Books, music and videos are the most popular online gift purchases, attracting 55% of Internet shoppers. For friends and loved ones who follow an organic lifestyle, your best bets include cooking, exercise and mind/body DVDs and books.
Start shaking those hips! Everyone can move to the groove of Samba Party Workout 1: Brazilian Rhythm Celebration, which releases on Dec. 13. Veteran instructor Vanessa Isaacs, cofounder of the Ginga Multicultural Arts Center in Santa Barbara, California, and codirector of music/dance company Hip Brazil, leads you — and a roomful of your closest friends — through a high-energy dance workout that makes up for too many servings of organic pumpkin pie.
Also new is Yoga Now, a set of four DVDs hosted by actress/yoga devotee Mariel Hemingway and yoga expert Rodney Yee. Their focus is yoga-cardio fusion, which combines fat-burning cardio workouts with the fundamental tenets of yoga. Your lucky gift recipients can choose workouts that range from 10 to 50 minutes.
For the organic chef, I love anything published by Giada De Laurentiis, host of “Everyday Italian” on The Food Network and author of her spin-off cookbook, “Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes.”
De Laurentiis, who happens to be the granddaughter of legendary film producer Dino De Laurentiis (classics like “Serpico,” “The Valachi Papers” and “Ragtime“), knows her way around an Italian kitchen, offering her take on favorite recipes like Fettucini Alfredo, Marinara Sauce, Baked Ziti, and Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage and Toasted Hazelnuts. She trained in Paris before working at the Ritz Carlton and Spago and later started her own catering company.
For more holiday book reviews, check out this issue’s companion story, “The Organic Bookshelf: Holiday Edition.”
A Clothes Call
Americans buy 48% of their holiday apparel purchases on the web, according to the DMA. This includes terrific new offerings from Patagonia, a company that has long been committed to sustainable living and use of organic cotton.
For the men in your lives, check out the classic M’s Pima Cotton Shirt, whose rich, soft flannel is made of organic cotton. It’s available in several gorgeous plaids, including Pandora Red, Blue Canyon and Burnt Amber.
For women, you can’t go wrong with the hip W’s Gobi Jacket, in velvet brown/orchid, black/natural, chili/velvet brown and blue/bright green color combos. It’s perfect for an early-morning run or casual evening.
The DMA reports that we buy 26% of our home-furnishing holiday gifts on the web, and I love the home-office products offered by Vivavi — another company committed to environmental sustainability and the organic lifestyle. With more of us working from our homes and planning room expansions, high-quality, eco-friendly furniture is a wonderful gift for a spouse or adult daughter/son.
I’m drooling over the award-winning Kidney Shaped Desk, which runs $7,750. (Hint to family members reading this article: Feel free to chip in.) It’s an impressive 35″ tall x 75″ long x 30″ wide, with a gorgeous Macassar Ebony finish and Tuscany leather inset.
If this proves to be a budget-breaker, I’d be quite pleased with the $99 Overlap Tray, which would make an organic breakfast in bed — and working with my notebook computer — a Sunday morning pleasure. It’s 8″ tall x 15″ deep x 30″ wide, constructed of molded ply with a birch veneer.
Cooking Up a Storm
I spend a lot more time in the kitchen during the holiday season. Since I’m especially hooked on Giada De Laurentiis’ “sinful” vegetable side dishes, I’d love to receive some new cookware. (Check out two of my favorite recipes from De Laurentiis, Broccoli Puree, which is mixed into mashed potatoes, and Baked Squash Gratin — layers of butternut squash, pesto and Parmesan cheese.)
Like many cooks, I have my favorite pots, knives and accessories, many of which I’ve used since college. (If I ever lose my French knife, I don’t know what I’ll do…) But it really is time to invest in some new roasting pans and casseroles.
If you’re buying gifts for an organic cook, I’d recommend the 7-quart Chef’s Casserole by Calphalon, one of the top brands on the market. It can be used on the stove and in the oven, and it’s backed by a lifetime guarantee.
The 3.5-quart enamel cast-iron Round Buffet Casserole from Le Creuset is also at the top of my culinary hit parade, available in rich colors like flame, blue, dune, kiwi and red. It’s made for one-stop cooking: roasting, baking and tabletop serving.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll feature more holiday gift-giving ideas in our organic living blog, which is updated Monday through Friday. Check back often as we showcase the hottest new products for every budget.