All right, December 20th is upon us, which means that we’re all down to the wire on Christmas gifts! (Don’t worry, I’m not done shopping either.) If you’re like me, you probably woke up this morning and realized that there’s very little chance anything you order now will be shipped in time to be under the tree by December 24th. What are we all going to do?
To save us all, I did some research and put together a list of gift ideas there’s still time to buy for your history-loving friends.
(I know this focuses on Christmas since that holiday is at the end of this week, but honestly—these gifts are good year-round and for any religious tradition!)
A History Letter Subscription
Here’s the thing about getting someone a subscription: You would never have had anything to put under the tree anyway because of the nature of the gift. You just tell the person you paid for this thing for them! See? You look like you planned it in advance.
There are two main history letter subscriptions I’ve found:
Letterjoy: This service sends your loved one “reproductions of real letters (or telegrams) written by a mix of famous figures and eloquent eyewitnesses. They are sourced from some of the finest archives, special collections, and private sources on the planet.” (Their words!) These weekly letters focus primarily on American history. You can purchase 3, 6, or 12 months.
Historic Mail: Similarly, this service sends your loved one a weekly letter, each “a journey through history's most significant moments - from the formative letters of the Founding Fathers at the birth of the United States to letters that changed the course of World War II.” (Their words!) These can be ordered in levels of 10 weeks, 25 weeks, or 52 weeks. This service also plants a tree for every order, if that’s something you’re into.
E-Books (or Audiobooks)
There are plenty of reasons to buy someone the e-book or audiobook version of something. Maybe you’re saving trees! Maybe they like listening to someone read to them! Maybe you know they’re moving soon and don’t want to gift them more stuff to pack! The best benefit (for you) is that you don’t have to worry about shipping time. These are delivered right to their inbox.
The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity is prime e-reading material right now because it’s back-ordered almost everywhere. It was a New York Times bestseller this year, and probably one of the most gifted books to history buffs and academics in 2021.
Buy on Kindle. Buy on Nook. Buy on Audible.
A Subscription to Unruly Figures
C’mon you knew I’d include this, right? Right now I’m offering 15% off for my fellow procrastinators. Give the gift of deeply researched and fun historical podcasting! You won’t have to ship anything, just use their email address and they’ll get ad-free episodes and a whole lot more for one year. This offer ends on December 30th.
Something to Build Their Own Family History
One of the side-effects of our modern geographic spread is that it’s harder to keep family histories alive. It’s hard to pass down generational stories when you don’t see each other that often. Storyworth can help combat that! Gift this to a grandparent or parent. Each week you’ll pick a prompt for them to answer via email. Then next year you’ll receive a beautiful physical book. At the end of it, you’ll all feel closer and you’ve got next year’s gift too if you plan it right.
A Coffee Subscription
I already made my case for subscriptions, right? If the letter thing didn’t appeal to you, I get it. The coffee subscription might! Several abound but I’ve picked out a few from my years working in specialty coffee for you to check out:
Cometeer - A relatively new coffee subscription that is unique because it sends frozen coffee pods. That’s right. These are flash-frozen to keep flavors locked in. To drink one you just heat up 10 oz of water and pour it over the frozen pod. It tastes really good every time. I have several boxes in my freezer right now. They’re perfect for mornings when I’m running behind or just feeling too lazy to actually brew coffee. If you have a loved one like me, send them this!
If you use the link above, you get $25 off your first box!
Go Get ‘Em Tiger - Get a monthly bag of coffee from this LA roaster. There are a few options for how long you want to gift a subscription for, and for when you want to send the email notifying them!
Go Get ‘Em Tiger is also starting an Unlimited Coffee Club. This gift only works if your loved one is in Los Angeles, and it hasn’t launched yet. But get them on the list then promise to pay for their monthly subscription ($40) when it does launch in early 2022. December 20th is the last day to sign up!
Trade Coffee - The cool thing about this coffee subscription is you decide how many bags of coffee you want to pay for and your loved one picks how often they want it! They even take a quiz to figure out their best coffee matches, which is super fun, then Trade sends them bags from different roasters for them to try.
A Book Subscription
Okay, yeah, I like the subscription thing. When you do this, people think of you every time they get a gift for a while! That’s fun! This time it’s all about books:
Literati Book Club - I have been drooling over these for months but haven’t signed myself up yet. This subscription-based book club comes with an app where your loved one can actually discuss the book like they’re in a book club with actual experts. Once again, you can pay now and schedule when the email notifying your recipient will go out! History lovers might like the Joseph Campbell club about mythology.
Shakespeare & Co. Year of Reading - For your history buff who loves literary periods and/or Paris, the Shakespeare & Co. Year of Reading is a wonderful gift. The 12 books sent throughout the year are “inked with the bookshop stamp, and accompanied by a variety of Shakespeare and Company treats and personalisations.” (Their words.) Some are fiction, some are non-fiction, some are poetry, some are classics… It’s a good combination. It ships in three bundles, so the next one won’t arrive for a while, but you can give them a photo of the famous bookstore and explain.
My Coffee & Book Club - Why yes, this does combine the last option and this option. The Coffee & Book Club is exactly what it sounds like: Your loved one will receive a bag of coffee and two hardcovers each month, PLUS an ebook copy! You can choose the genre in advance (try ‘acclaimed non-fiction’ for history lovers) and they can always change it if they feel like it. You can pay month-to-month or prepay for up to a year.
Book of the Month - The oldest book subscription around. They send your loved one five books to pick from every month—if they don’t want one, they can skip a month! If they want more than one, the rest of the books come at a discount.
The Book Hookup - A quarterly subscription from The Strand bookstore that sends your loved one signed hardcover of a highly anticipated new release, plus a few other goodies. There are a few categories that might entice a history lover, like “Political Nonfiction” or “Feminist Literature.”
TBR Recommendations - I’m honestly thinking about getting this one for my cousin next year. He reads constantly, so any time I recommend a book to him, he’s always like, “Yeah, I read that one!” The nice thing about TBR is that your loved one basically receives a certificate to redeem book recommendations. They take a little quiz about books they’ve liked and what they’re looking for, and a bibliologist at TBR sends them three possible titles they’ll like (and why).
Membership to their local bookstore
This is a very fun option because it supports local business while also getting your loved one a gift that keeps on giving. Memberships usually include discounts on books or on shipping, early reservations for live events, and more. It depends on the store. I’m a member of Skylight Books and it’s one of the best things I’ve given myself. If you know there’s a store they love, call and find out how to gift them a membership!
What are your best last-minute go-to gifts? Tell us about them in the comments!
And, of course, happy holidays from me to you! Have fun, wear a mask, and check your list twice. 😉
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