Last month, Meghan and Tully and I made dinner together, piled onto Meghan's fabulous new couch, poured some wine and watched Midnight in Paris. It's such a lovely movie—one of my all-time favorites, in fact—but it got me thinking about how our current generation is definitely experiencing its own version of nostalgia obsession these days. We might not exactly hanker for the 1920s in the way that Owen Wilson's character does, but how about all these 90s fashion trends coming back? And how about one of my favorite neighborhood bars, The Garret East, holding a "bring your own vinyl" party every Monday night?
I'm not immune to the draws of decades gone by, I'm having just as much of a moment for slip dresses and Levi's 501 jeans as the next girl. And I bet there are some people on your holiday shopping list who have a hankering for something kind of old school, too. On that note, I felt inspired to kick off my gift guide series this season with my favorite "nostalgic" gifts—things that harken back to the good ol' days, to childhood, and to times when we couldn't do everything on earth on our phones.
Okay so, this shrunken, updated and pre-loaded version of the classic gaming system went on sale on November 11 and promptly sold out within hours. However, Amazon notes on their site that they will be restocking limited quantities, and you might even have luck finding it in-person at Target. Keep your browser refreshed and updated and try to snag this for your favorite video-gamer. Though honestly, even I thought this would be so much fun to have at our apartment in NYC. (I love Donkey Kong!) It comes with 30 of every 90s kid's favorite games like Super Mario Bros 1, 2 and 3, Donkey Kong, PAC-MAN and The Legend of Zelda. You can find more info on where to buy it here.
Crosley 'Cruiser' 3-speed portable turntable, about $80.
Allow me to briefly regale you with a favorite holiday story from my childhood. When I was growing up, my dad's side of the family would gather on Christmas Eve at my grandparent's house for our family dinner and celebration. After dinner, someone would fire up the record player in the rec room, cue up Mitch Miller & The Gang, hand out the tissue-thin song sheets that came with the record and sing christmas carols.
Had it not been for this longstanding tradition, I don't know if I ever would have developed an appreciation for vinyl at all. Recently I've become kind of obsessed with listening to music on this old school medium. I mentioned in this post from the summer that our house in Maine over Labor day had a record player, and listening to a crackling record of James Taylor's Sweet Baby James as we ate bagels in the morning sunshine was a visceral experience I'll never forget. Okay so my point is, a record player is such a neat gift! This portable version from Crosley comes in a rainbow of colors and it's portable. Sonos and Spotify are nice, don't get me wrong—but records are singularly wonderful.
*Why give a player without giving a record or two to go with it? If you need some suggestions for a vinyl starter collection, might I suggest Rumors, Ultimate Sinatra, Strange Trails, 22, A Million, Thriller and Graceland, just to name a few?
Okay so here's something I'm really obsessed with. Columbia Sportswear dug through their archive and revived a few awesomely retro styles from the 1980s and reissued them exactly as they were then. My favorite of the bunch is available for both men and women in an array of colors that I can only describe as "totally rad." This pullover quarter-zip fleece is such a fun gift for anyone in your life who has a thing for 80s neon (who doesn't?), who loves to be active in the winter or just enjoys a good fleece on a cold day. Not to mention—the $60 price point is killer. (You can find it on Amazon, Zappos and Backcounrty.)
Maybe it's just me, but I have such a hanker for all manner of entertainment these days that doesn't involve a screen. I enjoy Game of Thrones and Instagram as much as the next girl, but I don't ever look back and say, "Man, that time we watch GoT together was one of the best nights ever." I have such fond memories of re-learning chess in Paris with my first teenage love and playing "speed Scrabble" on a snowy weekend in Philadelphia with my first adult love. Not to mention playing Cards Against Humanity by candlelight with my friends as Hurricane Sandy enveloped the city. I grew up playing Gin Rummy with my dad on vacation and these days our whole family can really get into a few rounds of Yahtzee.
Romance and family bonding aside, I think we forget sometimes that engaging with people over a game, in person (with wine) is so much fun. I love this personalized 3-in-1 game set from Mark & Graham because it's classy as hell (which makes it especially "gifty") but there are so many games out there you can buy for less than $25 that are guaranteed to liven up any family gathering, Christmas morning or ski vacation—or you know, just a night in with friends at your apartment. I happen to be particularly stuck on backgammon right now, but that's just me.
Books have always been one of the most reliable gifting categories, but if you have a particularly beloved reader on your list, or someone who's in dire need of starting their collection because a Kindle library doesn't count—consider giving them a customized collection of literary treasures. Juniper Books has an astonishing number of hardcover book collections, but this one that features beautifully designed Drop Caps covers is my favorite. The collection is a collaboration with Jessica Hische, a designer and illustrator whose clients include Wes Anderson, Nike, and the New York Times. All you have to do is select the titles you want to compile into a gift set, and you can choose from books like Pride and Prejudice, The Secret Life of Bees and Leaves of Grass and Selected Poems and prose—to name a few.
An "adult coloring book" and colored pencils, about $30 total.
I read recently that coloring as an adult has some seriously relaxing powers. I was big into coloring and drawing growing up, and was a known notebook doodler throughout high school and college. I'm sure I'm not alone in this, and have found myself recently yearning to color and draw again. During the election, I colored in a darling bingo game my friend Laura Palmer designed, and both myself and my roommate found ourselves a little bit soothed, even as the results leaned more and more negative.
There are about a bajillion adult coloring books out there, but might I draw your attention to the ones that would make particularly good gifts, like Home Alone, Die Hard, and The Official Game of Thrones Coloring Book.