I think particularly post-pandemic we are all more concentrated on using our time and resources with thought and purpose, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, it is about time to re-think gift giving. My husband and I stopped giving gifts just for the sake of giving a gift years ago. I am certain most of you have too.
However, there are occasions where an actual gift is in order, and that can be a challenge. As we are coming up on the holidays, I thought it would a good thing to share some of my go-to’s.
Book at Street art or Food tour
We took a street art tour the first time we visited Colombia. It was a great way to be introduced to Bogota, and it was a reasonable price. If you visit, the tour was Crisp’swalking tour—highly recommend. We’re booking a food tour of Rome with Toni Brancatisano for an upcoming trip. It is city I know fairly well, but there’s always something new to see. Why not book one in your city as a gift to a friend or family member you want to spend time with? Noting that depending where you live this might be easy or quite a challenge. I find this is an enjoyable way to spend a morning or afternoon with friends or family, learn something new about your town and support a local business. Other similar ideas are a cooking class, painting class or whatever else tailored to your interest. The point is to use your time well, do something fun and support a local business.
For the reader on your gift list
Gifting someone who appreciates a good book a first edition or signed edition is a fantastic add to their book collection. I know you’re thinking --thanks for this tip Paul, but I don’t have a budget for that. Neither do I, so please stick with me here. My go to is Peter Harrington. I discovered this incredible 4-story shop in Fulham London decades ago. They also have a location in Mayfair. This shop started with a stall at Kings Road antiques market in 1969 and has grown into something special. All their staff are friendly and experts in rare books and prints, despite this, there’s no antique shop snobbiness found here. They love what they do, and it shows in how you are treated when you shop there. Although my eyes always go to items such as a first edition signed copy of Ian Flemming’s Diamonds are Forever, unfortunately the price of 45,000 GBP is a bit steep for my wallet.
Their on-line shop of course boasts an incredible selection of rare books and prints, but you would be surprised what you can find for in the range of under 200 GBP. And when the Crypto crowd try to convince you you’re missing out by not buying a NFT artwork (which anyone can screen grab for free) for 300K, let’s face it, a rare print by Gustav Klimpt for 2000 GBP is a steal!
I’ve added signed first editions by Peter Ackroyd, John le Carré and Christopher Isherwood all for very reasonable prices to my bookshelves. You can purchase mail order, and what I love about this shop is that they treat you with a high level of personal service even if you aren’t spending thousands. Bonus tip, sign up on their mailing list. They have occasional sales as they often inherit large collections. Happy hunting!
There are plenty of options here, but donating to a charity that is dear to the recipients interests is always a thoughtful idea. There are too many that I could name here, and I don't want to be partial, so I will leave that you to consider. Think local and support your community.
Small but special gifts
Sometimes it is nice to gift something that’s a bit of small indulgence that the recipient wouldn’t get for themselves. There are numerous suggestions one can make here, but I narrowed down to three personal favorites. I would encourage you to explore options with locally owned small businesses. While the following are not exactly small business, they have their roots in small and family owned businesses, and have grown through the years.
Leave it to me as a liquorice lover to discover this one--luxury liquorice. First opened in Svaneke Denmark, you can find this shop sprouting up in Europe and small gift shops throughout the United States. They craft liquorice with care the way a wine maker would and it’s something different to give. They offer mail order on their website. They also offer gift boxes with your company logo on it if you are a business sending baskets to clients. The Salty #2 is a favorite here, but I think you will enjoy exploring their vision of making the world learn to love liquorice!
Founded in 1854, this company was family run for 130 years and four generations as a wholesale only tea company. They transformed to retail in 1983, and if you’ve visited Paris, I have likely recommended their shop and tea-salon in the Marais to you. Mariage Frères is considered an expert in the composition of «mélanges». Their blends, executed in the tradition of erudite and enigmatic perfumes, are the cornerstone of its ancestral savoir-faire.They sell in department stores outside of their stores in Paris: in Berlin (Galleries Lafayette), London (Selfridges) and numerous stores in Japan, of course you can order online outside of Europe. Their teas are a great gift.
There are several bio/sustainable farms which produce delicious gift baskets, this happens to be one of my personal favorites. This biodynamic, organic farm and winery is family run. They took over an existing farm, rescuing it from abandon in 1978. If you visit Tuscany, you can visit their farm. Info on the website. Their products are not sold in any stores, but they do have a few marketplaces they run in EU and you can order on line in North America and Europe. Their farm boasts the most used Demeter (the brand for certified products from Biodynamic Farming) in Europe. Their wines are fantastic and have won a number of prestigious awards, including this year claiming for the 8th time in a row, "International Wine Producer of the Year" at the Mundus Vini Biofach.If you love wine, you need to order a case from them, you won't regret it. Also this year, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), together with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) chose Fattoria La Vialla as one of the #GenerationRestoration actors for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem.
With that, whatever holiday/s you celebrate at this season, I wish you and yours well