(Photo: Courtesy Zürich Film Office)
Hanukkah is happening. Christmas is nearly here. And the crush is almost over — as well as the chance to order anything in time for, well, anything. I’m not sure I can take one more bold type e-mail from a retailer, telling me that “THERE’S STILL TIME,” which of course implies the opposite. (There is still time for stocking stuffers, and there are some fun ones all day today on Amazon Prime.)
Here’s how to catch up on some last-minute odds and ends for the people in your life. You can buy most of them from home, so you’ll also have time to relax and enjoy the weekend, holiday-style.
Movies and TV
I already told you I love my Roku, and I can’t stop talking about it. I’ve already got a Netflix membership, but I only have Hulu free for three months, so I’d love to get that picked up for me by someone who loves me. Sometimes, it’s the coolest thing to have someone else spring for a relatively small splurge item like that. If someone cares about my media, they care about me, and even better because I remember them when I use it all year long. Don’t overlook the tried-and-true iTunes gift card (for various amounts), either, or Amazon Prime. ($99 for one year!). Free shipping on anything, all year long? Awesome.
If you want to buy me movie tickets, I’m not going to mind that either. Pricey! AMC and Regal have options, and your local indie theater likely does too, so you may have to stop by for that, but that’s not so bad. Big Eyes, Into the Woods and Unbroken open on Christmas day if you’re looking for an activity that can also be a gift.
Concert tickets are easy to find, simple to print out and stick in a stocking or in a card, and relatively green, too. When I asked Facebook what the best gift was they ever got, at least one person mentioned concert tickets. To New Kids on the Block, when she was 8. That business about people really liking to get experiences? It’s true — they last. I’m harboring Fleetwood Mac tour wishes, but that’s probably a long shot this year. You can give a gift card to Ticketmaster, or if you want something more personal, buy it straight from a recipient’s venue of choice — maybe the Hamilton or the 9:30 Club in DC, Lincoln Center or Radio City Music Hall (someone send me to Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga in June, please) in NYC or the Fox Theater in Oakland, that you can actually hook a recipient up to with a service called Gift Rocket. Name your price, name your card design, and done. So cool.
Bethanne Patrick has smart, interesting recommendations for books, including some off of the beaten path of year-end Best-of lists. Love that. She recommended two I definitely want: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel ($15 for the hardcover with Prime shipping at Amazon) and Prune, by Gabrielle Hamilton ($27 for the hardcover with Prime shipping at Amazon), proprietor of the NYC restaurant of the same name. As far as e-readers go, it’s a snap to give books that way. My best friend only reads on Kindle, so is was a cinch to buy her a book I thought she’d like. (Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal by Katherine Turman and Jon Wiederhorn, in case you’re wondering.) She received the e-mail notification, and she can click right on it and read. As much as I love paper books, I also love how easy it is to buy gifts for my loved ones who love living in the future.
Out and About This Weekend
Saturday is the Winter Solstice, so you probably don’t want to spend all of those dark hours in the mall parking lot. Some places have events for this important shift in seasons. Delaware State Park has a solstice hike and so does Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox, Mass. Looks like a good day to hit a trail near you.
If you don’t want to greet the longest day in the cold, Annie opens today, and I’m hearing early rave reviews from parents and kids. You’ve also got The Hobbit: The Battle of the 5 Armies this weekend, and Night at the Museum, if you’re ready to watch Robin Williams on the big screen. (I’m not sure I am.)
This is the perfect weekend to see the National Christmas Tree in DC, or watch the lighting all over again from home. If you live in New York City, or you’re headed there for a pre-holiday weekend, Time Out New York has a comprehensive guide to the countless things going on (seriously. If you’re looking for something LGBT-friendly, an opportunity to volunteer, shop, gawk at store windows, they’ve broken it down.) There’s even A Christmas Carol challenge group going on on Facebook if you feel like a holiday reading group is more your speed. You can hit Spotify for the Ultimate Holiday Playlist while you’re at it — 185 songs, 10 hours. Wow.
Whatever festive thing you’re up for, it’s out there right now. Give yourself a last-minute gift and enjoy it.