Anyone can go to the mall and swoop up some generic gifts. But no, not you. You’re a researcher, a hunter, a savvy shopper of the coolest, quirkiest, finest presents around.
Maybe you’re a bit crunched for time this year, though, so here are some ideas for gifts for the home:
Hostess gifts and stocking stuffers (under $20):
• Shopper tip: If you’re mall-averse and want to find something unusual, don’t overlook your local museum’s gift shop. Luckily you don’t have to go all the way to Los Angeles to visit the gift shop at that city’s Museum of Contemporary Art. We found art for the kitchen online in the form of a tea towel with an illustration of tools by artist Louise Bourgeois. ($19, www.mocastore.myshopify.com).
• Towels with designs representing any state in the union can be found at www.vestigesinc.com ($15).
• Kate Spade’s black-and-white mug with its sassy green lid will please latte lovers of all stripes. Pair it with a bag of local, fresh-roasted coffee beans (or loose-leaf tea or hot cocoa). A spill-free top keeps a generous 16 ounces of liquid piping hot ($18, www.katespade.com).
• You can’t beat the price of CB2’s 3-Piece Trio Vase Set. Three porcelain vases in organic shapes for less than $10? Two are glossy and one is matte, for contrast, and they arrive in a box ready for wrapping ($9.95, www.cb2.com).
• There are a ton of stylish new calendars out there, but for the cook or foodie, the clear winner is Florida-based Rifle Paper with its 6-by-9-inch Herbs and Spices calendar. Each month features an illustration of an herb or spice – such as cloves, ginger root and peppercorn – in its botanic form ($16, www.riflepaperco.com).
• Help the consummate host be ready for a guest’s every need with a set of four sustainable-bamboo toothbrushes from New York-based Izola. When said host saves a guest’s dental hygiene with these teeth sweepers, they’ll thank you for coming to the rescue ($12.50 for a set of four, www.izola.com).
Midrange gifts (under $50):
• For modernists, those in creative fields and all who have fun with fonts, Pentagram’s 2014 Typography Calendar, from Seattle bookstore Peter Miller, comes in first. Each month features a different typeface nominated by members of the Alliance Graphique Internationale ($30-$48, www.petermiller.com).
• Glitzy and glam, plated-glass ornaments from Serena & Lily would be gorgeous on and off a tree – pile them in a pretty bowl for a gifted centerpiece or string them across your own living room as a decorative present to yourself ($38 for three, www.serenaandlily.com).
• Forget the orchid; smart gift givers look to the unexpected, such as a Red Velvet echeveria. Terrain’s red-tinged succulent comes in a gray, lace-pressed pot ($28, www.shopterrain.com).
• In 2013, Italian designer Paola Navone turned her designer’s eye to the United States, first with bedroom textiles for Anthropologie, and then with tableware for Crate & Barrel. Our pick is her hammered-aluminum Como pitcher. Fill it with flowers for an extra-special presentation ($49.95. www.crateandbarrel.com).
• Forget wine, it’s craft beer that’s having a moment right now: Sales grew 14.1 percent in 2012 and are still rocketing through 2013.
Provide your nephew or any other brews aficionado with a set of tasting tumblers. The Libbey Craft Brew set has two each of six glasses: a classic pilsner, an English pub glass, a Belgian ale glass, a craft pub glass, a porter/stout glass and a wheat beer glass ($39.99, www.target.com).
• Give loved ones a set of stunning stainless-steel servers with mother-of-pearl handles, and they’ll think of your thoughtfulness and good taste whenever they dish up greens ($45, www.jaysonhome.com).
• Present the dark brown, oval Angenam bowl with candy, earrings or a trinket, and get someone started on a candy bowl, jewelry holder or dresser-top catch-all ($24.99, in stores only).
• Light up a loved one’s dark winter nights with a set of three cinnamon-bark tea lights from VivaTerra. Perforations in the bark let out the glow of candlelight, but the best part might be the way the flame’s warmth wafts the smell of cinnamon around a room ($39, www.vivaterra.com).
Splurges and special finds (under $100)
• What’s under your evergreen? A tree skirt from Terrain shows unexpected form, being that it’s a basket and not a traditional cloth.
Handwoven from natural fibers, the rustic basket skirt is perfect for a new couple’s first Christmas ($58, available in four color options, www.terrain.com).
• What dainty champagne flutes studded with dots, swirls and stripes lack in stems they make up in panache. Each holds 8 ounces, and a set of six comes in a ribbon-tied, hand-crafted wood crate.
Bonus: When not being used for celebrating, the flutes can double as bud vases ($78 for set of six, www.oliveandcocoa.com).
• Pile up some gourmet brie and bleu with this gift, and you’ll be the big cheese of any present-giving extravaganza.
The bamboo cheese board has rims on the sides for crackers and a hidden drawer with bamboo-and-stainless spreaders for a picnic on the go, or just on the coffee table. ($64.29, www.casa.com).
• Even the worst baker is sure to impress with cookies from Anthropologie’s ceramic White Rabbit jar. We imagine filling it with bunny-shaped sugar cookies. ($68, www. anthropologie.com).