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075: Low-risk, high-reward gifts
Part II of IV.
The second edition of Magasin’s gift series is more forgiving than the first. It does what most reasonable guides aim to do in this situation, which is to please.
While it’s understandable that a subversive pool float or pre-mudded door mat might not find a natural home in your recipient circles, the following list is guaranteed to close the chasm that so often exists between parties of such an exchange. Wouldn’t it be great if all gifts could do as these do and match the joy of giving to the joy of receiving (even without hints being dropped along the way)?
While I generally refuse to set criteria and prefer to intuit these types of things, there are a few common threads that make the following gifts crowd-pleasers. Immediate visual delight, usefulness, and packaging are all important gifting considerations that this list easily fulfills.
Please enjoy the second installment in Magasin’s four-part gifting week, below.
The brainchild of Cairo-born sisters Laila, food artist, and Nadia, painter, Gohar World launched this year and immediately established itself within the gift-giving canon. Its whimsical tablewares and dining paraphernalia—you’ve seen the baguette bag, the egg chandelier, the bottle apron—land with a laugh, and upon closer inspection, an appreciation for craft. This buttoned-together shirt tablecloth required some explanation when I gifted it to family members this summer, but in seeing a subsequent Gohar World mention in the Times, the recipients were afforded the chance to be part of the brand’s unique contribution to the zeitgeist.
As with most of the other names on this list, Hudson Wilder’s short, partially tinted glasses are a gateway product to the brand, the rest of its exceptional lineup equally vibrant yet mature. Characterized by their swerving hips, Hudson Wilder's glassware borrows from the mid-century codes of our grandparents (founder Conway Liao got his inspiration for the brand in an Upstate antique shop), but the ending effect, especially when arranged in tipsy stacks, is of the ebullient now.
An Acne scarf is not just a universal gift, it’s evergreen, too. Twenty twenty-two marks the umpteenth consecutive winter of the Swedish brand’s stand as lingua franca in the discourse of good taste, and its quintessential accessory is again its dominant vernacular. Past iterations to capture the public’s desire have included a gray-and-white graphic logo print and a saturated plaid with an oversized care tag-style print, but this subtler execution of those celebrated elements—a sumptuous wool blend and creatively presented branding—affords the wearer a sense of scarcity.
Dipping on one side of the lip like a wry smile, this wine cooler knows its place: as an elegant facilitator of inebriation. With a double-walled construction, it’s less “cooler” than “maintainer”—whatever temperature the bottle inserted starts at, this device will retain until the party’s well past done. With a matching lid curving like a lily petal, the basin won’t collect dust in between uses, and will exist as an unobtrusive sculpture in the recipient’s home until its next assignment.
While the trend for home ware brands seems to be infantilizing buyers (“these are not your mother’s fitted sheets”), Tekla is refreshingly age- and generation-agnostic. Plucking the best ideas from the landscape of domestic design, Tekla’s energetic yet trend-immune pieces are made to withstand the passage of time, in both constitution and style. A soothing sailor-stripe towel set like this one exemplifies the brand’s ability to conjure precise references (coastal Brittany, Jean Paul Gaultier’s mariniére collections) and emotional responses with only the lightest hand, an effect that can only deepen and mature as the years go by.
It’s a highly fantastical plot: A team of produce obsessives introduce hives of bees to the far-flung gardens of some of the world’s best-known celebrities in order to harvest honey with a unique, A-list fingerprint, which they sell for $250 a jar. Flamingo Estate’s limited-edition honeys bare the terroir of Will Farrell’s Laurel Canyon grounds and Julianne Moore’s Montauk estate, but it’s Ai Wei Wei’s Montemor-o-Nova, Portugal-cultivated sap, with tasting notes of Portugal lavender and olive, that promises the most monumental outcome of all the hives. The extravagant, celebrity-touting honeys direct 100% of proceeds to the icons’ charities of choice, but for comparable products with mortal price tags, Flamingo Estate’s core honey offerings begin at $37.
A hand-blown glass teardrop with a slender green stopper, like a vial some erstwhile alchemist would have kept, flush with elixir, on his bedside table, is a gift in and of itself. Filled with a simple concoction of jojoba, argan, lavender, and peppermint oils, the bottle would not be out of place in a fantasy video game, handed to the protagonist by a kindly NPC: “Take this. You might need it later. It’s a hard world out there.” The gifted may anoint themself, daubing the oil onto their pressure points for tension relief, peppermint stimulating and cooling the skin while lavender quiets the mind.
These wine glasses followed me around for months (at the brand’s LA outpost, at a friend’s lunch, in un-tagged images I screenshotted from Instagram) before I realized my unconscious was seeking them out. The thin glass is a pleasure to handle, in clockwise turns and in taking sips, and a comfortable, unfussy size for whites or reds or bubbles. At $34 a unit, they were worth every penny for swapping out our too-large crystal, and now it’s my turn to be part of your own Hawkins wine glass haunting.
Not knowing how a single skincare element might jibe with a recipient’s established lineup, why not give them the gift of a fresh roster? These parsley seed-based potions are meant for morning and/or evening, include a gentle cleanser, alcohol-free toner, and an antioxidant serum suitable even for sensitive skin, and are contained in Aesop’s trademark amber bottles that make for handsome additions to a bathroom counter or cabinet.
Invoking the cocoons of both a turn-of-century Man of the House and a fledgeling butterfly, this Homecoat is a lesson in reconciliation: heft with lightness (solid construction, poly filling encased in an airy blend of cotton and linen), insularity with sociability (as the name suggests, it’s meant to be worn in the home, but looks put-together enough for the errant visitor), coziness with regality (this coat is, in essence, a wearable duvet, but the cinematic colorways—references range from red rock canyons to vintage varsity jackets—and kimono-style construction fend off any feelings of slovenliness).
The luminous orange of this French press’ glass will be the visual first line of attack against the recipient’s morning bleariness, shortly reinforced by the chemical agent the device is designed to extract with ease. The tactile pleasure of its cylindrical, copper pulley and the drawn-out gesture of its handle, mirroring a luxurious morning stretch, will delight whether in action or at rest, refracting honeyed light onto the countertop.
Even if you are a good enough friend to gift a whole croissant bag, Lemaire’s mini-sized croissant coin purse may still be the more dynamic option. Substantial enough to carry alone like a sort of tomboy-ish clutch, yet discrete should you wish to migrate it from tote to tote, this to-scale leather “pastry” can feed many hungry hearts.
The best gifts are often those that the recipient doesn’t realize they need until after they’ve been inextricably enmeshed into their life. This sheepskin hot water bottle cover, exquisitely soft with tightly curled fur, might fill that unrecognized void. It’s sophisticated enough to transform a five-dollar drugstore hot water bottle into a permanent fixture within the recipient’s sheets.
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Graphics by Em Seely Katz