In this gift-giving season, I’m sure it is no surprise that my favorite gift to give is books. It gives me great pleasure to have a recipient come back to me later and say, “I loved that book!” Some of my friends and family receive books I know they want (a frequent request is for the next book in their favorite series), but the gifts I most enjoy giving are books they didn’t know about at all but that turn out to be perfect fits. Columns in the coming weeks will have lists of books published in the last year that I think would make great gifts for teens and elementary-aged children, but I’m starting this week with picture book suggestions for young children. Because these are newer books, published in 2016, I’m hoping they will help me accomplish that goal of giving gifts people didn’t even know they wanted.
Going to college in Williamsburg in the mid-80s meant the occasional treat at Marcel Desaulnier’s legendary restaurant The Trellis. Its fine dining was a little out of our league except occasionally, but they had a special service for dessert and drinks in the evening on the patio, which was an easier indulgence for a date night. Being the 80s, the White Chocolate-Raspberry Balloon (white chocolate ice cream with a delectable fruit sauce) was a hit, as was its most famous dessert, Death by Chocolate, and its more modest cousin, Chocolate Temptation.
Officially, May Day is the 1st of May, but really anytime during this splendid spring month is a perfect opportunity to share small gifts of the season with everyone: teachers; friends; neighbors; and family. You can do that with May baskets—a wonderful, old-fashioned tradition.
What's better than a store-bought valentine with your name on it? Add a little something sweet to make it a valentine to remember. Sure, you can buy pretty candy at just about any store this time of the year, but you can also get creative and make it yourself.
Before you finally finish your grade and head out for a summer of fun, there’s still one more thing to do. Your teachers have worked hard all year to get you ready for your future. So now it’s time to think about a little way to say thanks for all they do. Teachers are special people. They do not go into the job for the money they can make. The best teachers are there because they love to teach.
Want to make a lovely hostess gift or start a delightful family tradition? Gorgeously photographed and utterly useful, Alison Walker’s Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen has recipes that are both elegant and inspired. You can make your own Candy Canes, Marzipan, Baklava, and Cherry & Almond Biscotti. Or, go British with Turkish Delight (shades of C.S. Lewis), Rose Creams, Vanilla Caramels, and Tiffin.
Now's the time to begin making special gifts for families and teachers. Get started by taking a day or two to skim through craft books at the library, or go online and find some ideas. In this article, we've gathered a few neat projects for beginners as well as book and Web site recommendations to help create a crafty Christmas.