Yes, it's that time of year again, when retailers thoughts turn from red to black, when "Carol of the Bells" reappears on iTunes' "Most Downloaded" list and when you convince yourself that your significant other really would enjoy a Himalayan Salt BBQ Plank or a pair of Michael Jackson socks. It seems to come earlier and earlier, but make no mistake: this day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, is the official start of the seasonal madness known as the Christmas shopping season.
As always, the search is on to find that special something that for that special someone. And it's no slam dunk: every year it gets harder and harder for Santa to impress. Socks and ties and pajamas are so boring. You did the scented candle and cute coffee mug thing a while back. And they still haven't opened up that jar of plum marmalade from last year that was under the tree. It's a conundrum, to be sure: after all, how many Astroturf iPhone cases does a person need?
Depending on your constituency, the experts try and help. Cosmo says that guys really want hot sauce. They suggest Senor Lechuga's collection, a trio of hand-made small batch toppings, available in flavors like Pineapple Garlic Reapers, Chipotle Salt Reapers and Habanero Onion Reapers. Esquire has an idea for a "Game of Thrones" fan, a mug with Tyrion Lannister's favorite saying, "That's what I do, I drink and I know things." Toy Insider says that "Kids are once again interested in slime" and recommends Make Your Own Unicorn SLIMYGLOOP. And Etsy's resident trend expert Isom Johnson says without equivocation, "One of the most exciting gifting trends this year is personalized presents for your pet." Water bowls with my name doesn't do it for me, but then again I'm not a schnauzer named George.
So what do you get the person who has everything? The feature list is very specific: you want unique, you want distinctive, you want easy, you want something they wouldn't buy for themselves. Oh, and you want all that for under fifty bucks. Not an easy list to check off every box. But I did find one: ice.
Not just any ice, but crystal clear ice. Both complex and simple, the True Cubes tray makes just 4 ice cubes at a time. But to call them regular "ice cubes" is an insult. These are indeed frozen water, but perfectly clear, with no bubbles or cracks. You fill the three-tiered silicone tray with regular tap water (hot is recommended), slide it into your freezer, and remove it 18 to 22 hours later. Remove the topmost tray, give it a gentle twist, and four glass like sub-zero (centigrade) blocks are ready. Your Pappy Van Winkle deserves nothing less. (Sorry, I know that's sacrilege: Pappy should only be served neat. But you get the idea.)
Beyond that, there are other ideas. A French Press in the shape of R2D2. A section of flatbreads from around the world. A Nerf Doomlands Impact Zone Desolator (OK, it's just this year's version of a Nerf gun with a weird name.) The point is that if you look around, there's something for everyone. True, not everyone wants the Ultimate Tassel Earrings set featuring over 100 possibilities, but that just might be the thing to light up mom's face.
Marc Wollin of Bedford wants to start and finish Xmas shopping this week. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at http://www.glancingaskance.blogspot.com/, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.