Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday Salon: December Isn't Working For Me But Here's a Gift List

Am I the only one or does the month of December turn out to be completely overwhelming no matter how prepared you think you are? I think a part of it for me is the advent of dismal, sunless weather that saps any shred of motivation I can even begin to muster up. I haven't even managed to read much at all (and have reviewed even less). My to do list is still long and unchanging. Just looking at it at this point makes me want to crawl back into my bed and wake up in January (only one of the things on it is for January and needs to be done asap or all hell will break loose come January). There are no Christmas decorations up at my house. I have not written my Christmas letter; nor have I ordered the Christmas cards. I haven't finished with Christmas shopping and not one shred of wrapping has occurred. It's been a hard year in a lot of ways and I just don't feel very jolly. At this point, I figure whatever gets done, gets done and whatever doesn't, well, it just doesn't. I will admit to buying a whole raft of Christmas themed romances the other day when I was out getting books for one of my children. They are easy enough to sink into that I'll hopefully find my reading mojo and get in the Christmas spirit at the same time, not that I'm holding my breath for either thing frankly.

So what do you do for presents for people who are hard enough to buy for when you're in the spirit and darn near impossible when you're not? I thought I'd share some of my more inspired ideas for anyone else who is struggling. (Mom--stop reading until after Christmas please!) Starting with the non-bookish gifts:

1. Subscription boxes
These are quite the thing these days. I'm getting both of my boys subscriptions to comic boxes. I don't really have advice on which ones to get since I'm flying blind based on rather vague internet reviews, but I'm hoping this will turn out to be an easy, renewable gift for birthdays and next Christmas. It's possible I'll get my daughter a makeup box since she's enjoyed the ones my sister has sent in the past but I'm still thinking on that.

2. Massages or other pampering spa type thing
I am definitely getting a gift card for a massage or two for my college aged daughter. She doesn't generally strike me as particularly stressed out but she is a fan of small bits of hedonistic bliss.

3. 23 and Me test kit
I did this last year and my kids thought it was fascinating. Since I'm only half of their genetic info, doing their own tests will have unique and different results. Fair warning though, it's not cheap.

4. Frozen homemade meals
This one is for my dad. He's extra tough to buy for since he gets himself everything he wants and really only wants us to spend time with him. Time cannot be wrapped under the Christmas tree and I like everyone to have things to unwrap. So this year I hit on making him a selection of meals I make that he likes and freezing them in one and two person (in case he shares with mom) portions. Time intensive but with the potential to be the best tangible present I've found for him in years.

5. Funny and inappropriate DVDs
We have the humor level of 12 year old boys around here so some highly inappropriate and hilarious DVDs should keep mom laughing for a long time. My recommendation for this is Mrs. Brown's Boys (but make sure you get the US compatible set).

Not for this year but other non-bookish things I've gifted in the past: paint for a bedroom, membership to a club or the zoo or the like, tickets to a football game or a local show, lottery tickets, or other commitments of time (like shopping with my daughter--I hate shopping but my daughter doesn't so giving her the gift of no whining by me is a big one).

Now for the bookish gift:

I luck out in that my children and husband almost always put specific books on their wish lists. That means that there will be a glut of Star Wars novelizations, thrillers, and graphic novels under the tree here. My daughter is going to get a subscription (you didn't think that subscription boxes were just for non-books, right?) to the Parnassus Next signed first edition YA club. Many bookstores have versions of this so if your giftee has a particular interest, you can probably find one to suit them (just google First Editions Club and you'll have a plethora to choose from, and it may even be from your local independent bookstore).

If you need help on individual titles for your friends or family, I highly recommend you visit your local independent bookstore and ask them. They are professionals and will definitely have an appropriate answer for you. As a fall back, I suppose you can always ask me but I make no promises about answering in time for Christmas given my own behind the eight ball, overwhelmed, un-holiday spirited situation.

My reading travels this week took me to Switzerland as a woman learned French and looked at language and acquisition. I shadowed film siren Marlene Dietrich as she grew from a child into a glamorous film star and then became a woman more in charge of her own destiny. And I dipped into three short Christmas romances about the "it" toy of the year, a steamy office romance, and a fortuitous case of mistaken identity. Where did your reading travels take you this past week?

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