Presents. We like to call them presents. Do High WASPs give a certain kind of Christmas present? Is everything monogrammed, crystal, silver, or very, very old? Featuring horses? Greyhounds? Plaid?
Luckily, no. Mostly, like everyone, we want to give our friends and family things they might like to have. We ask each other, before Christmas, “What do you want?” “Well, what do YOU want” “What are you getting for Sister A?” “Do you think Brother-In-Law B will like this?” And, of course, what about Mom, Dad, Mom’s husband, Dad’s wife? Sometimes we give Hanukkah presents. Cultures do change. Thank goodness.
Our exchanges are pretty practical. Especially since the family fortune dwindled and the Dow Jones entered this long drought. Imagine an almost empty grain silo, wind whistling, chaff blowing. Please excuse the slight exaggeration. But the days when I gave friends silver Tiffany cigarette cases, plane tickets to London, and diamond earrings? Gone.
The point is to get somebody something they want, not something you want to give.
As it turns out, everyone, sometimes, does just want the best blue cashmere sweater, the most comfortable pair of slippers, or a good way to connect to the Internet. A femme’s friend Robert agrees. Quirky, unique presents are sometimes more fun to read about than to receive. Here are my suggestions for things your friends and family might really want.
1. Alphabet earrings from Catbird $40 each earring
Catbird says these are their #1 seller. I’m not surprised. We High WASPs especially like words and letters. Not that we are in any way responsible for Catbird’s success, of course. These could make a nice untraditional monogram, especially if you got that third hole pierced. I think I’d wear a “Y” in one ear, and an “N” in the other. Yes and No. Because that’s how I feel about most everything.
2. Bracelet from Scosha $169
Our artsy cousin likes presents that remind her of the days of safaris, caravans, wild travel. String a little diamond on some silk fishing line and go to the opera.
3. Monogrammed necklace from Catbird $300
Because classics are classic for good reason. Beautiful. Unfortunately, this takes 3-5 weeks to produce. Oops. Know anyone with a January birthday? But this one can be had in 2 weeks for $240. Just enough time, if you like to live dangerously.
Bow created under Creative Commons license from cuttlefish’s Flickr photostream.
4. Handmade Minimalist Wallet by Makr Carry Goods $65
Men are very particular about wallets. Some of them just want a place to stash a few cards, a license, and some cash. The coins of course will wind up in a mug under the telephone, on top of the TV, or denting your silver Tiffany’s bowl. Love is worth it.
5. Blue Pearl Wedge Tote from scabbyrobot at etsy $88
How to get that click of yes for less. Love the soft, sophisticated blue leather. Hate her store name so much that I can barely stand to read sca….Nope.
6. More Men’s Slippers Than You Know What To Do With. From LL Bean $49.95
A tradition. One year we gave my father 4 different pairs of slippers., thinking we were hysterically funny. Sheepskin-lined slippers. Delicious as chocolate chips in oatmeal cookies. Feet in love. Meaning of luxury.
7. Built By Wendy Black Fishnet Sweater $105 (reduced from $150)
We’re apt to have a black sweater or two already. And still might ask for another come present time.
8. John W. Nordstrom Crewneck Cashmere Men’s Sweater $155
Extremely high quality, very soft. My son says people pat him when he wears his. Always a good thing, patting. This sweater fills a very nice niche between Neiman Marcus, Tse, and Pringle high-end stuff, and Bloomingdale’s $79 fuzzies that give up the ghost almost immediately. I’m picky about cashmere and I like it.
9. Something With Design Integrity From A Mall Store $34-$129
Rushing through the mall, realize you need to give someone a present, and still want to make it count. Pottery Barn has some design guy with no ego hidden back in Vermont, as I imagine him, turning out lovely, traditional house stuff. Particularly these picture frames. And leather chairs, of course.
10. Antiqued Mexican Retablo With Story $32.92 (I know, what’s up with the $0.92?)
We like to give each other folk art. Probably the endless hunt for cultural authenticity. We also like to buy photographs from Peonies and Polaroids.
11. Novatel NiFi 2200 Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot Modem (price incomprehensible*)
Yes. Well, since our family fortune exited, stage left, we do have to work. And work is always better with colleagues. My tech friends have done the research. They say that IF one of your team has a Verizon wireless access card, then he or she can use this device to enable the whole team to get online without dealing with annoying connectivity issues, T-Mobile Hot Spot fees, or hotel lobbies that insist you have to actually stay there in order to use their network. Hurrah for collaboration and no additional fees.
Et voila. Having given each other presents, we then like to play word games. The favorite is Fictionary. Played with a big real dictionary, slips of paper, and a ragtag assortment of pens. One year my son defined a word, I don’t remember which one, as, “Human guts. Very siccuhtating.” Another, more poetic fictitious definition, again for a word I don’t remember, “Dust of the cave.” Happy Holidays to you all.
*In the way pricing associated with data plans always is.