50 great gifts for the nice folks on your list

The super dad, the loyal assistant, the hopeless romantic -- they've been good this year, so reward them well

By Erin Keane

Published November 28, 2013 3:30PM (EST)

Can your dad single-handedly save the world from a zombie apocalypse? Does your little sister consider herself "such a Shoshanna"? Would your assistant take a bullet for you? We've found the stocking stuffers and under-the-tree stunners for your closest friends and family — the midwives, bookish boys, good listeners and dignified patriots who make our lives better, one scene or chapter at a time.

Mater and Papa made sure her boarding school taught her well, but she means to pass on her heritage herself. Help her study up on the origins of her frightfully proper upbringing in Henry Hitchings' new investigation into what it means to be truly English in "Sorry! The English and Their Manners." ($20.18)

Nothing like a proper G&T to remind one of adventures in the field. The 2013 Ginvent Advent Calendar hides tiny samples of 24 different gins, one for every day leading up to Christmas. After the nativity program rehearsal, she'll need it.  ($240)

If she's going to be chasing after her new little nipper, she can't be doing it in her work shoes. Vans teamed up with Liberty of London to bring iconic English prints to the functional style of American skate shoes. ($60)

It's all about the simple pleasures now. This elegant Scandinavian-designed tea cup brews one single cup at a time. Load loose tea into the strainer, fill with hot water, steep, then tilt. The perfect cup. Gosh, how civilized. ($19.95)

You know how dangerous she can be on a bike, but she wants to model "safety first!" for the little one. If you're stationed at some far-off tropical post, you might need to make arrangements with an EU address-holder to obtain one of these new Hövding invisible bike helmets, a genius collar that hides an airbag that inflates on impact with a fashionable shell. (EU 399)

She's totally going to meet a new guy at the gym. That's still a thing, right? The no-spill Moosejaw Avex Triton water bottle has a convenient one-handed seal and a compartment for her ID, gym card and keys. ($17.99)

Oh Em Effing Gee. A way to eat cereal without getting it all soggy and gross. Obol ($19.99) is split in two — a holding pen for the cereal and a milk reservoir. That is, like, genius.

But seriously, OK, that peace-sign Snuggie's got to go. How about a faux-fur throw ($198) and a pair of Woolrich whitecap bootie slippers ($24.98 - $80.38) instead?

Keep her emoji under wraps with a Mother of pearl iPhone case? You're so fucking classy. ($98)

She's ready to take this party by storm. Help her pin her complicated hair up with Giant Dwarf's silver sparkler star bobby pins ($18), featuring glitter made from real shards of glass and sterling silver. Snap on the effortlessly elegant Geneve Lace Cuff ($79) and she's ready to roar.

He has this habit of cutting it close with time. The design of the Swiss-made Tsovet SVT-LS47 watch evokes stylish aeronautical engineering, with bold, oversize numbers so he knows how much time you have left together. ($450)

The first night you spent together was Bloomsday. Maybe you'll take him to Dublin next. The "Ulysses" lithograph is a stylish print created entirely from the text of James Joyce's masterpiece. ($24)

Raise a toast to Paris, to him, to love, and to chance meetings that change your life. Royal VKB's glass carafe and tumbler set is based on a classic French bistro design. ($28)

You'll travel the world with him. The color-coded 4-in-1 Flight 001 adapter set ($25) and Apple's world travel kit ($33) will keep all of his devices powered up in any time zone.

A perfect marriage, what's that? He'll appreciate the dense fabulism of Matt Bell's debut novel "In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods," which explores the shocking transfigurations and revelations of a dissolving relationship in haunting, mythic terms. ($18, hardcover)

He never goes out empty-handed. Wild & Wolf's Bicycle Tool and Puncture Kit ($23) includes a wrench, tire patches, a rasp and more, for road emergencies apocalyptic and small.

He never knows when he might get called up to save the world. Help him keep in fighting shape with the Found My Animal jump rope with handsome wood and brass handles that could double as a weapon in a pinch. ($32)

He's a guy who can neutralize a global geopolitical threat with whatever's in his pockets. The durable canvas Roosevelt Supply Tool Roll will help him keep all of his essentials organized and ready to go. ($30)

When the infrastructure goes down, he's going to need a good pair of gloves. Generations of outdoorsmen can't be wrong about Filson's goatskin gloves, lined with wool for a warm and durable grip. ($132)

You'd spring for the hard-to-find bottle of Pappy van Winkle bourbon (unavailable, of course), but he'd rather make his own. The Whiskey and Rum Making Kit ($70) includes a handsome American White Oak barrel that he can cure himself before aging raw spirits into a product as fine as him.

He has stories inside him that are dying to come out. McSweeney's Author-Illustrator Starter Kit Bundle ($30) includes nine completely blank bound books (one 13-inch, three 7-inch, five 4.5-inch) for him to fill.

He'll find new ways to slay old dragons every night with the Moulin Roty Les Petites Merveilles Nighttime Shadow Castle puppets. Made from sturdy laser-cut cardboard, mounted on wooden sticks. ($18)

The most powerful weapon: a sharp pen. Delfonics stylish wood ballpoints ($10) will do the job nicely. Tuck them away in the gray canvas Elephant Pencil Case ($39) for safekeeping.

In this game, your choices matter: not only what you choose, but when. Telltale Games' "The Wolf Among Us" is based on the award-winning DC/Vertigo Fables series, where mythical creatures are real and walk among humans. (Rated M, priced according to platform.)

Pair the Wes Anderson Collection ($24) with Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities ($36) for a comprehensive look into the mind of two leading auteurs.

You always thought she might become the writer in the group. This new collection of "The Most of Nora Ephron" ($25) might encourage her to finally become the heroine of her own life.

This stylish, sturdy canvas tote can remind her that anyone can be a star. ($59)

It turns out you can't go home again, but this Hudson's Bay wool blanket will take her back to your camp days, the time in her life when she was happiest, when she knew where she belonged. ($185)

Call the troops to breakfast with Salvatore Ferragamo's Silver Whistle Necklace ($260), a vintage twist on a tried-and-true camp favorite.

What is genius, anyway? A combination of inspiration and obsession, maybe. Maria Semple's comic novel "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" is a cautionary tale about talent suppressed or deferred. ($9)

She's a gladiator in a suit for you, 22 hours a day. Encourage her to relax in this luxurious cashmere wrap after hours ($199.95). Off-white, of course.

Pair it with ballet slippers ($89.95) because, dang, those heels.

All that giant stemware seems like an accident waiting to happen. These durable borosilicate double-glass wine tumblers ($25.63) will keep her red wine and white rugs separate.

For when she has to drop everything — even the Cabernet — to handle it for you. Capabunga Ultimate Wine Preservation Kit, because one of the perks to living alone is always getting to finish your own bottle. ($24)

You've noticed that everything she wears kind of matches. Isn't her life complicated enough? She doesn't need a necklace to make a statement, but this simple Gorjana lariat will help you remember that she's one of the good guys. ($100)

He can listen for the sounds of other survivors and maybe power up his iPhone with the American Red Cross AM/FM Weather Radio with Smartphone Charger designed by Eton. ($35) The lightweight hand-turbined, solar powered radio also boasts an LED flashlight.

It would have been nice if he could have prepared for the latest adventure. Frank Miniter's "The Ultimate Man's Survival Guide: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Manhood" ($21, hardcover) will teach him how to concoct a perfect dry martini using only the expired medical supplies found in a makeshift prison camp and other useful life lessons.

Move over, Snuggie. Poler's Napsack ($130) is a single-serve microfiber cinched sleeping bag with a hood and shoulder zippers that you can wear like a coat or sleep in while your partner takes first watch.

When he has less than a minute to get supplies and get out, he'll want a reliable backpack. The handmade Rover Pack by Colorado-based Topo Designs ($139) is a timeless classic with a sturdy base and a light water-resistant main chamber. Even includes a laptop sleeve, for all the good that'll do him out here.

All that gore flying could seriously dampen his matches. Charles Lindbergh carried this Marbles Outing Equipment MR 150 match safe ($10) in screw-top water-resistant metal.

He knows a thing or two about saving people from the bad guys. He'll love reliving Amnesty International's legendary Human Rights Concerts (1986-1998) with this freshly released six-DVD set ($50) that runs the responsible-musician gamut from Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell to U2 and Bruce Springsteen.

Even superheroes need to train. The new Adidas Boost ($150) are engineered for leaps and bounds with an energy-returning midsole and lightweight, flexible upper support.

He has high-level security clearance but can't keep his phone charged. Modeled on the always-handy Swiss Army Knife, this neon USB Utility Charger Tool ($15) flips open to reveal micro USB, mini USB and iPhone chargers. Plug the tool into your computer and start charging. It's no variobeam, but at least he'll get your text.

Global citizens trying to make the world a better, safer place. Sound familiar? A subscription to Good magazine ($25/year) will introduce him to new champions and challenges worth taking on.

"Ask not what your country can do for you" are words he lives by. Help him mark the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination with the new collection, "The Letters of John F. Kennedy," edited by Martin W. Sandler.  ($20, hardcover)

He does a serious job, true. Isn't it time to upgrade the Leviathan? The streamlined Jack Spade "Davis" leather briefcase ($425) is roomy enough to hold your lipstick, eye drops, hand sanitizer and maybe even his dignity.

Fancy coffee robots only confuse him. The Aeropress uses immersion and pressure (water and a hand) to make a cup of coffee faster than you can say "I need something." ($26)

He's always right behind you, ready to bail you out of sticky situations. He'll study "Inconsequential Dilemmas" carefully. This collection of 45 eye-catching flowcharts maps out the sound decisions you didn't even know you'd have to make. ($13)

He would take a bullet for you. OK, a sneeze bullet. The DC Metro Map Pocket Square ($25) is more form than function, but he'll know you noticed his effort.

Seriously, he's going to love anything you give him, and you know it. Phone it in with this handcrafted J.Crew cotton/linen tie in soothing turquoise stripes. ($39.99)

Erin Keane

Erin Keane is Salon's Editor in Chief.

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