For the home
There’s nothing nicer than a set of unusual and stylish plates — for hors d’oeuvres, salad, dessert — to complement your everyday china. These four black plates, all different and each resembling the face of a vintage watch, are stunning; new this season from Pottery Barn, $50,00.
I love ZaraHome’s products, newly available this fall in the U.S. These purple paisley towels are gorgeous and unusual, $18.90 for hand towels, $59.00 for the bath towel.
This 15.5 inch square throw pillow isn’t cheap — at $87 — but looks like something three times the price, embroidered in cream on white, also from ZaraHome. Pretty for the bedroom, or a nice touch on the sofa.
A glossy olive green enamel thermometer, made in France, $28, is a nice touch for your window; imported by Boston-based entrepreneur Kit Mitchell.
These 8″ plates — each painted in rich jewel tones in a geometric pattern — are $60, from Mothology, a fantastic house wares, lighting and furniture site with a vintage look.
I love an array of pierced-metal lanterns scattered throughout my living room, like these. Nothing sets so romantic and calming a mood.
Here’s a terrific small lantern, with a glass lining, that’s round, soft, weathered green cut-work metal and looks like it was discovered at some Mongolian archeological dig. From Mothology, $34.oo.
This black burn-out velvet dress — something Lady Mary from Downton Abbey might wear — is spendy but exquisite; $554.73, from Plumo, one of my favorite women’s wear websites.
These metallic silver slippers are pretty enough to wear outside the bedroom; from ZaraHome, $49.90.
Oooooh la la! These red and black panties, $52, from Bergdorf Goodman, are to die for.
If she has pierced ears, these stunners from Swarovski, $75, are a great choice; (in my photo on this site’s Welcome page, I’m wearing them.) In gray crystal, they’re a gorgeous neutral elegant enough for evening but simple enough for day. I get compliments every time I wear them.
I love this Timex watch — with a Hudson Bay striped band, in classic primary colors. These are the colors of the classic “point blankets” introduced by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1780 to trade with Canadian natives.
If you’re going to wear a warm hat, go for a tuque, (pronounced took); this one has the insignia of the Montreal Canadiens, aka the Habs. If you can get through a Montreal winter, you’ve survived some serious cold. From Canadian retailer Roots, $30.00.
If you’re looking for a messenger bag, this is it! A man walking his dinosaur, $48.00, from Etsy seller Matt Snow.
A soft indigo henley is a classic; $59.50 from J. Crew.
I discovered this fast-paced word game this past summer. So fun!
Need help with your snow-ball-making skills? Buy this, $7.50.
Can you really bear to leave home without travel Scrabble? The classic holiday-at-home sanity-saver, $39.00.
Build your own cardboard biplane, from the fab Japanese chain store Muji, $12.50.
For pure pleasure
These handmade marbled papers from Thailand are gorgeous — use them to cover a lampshade, line a picture frame or wrap gifts. (I got this paper from Papyrus and painted some plain frames to match it.)
Do you know the extraordinary scents of Paris-based Diptyque? Try a candle for $60.
I love this seasoning, from Penzeys’ spices, whose selection is mindboggling.
A box of Jacques Torres chocolates. Yum! $36.00.
For a good cause
Who wouldn’t like to adopt an orphaned baby elephant? Through the work of Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who runs a foundation in Kenya, you can.
You can help prevent malaria — for $5 — by buying a bednet, through this organization.
This is the writers’ aid organization on whose volunteer board I serve; we can write a check of up to $4,000 within a week to established non-fiction writers who meet our criteria.
Please consider helping writers in your charitable giving this year!
BONUS: I’ll send you a signed copy of my new book “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” — for you or as a gift, signed to someone else — if you donate $25 or more to WEAF, the writers’ aid organization listed above. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address; checks should be made out to the Writers’ Emergency Assistance Fund, or you can donate directly to WEAF, here.