It’s the holiday season. For the second time, I’ve made a holiday gift guide of stuff I personally love this year. Note: Some of the products listed below link to Amazon.com. I am an Amazon Associate member, which means anything bought through one of these links sends a little money my way at no extra cost to you.
The National Parks Pass is the go-to gift for outdoors lovers living in the United States. Some states, like South Carolina and Washington, sell annual state park passes. Fifty-Nine Parks created the artwork behind the Field Notes National Parks Memo Books. Now they’ve made a guidebook to the parks. If you’re looking for other outdoors swag, check out the Parks Project. Profits support the preservation of public lands. I highly recommend Nick Offerman’s book Where the Deer and the Antelope Play if you want something to read between hikes. It will give you a better grasp of the fragility and delicate balance of the land we take for granted.
Playing the board game Wingspan has given me an appreciation for the beauty of our avian friends. The best place to start for beginner birdwatchers is with an Audubon bird call and The Sibley Guide to Birds. See the Audubon Society’s gift guide for more bird-related fun.
On the tech side, Kindle finally made an e-ink tablet on which you can write. I’m a believer in the right to repair, so naturally I’m very excited about the Framework Laptop, a computer you can build and repair yourself. Watchy is an open-source, e-paper watch to fill that Pebble-sized hole in your heart.
E-bikes are a fun, healthy, environmentally-friendly, and ever-so-nerdy way to get around town. Here’s a short guide on how to find the best e-bike for you.
The man behind Baron Fig wrote a book on the creative process titled The Laws of Creativity. Speaking of creativity, Steal Like an Artist author Austin Kleon writes a Substack newsletter with bonus content for paying subscribers. His book bundle trilogy also makes a wonderful gift.
For stationery lovers, Yoseka Stationery has published their annual holiday gift guide. Currently, my favorite notebook is the Maruman Mnemosyne. If you’re looking for writing utensils, Pen Addict has you covered. I have long been a fan of Studio Neat’s work. They make a notebook designed specifically for your desk.
In the past, I recommended the Freewrite Traveler as a writing device without the distractions of an ordinary computer. For a cheaper, more retro alternative, check out the AlphaSmart 3000. If you are a notetaker like myself, Tiago Forte published a book on the subject titled Building a Second Brain. I use Obsidian for my notetaking. The software is free, but they sell a service that allows you to sync your notes across multiple devices.
Lately, I’ve taken an interest in chess. I even bought a small travel chess set. Bauhaus makes this cool chess set designed to show exactly how each piece moves. A chess.com subscription is a great way for beginners to learn the game. For board games other than chess, check out Keith Law’s list of top 100 board games. If you’re a fan of crosswords, buy a New York Times Games subscription.
Major streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ are known to everyone, but several lesser-known services are also worth a subscription. For the film snob, check out The Criterion Channel. For the horror fan, check out Shudder. And for the Anglophile, check out BritBox.
If you want to find a way to give back, there are several worthy causes where you can buy amazing gifts. Many museums, like the Smithsonian, Met, and Art Institute of Chicago, have online stores. The same goes for many major libraries, like the NY Public Library and Los Angeles Public Library. Wikipedia recently opened their online store with great swag. Or if you are anti-consumerism, use Charity Navigator and GiveWell to find the best ways to spend your donations.