By Amy Sondova Every year, Oprah Winfrey features a few of her favorite things on her daytime talk show (“Oprah’s Favorite Things“) and then adorns the audience with each and every one of her favorite things. Well, I’m not Oprah, and therefore, cannot give all Backseat Writer’s readers samples of everything that I adore. But I can tell you where to get ‘em. Without further adieu, I bring you “Amy’s Favorite Things,” which I hope will help you as you finish shopping foryour favorite people this holiday season (and beyond. These are timeless suggestions).
*Etsy.com—Have you visited this site? It’s a entire craft show right on your computer screen with everything from Scrabble tile pendants to handcrafted shoes! There are a plethora of cool things for guys and gals alike. Don’t believe me, guys? Check out some of the screen printed messenger bags and t-shirts. There’s something for everyone, and unique is the bottom line.
*Music—Every year almost everyone on my Christmas list can expect to get a CD or two. This year there are a few artists who are hot on my list—debut artist Josh Wilson and music veteran Bebo Norman. Besides being two of the nicest and most open guys I’ve ever interviewed, they’re also great singer/songwriters who released albums this year. Bebo Norman’s self-titled release, Josh Wilson’s Trying to Fit the Ocean in a Cup, and Jon Foreman’s Limbs and Branches are must-haves! But perhaps you’re looking for something a little rockier, then look no further than Seabird’s ‘Til We See the Shore or This Beautiful Republic’s sophomore album, Perceptions. If you want to support indie artists, then get lost in the vocals of Tara Leigh Cobble’s Playing Favorites or Justin McRoberts’ latest project, Deconstruction. And here are a few more recommendations: Narrow Stairs – Death Cab For Cutie; What If We – Brandon Heath; The Nashville EP and the Bee Sides – Relient K; Opposite Way – Leeland; With Arrows, With Poise – The Myriad; anything by Caedmon’s Call, Fernando Ortega, Phil Keaggy.
*Sock Monkeys & socks—Is it just me or are you always running out of socks, too? Whether getting lost in the wash, stolen by a shih tzu who shall remain nameless (Maddy!), or developing ginormous holes, pairs of socks seem to lose their mate after a month or two. Therefore, I wear a lot of mismatched socks–argyle, plaid, and all patterns funky are worn together and I become a candidate for “What Not to Wear”. Besides becoming a fashion mishap, there are are only things to do with those single socks. You could make sock
monkeys, of course! You don’t even have to limit yourself to monkeys, there are patterns for all kinds of creatures online (sock monster, sock owl). Then you can sell your creations at etsy.com. Or you could just buy a conventional sock monkey at sockmonkey.com.
*Digital Cameras—The first time I got my hands on a digital camera, I took pictures of everything in sight, and I haven’t stopped. My first pictures weren’t that great; then again, my camera wasn’t that great. Yet I treasure the images of my grandmother’s last Christmas with our family. Buy yourself a camera to capture the moments that truly matter, and then buy one for someone else. Check around for the best prices and give yourself a gift that goes far beyond an electronic device. I highly recommend Canon cameras, but if you want to go a little cheaper, Olympus makes great cameras as well.
*Anything handcrafted by you—Maybe you’re not into making sock monkeys, but there are tons of other projects in which to immerse yourself. Try your hand at crocheting or knitting (you can even use a knitting loom like the Knifty Knitter) and make everyone scarves, hats, and SOCKS! (See what a valuable gift socks can be?) You could paint a thoughtful picture or make a collage. If you’re not crafty, melt chocolate wafers and dip some pretzels; chocolate-covered pretzels make great gifts! If all else fails, just make your dad an ashtray like you did in kindergarten—he’ll still think it’s cute (hopefully!)
*Amazon.com—Free shipping on orders over $25 and books, music, and DVD’s galore. Every year Amazon is adding to its inventory. I check back every day to see what’s on sale so I can nab Psych Seasons 1 & 2, Bones Seasons 1-3, books like The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen, The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey, the chick-lit novels of my fave fictionista, Christa Banister and those aforementioned CD’s at discounted prices.
*Ebay.com—Whatever you can’t find on Amazon.com, you can find on Ebay. There are literally millions of treasures on this site from low, low prices on video games to truly bizarre items like vintage hand towels. But whatever you’re looking for, you can probably find it on Ebay. You can also find a bunch of stuff you weren’t looking for, too.
*Michael’s, A.C. Moore, Joann’s—Craft stores are slashing their prices, and signing up for their e-mail newsletters allows customers to get even more coupons (especially if you don’t get them in your local newspaper). Remember that camera I told you to buy? You can get beautiful frames for those pics on sale at any of these stores for 40-50% off during the holiday season. Plus, custom framing is 60% off (I say buy a frame and do-it-yourself!) Not only that, but you can find deals on Christmas décor, craft kits for the kids, and nice gifts like candle holders and scented candles for your co-workers. Even if you aren’t crafty, craft stores are a great place to shop for gifts.
Even though Black Friday has come and gone, you can still save money and give great presents to your loved ones…and those people you don’t really like that you still have to buy for. We know Christmas isn’t all about the presents, but if you’re like me, you sure do like to get them (hey, I’m being honest here). Plus, great presents show cleverness and creativity that has little to do with price and everything to do with thoughtfulness. Our mere trinkets can never compare to the gift of God’s Son wrapped in humanity, so as we give to one another let us remember the greatest gift that mankind was ever given.
Click here to see all my my favorite things!