A Lakewood Lens: My Annual Christmas List

It’s that time of year again when I pretend to help you with your Christmas shopping by pointing out the best of local gifts, along with the coolest and the most bizarre of this year’s Christmas offerings.

Locally, I’m still a big fan of Reverie Creamery for gifts-that out- of-this-world cheese shop on Route 394. From beautifully wrapped chocolate to soaps and cookbooks to locally-crafted wooden cheese boards and their excellent cheeses made in-shop and imported from around the world, its hard not to find something special there. They elevate the art of packaging and branding and an hour there is like an hour in a shop in Paris.

The Bag and String Wine Merchants in Lakewood is a local phenomenon. People flock there for expert advice and for their artfully selected bottles of wine and spirits in every price range imaginable. Purchase a spot for your favorite wine lover in their wine club, or consider their smart looking gift boxes featuring interesting kinds of whiskeys. Looking for bubbly? They’ve got a great lineup of sparkling beverages this holiday season.

Great stocking stuffers: a gift certificate to the National Comedy Center, or to one of the area’s cozy coffee shops.

Country Woods Country Store in Jamestown elevates shopping to a more intimate and cozy experience-the exact opposite of going to a mall. It’s great to spend an afternoon browsing their wooden shelves of interesting offerings from candles to picture frames and decorative accents to holiday decorations. Great stop for a girls’ holiday shopping excursion.

In the cool department, gifts seem to be helping humans overcome the most predictable of problems with technology, like preventing theft, finding lost items, falling asleep and getting rid of cable.

My husband will be happy when he opens his new Skylink HDTV antenna, which legally gives you network TV channels without subscriptions, monthly bills and rising rates year after year. It works by grabbing the signal already broadcast by companies. Coupled with a Smart TV and some apps to get HBO or Showtime, you can cut out your ridiculous cable bill and take a vacation next year. One antenna will run you $39.

And I love those little microchips you can attach to your keys or your wallet so you can find them quickly. The find-it gadget getting the most attention is the XY4, which is a small, sleek accessory that attaches easily to things you loose a lot and can locate items anywhere in the world. It works in concert with their downloaded app. A pack of 8 is around $150. One gadget is $39.

I’m not sure how mankind has lived without a glow in the dark toilet bowl this far into our history, but Glowbowl is a new and popular item this Christmas. Seven rotating colors. Think of it as a nightlight. One Glowbowl will run you $18 and might be handy for parents of little boys.

For kids: I loved to cook and bake when I was young, mostly because someone bought me a Betty Crocker cookbook that inspired me. It started a lifelong passion. Get kids off of their phones and Play Stations and teach them something useful and creative. A good book this year is the “Good Housekeeping Kids Cook.” About $16.

And if you’re thinking of going the cookbook route, you might want to add one of the Curious Chef’s kitchen sets on Amazon which provides kids with their own cool cooking utensils like measuring spoons, mixing bowls and an apron.

I love looking at Amazon best seller lists. I find it fascinating to see what the American “it” things are this season.

One of their best selling books is “Kindness Starts Here” which teaches people in 52 lessons how to be kind again. Sad commentary on the state of American life, but a great idea I wish I’d thought of.

Why the toy Cadson-Dyson Ball Vacuum is the second most wished for item on every kid’s Christmas list will forever remain a mystery to me. I don’t remember my kids wishing for a turn with my vacuum cleaner. Ever.

Best selling food item at Amazon? Mike’s Hot Honey, which appears to be a way to really wake Grandma up in the morning with her tea. It’s good honey infused with chili peppers and people are literally hooked on it. They barbecue with it, throw it on fruit salad, cottage cheese, pizzas, or as one reviewer said, “just squirt it into your mouth.” Another five-star reviewer said this: “This is now a staple for my kitchen. How I cooked without it before, I’ll never know.”

Who knew?

My husband and I don’t exchange much during the holidays and mostly just do for the kids. Oh, we have secret lists but they are likely to stay in our world of dreams.

I want a premiere Dodici pontoon boat that seats 26, has refrigerated cup holders and a top-of-the-line stereo.

He wants a luxury cabin in the woods on 12 acres with two fishing ponds, a fire pit, and an outdoor kitchen.

On my short list is a perfect holiday with our kids in a few weeks.

That’s something you can’t buy at Amazon.