This might appear to be a bunch of stuff I dumped out of my purse onto my bed. Au contraire. It is the hotly anticipated
2012 THINGS I ATE THAT I LOVE OFFICIAL GIFT GUIDE!
I look forward all year to gift-giving season, no matter how little cash I have on hand, because I love to spend money but usually feel bad about doing so. But while materialism is undoubtedly evil, buying gifts is unavoidable, ethically unimpeachable, and — bonus —an opportunity to support the businesses you like. My gift guide is better than other gift guides because no one sent me anything for free (n+1 doesn’t count) and no publicists sent me press releases.
Okay, obviously I have to tell you to buy your loved ones an Emily Books gift subscription or book, especially since there are now more than 12 books to choose from that run the gamut from straight-ahead cozy British mystery with just the slightest meta edge for your smart but conservative relative to bizarre glorious stories of life on the edge for your friend who can handle the truth. You can still take 20% off these purchases with the code GIFT2012, now through the New Year. However, I accept that not everyone reads ebooks and for those people, you should pick up something physical from
Two Dollar Radio: this small publisher is out of Columbus, OH is responsible for the availability of many of my favorite books I read this year, including The Correspondence Artist and I’m Trying To Reach You by Barbara Browning (the latter is an EB pick). They will even give you personalized recommendations if you email them with the names of some other books you’ve liked. Channeling the persona of your giftee in an email could be an interesting thought experiment.
The Dorothy Project: another tiny publishing house with a more impressive list than publishers with ten times the staff and millions more dollars at their disposal, focusing on “works of fiction or near fiction or about fiction, mostly by women.” Read a great interview with Dorothy founder and editor Danielle Dutton here.
n+1: This magazine used to get a bad rap for being run by a bunch of privileged male chauvinists from Harvard. Regardless of whether that was ever strictly true, a (mostly) bloodless coup seems to have taken place and now it is run by a bunch of radical feminists from, idk, Brown? Progress! (Seriously.) The latest issue features a genius piece by Kristin Dombek about Ryan Gosling, a wonderful tribute to Shulamith Firestone and a nasty unsigned takedown of every other magazine in the world. It seems like a good time to subscribe because wtf are they going to do next? This is a great younger-sibling gift. Or a great older-sibling gift. A decent boss gift, also, maybe. Also there’s a deal right now where you can get a totebag filled with Chad’s book The Art of Fielding, which I guess is about baseball or something, Marco’s amazing memoir The Scientists which was also one of the best books I read in 2012, plus four issues of the magazine all for $85, ie the price of four Paris Review beach towels. ;)
Zines or subscriptions to zines make beautiful gifts. Small, special, CHEAP, and if the recipient hates them, he/she can guiltlessly just toss them in the recycling bin. But no one could possibly hate these particular slices of fascinating lives, which are both more intimate and less irritating than blogs, endearing crosses between polished memoir and imperfect personal letter from someone you don’t even know:
Proof I Exist
“My jaw dropped, and I pulled out the vampire script. The title, ‘Passion for Death! (=Vampires)’ had been written in pen at the top by the long lost mysterious author. I reread it, loved it still. I decided to try and make the movie.”
The East Village Inky
“When last we met upon this heath, Inky was having her left ear sliced near in half by the NY Rangers’ plastic surgeon, the victim of a too-tight back that irritated her lobe to the point where it turned into a toxic sinkhole that swallowed the dang thing up wholesale!”
“I was thinking that if I had the energy to pull the dumpster a few inches from the wall, I could slither in behind it and sleep there just fine. I had slept in worse places, but I had always had my dog.”
SMALL (AND LARGE) LUXURIES
Thanks to this book I went through a phase this year of being obsessed with perfume. If your giftee loves perfume, give him a gift certificate to one of New York’s best perfume shops: Aedes des Venustas or MiN. A trip to either is a treat. MiN has a very, very beautiful and impeccably turned out saleslady who will sit with you and discuss perfume very seriously while offering you things to spray on tester strips or, if you’re feeling bold, yourself. While buying a gift certificate for a friend, you might take advantage of this. If you were going to get me a perfume gift I’d like a small vial of Smoky Tobacco from CB I Hate Perfume Gallery. Uh, but this is not a guide to Gifts For Me. (Well.)
Flowers are always a nice gift but what is even nicer (and cheaper) is giving someone the wherewithal to grow their own flowers. A handful of narcissus bulbs, some stones to plant them in and a pot for them to live in are easy to find at any florist shop this time of year but if you live in New York, why not go to the Floral District? It’s pretty there and they have the best prices. I work near there and so I often find myself walking down 28th between 6th and 7th just for fun. My favorite stores are International Garden at 807 6th Ave for bulbs, houseplants, wreaths and cut flowers — also they have a giant gray cat — and Jamali Garden at 149 West 28th Street for pots, supplies, and random bric a brac. I got the dragon egg for my Daenerys Halloween costume there (it was a foam ball covered in clamshells).
A genius gift I did not quite reaize existed until so recently: the other day I was getting my hair done by Carly at Seagull when we heard the receptionist on the phone taking an order for a gift certificate for someone named Emily. Was it me!?! Did I have a hair patron? Alas, no. But this would be so nice, if you know where your giftee is a regular: make it so that the next time he gets his hair cut, he goes to the register and hears that everything that has just transpired has happened for free. Seagull is a no brainer but I also recommend the services of expert colorist Emily Drew Shetler at Arrojo. For waxing, facials and nails, get your lucky friend a gift certificate to Serenity Beauty Spa in Williamsburg because they are the absolute best.
OTHER GIFTS OF BEAUTAY/STOCKING STUFFERS:
Stop your friends from getting sick with this little hand sanitizer that looks and not-unpleasantly smells like hippie Binaca ($1.99). This hand cream smells like an old book, also in a good way. These chocolate truffles have flax oil in them so your giftee can and should eat them every day and right now they’re on sale at The Garden. A gift certificate to the Garden is a good gift for your friend who likes food and eating. The best socks and tights in New York come from that shop in Penn Station (!!!?), Elegance. If you are seducing your giftee, Journelle. If you are getting engaged to your giftee, or just want to give him strange Victorian hair jewelry, Erie Basin.
THE GIFT OF YOGA
If you know your giftee loves a particular studio or teacher, getting him a private session from that teacher can be life-changing. (It certainly was for me — years ago, a private-yoga gift led me to become a yoga teacher.) Prices vary but tend to be in the $100/hour range for most teachers. I am biased but tend to think Yoga Union/Yoga Union Center for Backcare has some of the best teachers in NYC.
Do you not yet own this game? Oh man.