is hard to ship, which is why I didn’t include any on this list). And beer requires a bottle opener. Now, yes, any bottle opener will do, but wouldn’t you like something fun? I think these are wonderful — sadly, Shocked seems to be sold out, but you can still get Crazy or Happy (I’d go with Happy).
- Peggle Dual Shot for the Nintendo DS
Peggle is one of the few computer games I’ve actually purchased. I decided that it was worth it to me to own it outright. It’s a delightful time-suck and I finally had to step away from it. I keep telling myself I’ll buy this version for the DS but I’ve hesitated because I know I will get nothing else done. Maybe one day.
- Biggs & Featherbelle soaps
All of the Biggs & Featherbelle soaps I’ve used are wonderful — good blend of scents and very luscious and creamy. I do recommend Barlesque and Polar Bar, though. I am excited to try some of their newer soaps, too, though. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them.
- Crazy Rumors Spice lip balm collection
It occurred to me that Crazy Rumors’ lip balms are pretty much Lip Smackers for grown-ups. I linked to the Spice collection (which is their tea-inspired line) because I think all three of those flavors are wonderful (the Chai one is absolutely amazing!), but there are also some good coffee ones and I’m overly excited about their Candy Cane-inspired flavors. I have at least two tubes of Crazy Rumors lip balms near me at almost all times.
- Christmas Party Lush Gift Set
Oh, Lush. I am currently without a bathtub so I don’t get to indulge in Lush products as often as I like (yes, they make some wonderful things for the shower, but it’s not the same) so I like that this set is soap and shower gel — it can be used by anyone — and isn’t particularly masculine or feminine. .
- Endangered Species Chocolate Vegan Collection
Mmmm. Chocolate. And you get to help cute animals at the same time. You really can’t lose with this one. Endangered Species is everything I want from a company — one that makes a great product while still having a conscience.
You don’t have to get the vegan pack, although I think it’s an amazing assortment and I love that they put it together. They also have an amazing-sounding dark chocolate collection and a milk chocolate one for those who are a little less adventurous.
That’s it. I actually think that’s plenty. I hope you’ve found something for someone, even if that someone is yourself. Or at the very least, have found some inspiration that has pointed you to the perfect gift.
I still have a season of Lost to watch, but I’ll probably be back before the holidays pick up entirely. If not, though, I hope they are good ones for you, whatever you celebrate.