A very Pacific Northwest holiday gift guide
What to gift someone who lives in the Pacific Northwest?
A friend of mine, who lives in New York, messaged me with this question. Her sister-in-law moved to Portland recently, and she wanted to know what would suit those of us who live in this damp, dark climate. What follows is an informal gift guide —ideas from friends, KUOW coworkers, and Today So Far newsletter readers.
Wool socks — from $14
Fact of life: There is no such thing as too many wool socks when you live in the Northwest. Wet cotton will make you miserable. My new favorite wool sock brand is Farm to Foot. Their socks are soft and cozy. Folks will also recommend Smartwool, and I will too, but some of the socks arrive a little stiff and uncomfortable, so I would recommend buying in person. REI brand wool socks tend to be less expensive, but equally lasting.
The Nano Puff is Patagonia’s answer to the down jacket. Down clumps when wet, losing its ability to retain heat, whereas the Nano Puff keeps you at a good temperature no matter how wet you are. (It is not, to be clear, a waterproof coat. I layer mine with a waterproof rain shell. I used to wear water resistant jackets, but climate change dumps more rain on us now, so I’ve switched to fully waterproof.)
Down booties — $40-90
Wearing down outside is tricky in rainy Seattle, but not when you are indoors. I was gifted Sierra Designs down booties many winters ago, and I wear them throughout the winter months. I gifted a pair to my stepmom, who wears hers all winter as well. I prefer these to synthetic or woolly lamb slippers, which weirdly stretch out in the damp. Here are a pair from Outdoor Research, a Seattle company.
A Native-owned company in Seattle. All blankets are designed by Native artists.
Dribs and drabs
Customized teas that taste like a Jane Austin novel or a scene from Game of Thrones. KUOW editor/producer Dyer Oxley won a first-place award for this feature of Friday Elliott, who describes herself as the Head Tea Witch of the company.
Pretty earrings by Seattle artist Irene Wood — from $38
I met Irene at a birthday party when we were 10 years old. I’ve been wearing her jewels almost as long (at least 20 pairs of earrings, two necklaces, one bracelet), and they always get compliments. It’s fun when someone spots you on the street, points at your necklace, and and says, “Irene?”
I stumbled upon this Native artist on Instagram and bought a pair of her earrings soon after. They are high quality and classic, but also hip and unique.
Have you ever waited for a friendly driver to jump your car? I used to drive an old Honda, and I had to flag someone for a jump every few months. What makes this gift so great is that it doubles as a phone & computer charger.
We were gifted a Mount Rainier version of this glass, and it’s my favorite drinking glass. Novel and fun.
This is my favorite cup for hot beverages. I received it as a gift years back, and use it every day. I shouldn’t put it in the dishwasher, but I do.
Under $10 Archie McPhee snow globe — from $5
I made these with my sons as gifts for their grandparents. We went to Archie McPhee’s, a gag gift store in Wallingford, and bought cute small plastic figurines for a DIY snow globe.
Foraged chanterelles — priceless
KUOW’s Deb Wang was recently gifted a bag of harvested chanterelles. “It is the BEST GIFT EVER!!” she wrote.
Book your friend’s favorite tattoo artist – free!
Popular tattoo artists are hard to book.
Give your friend the gift of BOOKING their favorite tattoo artist (yes, they’ll pay for the deposit and tattoo, but they’ll thank you for watching their fave artist on Instagram). Outdoors
For the cyclist, waterproof panniers would be a generous gift. These are the ones my mother passed along to me after she retired. They are unbeatable.
Waterproof cycling gloves
I needed these when I biked in Oregon and haven’t missed them while living in Seattle. Could be that it’s colder and rains harder in Oregon? I don’t have a good brand to recommend, sorry.
I have spent a lot of money on crap bike lights. I never bit the bullet because they cost so much money. This light was my “big” Christmas present five years ago, and it still works for days on end.
I grew up in northeast Seattle, and in our backyard were two giant Italian plum trees. In late August, when the tree fruited, neighbors showed up with brown paper bags to help us harvest these prolific trees. I bought a young peach tree from Raintree nursery, and the tree survived both the travel and my limited fruit tree knowledge.
KUOW’s Derek Wang recommends rain paints from REI.
KUOW’s Ashley Hiruko recommends tickets to see Monsterwatch. “They're a Seattle punk group, and their shows are always high energy.”
Earthquake preparedness kits (these are pricey but a time saver)
Air purifier for smoky summers ahead
Satsumas (who isn’t delighted when someone shows up with these delicious orange orbs?)
Six people recommended Cougar Gold. I always assumed this was canned Cheez wiz, but folks swear by this stuff.