photo 1-25
May 6, 2012

The Art of the Gift

What do you get for the hostess with the mostest? I recently had to face this challenge when my friend “M” invited me to a party at her house. You must understand, M has the most exquisite taste. (Notice I didn’t say the most expensive.) Her historic house is a jewelbox, displaying her sophisticated yet comfortable mix of artwork, antiques, rustic touches, and modern accoutrements. (Here’s a shot of her living room, and here’s one of her clawfoot tub and orchids.) M herself is a treasure. She paints, writes, gardens, fly fishes, reads, volunteers, cooks, travels, knits, does yoga. She raised three sons and now has four grandchildren.  She owns an award-winning marketing and branding consultancy. Oh, and did I mention that she’s an über-successful entrepreneur? I kid you not.

So yeah, of course I was panicking about a hostess gift! I wanted to give her something pretty and practical—something that would show my creative flair and would fit in with her décor. (Something reasonably priced wouldn’t hurt either.) Well, one day while shopping at Anthropologie, this green glass caught my eye:

Opalescent tumbler.

I liked its ornate and vintage look. My thinking was that she could use it on her dresser to hold cosmetics like mascara and lip pencil. As a gift, I needed to fill it with something too…like hard candies? Mints? Nah, too easy. And then I thought, hmm, what if I rolled something up? What would fit? Umm…socks? Now we’re talkin’. I found these whimsical, well-made socks at Nordstrom.

Happy Socks for happy feet.

The cheerful polka dots reminded me of Damien Hirst’s “spot” paintings:

Damien Hirst, Moxisylyte, 2008–11, household gloss on canvas. Source:

And confetti sprinkes on cupcakes:

Sweetness and light.

But I digress. Where were we? Oh right, it was time to wrap the present. I was gonna tie a pink ribbon around the tumbler and call it a day but I knew I could do better. The whole thing resembled a little sundae but instead of faking a maraschino cherry on top, I decided to use these paper flowers:

Pastel petals.

Tada!  Here’s the final product:

A springtime sundae.

The yellow flower is held in place by a small straight pin.

Full disclosure: I also bought M some orange-scented Tocca hand cream.

Goodies in the gift bag.

The party is this afternoon.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Update on May 8, 2012: I think we have a winner!  M loved the gift.  It’s on display on her bathroom shelf:

Place of honor among Annick Goutal and Chanel.

Other notes:

For more info about Damien Hirst’s paintings, check out Roberta Smith’s review in the New York Times.

I liked the Happy Socks (designed in Sweden! made in Turkey!) so much that I bought two pairs for myself.  Mine have little x’s on them and I plan on wearing them in the fall.  Sorry, Kate Spade—you’re no longer my favorite knee-hi’s.


Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. […] you’ll recall, a month ago I handily dealt with the challenge of buying a gift for the hostess with the mostess.  More recently, I figured out a pretty cool solution for another head […]

  2. […] I don’t always hit the mark with my gift-giving, I believe this one gives my effort back in May a run for its money: Pretty pleased with my hostess gift for a garden party earlier this […]

  3. […] were especially enjoyable), daydreamed about a beach vacation, captured the angst and elation of gift wrapping, and got wistful (as usual) about the month of […]

  4. […] not in billionaire heiress Petra Ecclestone’s league either. Whether it’s wacky, whimsical, Warholian, or wondrous, my purchases are usually pretty practical too. Yes, my weakness for […]


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