There’s a post going around Tumblr at the moment, about how hard it is to buy for people who don’t have obsessions. AND IT’S TRUE. It was a good day for Liz when her mother got sucked into Game of Thrones — the DVDs should keep us going for a few Christmases yet.
Well, No Award is here to help. What follows is a list of things we already own and think are great, or that we’d appreciate finding under a tree and think others would too, and maybe even a few things we couldn’t care less about, but seem like they might be hypothetically appealing to others. All prices are in Australian dollars.
We aren’t into dividing gifts by gender (sorry, Tony Abbott OH WAIT NO WE’RE NOT), but the alcohol probably isn’t appropriate for all ages, so we’re dividing the diverse and complex human race into two categories:
Tiny People Who Are Still Developing Cognitive and Motor Skills
Blahaj. “Soft toy, shark” says the IKEA website. And yes, that’s true, but Blahaj is SO MUCH MORE. It’s the ideal gift for a child small enough to be HILARIOUSLY ADORABLE while walking around with a stuffed shark of approximately equal size, but it also makes the perfect housewarming gift for … well, anyone. Get one. Get six. $24.99 at IKEA. (Steph notes: Blahaj’s predecessor, Klapparhaj, was only 19.99 and I am OUTRAGED at this inflation. Also note that my house contains both Blahaj and Klapparhaj)
Also, IKEA has a pretty great range of toys in general, including soft dolls that aren’t white. Or golliwogs.
If you’d rather something more geographically appropriate, you may also buy a shark from your local capital city aquarium (please note: No Award doesn’t necessarily endorse aquariums, but we do patronise their shops).
Shark – Air Swimmer.
But what child-or-grown-adult doesn’t need a lifesize, remote-controlled, helium shark? Currently on sale for $39.99, but also currently out of stock. The company does other animals, but none as cool as sharks, let alone squids or penguins, so what’s the point?
Crystal Growing Kit. No lie, Liz would have murdered for this when she was small. $16.95 at Australian Geographic. (Australian Geographic is full of cool and interesting science-related gifts, and although some have pink packaging, it doesn’t seem to be strongly gendered.)
Any of these awesome ‘teaching story’ picture books by Ambelin Kwaymulina, which have a focus on telling indigenous stories about how to live in the world. Suitable for all the sproglets in your life. ($16.95)
Shark vs Train by Chris Barton. We here at No Award haven’t read this sproglet book, but it seems relevant to our interests.
Larger People Who Have The Motor Skills Down But Are Still, You Know, Growing And Learning Every Day, But More Importantly, Can Legally Be Given Alcohol
Bonus points if the alcohol is cephalopod themed.
Stephanie is a big believer in hot toddies; Liz is a big believer in cephalopods. So we both rate Kraken Rum pretty highly. Also, it’s actually good, if you’re into dark spiced rum. Which we are. Please enjoy your cephalopod-themed alcohol responsibly. About $50 per 700mL bottle.
DVD box set: The Gods of Wheat Street.
Now, Liz has a confession to make. Remember how she managed to blog about every single terrible episode of Secrets & Lies? Well, she followed that with the clever and charming Gods of Wheat Street, but it was so good, she had too many feels to encapsulate them into a post.
And that’s terrible, because Gods not only represents a rare Australian foray into the magical realism genre, but it does so with a majority Indigenous cast. The blurb:
Odin Freeburn, head of the family, is being pulled in all directions as he tries to keep his family together. Odin has one brother in jail, another brother is in love with the daughter of the family enemy and his wife has run away to the city leaving him to raise their two daughters.
To complicate matters, his employer has just died, his sister-in-law is in love with him and the spirit of his mother Eden has come back on a mission to protect the important destiny of the Freeburn family line.
And, really, that’s about it, but what more do you need? Family drama, a ghost, some criminal shenanigans. It’s well-written and funny, and also heartbreaking, and also Electra is one of my favourite female characters ever. Also Shari Sebbens wears this amazing dress with an avocado pattern. I can’t tell you how much I want an avocado dress. Currently on sale for $19.99 at the ABC Shop!
Liz and her mum both recommend Janet King, another recent ABC drama ($24.98 at JB Hi-Fi). It’s a thriller/mystery about a Crown Prosecutor who comes back from maternity leave and plunges straight into a conspiracy that reaches the very top of NSW politics. (And it’s NSW politics — frankly anything seems plausible.) Some material may be triggery for people who have issues around sexual abuse, child abuse and the judicial system.
Pretty much anything from the First Shop on the Moon would make an amazing gift. The ideal gift for the civil disobedience penguin in your life. But enough about Stephanie.
For the well-dressed cyclist in your life, Captain Robbo’s Adventure Pants ($90) or anything from Tread & Pedals. Adventure Pants are handprinted by Captain Robbo, super comfortable, and stress tested by Stephanie when she was doored by a car on Hampden Road to definitely help save your knees. Comes in cephalopod patterns. Tread & Pedals are based in Melbourne and are upcycled bicycle parts jewellery and clocks and things. Awesome cufflinks from chains, bracelets made of spokes (Steph owns three of the latter and loves them).
Nothing promises a festive holiday season like a bit of paranoia! How about Australia Under Surveillance by Frank Moorehouse and Dirty Secrets: Our Asio Files by Meredith Brugman? (Both $32.99 at Readings.) Liz just finished reading the latter, and although it got repetitive towards the end, it’s full of interesting, horrifying and occasionally funny stories about ASIO shenanigans and Australia’s dubious attitude to civil liberties during the Cold War.
Stephanie’s books to recommend are Transport for Suburbia by Paul Mees ($95), on the problems of public transport in suburban areas (note: Stephanie hasn’t read this and desperately wants to); and The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine ($35), a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses set in the Jazz Age (and one of NPR’s books of 2014).
Did you just laugh mirthlessly at the idea of being able to afford two new release books in Australia? Liz wishes to point out that Kobo does gift vouchers. (Liz personally prefers Kobo devices over other ereaders as they will support DRM-free ebooks in a range of formats, unlike certain other readers, Kindle.)
(Amazon also do gift cards. Sometimes you have to compromise your principles in order to get that ebook you were chasing for less than $30.)
Or, for value for money and some excellent Australian SF, how about a subscription to Twelfth Planet Press?
Does the nerd in your life have their Continuum membership yet? Because that would make a great gift! Provided that your nerd lives in Melbourne or has the means to get here, or else that you’re also paying for transport and accommodation. Otherwise, I guess buying them a membership would be a bit mean.
A gift that transcends borders (as well as time and space) is Australian audio SF drama/comedy Night Terrors, a sort of Australian remix of Doctor Who, but with more female characters, puns, and a Harold Holt joke in the second episode that made Liz hit pause and frantically text Stephanie.
Back in the book department, Liz and Steph both enjoyed/are enjoying Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie ($19.99 at Readings), despite the fact that even a book about a culture without gender manages to have an entitled male-bodied douchebag stealing oxygen. If you don’t have anything nice to say about Seivarden, come and sit by us. But also buy it for the intellectual space opera fan in your life.
Gifts For People You Don’t Really Want To Give Gifts To
Maybe you drew the tedious sister-in-law in the family Kris Kringle. (Disclaimer: Liz’s sister-in-law is great.) Maybe you’ve pulled your boss in the office Secret Santa. Maybe you’re just a troll. Here’s some suggestions!
– Remember, in year seven, we converted tea towels into plastic bag holders? That. Remember to wash the tea towel first! (Or not.)
– A tea towel converted into a plastic bag holder … filled with soap on a rope
– An Iggy Azalea CD
– A TARDIS-shaped tea infuser. This is for when you’re trolling Captain Picard. Obviously.
No Award takes no responsibility for any family or office feuds that may arise out of these gifts. Do not give bacon-flavoured vodka to vegans. In very few workplaces is it acceptable or appropriate to give a sex toy to a colleague.