holiday gifts, two ways.

December 2, 2015

holiday gifts, two ways | reading my tea leaves Options are nice. And experimenting with a taste of something prepared one way and a taste of that same thing prepared in an entirely different way can be an exercise in sensory exploration that’s at once comforting and liberating. 

Chefs have caught on: an abundance of acorn squash at the market? Try it two ways: Folded into a rich risotto or roasted and tucked into tacos. Cauliflower going bonkers? Bathe it in a rich coconut curry or slice it through the middle and serve it like a steak.

For my part, I’ve been thinking about holiday gifts as having similar potential for flexibility and creativity. And so, here are my ideas for holiday gifts, presented in two different ways. The rules aren’t steadfast. You could give the gift in both ways of course, or a third way if better.

In hopes that they offer jumping off points for a friend or lover or sibling or parent or perfect stranger on your list, my ideas for holiday gifts with a twist…

Breakfast in Bed, Two Ways
+ A walnut tray for serving fresh-made biscuits and coffee.
+ A pound of coffee beans and a handwritten voucher for the service on a day of the recipient’s choice.

Cabin in the Woods, Two Ways
+ A copy of Cabin Porn for curling up with.
+ A two-night stay at an actual cabin in the woods

Knife Skills, Two Ways
+ A very special chef’s knife for perfecting your slice.
+ A class at a local kitchen for honing your dice and chop.

Spice Cabinet Redux, Two Ways
+ A 3-Spice set from a specialty purveyor.
+ A set of new mason jars and fresh roll of washi tape and the promise of lending a helping hand.

Cheese Plate, Two Ways
+ A slate board that’s just right for serving your favorite bleu.
A gift-certificate to a nearby cheese shop.

Surf Lessons, Two Ways
+ A subscription to inspire getting out on the waves.
+ A day in the surf.
holiday gifts, two ways | reading my tea leavesNight at the Ballet, Two Ways
+ A subscription to Mary Helen Bower’s Ballet Beautiful for practicing in your living room.
+ Tickets to see the professionals on the big stage.

Good Night’s Sleep, Two Ways
+ A new set of organic cotton sheets.
+ A handmade lavender sachet.

Taste of Spring, Two Ways
+ A brand new seed catalog and a red pencil for marking (and ordering) favorites.
+ A bagful of paperwhite bulbs and a few glass jars and pebbles for “planting”.

Tropical Vacation, Two Ways
+ Plane tickets to someplace warm and dreamy.
+ An afternoon at a more reasonable substitute.

Reading Nook, Two Ways
+ A cozy pillow for snuggling next to.
+ A new book (say, this one), and a plan to give someone a little time alone.

Long Swim, Two Ways
+ A mix-and-match swimsuit.
+ A membership to a nearby pool.

Cup of Tea, Two Ways
+ An invitation for an afternoon trip to a local tea salon.
+ A collection of teas to enjoy right at home from a special mug.

Sourdough Bread, Two Ways
+ The ultimate guide to some of the very best sourdough.
+ A mason jar full of homemade starter and the promise to give a gifts, two ways | reading my tea leavesCandlelit Dinner, Two Ways
+ A set of brass tealights.
+ Beeswax tapers, a tiny cookbook, and a homemade dinner.

Dose of Greenery, Two Ways
+ A potted plant.
+ A trip to a local oasis.

Spring Day Adventure, Two Ways
+ A perfume to transport you to April in January.
+ A backpack and a map and the promise of a ramble once the ground thaws.

Stargazing, Two Ways
+ A trip to a planetarium.
+ A little slice of moonstone.

Healthy Habits, Two Ways
+ The perfect layer for a good stint outside.
+ Membership to a running club.

Sunset Kiss, Two Ways
+ A sunset-inspired bowl.
+ A drive to a secluded spot, a thermos full of cocoa, and a vow to watch the sun go down.

Quiet Afternoon, Two Ways
+ A pair of stay-inside-all-day slippers.
+ A choice of a new knitting project.

Charitable Donation, Two Ways
+ A monetary donation to someone in need.
+ An afternoon spent volunteering at a local soup kitchen.

More gift ideas, RIGHT HERE.

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  • Reply Jen December 2, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Love this!

  • Reply Kari December 2, 2015 at 10:20 am

    I wish I could afford your example items, but i do love the overall concept and creative pairings. Tucking this away for future idea generation.

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 2, 2015 at 10:28 am

      A stepping off point, for sure! Not a final destination!

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 2, 2015 at 10:30 am

      But PS: If you read carefully, some of the ideas are very nearly free! xo!

      • Reply Kari December 2, 2015 at 11:40 am

        True! 🙂

  • Reply Cathy December 2, 2015 at 11:30 am

    The link for beeswax tapers leads to shoes…which tapers did you mean to link to? I’ve been trying to find some pure beeswax tapers for a very special three-taper wall sconce…

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 2, 2015 at 11:39 am

      Oops! Thanks for letting me know! Links fixed now!

  • Reply Linda December 2, 2015 at 11:56 am

    such a creative and fun post!!!

  • Reply Kristina December 2, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Erin, every holiday season I look forward to your gift guide. You have a lovely way of coming up with great gifts. I have a really complicated relationship with gifts (I don’t like the fuss and the high expectations that today’s society has about gift giving and receiving) and have mostly told everyone I don’t want gifts for birthdays or Christmas and also don’t give gifts for these occasions. But I LOVE to give unexpected gifts during the year for no occasion just to show my appreciation and love for someone special. I love that this way of gift giving does not come with any expectations of the gift receiver and it also does not lead to them thinking I have any expectations of receiving a gift in return. For these special gifts I always browse your site for inspiration.

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 2, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, Kristina!

  • Reply Katherine December 2, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Love this post! I love giving “experiences” as gifts – such a nice alternative to “things!”

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 2, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      So glad!

  • Reply Shena December 2, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I LOVE this! You are brilliant. I also just got tickets to see the Nutcracker because of your idea. So thank you for this creative guide. I’m keeping this post on my radar to refer back to whenever I need a gift idea.

  • Reply alex chua December 2, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Thanks for this! Lovely, thoughtful ideas.

  • Reply Alexa December 2, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    I squealed when I saw the link to your book 🙂 I cannot wait!

    Also, I am curious — have you ever taken a class at BK Kitchen? I am interested in a few on their calendar, but am wondering if they are worth the $$.

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 2, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      Yayay! James has taken two classes and really enjoyed them! And we just gave classes to our friends for a wedding gift!

  • Reply Melanie December 2, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Oh my! What a wonderful list!! Can’t wait to go through them all! Love your categories for gifts!

  • Reply Libby December 2, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    this is one of my favorites out of all of the gift guides i’ve seen. how thoughtful and meaningful! thank you.

  • Reply Abbie Patterson December 2, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    So many exquisite choices!!! The gift recipients in your life are very lucky:)

  • Reply Lissa Snapp December 2, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Love these Erin! Just went and ordered your book! Cannot wait to read it!

    x Lissa

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 2, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      Thank you, Lissa!!!

  • Reply jiturka December 3, 2015 at 8:05 am

    Hi Erin, those are some good ideas! 🙂 We are doing a no-gifts Christmas for the first time, I hope it will work out. It is quite a relief for me (I am bad at finding the right gifts) and I recon for the grandparents too. But since there are many birthdays in my fam around Christmas, maybe I let myself get inspired. Thank you!
    BTW. We still will be baking like 15 different types of christmas cookies (if you want to see how it looks, google czech christmas cookies for a glimpse) which is quite time consuming but also delicious. We share the workload with my grandma.

  • Reply Marichelle December 3, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    This is fantastic Erin! What a thoughtful and inspiring guide to gifting. xx

  • Reply The Sill team December 3, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Such wonderful & thoughtful ideas! (+ a big thank you for including a little something green from #thesill) Xx

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