Monday, November 2, 2020

Legal Holiday Gift Guide, Pandemic Edition

Back in mid-March, it seemed unthinkable that the coronavirus pandemic could possibly stretch into the winter holidays, even as many experts cautioned about the long road ahead. Today, states are reopening slowly, albeit with limitations on public gatherings in order to prevent new spikes in infection rates. With more folks likely to be completing their holiday shopping -- and shipping -- online, it would be prudent to get a head start on planning in order to ensure that your carefully-selected gifts arrive in time. The first (and hopefully last) pandemic edition of the Goodson Blogson's long-running guide to holiday gift ideas for lawyers and law students is here to help.

Remote work (and school) is here to stay for at least a while longer, so maybe the lawyer or law student in your life could use an upgrade to their home office setup. Accessories like webcams, microphones, headsets, ring lights, and portable green screens have been in high demand since spring, and backorders are a common sight. Savvy shoppers will want to start early and also to search beyond the usual big-box stores, including sites like Newegg and B&H. Check out reviews and recommendations before you buy at sites like Engadget and Wirecutter.

Face mask mandates are also a likely sticking around for the future, meaning everyone should have several masks in their rotation. Build up your recipient's collection with some law-themed face masks from Etsy sellers. Stock changes quickly, but some current favorites include The Scales of Justice and The Supremes: Women of SCOTUS.

The internet-famous "This is Fine" dog (also known as Question Hound) is featured on all kinds of official swag suitable for 2020, including a thought bubble face mask, a plush toy in two sizes (full size out of stock until November), a coffee mug that can come bundled with the miniature plush pup, and a dry-erase board.

We're all eating at home a lot more these days. Whether your recipient loves to cook or is still just learning, the Food & Drink section at Uncommon Goods offers dozens of fun DIY kits, including several home brewing/distilling options as well as an introduction to molecular gastronomy techniques.

However, it’s important to support local businesses, including restaurants. How about a gift card to your recipient’s favorite eatery? Gift cards for future visits will help keep restaurants afloat as they make ends meet with limited capacities and takeout sales. (Gift cards to restaurant delivery services like DoorDash or UberEats are another option, but note that an individual restaurant will derive more benefit from direct gift card sales.) One local example is Durham's own Cocoa Cinnamon, which has kept its three area cafes afloat by pivoting to online sales of its coffee and merchandise. Some favorite dining destinations may also offer at-home meal kits or long-distance delivery via Goldbelly, including NYC delis, Los Angeles food trucks, and Michelin-starred chefs. Goldbelly allows you to select a specified future delivery date, meaning that you can shop now and set the deliveries to arrive during the holiday season.

Another good gift idea for foodies could be a cookbook by a favorite chef, or about a favorite style of cuisine. With many independent bookstores struggling during the pandemic, consider making holiday book purchases through your local bookstore, or through the network of independent bookstores at allows you to designate a specific independent bookstore to receive profits from your order, or to contribute to an earnings pool that is distributed to independent bookstores around the country.

Games are another great pandemic gift idea, whether they are video game consoles or tabletop games. The U.S. Capitol Historical Society Gift Shop offers several law-themed jigsaw puzzles, including the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Capitol rotunda's Apotheosis. Brush up on the Constitution with Constitution Quest, a board game available at the National Archives store. Want to find other, not necessarily law-themed, board game ideas? Check out the rankings and ratings at Board Game Geek.

Gift subscriptions to cultural institutions are also a great idea. Even as many live performance venues remain unable to open their doors just yet, some organizations have pivoted to subscription-based streaming performances, including the North Carolina Symphony. An annual gift subscription to MasterClass is another option for a safe, socially-distanced cultural gift. Many museums have begun to open on a limited basis, making museum memberships another potential gift idea for 2021.

Should you find yourself short on time or ideas this year, remember that most law students (or recent law school graduates) would just as likely welcome a cash infusion (or gift card equivalent) at this time of year. Whether it's spent on spring semester textbooks, post-bar exam expenses, or even some of the recommended items above is entirely your recipient's call. Have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season!