Favorite Gifts of Christmas 2013

Howdy!  I’ve been absent for a bit, mostly because of the holiday season and having a lot of other stuff going on, but also just because I haven’t thought of anything to write for the past couple of weeks.  But I am back now, and thinking of several posts.  Only one day (besides today) left in 2013, and then another year is all wrapped up and packed away somewhere in memory lane. That’s cool.

Anyways, coming off of Christmas I thought I’d share some of my favorite gifts I got this year.  Before I start a few house keeping things about gifts.  First is that this isn’t a listing of what I liked versus what I didn’t like (where what I didn’t like isn’t listed), in part because I honestly feel like I appreciate and enjoy any gifts I get, always.  Eliza made a comment to me over the past week that I am, in her opinion, one of the easiest people to shop for gifts for, because I enjoy anything I get.  I appreciate that.  I like the thought of being easy.  I suspect a big part of it is that I really take the whole sense of what gift giving is to heart.  Gift giving is a very personal thing that says a lot about both the gift giver and the gift receiver.  I like being receptive to people, and so regardless of what I may be gifted, I find pleasure in the intimacy of what the gift giving entails and what the gift is itself. So yeah, I like any and all gifts and everything that I got this year was great (and what is below are just a few things that really stood out to me).

Secondly, for simplifying purposes I would like to lump my gifts into a few categories, which are Food/Beverages, Home Goods, Clothing, Books, and Miscellaneous (note: when I was younger I also had a category for “Toys” but now those kind of objects, of which I tend to get quite a bit less, generally fall into the “Misc.” category).

So here we go:


Food and beverage gifts are pretty commonplace for me in recent years, in part, I suspect, because I usually indicate that I do not need much more “stuff” in my life (I still like getting “stuff” and always do get some “stuff” I just never really need much of it). Also I love foods and beverages of pretty much all kinds.

Favorites from this year?  First are the homemade/handmade candies from my sister-in-law Lynne, which are just lovely and delicious and kind of that perfect mix of personal and homemade that really make for some of the best gifts I can think of getting.

Secondly was booze, of which I received a good variety this year.  I am a beverage person meaning that I really like to drink all sorts of stuff, both boozy and non-boozy.  Receiving some nice liquors or wines or beers as a gift always excites me, not because I’m a lush (I’m really not, I assure you), but because I enjoy the experience of getting to try and share these beverages.  Over the past several years I’ve been given the gift of some sort of alcohol annually, which is great for new beverage experience.  I still have several bottles of liquor from Christmases past (because I am not a lush and it takes time to get through whole bottles of liquor).  So this year’s exciting booze?  A few bottles of beer from Vermont which magically materialized here (they definitely were not shipped, because that would be illegal and wrong right?).  I love getting beer from my home state in part because they were some of the first beers I started to drink once I was old enough to do so, but also because they often are not available in SC.  Additionally, Eliza gave me two bottles of sake (and a sake serving set).  I’ve really come to love sake in recent years, so looking forward to trying these.  She also gave me a bottle of brandy, which, I am not ashamed to admit, is the liquor I am least knowledgeable about, and so was really excited to try it out too (we’ve discovered that it is superior to either rum or bourbon when it comes to making tasty eggnog).  Finally my mother-in-law gave me a bottle of Ricard pastis, and anise flavored aperitif liquor from France (the brandy was also from France).  I love all anise flavored aperitif liquors, and was almost out of my ouzo and absinthe and so quite excited for a new one.

Beyond that I got a ton of candy, which is awesome, because while I am not a lush, I am a huge sugar junky, and pretty much always want candy.

Home Goods

A category that has grown in relevance as I’ve grown older.  These tend to be practical gifts for around the house.  Interestingly, the two that stand out to me a lot this year, are both beverage based home goods (in addition to the sake set) – like I said, I really really like beverages of all kinds.

Eliza’s dad and step-mother gave me an awesome high quality ceramic growler from the Portland Growler Company. It’s super bad-ass and hefty and all around just awesome. I’d been wanting a heavy duty growler for awhile and so this was perfect.

Next was a porcelain French press coffee brewer from Eliza.  While I have significantly reduced my coffee drinking of late, in an effort to lower my caffeine intake (an effort I feel I’ve been hugely successful with fyi), I still enjoy a cup of coffee on a regular basis.  I have a nice drip coffee maker that I use all the time, but I’ve long loved the kind of simple quality of a French press, and have wanted one for years.  The one I got is a perfect size for making two mugs worth of coffee at a time (which, if I drink it in the morning, is about how much I want).  Additionally, French presses are great for use for loose leaf tea, and I love tea as much, of not more, than coffee, so it is a nicely multipurpose gift (it could also be used as a nice pitcher for milk or some other beverage if I desired).  Add this to the Sake set, a new water bottle, and a mix of other glassware Eliza and her mom gave me (we were needing some new glasses) and I am like totally set for beverage consumption in 2014 (except for orange juice – I hate orange juice thus none of my beverage consuming vessels shall be used for it).

I also got a lot (like a lot a lot) of nice bars of soap.  This may seem like a funny thing for a nearly 30 year old male to be excited about (its been pointed out to me several times recently), but you know, I don’t care, I like nice soaps.  They are like a simple and easy luxury in life and with a wide variety of artisan soap available it is a luxury I am happy to pursue.  I guess I voiced my feeling that our soap supply was lacking in the house, because now we have lots and lots of soap.

Finally, Eliza’s grandmother gave us a really nice and powerful LED lantern.  This was a gift I hadn’t expected, but was really excited to get.  I’d just recently thought how the only flashlights we have in the house are tiny and scattered and really wouldn’t serve well in an extended blackout. This will solve that issue, as well as come in handy in a number of other uses.


Like home goods, the clothing category is one that I have become more and more fond of as I get older.  I got a good variety of shirts this year, which is good because I always feel like I could use some.

The clothing items that particularly stand out to me this year are a nice hat and scarf from Eliza’s mom and step-dad.  I love both hats and scarfs and hadn’t had any new  ones of either for some time.  The scarf is from Paris, with paried with the brandy and the pastis and the French press made this a particularly French feeling Christmas (I’m totally cool with that).

I also really dig the t-shirt my parents gave me (a shirt about hops – thus another beverage thing) and the strange but awesomely stylish purple polyester jacket Eliza found me at a thrift store.  I feel like I will be well dressed going into 2014.


Didn’t get as many books this year as in the past, which is probably a good thing because I don’t even have room for all the books I already have.  I did get a few though (which is great because I do like books . . . books are good).

Favorite this year?  Probably the awesome Time-Life German cooking book from the 70s that Eliza got me.  Really I just want to cook all the German food now, which means I need to stock up on bacon because literally every recipe in that book calls for bacon. Also, I feel like I need to call all the dishes by their awesome sounding multi-syllabic German names.


Didn’t get a ton of miscellaneous stuff for Christmas this year which, like books, is probably a good thing, because space is tight as it is.  Of what I did get I really likes the puzzle orb my mother-in-law gave me, as well as the antique blue glass hen egg holder (such a weird thing, you have to see it to understand it) also from my mother-in-law, the picnic basket from Eliza, and the Moxie sign from my parents (more beverages folks).


Anyways, it was a really great and generous Christmas this year.  Again, I fully enjoyed and appreciated everything that I got (even if not mentioned here) and look forward to having these gifts in my life. So thanks to all of you. I hope in turn that the gifts I gave appeal to those whom I gave them to.  So, happy merry Christmassy holidaying times everybody.

See you in 2014.

~ by Nathaniel on December 30, 2013.

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