'Tis the season to be merry and bright, but things can also be a little hectic this time of year. My idea of the perfect winter's evening is curling up with a good book (either one I'm reading or one I'm writing) but I wouldn't trade a minute of celebration with friends and family either. And it's thrilling to choose something you love, wrap it in pretty paper and a big box, and then gift it to a person you love!
But time is fleeing, we're less than two weeks away from Christmas, so we'll keep this tight.
First, look local. Just because Small Business Saturday (the first Saturday after Thanksgiving) has passed doesn't mean your local independent businesses will turn you away. If you are local to Blacksburg, check out Downtown Blacksburg Inc for a list of local shops or visit one of my favorites- Imaginations, a phenomenal toy store with online ordering and an amazing selection of toys, puzzles, and the coolest things you didn't know you needed. If you are (more probably) not a resident of Blacksburg, pop into a couple of the little shops in your downtown.
Next, we all need to eat and some of the best cookbooks are absolutely delicious reads.
Choose a particularly lovely book, and maybe throw in a few necessary spices or a lovely spatula to round out the gift. I received The Spice Tree by Nisha Katona and I love it. More than great recipes, it's also a guidebook for combining spices to complement just about anything you want to cook. I used to it cook my first Kuri squash...complete success!
And if you're running short on time (or you are shopping for someone chronically short on time), I will say that Cooksmarts.com has made my life so much easier! It's a meal-planning service and the recipes are quick, easy to follow, and are well-reviewed by enthusiastic eaters of all ages from my three-year-old niece to my parents. The quick gift of three, six, or twelve months is just a click away.
Not to state the obvious, but writers really do love blank books and pens. This past year I've become a huge fan of bullet journaling. I don't that it saved me (see this New Yorker article), but a great blank book and a pack of pens is the perfect choice for pretty much anyone.
For my fifth and final gift idea, have you tried NPR's book recommendation concierge? Over 350 choices for every kind of reader---your business partner, your babysitter, your dad, your teenage daughter. This is the place I found Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky, The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History In The Old South by Michael W. Twitty, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann, My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, and tons more. Can't wait to dive into this year's recommendations!
And if you give a book you want to read to someone you love...there's always a chance you can borrow it back later!