Annual Gift Guide 2008: Gifts You Buy

Since we always end up dividing the gift suggestions into three categories anyway, I'm putting up three separate posts: Gifts You Buy, Gifts You Make, and Gifts To Give Back.

This is not a comprehensive list of everything out there that is worth buying! It's just the stuff I'm particularly interested in right now. If I were Oprah I'd be able to get you all free samples, but I'm not, so I'll just describe the things in as wordy and conversational a manner as possible...


I finally have my Cafe Press store up and running! It's sortof a random assortment of items, from baby shirts for tension increasers or releasers to bumper stickers with the MXM logo so you can identify other Moxie readers in traffic. Come take a look.


I love books. They're just a really solid gift. The kind of gift that says "I like you. I take you seriously. I want you to be able to take a little break and lose yourself in a book."

For my dad I'm going to buy Ammon Shea's new book Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages. I'm hoping that's what my dad gives me, too. (Word nerds don't fall far from the tree.) The book is for anyone who likes words or dictionaries or geekitude or people doing absolutely ridiculous tasks. It's kind of like SuperSize Me, Into Thin Air, and the dictionary all rolled into one. Mark Peters did a funny interview with Ammon Shea about the book here. (Do you guys read Mark Peters' word columns on Good? He cracks me up, and not just because he's my friend and a fellow descriptivist. This one made me laugh. This one made me think. This one made me come up with a blindingly brilliant insight about language and double standards--feel free to comment on my typo-ridden comment there. Also, my photo there shows my current glasses.) I'm sort of ridiculously excited to read a book about reading a dictionary.

My shameful secret: I don't read much fiction anymore. I was a Comp Lit major in college, and read a book in English and one in Spanish each week. Those days are far gone, and now the only reading I do is nonfiction and the occasional review book (and probably a third of the books for my book club). So most of the fiction I buy is for other people.

My mom's been reading all the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, and I didn't know there were more series by the same author (Alexander McCall Smith)! I think it's going to be a 44 Scotland Street kind of Christmas for her. 

And that's what I know about books. X-treme wordnerdism and fiction for grandmothers. So I really really need suggestions from you guys in the comments of books in other categories. Please?

Computers for kids

The XO is back on sale again. There are still the same philosophical issues with it as before, but if you regretted not giving one, or buying one to give and one to share, now's your chance. $199 to donate one to a kid in a developing country, or $399 to get one for you and one to donate.

Handmade but not by you

You guys know about, right? Crafty people sell their crafts there, and you buy them. I've gotten some amazing things on Etsy, including a gorgeous painting that makes me happy every time I look at it.

If you have an Etsy store, put a brief description of what you make and put your Etsy link in the comments.

Kid Stuff

In all honesty, I just kind of don't have it in me anymore for all the different kinds of developmental toys and whatnot. I've requested a Wii for the boys from my relatives (they're all going in together) so that the boys have something 1) they can play together 2) that's relatively active 3) that can be done indoors when the weather is bad (that's January-April in NYC).

I'm all conflicted about Legos. I mean, LEGOS! They're the best toy ever. But LEGOS! They're all over the floor, digging into my bare feet and making so much noise when the cats play hockey with them at 3 am. If I do give in to more Legos, I'll probably get this set to make sure they have a full range of pieces.

Also, my kids are currently Uno-crazy up at their dad's place, so I'm going to have to get a deck to play at mine.

I know you all must have favorite toys for kids, so please list them in the comments!


We're still in love with Sports Illustrated for Kids around here, and if I had a girl I'd be all over New Moon. My guilty pleasure is Entertainment Weekly.

I know we talk about it every so often, but what magazines give you and your kids and partners pleasure?

Skin Care

If you really want to spoil someone you love (or yourself), consider getting a skin care system from Daybreak Lavender Farms. They grow most of their botanicals themselves on their farm in Ohio, and everything's all-natural and gentle to your skin. The systems are expensive but last forever, and are completely worth it: I developed horrible skin problems from all the stress of the last few years, and tried almost everything (including Proactiv) and the only thing that keeps my skin clear is the Daybreak Zit-Zap System (it works through my whole cycle, too!). It took a full six weeks, but now my skin is clear and moisturized and happy. I've heard of similar miracles in treating rosacea with their Calmez Vous System. Again, they're pricey, but they work, are good for your skin over the long run, and last for months. Plus, the people are very nice and ship super-quickly.


The best $8 I spent this whole year was on a tool kit at Ikea. I can't believe I never had one of my own before. I find I use it once a week, at least. Consider giving a tool kit with hammer, screwdrivers, and pliers to everyone you know, and one for yourself.

Delicious Self-Sufficiency

Give a person some ice cream, and she'll eat it for a day. Give a person an ice cream maker, and she'll eat ice cream for the rest of her life. I've been using this ice cream mak er for years, and love it. My favorite recipe: Piña Colada Sorbet: 1 can crushed pineapple, 1 can coconut milk (not coconut cream), sugar to taste, shredded coconut, vanilla extract, dark rum (optional). Blend together the pineapple, coconut milk, and sugar. (Add in a little cream or milk if you'd like.) Stir in the coconut. Refrigerate for a few hours until it's very cold. Turn in ice cream maker. If using rum, add it in once the sorbet is mostly turned.

If you're a popcorn fan, you need the Whirley-Pop. It's an old-fashioned pan you put on top of the stove, but the lid has a handle you crank that prevents the popped kernels from burning on the bottom of the pan. You can pop almost every kernel without burning anything. And it's fun for kids.


Probably everyone you know is stressed. And probably everyone you know would love a massage. You could get a gift certificate from a local massage therapist for someone you love, who would then love you much more, and in a more relaxed manner. Or, if you have a massage school near you, get two or three massages at the student clinic for the price of one from a graduated professional.

Gift Card Alert

Someone recently warned me that there are retailers that will be selling gift cards this season but then closing stores after January 1, so the cards will be worthless in 2009. I was sent a list, but have no way of verifying it of knowing the source. So if anyone has a reliable source for lists of gift cards that will expire at the end of December, can you link it? Thanks!

Your Suggestions

Is there anything you're just completely in love with? post it in the comments. If you put in the leading http string, it'll link it automatically.