A Christmas gift guide

For Mom, AKA the professional gift wrapper of the family

Five-year journal


pages of

It’s a simplified diary. You write a few lines about each day for five years. Two reasons why I doubt she will actually use this gift: 1. She’ll claim that her life is too mundane and that there will be nothing interesting to write about. 2. The lines will be too closely spaced for her to write in Mandarin, and her English isn’t good enough to express what she wants to. However, I’m still giving it to her because I think she will want to remember what happened on January 1, 2018 in five years. Hopefully, both of my predictions will be completely and utterly wrong.

We’ll see.


As of right now, this hasn’t transformed from an idea into a reality yet. My dad and I are still conspiring with my friend (AKA Jonathan, see below) and his dad. The plan is to buy tickets for our moms/wives to visit my sister and his sister (they live in the same place) on Mother’s Day. I would like to mention that I was the one who came up with this brilliant idea.

For Dad, AKA an engineer by day and a gardner by night

Chief Justice by Ed Cray

book cover of Chief Justice Earl Warren's biography

My dad has recently become super interested in America’s Supreme Court and its justices. This biography is about the man who was a justice during some very important cases like Brown v. Board of Education. For his birthday in August, I gave him My Beloved World (which is the biography of a current justice). He’s been pushing through it (it’s a slow process because whenever he reads, he immediately becomes sleepy) and has been liking it so far, partly because her hard but oftentimes humorous childhood reminds him of his own.

Leuchtturm notebook


I’m giving him this notebook to keep track of his travels in. Then I want him to fill the  remaining pages with his life story because let me tell you, it’s a good one. As for why I chose the bright orange cover, I’m honestly not sure why. I know he likes the color green (because it’s the color of grass), the color blue (because it’s the color of the sky and sea), and yellow (because it’s the color of the sky), but while ordering this, I remembered orange being one of his favorite colors too. In retrospect, I have no idea what I was thinking.

For Sis, AKA the creator of more beautiful pieces of pottery than she knows what to do with

Sephora and Glossier gift cards

girl in red shirt holding pink Glossier gift card

I usually don’t believe in buying people gift cards as gifts (it’s impersonal), but she specifically asked for these.

Micron pens

pack of six Mirc

You might’ve have already seen or heard of Micron- they’ve popped in the pictures of my Instagram feed before. My mom’s told me that she used to draw all the time when she was younger. She still likes to doodle now, but I’m not sure if she still has the time to. Maybe a nice set of pens will make her want to do it more.

For the Brother-in-law, AKA a fan of used bookstores and jujitsu

SPQR by Mary Beard

book cover of SPQR by Mary Beard

The dilemma: my brother-in-law claims that he doesn’t want anything for Christmas (he’s probably telling the truth), but actually listening and not getting him anything would break every rule of politeness. He’s also the type of person who prefers useful, practical stuff. Those two qualities added together make a person who’s really hard to buy presents for. But I try. SPQR is a book that I also bought for myself. It’s a very readable history of Rome, AKA it’s not mind numbingly boring.

Whole Foods gift card


In reality, this is a gift for both him and my sister, but in order to balance things out so my sister doesn’t receive way more stuff than my brother-in-law, the virtual gift card is being sent to his email. I thought of this idea while going to sleep, and I’m pretty proud of it. A gift card for groceries is basically the most practical present ever.

For Jonathan, AKA my best friend (along with the person reading this whose namesake killed someone with a hammer and a tent peg)

Socks: cookies and milk, ramen, pugs

pair of socks with a cookie and milk carton pattern


blue socks with pugs and pugs not drugs pattern

Last year, a friend gave him a pair of Santa socks. He was obsessed with them (I think he wore them for at least a week straight), so I decided to get him some more fun socks. I might steal a pair sometime to take some bookish sock pictures.

Hellofresh subscription

Hello fresh gift card

If you’re a podcast listener, I’m 99% sure you’ve heard of Hellofresh (along with Zip Recruiter, Casper Mattresses, and Squarespace.) It’s a meal subscription box that sends you fresh ingredients and recipes every week for a month. In other words, it sounds like the perfect gift for a novice chef who loves cooking, but has no budget and almost no free time.

For Jonathan’s sister, AKA fried chicken and coffee enthusiast

Consider the Lobster and Other Essays by David Foster Wallace


Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman


Goodreads was my secret weapon for this gift. I scrolled through her to-be-read list and picked two that I thought looked interesting. I’ve never heard of Consider the Lobster and Other Essays before, but it sounds like it’s a collection of really interesting and true journalistic stories. Thinking, Fast and Slow is also on my to-be-read list. It’s a thick, dense book on how our minds work and how to use that to our advantage.

For my Secret Santa at school, AKA a girl to whom I gave very basic, crowd-pleasing stuff

Snowflake string lights

snowflake lights

Photo holder


List of things you can give a teenage girl that are almost 100% guaranteed to be successful:
– fairy lights
– fuzzy socks
– hot chocolate kit with hot chocolate packets, marshmallows, and whipped cream
– super soft blanket

For my non-Secret Santa at church (because they have a record for not being able to keep secrets), AKA the pickiest person about chokers

Legend: The Graphic Novel by Marie Lu

Legend: the Graphic Novel by Marie Lu

This is the graphic novel adaptation of the first book in Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy, which I really need to get around to. Two of my friends besides my Secret Santa love the series, and it’s always fun to excitedly talk about books with people. Also: if you’re confused about what a non-Secret Santa is, it’s where you know who’s giving you a present and the person you got knows that you’re giving them a present. It’s actually a lot more fun than regular Secret Santa because then you can ask people for help without being covert.

Unicorn mug

black mug with pink and blue unicorns

WAIT. I didn’t even realize it until right now, but this mug is not just awesome- it’s also perfect for her! At the tutoring place we go to, the she’s known among the little kids for being able to draw great unicorns. LET’S GO, SELF.


Were any of these ideas helpful enough that you’re going to use them? In other words, am I actually going to IMPACT YOUR LIFE?? If not, here are some more gift guides: 1, 2, and 3. Beware: 1 and 3 have gift guides inside of the big gift guide, so there’s a chance you’re going to fall into an internet dark hole. What gift are you most excited to give and watch the person open? Ooh, that’s tough, but mine is giving my mom the tickets- if we end up doing that. I am also super pumped to give Jonathan his presents. He’s going to be on a road trip, but I’m making him bring his and his sister’s presents on the car. He also has to take a video of them opening it because that’s the best part.




15 thoughts on “A Christmas gift guide”

  1. Congratulations on having your Christmas presents figured out so early! Personally I haven’t even started thinking about gifts yet, though this post actually remedied that. It looks like you put a lot of thought into your gifts! I am sure that everyone will love them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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