Some gift ideas for those who prefer meadows and mountains to malls and mass marketing:
A great read or two on nature. Tastes and preferences vary, and “nature books” can be everything from a detailed field guide to poetry to essays to travel writing to fiction. Expand your search beyond this year’s bestsellers, too. Some of the best reads have had limited distribution, or come to us from distant years. (For used books in Connecticut try The Book Barn or Bennett’s Books–or places like Powell’s and Abe Books online). A few favorites from my own list:
- Mary Oliver’s recent collection Upstream (essays)
- The Sound of A Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
- Almanacs by Edwin Way Teale or Hal Borland (vintage reads!)
- Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior–a novel surrounding climate change
- Homebound Publications has some lovely titles in this vein (full disclosure: they are my publisher! My book is on pre-order here)
- It’s great to receive a guide to local nature, like Mushrooms of the Northeast or 100 Classic Hikes in New England
- I am a huge fan of Fandex Family Field Guides, like this one on trees
- Museum/nature center stores can offer great picks in this vein, as well as some gorgeous “coffee table” books stuffed with awe-inspiring photos
A course or educational walk in nature. (Live events are in CT but will hopefully spark some ideas for remote readers, t00)
- Try an online class at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Local nature centers/societies offer classes, too. Some are more ambitious, like this Connecticut Audubon Society Master Naturalist Class
- A lot of nature centers/organizations offer free hikes, or they may ask for a nominal fee
- Here’s one at the Denison Pequotsepos center later this month.
- Women of the Woods schedules regular hikes, too
- Courses AND walks at the Connecticut Audubon Society (this is just the Trail Wood location; there are many others)
- Nature photography or drawing classes can be a hit, too. Here’s a course from Nat Geo, but local nature centers might offer something even more reasonable. Don’t forget to try local artist/photographer studios.
- A low-budget option useful for beginning nature writers: my quick course on nature writing.
- NO budget? Parts of my course are free online and can be printed
Equipment! (few links in this section, but local, chain or online retailers are easy to find). For locals as well as online shoppers, remember Harris Outdoors:
- A hand lens for up-close observation (idea inspired by Unseen City—ANOTHER awesome book)
- Binoculars–this may be the best gift my husband ever gave me
- Trekking poles or a walking stick
- Warm clothes for walks in the cold–Under Armour, wool socks, etc.
- Items for the backpack: granola bars, water bottles, emergency kit, etc.
- Budget conscious and bountiful: birdseed and bird feeders can be super reasonable and are truly gifts that “keep on giving”
Membership. Society memberships keep on giving, too–often including magazines, free or reduced admission to events or courses, etc. There are too many to name, so here are a few of my own favorites:
Charitable giving. Many of the above-named societies (and more!) accept donations and will often send a small gift in return. Here are a few more:
- Try World Wildlife Fund’s animal “adoptions”
- Greenpeace is a classic choice for those who support environmentalist actions
- Project FeederWatch collects a fee from its participants, but in return supplies an adventure in birding and a good feeling overall
If your nature-loving friend collects artifacts and mementos from their time outside, consider supplying a special box, display case or shelving, or other container to house their finds.
Last, but not least, spend time with your loved one in nature–even if it’s not your thing! Plan a visit to a special location they haven’t experienced yet. They will relish the adventure and be grateful for your support.
For those of you who celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, you have about 12 days. Hit the gift-finding trail!