In these dreary pandemic times, an unexpected gift from a friend can be the difference between a good day and … well, yet another day. It’s a little way to show a friend they’re in your thoughts, even if they can’t be in your close proximity. With that in mind, we asked Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman — best friends, podcast hosts, and co-authors of the new book Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close, which Sow describes as “a memoir about friendship with some pop psychology and expert interviews” thrown in — to share the air fresheners, pizza ovens, and gummy candies they’re most looking forward to sending each other. They may have blown the element of surprise for each other by writing this, but your friend won’t have a clue.
From Ann to Aminatou
Our book-writing retreats confirmed a few things I already knew about Aminatou: 1) she has an unimpeachable work ethic; and 2) if there’s hard work to be done, she requires a good selection of quality gummies to fuel the process. Economy Candy has many of the harder-to-find varieties of Haribo, including Sour Volcanoes, Sassy Foxes (?), and Gummy Woodghosts (!?). I’d give her a big assortment of the aforementioned oddballs, plus the classics (dinosaurs, peaches, twin snakes).
This young-adult biography of the legendary voting-rights activist and community organizer Fannie Lou Hamer was written by the also-legendary poet June Jordan. I know how much Aminatou admires both of these women — as do I — so when I discovered this book, I instantly bookmarked it to buy for her. (It was written in 1972 and is now out of print, hence the price tag.) I know Aminatou is constantly trying to pare down her stacks of books, but I am sentimental and keep buying them for her anyway.
From Aminatou to Ann
Ann is a Midwest diva through and through. This woman crafts! She quilts! She sews! She owns more than one glue gun! I really love how diligent and nerdy she is about all of it. The crafting space online is also very white, and I know that is something Ann is attentive to. She loves sporting an enamel pin, so I am excited to hear about all the conversations this social-justice pin will spur in her life.
Some of my favorite conversations with Ann are about women artists we admire. I have loved hearing her talk about the feminist politics of quilting. Quilts are both a subversive and utilitarian medium. Faith Ringgold writes in her autobiography that she didn’t want to rely on her husband to help her carry her work to a gallery — “That ain’t right!” This is the sort of anecdote that makes us howl with joy. The book contains more amazing stories about her remarkable life and is such a lovely read.
My boo loves to snack, and I love to snack with her. We were planning a vacation to British Columbia before the pandemic hit. We work together, so it’s important to carve out some nonwork, fun trips. Needless to say, nobody is traveling for a long while, but I’m sending Ann this subscription box from Universal Yums to help her remember all the places we dream of visiting together.
Ann’s skin-care and self-care journeys are very chill and no-frills. She’s also the queen of giving the best under-$50 presents, so I know she will appreciate this luxurious but sensibly priced body oil. Who doesn’t want their friend to be silky smooth and relaxed? She deserves only the best.
Ann always has pizza dough rising somewhere in her house. You know what that means? Breakfast pizza. Dinner pizza. Pizza for lunch. The possibilities are endless! She’s not super into high-tech dad gadgets, but I think she will be psyched about the possibility of cooking outside on a nice California day. If she hates it, we can return it. This is what the gift receipt is for. We love a gift receipt!
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.