December 7, 2011
Good wine glasses break. It’s one of the certainties of life. And a reason why wine glasses make such great gifts: Almost nobody doesn’t need them.
But what if they didn’t? What if you could find crystal stemware that didn’t shatter when you dropped them or come out of the dishwasher covered in scratches?
They actually exist. Korin’s elegant shatter-resistant crystal glasses are both delicate and tough. I banged one on the floor and it remained magically intact. I could hardly believe it.
The glasses aren’t cheap: $150 for a set of six. On the other hand, they could last a lifetime – and that’s an awful lot of toasts.
December 6, 2011
A Small Cast Iron Skillet
The most-used pan in my kitchen isn’t a fancy one with a designer label. It didn’t require a loan, and it doesn’t have a scientific- sounding name. But my 6 1/2 inch Lodge cast iron skillet withstands high temperatures, retains heat, and has given me at least thirty years of nonstick cooking. I couldn’t live without it. I use it to toast spices, roast nuts and I reach for it every time I fry myself an egg.
Lots of people have large, much-cherished and well-seasoned cast iron skillets (they are, after all, almost essential for frying chicken), but the small ones are much rarer, which is why they make such swell presents. I have a hard time coming up with a better low-cost gift ($10.95).
December 5, 2011
An Indoor Garden
I've explored a lot of indoor urban farming options, and so far I like Windowfarms best. This hydroponic gardening system hangs in your window looking lovely as it grows herbs and lettuces using nutrients supplied by an automated system (there is no soil). It would make a spectacular gift for any passionate locavore.
But if you order in the next couple of days, you’ll be giving more than one gift. The Brooklyn-based business is trying to raise enough money to start manufacturing the systems in the United States. ($99 gets you the standard kit, $169 gets you a two-column version, and the options continue from there.)
The first kits won’t be sent until next March, but if you buy them as Christmas gifts your friends will get personalized cards from Windowfarms by December 24th. It will welcome them to the windowfarming community – and give them something to look forward to.
December 4, 2011
I started looking for vintage tablecloths in thrift stores because they were portable, light, cheap…and nobody else seemed to want them. When I began giving them away I discovered that I was wrong. They are light, portable and easy to pack, but people really do want them. They make terrific gifts.
I’ve given most of mine away, so now I find myself actively seeking them out. The Vintage Table has a wonderful collection of linens dating from the 1930’s to the 1970’s, and ranging from the humorous (think turquoise cows) to the ornamental (think shabby strawberries or simple stripes). Priced anywhere from $10 to $500, each one is lovingly described and pictured.
If you match each tablecloth to the recipient’s personality they become a kind of giant greeting card. Cheerful, personal and sometimes funny they have the added virtue of being useful.
December 3, 2011
State-Shaped Cutting Boards
You can never have too many cutting boards, which is why they make such great gifts. But the bamboo cutting boards from AHeirloom (a husband and wife duo from Brooklyn) are especially charming because they come shaped like every state in the Union. (They’ll also design any country, island, or landmass by special request.)
This would make a great (and inexpensive) gift for anyone who's passionate about his geographical roots. So know your audience. Texans will invariably be delighted. People from Delaware? Maybe not so much.
Keep in mind, too, that you'll get more chopping done on Kansas than California. Although the skinny states do very well for serving cheese and salume.
The cutting boards are custom-made, so you don't have a lot of time. Holiday orders are only taken until December 9th.