Gifts to buy in bulk (so you’re prepared)
We’ve all been there. You’re headed to a party, or a friend drops by with a gift, and there you are, empty handed as a Vegas loser. Next, you’re tap dancing, or dashing like Dancer to the back of a cupboard rummaging for that disliked gift you got last year to regift. You try to convince yourself that the next recipient will truly love the snowman with a snow-globe stomach featuring a scene of ice skaters, or that rednose reindeer apron with the antlers and little red light highlighting awkward places.
Let me help you out. This time of year, you need to come bearing gifts. Chances are you will forget someone or some occasion, so stock up! I have learned the hard way. Now every year at this time I start surfing the web looking for gifts I can buy in bulk for hostesses, teachers, colleagues and friends. I aim to have a handful of allpurpose holiday gifts wrapped and ready.
Since I prefer not to contribute to the consumptive excess already going on, I avoid gifts of candy or alcohol. Rather, I seek out items for the home that are useful, decorative, festive, and that I like, too, in case I have any gifts left over.
Donna Garlough, style director for Joss & Main, a Boston-based online retailer, adds one more condition. When buying a home décor gift, stay “style agnostic,” she says. That is, steer clear of a specific look, like shabby chic, French country, old world or rustic, and don’t pick a polarizing color, like hot pink.
“You want to make sure the hostess doesn’t have to fake liking it,” she adds.
So this year I checked into some old favorites and some new finds. Here are a few of my favorite things:
I stumbled across Jenny David’s linen line (www.henhouselinens.com) a few years ago, and her cocktail napkins have since become my favorite go-to hostess gift. At home I use her dinner napkins and placemats almost daily. The fabric softens with age and washings, but it holds its great look. I don’t think you can go wrong with her line of holiday guest towels, $12 each. I spoke with David the other day and she told me her personal favorites this year are the holiday kitchen towel sets: merry and bright, and mix and mingle. Enter promotion code Marnifriends for 30 percent off all items.
Who can’t use a touch of good luck? When Garlough shared her list of favorite holiday gifts from Joss & Main (www.jossandmain.com) with me, the Wishbone Paperweight jumped out of the lineup. This item, an unexpected touch of whimsy, is style neutral, sculptural and upbeat. I like how the accent piece elevates the common wishbone, a light-hearted symbol of hope, by enlarging it and gilding the iron base in antique goldleaf. “Metallic finishes are always a safe bet,” says Garlough, whose company, an offspring of Wayfair, targets millennials. Available in three sizes, the smallest one, at fiveinches ($28.95), makes a great desk accessory. Anyone who has brought home a batch of pinescented potpourri that smells like Pinesol knows: Not all home fragrance products are created equal. Some trip an instant headache, or a gag reflex. (Candles that smell like mashed potatoes? Ugh.) However, all the scents from Thymes (www.thymes.com) pass my finicky smell test — nothing cloying or nauseating. This time of year, the Frasier Fir home fragrance products, which Thymes spokeswoman Amy Banks describes as “just-cut forest,” strikes the perfect nasal notes. Thymes offers the signature seasonal scent in candles (the company’s number one seller, $29), soaps and, my favorite, reed diffusers ($50). The triple-milled hand soap with white ceramic wood grain soap dish ($20) is perfect for the powder room. If you shop at thymes.com, use the Marni10 promotion code for 10 percent off.
“If you want to bring the gift of cheer, these are perfect,” says Meredith Mahoney, founder and design director of Birch Lane (www.birchlane.com), a Boston-based online retailer of traditional home decor. I like these stemless glasses not only for their gold-star sparkles, but also for their entertainment-friendly shape. Unlike traditional wineglasses, these are not top heavy, and thus more likely to stay upright when the party gets hopping. A set of four costs $32. Cheers!
Stemless wine glasses.