These are a few of my favorite gifts…

It may be better to give than to receive, but when it’s a well-thought-out gift, being on the receiving end of things has its distinct pleasures. I’ve already told you about some of the things I gave family and friends this year in a recent post, holiday gift ideas from the heart. The follow-up to that post is that my parents adored the memory book my brothers and I made for them. I won’t go into the details of the multitude of setbacks and difficulties we had getting it together, but it was worth it because it was a such a hit. My father even said to me, “That’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten in my life.” Since he’s 75 years old, those were pretty sweet words to hear.

On the receiving end of things, I felt very fortunate this year, especially since I really didn’t think I needed anything. But I was given thoughtful treasures that will add to my life. The cookbook above was a gift from my sister-in-law, and I absolutely love it. First of all, soup is one of my favorite things to cook. And even though I have lots of recipes already, one can never have too many. But the really amazing thing is that I love this author, Anna Thomas, since she wrote two of my all-time favorite cookbooks, the (practically vintage by now) vegetarian staples: The Vegetarian Epicure, and The Vegetarian Epicure, Book Two, which I still own after acquiring back in the 1980s. I can’t wait to use Anna’s method for cooking broth, and to make some of the delicious-sounding soups like Creamy Potato and Roasted Garlic, Puree of Carrot and Yam with Citrus and Spices, and the various kinds of green soups (purees of vitamin-packed greens, which I love). Thank you, SIL!

One of my husband’s gifts, in addition to the thoughtful and practical stereo speakers to replace the blown-out pair in my car, was this DVD set, the next fix for our Mary Tyler Moore addiction. We both grew up watching this show, and share a fondness for the brilliant writing and surprisingly progressive view on women, work, and families. I wonder if there could be a TV show now about a single woman in her 30s whose work is an important part of her life, and whose coworkers are practically her family, that wouldn’t always include episodes about her biological clock and anxiety and regret that she’s unmarried and without children.

A $100 gift card to Trader Joe’s is a delightful treat from my parents, since we will use it to purchase items we would not normally splurge on: the over-$10 bottle of wine, prepared dips, luscious chocolate, and various seafood concoctions my husband covets. It will make for a fun shopping adventure on a day we could use a little pick me up.

And finally, this teapress/teapot from a thoughtful friend has literally changed our life. Delivered along with a pound of delicious South African Rooibas tea, my husband and I have been drinking several cups a day ever since we opened it. And that’s good for our physical AND mental health. The tea is so rich and flavorful it’s hard to believe it’s herbal (sorry, herbal enthusiasts), and the ingenious design of the pot allows you to stop the process at the desired steeping level, so that second cup isn’t too strong or bitter. It’s a simple but brilliant method of making tea a bigger part of our lives. Thank you, island friends! We’ll think of you at tea time.

Those are just a few of the season’s treasured gifts. We’re still enjoying the bounty of freshly-baked cookies and other food gifts and slowly getting into the post-holiday rhythm of the New Year. And my most treasured gift of all is another year of health and happiness, living with my awesome husband in our challenging old house together.

What are some of your favorite holiday gifts, either that you gave or received? Please share in the Comments section.


  1. Marie-Josée says

    Boy, you were both really spoilt! It’s wonderful you have thoughtful and loving people in you life that offer gifts that they know are matched to your tastes and values. Good for you!

    • Angela says

      Marie-Josee, Yes, and it helps that I have a blog it turns out- it’s a good way to let people know about your taste and values. And yes, I am very lucky to have such loving and thoughtful people in my life.

  2. Karen says

    I loved your gifts. I think my favorite were a framed photograph that my daughter gave me of our Leah and Luke seeing Santa, and a christmas ornament that Leah made. There was the pink “Snuggie” from my hubby that I love becasue he said “I just wanted you to stay warm this winter”. That has the “awww shucks” factor to it because of the thoughtfulness that went with his gift because he knows I can’t stand being cold! I hope that everyone had a joyous and blessed Christmas season and my family and I did.

    • Angela says

      Karen, It sounds like your favorite gifts are also of the thoughtful and/or homemade variety. Stay warm!
      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Jennifer says

    My husband thinks he’s horrible at giving gifts. He thinks he’s so bad that he will completely skip getting me a present most of the time. However, if I give him a wish list (like on Amazon) he always hits it out of the park. 2 years ago my grad school graduation, our 1-year anniversary, and my birthday all fell within weeks of each other. He got me very nice gifts for each off of a wish list, but the best gift was the gorgeous tennis bracelet he gave me for graduating. The fact that he knew which event was the most important to me is what has made it one of my prized possessions.
    This Christmas I asked him to make me a CD of songs. I always make fun of him for making mixed CD’s (it reminds me of Michael Scott from the office), but since I don’t listen to a lot of music, I thought this would be something that would be interesting for him and be very inexpensive. He spent hours working on the CD and it turned out fabulous. I cried the first time I listened to it. It’s the first present he’s every REALLY thought about and worked on. I’ll treasure it forever.
    BTW, I did something similar as you for my grandmother. I made her a calendar with a bunch of family pictures that I scanned. It was a HUGE hit for the entire family! Everyone passed it around and looked at the pictures. I know I’ll be making a bunch of them for Christmas next year!

    • Angela says

      Jennifer- It’s great that you’ve found a way to encourage your husband to become a great gift-giver, rather than resent that he wasn’t. Sounds like he’s been batting 1000 lately. A mix CD is one of my absolute favorite gifts, so much fun to make and so thoughtful to receive. And you always think of the person who made it for when you listen to it. Love the calendar idea! Thanks so much for commenting.

    • Angela says

      I completely agree- photos are one of my all-time favorite gifts, a sharing of a memory. It’s one of my standbys that is always appreciated.

  4. says

    You sure got some thoughtful, lovely gifts this year! My favourite gifts that I received this year were some natural personal care products from my hubby (Dr. Bronner’s peppermint castille soap and a variety of essential oils). Those are a spurge in our household but things I love to have around. I also got some cash from my dad and grandma that I used towards a package of Bikram Yoga classes. I’d bought 20 classes for $45 through Groupon and fell in love with it, so I was pleased to have the money to buy another class package!

    I think the favourite gift I gave this year was the “Clean & Green Kitchen and Bath” kit I made for my dad. I did up a bunch of homemade natural cleaners (herbal kitchen degreaser, minty scouring powder, glass cleaner and daily shower cleaner) and packaged them up all fancy with usage instructions. It cost just a few dollars to make up but looked very impressive! I wasn’t sure how my dad would react to it, but he really seemed to love it and was impressed that I made all the “products” myself.

    • Angela says

      Karen- Wow, your husband’s gift sounds amazing! And I also love the kit you put together for your dad, that is so thoughtful. I’m still working on trading out all of our nasty cleansers, about halfway there. Actually, I think the only thing we’re still using is Comet, since we have nearly a lifetime supply purchased by my husband at Costco.

      20 yoga classes for $45?! Wow. You’ve just convinced me to finally check out Groupon. That is incredible. I love yoga, and it’s too expensive to go very often, so something like that would be great. Enjoy the yoga classes! And be careful with Bikram, it’s great but one time I got so “stretchy” that I went to far in a hip pose and injured myself. It took me about a year to recover completely, so I always warn people not to do more than they normally are capable of. Injuries are a big drag. This was when I was younger, still in my 30s and in very good shape. It’s just so tempting to keep going…

      Thanks so much for your contribution to the conversation!

      • says

        I know, I couldn’t believe the deal I got for the yoga classes, either – I think the normal price was $289 – it was an over 80% discount! It’s a new studio so they were really trying to get people in there. I’ve seen quite a number of very good deals for yoga classes through Groupon, so I bet you should come across some in your area!

        Thanks for sharing your experience with Bikram. I think I have so much scar tissue from various injuries that it’s hard to imagine me getting too stretchy, lol. I’m finding it’s really helping with areas where I have a lot of stiffness. I am pretty cautious about pushing it too far, though! The hot factor holds major appeal for me at this time of year with outdoor temps running about -10 to -15 Celsius here right now.

  5. Tanya says

    Love reading your blog (although I still can’t figure out how to get emailed when there is a new post). So glad the gifts were a hit. I love the robbios tea!

  6. Angela says

    Hi Tanya- You should be able to subscribe by email by clicking the green button (email) under subscribe up in the right hand corner above my photo. You may have to click “blog” on the top left next to home first. That’s because the “comments” page looks a bit different than the “blog” page. Hope that makes sense.

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