About this time of year, to the chagrin of my family, I start humming (or even worse, singing) the Julie Andrew’s song, “a few of my favorite things”.

Like a never-ending loop of corny.

And as much as I love “snowflakes that stay on my eyes and eyelashes”, it offers little guidance to do some gifting. I thought I’d offer some of my favorite things …  (and hope you’ll add your own to the comments section, so we can build a fabulous set of ideas… )

For Creativity.  The secret to coming up with newness is capturing your ideas, snippets, and sparks AS THEY COME. This way you can access it when you have to go into “production mode”. For creativity at your fingertips. I recommend carrying a flexible Moleskin journal to capture ideas. I use the “extra large” which fits inside most bags. Shop Moleskine here ($15):

For Meaning. Too often, people live their lives without understanding what really matters to them. After losing someone she loved, friend and artist Candy Chang painted the side of dilapidated house in her neighborhood in New Orleans with chalkboard paint and stenciled the sentence, “Before I die I want to _____.” This graffiti has since spurred a movement. Beautifully photographed and inspiring on every page, her “before I die” project is captured in a new book. You’ll want to get one for a friend, and one for yourself. And, of course, to know your “Before I Die” ($20):

For BadassNess.  I plan on watching all Bond 23 movies — the collection set, $120 — in succession during the holidays. That’s right. I’m hoping to sit on my arse and just enjoy Bondness:

If I were giving this as a gift to me, I’d add something to drink (see below) ($60) And I’d add this little gadget ($15) to the package.


For Heart. Billy Collins is able, with simplicity and perfection, to find the few words that will make me cry. Or laugh aloud. Or see anew. I’ve read the Lanyard to my son loads … Collins has a new book out ($20) — it is his latest gift to the world:

For Beauty. Art doesn’t just belong on walls. Art is a function of function, clothes and animates life. This cubebot ($10)A0969_SP7769 was inspired by ancient Shinto puzzles called kumiki (the Japanese word for “to join wood together”), it’s a movable robot made with elastic-band “muscles” so it’s easy to transform and even easier to neatly stash away. I’d leave it on my desk, near a picture of someone who reminds me to play. Related to art, I’ve fallen in love with the Hatch, (formerly Makably) which lets you personalize things in ways that lets you create beautiful, and artistic gifts. Love this.

For Writing.  The board books for the Foothill-DeAnza Community College Board (where I served for a bit) were huge, but before each major topic, Tom Fryer, the Chancellor, would have written in his own hand, a note framing the topic. It was the distinguishing characteristic of the gold nib and flowing ink that let me know it was his words, his ideas. While I have a smallish collection of fountain pens, I use this Pilot Namiki retractable pen – highly functional yet distinct – nearly every day. ~$120


For Health. You probably already know that I’m a big walkntalker, after being asked to give a talk at TED on it…. Many, many (mostly women) people have written asking what “do I wear if I want to look professional and still do this”. My answer? Icebreaker brand.

Pants here:

Top here:

Throw on a professional jacket, and relatively flat booties and you have a “normal” look. Workable (the washable wool both absorbs sweat and any associated smells so you don’t smell like a gym) clothes that still look professional. Expensive at first, but every icebreaker piece I have still looks new, even after 6 years of wear.

For Inspiration. Few people know that you can curate your own very own personalized DVD of TEDtalks (up to 32!). Pick 5 or 10 that YOU love and then create a custom DVD for a friend. It’s 10 bucks in cost, but using the Mastercard tag line — it’s priceless in inspiration. It’s sure to spark a new conversation, and thus deepen your friendship. I would pick one or two rather than multiples to spur that conversation deeper. Find out more here.  (Oh, and if you want some picks for who to include? This is a pretty good list of 15 talks that will change your life. )


For Peace of Mind. About every quarter, I seek out a refuge of silence for at least 36 hours. In my area, a hermitage serves as the ultimate retreat, with views of Big Sur area, and the peace of the monks around me. You can find your own retreat locations here. I bring back these date cakes for friends even though I want to eat them. All, by myself.  Sooo good. Indescribably so. (Plus you’re helping the monks live their monkish life.)

Date Cake

For Generosity. And for those that have everything, please remember those that don’t. Hunger in America exists for over 50 million people. That is 1 in 6 of the U.S. population – including more than 1 in 5 children. They go to school hungry and then people wonder if they are stupid. No, they are just barely making it. My family and I give to 2nd harvest food bank. You can donate here. Each year, we have a tradition at our house where the kiddo and I write hand notes of why we picked the gifts of food or shelter, on behalf of others. My good friend Glen Lubbert gave me a Kiva gift last year, enabling his dollars to be put toward good and I so appreciated the gesture cause he gets me. These intentions and words then become the gift of appreciation. Heifer International gets a share of attention this time of year. My kiddo loves to give Goats or Chicks, which helps many abroad. And 2nd Harvest food bank helps locally. (and do remember, any amount is generous.)

Heifer International Gift Catalog

When it comes to hunger, food can be a life-changing gift. It is also a great way of affirming those people who don’t need another thing in their life but love. I think it’s the greatest gift someone can give – the gift of care for others.

Many Joys and gifts to you this season,


7 Replies

  1. a p.s. to the post. Included revenue affiliate links where it made sense. The blog costs well over $6K/year just to host and tool (not counting the hundreds of hours in writing or the gazillion dollars to design site) from which is earned…. nothing. I didn’t include the links to generate revenues but if it does … consider it underwriting for the cause. I’m slowly going broke as the readership grows.

  2. Oh, and one really practical idea. I’m always ashamed when I use a plastic bottle; I’ve been trying to carry my own around. of course, beautiful bottle carriers help. This one @ Liberty Bottle works is made in the US by a great company — Yosemite pattern here. http://libertybottles.com/Liberty_Bottle_Detail.asp?collection=Topo&bottle=Yosemite but check them all out. Great design, good company, and (assuming it changes behavior) could be great for the environment.

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