With ski season comes holiday gift-giving season, and gift options for snow lovers are really endless. While the snow-schusser on your list may be hoping to find a pair of skis under the tree Christmas morning, I like to focus on the little things that can make a big difference – and will fit into that stocking hung by the chimney with care.
Baby, it’s cold outside!
I love skiing. I love snow. I hate being cold. Over the years, I’ve figured out a few things to help keep me warm on the chairlift and the slopes. Some of these will fit into a stocking.
Santa brings a case each of hand warmers and toe warmers to our house every Christmas. The handwarmers I can do without, but my kids love them. I usually use those only when I have to be standing still in the cold for an extended period of time (great for hockey and ski-racing moms and dads!).
Toe warmers are another story. I stick a pair of those onto my toes every time the temperature drops below 20 degrees. Warm feet make for happy skiers. I like to be a happy skier.
On the higher price scale, there are battery-powered heated insoles and heated socks. I covet the heated socks. Maybe someday Santa will drop a pair of those into my stocking. He does leave a pair of new, warm ski socks for each of the kids every Christmas, along with a pair of mittens. Kids, it seems, can never have enough mittens.
For the fashion-forward skier, Anthony Lahout of Lahout’s sports shops in Littleton and Lincoln recommends intricately hand-stitched, USA-made leather Astis mittens: pretty and functional.
Another favorite keep-warm item is the base layer. Whether fleece tights, a Merino wool crew, or a polypro zip-up, base layers can usually be rolled up to just the right size for slipping into a stocking. I wear my base layers almost every day, all winter – to ski, walk the dog, snowshoe, star gaze. When it’s cold, you’ve got to layer up!
For the face
Your face is the toughest thing to protect in cold weather – especially if you’re striving to be active in the cold. A few stocking stuffers to the rescue:
The best way to keep a face warm is to keep it covered. Neck gaiters – or “neckies” – come in a variety of materials and thicknesses – from heavy fleece to thin and stretchy polypro, and lots of fun patterns. Whatever your yen, this is one that’ll fit nicely into a stocking.
Beyond the neckie, there are Dermatone and sunscreen sticks to protect from the sun, Bag Balm to protect from the wind (I know a veteran ski instructor who swears by this Vermont product to protect her face from cold and wind), and the interestingly-named Cat Crap goggle cleaner – and goggles – to ensure you can see while you ski.
Last, but not least here: lip balm. I find the best balms to be those with some SPF value, because sometimes the sun does shine in winter.
For the skis
There’s nothing like skiing on a freshly-tuned pair of skis. If there’s a resident ski-tuner in your house, there are lots of tuning items that will slide into a stocking. And if this person tunes your skis – well, this is a win-win! She or he gets cool gear; you get sharp, waxed skis all season.
Items here range from files and file guides to wax, scrapers, brushes, and clamps. Of course, these items are useful only if someone knows how to use them.
If you’d prefer to have the pros tune your household’s quiver, a gift card for a ski tune – or a few – fits nicely in a stocking, too.
Gift cards and more
Speaking of gift cards, the options in this category are as bottomless as that powder we ski in our dreams. There are gift cards for lift tickets, favorite ski shops, après ski food and beverages, ski lessons, ski gear, and on it goes.
Tim Farmer of S&W Sports in Concord recommends a gift card for boot fitting and custom footbeds. A good boot fitter is priceless. If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer for the skier who has everything, check out the New England Ski Museum (at the base of the Cannon Mountain tram or online at www.newenglandskimuseum.com), where you’ll find gifts for winter lovers of all ages. There are board books for kids and ski history books for grownups, Skida hats and neckies, ski movies, whimsical ski socks and neckties, tea towels and handbags, jewelry and cocktail glasses, even toy-sized snowcats.
It’s easy to fill a skier’s stocking. But the best gift of all is getting out on the slopes. So, once the presents are opened, grab your favorite snow lover and go enjoy some winter magic together.