For an inexpensive, simple but useful item that makes a statement, try the playful Animal House line of kitchen gadgets by Boston Warehouse. Their Monkey Peeler ($8) is becoming quite the celeb. $5.99 - $18.00
For the winelover, pick up one of Silverlake Wine's custom designed wine journals. These notebooks have pre-selected categories to ease the fear of the blank page. There is also plenty of space to indulge creativity. $12
For the connoisseur, enroll them in one of SW's wine clubs. The Front Table Club starts at just $25/month.
If you opt for simply a bottle of estate wine or small-batch liquor instead, wrap it in a charming single-bottle environmentally friendly 100% cotton reusable Maptote wine tote. $12
For the coffee drinker/design nut, give one [or a color palette set] of Pantone coffee mugs. Available at Show in Los Feliz (along with MANY other fine products). $14
My favorite glassware (that years later I still haven't bought myself!) are Heath Ceramics' wine punt glasses. Made from recycled wine bottles, these tumblers are both rustic and chic. $15 set/2
For the host, check out the book Forking Fantastic: Put The Party Back in Dinner Party by Zora O'Neill and Tamara Reynolds, two veterans of the New York food world showcasing their very best recipes and how to focus on the practical joys of down-to-earth entertaining at home.
For the chef with a sense of whimsy, give the gift of color with Pure Komachi 2 Series knives. A subsidiary of Shun, Komachi 2 pulls its weight in the knife world, impressing critics despite its playful aesthetic. The stainless-steel knives each feature a different colored non-stick blade that runs right through the handle.
All under $20! $6.99 - $19.99 each ($89.99 set)
Slow Food Nation by Carlo Petrini (with cover by Nikki McClure) outlines many different routes by which we may take back control of our food. The three central principles of the Slow Food plan are: food must be sustainably produced in ways that are sensitive to the environment, those who produce the food must be fairly treated, and the food must be healthful and delicious. Guidelines any true food lover should abide by! $20
For your favorite Russian baker, get these Matryoshka Measuring Cups ($28), available at Anthropologie. [I was originally going to featur this more modern/designy version by M-Cups ($12), but they seem to be sold out everywhere until the new year!]
For the serious cook, enhance their cookware collection sustainably with a piece of La Chamba black earthen cookware. La Chambaware is hand made earthenware pottery, keeping food moist as it cooks, and easy to clean. You can use it in the oven, directly on the stove top, and even in the microwave. Each piece is unique. No two pieces are identical. Available via La Chamba's website; A small selection is available at Kelly Green Design. from $34
A winsome design indulgence would be the Kippis Tray by Marimekko, Finland. This fetching pattern designed by Maija Louekari is actually fabric pressed into plywood, for a unique handmade effect. Available in NYC and online from Scandinavian Grace. Other Marimekko products available at Plastica and Reform School. $48
Or my personal favorite, the gift of food! Homemade liquor infusions are easy as pie, and an indulgent tasty gift. Make Rosemary Limoncello or Bourbon Pear Butter if you're feeling kitchen-crafty, otherwise go to one of these amazing shops and compile a basket of culinary delights:
The Cheese Store of Silverlake
Joan's on Third
The Oaks Gourmet
The Alpine Village (Torrance, CA)
Galco's Soda Pop Stop (Stumped? Get a dozen bottles of rose flavored soda!)
Most importantly, have fun! Don't forget to enjoy the spirit of giving.
"No Chocolate for Xmas" illustration by Stuart Kolakovic