We know the holidays can sneak up on everyone, so in addition to our Gift Guide, we're sharing an abbreviated version of Ann Friedman's Five Approaches to Gift-Giving to further inspire you to consider gifting contentiously this year!
Give a gift that is not an item at all
Because there is too. much. stuff. in the world.
- The NYT Crossword app.
- A National Parks Pass.
- An art museum membership.
- A gift subscription to a magazine, aka the gift of no paywall! (Ideas: The Gentlewoman, the Baffler, Bon Appétit, The Atlantic, Wired, the local newspaper.)
Give a donation
I try to focus my donation-gifts on an issue the recipient is really passionate about. Places I'm donating this year, on behalf of myself and others, include:
- National Network of Abortion Funds—or your state affiliate
- Sylvia Rivera Law Project
- A GoFundMe campaign. Do a search for any issue that is near and dear to your gift recipient's heart. You'll most likely be able to find someone looking for financial support. Not all giving has to be done through nonprofit organizations.
Give a book with an inscription
I love getting a handpicked book from a friend. Shop via your local independent bookstore, where the staff will almost certainly offer you excellent recommendations. And don't skip the inscription, where you'll explain, in your own handwriting, why you wanted this person to have this particular book—thereby creating an heirloom. Be sure to sign and date it.
Give an item that supports an artist
Because it will be a one-of-a-kind gift that also supports an independent artist. Order these ASAP as they often take longer to produce and ship.
- The world's cutest travel mug by Debbie Carlos.
- A print from Kenesha Sneed, George McCalman, Rikki Wright, Liana Finck, Mona Chalabi, or Hallie Bateman.
- Chad Kouri's aura tote bags, which feature a huge colorful circle of heat-pressed vinyl.
Give something handmade
If I don't have any gifting notes about a person, I think about making them something. I mostly make textile crafts (this is the year I finally started quilting) and the occasional baked good. Even if the recipient secretly hates it, they can't deny how nice it is that someone hand-made this thing for them. Suggestions:
- An indigo dyed anything. A tote, a tee, a onesie, a pillow case, you name it. Or offer to dye a piece of clothing they love but are kind of tired of. (Or am I the only one who has a basket of clothes like this in the bottom of my closet?)
- Roast a batch of spiced nuts and give them away in jars. You're giving the gift of letting your friend look like an incredible host when they offer these homemade snacks to their guests.