12 December 2014

Callie's Holiday Gift Guide for Totally Fab Gifters

Everybody does a gift guide, so I decided to join the crowd. Here are some things (personally vetted by me) for those tricky people on your lists for whom you still have no idea what to get.

Click on the title for more information about each item.

3-month Audible Gift Subscription: $45

Audible is a digital audiobook shop, and it's amaaaaaazing. A 3-month subscription runs you $45, and gives your giftee 1 credit per month to buy any audiobook in the shop as well as heavy discounts on additional audiobooks.  The best part is that audible now have ALL THE APPS so if your giftee has a smartphone, iPod touch, or tablet, they will be able to auto-sync their books to their device. This removes a huge obstacle from a few years ago, when there were several somewhat-confusing steps to download and sync your books. It's now very user-friendly. Your giftee will get the opportunity to pick their own books, and you can listen to a sample of the book on Audible before buying so you know beforehand if the narrator is likely to irritate the heck out of you.

Good for: anybody who likes listening to stories; now highly user-friendly

Callie's story: I got this for my dad for several gift-giving occasions running, and he seems to enjoy it. I also personally enjoy Audible.

EFFIGY by M.J. Fifield: $18

This is the first book of The Coileáin Chronicles. It's the incredibly exciting debut novel by author M.J. Fifield. It's a truly beautiful and hefty paperback fantasy novel with all the trappings.
Summary: The survival of a once-mighty kingdom rests in the hands of its young queen, Haleine Coileáin, as it slowly succumbs to an ancient evil fueled by her husband’s cruelty. A sadistic man with a talent for torture and a taste for murder, he is determined to burn the land and all souls within. Haleine is determined to save her kingdom and, after a chance encounter, joins forces with the leader of the people’s rebellion. She gives him her support, soon followed by her heart. Loving him is inadvertent but becomes as natural and necessary as breathing. She lies and steals on his behalf, doing anything she can to further their cause. She compromises beliefs held all her life, for what life will exist if evil prevails? Her journey leads to a deceiving world of magic, monsters, and gods she never believed existed outside of myth. The deeper she goes, the more her soul is stripped away, but she continues on, desperate to see her quest complete. If she can bring her husband to ruin and save her people, any sacrifice is worth the price—even if it means her life.
Good for: readers who enjoy fantasy; people who like the writing of George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss would likely enjoy this novel.

Callie's story: I proof-read this novel and absolutely adore it. However, I am not profiting from its sales, so my gushing about the book is not in any way inspired by money.

Fabric Rosette Hairclip by Baby Birdie Boutique: $12.50

This is a lovely fabric hairclip. The artist will make it in your choice of colors and your choice of accessory (headband or clip). This is a large, striking accessory. The artist also makes single- and double-rosette accessories.

Good for: people who like pretty headbands and hairclips; especially good for dancers and people who enjoy hosting parties

Additionally: This artist also makes a variety of decorative headbands for babies, which is something to keep in mind if you have to shop for the baby who has everything. (Or if you want to get your friend a cute pretty thing for his/her baby.)

Callie's story: I bought it to wear for a friend's wedding, and I've since worn it several times. I've gotten a lot of compliments on it and it's perfectly comfortable. I got it with the alligator clip, as my inherited mushroom head isn't conducive to standard headbands.

Ceramic Pendant Necklace by SurlyRamics: $18

Artist Surly Amy features SO MANY lovely ceramic pendant necklaces: science geekery, feminism, insect fossils, sparkly trees inset with gems, a depiction of the chemical compound of a scent along with a vial of the scent to put on the necklace and release scent during the day... the list goes on. Have a person to shop for who loves pendants and art? Go look.

Good for: unabashed geeks, scientists, scent-lovers, sparkle-lovers, feminists, atheists, nature-lovers

Callie's story: I have admired Surly Amy's art for some years but couldn't ever pick just one. While at ScienceWriters2014, I saw a woman wearing one of these pendants and went home and and bought one the very next week. Pictured above is the Starfish ceramic necklace I purchased, which unfortunately does not appear to be currently available, but there's many other amazing options.

10 Notecards Variety Pack by On A Good Note Designs: $12

A great gift for the letter-writer and adorer of notecards. I've frequently gifted personalized sets of notecards from artist Sarah Eutsler (as well as used them myself) and I can vouch for them being well-made, high-quality cards. They just feel good in the hand. This set is a great deal because you get to pick the contents of your 10-card variety pack. This would be a particularly great gift packaged with a fountain pen and ink set, which you can get at any bookstore.

Good for: stationary-lovers and letter-writers

Additionally: This artist also does personalized pet stationary featuring original colored pencil artwork of your giftee's pet on a set of notecards and notepads, but unfortunately at this point, it is too late to order this gift in time for Christmas. This is a great future gift idea for the crazy pet lover in your life.

Callie's story: Sarah gave me my own set of these cards for my graduation from my master's program. The year before, my brother gave me a lovely fountain pen and ink set, and my sister gave me a set of sealing wax and a seal. As a writer and lover of the physical activity of writing, I very much enjoy using all these gifts together.

Personalized Etched Drink Glasses: $23 + time

What you need: stemless wine glasses ($10) and Glass Etching Cream ($13) and, I assume, some patience. My sister etched a set of wine glasses for me; I believe she basically followed the instructions on the package for the etching cream and made her own punctuation templates with tape on the glasses, but this tutorial looks promising. The key part here is that you can make a set of highly-personalized wine glasses that will appeal to your giftee personally.

Is your giftee not much of a wine-drinker? What about etching a set of whiskey glasses or beer glasses? Tall glasses for lemonade? Glass mugs for coffee or tea? Get creative!

Good for: people who like personalized things, people who drink things

Additionally: Obviously you could etch any glass item with this cream. It just takes some creative thought about what would personally appeal to your giftee. Glass vases? Glass pitchers? Glass ornaments? Glass mirrors? The list goes on!

Callie's story: My favorite wine glasses are a set of stemless wine glasses my sister personally etched a set of punctuation marks into. As a writer and giant punctuation nerd, I obviously completely love my punctuation mark wine glasses and drink from whichever one I feel best expresses my mood or situation. (Am I more of a comma or a semicolon tonight? It's definitely not an exclamation mark sort of day.)

And unfortunately that wraps up this list for now, friends, because the other artists who I'd love to include on here apparently don't believe in the Internet, so you'll just have to hope I'll buy their things and gift them to you!

What are your favorite gift ideas? Tell me in the comments!