I dig the classical shape of this pitcher which feels like something you’d bring to a bacchanal. It works well for water or flowers and even on its own as an objet. This company makes a lot of great stuff including some odd head-shaped vases that I love.
Cutting boards always seem to be either heavy or ugly—and obviously neither is ideal. These recycled plastic boards from Material come in great colors, and they are the perfect size for a general purpose cutting board. The colors make them special, I get a tiny charge of pleasure every time I use one. These are especially good for anyone, like me, whose last name starts with an M—we can just tell ourselves that these are monogrammed and not branded.
I love flour tortillas and these are the best I have ever had—by a mile. I know this seems like a huge indulgence, and it is, but you’re worth it. Stock up and freeze some for future meals. They are ridiculously good and turn a quick quesadilla into something very special. The pork fat are my favorite. Thanks to my friend Helen Rosner for the recommendation. Speaking of Helen, she writes a great gift guide over at The New Yorker that you should also check out.
ZigZag Drinks Table by Jermaine Gallacher
I know you’re unlikely to buy someone a table as a gift but you might buy one for yourself, and isn’t that what gift guides are all about? I had been searching for a drink table that had a sense of humor, and found what I was looking for in this beauty from Jermaine Gallacher. It comes in a variety of colors and makes a big impact in a room, despite its diminutive size. They also make a candlestick that is really good (in case anyone is looking for a gift for me).
Full-disclosure, Abra is one of my best friends. But she is also my favorite cook and her newest book is so good. I am obsessed with the meatballs and farro risotto recipe, and the little barley cookies are great. But more than any one recipe, Grist will help you learn to cook more like Abra—which should be everyone’s goal.
Beatrix Bakes by Natalie Paull
I’m obsessed with this book from the popular Melbourne bakery. The recipes are well-tested, and exactly what I want to be baking. A carrot cake with a layer of cheesecake in the middle! Shortbread made with olive oil and walnuts! Every page I am like: OMGYESSSSS. It is a beautiful book and anyone who cares about baking should own it.
Bee Brooch by Charlotte McLeish
A while back the NY Times wrote about men wearing brooches and I am fully onboard. My favorite is this little bee from ceramicist (her work made it to the guide last year) and jewelry designer, Charlotte McLeish. (Navy jacket by forever favorite Carrier Company)
I made a batch of Samin’s Vin D’Orange last year and it was one of the most satisfying food projects I have ever worked on. The results are so special and delicious. This is a long game, you would make a batch this winter for next Christmas. I used an old-school label maker for the labels.
Phone and Card Case by Francli Craftwear
Beautiful leather goods from Cornwall, made with an attention to detail and a commitment to preventing waste. Sold in small batches, once you order you get a series of email updates about the production. This is a seriously beautifully designed product from a really lovely company. The phone case has a pocket for a couple of credit cards on the back—for days when you want to travel light.
If you are in Chicago, Rainbow Wines (aka Em and Cub) will deliver you (or your friends) beautiful natural wines. You can order off of their website, but I think it is more fun to send them an email or DM telling them what you like and let them pick out wine for you. I sometimes send them messages as vague as: Easy to drink and weird! Something a Boomer wouldn’t like! And they always seem to deliver the perfect wine.
Who doesn’t want a pink pepper mill? This one is a part of the 100th anniversary collection from Alessi and was designed by Ettore Sottsass in the 1980’s. It is beautifully made and fun to use. It adds a little quirk to your table.
Dried Plums from Blossom Bluff
I learned last year from Michelle Polzine’s Baking at the 20th Century Cafe (which remains a favorite cookbook), that not all dried plums are created equally and that what we typically buy as prunes are all a particular type of plum. But there are other dried plums that are much more tart and delicious and will really improve your baking and snacking. I now buy my dried plums from Blossom Bluff—I’m also a fan of their dried pluots.
I was given a bag of this salt by my friend Abra (see Grist, above) and was so excited about it that I wanted to share it here. I am normally not a huge fan of flavored salts because I don’t really know what to do with them and they seem to have such limited use, but this salt blended with lavender and two types of chiles is really special and kind of goes with anything. It tastes like New Mexico smells in the best way. Try it on a fried egg or to top a shortbread.
The Annotated Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Annotated by Merve Emre
If you know someone who cares about Virginia Woolf, I can’t imagine a better gift. This is beautifully and cleverly annotated and includes plenty of images and useful maps. It really is a delight for fans of Dalloway, but also a good introduction for someone who wants support and context when reading the novel. Also, Merve Emre is cool.
Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
A lot has been said about Rooney, much of it very stupid. I love Rooney and this was my favorite of her books. So very readable and, for better or worse, relatable.
Sugoi Sweets is a Chicagoland sweet maker that produces incredible bonbons, caramels and other treats. I have liked everything I have tried and especially these caramels, the nougats, and the matcha covered almonds. If you’re not in the Chicago area—they ship!
The Aromatic Wild Herbs & Spices of the Midwest by Marika Josephson
This is sold out, which is cruel of me. But I wanted you to know this little pocket guide is beautiful and maybe there will be a reprint or subsequent pocket guides from Midwesterner. Stay tuned.
I like to include a ceramicist in each of my gift guides because I love ceramics so much and love sharing good people with all of you. This jug from South African ceramicist Ceri Muller is a favorite. Her work is so cool and she seems lovely. One of the benefits of shopping from small businesses and individual artists is that you get to know them a bit, which becomes a part of the object once it enters your life. Do I sound like a proper hippie? VIBES.
Wool & Cashmere Spray from The Laundress
I love how this smells and if you dry clean your sweaters as seldom as I do it is a good tool to have on hand.
Canned Cocktails from Empirical
Friends gave us these canned cocktails as a gift last year and we were shocked by how delicious they are. It might be the only canned cocktail I have tried that delivers on the potential of this format. And what could be easier than opening a can to get a fancy-tasting cocktail. If you’re not familiar with Empirical, their spirits are all very special and worth seeking out.
I think Perfumer H has made it into the last three guides. I can’t help myself, I really love them. But specifically I love their Silver fragrance which smells like you are wearing Carmex in a cold forest—which is basically all I ever want to smell. When I wear this I spend all day smelling my own wrist like a real creep.
2021 Advent Calendar by Mr Bingo
I know you know someone who needs an advent calendar in which you scratch the clothes off of a bunch of random people. The reason for the season?
Cocktail Syrups from Ayako & Family
I’ve been a customer of Ayako & Family for almost a decade. Their apricot jam is my all-time favorite, so you can imagine my excitement that they are now making fruit syrups to be used in cocktails or other drinks. Also, such good graphic design (Hi, Sako!).
We love spending time in Leelanau county Michigan, and Farm Club is one of our favorite places. Their tote bag is as good as they get. Such a great graphic on a perfectly-sized denim bag. Use it as an excuse to travel to Leelanau, or to act like you have.
But wait! There’s more! I have some more stuff I wanted to share that did not fit into this guide, I’ll post more in my stories over on Instagram this week.
You can see last year’s (still very useful!) guide here.
Please stay safe and healthy and enjoy whatever you can this holiday season. xo
November 29th, 2021 at 9:49 pm
OMG that advent calendar!!! Where has it been all my life? And the video explaining how the 2018 calendar was created only makes them (and his work) better.
Just received a trio of those cutting boards. They are as great as you say, and I love the colors!
November 30th, 2021 at 7:30 pm
that fragrance description is SO fantastic — I know exactly what it smells like AND it made me laugh out loud.
December 1st, 2021 at 9:00 am
So glad this is back. I look forward to it every year. As always, feel free to write more any day… :)
December 7th, 2021 at 1:45 pm
Your gift guides delight me every year. I ordered a stack of tortillas for my husband, who makes burritos for breakfast ALL the time; I expect they will induce head-exploding joy. Thank you, and merry merry!