Terribleminds Gift Guide 2021

It is again the time of the year for merriment and mirth and wanton capitalism, and because that this year we have things like the chaotic supply chain and shipping issues and something called “inflation,” I figure it’s best to get the annual gift guide out the door and into your eyeballs as soon as possible.

A note on this year’s gifting list — normally, I call this Gifts For Writers 20XX, but this year, though many of the gifts are still focused on hey the writers in your life might like this, I’ve instead decided to just lean into, “hey, these are things I think look cool, maybe you think they’re cool, too.” The original purpose of doing Gifts For Writers was that year after year so many of those gift lists comprised only entries like, “omg they like notebooks and pens and more notebooks and probably a candle.” Meanwhile every year, ever writer probably receives a veritable holiday colonic of notebooks and pens and candles. “GOOD HOUSEKEEPING SAID YOU NEEDED THIS GEL PEN. HERE ARE 50.” Not that we hate notebooks and pens! Far from it. I’m bathing in blank notebooks right now. I eat pens! It’s just — it’s a little overdone.

Anyway. Whatever. Let’s do this.

Ooh also if you want last year’s list — 2020.

And the years prior to that:

201920182017201620152014.

Chocolates Chocolates Chocolates

You know what’s good? Chocolate. The world is bullshit but chocolate is delightful. And god only knows, one day chocolate and coffee will both be extinct thanks to rampant climate change (happy holidays!), so let’s get in on it while the gettin’ is good. Of course, I also think it’s important to try to get chocolate that is ethically-sourced, so I’ve attempted to be helpful in that regard. Writers, too, especially need chocolate — either for themselves, or as gifts to other writers.

If you want fancy, weird, wonderful chocolates — and trust me when I say truly they are some of the best morsels of delight I have ever put into my slavering maw — then you should look no further than Bon Bon Bon. They give you these little single-box peculiarities? And it’s run by a diverse crew, mostly women if I recall, sourcing ethical chocolate.

I also like Compartes (who claims here to be ethical in their slave-free sourcing) and Dandelion will get you single-sourced chocolate with unique tasting notes like you’d get with coffee. For cheaper bars I would normally recommend Tony’s Chocolonely, but they’ve been removed from the Slave Free Ethical list because of ties to big cocoa, though the company I guess also argues that they’re invoking change from within. (Details here.)

I Scream

THERE IS NO DANA, THERE IS ONLY JENIS. Sorry. I really like Jenis! Their coffee ice cream is the best coffee ice cream. Also right now they have free shipping until 11/14.

Okay, fine, I also like Van Leeuwen. Honeycomb and Earl Grey.

Wait, is this gift list just a gift list of things you should buy me?

*stares suspiciously at self*

Okay, Fine, Be Healthy Too, Whatever, Nerd

Not sure how long it’ll be open, but currently you can get *blows trumpet made of apples* HEIRLOOM APPLE GIFT BOXES from Scott Farm in Vermont. You can also buy something called a “medlar,” which is tempting. Or Northern Spy from Farm to People. What do apples have to do with writing? Nothing. They’re just good for you. And if something is good for you then it’s good for your brain and good brain means good writing. Or something. Shut up.

What I’m Saying Is, Feed Us, For Fuck’s Sake

We’re starving artists who need food! Okay, probably not. Hopefully not. But sometimes I do find that writers fall into a writing hole and then wake up and it’s like, 8PM and we haven’t eaten since breakfast. (I don’t do this anymore because I have a ten-year-old boy who will kick down my office door and slit my throat for a hamburger or piece of sushi.) You can get us meals or food via places like Fresh Direct, Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, places like that. I tried Misfits Market but found their produce wanting. You might be able to find cool local farm deliveries on Barn2Door, too.

Oh Also Coffee

Brandywine Coffee Roasters is local(ish) to me, and has unique art on every single origin roast, and their coffee is sublime. They have great relationships with roasters, too.

Oh Also Beer

I use an app called Tavour to get access to weird, less-available beers, ciders, meads and such — this link I confess is a referral link, so be advised when you use it. But their service has been a pandemic essential. Beer! Delivered! Magic!

Play A Game, Tell A Story

I love the offerings from Leder Games — particularly Oath, but everything I’ve played so far is pretty delightful, both as products and as games and as ways to tell stories with those games. They’re not RPGs, not really, but some of their games have persistent narrative advancement, which is fascinating and cool. So too with Above and Below. If your kids are littler, they might dig Super Silly Stories from Parker Games. Or Sci-Fi Magnetic Poetry!

Oh Wait What Is This, A Shameless Plug, Wow Who Knew That Was Coming

I write books and if people don’t buy those books I die in the abyss, never to write again. So, you can certainly buy my books, and that would be nice. If you need a book about how one tells a story: Damn Fine Story. If you need monstrous motivation with wonderful art from Natalie Metzger: You Can Do Anything, Magic Skeleton. If you like spooky: The Book of Accidents. If your kids like spoopy: Dust & Grim. And as always, you can check with my local store, Doylestown Bookshop, if you wanted signed/personalized versions of any of my books. If you want to find an independent bookstore near you, Indiebound has you covered.

Comfort In An Era Of Discomfort

These days I am trying to seize on small, comfortable joys, and as a writer there are ways I have upped my comfort level that I will share with you now. Chief among them? I invested in some freakishly nice socks. I wanted nicer, cushier socks for running, and someone recommended Thorlos, and now I am recommending them to you, as well. I don’t just use them for running. I wear them for walking. For standing. For sitting. They are like HUGS for your FEET from a SOCK ANGEL. Seriously, there’s something very nice about giving yourself comfortable footwear. That’s a decidedly old person thing to say, I do recognize, and I also recognize that these socks are not cheap socks. I’m sure there are more expensive socks! But these are pricer than whatever Fruit of the Loom shit you’ve been tucking your piglets into every day.

I also need to up my underwear game (this is not a thing you ever wanted me to say, but here I am, saying it). I’ve heard good things about the boxers from Patagonia, but again, not cheap.

Also, The Boxers from Patagonia will be my lit fic debut in 2028. Watch for it.

If you want nerdier, bookish garments: Out of Print is cool.

Anyway. Consider too offering as a gift some manner of ergonomic goodness. Ergnomic desk chairs are an option, though good ones are not cheap. But there are good laptop risers and trackpads and keyboards that are ergonomic, too, and won’t cost as much as a new fancy-ass chair. There’s also standing desks if you hate someone.

Or you could just get them this thing. It’s a cocoon of some kind. It embraces you. It protects you from the world. It may also be a toilet, I don’t know? I cannot define its mysteries. I only know that when you emerge from it, you will be a beautiful butterfly. Or a weird moth.

Honestly, weird moth is better.

More Foods I Like

Wait, are we back to food again? Jesus, I might have a problem. That problem being, delicious food. Anyway. If you haven’t found the sheer joy of chili crisp, Fly By Jing’s version is sublime, but there’s always classic Lao Gan Ma. My current favorite snack is Indomie Migoreng noodles. (Terrible holiday present? Whatever, stick it in a stocking.) You know what else is great? Bachan’s Japanese BBQ Sauce. Or Nong’s Khao Man Gai sauce? Hnngh. What does any of this have to do with anything? I dunno. I might be hungry? I think I’m hungry. Oooh ooh Soom Tahini is good too. And Philly-area-based! Do you care about what hot sauces I like? Too bad, you’re getting some recommendations:

Shaquanda’s Mx Green Sass. Iris Lune, Eclipse. Hot N’ Saucy, Garlic Pepperoncini. Any of the Los Calientes. Atlanta Hot Sauce’s Small Axe Peppers sauce. (Though the classic three table sauces at our house would be Secret Aardvark, Cholula’s green sauce, and Crystal.)

Eat good food!

Kitchen Gear

Now we’ve officially left “things for writers” and have firmly entered into “things Chuck Wendig likes,” but fuck it, here we go. I like kitchen gear, and here is some of my favorite kitchen gear that gets a lot of love and use in the house:

My Vitamix blender is something I use damn near once a day.

My Le Creuset gear is not in any way overrated and I use it constantly.

(Look for both on sale.)

I love this Lamson hamburger turner, and this fish turner.

I have an Ooni pizza oven I deeply adore. It gets to 900 degrees and cooks pizza in a blink.

If you want a kitchen knife that is not expensive but is versatile and bad-ass?

Victorinox Fibrox Pro chef’s knife.

LEGO Goodness

This LEGO Ideas Typewriter is cool as hell.

And yes, we’re back to “gifts for writers” now. Sorry about the whiplash.

Throat Ooze

So, I do a lot of Zoom calls and such for WRITER WORK, and that can be chats with other writers, but it’s also podcasts and book events and school events. And even when not doing Zoom, I do stuff in person, and one of the things I am in constant need of is soothing my dry, brittle, dead-leaf esophagus with some kind of calming balms of throat unguents. Ricola drops are pretty helpful for this, but honey is also good — just a spoonful. Dark chocolate works. Or anything with pectin, honestly. Even an apple. (“It’s always apples with you, isn’t it?”) Asheville Bee Charmer has great honey, if you so require it. And the Mac Nut honey from Big Island Bees is one of my favorites, too.

Screen Time

Finally, this thing — the Hoverbar Duo. Great for doing video calls or Zoom on a phone or iPad. Also if you use a tablet as a computer, this can be how you turn that screen into a monitor. My son loves this too, uses it to draw on with Procreate. Twelve South’s gear tends to be incredibly well-made, by the way. Really love their stuff.

THAT IS ALL.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, WORD NERDS AND WEIRDOS.

Peace and chili crisp unto thee.