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Gifts with benefits: Top picks for Christmas

Did I ever tell you about the day I met Craig Stoker, the director of marketing and public relations for the West Texas Food Bank? I was attending the baptism of a precious friend’s baby at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church. It was hot and still in the sanctuary, and we were all crowded in there wearing our Sunday best. My eyeliner was running, my heels hurt and I was fanning myself with the program like I was on fire. When suddenly, I smelled the most delicious cologne I had ever encountered. I looked around until I spotted a man who might have fallen out of the pages of Town & Country magazine. He was standing tall in a seersucker suit, wingtips and a bowtie. Now, I am not proud to tell you this, but I literally pushed people out of the way to get a better whiff of him.

Creed Aventus

I followed him out of the service and to the line of guests waiting to love on the baby. I introduced myself and asked him to forgive me for being intrusive but would he please tell me the name of his cologne.  He laughed, introduced himself and told me he wore Aventus cologne by Creed. Now, if you look up the description, the marketing folks will tell you it is a scent that smells of power and distinction, citrus, bergamot and patchouli. But to me, it just smells stalker-worthy, and I have been following Craig about ever since.

That was the year that I decided to stop buying the Hubs gifts he liked, and began instead to buy him gifts that benefited me. But don’t tell him. I have a good thing going here and don’t want to spoil it.  You, too, can do the same thing if you play it cool. There are six shopping days left and I have some amazing gift suggestions!

This year, I asked Craig what was on his Christmas wish list. He told me the half-zip pull-overs from Vineyard Vines were at the top. They are soft, comfortable and perfect for a business casual day. So, Aventus or any of the John Vartavos colognes and a sweater are my picks for the relaxed fashion lover on your list. Having a well-dressed and heavenly smelling husband always makes me look even better!  I’m also loving the whiskey barrel watches by Original Grain. They are beautiful pieces of wearable art, and when your husband always knows what time it is, he won’t be late to pick you up for date night!

My next gift suggestion is for the caveman or keto fan in your life – an electric pellet smoker. I got the Hubs one for father’s day last year and have not cooked since. Traeger

smoked hassleback apples from

makes an amazing pellet smoker, and you can find one for all price points between $500 and $2,P000. I’m cheap, so I got the Hubs a Pit Boss pellet smoker at Walmart for about $300. He loves it. He makes all kinds of smoked deliciousness on it, chicken, ribs, brisket that is so tender you can eat it with a spoon. But the Hubs takes it up a notch and also smokes cheese, cobblers and chocolate chip cookies on his. And a pellet smoker is a gift that just keeps giving you opportunities for upcoming gift occasions. Get him a cookbook and an apron for his birthday, an electric thermometer that runs on wi-fi and some fancy meat tongs for Father’s Day. You will be set, and you too, can take the next year off from the kitchen.

Since meeting the Hubs, who is a bit of a coffee snob, I have given up my morning Diet Coke for a delicious cup of coffee or three to get the day started. Because, you know, kids require me to have more caffeine. But I have been spending a well-documented fortune on coffee at Starbucks and wondered if there wasn’t a better way to do things. So this year, I got the Hubs a super fancy coffee maker for Christmas. I may have given it to him early … . The

Saeco PicoBaristo Fully Automatic Espresso Machine from Williams Sonoma makes 11 different kinds of coffees, including my favorite, the latte macchiato – that’s coffee lingo for coffee with steamed half and half. And, the best part, it has a built-in water filter guaranteed for 5,000 cups. No more hauling filtered water across the kitchen! I cannot even tell you how proud of myself I am for gifting this to the Hubs, and I applaud myself every time he brings me a cup!

Now if your main squeeze likes to spend some downtime playing games on the Xbox or the computer after the littles are asleep, I can help you there, too. Nothing says, “Go ahead, I’ll be fine just hanging in our room watching the new season of Poldark while you play Forza Horizon 4” like a new fancy gaming headset or a gaming chair. Still not sure? A gift card to GameStop or Amazon is always the right color and always fits!

Well, I hope my suggestions have given you some great ideas. If you will trust me, this could be the best Christmas you’ve had for yourself yet!

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