Some “Favorite Things” for Christmas

Life Moments column
By Christine Bryant
I used to watch “Oprah” – a lot.

One of the things I miss most, however, is a special episode that aired every year at this time – “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”

If you’re like me, you struggle each year to find the perfect gift, but I found inspiration from one of the gifts she showcased on the show, or at the least amusement in the audience’s reactions when they found out they would be taking home each gift.

While I can’t offer you the free swag she gave her audience, I can offer you a few ideas for unique items if you’re struggling this year. Most of these ideas I’ve come across by surfing the web or have bought myself. Happy shopping!

For the artist

Adult coloring books are all the rage, but this present is a new take on the fad. The Haute Art coloring pillow ( allows you to personalize your space – and relieve a little holiday anxiety – by coloring a pillow cover that features a floral, animal or other design.

You don’t have to be an artist to give a unique, artistic gift this year. Case in point – Gifted Custom Art ( ) allows you to upload any photo – whether it’s a portrait or snapshot of your pet – and turn it into a paint-by-numbers outline printed on a gallery wrapped canvas. They come with everything you need – paint, brushes and even an easel.

For the practical joker

If you’re friends or family with someone who has a good sense of humor, you’ll want to take a look at Beard Head ( This bearded headwear comes in a variety of hilarious styles, from “Barbarians” to “Duck Dynasty.”

For the reader
I’m old school when it comes to books. I have a reading tablet, but there’s nothing better than turning actual pages rather than clicking a button.

I came across some really great books this year that would make perfect gifts.

“Wolf Haven” (  is a stirring book of photographs that introduces wolves that have been given sanctuary at Wolf Haven International near Mount Rainer in southeast Washington state. The text puts the stories of these wolves – and others in North America – on paper and uncovers truths about wolves and the ways humans are finding to coexist with them.

“Route 66 Barn Find Road Trip” ( ) takes readers on a trip along the legendary highway as the authors document their finds and adventures as they unearth treasures peeking out from corroded garages or hidden buildings.

For kids, “Lost My Name” ( is a series of personalized children’s books that spark creativity by allowing you to incorporate your child’s name in the story’s narrative.

For the music lover, “Bright Midnight” ( is written by Chris Formant, a member of the board of trustees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. In this book, an investigative reporter for “Rolling Stone” confronts the possibility  someone could be behind the deaths of several music legends.

For the kitchen

My grandma loves to bake pies, which is why I thought of her when I saw the Tovolo Precision Pastry Cutter ( Mimicking a compass drawing tool, the pie cutter cuts dough into perfect circles or decorative cuts. It makes a nice add-on gift for someone who loves banking.

Having kids, I don’t have a lot of beautiful dishes. But I do have a few I particularly love, including Water Lily Bowls by Bordallo Pinheiro ( ). I used the yellow one over Thanksgiving for my cranberry sauce. They’re perfect to add just a little pop of color and class to the table on the days when I need to feel more like a grown-up.

For the stocking stuffer

Tea is always a good gift, but Tea Drops ( make you rethink this popular drink. These organic shaped teas dissolve in a cup of hot water, steeping instantly.

Also tiny and unique, Seed Coins ( are recycled paper pulp embedded with seeds that you can then grow at home. The coins are tied in a stack of 20 and tucked in a gift bag with planting instructions.

A popular gift over the holidays is coffee, but Drift Away Coffee ( reaffirms for me that not all coffees are created equal. Sure, they all smell great, but some are really unique, including this subscription service for coffee lovers that features product from around the world.

Inspired by vintage baggage tags, each label features tasting notes for each package, whether it’s grapefruit, cedar and melon tasting notes from Kenya, or toffee, cocoa and dark chocolate tasting notes from Papua New Guinea. The packages are even personalized, with your name handwritten on each label.

Here’s an interesting stocking stuffer – the Lucky Iron Fish ( I had no idea this existed until just the other day. It’s a cast iron fish that can be added to any cooking pot and gives up to 90 percent of the amount of iron a family needs daily.

For the subscriber

I love monthly subscription boxes. If you’re not careful, however, costs can add up if you subscribe to too many, which is why I subscribe to one, as does my husband. If you’ve never heard of them, they are boxes that arrive at your door on a monthly basis – similar to a magazine subscription – and come in a variety of themes.

I subscribe to Ipsy, a monthly makeup box, while my husband subscribes to Loot Crate, which is a gamer box.

However, there’s many more themes, from the Alaska Cache Box (, a box that highlight some of the best Alaska has to offer, to Music Box Subscriptions (, a box that contains CDs and extras like guitar picks, stickers and download cards.

ShareCrate ( was designed to be a gift, allowing someone to send a meal that requires little preparation to a family member in need, whether it’s a new mom, a grandparent or simply someone who wants more time over the holidays.

For the gamer

We love games in my family, whether it’s board games or electronics. I tried my best to get the Nintendo NES Classic Edition, which allows you to play the Nintendo games I obsessed over when I was younger, like “Zelda” and “Super Mario Bros.” Thousands of others tried as well, and like me, to no avail.

So while I wait for the newness of this old gaming console to wear off, here are a few other fun games to try out.

It’s difficult to get excited about politics, but “The Agenda Game” ( does make it fun again as it allows you to be a political character with your agenda – pulling the strings of lobbyists and collecting enough money and votes to make sure your agenda wins.
If you need a good workout after Thanksgiving dinner, try “Just Dance 2017” ( We got it for our Xbox One, and trust me, you have no idea how out of sync or shape you are until you try this game. My daughter loved it, though, as she shamelessly showed me up on the dance floor.

Then there’s the “Ticket to Ride” board games (  ), which are so much fun because they take you on adventures around the world, allowing you to assume the identity of passengers, investors or other historical characters.

Christine Bryant is a Messenger staff writer and columnist.

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