It’s that time of the year when you might find yourself in a frenzied state trying to check those last few people off your holiday shopping list. You’re not the only one: A few of us at the office have hit a roadblock in our search for a special something for that special someone. So we tapped in-the-know locals for guidance.
Q. My dad is the best, but I can never find the right thing to get him. He’s a minimalist, but if he has his eye on something, he’ll usually just buy it for himself. He’s also into sports (read: Tom Brady), film (read: Al Pacino movies) and cooking (read: grilling). —My Dad Is Literally the Everydad
A. If your dad loves grilling, he needs the best grill, says Victor Albisu, chef and owner of the fire-friendly restaurants Del Campo and Taco Bamba. And that’s the Big Green Egg. “It’s one of the best things on the market right now,” Albisu says. “Once you get it on your deck, you’ll never want anything else.” Since we’re not sure you love your father enough to spend $400 to $1,200 on a grill, we sought a second opinion from Deadspin and GQ’s Drew Magary, who wrote a book about parenting called “Someone Could Get Hurt.” “As a dad, the only thing I ever want is to be left the hell alone,” Magary says. “When people get me crap now, it’s either booze or some sort of office supply I find myself suddenly needing. Otherwise, I just wanna sit and not be bothered.” That gift is priceless.
Q. My 16-year-old sister is a math whiz who enjoys building computers, but I don’t know enough about them to buy her parts she could use. I’d like to get her something tech-y that won’t bust my budget. —Not Smart Enough to Buy My Smart Sister a Good Gift
A. The way to go here might just be a minimalist stocking stuffer. “I’m a big fan of little things,” says Rob Pegoraro, a Virginia-based freelance tech writer for Yahoo Finance and USA Today. “If you’re thinking, ‘I don’t know if I’d buy this for myself, but it looks neat’ — boom, there’s your gift.” His pick is a Universal 2nd Factor, aka a U2F, which is essentially a USB security key fob that you can pair with apps like Facebook, Google and Dropbox. “It’s like the two-step verification you use when you get a text message to your phone, but this has one advantage — if you lose your phone, you’re not out of luck,” he says. He recommends opting for one certified by security group FIDO, like the FIDO U2F Security Key from Yubico ($18, yubico.com).
Q. I’m desperate to find a gift for my mom’s other children: her garden of approximately 8 million plants. Her windowsills are littered with flowerpots I’ve gotten her over the years, filled with succulents, leafy greens and cactuses grown with a green thumb that I unfortunately didn’t inherit. —Mother Nature’s Child
A. It seems like your mom has the plants covered, so Lily Cox, founder of the Bloomingdale-based plant and flower business A Strange Flower, suggests “upgrading her gardening kit.” Head to Little Leaf, a plant and flower shop with locations in Logan Circle (1401 S St. NW) and Union Market (1309 Fifth St. NE) to get Kikkerland’s gold vintage watering can ($36), or nab a pair of “totally mom-worthy” pink-and-white floral twill gardening gloves from Terrain ($38). Cox also leads various plant and flower workshops, so you could get Mom a gift certificate to one of Cox’s macrame plant hanger classes ($60) at The Lemon Collective (3015 Georgia Ave. NW), where she can learn to make a beautiful hanging garden while discovering creative ways to save space.
Q. My cat Turtle yowls all day long when she’s bored, and it drives the neighbors crazy. I’ve bought her food-based cat puzzles and she solves them immediately. For Hanukkah, I want to get her a toy that will keep her engaged for more than two seconds. —My Cat Is Higher-Maintenance Than a Baby
A. Since Turtle’s such a big ball of energy, Courtney Stamm, owner of the pet-centric boutique The Cheeky Puppy (1709 Connecticut Ave. NW), suggests getting her The Cat Ball ($55-$99, thecatball.com), a bed that’s also a cushioned orb with two openings on the sides. “Cats like to hide under things and pop out from under things, so it’s a great mechanism to play with your cat,” Stamm says. She recommends owners pair it with a battery-operated toy to keep the cat focused on hiding and “preying” on a target. Or you can grab a box of Up Country catnip fortune cookie toys ($12.99 at The Cheeky Puppy), which are squishy and tassel-y and will keep Turtle occupied.