My Favorite Holiday Gift Ideas

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker, financial journalist, and money manager.
[Woman in Santa hat with bag of gifts]

It is that time of year.  

Indeed, the holidays will soon be here, and that means now is the time to start thinking about the gifts you will be giving to those you value. And if you’re like me, you love giving gifts, but not just any gifts.

To me, gift giving is an art. A wise friend told me long ago he had two maxims when giving gifts. The first applies more to a man courting a woman, and it goes like this: “The key to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift, at an unexpected time.”

From experience, I can confirm that this maxim works exceedingly well. As for maxim two, it is as follows: “It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be special.”

This is the rule that applies not just to lovers, but to all of us during the holidays.

Indeed, it’s the special gifts that matter most, as they not only are the most memorable, but they’re also the most meaningful. And by meaningful, I mean they convey what the person receiving the gift means to the gift giver.

Today, I am going to tell you about some of my favorite gift ideas — ideas that are both inexpensive and special. And while some of these gift ideas might not be right for everyone on your shopping list, I suspect these ideas will be a good fit for many readers in The Deep Woods demographic — a demographic that is highly successful, highly educated, rational, life-loving and always interested in displaying the very best within. 

To me, the most special gift is the gift of knowledge.

The easiest, most cost-effective and arguably the best way to give knowledge is through books. Whether it’s a great work of literature, an insightful self-help manual, or a great “how to” book on a subject close to the recipient’s heart, a really good book has got to be my all-time favorite special gift to give (and one that also happens to be inexpensive).

For those who love literature, fiction, action, adventure, mystery and philosophy, then give the gift that asks, “Who Is John Galt?”

Here I am recommending the greatest novel ever written (in my not-so-humble opinion), “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand.  

If you’ve read the novel already, you know how brilliant it is. But if you haven’t read it in some time, give yourself a gift and read it again. And, if you have any young minds on your holiday shopping list, then giving them “Atlas Shrugged” will make them remember you forever — and it may indeed alter the course of their lives the way it altered mine.

For those who prefer self-help style works, I recommend one of the original works on how to be human, “Meditations,” by Marcus Aurelius.

This work is more than 2,000 years old, but the wisdom in it applies to what you are doing right now — and what a human being should do every day to maximize his/her time on Earth. The insights, wisdom and practical guidance delivered on every page of this work are amazing, and the subjects vary from how best to deal with life’s inevitable adversity to how best to interact with others. I also highly recommend the Gregory Hays translation, as I think it is the smoothest and most poetic out there.

As for the “how to” category, well, I’ve always felt that a collection of wisdom from the best brains in that industry has been most special to me. And on this front, there is no better “how to” anthology than the one by my friend, fellow Fast Money Alert co-editor and brilliant economist, Dr. Mark Skousen.

The work I am specifically referring to here is “The Maxims of Wall Street.” This is a collection of some of the greatest wisdom ever to flow from the biggest and brightest names on Wall Street. Great investors such as Jesse Livermore, Baron Rothschild, J.P. Morgan, Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch and John Templeton are just a sneak peek at some of the names you’ll discover in this fantastic collection. 

Then there is profundity from the likes of Ben Franklin, John D. Rockefeller, Joe Kennedy, Bernard Baruch, John Maynard Keynes, Steve Forbes and numerous other luminaries too copious to mention.

Your editor with his very own signed copy of “The Maxims.”

As Mark puts it, “For years, I’ve been compiling these financial adages, ancient proverbs and immortal poems found in new and rare financial books and quoted regularly by investors, money managers, brokers and old timers.”  

Now, this year marks the 10th anniversary of “The Maxims,” and fortunately for us all, Mark has made available this special 10th-anniversary edition just in time for you to give that inexpensive and special holiday gift. 

Whether that gift is to yourself or to someone very special, you should definitely do yourself a favor and give this book to those you value (including yourself). 

The new edition is indeed special, as it is some 282 pages, with an additional 200 quotes since the first edition came out in 2011 (I can’t wait to get mine!)

So, if you want to give the gift of knowledge this year, the best kind of gift, and if you love money, investing and wisdom (and I know you do because you read this publication), then “The Maxims of Wall Street” is the perfect holiday present. 


Melody Is King

“Melody is King.” 

— Brent Larimore 

My favorite music composition teacher once told me that when it comes to songwriting, “Melody is King.” (He also told me he learned that from one of his music teachers, but since I heard it straight from him, it shall remain his attribution to me). Now, this is fantastic advice when composing, but it’s also fantastic advice as applied to just about everything we do. 

You see, when it comes to any specific activity we engage in, it’s critical to our success to focus first on the “King” attribute, or on the “essence” of that activity. Another way to put this is that, whatever you do, find the key element of that activity, and focus first on that. By becoming a master of the essence of an activity, you can much more easily master the nuanced and tangential details that also come with that activity.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

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