Are you, like me, thrilled every year when the time rolls around for the Internet to publish its Gift Guides, thereby lightening your load, getting your shopping done in one fell swoop, and making you feel creative, resourceful and thoughtful, even though you never left your desk? I find them to be such a relief (the ones from Design*Sponge, Cup of Jo, Oh Happy Day, and Mighty Goods are especially good).
This year, I thought I'd try my hand at a gift guide, specifically tailored to things one might covet for the kitchen or the dining table or the cookbook shelf, in other words, any area of the home that involves cooking or eating or reading about cooking and eating, since, you know, that's all any of us really want to be doing at any given time, right? Right?
1. Tell your little sister enough already with the paper napkins, even if IKEA does produce them in such adorable colors. These Skinny Laminx "Orla" napkins from South Africa will make her dinner table look grown up and smart.
2. Any of the wooden cake stands that Herriot Grace makes are gorgeous (not to mention everything else in their shop). But there is one little problem: if you're lucky enough to get your hands on one (they're sold out at the moment, I'm sorry), I'm not sure you'll be able to give it away. Still, it'd get you in good with your mother for years, if she's the cake-baking type.
3. Buy one of Amco's metal lemon squeezer for your dad, your father-in-law, your brother, heck, any of the men in your life. I don't know a single man who doesn't love this bright, clanky thing. I recently switched from a wooden reamer to this lemon squeezer and I do declare it to be my favorite kitchen utensil, hands down. It's so satisfying to use and the little inside-out lemons it leaves behind make everybody laugh.
4. Bee House's Kyoto teapot in day-brightening turquoise is just one of those artful objects that dress up any breakfast table or work spot, wherever your mother-in-law and her impeccable taste takes her spot of tea.
5. A chic wooden Mayfair candlestick or two, for your brother's first apartment. Maybe it'll get him to turn off his halogen tower left over from college.
6. Would your mother rather be reading than baking cakes? Get her Milk by Anne Mendelson. It's a fascinating and comprehensive history of our relationship with milk, along with mouthwatering recipes from all over the world. She'll never drink milk the same way again. Who knows, she might even find herself elbow-deep in homemade cheese one day. But no pressure.
7. This one's for the grandchildren. Be diligent about writing down your favorite recipes on these beautiful recipe cards from Rifle Paper Co. and one day you''ll have the best heirloom ever to pass on. (Here's the matching wooden box to store them in.)
8. I find scrubbing potatoes, squash and other vegetables to be rather mind-numbing work. But if you got to pull on a pair of fire-orange, rough-palmed, Cooper-Hewitt rubber gloves to do that work, or go even farther and peel those vegetables, wouldn't you feel like a million bucks? I thought so. A great gift for the reluctant cook in your life.
9. Much has been written about the glory of the Canal House Cooking series, from the beautiful photography and food styling to the deeply delicious recipes, and all of it is true. These books are total gems and not so precious that you can't get them spattered in the kitchen and dog-eared by the bedside table. For your best friend still mourning the demise of Gourmet.
10. The old Russian tea company, Kusmi, has been given a rather luxe makeover as of late. But their teas are still wonderful, either loose in pretty tins or packed into gorgeous little muslin tea bags. My favorite at the moment is Kusmi Boost, a spicy green tea blend packed with cardamom pods, ginger, and orange peel. For your boss or your favorite neighbor and, while you're at it, get a tin for yourself, too.
11. Do you have a smallish person in your life who likes to cook? Chances are they've spent their entire cooking lives looking for an apron that will fit. So get them this Fog Linen apron, because good aprons for smallish people can be terrifically hard to find.