Gifts for nature lovers

Although I don’t always enjoy the forced gaiety of the holiday season, I dearly love picking out–and making–gifts for those I love. There’s something deeply satisfying about finding just the right thing to encourage a family member’s passion or celebrate a friend’s talent.

For the past few years, the adults in my family have made donations in each other’s names and have kept the actual gift-giving modest. What began as, yes, a reaction against consumer excess has quickly become one of the most uplifting parts of the season: reading each family member’s list of the organizations that are dear to their hearts is a glimpse into the efforts of people doing good work all across the country. (Seriously, so much good!)

What’s more, the limited focus makes the gifts we do exchange feel a little extra special.

This year, I keep running across things that involve–surprise, surprise–ways to get more involved with nature. A partial list–and hopefully no spoilers!

To play:

Image of a memory game called "Match a Pair of Birds"

Memory, plus bird identifications? I’ve honestly not been able to contain my excitement about this game! The illustrations alone are worth the purchse. It’s on the short list for several of my favorite birders.

And for the younger set, a memory match game with an array of options.

We love puzzles in my family almost as much as we love NPR, so the idea of a customized puzzle of your hometown seems pretty cool.


To read:

Image of The Naturalist's Notebook, by Nathaniel Wheelright and Bernd Heinrich


This beautiful book has lessons to help you become more observant about the natural world, along with a five-year journal for tracking what you notice. Useful for encouraging a new generation of citizen scientists–and nature lovers.


Image of the 50th anniversary edition of The Curve of Time, by M. Wylie Blanchet


This book, about a widow and her five children who spend their summers exploring the B.C. coast by boat, is unlike anything I’d read before. There are elements that feel dated, of course, nearly 100 years after their adventures, but their story is inspiring in its fierce dedication to the things that make life worth living. It might also make you want a boat and a summer or two in which to explore a wild and beautiful place.


Image of the cover of The Living Bird, the magazine from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology


When you join the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as a member, you get a subscription to one of my favorite birding magazines, The Living Bird. And then you get to enjoy beautiful bird photos and fascinating bird news all year long, plus access to the many resources that the Lab offers.

To plant:

Image of the logo from Tyrant Farms and GrowJourney.


I’ve been subscribing to Tyrant Farms’s GrowJourney heirloom seeds for just over a year and I cannot say enough nice things about them. Each month, the seeds are a seasonally appropriate variety of heirloom, organic veggies, timed to your local growing season; they arrive carefully packaged with abundant detail about how to grow them successfully.

I so look forward to getting that little brown envelope each month, perhaps especially this time of year!


Image of hori hori knife

We call this the garden sword because it slays dragons.

This is, hands-down, my favorite garden tool. And camping tool. And foraging tool. It’s useful for weeding, planting, trimming, even light pruning. It’s not actually on my list to give anyone this year because, well, I’ve already given it to everyone on my list.


To create:

Although my art skills leave something to be desired, I’m always up for learning something new, especially if it involves art and nature. This book is actually on its way to me via our ever-awesome public library, so I can give it a spin before buying.


To enjoy:

We met this ceramicist at the most recent Bellingham Art Walk and fell in love with her work. Animals, musical instruments, mushrooms, poetry. What’s not to love?

We’d gone to the Art Walk at the invitation of an artist and illustrator friend of ours, who creates art with an inspired take on nature and really thoughtful animal portraits–and color-it-yourself postcards featuring favorite local spots!


And, finally, the ever-popular gift from Santa, of which I usually buy extra on the off chance it doesn’t last until the packages are mailed. Learning from one’s mistakes and so forth.

Not really related to nature per se, but all the nature lovers in my life do seem to love it…

Happiest of holidays to you all, however you celebrate!




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