As I have noted in the past, I am always VERY INTERESTED in Oprah’s Favorite Things. Just as I did last year, I started scrolling through the whole big list (once again on Amazon) and had to take a moment to reflect that Team Oprah IS really good at gift-gifting. Like, a bucket of artisanal BBQ sauce IS a great gift for a person who likes to barbecue! You probably DO know someone who would be delighted by a DNA test for their dog! (If that person also likes puns, they’ll probably be delighted by the fact that it’s called Embark.) The Oprah copywriter notes that it just needs a little bit of slobber!
Speaking of the copywriter, as was also the case last year, the person writing these product descriptions has really outdone herself — and I know whereof I speak, as I once had a job writing descriptions for all the lamps on Lamps.com; friends, there are only so many ways to describe a lamp. This little piece of work, for a three-pack of fancy chai (which does look nice), is my favorite:
I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love with a wonderful chai! Or three, to be exact: spiced oolong, ginger, and sweet cinnamon, shipped directly from India.
It was a late and punchy night that evening at Oprah HQ when inspiration struck! Dear copywriter, I have been there. In fact, Oprah is very in on beverages and beverage accoutrements this year, as she’s also suggesting a brass carbonator (which is MUCH prettier than my SodaStream, in all honesty), something called Chocolate Carl the Drinking Chocolate Snowman, a VERY PRETTY Nespresso machine, a $50 corkscrew, a $700 juicer (!!!!) that Oprah tries to justify by saying “[g]ive someone a green juice, and they drink for ten minutes; teach someone to use this easy-to-clean, simple-to-operate juicer, and they drink for life,” which I recognize for the price-per-use justification that it is, and these admittedly fantastic and not-too-pricy glasses. I think we can all read the subtext here, and it’s that Ms Winfrey would like someone to restock the fridge in her office, please! She’s running low on drinks. PLEASE BRING OPRAH HER CHAI.
Then there is the section I like to call, “stuff you might just buy for yourself.” Like, are people really giving $500 sheet sets to other people, even if they DO come with a Breton-striped tote bag for some reason? Maybe if you are Gwyneth Paltrow, and the person you’re giving a gift to is Oprah. This little track light for your purse IS totally a good — if kinda pricy — stocking stuffer but also something you would probably buy for yourself as well while you’re in there. I’m not gonna lie, I also kinda want this bubble bath for my own self. It’s pretty! I can imagine it on the edge of my tub! In this imagining, my tub is cleaner than it is in real life! I also kind of want this giant arts and crafts set for kids, despite the fact that I neither art nor do I craft, and I am not a kid! You are good at this, Oprah. It’s legit: If I had gotten to go to an Oprah taping back in the day, and received this 12-pack of really nice hand-creams under the seat, I WOULD have been delighted! I love fancy hand creams. I am a very dry human!
Ultimately, there is just something that people enjoy about gift guides. I like looking at them; I like writing ours. They are a way to both vicariously shop AND vicariously receive presents, and something about that soothes something in me. It’s like the grown-up version of when I would spend hours flipping through my great-grandma’s Sears catalog. I wasn’t going to order anything, or ask for anything, but I liked to pretend I could buy whatever I wanted. (I used to make a game that I was under strict orders that I had to pick out one thing from each page that I wanted; this sounds sort of greedy, but it was always the most entertaining to me when I got to the pages that had nothing that nine-year-old me actually wanted, like the power tools.) It is nice to think about a world in which you might be able to give someone — or get from someone — a $160 box of tiny tiny preserves, or a fancy foot massager! Also, I just like knowing that someone out there has made these hats for children that make them look like tiny woodland creatures. They are SO cute and that’s very creative and sweet. If you have a sweet forty-five minutes to kill today, scrolling through Oprah’s Favorite Things is a perfectly reasonable way to do it. She even included a jigsaw puzzle that she says may help you reach nirvana. (I’ll be honest. It looks like a really good puzzle. I told you she knows what she’s doing.)
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