This time of year, Santa and Mrs. Claus start making their lists and checking them twice. But for the rest of us, finding the perfect gift for loved ones can be challenging.
If you’re in need of inspiration, we’re here to help. The Columbian asked some high-profile, creative Clark County residents to suggest items they like to give during the holidays.
They suggested a range of gift ideas, with something to fit almost every interest and budget.
Take a look at their suggestions, then hit the stores and start surfing the Web. Christmas is less than three weeks away.
o Unless otherwise specified, prices are the suggested retail value as listed on Amazon.com before any discounts or promotions have been applied. Prices do not include shipping or tax.
Battle Ground folk musician Tom May, host of the nationally syndicated radio program “River City Folk”
• “Promontory” by Mistral ($8.49 to download or $14 for a physical copy through CDBaby). This recently released album features Clark County resident Elizabeth Cristina, along with Ian Clemons and Bryan Owens from Portland. It’s a compilation of French village dance tunes and traditional English and French folk songs. The album features instruments rarely heard, including the hurdy-gurdy, Renaissance drum and octave mandolin.
“Great music to have on while company is over for dinner or a holiday get-together.”
• “Bob Dylan: The Best of the Original Mono Recordings” ($9.99).
“Dylan has never sounded better than on this release, and it is a pleasure to go back and sample again the songs that changed the face and direction of popular music and culture in their original sonic format.”
• “Buchan Bluegrass” by Tiller’s Folly ($14.25 for a physical copy through http://www.tillersfolly .com, $9.90 to download through iTunes).
“This album is highly addictive. You can feel the power and passion in the lads’ performances.”
Battle Ground actor and Enation drummer Richard Lee Jackson
• “The Book of Eli” on DVD ($28.98).
“This was one of my favorite films this year. It’s an intense film, but one that in the end has a redemptive theme.”
• “It’s a Wonderful Life” ($19.99 for the 60th anniversary edition), “Elf” ($14.98), “A Christmas Story” ($19.98), “A Christmas Carol” — the 1951 version with Alastair Sim ($19.99 for the ultimate collector’s edition), “White Christmas” ($24.99 for the anniversary edition), “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” — the 1964 animated classic ($14.93), “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” — the animated film from 1970 ($14.97), and “Frosty the Snowman” — the 1969 animated favorite ($14.97). The three animated films also are available as part of “The Original Christmas Classics” ($29.93).
“All of these films have one thing in common — they ooze Christmas spirit.”
• “Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy” ($49.98, $79.98 for Blu-ray).
“One of the best trilogies of all time, … (perfect) for the kid in us all who wants to time travel.”
• iPad ($499 and up on http://store.apple.com/us).
“Want to go nuts and have one big gift for someone? I say go all out and have all your family and friends pitch in and get that special someone an iPad. It’s one of the coolest and most fun gadgets on the market today.”
• Charitable donation
“Donate to a charity that means a lot to you in your family’s or friend’s name. That’s the Christmas spirit in action.”
Battle Ground Enation frontman and “General Hospital” actor Jonathan Jackson
• iTunes gift cards (available at numerous retailers in varying denominations).
“An iTunes gift card is cool because the person gets to shop for what they like.”
• “Gone with the Wind” ($24.98 for the two-disc 70th anniversary edition).
• “Songs From The Road” by Leonard Cohen ($17.98 for the CD/DVD).
• “Christmas In the Heart” by Bob Dylan ($11.98).
• “The Christmas Sweater,” a novel by Glenn Beck ($19.99 for hardcover, $7.99 for paperback, $17.99 for picture book).
Best-selling Vancouver Christian fiction author Karen Kingsbury
• “The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever,” a book by Barbara Robinson ($5.99 for paperback).
“This classic Christmas tale of the wayward Herdman family and their discovery of the meaning of the Nativity scene is one of my favorites. Every December we read this book out loud, laughing along with the narrative about these crazy kids and their tender lack of knowledge about Christmas and its meaning. We laugh right up to the end, where we’re all wiping tears from our eyes. Each year it underlines the real message of Christmas — it’s a must read.”
• “Streams in the Desert,” a book of daily devotional readings by L.B. Cowman ($14.99 for hardcover).
“There’s an entry for every day of the year, and each one is short but mighty. … Most people are looking to improve their life with the coming new year. The best way I can think to do that is to get closer to God. This devotional will absolutely help you do that.”
• “Scrooge,” the 1970 musical starring Albert Finney ($14.98).
“There is nothing like a favorite Christmas movie to bring you closer to the meaning of the season, and closer to the people you love. ‘Scrooge’ fits the bill in absolutely every possible way.”
• Photo books (available through various retailers, including http://www.mypublisher.com, http://www.walgreens.com and http://www.costco.com. Twenty-page classic hardcover books from MyPublisher.com start at $29.80).
“This is maybe my favorite thing to give at Christmastime. I take photos from the year and make them into a scrapbook online using one of the many services that do this. It gives you the chance to combine great photos and great sentiments, all in one unforgettable keepsake. We all love something special, something you can’t buy at the store.”
Best-selling Vancouver thriller writer Lisa Jackson
“What I love to do is give gifts that are themes and wrap several different objects together. I often give a book, with something that pertains to the book. For example, several of my favorite authors write mysteries/suspense novels (think Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben and John Sandford). These guys seem to be into music, and in the novel one of the characters might be listening to or discussing some rock group or album. I include that particular CD with the book. If the characters are drinking a particular brand of scotch, I might add that. Whatever ties in with the story.”
Some specific examples for Stephen King fans:
• “The Dead Zone,” accompanied by a bottle of wine and a butcher knife ($7.99 for a paperback copy of “The Dead Zone,” prices vary for wine and knives).
• “Firestarter,” accompanied by a blood-red candle and a barbecue lighter ($7.99 for a paperback copy of “Firestarter,” prices vary for candles and lighters).
Former Vancouver resident and season six “Hell’s Kitchen” contestant Amanda Davenport, now sous chef for Legal Sea Foods in Washington, D.C.
• Gordon Ramsay’s “Cooking for Friends” ($35 for hardcover).
Ramsay is host of “Hell’s Kitchen.” “Of course, I’m partial to him. This gives you several ideas, from small plates to full meals, and it’s very easy to follow.”
• Paula Deen’s “The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook” ($20 for hardcover).
“It’s all about family and comfort, and she knows exactly how to make you feel like you’re at home even when you’re far away from family.”
• Anthony Bourdain’s “Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook,” a follow-up to “Kitchen Confidential” ($26.99 for hardcover).
“It’s not a cookbook but great reading for the food lover and restaurant lover. It’s about the world of food and the people who cook in it. Very entertaining.”
Amboy drummer Cubby O’Brien, a former Mouseketeer who toured with the Carpenters and still performs with Bernadette Peters
• The Carpenters’ “Christmas Portrait” album, which O’Brien plays on ($14.98).
“Christmas Portrait” includes such staples as “Merry Christmas Darling,” “Christmas Waltz” and “(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays.”
“I think if your family doesn’t have that Christmas album, it would be a great addition to your Christmas collection.”
• “Broadway Barks” and “Stella Is a Star,” children’s books by Bernadette Peters ($35 each on the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS website, http://www.broadwaycares.org).
Each signed hardcover copy is accompanied by a CD on which Peters reads the book and performs an original song. Proceeds go to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a fundraising and grant-making nonprofit that supports AIDS organizations around the world.
Ridgefield cookbook author Rick Browne, host of the Public Broadcasting Service television show “Barbecue America” and former Columbian photo editor
• Oregon Scientific Grill Right Wireless Talking Oven/Barbecue Thermometer ($59.95).
This wireless thermometer sends out an audio alert when meat is done.
“It’s really good.”
• Smoke Bombs ($1 each or $9.99 for a variety pack of six in a crate through http://www.tailgatingplanks.com).
Smoke Bombs are available in cedar, alder, maple, hickory, cherry and white oak. They are wood chips wrapped in cloth bags about size of a baseball. Soak them in water, then put them in the barbecue directly over heat to give your meat a smoky flavor.
• Beer Butt Chicken Plank ($12.99 through http://www.tailgatingplanks.com).
This round cedar plank has a hole in the center for a beer can, over which you place a chicken. You get both the beer and cedar flavors, and the beer also helps keep the chicken moist.
“It’s really a delightful way to cook chicken.”
• Fire Wire Stainless Steel Flexible Grilling Skewer ($14.99 for a set of two).
These are great for kebabs and take up less space on the grill than straight skewers.
• Qbags (about $4.78 for five bags through http://www.qbag.com).
These aluminum foil bags are a United Kingdom product designed for the oven or barbecue. They keep food moist and prevent charring, and are great for vegetables, fish and slow-cooking roasts. Qbags are more convenient and easier to seal than aluminum foil packets people might fashion themselves.