I usually like doing things differently, so let’s say I wasn’t too hot at first about the idea of doing a Christmas gift guide. “Hasn’t it been done like a zillion times already?” Yes, in fact, it has.
However, when I looked at other gift guides, I felt like they were utterly soulless. Give a Zara scarf to your mother? Isn’t the act of giving you birth worth more than an acrylic piece of fabric? On the contrary, a scarf made by a local designer you found on Instagram, which you bought directly from her atelier (of which you’ve had a private tour), is a lot more fun to give and to receive.
In that symbolic and mainly handmade mindset, I put together a list of my personal favourites that should make the women around you pretty happy (and the men too while you’re at it!).
Because I live and breathe to make your life easier, I categorized everything under different types of personalities. So whether your friend’s a snack-lover or whether your sister is obsessed with decorating her already perfect house, I’ve got you covered. Today, I’m starting with «the curious one», which will be followed «the stylish gal», «the passionate foodie», «the beauty obsessed», and «the cozy homie».
Stay tuned, because your feed will be flooded with incredibly BEAUTIFUL things in the next few days.
The Curious One
Willpower: sometimes, you have a full suitcase of it and other times, you wonder if you forgot it on the subway. What I like about this book—which I stole from my friend Steph and plan to wrap and give back to her when Christmas comes—is that it’s filled with scientific research and analysis of famous cases. As a reader, you come down to your own conclusions based on hard facts and not on some preachy life guru’s assertions, whose favorite book is The Secret.
The author, a 76-year-old professional choreographer and dancer, highly regarded in her field (she won two Tony Awards, no biggie) talks for more than 200 pages about her creative process. You don’t have to be a dancer to relate to what she’s saying: it’s more like a practical guide on how to set a creative discipline to encourage the proliferation of ideas, get out of your comfort zone and rethink your preconceptions about the act of creating. The kind of book you religiously keep on your desk or nightstand.
This university project, led a by a groupe of UQAM students, has transformed into an incredible magazine—printed on the kind of hard paper that smells good—celebrating local fashion talents. Their second issue, which comes out next week and is dedicated to fashion tech, is extremely special to me, because I wrote the cover interview with the oh-so inspiring designer/teacher/artist (although she refuses to call herself the latter), Ying Gao.
This young British magazine has been one of my favourites for a few years now. Travel, fashion, food, art: in addition to having GORGEOUS pictures, everything is done from a sustainable angle. In other words, socially and environmentally brands are put forward, unretouched bodies are celebrated and the publication also makes sure that every contributor, including the interns, is being paid, which is far from being an industry standard.
I know, it’s kind of weird to recommend you a book I haven’t read yet. But, to my defence, I regularly read Mark Manson’s blog and I LOVE is writing style. So his book kind of have to be good, right? Contrary to other self-help writers, Mark doesn’t sugar coat anything and is all about tough love. He swears, says that life f?!&#*@ sucks every now and then and, most of all, gives practical advice that won’t make you feel like you’re joining a cult.
The Stylish Gal
À la carte or by subscription, Station Service is like an online shopping mall hosting all the most talented Quebecer designers out there (Martel, Marigold, Noémiah, Betina Lou, Heirloom Hats and many others). So what’s different? It’s actually a rental service, so you can get your hands on clothes and accessories at a fraction of their retail price, have them sent right to your home, wear them unceasingly for a full week and then return them (sniff, sniff!).
I have a white t-shirt from this Montreal brand (which I’m conveniently wearing as I’m writing these lines) and I wear it way too often, like it’s dangerously close to emotional dependency. My point is: this striped t-shirt is classic—so everyone you’ll give it to will like it—is less stain-risky than white and 10 times softer than a silky-haired cat.
Like every Pony’s creations, this sweater is a proof of her creative genius — letters hugging one another while spelling out “Hug Life”, I mean?! And that’s not all: they’re cut in a furry/fuzzy fabric, so they’re super soft (yes, I love soft things). Here’s a piece of advice: give it with a real hug, because there’s nothing better than an unapologetic thematic gift.
Fancy socks are the perfect gift: people rarely invest in them, because they’re never really at the top of their financial priority list (my rent > cute socks). This L.A. based brand has grown into a sock Mecca over the years, thanks to its too-cool-for-school designs. Good luck picking one amongst their dozens of pairs which all instinctively make you want to do the moon walk on a remix of Locomotion by Kylie Minogue.
Every time I see my friend Noémie, I’m like: “Wow, I want your earrings!” And every time, she tells me they’re from Knobbly, an awesome brand from Israel. I’m personally obsessed with their single earrings, perfect for your funkier friend/sister/mom, but their regular pairs are just as beautiful (obviously a little more expensive too).
The Passionate Foodie
How to transform something so not special, like drinking coffee, into something worthy of a royal ceremony? With this handmade and hand-painted ceramic cup, duh! The Vancouver-born and Montreal-based artist Mérida Anderson even made sure it could go in the microwave and the dishwasher. In other words, it’s cute to look at and not at all high maintenance.
Offering a magazine subscription to someone is the best way to remind them how awesome your gift is for ONE FULL YEAR! Even more so if you subscribe them to a magazine like Dinette, which has rapidly grown into a must for anything food-related, from the ones who produce or cook it to the ones who eat it (me, for example).
Nine times out of ten, when I have people over for dinner, I cook some recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi. And almost as often, the person I’m hosting runs to buy one of his cookbooks not too long after our delicious meal (where is my commission Yotam, uh, WHERE IS IT?!). So let me tell you that this one exclusively about desserts is about to make many people happy, including me and all my future invitees.
Here is the kind of object you don’t know you need until you have it. Unlike ice, these rocks don’t dilute your bourbon, don’t give a weird taste to water and cool down your white wine AS you’re drinking it. See? Now you want them too.
Ice cream, cocktail, sparkling water: it’s time to show your friend/sister/mother how to pimp their whole pantry! This syrup (like all the other ones from that brand) is natural, with no conservatives nor artificial colouring agents. Don’t judge me if you see me one day sipping one directly from the bottle with a straw.
The Beauty Obsessed
No, no: there’s not only the packaging that’s nice to the eye, the content does just the same but for the skin. Thanks to the cranberries, hibiscus and Tamanu oil, this scrub softens your skin, tightens your pores, moisturizes, helps the scarring process and protects your skin. In other words: IT DOES IT ALL.
A perfume is an extremely personal gift, so I’m not advising you to buy this set for, let say, your office gift exchange party. However, if your sister, mother or friend likes luxurious yet not-so-common scents, don’t look any further. Cypress, violet, bergamot, mimosa, orange blossoms, agar wood and black amber notes: you might be tempted to buy one for your as well.
We all know that mass-market nail polishes often hide ingredients that *cough* are not doing any service to our life expectancy. And since the idea of offering a gift is to spoil someone we love and to, consequently, tell them we wish that they’re going to be around for as long as possible, these non-toxic polishes are the way to go. Let’s also not forget how awesome these colours are.
As you may have seen recently, I discovered the wonderful world of sleep masks. This one, covered in a bespoke print, is cut in silk and cotton. Who would have thought sleeping could be so stylish?
In my personal opinion, a gift is giving something to somebody who would never dare buying it to herself. A $79 body lotion seems to be fitting perfectly into that category, especially when it’s by Le Labo infused with the most wonderful scent of them all. (P.S.: Sandalwood = heaven. Period.)
The Cozy Homie
Just as pretty on a bed as it is on a sofa, this beautiful handmade pillow has been taking over much of my thoughts for the past three months (it’s beyond time I buy it, just so I can move on with my life). Don’t let your friend live without this little ball off happiness — made with cotton and stuffed with feathers — no more, which happens to be just as bohemian as it is fluffy.
I discovered Isabelle Feliu’s illustrations at the Naïf store opening (take note that they’re not sold there though). Originally from Quebec and now living in Oslo (Norway), the artist draws women in exotic settings giving you the impression of travelling to far far away lands for a lot less (unless you buy an original, obviously).
If a Hermès bag was a candle, in my opinion, it would be a Maison Louis Marie. It’s chic, it smells good and it sounds French (although the company is based in L.A.), BUT it doesn’t cost ten grands. I obviously recommend you this one, because the top notes are cedarwood and sandalwood (aka the best smelling ingredients in the whole world).
This Montreal stationary company recently opened their first boutique literally six minutes away from my place and I’ve never wanted to start a swimmer-covered journal or hang sloth garlands all over my apartment so bad.
Hum, do I really have to tell you why this is ZE BEST gift for your sister or your friend (or your mom, it depends what kind of relationship you two have, I guess)? Made in South Carolina and 100% cotton, it’s perfect to celebrate all shapes of breasts in the comfort of your apartment or at the beach, if you wish to make a public boobie statement.
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