365 Objects Of Design

Christmas Gift Guide I: The Kitchen

5th December 2017
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clockwise from bottom left - plates by alijoe designs, made.com, zen bowls from kellyhoppen, remodelista book, storage jars from westelm, paper napkins from vitra

clockwise from bottom left – dessert plates by alijoe designs, noah plates from made.com, zen bowls from kelly hoppen, remodelista book, storage jars by weck, paper napkins from vitra

Now I don’t know you about but I often end up getting irritated with Christmas Gift Guides. I don’t want to be classed as the “foodie” or the “gardener” or the “best friend over 40” or the “mad woman with the cat”… actually that …. And the Mad Husband has never yet wanted anything from a must give gifts for the man in your life list.

sagauro cactus glasses

sagauro cactus glasses from trouva – add a bottle of tequila, some funky ice cubes and Hunter S Thompson book

Although when he said to me last night that he didn’t get a present at all last year and I vigorously reminded him of the 66North Iceland parka I bought for him, he said that hadn’t been a “surprise”…. Further interrogation produced the following brief: It must be a surprise. But it must be something he sort of needs to justify buying it in the first place. But not something that he needs so much that he would actually buy it himself. However, in addition to the need there must be the want. For if he doesn’t want it why would anyone buy it for him? And it shouldn’t cost the earth. Because that is silly. But an element of “reassuringly expensive” never went amiss. Anyone got any ideas? Actually I think I’ve just sorted it – a can of Stella Artois. JOB DONE.

thornback and peel have just launched a collection of mugs – team with a tea towel, some great coffee or an oven glove and a dinner reservation

Leaving him and his impossible demands aside, I have decided to take a different route this year. I shall be exploring presents room by room. Because we all have those rooms. And one way to tackle the need versus want scenario is to buy  -yes – something for the house but something that is so beautiful that that person wouldn’t have bought it for themselves. The joy of presents for rooms is that they will undoubtedly be used every day as well.

crystal barware from bleakhouse - start with a single glass and a bottle of something and build up as budget allows

crystal barware from bleakhouse – start with a single glass and a bottle of something and build up as budget allows

So today we are starting in the kitchen. Because that’s always a good place to start. Heart of the home and all that. We will explore the rest of the rooms over the next few days and hopefully you will find beautiful things for your and your home at a range of prices.

paole navone fish jug from rockett st george

Such as the Dolce & Gabana Smeg toaster for example. Will get used everyday. Is an ordinary item elevated to luxury status. I won one as a prize earlier this year after attending the launch party in Milan and it certainly brightens up that corner of the kitchen.

clockwise from bottom left: marimekko mugs from indish, hammade mugs, emma lacey mugs, lush designs mugs, smeg dolce & gabbana toaster, paola navone fish jug, vintage glasses from mosey home, panettone from homesense, espresso cup from trouva, jug from bleak house, tray by vitra, board from aerende, chicago mugs by hema, plates from rose and grey, christmas pudding from daylesford

Another way to tackle the gift giving is to expand on the stocking filler idea. In other words lots of small presents individually wrapped and presented in a box. Or a rucksack, or silk pillowcase… you get the idea. Because opening lots is always better than one – unless it’s that £8000 Chanel boyfriend watch but since I’m guessing that’s not going to be under my tree any time soon.

for the cook - a black colander with some amazing (squid ink?) pasta, some truffle oil and a great recipe book

for the cook – a black colander with some amazing (squid ink?) pasta, some truffle oil and a great recipe book

When stuck for inspiration I have often resorted to a theme for the present-buying for himself. There was the Mad Men year with the vintage Dorothy Thorpe glasses from Ebay with the bottle of whisky, the vintage shoe cleaning kit together with a leatherbound copy of his favourite book and a scarf. Or the travel year – guides to the places we wanted to go to, a cocktail shaker and recipe cards, a hammock and a machine that made wave noises. You can laugh but it got the baby to sleep a treat that first year. Also that was 17 years ago, my attempts to find an inflatable palm tree failed but that would be easy now.

one mug and a single plate, or a set of four and don't forget the biscuits

one mug and a single plate, or a set of four and don’t forget the biscuits from rowen and wren

So, pick a theme and build on it until your budget runs out. A mug, a tea towel, some fabulous coffee, a milk jug, great biscuits and a book. Those last two are crucial for the compilation present – food, reading and, I would always add paper and pen – as pretty or as practical as your budget dictates. Read the captions for suggestions to built out from the picture.

coffee lovers will love this pour over coffee drip brewer from audenza – if budget permits add all the accessories

A set of glasses, a bottle of the favourite tipple, a funny ice cube tray, a couple of pretty serving dishes, a recipe book. Plates are a great presents as you will use them every day and if you care about what you eat then that’s a great way to start building up a collection.

leather wine rack from anthropologie

leather wine rack from anthropologie – just add one bottle of wine and some posh peanuts

One final suggestion – beautiful storage jars ( house curious has some glass ones with wooden and leather handles) which you can fill with gorgeous ingredients – dried whole chillis, pink rock salt, bay leaves, together with a recipe book. One jar or three. Add a pretty serving dish and spoons. Or not.

handmade plates by Brickett Davda (who has supplied Kelly Hoppen and Nicole Fahri- christmas is a great time to start a collection

handmade plates by Brickett Davda (who has supplied Kelly Hoppen and Nicole Fahri- christmas is a great time to start a collection

Once you start thinking like this it becomes easier to think of something for even the most difficult person and, as I say, you can stop when the budget runs out. So I hope you will like some of these ideas for the kitchen – and no oven gloves still aren’t acceptable. UNLESS learn this – you give oven gloves from Thornback & Peel, accompanied by a beautiful diary in which you have written the date for dinner at a fabulous restaurant – the implication being that the oven gloves can have the night off. Get it? Got it? Good.

Tomorrow we will look at gifts for the bathroom. Drop in if that’s the room that most suits the person you are buying for…


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  • Pauline Brandt 11th December 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Love this gift round up! Where are the black colander and chopping boards from? Fab!

  • Erica 5th December 2017 at 5:25 pm

    What do vintage Dorothy Rowe glasses look like? A google search turns up nothing but a bunch of self help books by someone named Dorothy Rowe. Thanks!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 6th December 2017 at 8:35 am

      Oh I misremembered it’s Dorothy Thorpe – I’m so sorry. Will edit the copy…

  • Jude 5th December 2017 at 3:00 pm

    After my ex-husband bought me an electric frying pan for Christmas (in the late 1970s) I banned anyone from buying house presents at Christmas. Now though I am quite happy to receive some lovely glasses, a vase or if luck prevails, a painting and I do rather like that fish bottle!

  • Carin 5th December 2017 at 11:33 am

    Also, go with small pots of supermarket herbs tucked into a bigger basket of foodie items, just because they look fresh & liven up the boxes/tins. Wrapped in brown paper and string or more glam festive wrappings they can do double duty at the brunch table. Or tag them with a pre-paid dinner reservation. Also works with mini olive or citrus trees.

  • Annie 5th December 2017 at 11:27 am

    Loving this Kate! Some great ideas, and the theming is marvellous. I love giving a box filled with several things inside, it always feels so much more special that one present, even if the contents aren’t budget busting. Looking forward to tomorrow.

  • Valerie Housley 5th December 2017 at 9:23 am

    Janet, that’s a tempting idea! And the cry of ‘How much??’ would echo through the land…

  • Janet Whincup 5th December 2017 at 8:50 am

    Some wonderful ideas here, if only.
    My surprise gift to hubby last year was a book that I saw recommended and really thought that he would enjoy.
    He hasn’t read it and tried to lose it amongst his “things”. The last surprise he never even unwrapped from it’s box. Ha ha. He is a man, a man from Yorkshire, in his 60’s, stubborn and proud of it, so my suprises don’t seem to suit.
    Perhaps I shall find the most expensive item amongst your recommendations and give him that with the price tag still on, by accident. His face would be a picture. Happy days. Roll on Christmas.

  • Hazel O’Boyle 5th December 2017 at 8:07 am

    Best gift guide this year, practical, informative, thought provoking & best of all, caters for all budgets – you nailed it 👏

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