Friday, November 23, 2007

Holiday Gift Guide

Here at Pimm's O'Clock we like to think that everyone knows just the right gifts to buy everyone else. But this isn't so, and there's no time when it manifests itself more than the holidays — we all know that someone who wears Bad Holiday Sweaters (without a sense of irony) gives gifts that are just as poorly considered as their choice of holiday garb, and sometimes buying for someone a generation removed can be a difficult endeavor. Below are suggestions for appropriate holiday gifts, and all deliver, so with a click of a button, good taste can arrive on someone's doorstep.

Jewel Bud Vases, Red Envelope

Channel Venice with handmade, mouth-blown glass bud vases. They're sized for single flowers, at 2 3/4" high. The set of six includes amber, pink, red, purple, blue, and green, and are so cute you don't even need to fill them with flowers to make an aesthetic statement.


Traveling Martini Set, Barnes & Noble

One never knows when one might need to whip up a martini — made by Picnic at Ascot, this set is perfect to bring to picnics, family reunions, or anywhere a surreptitious drink may be in order. The hard case contains an 8 oz. cocktail shaker, double jigger, funnel, 3 oz. flask, two olive sticks and two 3 1/2 oz. martini glasses.


Herringbone Chesire Jacket, J. Crew

My love for J. Crew is no secret, and this jacket may just be the most perfect article of clothing I have ever seen from them. It comes in four colors, but the obvious choice is tomato — what better way to get in the holiday spirit than wearing this confection of a coat. The shape is adorable but the ribbon ruffle around the neck is the icing on the cake.


Making It New: The Art and Style of Sara and Gerald Murphy, Amazon

I've written about this pair before — an American expatriate artist couple, the Murphys were friends with the Picassos, Hemingways and Fitzgeralds, among other luminaries. The book explores the Murphys' lives through pictures and text, and the well-heeled couple are inspirations for budding sophisticates. The Murphys' lives were not all fun and games, and Making It New, like the exhibit it is based on, balances the triumphs and tragedies they faced.


Cherry Blossom Thank You Notes, Crane & Co.

These Cherry Blossom notes from Kate Spade are ideal — especially for Washingtonians — to send to a gracious note to gift-givers. I compulsively buy stationery, since I think there's nothing better than a hand-written note, and Ms. Spade makes some of my favorite paper products. Not to mention one of the cutest web sites I've ever seen.

$25/10 notes

D.C. Chocolate Tour, Après Peau

For literal good taste, with a Washington angle, these chocolate bars are perfect to send to out-of-town friends. There are two sets, and bars bear names like "Washington Monumint," "Key Bridge Key Lime," and "Rose Garden Raspberry."

$25/4 bars

Edith Wharton, by Hermione Lee, Barnes & Noble

Ms. Wharton was an arbiter of good taste, having written books on home decoration in addition to her novels and travel books. Hermione Lee's autobiography, which I am reading, does justice to one of the great writers of the turn of the century. The Times (of London) calls the book "epic and definitive," and it's a must-have for any Wharton aficionado. Lee is also known for her biography of Virginia Woolf.


Flensted Mobile, Shop The Escape

These mobiles are made by the Flensted family on a Danish island, and are whimsical without being insubstantial. This one, Turning Leaves, is Calder-esque and beautiful. Their website offers a number of mobiles, from the most popular Elephant Party to sailboats to angels and Christmas trees.


Marc Chagall Illustrated Bible, Amazon

Since Christmas is — in theory, if not in practice — a religious holiday, why not pick up a copy of Marc Chagall's illustrated Bible? It covers Genesis, Exodus, and the Song of Solomon and features Mr. Chagall's beautiful illustrations. I saw a copy at the Papyrus store at Pentagon City, but it is also available on Amazon.


British Tea Sampler, Williams-Sonoma

Tea is a requirement for the end of any good dinner party, and therefore makes a terrific hostess gift during the holiday season. This tea sampler is a selection of earl grey, jasmine, darjeeling, and English breakfast blends, and the sixteen individual sachets come in a pyramid-shaped box. The teas come in a storage chest with the history of each tea printed on the underside of the lid.


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