Time is truly relentless. Seems like just yesterday that I was sharing some great holiday gift ideas in an extensive and exhaustive listicle format. But the clock has ticked forward, a full year has passed, and it's time, yet again, to purchase items for other people.
Items! Maybe you're ahead of the game and have already purchased a closet full of things to give to people. But if I had to guess, you're just like me and haven't even started thinking about gifts yet.
So, let's get thinking. This year's Night Water Gift Guide, in addition to being the most extensive and exhaustive gift guide you'll ever read, with gifts for every kind and style of vibe, is distinct from past editions as it features no physical items. That's right: these are ephemeral experiences, digital treats, and wealth-building investment vehicles, with not a single thing you can hold in your hands in sight. And don’t worry—after last year’s failed experiment with affiliate links, I’m going back to my roots and only featuring recommendations that make me absolutely no money.
An evening out at Mo's General
Pizza. Big ass sandwich. High Life. Any one of these would be the perfect holiday gift, but what if I told you that you could combine all three in a single location and one perfect night?
Mo’s General in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a cozy bar serving up some delicious Italian food, creative cocktails, and, if my friend Tyler is there and has managed to steal the remote from the staff, Jurassic Park on the TV. A dinner here would be the perfect gift for a friend or loved one that you’d like to spend a casual night out with. I’d suggest ordering the mozzarella sticks—I’ve never had them, as they are made with real cheese, but they come highly recommended by New York mozzarella stick reviewer @nyc.mozzstick on Instagram—and a Nascar spritz, a.k.a. a spaghett.
Membership at a local movie theater
Of course, not everyone is into alcohol, cheese, and Jurassic Park. Sometimes you need soda, popcorn, and Jurassic World. And for that, there’s only place you can go: a movie theater.
Whether it’s an art house cinema or a massive multiplex, your nearest movie theater likely has some sort of membership option, making it cheaper for frequent watchers to go to multiple movies a month. Regal, for example, has Moviepass-esque memberships that let you see unlimited movies for a flat fee. AMC and Alamo have similar programs. On the other hand, you could go for a more independent vibe—someplace like Film Forum or IFC Center in New York, two theaters that have cheaper tickets and concessions for members along with special screenings and events. It all depends on the giftee’s movie theater vibe, assuming they have one.
But if they don’t like going to the movies (disturbing thought)…
One year of DeleteMe
You know how you seem to get a seemingly unending barrage of spam emails, physical mail, phone calls, and text messages? Do you ever wonder how the hell those random companies actually got your information?
The most likely answer is data brokers—companies that earn their keep by selling your personal data to people who want to sell you stuff. And it’s amazing how much information these data brokers have. Your phone number, home address, Social Security number, and even what political party you’re registered for. It might seem like these brokers are getting their data from unscrupulous sources, but they’ll actually buy your information straight from public institutions like the USPS, the DMV, and your local board of elections.
Luckily, many of these companies allow you to opt out and delete your data. You just have to figure out which ones have your data, navigate their opt-out policies, and repeat that process over a hundred times or so. No problem, right? Or you can sign up for a service like DeleteMe, which will do the whole process for you. It’s the perfect gift for a privacy-conscious loved one, or a friend who just wants to stop getting those random spam calls in the middle of the afternoon. DeleteMe is $129 per year—they continually make sure your data stays out of these databases—or $229 for two people. A romantic gift for your hard-to-shop-for partner!
A share in a Vanguard target retirement fund
But with any of these gifts, how long can you really enjoy them? They’ll probably let those memberships run out at the end of the year. If you’re lucky, they’ll remember an evening out at Mo’s General for the rest of their lives. But that’ll probably fade with time, too. Is there any gift guaranteed to be enjoyed for years, until the end of a career, or even for an entire lifetime?
A share in a Vanguard target retirement fund lined up roughly with the year you plan to stop working absolutely can be enjoyed for decades as it slowly grows thanks to the power of market gains and compound interest.
These mutual funds are a simple, straightforward way to invest for retirement. They start fairly aggressive and growth-oriented, and over time shift to less risky and income-generating investments. For most people who don’t want to actively manage their retirement accounts, funds like these are an easy way to get a diverse portfolio that automatically rebalances over time.
A financial planner friend of mine assured me it was possible to gift a share in a mutual fund, though I’m not sure how you’d go about it or if you can even do it in a tax-advantaged manner. But those are just details—it’s the thought that counts!
Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water 4K Blu-ray Collector’s Editions
Okay, I lied about this gift guide not having any physical items. But the new 4K Blu-ray collector’s editions of Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water are not just items, they’re heirlooms. Your giftee will be passing these discs onto their kids—unless they choose to have them buried along them as one of their most prized possessions.
Each of these new editions have brand new bonus features, along with behind-the-scenes extras included on past home releases, and the highest visual and aural quality a home theater can handle. For your friend who is in the Avatar fan groups counting down the days to Avatar 3, these Blu-rays are the ideal holiday gift.
Spoiler alert: it’s me. I’m the friend.
What gifts would you guide people to?
That’s a wrap on this year’s Night Water Gift Guide. Didn’t find the perfect ephemeral gift for your loved ones? Odd, given just how extensive and exhaustive I am in my gift guide writing, but to each their own.
Have your own gift ideas you’d like to suggest to Night Water readers? Feel free to add it in the comments below.