Some stuff to buy for yourself or others

Here are some of our favorite items that would make pretty-OK gifts–some local, some boring, all sure to be well-received.

By Susan Howson & Ross Catrow

Aeropress coffee maker

$25, available on Amazon Prime

This wonderful device, a device made by the same evil genius who created the Aerobie flying ring, has the highest taste-to-fuss ratio of any coffee maker around. It’s simple, efficient, elegant, and it even (kind of) self-cleans If you want to figuratively dip your toe into the world of top-notch coffee, start here.

Blanchard’s Coffee Ethiopia Harrar

$9, you can find it around town if you look hard enough and catch a bit of luck

If you’re going to use your fancy new coffee maker (which is, in fact, exceedingly unfancy), you’re gonna need some coffee to put in it. For my American currency, nothing beats Blanchard’s Ethiopia Harrar. It tastes like a blueberry. I want to soak it deep into my pores.

Hardywood insulated growler

$45, get thee to the brewery!

Yeah, $45 is pretty steep for a 64 oz growler–especially when a glass one of the same volume costs just five bucks. But! Does your pathetic glass growler keep beer cold for 24 hours? Is your fragile glass growler fashioned from double-walled food-grade stainless steel? I think not. You might as well be carrying your beer around in a (cheap) Fabergé egg.

“Kids” superhero cape

Starting around $40

I know, I know, no capes. But…capes! Perfect for the superhero obsessed in your life, pretty dang good for everyone else.

USB battery pack

$30, free shipping from Amazon…for now

Name a more boring gift than a battery pack. You cannot, because it is the most boring. None more boring. But that’s OK, people. A USB battery pack to charge your iDevice is maybe the most useful thing a fella can have. There’s a trillion options in this particular product vertical, so just listen to The Wirecutter and buy this one.

The world’s best hoodie


I’m not exaggerating here. I’m not even the first to declare it the world’s best hoodie. There are a non-zero number of articles in reputable news outlets about this hooded sweatshirt.

Hatchery’s Tasting Box

#25 per month

What’s the point in living if you’re not delivered a bunch of doodads in cute boxes each month? These particular doodads from Hatchery are the overly precious artisanal ingredient type. One thing: food-related items that are “the gift that keeps on giving” does not conjure overly positive imagery for me.

T-Shirts for Beautiful Nerds

On sale for $22ish, but act fast!

My friend bought the Pride and Prejudice v-neck for me last year, and I love it so much that I bought her the Jane Eyre one this year. Isn’t it so wonderful that you know your fellow nerd’s favorite book and buy them a shirt about it accordingly? These shirts fit and look nice, which is more than you can say for many other True Nerd Wannabes out there.

Awl Snap Handbags and Wallets and Such

A reasonable range for leather goods

Erin McRoberts is a joy to be around–just as much as her (RVA-made) bags and wallets are a joy to behold. They’re made of that gorgeous leather that makes you want to sneak it into your bed at night so you can rub your cheek on it while you doze off. Also, she’s really awesome about customizing things for you. Want a different lining? No problem. Want a special pocket? Thanks for asking. Want a key fob? UP YOURS. JK, she would never say that. Not seriously, anyway.

Sundance Doc Club Membership

$6.99 per month, or $59.99 per year, you do the easy math!

Some people like to watch documentaries, which is a weird, weird thing, considering all the Bill Murray comedies out there. But lo, shining brightly on the horizon appeared an option for these square nerds who like to learn things about the planet they live on. ‘Twas the Sundance Doc Club membership, which is a ridiculously cheap seven clams per month and includes access to the Sundance digital archives, special events, and a chance to hug Robert Redford (unsupported fact).

Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book


If you have a secret desire to curl up horizontally on an armchair and color while you watch a holiday movie, you’re so not alone. I’d be doing that right now if it weren’t for you needy baby birds and your constant demands for gift guides. Get this coloring book for adults and/or kids, and make beautiful images while you let the rest of your brain cells slowly die.

A Spicier Life

Moderate prices, premium results

Oh you’re going to get that weird spice or herb from Penzeys Spices. You’ll get it and like it. That’s not a demand, that’s a prediction! This formerly mail-order spice specialist now has bricks-and-mortar-and-Vietnamese-cinnamon stores, including one right in Carytown! The knowledgeable staff will guide you on their way, clearly in it for the discount and possible the love of first-class flavorings. Gift boxes abound, but try picking out some weird things on your own.

Refreshingly Different Richmond Print

$50-$75, unframed-framed

Can I say something sacrilegious? There are a lot of Richmond prints out there. This particular one by Albie Designs is cute and sophisticated, recognizable and fresh. Neat! Or, go hyperlocal with a Church Hill Map Print that only the very cool who enter your home will recognize.

Photo by: SopranoAnaDiaz

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