We’re in full holiday mode here at Rare Bird.
OK, maybe not full holiday mode. But Alyssa—who bakes cookies with love and brings them to the office every week—has shifted into Christmas sugar-magic mode. The other day, someone at least mentioned a holiday party, though no plans are yet in place. And we do have a tree in the office, a Charlie Brown special with its lone red ornament.
We certainly feel the spirit of the season in our hearts, and that is what counts. Like you and everyone else this time of year, we are busy. We’re so busy, we even canceled a few internal meetings. We’ve got all these websites to build, emails to design and send, brands to refresh, and so on. But we’re not too busy to help you cross the finish line with your holiday shopping.
If you are still mulling over those last few gift ideas for your friends and loved ones this year, fear not! The Flock is here to help. What follows are the best gift ideas from our team, and some of them are sure to be perfect for the people in your life. We have ideas for adults, kids, pet owners, couples and families, and even those hard-to-buy-for types.
Should some of your friends and loved ones take the easy way out and opt for gift cards for you this holiday season, you can revisit our helpful guide in January and find something for yourself.
Special thanks to Sarah, Ashley, Alyssa, Alysia, Kyle, Nichole, Pete, Josiah, Kimberly, Brad, and Jim for helping assemble this year’s gift guide, and to Tom for having the idea in the first place!
For the kids
For any family’s post-meal entertainment, it’s hard to beat strapping a toddler into a bumper car and letting them bounce around the living room. Older kids can have hours of fun with this Laser Tag set (bonus: it’s an excuse to send them outside after the holiday meal), while a kid who digs old-school electronics could use a refurbished iPod and some incredibly cool Marshall speakers. Rock on, little ones.
For other adults
Sometimes the obvious solution is the right one. What do you really know about Uncle Wally, after all, except that he drinks a little too much around the holidays? Buy him a cocktail shaker set, or sign him up for a subscription plan with Cocktail Courier or American Cocktail Club. Is your coworker a next-level plant enthusiast who says things like “Dogs are my children, but plants are my pets”? This plant terrarium would look good on her desk. Don’t forget, either, that some of the most-appreciated gifts over time are practical considerations, such as a quality flashlight or—as one of our Birds would have appreciated recently—a portable jump starter for their car.
For pet owners (and their pets)
It’s no secret that Rare Bird loves its office pups. For someone as dog-obsessed as us, you might consider one of these welcome mats, or this automatic ball launcher. Or you could create a custom paint-by-number kit based on a photo of their beloved pet. As Birds, we are understandably a little cautious around the feline kind, but the holiday spirit behooves us to at least share this list of cat-related gifts.
For pop culture fans
For your sibling who’s an even bigger dork than you are, you could always give a book about pop culture. We’re leaning toward What Would Skeletor Do? and The Marvel Age of Comics, 1961-1978, but this book about what the music you love says about you also caught our eye the other day. There’s certainly plenty of Star Wars paraphernalia to buy this time of year, but if you go that route, opt for an easy two–in-one gift like the Death Star Popcorn Maker or a Mandalorian waffle maker. Acknowledge their fandom while providing a gift that also does something else.
The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for bookstores around the world. Nonfiction devotees might appreciate Ed Yong’s An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us or Robert Sapolsky’s latest. Fans of comics and graphic novels might dig The Keeper: Soccer, Me, and the Law That Changed Women’s Lives or (the admittedly pricey) Love and Rockets: The First Fifty. New novels have arrived from Anthony Marra, Matthew Quick, and Cormac McCarthy. Hoosier native Tess Gundy is the youngest winner of the National Book Award in more than sixty years. Other books with Indiana roots include Inciting Joy, Pilgrim Bell, and The Town of Whispering Dolls. Or, when in doubt, ask your local bookseller for recommendations.
For the kitchen native
Maybe it’s time for the grill-master in your life to retire their trusty Weber and lean into the wonder of the Primo XL Grill. If this person also cooks the turkey you eat every Thanksgiving, this could be the rare gift that benefits you, too. Every baker—and there are so many since 2020—would be giddy to receive a Boos Board. The lives of coffee fiends have forever been changed by the Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine—and it’s cheaper than Starbucks in the long run. And anyone who spends time making quality food at home deserves to eat from a plate or bowl lovingly made by Mora Ceramics.
To keep your holiday budget intact, it’s sometimes the right move to buy one gift for a small group to enjoy. Couples can appreciate the spirit of The Adventure Challenge: Dinner Dates, while both couples and families might need a digital picture frame from Frameo. Finally, Actually Curious, a conversation-based game that builds empathy, is perfect for families or your office team. A matching set of pajamas might be a nice surprise for your family, too—if you all don’t feel closer to one another, at least you’’ll be warm.
For the person who has everything
We all have someone for whom buying gifts is a slog. In such situations, you must operate beyond normal gift-giving parameters. Perhaps you can memorialize an important moment in their life—a song they’ve written, their valedictorian speech, or a recording of their wedding vows—in a Soundwave Art Block. Another option is to find a completely unexpected, maybe even rare, item that is related to one of their passions or interests, but that they would never even know to look for on their own. What if you slipped a NASA Mission Control computer chip into their stocking, presented an antique baseball glove from almost 100 years ago, or recovered a long-lost toy from their childhood? That would be a serious holiday power move.
Experiences create memories that, over time, become cherished. What about concert tickets for the coming year? We recommend seeing Paramore at Gainbridge Fieldhouse next summer, or John Mellencamp as close to his home turf as possible. A vacation always makes a great gift, if you can swing it—especially for parents of young children who could really benefit from a few days away from the kids (bonus if you can watch the kids for them). A weekend in a tiny cabin in Brown County would be most welcome. For a far-off adventure, the blissful solitude of a stay in Salt Cay also brings the opportunity to witness migrating whales, depending on the season.
Have any ideas for us? Share in the comments below. We’d love to know what we can add to next year’s guide.