What people like to watch says a lot about them, and in the emotionally loaded land of the holidays, devotion can run pretty deep. So why not reduce your friends and family to a stereotype by what Christmas movie they like, then let that guide you to the perfect gift? I’ll help.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” American treasures Donna Reed and James Stewart affirm life and the things that really matter in this Frank Capra melodrama. This is essentially a religious ceremony for many, an earnest black-and-white classic that oozes with sentimentality, treacley but delicious. Fans who like sweet classics will appreciate a sweet classic like fancy maple syrup ($14 and up) from the Vermont Country Store, www.vermontcountrystore.com, purveyors of all things American classic.
“A Christmas Story” Wry observations about family foibles make this movie hilarious, memorable and all too quotable. Present them with a holiday story collection from our foremost chronicler of family quirks, David Sedaris’ “Holidays on Ice.” Soon they’ll be quoting from “Dinah the Christmas Whore” instead of saying “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
“Love, Actually” If this is someone’s favorite Christmas movie, that person might be what they call “basic.” Try a selfie stick or some Starbucks gift cards.
“Elf” This surprisingly winsome comedy is a new classic. “Elf” fans might appreciate something in the hipster vein, with a heavy dash of the ridiculous, like the Human Salt Lick (for humans, not made of). This combines trendy Himalayan pink salt with the ironic soap-on-a-rope concept and imbues it with undoubtedly fake healing powers. The makers allege that salt releases negative ions, balancing cellular metabolism to increase immune system health. I allege that it’s a great conversation starter. If you are gifting this to a hipster with a long beard, go for the long salt lick ($22) so that the salt doesn’t get hung up in the beard; www.humansaltlick.com, available in two lengths.
“Miracle on 34th Street” Brandon Stanton’s photography from his popular “Humans of New York” blog is now available in multiple book forms. There’s the original “Humans of New York,” and the follow-up, “Humans of New York: Stories” and one for children, “Little Humans.” Any of these would make a good choice for fans of “Miracle on 34th Street,” which tells the story of lives of New Yorkers, set in quintessential New York locations.
“The Polar Express” One of the best scenes of this lengthy holiday delight is when the children riding on the polar express are served magical mugs of rich hot chocolate, so warm up fans of the movie with a Williams-Sonoma Hot Chocolate Pot ($60) in a festive Christmas red and an impressive Dansk Scandinavian design.
“Scrooged” Bill Murray’s renaissance has become so pervasive that he’s almost back to being overexposed, but this Richard Donner comedy is a great version of a tale often told. The cottage industry of Bill Murray fandom has now given us “The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World’s Finest Actor” by Robert Schnakenberg.
“Bell, Book and Candle” Inarguably less famous than that other James Stewart Christmas movie, this New York-set story starts on Christmas, when a witch played by the almost comically sultry Kim Novak dreams of a simpler and more wholesome life, as embodied by her all-American upstairs neighbor. On Christmas Eve he joins her at an underground Greenwich Village witch hangout called the Zodiac Club, and it’s one of my favorite Christmas movie scenes. This is actually my favorite Christmas movie — so this gift is for me! You shouldn’t have. That’s so thoughtful of you. I really wanted the new Adrine Tomine book, “Killing and Dying.” How did you know?