I might as well start this year’s gift post with Costco, since it’s my one big weekly outing in otherwise-homebound 2020. If you don’t have a membership, find a friend to grab these items for you:
- Chocolate peppermint bark ($10 for a 22-ounce tub) – Thin layers of white and dark chocolate topped with crushed peppermint. So much better than all-white peppermint bark, the dark Belgian chocolate adds just the right depth and balance. It’s very festive and very snackable. You’ll find it in the Costco bakery area.
- Boozy egg nog ($10 for 1.75 liter bottle) – Real cream spiked with rum, brandy and whiskey, this 14.75% ABV concoction is an adult dessert, served over ice with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top if you have it. If you’ve never tried eggnog before, it’s basically like melted vanilla ice cream…and this one is ice cream that invited a few friends over from the liquor cabinet. It’s sold in the alcohol department but needs to be refrigerated after opening.
- Organic balsamic vinegar ($13 for 1-liter bottle) – Not the regular Kirkland aged balsamic vinegar, this organic balsamic vinegar is a totally different elixir. Thick, almost syrupy, the sweet richness of this organic balsamic vinegar makes the non-organic Kirkland balsamic vinegar (which really is very good) seem pale and watery. I don’t always see the organic one in the warehouse, but when I do, I stock up.
Looking like a compact tin can when closed, then pulling open like a sunrise shooting bright light in all directions, I wish these adorable LED lanterns ($27 for 4) had been around in my fort-making, slumber-partying youth. Very useful for campers but also just plain fun, indoors and out, for kids of all ages. If the 4-pack on Amazon is too many, there’s also a 2-pack ($18 for 2). I like keeping a couple on hand for power outages too.
A new HG tool for your favorite cooks – this Tovolo spatula is long enough to scrape out the blender, the head is small enough to clear out the last of the peanut butter jar, and the one-piece design means there’s no gunk-collecting gap between handle and head. My best childhood friend Lisa gifted one to me last year, and it’s the spatula I reach for every time. It also happens to be a great size for a stocking stuffer.
My girls will head for the kitchen as soon as they open this compact Wilton cupcake decorating kit ($10). I don’t own any cake decorating supplies and have no expertise to pass along, but they have all the instruction they need from TikTok.
Funny, entertaining and wise, my favorite read this year was Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Los Angeles therapist Lori Gottlieb. With sharp insight and compassion, Gottlieb tells her own midlife crisis therapy story, as well as the stories of four patients in her care. A Stanford grad who worked in Hollywood before she became a therapist, Gottlieb educates as deftly as she entertains. I laughed, teared up and learned a whole lot.
After a year in pajama pants, you might be motivated to pull out jewelry to spruce things up for a holiday zoom. A good jewelry polishing cloth ($8) makes a great and useful stocking stuffer, and your trinkets will go from tarnish to shine in no time.
A practical and silly stocking stuffer for adults and kids alike, this little razor-less groomer ($3 for a 3-pack) gently removes peach fuzz or other unwanted hair. Last Christmas my nieces had a funny time smoothing off their arms after gifts were opened.
I grew up on Haribo, but I have to admit that Albanese gummi bears ($20 for 12 7-ounce bags) – with 12 fruity flavors and the perfect squishy texture – are in fact the best gummy candy around. My kids also love their gummi peach rings.
Albanese also makes top-notch malt balls in milk chocolate, dark chocolate and milk chocolate coated with peanut butter. I was forced to find a chocolate substitute when See’s shut down before fulfulling my Easter order, and now my family is hooked on these elevated malt balls.
For college grads trying to find their way in the workforce, I like The Career Playbook by James Citrin of headhunting firm Spencer Stuart. The truth is that navigating working life is a trial and error process, a bumpy ride that would be much easier to weather if a smart coach told you what to expect from the start. Citrin is that guy, and this is an especially good year for that message.
For the real runners and the aspirational runners, a great pair of socks is always a good stocking stuffer. We are loving these Balega Hidden Comfort socks ($15), which are thicker on the sole for comfort and thinner on top for ventilation.
Wishing you all a healthy and happy holiday season! This is truly the year to appreciate what we have. I am grateful for all of you, this wee corner of the internet, and the opportunity to share with you here.