1. Avoid sharp edges
Need a special place to hide those $39.95 My Econo’s Optical glasses? (We’re looking at you, Mike Yuchnitz!) Look no further than local crafty chica, Missy May’d (AKA, Melissa Ozuna) and her spec-tacular eyeglass sleeves. While perusing her table at Dia de los Craftos a few weeks ago, I came across a table full of kitschy shade sleeves. From zebra to guitar print, Missy May’d shields your specs from scratches and the like. Whether you’re purchasing an eyeglass sleeve for that special cougar in your life or for your frugal fashionista mother (Mom, if you’re reading this, act surprised on Christmas Eve!), they’re affordable and super cute. Plus, you’re supporting the SATX craft scene. Visit Missy’s Etsy shop (etsy.com/shop/missymayd), or follow her around local craft circles. — Jennifer Herrera
2. Totoro love
We <3 Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki collection. Sure, the films mostly appeal to children, but the beautiful animations, complex story lines, and cultural nuances intrigue both young and old. (There’s even a museum dedicated to his films and the Ghibli Studio in Mitaka, Japan.) If we could give just one gift it would be this studio’s 32 DVDs of animated films and music. The average retail price we were able to find was around $70, plus shipping. It’s not an easy-to-find gift, and you will most likely have to import the collection directly from Japan. Is it worth it? You tell us. We dare you to watch Spirited Away without shedding a tear (or calling your parents afterwards to apologize for your bratty attitude as a kid). — DeAnne Cuellar & Rebecca Ohnemus
3. Smells unlike doggie doo
On my second day of dog-sitting duties, I walked into the bathroom to discover that my charge had pooped all over the floor. Worse, the excretion had been spread so extensively across the tile that it looked like an original Jackson Pollock painting beneath my feet. After converting my shirt into an impromptu gas mask, I labored to clean up the mess. It was when I approached the sink to wash my hands that I first met Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Basil Liquid Hand Soap. The label doesn’t lie, as Ms. Meyer’s truly “revives the senses, clears the head, and calms the nerves.” It’s herbal euphoria in a 12.5-ounce bottle. Legal herbal euphoria. And the best complement to Mrs. Meyer’s Basil Hand Soap? A cold beer. When I lift that beer to my lips, I get to smell my basil-scented hands right before the hops hits my tongue, a dually intoxicating experience. And for only $3.99, that’s more beer money in my pocket. — Rudy Gayby
4. Power of K
It’s no secret that a few years ago I became obsessed with Sparks malt beverage. Part alcohol, part caffeine, it was my drink of choice for some time. All that has changed. Now I crave Four Loko, a 24 oz. camo-deco can of pure joy. Binge-drinking college kids have ruined the fun by ending up in the hospital after having too much too fast, thereby forcing the FDA to crack down on the sweet stuff. It has been pulled off the shelves, but I am still able to buy it for only $2.69 at locally owned stores. It’s all I want for Hanukkah/Birthday/Christmas/New Years! I’ve shared it with several friends, pouring the party potion into shot glasses to make it seem more benign. If you see me drinking it in front of Krazy Kat, it’s only because I’m stuck in a K-hole. Four Loko might be long gone contraband soon, so if I give you a can, drink it and enjoy ... L’chaim! — Annele Spector
5. Short snappy verse
I’m a bibliophile and a lover of language. That’s why I claim that books make the best presents for the holidays. And in the spirit of the Flash Fiction section, I’m recommending Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer, edited by Robert Swartwood. Not only is the name of the form brilliant, the stories are too. Here’s an example by Joe R. Lansdale, taken from the first story in the book. It’s called “The Return”: “They buried him deep. Again.” The obvious point is that it hints, like the most brilliant stories, at something outside of it — a cultural reference or the lumbering body below the surface of the page, the words, the meaning. These are the perfect stories to thumb through on a sunny winter morning. Happy holiday reading. — Lyle Rosdahl
For my good friend and pseudo-sister, possessor of an adventurous, rambling spirit akin to my own, I scoured the edges of eBay and found a sturdy, useful black daypack from REI. This bag will be great for treks across the city, a hike through the woods, or a long day of travel as she makes her way from Germany to Texas to visit me this January. The perfect blend of comfort and function is the genius behind this versatile bag with four zipper pockets, padding for a 15” laptop, and a reversible, adjustable shoulder strap that includes a mesh pocket for a cell phone or iPod. This bag is universal. All this, plus the hope of many adventures to come for only $9.99, plus shipping. — Raina Longobardi
7. Haunting hand-me-downs
I’ve been haunted by Astrud Gilberto for over a decade now. That “Girl From Ipenema” song may be ubiquitous and over-played, but its most famous singer conjures up a kind of sultry slack of the mind that absolutely warms me at wintertime. Think hot wine in hand and postcards of palm trees mounted over an atmospheric and otherwise unnecessary fireplace. I first encountered my spectral longing for the Brazilian songstress in a box of donations outside the door of a philosophy department at a time when I had given up on both philosophy and departments. I was trying my hand at “astral painting” and experimental writing. The album was a vintage vinyl Getz au Go Go, a recording of live performances she’d made with her husband Joao Gilberto and the sax man she would leave him for. The ethereal calm in Astrud Gilberto’s voice — later made into vanilla pastiche by acts like Stereolab and Chairlift — was all the order I needed right then. Now I buy her all the time, because she’s everywhere: thrift stores, recession-hit record shops, flea markets. I buy her, listen to her, and give her away to people I love or want to love. Nine winters since I met her, I know what everyone is getting for Christmas.
— Roberto Ontiveros
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