Gift Guide

Posted in Gift Guide on Dec 08, 2010


Ok, I couldn’t resist. I know there are no fewer than 236,000 gift guides out there at this time of the year, but I decided to put together an especially Mom Culture-esque list.


These are not your standard issue gifts like gloves and robes, nor do they fall into the other extreme of gift category that might include, say, a gun-shaped egg fryer or cashmere oven mitts (I made that one up, but the egg fryer is, unfortunately, available on Amazon…and somewhere a chicken is not amused.) I included items I thought had the right kind of fun, artful vibe that we Mom Culture people embrace.

If you celebrate Chanukah and your gift-buying is done, file this list under “birthday gifts for art and culture lovers,” or use your Chanukah gelt and treat yourself.

Happy holiday season!



Artist of the Month Club – This is the gift that lasts forever. If it fits your budget, it’s a ridiculously cool way to start an art collection or expand an existing one. As their website says, “museum-level tastemakers choose work for your collection.” Each month for a year you receive a new piece, and whether you give it a prime location or relegate it to storage, it’s certainly a most daring way to collect art! $200/month. Visit AMC’s site for more info.

ms. & mr., "frame drag" (an AMC 2009 selection)

An Artist of the Month Club 2009 selection


I Lego N.Y. - The coolest. I’m totally gifting this book to myself. Christoph Niemann’s illustrations have graced the covers of the New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Newsweek. After 11 years in New York, he moved to Germany and as he looked at his kids’ Legos scattered around the room, his mind drifted back to New York and, apparently, this genius book came to life. You hear that, everyone? Stop picking up — messy toys on the floor are an inspiration! See/purchase this and his other books at Christoph Niemann’s site.

from christoph niemann's book "I Lego N.Y."

from christoph niemann's book, "I Lego N.Y."

from christoph niemann's book, "I Lego N.Y."

from christoph niemann's "I Lego N.Y."


seeing outside the boxSeeing Outside the Box – Beautiful cards with colorful images that force you to use your creative side; perfect to do with friends or with your kids, who always manage to make you view the world through fresh eyes. (link to it at MoMA store)

Constructible Drinking Straw – From chocolate milk to rum punch, it’s more fun with a straw! The fun factor goes up a notch when you get to make your own straw shape. There might even be a party game in this: Best straw design after a cocktail or two? (available at Amazon or MoMA store)


If you know people who like nothing more than to have a donation made in their name, Americans for the Arts is an established (50 years) organization “dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts.”


skate deck at Skate America

Skate Deck from

Skate Decks – When I was growing up, you wore Vans skate shoes whether or not you were a skateboarder (mine were black and white checks that never once stepped on a skateboard.) Similarly, whether or not you live with a skater chick/dude, a skate deck – i.e., the board without the wheels – is a totally rad way to add an aesthetic flourish to a kid’s room. Today’s decks are works of art and would look great on a wall or with wall brackets to convert them to a little shelf or bedside table. Check out Skate America, Warehouse Skateboards, Blackhole Boards, or use it as an excuse to visit your local skate shop.

Organika skate deck

Temporary Hand Tattoos – Way better than a smiley face drawn in felt-tip marker and probably easier to remove, these tats are an artful way to keep hands busy being puppets instead of taking a sibling’s toys. Unique, interesting and functional fun. At Think Geek.

hand tattoos

A couple of things I received…

Occasionally I’ll receive something from PR people and, as someone who long worked in the field, I am always happy to check out the promoted product. Here are two wellness-related items you might find helpful during this joyous, but not stress-free, holiday season:

Thrive, Dan Buettner – Mom Culture profiled Dan last January when he was talking about the secrets to longevity in his book, The Blue Zones. (read it here) For Thrive, Dan once again teamed up with National Geographic to reveal the secrets from the World’s Happiest People. Something to keep in mind: racking up credit card debt wasn’t one of the secrets. What are some of the secrets? Make a Cozy, Well-Lit Home Environment and Nurture Laughter. Test your happiness, purchase the book, and more intriguing information at Dan’s website.

Sea of Tranquility, Marlise Karlin – Marlise is an “internationally renowned teacher and founder of The Simplicity of Stillness™ Method: a simple and unique way for connecting people to their natural power.” In her CD Sea of Tranquility, Marlise offers a guided meditation, as well as an instrumental-only section by which to relax and be still. A perfect antidote to the non-stop action of the holiday season. Check her website to sample a portion of the CD.

  • 4 responses to "Gift Guide"

  • Lenore
    8th December 2010 at 18:48

    thanks mark! those tats are so cool – sure beats the sharpie on the hand that doesn’t come off for a week.

  • Mark Melendy
    8th December 2010 at 15:29

    I like the gift ideas too, very creative. Personally I like the hand tattoos, perhaps I could use them for a second career!

  • Lenore
    8th December 2010 at 9:50

    Thanks so much. Incidentally, I would find the straws irresistible, too!

  • Daphne
    8th December 2010 at 9:20

    Lenore, Great job regarding these gift ideas. I just love, love, love C. Niemann’s book. The Holland Tunnel – brilliant. Also, I know a 12 year old who would find the constructable straw irresistible.