Amber L. Carter
Writer. Professional Intuitive. Pop Culture Obsessive.


Amber L. Carter’s Holiday Survival Kit For Man Crates

Earlier this month, Man Crates (a new company that delivers crates full of gifts for guys) asked me to answer this question: What would I want in my Holiday Survival Kit?



1. Sufjan Stevens Presents Songs For Christmas Album

If you’ve been following along with my Non-Lame Christmas Jams over mah FB Page (OMG LIKE IT!), then you’ve probably noticed a couple of Stevens’ songs poppin’ up in the Jam list. Because who says holiday songs can’t be merry and cool?

Cranky hipsters, probably. But nobody really cares what they have to say, anyway, so. We’re good.

2. Cards Against Humanity

Once, when I was in the 4th grade, I saw a magazine ad that showed a happy family sitting around a table, laughing and playing a board game together after they had obviously ordered in pizza for dinner. Admittedly, it was probably the thought of getting to have Domino’s pizza delivery on the regular that galvanized the idea, but for years I campaigned for a weekly family game night. Yet lo, ’twas all in vain: The Carter Family never had a singular game night, much less a string of game nights on the same night of every week that would necessitate what one would call a weekly game night. We barely even ever had any Domino’s pizza delivery, either! I practically starved…for both pizza and love.

But now that we’re all adults, wanna know what my family keeps trying to get me to do over the holidays? Play games. Wanna know what’s the last thing I wanna do with my family over the holidays? PLAY GAMES. 

However, Cards Against Humanity could change all that. It could be the thing that finally brings our family together, in harmony! Also, my grandmother won’t be at our house this Christmas, so unlike the story I tell in #6, I’ll only have my parents to shock and dismay with my incredibly poor and vulgar taste.

3. Frostbeard Studio Candles

Christmas equals cozy, and there are few things that set the mood better than a scented candle. But rather than go the basic route with your White Firs and Mulled Spices, I’m holiday-jazzing (holiday jizzing? Choose whichever one works best with your holiday framework) on Frostbeard, an awesomely nerdy candle studio in Minneapolis, MN, and their super rad book-themed scents like Winterfell, The Shire, The Cliffs of Insanity, and Sherlock’s Study.

4. A Christmas Sweataaaah

By now the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party/Pub Crawl has been so done that it’s DONE, kids. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still get seasonal up in this bitch with some festive attire! This quote from Home Alone 2: Lost In New York is one of my favs, and the off-the-shoulder cut is cute but not so cute that I’d easily become known as The Skanky Cousin after wearing it at extended family Christmas gatherings.

5. Fun Wrapping Paper

Because I never have any, I hate buying it, and my mom won’t let me steal hers anymore. Also, did you notice how this stuff is in an 8-bit pattern? Rad!

6. The Family Stone

Fun story: Once upon a Christmas, I brought Love Actually home with me and tried to get my family to watch it, confident that they would all love it as much as I did.

Only, I TOTALLY forgot about the whole nudie porn-star-stand-in storyline. Yeah, super fun to watch with your fam, especially when your 80 YR OLD GRANDMA is in the room.

However, The Family Stone is a movie that everyone in my family can agree on. This movie makes Christmas real to me. It’s funny, smart, and warm, plus it never fails to make me do the Claire Danes Cry Face at the end.

7. Coconut Milk Eggnog

Eggnog is my must-do when it comes to the holidays. Howevs, the dairy in regular eggnog tends to screw with my body, and I need it to be a well-oiled machine for all the holiday-related making out that I do every year. So this season I made it a mission to search out and try healthier alternatives to the traditional ‘nog. This one, made with coconut milk, is solid.

8. Big Water Coffee Roasters Snowplow Winter Blend

Real Talk: I need coffee to survive anything, not just the holidays. Big Water Coffee Roasters in Bayfield, WI, is one of my all-time favorite coffee places in the world (I like saying that because then it sounds like I’ve visited sooo many coffeeshops around the globe. Which, I mean…I might have. You don’t know) and this blend reminds me of the snow-laden pine trees and Lake Superior ice caves of my former home in the Northwoods. (Also, this blend pairs supremely well with #7. Eggnog lattes for ev’rybody!)

9. Candy Cane Hershey Kisses

Because of that weird thing called Candida, I can’t go too crazy when it comes to stuffing my face full of holiday treats. But forgoing the stuff that comes around but once a year would make me miserable – and miserable to be around – so I deal by grabbing a bag of these babies at the beginning of the season and popping a kiss or two when I need a sweet cheat.

Hershey Kisses, I mean. Not real kisses. I don’t have anybody to love me, so I have to settle on these candy kisses to substitute for real affection and to fill the sad, dark, lonely hole in my heart. But soon, they’ll be gone, too, and then I’ll have nothing left to remind that I’m a person, a real live person! with hopes and dreams just like you! and love…so much love…to give…

10. A Kindle Fire stocked full of books

Oh man. This is one of my true “I can’t get through the holidays without it” items on the list. Being a natural-born introvert, spending an extended period of time in a house filled to the brim with people can be challenging + exhausting. If I don’t get some quiet time alone, I become that much more likely to revert back to the days of being a teen girl worthy of harboring a poltergeist. Thus, every holiday season, I ask for Amazon gift cards so I can pack my Kindle with new reads. The ability to dive into a book is not just a gift for me, but for my family, as well. It helps me retreat to a quiet, imaginative world where I can recharge and refuel, which in the long run will save all of us a lot of screaming. It also gives me a handy, complaint-free diversion when The Battle Of What We’re Going To Watch On TV Right Now is over and I’m found to be the loser, WHICH I DON’T HANDLE VERY WELL unless I have a fascinating, distracting novel waiting for me on my portable device!

11. Lyft Gift Codes

Because holidays + celebratory gatherings + dranks = someone else driving.

Lyft is not only essential to making merry, it’s literally a means of survival during the season of disgruntled workers driving home sloshed from their company’s holiday parties. As someone who uses car-sharing services as a primary means of transportation, Lyft is my favorite (I even had a Lyft driver perform his stand-up routine for me once, and it was legit hilariousMoshe, when you hit it big, I’m gonna be tellin’ and sellin’ that story all over town). If you haven’t tried it yet, download the app onto your mobile device and use the referral code AMBER987789 to get started. 

And if you’re hosting a gathering, gift codes for your guests will most def make you The Host(ess) With The Most(est).

12. Essential Oils

Much like #10, essential oils are very necessary to my survival when it comes to this most festive season. They help me meditate in a loud and busy house during family gatherings + help me sleep soundly even when I’m in a new bed and there’s an adorable baby niece across the hall who wakes up in the earliest morning hours because she’s like, “Hey, my super cool aunt is in this house. What am I doing sleeping? I should be playing with her and letting her affect and influence my formative memories and thoughts so I can grow up and write a beloved book/movie/play about her!”

Also, if you’ll remember the nativity story, Frankincense was one of the oils that the three wiseman brought to the baby Jesus. What I’m trying to say is: Jesus used this oil, and now I’m using this oil, so according to logic, that means that I’m basically Jesus.


How about your cute faces? What would you want in your own Holiday Survival Kit to help you get through the holiday season? 

Happy Holidays, everybody!!

Written for Man Crates & published December 18, 2014