By Caitlin Kelly
For some people, holiday gift shopping is hell — you have no idea of your recipients’ sizes or favorite colors or you’re on a super-tight budget and/or the thought of a crowded mall makes you want to give up before you start.
Take heart, Broadsiders!
Every year I make a list for you of fun, lovely practical gift ideas for men and women of all ages. A few are big splurges, but I’ve sought out a variety, many chosen for their combination of charm and affordability.
From Plumo, one of my favorite fashion online retailers, this watch, with an owl on its face, $122. And these great socks, with chartreuse hares on a field of blue, $38.63; they also come with foxes or crows.
I didn’t expect to find housewares at this new site, Saturday by Kate Spade. But this simple, black pitcher is gorgeous and large enough to hold a bunch of tall flowers or a lot of martinis; $75.
And, maybe for the same kitchen or dining room, here’s a great little black and white cotton rug, in an array of sizes, starting at $33. This site, Dash & Albert, has a huge selection of terrific colors.
O’Brien’s boots! Any of you who are addicted to Downton Abbey will crave these terrific Edwardian-era black leather boots; $298.
It is a sad fact that many American schoolteachers — and their students — don’t have enough of the supplies they need. This site allows you to choose what to give and where.
As someone who loves to entertain and set a pretty table, I love this colored flatware, in a variety of colors, from tortoise to deep blue; $150.
Love this linen tea towel – made by a Broadside follower, Edinburgh-based designer Niki Fulton — of an industrial crane in the harbor, bright pink on black; $13.26.
You probably know Zara, the fast-fashion Spanish retailer. But do you know Zara Home? I love their unusual designs and colors, and splurged this year on a duvet cover and shams on sale. The quality is excellent! I adore this duvet cover, in a dusty grey and soft red paisley, (the sort of thing you’d pay three time as much for an antique version if you could even find it), $89-109.
The worst thing about flying? Tough to choose! But an overweight bag is a nasty surprise. Here’s a portable luggage scale. (We have one. It works!) $12.
I use Windex and Q-tips, but here’s a computer keyboard brush that looks like something from a Victorian hotel. Steampunk! $24.
I use candles and votives in every room of our home. I love their gentle, flickering light — a lovely way to wake up slowly on a cold winter’s morning or soothe yourself during a long bath or illuminate an intimate meal. This set of three, in white ceramic, resemble sea urchins, from one of my favorite catalogs, Wisteria; $19.
Oh, admit it…you’re dying for a little (maybe a lot of) cashmere. Feel less guilty if you buy it for your brother/father/sister/bestie (after getting one for yourself.) This V-neck sweater, a classic, is a delicious heathery teal; $225.
Speaking of cashmere, they call this thing a snood; I call it a cagoule. Either way, it’s a cozy, gorgeous way to wrap your throat from chilly gusts; in three soft colors, $108.
Can you resist a small fox door knocker? I can’t! $24
I love my Lamy fountain pen; this one is a sharp, matte black. $28.
These gold-plated Herve van der Straeten clip-on drop earrings are divine! Bold but organic. $376.
I serve on the volunteer board of the Writers Emergency Assistance Fund, and am proud that we’re able to help non-fiction writers facing financial crisis. We have absolutely no administration costs so every penny goes directly to the people who need our help. We can give up to $4,000, which we send out within a week of receiving and approving an application. Writers, no matter how talented or experienced, often live a somewhat precarious life financially. Please keep our culture thriving with a donation to WEAF!
If you’ve ever been to the Paris flea markets, you know what fun (and madness) they can be. I always score a few fab finds. Here’s the next best thing - a hardcover book with lots of photos and stories about them, from the elegant publishers Assouline; $75.
Scarf mavens, unite! I want this one, quite desperately, a mineral print in tones of blue, turquoise and brown, on silk, exclusively from one of my favorite shops in the world, Liberty of London; $120.
I do love the elegance of a silk pocket square; this one, in deep blues and blacks, is also from Liberty; $56.
Have you ever tasted tamarind? Here’s one of the world’s best gourmet/spice shops, Kalyustan’s, on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. Delight your favorite foodie or cook with a basket filled with exotic, hard-to-find ingredients — and hope for a dinner invitation!
Y’all know I’m a big fan of sending lovely thank-you notes. Check out these letterpress thank-you cards, made by a woman in Silicon Valley; $15.50
This creamy, dreamy soap, with a tangy citrus-y smell, is the signature fragrance of the five-star hotel Le Sireneuse on Positano and…swoon! We’ve been using it for the past month in our bathroom and the whole room smells divine. Eau d’Italie, a box of three bars; 36 euros.
And speaking of lovely scents, my favorite is Blenheim Bouquet, a man’s fragrance created in 1902 by the British firm Penhaligon’s. It’s crisp but rich, and I wear it year-round. “Reserved Victorianism, telegraph style. But fresh. Colonial lemon/lime meets Scarborough fair. Splendid, old boy,” says one reviewer; $136.68.
Shameless plug here; my latest book, “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail”, or a one-on-one coaching session on any aspect of writing, journalism or publishing — or perhaps a headshot by a Pulitzer-prize winning photographer who has photographed three Presidents (aka my husband, Jose)? Just the ticket for an ambitious pal (or one for yourself.)
Who doesn’t want a baby elephant? Sponsor an orphan through the Daphne Sheldrick Foundation. From $50.
This squid’s dangling arms — designed by a Swedish kite-surfer — offer a fun, funny way to gather and keep your shampoo, conditioner and body wash in one place; $36.