Sunday, November 07, 2010

Rhonda Watts Christmas Gift Guide: 2010 Edition

I love buying gifts for other people. At Christmas, I'm usually more excited about the gifts I'm giving than the ones I'm receiving. I love going to a store and finding the perfect present--something that I know that person will love, but that they probably wouldn't think to ask for. And then I love wrapping the gifts in paper and finding ribbon or a bow to coordinate, maybe with a gift tag that matches.

And I love watching people open their presents. I can always tell by someone's reaction whether he or she really likes what I got or not. And when I can see that they really love what I gave them, that is the best feeling for me, because it shows that I know them well enough and care about them enough to pick something out for them that they would have picked themselves.

I know that not everyone shares this feeling about gifts with me, and that's OK. But for anyone who's planning to get me a gift this Christmas and is at a loss on what to get, here are a few things that I really want this year, followed by a list of some other ideas. What's on your Christmas list?

This is what I want... watch:

Bright Star
The title comes from a poem John Keats wrote to Fanny Brawne, and it is their relationship that this movie follows. I guess you could call it a biopic, but it's actually Brawne, not Keats, who is the real protagonist. She starts out like an Austen heroine, in a good family that has fallen on hard times, but she has the misfortune of falling in love with a man of great poetic genius, but no fortune. Brawne was also a fashion designer, creating all her own clothing, and the film highlights that well in the costuming.

The Unusuals: The Complete Series
A tragically short-lived police drama that lives up to its title in every way, starring Amber "Joan of Arcadia" Tamblyn, or Ambie Tambie as I affectionately call her (or would if we were actually friends). Tamblyn plays a trust fund baby who dropped out of Harvard to go to the police academy and join the NYPD. Jeremy "Hurt Locker" Renner plays her slightly more seasoned partner, whose old partner met an untimely and violent death under mysterious circumstances. The show has great characters, snappy dialogue, and inventive storytelling. Why ABC canceled The Unusuals but kept Grey's Anatomy is one of the mysteries of the universe. read:

Half the Sky
(Kristof & WuDunn)
Former New York Times writers Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn subtitled their book "Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide." The phrase "half the sky" comes from a Chinese proverb: "Women hold up half the sky." Kristof and WuDunn's argument centers on the idea that the most effective way to improve life in the third world, and all over the world, is to value and educate young women and girls. The book lays out an agenda for the world's women and three major abuses: sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence including honor killings and mass rape; and maternal mortality, which needlessly claims one woman a minute. Half the Sky is both a strategic plan and a call to action that I can't wait to read.

Zombies vs. Unicorns (Black & Larbalestier)
This anthology contains 12 stories, each of which argues the case for either zombies or unicorns. I'm a little vague on which criteria zombies and unicorns are being judged on. Which is better? Which is more awesome? Which one would win in a fair fight? Which one would win in a prison fight? Maybe it's all of those things. That would be great, actually, because it might help me make up my mind. I mean, unicorns are awesome and they go great with rainbows and glitter, at least on Lisa Frank notebooks. But if you look at some of the old legends about unicorns, they're not always friendly, benevolent creatures. They're kind of shady and mysterious. At least you know where you stand with zombies. And as for who would win in a fight? I don't think we'll know until we see it. use:

Sephora Gift Card
Have you ever been to Sephora? I know it's been around for quite awhile but I've just discovered it. It's like a Wonderland of Makeup! It's quite intimidating when you first walk in, but after you pass the displays for Dior and Givenchy and get into the more affordable brands, it's pretty fun. You can give yourself a makeover or have a professional give you one. They have everything you could ever need in your makeup bag. And, their gift cards come in these cute little mirror compacts.

Old Navy Sweater-Knit boot slippers
These come in lots of cute patterns and colors, but my favorites are these Cat in the Hat/candy cane/elf stocking-inspired red-and-white stripes. You just tuck your jammie pants into the tops for warm and cozy feet all the way down! They make me want to curl up with some cocoa and watch A Christmas Story...

Amazon Kindle 2 skins from
Decal Girl makes great protective skins for any device you can think of. I had one on my old iPod, I have one on my laptop and one on my Kindle right now that's getting pretty scratched up. But the cool thing is you can peel them off and put another one on. I like the designs "Spring Flower," "Quest," "Library," "Crest" (pictured), and "Orange Flowers."

Here are some more ideas--



  • An Education (Barber)

  • Things That Make Us [Sic] (Brockenbrough)

  • The Age of Wonder (Holmes)

  • Where Men Win Glory (Krakauer)

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Skloot)

  • The Elements of Style (Strunk & White; any edition)

  • Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. (Wasson)

  • A Room of One's Own (Woolf; any edition)


  • Alice I Have Been (Benjamin)

  • Ragtime (Doctorow)

  • Shades of Grey (Fforde)

  • My Brilliant Career (Franklin)

  • The Summer We Read Gatsby (Ganek)

  • A Total Waste of Makeup (Gruenenfelder)

  • Never Let Me Go (Ishiguro)

  • The Pursuit of Love & Love in a Cold Climate: Two Novels (Mitford)

  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Watson)


  • 30 Rock Seasons 3 & 4

  • Beauty & the Beast

  • Dollhouse: The Complete Second Season

  • Gattaca

  • Glee: The Complete First Season

  • In Bruges

  • Into the Wild

  • The IT Crowd: Seasons 1, 2 & 3

  • The Proposal

  • Sherlock Holmes (2009)

  • State of Play

  • The Sound of Music

  • The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

  • Where the Wild Things Are

  • Zombieland


  • Knit hats

  • Scarves

  • Gloves

Gift Cards/Certificates:


  • Barnes & Noble

  • Borders

  • Old Navy

  • Kohl's

  • The Body Shop

  • Kelly Latte's


I would also appreciate donations made in my name to the Somaly Mam Foundation, a nonprofit public charity committed to ending modern day slavery around the world. The foundation supports rescue, shelter and rehabilitation programs across Southeast Asia, where sex trafficking of women and girls, some as young as five, is a widespread practice.

We all like stuff. Stuff is fun. And I really do think there is some value and significance in the stuff that we choose to give each other, not in the things themselves, but in the thought and care behind the choosing of those things. I always hope that things I give to people will show how much I care. And of course, we can never forget the real reason that we give each other Christmas gifts in the first place: the Gift of Christ.