Every year, I am
harassed sought after by friends and friends of friends asking for gift suggestions as the holiday season careers towards us with its characteristic rampant pace, marching to the beat of the Little Drummer Boy as it were. Every year, I put on my internet searching cap and scour the recesses of the world wide web for that unique gift for that peculiar unique friend because I am passionate about gift-giving. Perhaps, it is as psychologist Robert Ornstein put it: “The greatest surprise of human evolution may be the highest form of selfishness is selflessness” and the motivation behind the sharing of presents may be more the joy giving breathes into the giver than the receiver. Still, little warms the heart quite as much as knowing that someone you love feels that love by virtue of a small token you bestow upon them. Gifts need not break the bank (though I‘d be lying through proverbial teeth if I said that the occasional extravagant cadeau does not cause explicable euphoria) and indeed, the best gifts are the ones that tip the scale on the side of thought and care that went into their acquisition, rather than the weight of the wallet that purchased it.
This year, I have decided to share with you a few somethings for all sorts of characters on your Christmas and Holiday list. If your friends are anything like mine, you have a panoply of persons to which to cater. Hopefully, this guide, consisting of some of my favourite things, will inspire the perfect gifts for your sundry loved ones. To sweeten the deal, I have also curated gift suggestions from some of the most interesting and creative people in my life circles. Though I may lead you astray and my suggestions may bore you, you can rest assured you are in the best of hands when it comes to these purveyors of taste and culture. All the work’s been done for you; all you’ve got to do is click away!
Not a Flash in the Pan: The Ecstatic Gift Guide
For the Chic Nomad:
This gorgeous strap is sure to bring that traveling yogi friend of yours the extra jolt of nomadic chic. The vegetable-tanned leather is is hand-finished in New York and is accented by heavy brass hardware from England. Whether to strap in and carry a yoga mat or an alpaca blanket, this is a utilitarian piece that doesn’t skimp on elegance or character.
For the Marie Antoinette:
For that person on your list with a taste for life’s more esoteric luxuries, this candle– a collaborative flame between France’s oldest wax makers, Cire Trvdon, and the bold and imaginative Italian womenswear designer, Giambattista Valli — is just the spice to spark their festive season. The special edition votive which pits notes of Tuscan black pepper against the fresh scent of roses was created to celebrate the opening of the designer’s first store in Paris in 2010. This one I am getting for myself for Christmas!
For the “Lover of the liquid amber within the ivory porcelain”:
For the Frugal Fashion Fiend:
This colour block scarf from The Loft is a multipurpose piece that will serve any wardrobe well. It’s generous size allows it to be worn in sundry ways (I wore it as a top here). It’s right on trend with colourblocking but subtle enough in the juxtapostion of colours to make it timeless aquisition. The price makes it all the more irresistable!
For any devotees of art of fashion and the visual poetic conceit, a subscription to former Vogue Paris Editor-in-Chief, Carine Roitfeld’s CR Fashion Book will bring much mirth. This is not your everyday magazine: the themed biannual publication is the size of a coffee table book , its leaves always teeming with surreal beauty from every branch of the artistic tree. I still peruse my Spring/Summer 2013 edition which brought together two of my most dominant influences: Dance and Fashion.
For the Lord of the Manor:
If I had a Lord to speak of, he would be getting these beautiful leather house shoes crafted by New York cobbler, Andrew McTeer, this holiday season. While they also come in black pebbled leather, I am partial to this rich tan hue of the handmade shoe, sure to make milling about the house both a delight for the wearer and the onlooker.
It is no secret that I am an avid enthusiast of Swedish-French sportswear brand, Ron Dorff and their clean and disciplined aesthetic. While they stock a variety of design-conscious sportswear (mostly for men) including the “Discipline is Not a Dirty Word” sweatshirt which I own, this “Apres Ski” emblazoned pullover would make the ultimate gift for someone who spends their winters riding waves of billowy ice on powdery slopes. The red lettering against the heather-grey wool is eye-catching especially when coupled with the simplicity of the sweatshirt. Perhaps, this is even a good gift for those of us who have yet to take up skiing, after all, the apres ski is a state of mind, non? Frankly, I’d be happy with just the model on their website as my stocking stuffer this year.
The children on my list always get books because what better a time than this season of giving to instill in the fecund fields of their mind an awe of art and literature? Children’s books need not only be for children, though. As the subtitle of one of the books on my list states, kids’ books can be for anyone from 1 to 101. I find that as an adult, they serve as a reminder of the things that really do matter in life. Kyo MacClear’s “Virgina Wolf ” and Fanny Britt’s “Jane, The Fox and Me” both feature stunning illustrative work by Isabelle Arsenault and stories that introduce readers to important female literary figures (and in the case of the latter, the all-important, if polemic, oxford comma). These books are empowering and uplifting companions, as all literature should be. Like these two books, Bonnie Anderson’s “Pluto The Starfish” is a book that teaches children, nay all of us, to excavate our emotions, to understand ecosystems and to realise the unique role we each play in the ecosystem of our existence, all lessons fortified by Melissa Raines sprightly illustrations. And as far as literary companions go, one cannot go wrong with the late Dr. Maya Angelou’s Kofi and His Magic, an out of print book that tells the story of a Ghanaian boy named Kofi and of his adventures in the Kente weaving small town of Bonwire. It is a story that challenges us to dream again, to create, and to live colourfully, much like the photographs by Margaret Courntney-Clarke that accompany the poetic prose of Dr. Angelou
For the Baby Boss/ Boss Baby:
I am losing my mind at the cuteness quotient of these 100% leather baby moccasins. New parents will be happy at the practical points including the elasticated opening for ease of wearing and removal. I want a baby of my own simply so I can slip his/her little feet into a pair and have him/her sitting on my lap like a damn boss!
For the Pie Bird:
Kitchen hobbits will love this Emile Henry for Williams-Sonoma artisan fluted pie dish, crafted in France from Burgundian clay that absorbs and distributes heat evenly, meaning pies will bake and brown to perfection. The dish is as functional as it is pretty and I can attest first hand to how beautifully pies turn out as I recently upgraded to this dish myself. Give the gift of pie as art with this hand-dip-glazed piece of cermamic charm. It also comes in green, nougat and caramel colours.
Pick a colour! Any colour! Seriously, it does not get more luxe than Tom Ford lipwear. Personally, I think the rouge shade “Cherry Lush” is to die for but you really cannot go wrong here. And if you cannot get enough of Mr. Ford, why don’t you double the luxury by adding on a bottle of his Jasmin Rouge fragrance which has been at the top of my wishlist for over a year now. If the word sybaritism had a scent, it would be TF Jasmin Rouge!
There is no shortage out there of delectable victuals to titillate the gout of the gourmands out there. Choosing was hard, but I have to go with two of my staple purchases: Catskill Provisions Honey and Jam by Christine Ferber for Pierre Hermé. When it comes to high-quality american honey, it does not get any sweeter the wildflower variety which Catskill provisions produces: pure and deep in flavour without a hint of bitterness. If you happen to be in Europe, you can spring for some artisan Jam from the well of wonder that is Pierre Hermé for your foodie friends. His signature Ispahan jam, an ineffable concatenation of raspberry, lychee and rose will stop the wagging tongue dead in its tracks as one savours this most blistering of confitures. Other personal favourite flavours of mine include Envie (Pear with Violet and Blackcurrant) and Abricots a la Vanille (Apricot and Vanilla)
For the Apple Core Customer:
For the Belle from another Epoch:
If you know anyone like me, who lives in romantic yearning for a time long gone, a vintage silk kimono from Etsy will certainly be the magic carpet to transport them to a place far away and a time perhaps forgotten. I have fallen for this hand-painted silk ombre robe from the 1950s but Etsy has a variety from which you can choose. Say yes to the robe!
For the Belle from this Epoch:
Ducie, a London-based womenswear designer, does silk expertly! This bomber is elegant and yet contemporary. It screams, “today’s woman”: a blend of decadence and pragmatism if I ever did see one . The pastel tones options and the fun python printed emerald version make my heart sing. Do knock yourself out; there are so many brilliant colours from which to make your selection.
For John Keats and Co:
Even my 5 year old niece agrees, “This is a bootiful pencil”. “Technically, Ella, it’s a pen,” I correct her. But that is besides the point. Hand-blown Murano glass spirals into a fine tip which will serve as the conduit through which wonderous words will flow. Or maybe your Percy Bythe Shelly will write his or her grocery list with this fragile implement. It doesn’t matter, just as long as they have it on hand to jot down how much toilet paper they need to pick up from Trader Joe’s: now wouldn’t that be the world’s most epic moment of delicious bathos?
And finally, from me, for the Natasha on your list:
Young British designer JW Anderson is breathing new wafts of air into the Spanish brand and I am here for all of it. This sleek pochette is everything my dreams are made of: clean lines, colour-punch and luxurious leather with discreet monogramming. If it comes in black, I want that too. I’ll never have to carry a big bag again! The best part of the deal: if you reside outside the EU, Colette will subtract the 18 or so percent VAT (Value Added Tax) from the ticketed price. The only thing better than Loewe is Loewe for the low.
And now, what you have been waiting for: the really good stuff! Keep reading the guide for gifting ideas from some of the most interesting folks I know. I want everything they’ve suggested. Yes, it is that good!
GAIL ONEILL says:
“Nothing beats the charm of receiving a hand-written card or letter delivered via snail mail. Instead of putting all your time and energy into finding the perfect present for a loved one this holiday season, why not craft a love letter to them instead? Tell the object of your affection why you love them… how they’ve inspired you… recount a favorite memory of time spent in their company… or thank them for a perfectly-timed call or smile that (unbeknownst to them) just happened to make your day.
If, on the other hand, you’d rather endure the company of hyper-aggressive shoppers in overcrowded malls than write a heartfelt letter, consider giving a beautiful pen, personalized note cards or business/calling cards instead!”
A former supermodel who has worked with the likes of Patrick Demarchelier and Fabrizio Ferri, graced the covers to top fashion publications , played the role of television journalist for CNN and now is a writer amongst other vocations, Gail is your not-so-run-on-the-mill renaissance woman. Keep up with her evocative writing at www.thegailyplanet.wordpress.com
THIARA MORAES wants:
Pierre Louis Mascia silk and fur scarf. “The perfect gift for me is that luxury item you’d never buy to yourself — because it is completely unnecessary and too expensive — but you’d love to have it. It could be the most elegant flowers, the most sophisticated pastry or a beautiful candle… you get the idea. For Christmas, this scarf from Pierre Louis Mascia is the ultimate example: pure silk and Orylag fur together, designed by a confidential and traditional Italian brand that makes the most beautiful prints. Isn’t it the very definition of a luxury treat? And of course, I’m a huge fan of the leopard print 🙂 ([pictured when you click the link]). Besides, it suits both man and woman, which is great as you can get it for your husband and wear it yourself.”
And a fine editor/stylist/online content manager she is! Shop the expertly curated and superchic world of L’Eclaireur at http://shop.leclaireur.com
LISA OWUSU is giving:
Kaufmann Mercantile’s EDC kit. “Natasha knows how much I believe in Kaufmann. This is the perfect life kit for both guys & dolls: pry bar,screwdriver, precision tweezers, waterproof lighter and titanium key ring: in one word— ever ready!”
See Lisa tumble at http://charltonandlola.tumblr.com/. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
MAAMEYAA BOAFO thinks you should gift:
The Collector’s Edition of The Chronicles of Narnia and/ or Calvin & Hobbes. “I couldn’t decide which one but both timeless anthologies are great for children and adults. With C.S Lewis you always learn something new as your imagination goes straight to the wonderful world of Narnia and with Bill Watterson’s smart comments in the comics, the humor is great medicine for the heart.”
MaameYaa just came off starring in an off-Broadway run of Walter Molsey’s play, LIFT. Find out more about her upcoming projects for stage and screen, including the next season of popular webseries An African City at www.maameyaaboafo.com. Read her tweets and see her glisten in the bright lights of the big city at @maameyaaboafo on twitter and instagram
The HOUSE OF CRAMER ladies are lusting after:
Free People Intimate Romper. “It is always a great idea to spoil yourself. Indulge in that intimate piece you can feel great in at home this Holiday.”
Cire Trudon x Giambattista Valli Positano Candle.“Towards the end of the year I like to take a moment and reflect on the past year to assess my victories, failures, good and bad times, and how I can learn from them in order to make the most of the coming year, and to learn more about myself. This scented candle will set the scene for just that.”
Together Afua Rida and Supriya Wassiamal form the Ghanaian stylist duo of House of Cramer and blog at www.houseofcramer.com
HENRIK SIMONSEN suggests:
“My family and I stopped buying presents years ago. It always felt like a chore
making a Christmas list, without it becoming a list of things we were going to
get ourselves in the next few months. And we agreed that is was crazy to try
to make a list of things we wanted for Christmas when we did not need
any of it. So now we focus more on the different Scandinavian Christmas
traditions and spend the time we would have been out shopping doing
that. Perhaps this holiday season could be a time to build some new traditions with your loved ones that you’re an honour over the years to come: a gift that will keep on giving.”
IRENE KIM would give:
2014 Aborist Adult Onsie. “I love giving gifts that I think people would love but wouldn’t buy for themselves — maybe because it’s a luxury, or just a fleeting indulgence.This mountie onesie by Arborist firmly falls in the latter category. Admittedly an adult might feel silly buying a onesie in the first place, but that’s what makes this the perfect gift! The graphics are awesome, guaranteed to put a smile on your face and just so Canadian. I’ve already bought three :).”
Step into the closet at laclosette.com
DUCIE KEAM-GEORGE’s ultimate gift:
“I would give every woman Lush Ultra Bland Cleanser . It makes your skin glow when you’re tired and need a lift.”
I fell upon Ducie’s beautiful silk and fur work at London’s Portobello market almost 10 years ago and have remained an avid fan. Enter her world of simply satisfying and immaculately-crafted clothing at http://www.ducie.co.uk
JOSH REINHOLD’s single wishlist item is :
A fine, single man with loyalty and a sense of humor.
Josh lives out his glory on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/josh.reinhold.10. Trust him to bring the funny to Holiday shopping. When Josh is not being a silly gander, he is a Creative Executive at Relativity Media. Check out his latest project, Beyond the Lights, in theatres now, staring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker.
Josh is right, we might as well find the humour in this our yearly endeavour to find the perfect gift. After all, much like the 1928 Magritte painting, we are Attempting the Impossible.
Incidentally, the book “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926 — 1938 ($65 from momastore.org) makes a fine addition to the annals of any aficionado of Surrealist Art.
Happy Holidays, everyone! Go forth and buy good gifts!