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If you find yourself wanting to get me something nice but don’t know what, here are some helpful suggestions. 🙂

Food, drink & the kitchen
The stage


Instead of getting me a gift, consider donating to:

  • organizations helping refugees from Ukraine or aiding the Ukrainian war effort (I compiled a list of such organizations, focusing on Germany, in spring 2022: check it out but be aware that it is somewhat out of date)
  • ProVeg or any other organization working pragmatically to reduce cruelty to animals and increase the share of plant-based foods in the human diet
  • BYSOL, Razam, or any other campaign to help victims of state violence in Belarus
  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or any other agency or initiative working to help refugees
  • The Migraine Research Foundation or any other organization that helps develop treatments for highly prevalent but under-studied medical conditions

If you would prefer to get something for me personally, you’ll find some ideas below.

Food, drink & the kitchen

  • vegan alcohol-free wine
  • good whole-bean coffee for an automatic espresso machine: fair trade and not too bitter (Arabica rather than Robusta)
  • fair-trade vegan dark chocolate
  • unsweetened soy milk in 0.5 l containers, a size that is often more convenient than 1 l cartons. Provamel used to produce them but has apparently discontinued the line, so if you can hook me up, please do!
  • Please DON’T get me:
    • alcoholic drinks of any kind, or alcohol-containing foods. I can’t stand the taste of alcohol
    • any food that is not vegan (including honey)
    • tea: we always have much more than we could possibly drink, and I personally only drink certain kinds of herbal tea anyway
    • spices: I make my own blends and am very particular about the spices I use; I don’t like pre-mixed blends, and I like to buy my spices fresh in small quantities just before using/blending them
    • sweets (including jam) in large quantities – we always have far more than we could possibly use, and end up throwing them away or re-gifting them
    • recipe books. I like the idea, but end up never using them

The stage

I’m an opera, theater, and concert lover and rarely treat myself to good seats, so gift certificates are always greatly appreciated, especially for the Staatsoper, Volksoper, Theater an der Wien, Burgtheater, or Volkstheater in Vienna, the Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper, Philharmonic, or Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin, or the Metropolitan Opera in NYC.

In case you want to get more specific, some of my favorite performers are listed below. Some of these rarely if ever perform near me, so a heads-up about a forthcoming performance in my part of the world is already a great gift.

  • Anna Bondarenko, Sabine Devieilhe, Sonya Yoncheva, Anna Prohaska, Olga Peretyatko (soprano)
  • Elīna Garanča, Emily d’Angelo, Tara Erraught, Ieva Prudnikovaitė (mezzo-soprano)
  • Ewa Podleś (contralto)
  • Max Emanuel Cenčić (countertenor)
  • Juan Diego Flórez (tenor)
  • Laurent Naouri (bass-baritone)
  • Idil Biret, Khatia Buniatishvili (piano)
  • Diego Fasolis, Dietrich Paredes, Alexander Soddy, Jeannette Sorrell (conductors)
  • Souad Massi, Onur Akın, Daniel Kahn, Paul Simon, Mikhail Shcherbakov (singer-songwriters)
  • Alim & Fargana Qasimov (mugham)
  • Huntza, Otava Yo (folk rock bands)
  • Pet Shop Boys (pop)
  • Erisioni or the Georgian National Ballet (dance)
  • any of the stand-up comedians collected here


Seriously, they are everywhere. The shelves in my office are overflowing. The shelves at home are double-stacked. There are piles in every room. The to-read-urgently book tree is buckling under the weight of its load. So if you get me another book to read in my “spare time,” I will politely thank you while trying to suppress nervous laughter. If you still want to get me a book, please make sure it’s something I need for work (e.g. by checking my research interests on this page) and I don’t already have it!