Organize the Family
Get ahead for 2009 by buying each family member a planner and filling it with important dates like birthdays, anniversaries, and vacations. Personalize each planner with photos, drawings, and recipes—and don’t forget to include self-addressed stationery and stamps. To make the gift a little grander, include tickets to an event and mark the date. A great place to start looking for that special book: Oblation Papers and Press (516 NW 12th Ave; 503-223-1093; oblationpapers.com), a European-style paper boutique and print shop, in the Pearl District (we especially love their Portland-made note cards).
Go it Alone Without Going Insane
Airline tickets are too expensive. You’ve run out of vacation days. You can’t bear the thought of spending Christmas Eve on a blow-up mattress on your relatives’ dining room floor (of course all the bedrooms will be occupied by couples). Whatever the reason you’re going solo this holiday season, there are others with a similar story. And you can probably find them at your local sipping spot. We recommend the Cheerful Tortoise (1939 SW Sixth Ave; 503-224-3377) which opens at 6 p.m. on Christmas. True, swankier bars are open Christmas Day, among them Jake’s Grill (611 SW 10th Ave; 503-220-1850), but at the Cheerful Tortoise you’re less likely to find yourself surrounded by families and couples, thereby sparing yourself reminders of singlehood. No, the Tortoise is a drinking man’s bar—especially men who prefer their liquor and vittles with a side of sports. The 50-plus televisions, including 6 plasma screens in the nonsmoking room, make it an ideal place to take in the five NBA games played on Christmas Day (including Portland versus Dallas). And if a pummeling of Dallas (fingers crossed!) doesn’t warm your heart, we’re betting a pint from one of the 19 taps will.
Pretend You’re in Hawaii
While a friend and I were road-tripping around Oahu’s North Shore, he told me he’d once gutted out a bleak Pacific Northwest winter by occasionally huffing Coppertone sunscreen. The scent, he said, reminded him of sunnier days. I laughed this off as, well, a little sad. Until I tried it back home. Only I didn’t prefer Coppertone—too metallic. Instead, I took a whiff of Hawaiian Tropic, the original one, with the bottle that looks a bit like Kahlúa. The sea turtles, the ukuleles, the vanilla-scented leis, catching a wave in warm, clear water—memories wafted from the bottle (opening it was a hell of a lot easier than opening a coconut). That said, a perfectly acceptable alternative to cavorting around with suntan lotion would be to order a mai tai at Thatch Tiki Bar (2733 NE Broadway; 503-281-8454). Chock-full of straw huts, wood-carved tiki gods, and, above the bar, an old outrigger canoe, it’s bound to trigger dreams of the South Pacific.