A look back at some gifts from the holidays

An essential part of the holidays in the U.S. is gift giving.

Courtesy of Flickr

An essential part of the holidays in the U.S. is gift giving.

Melanie Van Horn

The holidays are finally on the way out, and the initial thrill of the gift wrapping and bows have given way to resolutions and plans for the new year. As the holiday excitement wears away, I’ve been putting some of my new gifts to use, and here are my top five gifts from this past Christmas. 

Bose Soundlink Color II

One new habit I’ve developed during my first semester at college is listening to music nearly everywhere, especially during my downtime. My phone and laptop speakers worked for a while, but I was elated to finally get a speaker for my dorm.

The Soundlink Color II connects via Bluetooth and has already proven itself as a compact, yet high-performing, piece of technology. The rechargeable speaker is the perfect size for a tiny dorm room, yet the sound it produces is capable of filling a whole house. If wireless connectivity isn’t your style, a USB port allows for simple access to your devices. As an added bonus, the speaker is water resistant, so my music is safe wherever I go. 

Black quilted vest

As winter set in, I discovered that even a five-minute walk across campus could be chilly in the brisk Iowa wind. After seeing quite a few puffer vests across campus and hearing people rave about how warm they are, I knew I had to put one on my list.

My grandparents came through with a thick-quilted vest from Old Navy, and it’s almost embarrassing how much I’ve been wearing it over break. The collar is a bit bulky to navigate around, but it’s perfect to zip up when the below-zero windchill kicks in. 

Alli Rogers – “Closer to the Moon”

Alli Rogers is a native Iowan singer-songwriter, and her album “Closer to the Moon” was a gift from my cousin. I hadn’t heard of her before receiving this album, but my cousin had heard a few songs by Rogers and thought I might like her music.

Rogers’ sweet, mellow voice blends very well with the accompanying acoustic guitar and piano, and the overall sound of the album is incredibly peaceful. I’ve only listened to the first three songs on the album, but the lyric-driven songs are gorgeously poetic. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the album holds, and I plan to explore more of Rogers’ music in the new year. 

Coffee maker

I don’t think I knew how much caffeine I would consume during the fall semester, but it definitely was enough for my mom to get me my own coffee maker so I could stop exhausting the one my roommate graciously shared with me. It’s not a modern Keurig, but the five-cup coffee pot is perfect for heating water for tea and coffee.

Sneaky Cards

A family tradition of ours is for my brother and me to each receive a new game in our stockings. This year, my game wasn’t a traditional, sit-down game, but rather an interactive, comfort zone-pushing kind of game. In Sneaky Cards, different sorts of tasks are written on every card. Some are personal challenges, such as going social media-free for 24 hours, while others push your personal comfort level, like holding a one-person flash mob.

After you complete each task, you give your card to another person. While this game is a bit intimidating to an introvert like myself, I’m looking forward to trying some of these on campus.