These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

by Alafair Burke

Ah, the joys of holiday shopping.

It took only a few images like these for me to head straight to the safety of my desk for all my holiday shopping needs. Part of me does feel guilty about missing out on the special experience of holiday shopping in Manhattan, but, wow, it’s so warm and comfy in my apartment (and much closer to the refridgerator.) I love that the gifts get wrapped and mailed by invisible elves, complete with return instructions so my friends and family members don’t even have to tell me if they opt for another selection.

Ironically, though, holiday shopping online may not actually save time, at least not in my case.  In a store, I’m so eager to leave, I grab what I want and get the hell out while I’m still alive.  But online?  I browse and browse and browse, because the choices are infinite.  And so very, very odd.

I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of my favorite (mostly ridiculous) online finds this year.

10.        Blink Ketchup and Mustard Bottles

Your hotdog and hamburger eaters will love these.  The eyes close when you flip the bottle over!

9.      Fire Bell Alarm Clock    

From one of my favorite modern design stores in New York, this clock looks incredibly cool and is supposed to be as loud as a fire bell.

8.  Girly-Girl Roller Skates

Okay, that’s not really what they’re called, but that’s what I’ve dubbed them.  As a kid, I used to skate until my feet bled.  These make me want to spin in circles until I fall from dizziness.

7.    Bacon Soap

We all know someone who says everything is better with bacon.  (Come on, people, you know who you are!)  This soap, which looks and smells like bacon, will put that theory to the test.

6.  Toph Daddy Area Code T-shirts

A few of my readers were sweet enough to bring these to my attention after my most recent book, 212, was published.  I love my 212 shirt.  They also have ones for Boston, LA, and Chicago.

5. Edible Gingerbread Playhouse

Every year I love to peruse Neiman Marcus’s “Fantasy Gifts.”  Nothing will ever beat last year’s Cupcake Car, but this $15,000 edible gingerbread playhouse gives me a new understanding of how rich, crazy people make weird, bratty kids.

Last year’s cupcake car. Check out the creepy description: “Ever had a crowd of kids chasing after you just for the crazy gleeful heck of it?”
4.  Mystery Solver Trucker Hat

This hat is actually an homage to Frank, the trucker-hat wearing writer on 30 Rock, but I suspect we’ve got a few pals here at Murderati who might just rock a Mystery Solver hat without any irony.

3. Keurig Coffee Maker

Okay, no comedy here but what writer doesn’t need a coffee maker that brews single cups with no muss, no fuss? Total time saver.

2.  Soda Stream

No kidding around here, either, folks.  I like to think my home carbonation machine makes up for all those K-cups I’m throwing away thanks to the Keurig coffee maker.  Soda Stream even has a delivery service to send back your CO-2 tanks for refill.  Anyone who drinks sparking water should own one of these.  (Added bonus: The carbonating process makes a noise that the seven year old boys in your life, or in my case, the husband, will find absolutely hilarious.)

1.  Gee, what would I suggest as the #1 gift for the holidays?  How about… BOOKS!  You know how fun it is to discover a new writer with a backlist so you can read all the books in order?  Consider introducing your friends to new writers by buying them the first few paperbacks in a series.  Books are inexpensive, personal, and a cinch to wrap with all of those convenient right angles!

So how much online shopping are you doing this year?  And what are some of your favorite holiday finds?



21 thoughts on “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

  1. Zoë Sharp

    Great post, Alafair

    I'm stunned by the 15-grand gingerbread playhouse. Is that so the very rich can have their kids going into diabetic comas by the day after Christmas? Does it come with a free stomach pump?

    I love the 212 shirt – how cool is that?

    I'll be doing quite a bit of on-line shopping as we're pretty much snowed in at the moment. We went to the Motorcycle Show in Birmingham on Friday, and it took us nearly an hour to dig our way back up the last 300 yards of our snow-filled lane when we got home at midnight. One of our neighbours heard the noise outside and sent his dog out to bark at us for a while.

    Thank goodness we weren't using bacon soap…

  2. Tracy Nicol

    Ha,ha! I wonder if men find bacon soap inticing when used by a woman? I suspect it would just be my cats and the dog next door.

    I do all my holiday shopping online. My purchases so far have been pretty mundane. But, my favorite was a Keurig coffee machine for our family. We just love those K-cups as well! There are so many different types to try, we have boxes and boxes in the basement. And, then there's that nifty Google group where everyone can trade K-cups when they buy a box and don't like it.

    I do love finding new authors and reading all their books. Especially when the author is a darn good one! I'm reading 212 right now, because I was late in discovering this wonderful author. ; )

  3. J.D. Rhoades

    I had a single cup coffee maker for a while, but it was by Black & Decker, and not nearly as nifty looking as that one. Still, great concept, and I probably should get another one. Making a whole pot means I tend to drink a whole pot.

    As for the bacon soap: uh-uh. Damn dog won't leave me alone as it is.

  4. Shizuka

    Realistic gifts I want to give this year: funky sea salt from the meadow.

    Unrealistic girts I want to give and get: Vitra mini chairs because small, beautifully-designed,
    essentially-useless things appeal to me.

    Most fun gift I received: stabbed man knife block from my best friend.
    It gives me glee every time I slide a knife in and on the days I'm pissed off at someone, a healthy

  5. debbie

    For those of you who don't already know, I was in a car crash a week ago and hope to sign papers for the new vehicle today…so here is the most amazing gift:
    No, this is not Arthur Weasley's flying car but in case you didn't check the link, this is an actual road worthy car that flys!

    For more cool gifts check out the entire catalogue:

    Finally, the gift that will fill your heart, top up a stocking, and make a difference like nothing material ever could. Skeptical, click the link:

  6. PK the Bookeemonster

    My husband and my side of the family have decided not to exchange gifts this year for financial reasons. However, a very fun site I like to browse in is A classic for me is the Tauntaun sleeping bag.
    I may cheat a little and pick up a graphic novel for my husband, it's the only thing Steve-the-Nonreader will read and I gotta promote that as much as I can. 🙂

  7. Mike Spicher

    Nice post! Glad I came across it. I never really thought about the throw-away K-cups. But here's something you may not know – the Fizz Giz soda maker kit makes sodas (without the farting noise) and it's only thirty bucks. Yeah. It's at and A big plus is that it can be used to carbonate nature's own natural fruit juices and prepared drinks. The $100-$300 SodaStream only carbonates water – nothing else.

  8. kim

    I am so picking up a 310 tee for me. =)

    I had started the season trying to shop local- that lasted all of two outings. Someone parked so close to my car on my last outing that I had to crawl in through the passenger side door and shimmy into the driver's seat. I'm 38. My shimmying days are long gone. That was the last straw and I've reverted back to my online shopping ways.

    My fave find this year was for my dad. He's impossible to shop for. Joby makes this flashlight called the Gorillatorch Flare that mounts via magnets or flexible legs that wrap around stuff. Perfect for the guy that's always yelling for someone to hold the flashlight. =)

  9. pari noskin taichert

    Books. Books. Books. That's it every year. Oh, and several beehives from Heifer International . . . we pool the money we would spend individually on our kids' teachers and donate it to H.I.

  10. debbie

    Wow, this is affirming…thought our family was the only one that didn't exchange gifts. I knew people increased charitable giving this time of year, but I love that more people are making the charitable donation their gift! But come on, a flying car? That's seriously cool!

  11. toni mcgee causey

    Debbie, that flying car is awesome. I would love one of those. Except for the actual landing part. And yikes, I somehow missed that you'd been in an accident! Holy cats, I hope you're well and not suffering any injuries!

    Alafair, thanks for this–you sparked several creative ideas for gifts for the impossible-to-buy-for crowd that is my family.

  12. Kagey

    I have to second PK's thinkgeek mention — I just ordered the BBQ forks that look like pirate swords for friends who are nearing completion on a kitchen remodel.
    I'm contemplating the brain ice cube trays for my friend who write zombie novels. Hmmm, brains! (They also have oddities like caffeinated marshmallows and caffeinated maple-bacon lollipops. More bacon! More caffeine!)

    I save up my book wish list for Christmas every year. It takes me 6 months to get through them all, but happiness is a full bedside table!

    And I giggled at the full size gingerbread house. but it makes me wonder if the parents have ever read Hansel and Gretel. The witch fattens up Hansel so she can EAT him, right? Talk about disconnecting the moral of the story from the image…

  13. Alafair Burke

    I'm so sorry to be away from my own post today. We had back to back faculty sessions at the law school today. Describing that experience would be one very long blog post.

    One thing I do realize on reading your comments is that almost all of us, as trite as it sounds, really do care more about the thought than anything else. The memories behind a thing truly do make the thing more "valuable" to us than any absolute capitalistic, retail market.

    I continue to hang on to things I've held onto for the last 20 or 30 years only because of the thoughts underlying them or the circumstances under which I acquired them. I can imagine myself holding onto bacon soap until … well, until I needed to be buried with it.

    Here's a trickier question: What does one do when she has received a thoughtful, personal gift (say, a bacon soap bar) but it just doesn't make sense any longer from a pragmatic sense to hang onto it (say, she lives in an NYC apartment short on space?). when is it OK to dispose of sentimental gifts?

  14. sharla

    LOL my mother in law is getting the Kuerhig coffee maker…I had to go buy the little flavored servings.

  15. Love your blog

    A great wish list for holidays.

    By the way, BLINK KETCHUP + MUSTARD is available in MishaSF gift store for local San Francisco shoppers.

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