This holiday season, I know you’ve been wondering: what can I give the Southern culture lover on my gift list? Well, worry no more, because I, your intrepid Southern culture expert, have decided to swoop in like a Christmas miracle and save the day!
Here’s a list of 34 awesome gift choices that cover just about every area of the culture below the Mason-Dixon line. The best part: nearly everything on this list is eligible for Amazon Prime, for all you procrastinators. Enjoy!
5. Explore The Literary South
One of the greatest traditions in the South is storytelling, and a classic Southern story makes a wonderful gift for the bookworm on your list. Here are just a few recommendations.
William Faulkner is one of the best known and most respected authors in the South or anywhere. I’ve always had a difficult time keeping my concentration reading his novels, but I love his short stories. I highly recommend The Collected Stories of William Faulkner (also available for Kindle) as a sort of greatest hits collection and The Uncollected Stories of William Faulkner for deeper cuts (get it here for Kindle).
Georgia’s own Flannery O’Connor also made a name for herself in literary circles, and her short stories are some of the best in American literature as a whole. Check out The Complete Stories (also on Kindle) to experience her true genius in all its glory, but I also recommend the slim volume A Prayer Journal (also on Kindle) for some of the most beautiful, lyrical Christian prayers I’ve ever read.
Of course, there are plenty of great Southern novels to choose from, but here are some of my favorites. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God delves into the lives of black people in rural Florida with a lyrical flair. In Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons, a precocious orphan tells her own story. James Dickey’s Deliverance is the same harrowing story as the movie, but with greater depth. And Family Linen by Lee Smith is my all-time favorite novel — a twisty, darkly comic family tale.
You can’t go wrong with any of these choices for literature lovers.
4. There’s Always Something Southern For The Music Lover On Your List.
Is there someone on your list who loves music more than anything else? You can celebrate the South with them this Christmas by giving a box set of great Southern music. And there’s something for everybody!
If your loved one is into early rock & roll, he or she will love:
That’s The Way It Is by Elvis Presley
The Elvis Presley Soundtrack Collection, also by The King
“They Call Me the Fat Man…” by Fats Domino
Little Miss Dynamite by Brenda Lee
If you’re in the mood for giving a little country, try:
George Jones: The Epic Years
Just Between You & Me: The Complete Recordings, 1967-1976 by Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner
Honky Tonk Girl: The Loretta Lynn Collection
The Bocephus Box by Hank Williams, Jr.
If soul is more their thing, check out:
Star Time by James Brown
The Complete Stax/Volt Singles, 1959-1968
The King of Soul by Otis Redding
And if you feel like giving some classic rock, check out:
Dreams by The Allman Brothers Band
7in-83-88 by REM (vinyl only)
You can’t go wrong giving great Southern music for the holidays. The possibilities truly are endless.
3. Put Some South In Someone’s Mouth.
What do you buy the budding foodie or wannabe culinary artiste on your list? An iron skillet is heavy and can be cumbersome to wrap. Don’t get boxed cornbread mix either – that’s just gross. No, your best bet is a cookbook, and there are plenty to choose from!
The folks at Southern Living have published the be-all and end-all of Southern culinary instructions with the incredible 1,001 Ways to Cook Southern. They’ve thought of it all, from classic Southern staples to more obscure dishes, with every recipe easy to understand and use. The book also contains tips and tricks and ideas for entertaining.
Another comprehensive, classic Southern cookbook is Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible. Like the Southern Living editors, Deen covers the range of Southern cuisine from must-haves to new ideas, all delivered in her unique sense of style.
As far as shorter cookbooks go, you can’t go wrong with books from Southern authors like Alton Brown, Nathalie Dupree, or Masterchef finalists Whitney Miller and Christine Ha. When it comes to Southern cooking, chances are you can find a cookbook to fit any taste.
2. How About A Gift That Keeps On Giving: A Magazine Subscription?
Sometimes it’s fun to ingest information about a subject matter in small, measured doses, which makes magazines so much fun. And a magazine subscription can make a terrific gift because the recipient gets a reminder of your thoughtfulness with every issue. There are a few magazines that capture the flavor of the South, and I recommend three of them as gifts for any occasion, but especially for the holidays.
The most iconic and classic Southern magazine is Southern Living, of course. It’s been a fixture in homes all over the region for generations, and it’s still great. Packed with recipes, design ideas, and plenty of Southern charm, Southern Living is one that family and friends alike can enjoy.
For the more literary-minded, there’s The Oxford American. Author John Grisham founded this periodical as a way to show off the modern Southern storytelling tradition. It’s a treasure trove for lovers of fiction and non-fiction alike, and my favorite feature is the yearly CD sampling some of the most interesting music to originate or take inspiration from the South.
The new kid on the block is Garden & Gun. Now, your friends don’t have to have a green thumb or a carry permit to enjoy this magazine – Garden & Gun displays pride in the South as a whole, with a distinct modern edge. From Dixie’s high culture to its seedier sides, this magazine covers it all with class and elegance.
1. Celebrate The Anniversary Of The South’s Most Iconic Motion Picture.
One epic film classic defines the fictional historic South for better or worse, and of course that movie is Gone with the Wind. It’s a true feat of filmmaking (especially for its time), and over the years it has sparked heated debates and a rabid following. December 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of the premiere of Gone with the Wind, which makes this Christmas season the perfect time to celebrate with a GWTW themed gift.
Naturally, you can share the film in all its glory with a 75th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition, complete with digital copy and a gorgeous booklet. For those who haven’t read the book, you can share Margaret Mitchell’s novel with them in print or Kindle format.
For the true Gone with the Wind fan on your list, you can’t do much better than Steve Wilson’s epic The Making of Gone with the Wind. This coffee table book is a sumptuous feast of photos and memorabilia, along with tales from behind the scenes. Even Scarlett O’Hara would approve.
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