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Last-Minute Gift Guide


Still shopping for those last-minute holiday gifts? Dreading the onslaught of crowds at your local mall? Let these Brooks alumni help you out; we’ve collected the some great gift ideas for nearly anyone on your list, especially that hard-to-shop-for family member, friend or co-worker.

This is by no means a complete accounting of all that our talented alums are up to. In fact, if you are an alum with a last-minute gift product you’d like to add to this list, let us know by clicking here.

But until then, read on to find shopping inspiration.

Kier Byrnes ’91 is now balancing married life (and fatherhood) with musical life, as lead singer of Three Day Threshhold, a group that blends country, rock, Americana and bluegrass for a high-energy sound. He and his bandmates teamed with Summer Villains to release 12 holiday tunes this season. From Bring Mama Home for Christmas to I Want a Zoo for Christmas, it’s a great alt-holiday collection of tunes for anyone who’s heard enough of Santa Baby and Jingle Bells to last a lifetime, and wants something a bit more contemporary. Click here to listen and download.

Audrey Ryan ’97 has some words of advice for the novice musician on your Christmas list. The Need to Be Heard is a book for about those she dubs “DIY musicians” — those without big bucks and big labels behind them who are trying to make it in the music biz. Ryan’s been playing and singing on the Boston music scene and beyond since 2004, and was named best folk act in the Boston Phoenix Music Poll in 2010. Her songs are available on iTunes, and her book is available (for Kindle edition) on

For the trendy family member on your list, Tomboy Style: Beyond the Boundaries of Fashion, a book by Lizzie Garrett Mettler ’01, is a great idea for anyone into photography or fashion. Lizzie calls it a “bound visual history that chronicles the past 80 years of women who blur the line between masculinity and femininity that explores the evolution of the style and its icons.” Commentary discusses this history of tomboy style as a sensibility. Garrett, who’s living in Los Angeles with her husband, continues to write about lifestyle topics for magazines and newspapers and style on her blog Tomboy Style. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.

Jake Hoefler ’08 has been working on his own business, Hoffzaz, selling skate lace wristbands for hockey players — great gift for the hockey fan at home! Check out his website, The die-hard hockey fan (he plays on Northeastern’s D-I team) has always had an eye for running his own business, which he does between classes, studying and time on the ice.

If you’ve got a fashion maven who’s into jewelry, check out the necklaces of Lindsay Wagner ’06. It’s fashionable stuff with a good message: 10 percent of her sales support literacy programs in Jackson, Wyoming, where Lindsay lives. Check out all the colorful styles here.

Ever wanted to take your family to Disney, but talked yourself out of it because the idea of long lines, impatient toddlers and missed-princess opportunities just seems to daunting as a parent? Let Clark Bundy ’90 help you out. He’s the owner of a company called Optimal Magic — creating custom plans and vacations for families who want to really enjoy the magic of the Magic Kingdom, and not the misery. A great idea for anyone thinking of a trip to Disney World in 2013. Remember those commercials from last year showing the kids being surprised when their parents gave them the gift of a Disney vacation? That could be you this year, moms and dads. Check out Optimal Magic here.

Speaking of fun things for kids on your list, Marc Cooper ’85 offers Doodle Roll, a versatile, portable arts-and-crafts activity kit — it comes complete with a roll of paper and crayons. You can buy it from Marc’s online store here, or, or at various online retailers and local stores. It’s a product of three years’ worth of work by Marc, to create something compact and simple but also endlessly-entertaining for kids.

His own kids are now officially teenagers, says Marc. “My son Jake is 13 and had his bar mitzvah in October; daughter Dylann is 17, drives and has a job at a local boutique health club. My daughter Morgan just turned 15 and is way too much like me but has all the great qualities I lack, fortunately for her,” he says. His 2013 plans include seeing a Playskool edition of Doodle Roll in more than 3,400 RiteAid stores and hopefully stores like Toys R Us and Whole Foods as well. Check out Doodle Roll by clicking here.

Also to be found in the toy department is a product by Paula Prentis ’85 — a good gift for either parents or kids on your list, especially those who appreciate the value of sitting down to a meal together. Paula sells placemats that “bring the family together and inspire meaningful, creative dinner conversations because the conversation prompts are right on the mats.” They’re called Chatmats, and Prentis’ website touts them as a way to provide “insightful chatter to go with your platter.” Lots of designs and topics available — check them out here.

Of course, no Brooks gift guide would be complete without mentioning the School Store here on campus, or the online store. The School Store on campus will be open this week for last-minute shopping from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday. Inventory includes great gift items from Nike, Patagonia, Eglomisé and Under Armour. There are also Brooks banners, golf balls, blankets, glassware, ties, mittens and scarves. Can’t get here? No problem, just call the store at (978) 725-6300 ext. 3126 and they’ll ship directly to you.

Happy gifting!