Saturday, December 12, 2009

Who else needs holiday gift ideas?

The New York Times reported Sunday that gift lists for this year are being drastically reduced. “Even fruitcake is being rationalized this holiday season,” the article headlined. Well, darned if I’ll be scrooged!

Instead of stressing over doling out the fruitcake, I’d rather focus on the magical buzz in the air. This magic is boundless in its generosity. It’s discovering my mother-in-law’s hand-written menus on the holiday table, announcing a feast always more succulent than the last. It’s the blaze of lights which accompany me down Park Avenue as I walk home each evening. It’s the chocolate buttercream which melts in my mouth as I delve into a bûche de noel (France’s traditional holiday cake).

It’s also seeing people’s faces light up when I’ve found the perfect gift for them.

Here are five of the gift ideas that inspire me this season:

- Chocolate that makes you feel good: Raw Chocolate Truffles from One Lucky Duck

(; boutique in Chelsea Market and E. 17th St., New York)

There are a plethora of chocolate confections out there, but these I actually dare give to friends in France, home of the best chocolate in the world. Raw foodists only use pure, natural ingredients and unrefined sweeteners. The result is an explosion of rich, dark cocoa with a hint of coconut, without the sugar hangover you get from traditional recipes.

- Books that travel in time and space: Assouline’s signature Memoires series (; boutique in the Plaza Hotel, New York)

These are compact monographs which cover a multitude of themes in art, design, fashion and architecture. They’re beautifully illustrated with lots of photos, for a light and inspiring read.

- Sending your man for the shave of his life: The Shave at the Martial Vivot Salon pour Hommes

(; boutique behind the MOMA, New York)

Martial grooms princes, stars, CEOs, and ordinary guys too. He’s one of the last to master the art of the perfect shave, but it’s the essential oil scalp massage which transports to a different realm.

- Comforting winter hands: Diptyque’s Luxurious Hand Balm (; boutiques on Bleecker Street and Madison Ave., New York)

I noticed that French beauty editors consistently and sincerely rave about Diptyque’s Art of Body Care line. This apricot kernel, argan oil and shea butter protector has become my favorite, hands-down!

- A new friend for little ones: Zooni Lion Mittens from Bundle

(; boutique on Thompson St., New York)

Like everything else at Bundle, these lion mittens are adorable. Owner Allison carefully selects each item in her shop, resulting in a collection of gifts and clothing through size 6 which is both practical and covetable.

One blog reader also suggests, “Charitable contributions are meaningful gifts as well. Making a donation (large or small) in someone’s honor for a cause they believe in is a nice gesture.”

Live épanoui*!


* in full bloom