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MoPOP 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Still haven’t finished your holiday shopping? Me neither. There are people on my list that are tricky to buy for, specifically the teens and retirees. Well, I’ve done some brainstorming that may help us both. So, grab yourself a cup of your favorite hot beverage and let’s finish this together!


This is a dicey time of life. Gifting clothing is a risk, because this age-group is trying to fit in, and we (adults over 20) might not be familiar enough with the name brands and styles. Games can be equally tricky. You must know their platform and interests.

My go-to idea for tweens is a Decorate-Your-Room kit. Visit a local craft shop and fill a shoebox with a string of rice lights, batteries, window clings, snowflake garland or strands of faux pine, a pack of museum putty (or another do-no-harm mounting device) and wrap it with a bow. Keep the color scheme to simple blues and whites — snowy but not holiday-specific! It’s been a hit with many tweens in my life.


From the Instagram models to the Basics to the eBoys and eGirls, this is a very difficult group to shop for. Here are a few ideas that might not warrant an eye roll, huffy exhale, or shoulder shrug from the teens in your life. Emphasis on might.

Phone charger — For under $10, teens can always use another one because their loss is, well, inevitable

Smoothie-of-the-month club — For the healthy set, fresh-pressed juices and smoothies are a staple of their lifestyle. Do a quick web search and you’ll see there are services that deliver this gift once a month. And for an even more economical choice, Costco has amazing smoothies in their frozen section. Stock up the fridge with them and they will love you. Okay, not hate you.

Graphic tees and pajama bottoms — Are always a hit with teens. The MoPOP gift shop (and online shop) have some great ones to choose from!

Spa gift cards — You can’t go wrong with a spa gift card. Pay for their manicure, pedicure, or eyebrow shaping and it’ll set you back less than $50.

Concert tickets — For this to be a smash hit, (which may earn you a side-hug and fleeting smile) you will need to channel your inner spy! If you can, peek at their smart phone while their favorite music app is open and take note of artists they’re streaming. Up and coming artists often play at small venues for $45 or less. Be their driver for the night so you can be part of their experience, but don’t crash the fun by going. Deal?


From in-laws to older relatives to neighbors, most of us have a retiree on our list. Many adhere to a strict budget, but still enjoy going out! Gift cards for restaurants make great gifts, as do other experiential gifts. How about gifting them museum membership? (MoPOP is offering a membership deal right now through December 31, for your Seattle-area loved ones.) Also, retirees that live alone may crave companionship, so how about making a note on their membership or gift card to offer to go with them with one catch: that they don’t use the gift to pay for you!


I fall into this category, so I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want (sorry for the Spice Girls reference). Tickets to a movie, any movie, at Seattle’s Cinerama. With iconic chocolate popcorn, comfy seats, and that dream screen, you’ll want to buy a gift certificate for two tickets.

The MoPOP Shop (online too) has a ton of cool gifts, like posters, toys, books, and tees. Please the pickiest geek in your life with a pop culture grab bag.

Visit your local indie record shop and grab some 45s or vinyl stickers. Both will be adored.

Scour local thrift shops to find unique tees, PEZ dispensers, metal signs, or even old Star Wars toys.


Donate, in their name, to a local food bank or shelter! Minimalist bonus? Reuse last year’s holiday cards by tearing off the front image and writing a message about the gift on the blank side. Other lovely acts of kindness include baking batches of soft cookies (like snickerdoodles or peanut butter) and dropping them off at the local homeless shelter. Making a year-end gift to MoPOP is another option. Your donation supports the nonprofit museum’s mission of making creative expression a life-changing force.

If you must buy something, then how about one of your very favorite can’t-live-without things, like a bag of coffee you adore or a soy candle that smells great for hours? One simple, perfect item that you recommend is enough, but not too much.


We all bring a bottle of wine to a function, right? Why not visit Goodwill ahead of time and purchase a few giant ceramic bowls? Add jars of your favorite popcorn kernels and gourmet salt. After the guests leave, the weary host/hostess can stream their favorite show and enjoy some popcorn, all thanks to you!


Take care of yourself during this bustling time of year. Drive with an extra dose of caution, as you run your endless errands. Oh, and remember to breathe in your favorite parts of the season; take a walk outside to enjoy the neighbors’ lights at night! Soak in a bath and sip chamomile tea before bed. The common denomination with everyone on your holiday list is you, so by keeping yourself sane and balanced, you’re gifting your loved ones.

Wishing you and yours a peaceful, sparkling holiday season.

Pop Culture

About the author

Jennifer L. Hotes is author of the Seattle-based Josie Jameson mystery series which Kirkus Reviews has declared, “Exceptional.”

Raised across the river from a nuclear reactor, Jennifer thought two-headed animals at the county fair were normal until she moved to the big city. According to her dad, Jennifer has been looking at the world through a cracked kaleidoscope since she was born and has been writing since her parents pushed her highchair against a blank wall.

Fortunate enough to marry her best friend, she and her husband currently reside in the Seattle area. Parents of two fierce daughters, they share space with two cats and one unruly pup.