‘Tis the season for yearly awkward family holiday interactions! And what’s more stressful than trying to find that perfect gift for blood relatives? Is your mom forbidding you from giving your terrible aunt a bottle of $15 Chardonnay for the fourth year in a row? We’ve got you covered—check out our extremely helpful and entirely appropriate holiday gift guide to help *inspire* you!
By Rachel Taylor and Renata Sweeney
For your wine aunt
Oh, the wine aunts. We love them so much because a) they know how to have a good time and b) they are super easy to shop for because, wine! But your mom is complaining that no, you cannot get your aunt a bottle of Chardonnay for the sixth year in a row. So why not get them a great book they can enjoy while sipping a glass of the good stuff? Gift them The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab! It’s fun, sexy, and a little bit fantastical and makes for a great wordy wine pairing.
For you gay cousin
On the off chance you aren’t the gay cousin yourself, boy, have we got recommendations for you! Because as everyone except NASA knows, space is gay.
You should get them this year’s Hugo Award winner A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine or Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott. Come for the epic space empire politics, stay for the powerful queer ladies.
For grandma’s ghost
So, grandma’s a ghost. This is fine. You can still get ghost grandma a gift. She’ll appreciate anything you give her! We suggest You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce. Horror/thrillers might not have been grandma’s jam when she was chilling in the world of the living, but now that she’s shuffled off this mortal coil, she needs IDEAS on how to conduct her hauntings! This book will give her some great spooky ideas, and maybe she’ll be inspired to rejoin this sphere as one of the fae. And look, now you’re her favorite grandchild for showing her how to come back, and you’ll probably be spared from some malicious fairy tricks! We’re calling that a win.
For your goth nephew
We get it Cameron, Aunt Dierdre sucks for not letting you get a lip ring. We’ve got just the thing to distract you from all these squares. Necromancers in a haunted space castle! The first two books of The Locked Tomb Trilogy, Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, are just what your goth nephew needs.
For your evil twin
If you’re unlucky lucky enough to have a twin, you are either besties or worsties. Get them The Murders of Molly Southborne by Tade Thompson, featuring a girl who grows murderous identical clones every time she bleeds and has to fight them all to the death. It works as both a thoughtful gift and a threat depending on your existing twin relationship.
For your mom, to distract her from the fact that no one is having a good time
Mom spent so many hours on the latkes but everyone is yelling and now she is sad. But you are her favorite child and you anticipated smoothing this situation with a sweet and fantastical gift: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune.
Is your sister still breaking her heart? Is your stepfather still hiding in the basement because he never learned to process negative emotions? Sure. But now she’s distracted by a book that is basically the literary equivalent of a warm hug! In The House in the Cerulean Sea, she will find children that are not disappointments to her, and of course a heartwarming tale of magic and found family.
For your younger sibling that’s venturing out for the first time
It’s your baby sibling’s first time going out into the big, wide world on their own :’) As the sibling you secretly love most, of course you want to provide them with something that will keep them entertained AND safe. May we suggest To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini? It has aliens, spaceships, AND it’s over 900 PAGES LONG. You know what that’s great for? Smacking someone foolish enough to try and jump your favorite sibling. BOOM, SELF-DEFENSE. Plus it’s full of first contact, space battles, and sentient space suits, so it’s sure to keep them entertained while they skip freshman orientation or make that first subway commute.
For your brother-in-law who simply MUST HAVE all the latest tech
He wanted a smart microwave that he can control with his phone so he can have nachos the moment he walks in the door. You just want him to understand that anything ‘smart’ can be hacked and tech is well and good until your iFridge starts surveilling you. Get him Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow instead, a whip-smart cyber thriller that explores just how hard it is to stay hidden and private in a digital world, particularly when you cannot trust your government. By this time next year, he will be a security advocate and you can get him a Faraday bag.
For your grumpy grandpa
Back in the day, kids used to have more RESPECT. This is what’s wrong with this country, all these hooligans doing whatever they want. Let’s give grandpa a break this year, shall we?
Hahahaha just kidding, give your grandpa Old Man’s War by John Scalzi and watch the fireworks. And when he flings it at your head, you will now own a great book! We’re all doing so well this holiday season.
For your bored teen stepsister
Wow, this family gathering really sucks and your little sis has NO CHILL letting everyone know how insanely bored she is. Which, can you blame her? Give her a mental escape from this excruciating party with mermaids, magic, and mystery. A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow will definitely give her the mental out she needs before your parents yell at her for playing with her phone all night.