My husband, Mike, does the New York Times crossword puzzle every day (even Saturday!), and he’s annoyingly good at it. For his birthday this year, I hired the extremely talented Brendan Emmett Quigley, who has written puzzles for the Times, ESPN, McSweeney’s, his own website and many other people/publications to make a personalized crossword just for Mike.
I came up with a bunch of personal keywords, inside jokes and names of people who
mean something to my husband, and then Brendan worked them into one awesome puzzle. When I gave it to Mike, he looked thoroughly delighted and a little astonished. And isn’t that how you always want someone to look when you give them a gift?
My husband was OBSESSED with the Harlem Globetrotters as a kid, but never got to see them live. Last year, the Globetrotters came to MSG. I figured fulfilling his childhood dream would make for a good gift, right? I swear there were tears in his eyes when he opened the Christmas card (tickets tucked inside).
My husband and I have a “$50 and under” rule when it comes to Christmas presents. (As in, you can’t spend even a penny more than $50 IN TOTAL on the other person.) I think my best effort has been a fancy paint set from Utrecht. A painter in childhood and adolescence, he kept talking about getting back into it.
I have given this book probably more than any other gift. It’s so fun to sit around on the holidays with family and friends and read and answer the questions. Maybe not the world’s "best" gift, but you can basically give it to anyone and they’ll have fun with it.
This is going to sound INCREDIBLY cheesy. One year, I gave my dad a leather travel picture frame and made a collage of family photos inside (he was always traveling for work). To this day, he takes it with him everywhere. I really can’t top it.
The best gift I’ve ever given my boyfriend was also a secret gift to myself. Though he’s been playing the guitar for over 20 years, I decided to give the man (and my ears) some lessons.
I often give my mom coffee table books for her birthday, so last year I was searching through McNally Jackson in SoHo and stumbled upon this one. (Her birthday fell about three months after a family vacation to Turkey and the book brought us right back.) The photography is unbelievable and almost feels like our own album.