As more people start drinking their Pumpkin Spice Lattes from those distinctive red cups, you might begin to notice a flutter of anxiety. No, it’s not the artificial flavoring; it’s Holiday Gift Giving Nerves, and it affects far too many of us faced with the prospect of finding the perfect gift for the various family members, friends, loved ones, and assorted coworkers on our lists. This can be an overwhelming and time-consuming prospect, prompting us to scour the far reaches of the internet and sharpen our elbows in preparation for the hellish crowds of Black Friday sales. However, we here at Unusual Efforts would prefer you spend more time sipping your caffeinated beverages, watching the fútbol, and perusing our site, so we’ve come up with a list that fills your every need.
Ever wonder what your favorite fútbol player does when she’s not defending her goal or winning bronze medals? Does your Great Uncle Felix have a love for unique, expressive artwork, but you’ve never been able to find the perfect piece for his wall? Well, wonder and worry no more, because Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod has both you and Great Uncle Felix covered with her beautiful paintings depicting Brooklyn’s soaring bridges (hey, maybe Uncle Felix wants to give me a present for my Kings County apartment???), and evocative images from nature. You can even request a custom piece. You’ll be the favorite relative at the holiday party when the gifts are unwrapped and Felix sees the tag from Erin McLeod’s shop on the wrapping paper.
If your family is full of art lovers but maybe your Cousin Wanda is more into minimalist prints that tell the story of your favorite team or player’s most impressive goal in clean lines, then Rincks Print Shop is your go-to goal. (And mine! Notice the particular print linked to this article, if Cousin Wanda wants to share her gift with me…) Though Rincks separates “Women’s Football” from “International Teams,” “English Teams,” and “European Teams,” (the last time we checked, the women of the Premier League played in England), and there are only three women’s goals to choose from, they are impressive ones: Lucy Bronze’s late World Cup goal against Norway, Carli Lloyd’s halfway-line stunner against Japan, and Maren Mjelde’s shocker against Germany. And, if Cousin Wanda is looking for men (hey, we at Unusual Efforts support everyone’s penchants), Rincks offers plenty of gorgeous goals for the taking.
For the more discerning members of your family wanting a more
custom unique UNUSUAL piece of art, our talented coterie of #Effortista artists are all available to take commissions, and we’d be happy to put you in touch! Meanwhile Manchester United fans can take a swing by Hannah Carroll’s store, where she’s offering a 25% discount.
And, of course, there’s our very own #Effortista merchandise…
Now, what would the holidays be without all the delicious food? Not as delicious, that’s what. And what would all that delicious food be if it were baked into a boring old cake pan? Boring, that’s what! You all are so smart. Your cooking coworker Cassie can spice up your office holiday party with this fútbol shaped cake pan sure to wow everyone from your boss to the bros in the mailroom. (And, if Cassie’s feeling culinarily-inspired by a certain ex-leader of a certain North American men’s team, she can fill her cake pan with this German recipe, perhaps fittingly called a bee-sting cake).
If your mom is a lifelong Brighton fan and your dad won’t come to the table if he isn’t wearing a full Crystal Palace kit, then you may need to plan for some downtime at your family holiday party (and perhaps some family mediation, but that’s for another article). What could be better than sitting down together for a fútbol-themed movie (perhaps with Mom and Dad on opposite sides of the couch)?
Escape to Victory is sure to appeal to Mom and Dad’s combative spirit, as prisoners in a Nazi war camp (including Sylvester Stallone and Michael Caine) are matched against the German national team in a fútbol game that is so much more than a game. The movie’s uplifting ending will bring even Mom and Dad together by dessert time!
For your younger sister, Offside is a must. Pass on your old Mia Hamm jersey and a bowl of popcorn, then press play on this inspirational, sweet and funny story about a group of girls who disguise themselves as young men to foil the guards posted at Tehran’s soccer stadium to keep women from soiling both themselves and the sport with their presence. These girls are as caught up in World Cup fever as their male countrymen, and their refusal to be denied entrance to watch their team play will be universally recognized by any fan. After cheering those girls on, take advantage of the moment to give a stirring speech on women’s rights – and go ahead and include your brother in this watch party as well.
If he fusses about not getting his own present, present your brother with Sixty Six, based on director Paul Weiland’s experiences as a twelve-year-old trying to plan a perfect bar mitzvah to capture the attention of his friends and family. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for us, the date of the bar mitzvah is scheduled for the very same day as the World Cup final…and it looks increasingly likely that England will make its first appearance. Fútbol, shown in stirring clips from the 1966 games, mixes with family drama and the awkward, uncomfortable – but so very much fun to watch –machinations of preteen life.
But if Mom and Dad, Sis and Bro are more inclined to the literary arts, why not gift ‘em a book (or two) from our list of fantastic fútbol reads?
For your new baby cousin Harry, congratulations are in order, because being named after Harry Kane shows remarkably well-adjusted and smart parents. But you can’t wear congratulations, so consider gifting that tiny little minnow with a gift representing another minnow: the Faroe Islands, who, with a population of under 50,000, have been stunning the larger nations of Europe in fiercely contested games that any teething infant would be proud to claim (although baby Harry might not need to be told about the Faroes’ 6-0 loss to Portugal).
Is your friend Pablo still depressed over that 4-0 loss to Costa Rica? Maybe he’s even considering becoming a – gasp! – baseball fan!? Tell Pablo not to take such drastic action: he can still support the United States without quite supporting the United States Men’s National Team. When he looks at you with hopeful tears in his eyes, hand him this beautifully wrapped scarf and explain that American Samoa is actually a United States territory, and supporting their national team fulfills all the terms of fútbol patriotism. (Maybe leave out that American Samoa was last ranked 189 by FIFA…)
Of course, our holidays are always full of peace and tranquility (mainly because we huddle inside our apartments with only our dogs, cats, and the occasional emotional-support guinea pig for company and don’t emerge until after the New Year), but this is a time of year when the world needs an extra boost of love and support. To burn off the calories from extra large slices of bee-sting cake, invite everyone at your party outside for a game of fútbol. For your match ball, use Soccer Without Borders’ Playing for Change soccer ball, with all proceeds going to Soccer Without Borders programs setting up educational and social programs to under-served youth. Who could possibly get a yellow card when playing with a ball like that? (Don’t forget: Soccer Without Borders is also helping to fundraise for the Afghanistan Women’s National Team :D)
Of course, there’s the classic team merch, and every team has a holiday collection, as evidenced by Manchester City’s assortment of “festive” scarves, jerseys, hats, and the like. But, even for those of you who, like me, are not Man City fans, City has something to offer: the delight of Aleksander Kolarov refusing to be merry on the team’s 2012 video advent calendar. His somber rendition of Jingle Bells remains one of the best gift’s soccer has given us, regardless of religious or team affiliation:
Happy holidays to us all.