Nadia Gohar is one half of the sister/sister duo behind Gohar World, the brand currently taking the world by storm. Her work and background in the arts, impeccable style, and cleverness helps define the style of the brand. And like all genuinely cool people, she has a great sense of humor and seems to know what is ridiculous and wonderful about lace sleeves for eggs or adult bibs (see my gift guide). A friend who also regularly writes gift guides messaged me a few months ago when Gohar World launched their first collection and said: Truly cannot wait for our holiday guides to all be Gohar World. Which, truly! Because nothing Gohar World sells is necessary, which makes it all so wonderful.
First on my list, a little jar of something from SOS Chef. Atef’s spice shop in the East Village is pure magic. When I’m there, I like to grab bits to gift to friends. Recently I got the Plum Soaked Sesame Seeds & a jar of freeze-dried capers.
I love giving the Week-end Soap from Santa Maria Novella because I think it’s the perfect gift for someone who’s going to be spending some time away from home- either for the holidays or in general. Three perfectly packaged soaps for someone in a place that’s not their own.
This is a splurge, but I’m obsessed with my metallic silver bedding from Magniberg. Totally festive.
It wouldn’t be a proper gift guide from me without mention of Gohar World ;) Our linens have a special place in my heart because of where and how they’re made. Along with the collaborative creative work I do with my sister, I also oversee the production part of things in Egypt- which mostly takes form in the linens we create. This season, we made a color-block tablecloth, with a duo tone split down the middle. Each square tablecloth comes with buttons and buttonholes, allowing you to attach the squares to expand your table (for the host whose door is always open!) The three available color combinations are an ode to the painted landscapes of one of our favorite artists, Etel Adnan.
If you read this blog or care about home baking, Dorie Greenspan likely needs no introduction. Truly one of the greats of the food world–an icon even! I’ve been lucky enough to also call her a friend. We met more than a decade ago at a hot dog stand in Chicago (thanks to our mutual pal David Tamarkin) and I can attest to her being as wonderful as she seems. A few years ago when I was moderating a discussion with Dorie in Chicago, I asked her about being a style icon and she quickly brushed the idea off. But Dorie has impeccable taste and style and we all know it. (She also has a wonderful newsletter that you should subscribe to.)
This Hermes Scarf is admittedly a splurge, but if you know a stylish baker with a love of France and its pastry, the odds are good that it’ll be the most memorable gift of the season. It’s small more a neckerchief than a scarf (although it does come in a full, tie-it-this-way-and-that size) – but bountiful: There are images of macarons and sweet pears, charlottes, marzipan and frilly cakes galore. And if you think it’s too pretty to wear, you can frame it!
My husband, the breadbaker in the family, saw this offset bread knife at a friend’s house and went out and bought one for himself the next day. It’s one of those things that you might think you don’t need, and then you cut with it and nothing else feels as good ever after – it’s the knife that spoils you for all others. He bought it to cut through croissants, homemade baguettes and artisan loaves with sturdy crusts, but I use it every day too – it’s terrific for chopping bar chocolate into chips (always use an offset serrated knife for that job) and for slicing cakes that have a delicate crumb.
Like a genie in a bottle, a spoonful of this bright, aromatic, deeply flavorful preserved lemon paste makes just about everything taste like a million bucks. I keep a few jars on hand at all times because I get a little panicky if I think my supply has dipped below the safe level. Of course, it’s good in Moroccan dishes – every tagine is better with this paste, but so is pasta of all kinds, dishes with tomatoes, chicken, shrimp or pork, vinaigrette and dozens of vegetables. And if you like a little heat, try the Harissa with Preserved Lemon – it’s as good as it sounds.
KELLY COOPER KORDYLEWSKI
One of the best things about the internet is all of the great people it has brought into my life, which is something I like to remind myself of when I am spiraling about the horrors of online. Kelly was a Lottie + Doof reader and fellow Chicagoan (and writer/design-enthusiast!) who I have followed on Instagram for years. I quickly discovered that she knows so much about art and design. I’ve learned about lots of good stuff from her, and could not imagine this inaugural guide without Kelly. Once we were in the same restaurant at the same time but didn’t realize until afterwards. And it was a cool restaurant, of course. Next time!
One of the best things I did this year was subscribe to the biannual print magazine Mother Tongue. I read a few digital newsletters on the humor and practicalities of parenting and motherhood (shout out to Claire Zulkey’s Evil Witches and Youngna Park’s Making it Work), but the thing I love about Mother Tongue is that it’s not about parenting at all. It’s a deep dive into the duality of motherhood. It’s also just amazing reading for anyone (mom or not) who loves excellent writing.
I’ve always bought a lot of books, but lately I’ve really been in overdrive. It’s true in all categories, from fiction to nonfiction to new releases to vintage books, but especially art books. A favorite from the past year has been Stanley Whitney: The Italian Paintings. Flipping through the images of Whitney’s paintings is meditative and inspiring. His work will make you think about color and composition in new ways. Particularly useful in the winter, when you might be craving color and a boost in mood.
The deadstock linen pillows from Suay seem to be multiplying in my house. The hand feel of their linen is so great, plus it’s dyed in unique colors that have surprising depth. Even the inserts feel cushy and luxurious. I’m a big fan of their linen napkins and tea towels too. All amazing gifts from an LA-based sustainable brand that’s doing cool things in their community and globally.
Merve Emre is a professor of English at Oxford and currently a Distinguished Writer in Residence at Weslyan University, who edited last year’s gift guide pick The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway. She’s written a bunch of books (I love her writing on the MBTI and bad readers) and regularly writes about literature and culture for The New Yorker and a host of other prestigious publications. It’s all very impressive. She also has a great sense of humor and style and regularly makes me lol on social media. She is currently working on a book called Love and Other Useless Pursuits. (!!!)
I am a terrible gift-giver. My husband, however, is an excellent gift-giver. Everything below is a gift he has given me over the past several years.
This Aspinal of London Essential Tote is my everyday tote bag for carrying my books and computer to work and back. The full-grain leather and the stitching are beautiful. The straps are sturdy, which is important because I have destroyed previous totes by overfilling them. There’s a little pouch inside where I keep essentials — passport, credit cards, receipts, since I’m not good at managing a separate wallet.
We’ve lived in five different cities in the past seven years — I’m a restless person — and each time we move, I receive a framed and customized Mapiful map of the last place we lived for my birthday.
The first gift my husband ever got for me was a gift he made. He bought a used copy of Henry James’s The Portrait of A Lady and turned it into a clock, using a DIY clock kit. You can find instructions for it here. The clock stopped running some time ago, but I still keep the gift on my desk.
I have two sets of these “business jammies” (aka Eberjey Tuxedo Pajamas). When we were living in the U.K., I would have to do lots of Zoom events on East Coast time — 6 PM EST would be 11 PM GMT — and I often did them in my business jammies, which are both comfortable and respectable (or at least, I think they are).
Camilla Wynne wrote one of my favorite cookbooks of the last decade, Jam Bakes. In addition to writing, Camilla is also a cooking teacher (you need to sign up for one of her online courses), recipe developer, food stylist, and cool person—she was in a band, she wore this to her wedding, she’s Canadian (I rest my case!). Her next book is all about candying fruit and baking with candied fruit and I can’t wait. Also, I think about this cake she made a lot. It might be the best cake I’ve ever seen.
Daddy by Universal Flowering is my signature scent, but would work for someone of any gender. I used to choose it from my sample set (also a great gift) whenever I wanted to feel particularly confident, and then I realized I wanted to smell like that all the time. That said, her Fig Leaf scent is also one I reach for (perfect for pastry chefs or botanists!)– you just can’t go wrong with Universal Flowering.
Basically everything from Toronto bean-to-bar chocolate maker SOMA is my favorite, but this stunning piece molded from a birch branch and filled with hazelnut praline and sour cherry makes a particularly special gift.
An Al’s Cocktail Club subscription is the greatest gift for the cocktail aficionado in your life, preferably accompanied by a set of Riedel Nick & Nora glasses. Every week Al sends out a thoughtful fascinating piece on cocktail history around the month’s theme, accompanied by a truly excellent recipe. We drink well at our house thanks to Al.
We were given two sets of Sirius Glassworks tumblers for our wedding in the spring, and now I don’t want to drink out of anything else. Made by master glassblower Peter Gudrunas, each one is unique and so enchanting to use as an everyday object.