by Kim Keller
Several years ago, Karen and I started a gift-giving tradition that we call “our favorite things.” It means that our gift ideas come from things we already own and love. We give each other items we’ve tested and wholeheartedly approve, rather than struggling to come up with unique gift ideas that may or may not hit the mark.
Like many people, we find this time of year to be particularly stressful, and we thought this “favorite things” concept might ease some of the strain that comes with the season. As it happens, we’ve had a lot of fun with this new tradition, so we thought we’d share it with you and give you a peek into some of our best-loved ideas over the years.
- Utility Canvas Bag: Karen and I are both crazy about bags, and we love, love, love this one. It’s sturdy and smartly designed. Our favorite feature is the pockets — there are three large ones on the outside and three more on the inside, making it easy for us to organize and find our stuff. We each take this bag with us everywhere we go.
- Glassbaby Candleholders: These little hand-blown glass votive candleholders are gorgeous when they’re lit. The soft glow is warm and soothing. Glassbabies come in all different colors, and our favorite is called Jane’s Caramel. There’s an interesting backstory: the founder of the company, Lee Rhodes, received the very first “glassbaby” from her husband, who had made this beautiful piece of glass art while she was undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Lee says that she found looking at the glowing candle to be “so peaceful and so healing” that it helped her through that difficult period. Soon, Lee’s friends started to ask for their own glassbabies, and the rest is history. It’s also a gift that keeps giving, because every time a glassbaby is sold, a donation is made to help a family dealing with cancer. Nice!
- White Flower Farm Amaryllis: Amaryllis flowers are both festive and fun. We enjoy watching the flowers grow and bloom, particularly in a glass container with the bulbs sitting on a little platform of stones. They are simply gorgeous. Although there are plenty of places to buy amaryllises, we like White Flower Farm because they have high-quality products.
- Dean & Deluca Salt Essentials Collection: Experimenting with these different salts while cooking is lots of fun. There are four selections: Pyramid-shaped Cyprus Flake Salt, Murray River Salt, Fleur de Sel and Himalayan Pink Salt. Each has a different taste and texture, and they’re all packaged in square glass jars that are very cool. This is a perfect gift for anyone who enjoys cooking. We love all the salts, but Murray River is our favorite one in the collection.
- Saltwater Canvas Bag: Technically this is a beach bag, but we actually use it for a lot more, because it’s lightweight yet durable, it’s easy to carry, and it has lots of pockets (and you know how we love pockets!). We like the way it looks, too.
- Frantoia Olive Oil: Yum! This extra virgin olive oil is so delicious! We particularly like it on salads or on a piece of Italian bread. We first discovered this olive oil in Joe’s Dairy, a tiny old-world, Italian cheese shop in New York City’s Soho district. The owner’s father pointed out the Frantoia on his shelf and told me, “That’s the good stuff.” Boy, was he ever right!
- Erin Condren Note Pads and Labels: All of Erin Condren’s stationery products are created with love and care. They are beautifully designed and crafted with the utmost attention to detail. Our favorite items are her notepads and her labels, which you can have personalized with your name or initials when you place your order online. Her products are all colorful and fun, and her labels make an ordinary envelope look special and even exciting.
- Eileen Fisher Flannel Sheets: These flannel sheets are fabulous! I never knew how crazy I was about flannel sheets until Karen gave me my first set. It’s the best part of winter. They are soft and cozy, and they’re nice and warm without being too heavy. You just feel so lovely and toasty inside them. This is a luxury not to be missed.
- Littlefield Bee Farm Honey: This bee farm is located on Block Island, off the southern coast of Rhode Island. They sell honey and honey candles. The Cinnamon Honey spread is delectable on a piece of toast or blended into a cup of tea. We also love the Solid Beeswax Pillar candle that not only looks beautiful when lit, but also has a deliciously lingering honey scent. Hmmm, so good!
- Peace Is Every Step: You’ve probably heard us mention this book before, but it’s truly one of our favorites, and worth mentioning again. This book, written by the Zen Buddhist monk, teacher and poet Thich Nhat Hanh, is beautiful in its simplicity and delivers a wonderful sense of calm. It’s the perfect book to keep at your bedside — the short little chapters make it easy to pick up and read anytime. We find the words soothing and restorative. It’s not easy to find inner peace in this world, but this book is a good place to start.
Karen and I have enjoyed this gift-giving tradition so much that we’ve expanded our circle of participants to other friends and loved ones. There is something a little bit more exciting about giving a gift that you already know to be wonderful. You’re not just exhibiting your love and generosity; you’re sharing a little bit of yourself as well.
Kim Keller is the Co-Founder of In Care of Dad. She lives and works in New York City.
Gift wrapped and photographed by Karen Keller Capuciati.