Tears trickle down my face as I set the table for Thanksgiving, brought on by a pair of salt cellars. Tears of grief are eventually replaced with a deep gratitude for the gift of a beautiful friendship.
My dearest friend happened to be a really good gift-giver. Her gifts were always impeccably wrapped in handmade paper and knotted with her signature thick satin ribbon. Who wouldn’t be excited to open one of her treasures? The treasures that day happened to be the silver salt cellars from a South Carolina antiques shop. Her joy at finding and presenting the perfect gift was evident in her gleaming smile.
I would say that we both enjoyed these gift exchanges. Our shared interests made thinking of the perfect gift pretty easy. Favorites were books, art, flowers, and little trinkets with a story – always presented in packaging that may have cost more than the actual gift. Thoughtfulness was key and the pleasure really came more to the giver than to the receiver.
As I fill those salt cellars for the holidays my heart is full. She is the gift. I am so thankful that she continues to touch my life in unexpected ways. I am constantly reminded of her delightfulness, someone who found joy in making others happy.
So do people live on in objects?
I often think about that, especially when selecting pieces for others. How meaningful are the things that surround us? What are those objects that touch our hearts?
This holiday season, I wish all of you the peace and joy that sometimes eludes us during this season. And I remind you to give with the understanding that your thoughtfulness is the greatest commodity of all.
For your consideration I have assembled a few of my favorite sources for home décor, keeping in mind that rooms are more soulful when they house pieces that are handmade and alive.
Frances Palmer has been making ceramics since 1987. Trained as an art historian, she always made work with her hands. First as a printmaker and now as a potter and gardener, she loves the process of changing ideas into form. She doesn’t make or grow things to hold onto them, but rather to send them out into the world for others to live with and enjoy. Her handmade ceramics are functional art – dishware or vases that can be used on a daily basis. Each piece, no matter how large or small, is an individual.
The tangible beauty of nature in a gift of flowers can be most thoughtful. Bouqs is an LA based company that sources from sustainable, eco -friendly farms and are cut the day you order and shipped direct so that they last. They have a monthly subscription program and a same day delivery service that supports local florists.
Because flowers can express what sometimes words cannot, The Secret Language of Flowers by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel is a gift-worthy resource in which the author explores the meaning of flowers, compiled during his residency at the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston. Othoniel created the book while touring the magnificent gardens at the museum for his exhibition Secret Flower Sculptures, showcasing the bronze models and watercolor sketches he made while at the Museum for the Versailles project, along with the two new sculptures.
Blurb is an online publishing tool that turns your ideas into professional quality books, magazines, or e-books. A cookbook, travel journal, or family album can become a beautifully bound heirloom. A family shout out to my brother Mark, a supremely talented photographer who compiled an exceptional book of photographs of a family vacation. Another family shout out to Gwenn Walsh, a supremely talented painter, chef, and jack of all trades as the author of the cookbook shown above. Her painted food illustrations are unforgettable. I count these books among my most prized possessions.
A traditional holiday gift of handmade treats is always well received. My go-to for all things kitchen related is Sue Walter. Her blog SuBee’s Kitchen is a recipe for eating and living well. Her Toffee Crunch recipe is a cinch to make, scrumptious, and delivers in the presentation department. The Peppermint Patties are simply homemade goodness. Sue also happens to be my antiquing partner. She has a keen eye, is well versed in all things French, and can transform any old thing into a treasure. She has sourced for me many pieces from the Paris Flea and I have her to thank for my burgeoning collection of McCoy Pottery. As pieces with history and patina elevate a space, giving a vintage collectible can initiate a lifelong appreciation for collecting antiques.
Collecting art can be a rewarding experience. Whether it's the subject, expression, or the simple appreciation of technique, a painting, sculpture, or photograph is the single most important element of a successful room. Many galleries exhibit small pieces during the holidays, which can be a one of a kind gift. ArtStar is an online platform for discovering and collecting contemporary art. With a team of art market experts that travel to international art fairs, galleries, and artists’ studios they create a tightly curated selection of fine art prints. ArtStar will also frame and ship work directly to your door that is ready to hang on the wall.
Our sense of smell is closely linked with our moods and feelings, probably more than any of our other senses. Give the gift of a home fragrance from perfumeries Le Labo or Diptyque that offer room sprays, hourglass diffusers, sachets, and candles that not only scent your home, but look lovely. Companies Aroma360 and Aera have adapted a technology that can scent your home through its central air system. And custom fragrance company 12.29 sells candles poured in Limoges porcelain with scents named It was All a Dream, This Feels Dangerous, and A ForgottenMemory.
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