original image of Erté's artwork from here, quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, image by Devilishly Pleasurable.
I love giving presents. And I pride myself on giving awesome presents from the heart, unless all the people I've given things to are fantastic actors with their delightful responses and faces that light up being practiced masks. But, I prefer to think better of the near and dear ones (i.e. the only people I bother giving things to, most of the time) and that my Lie Detector Skills are rather sharp. When it comes to the holiday season, often do we associate it with gifting. But, I think that The Art of Gifting should extend throughout the year, whether in terms of dropping in a tiny piece of jewelry in the mail for one of your friends for no rhyme or reason, as a celebratory gesture or for their birthdays. Amongst my friends, I am notorious for receiving this line in all my cards and tags-- What do you get for the girl with everything? But, to be honest, even though I have loads of stuff, I often retort that I am faced with the same headache too. . most of us seem to have everything. Here are some gift ideas for a range of different budgets, which will hopefully inspire or guide you to give a gift that is beyond the toiletries basket (even if I secretly love them) or a generic gift voucher at the mall (even if I love them too). For The Girl With Everything, or The Girl Who Does Not Have Everything, there is always something to be had. Otherwise, you are your own friend. . so give yourself a little treat-- draw up goals and plans to achieve, and reward yourself everytime you meet them!
I am always wandering into Past Times, a beautiful shop with different themes referencing past eras. I stay there mesmerised for ages, drawn to the shiny, sparkly things just like a cat does, complete with dilated pupils. In particular, I love their Art Deco range. Drawing inspiration from bold geometric shapes, wicked ladies, and Russian costumier Erté's flamboyant pieces, what a magnificent sight to behold! Here are some picks from their site.
- Many of us have got notes all over our smartphones, text messages to ourselves as reminders, and possibly more To Dos And Appointments swimming about our hard drives or internet accounts. Once in a while do I try to digitalise myself in terms of that, but I find having the physical pen-and-paper option way more appealing. There are ideas that can be sketched much faster with ink or graphite than on a gadget, even if you might have a touch-screen phone. This pretty Erté 2011 diary springs to mind here. All that sparkle and flamboyance. Utility and aesthetics never looked so good combined.
- Whether you are a herpetophile or otherwise, this stunning black enamel and crystal lizard brooch might be a conversation starter with an amazing person. . you never know.
I think mirrors are amazing things, whether you are Narcissus or Narcissa, the female counterpart I made up. Learning to face oneself squarely in the mirror is also a good exercise for accepting the self and improvements. And what better than a beautiful mirror? I am constantly in love with beautiful mirrors-- my year in Cambridge was the first time I did not have a full-length mirror. It was also the first time ever when I had only one mirror in the room and had to constantly use the Photobooth application on my Macbook to apply my makeup whilst at my desk. I still do not have a full-length mirror but am constantly on the lookout for a beautiful ornate one. What you can do, however, is constantly stalk sites like ebay and Gumtree or haunt car boot sales-- rather than part with thousands. In the meantime, though,
- one: a gorgeous Art Nouveau mirror?
Or, you can make beautiful Victorian-inspired mirrors for her!
glassware in my kitchen; Royal Mugs as a joke-- sometimes I give D "The Butler" whilst I do "Her Ladyship'. I need 'The Chambermaid' because that's how I feel every morning.
Does your friend need help getting organised? Or does she LOVE organising. I don't know about you, but seeing wonderfully-organised things makes me insanely happy. Even drawer compartments must be organised-- chucking everything to be hidden away in an intangible mess defeats the whole purpose of merely having pristine exteriors. Here are some ideas. .
- Clear shoe boxes so she can keep her shoes well-organised. Gorgeous blogger Tashrin did a post on them, and having tried them myself when I moved to the new place, I must say they are a
lifesaversightsaver. Everything is neat and you can see what's inside. I stuff two pairs of flats in each box to save space, for instance. Or, you can do them in stackable drawer versions.
- Tea, coffee, sugar, flour etcetera canisters, bread bins, fruit bins, spice racks. . . A matching set would be lovely for anyone who loves her kitchen. This stylish 18-piece magnetic spice rack and oil & vinegar duo might win her heart!
- Sets of wicker baskets or seagrass baskets-- good to chuck things into rather than to leave them strewn over the house.
Images of jewelry from RISIS.
The orchid represents virility in Greek mythology, and was seen as a symbol of luxury in Victorian times. One of its species, the Vanda Miss Joaquim, is also the national flower of Singapore. I love the elegance of the orchid flower-- its blooms look strong rather than weak and delicate, which is another plus for me. RISIS is a company in Singapore that immortalises orchids before plating them with a selection of metals such as 24K gold or rhodium, sometimes studding them with precious stones. What I love about this is that you get to adorn yourself with real orchids-- whether on your neck, snaking around your fingers or pinned proudly as a brooch. They also do orchid artwork and other ornaments, but my favourite is the slider, a necklace you can wear in up to five styles. Suffice to say, I love to give RISIS jewelry as presents (although I do wonder why I have never owned one myself yet!). The photography of the products on the site do not remotely do the pieces justice-- way more beautiful in real life!
Devilishly Pleasurable picks: Den Li Min Eng orchid slider; Vanda delight necklace; Stardust ring; Stardust necklace; Violet Splendor brooch/pendant.
images via WendyB's site
Whilst on the subject of jewelry as gifts, do a good deed and help blogger Sister Wolf raise money for her roof. For every purchase you make from the witty and stylish designer and blogger WendyB, a portion is donated for the fund. . go here to find out more. WendyB does amazing fine jewelry with the most delightful names complete with well-researched historical references as the backdrop for each piece. For instance, pieces I'd
eyegift if I could, would be: Bathsheba bangles; Isabella Wolf-fang earrings; Little Woolf necklace; Queen Min ring; and Freud cufflinks. Now, if I do get into the professional Psychology Doctorate programs and graduate from them, I will get myself those Freud cufflinks. Or someone would get them for me, of that I'm sure. .
The Girl With The Mostest Toys might love these to keep her babies pampered-- there, you don't have to fork out money for the toys per se ;)
- A smart-looking Kate Spade iPhone 4 cover
- These stunning Harman Kadon Soundsticks-- aesthetics and power. Ooh laa laa.
- Tumi embossed leather iPad/iPhone sleeve.
- This cheery and absurd-looking red Kate Spade laptop sleeve!
We all know how today's buzzwords include "Upgrade", "Upsize" and "Upscale". While these reek of avarice and discontentment sometimes, complete with mental images of pressure-cooker scenarios, we could always borrow a little of that philosophy when it comes to giving presents, especially for The Girl Who Might Have Everything.
For instance, scent. Does your friend love scents and buy every single new perfume that is rolled out?
- Buy her vintage scent atomisers and magnificent bottles so she can store them as beautifully as the lovely Sarah of Cloud of Secret does?
- How about attar-- Arabian perfume oils without an alcoholic base? You can easily hunt them down on Ebay, Attar Bazaar, or at any Middle Eastern enclave. My memories of attar stem from a visit to the Arab Street in Singapore, where merchants with carved bottles of attar lining their stores introduced them, and packaged them within silver vials. The scents were alluring, the setting a little mystical with deep velvet drapes, and what was special to me was that these were specific oils rather than the blends we get as perfumes. For the experimental, there may even be the urge to mix them like your own cocktail blend. Of those that I have tried, I am loving the scents tea rose, Egyptian musk and Arabian Nights. P.S. Tea Rose makes you smell like Turkish Delight. How's that for scrumptious, even if I don't normally do florals but rather prefer them spicy and rich.
image of stila lipglaze set by Devilishly Pleasurable
The Girl Who Loves Makeup-- ooh, do I love a girl like that. What better fun than to get together, play with makeup and then take loads of photographs together in the spirit of girly fun. Another reason to love the Christmas season is . . makeup gift sets. They are of fantastic value, and you get an amazing collection rather than just one piece. This is also the time you get brush sets, blockbuster eye makeup palettes and beyond. Attack quick! For instance, this Stila Holiday 2010 lipglaze set that I got myself about a month back. Worth about USD$120 if you buy them separately, you get eight scrumptious-smelling 0.05oz marker-like sticks for a whooping USD$25! They remind me of the marker pens I used to save up for to do my sketches with, and then arrange according to some colour gradient of sorts. Last weekend I was showing them to Lulu over cam and we were a little giddy with excitement over makeup whilst her husband probably laughed at us secretly. Some sets I'm loving include:
- Luxe Beauty by Stila consisting of a Charmed Eye Shadow Palette and four 24kt Lip Glosses in Radiant Sunset, Precious Coral, Golden Charm and Vintage Merlot.
- MAC Vain and Glorious Lip Bag-- "a mad mix of Mellow Mood Lipstick, In Synch Lip Pencil and Baby Sparks Dazzleglass altogether in a multi-tartan bag, heraldic crest and black patent corner detail with metal rivets!"
- Bobbi Brown Sparkle Glamour Quad and Smokey Eye Palette.
- Front Cover Rainbow Eyes Reborn-- pigment is fantastic, colours are out of this world, and. . for so many colours with a makeup tutorial, you'd better not say no.
It'd also be sweet if you hacked together a makeup kit for your friend-- source for a gorgeous makeup pouch (think out of the box!), a beautiful mirror and perhaps a lipstick holder. Wrap them up nicely and present your package to her! Or, hunt down beautiful displays for her jewelry or makeup a la Vintage Vixen.
image of vintage china by (in)decorous taste via this post
Gorgeous dining ware is always a plus-- if you know the girl who loves these, and happen to see some online or at a boot sale, why not put together a set for her. Like the genius behind (in)decorous taste goes here,
"Surely, you've heard it before, but wholeheartedly, you'd better believe that's it's
okaypretty fabulous to mix-match place settings, rather than employ one matching set. All of these old plates were ones I found in thrift shops, on eBay (search Czech plates, vintage plates, or Bavarian porcelain), or, well, in thrift shops... Seemingly random in nature, but all it takes is a united color scheme, or pattern, or degree of gilding, to pull them together.
Besides, you don't want to look like the sort of person who buys his silver, do you?"
Her pictures bear testament to how her philosophy works.
Other things you could get for The Aesthetically-Inclined Hostess include:
- Franciscan Desert Rose dining ware at 80% off RRP
- Royal Doulton Dorchester cut crystal glassware (24% lead crystal)
- Gorgeous Zawiercie crystal goblets-- what better than to drink everything out of goblets. Okay, I know this is bloody decadent, but sometimes it makes life seem a little brighter. Also 24% lead crystal.
- Stunning decanters! As Apartment Therapy puts it, "Somehow pouring wine out of an exquisite glass bottle makes it taste so much better. I don't understand why decanters are no longer an established part of the formal dining experience. You almost never seem them in use anymore. Sure, they're hard to clean, but they're also oh so pretty." I need one myself.
images via Coco de Mer
For the cheeky/naughty/experimental one or the girl who wants to but has never dared to venture, gift sets by Coco de Mer or Kama Sutra with items ranging from tame-ish candles to yummy body soufflés to exciting toys to sensual feather ticklers. . Nuff said. These kits can be a little expensive though, even if in the form of gift sets. If you're feeling brave enough, assemble a set of your own from less expensive vendors-- it all lies in the packaging ;)
A few other ideas:
- Little details that might be what she loves in her home: Trinkets you might find in the charity shop that you could spruce up and give her; decorative pieces that she might want to 'fill the design gap' in her house but has no idea just what; or handmade crafts that she might enjoy. Especially if she trusts your taste.
- Is there a particular wine she might love but is not easily available? If you happen to know someone going that way, why not ask him or her to pick some up? I remember being massively delighted when someone gave me port from Garden Estate in Perth, a particular taste I had been craving forever since I first tasted it.
- Does she have a set of utilitarian (fill in the blanks) that she might like to marry aesthetics with. Track down exactly that! For instance, if (fill in the blanks) happens to be coats and jackets, get her those with embellishments she might love, or accessories that would amp them up.
- For the Bibliophile, first editions or special editions might do the trick. I have to admit that I get a kick out of tracking down rare books for certain people.
- Do you know a business/social contact that might be able to help your friend? Whilst I do not really enjoy blurring friendship with work with most people, for some, it is worth it to call in some favours.
- There must be something your friend might love to learn. Ballet, singing, life drawing, Burlesque, web design, etcetera. Get her vouchers for a class of that sort!
- Plus there are also the type of people who might weep with joy if you hired them a part-time cleaner, say, twice a month. (Just for one month would do in this case, since it's some gift/treat).
- Home-made treats in beautiful jars? Why not try this easy-ish truffle recipe by (in)decourous taste?
- A treat to somewhere she might have wanted to go to forever? A spa experience? Chocolate buffet? Or just a PJ party where you can spend the night chatting, camwhoring and snacking on delicious chocolates and sipping your favourite cocktails whilst watching Victoria's Secret fashion show.
- And oh, The Foodie would also love little items like say, specialty olive oils, steamboat cooker sets that would produce lovely seafood soup feasts during the warm winter, chocolate fondue sets. . . . .
Long and short of this is, all you have to do is be attentive and you'll sniff out the cues to what makes the special gift to each person who means something to you :)
P.S. I've been notably absent from Devilishly Pleasurable. The wave of things to do that hit me was overwhelming, and then something most unfortunate and unjust happened that made my world collapse for a bit. Nevertheless, I am finding my strength back and fighting for something I believe in. Even if it means cutting back massively and no more money to spend on the flat, but hey we've got priorities! It got me thinking, what if I had no resources at all-- where would I be at this point in time. So rather than abandon myself to despair, here am I back again, because life goes on, and why not create more memories and live rather than merely exist. It's that lovely time of the year again when the snow falls for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, and we build snowmen and revel in snow fights whilst hoping like hell we won't slip and fall on treacherous roads. In the parts of the world that don't see snow, whatever your reason for the season-- whether as a time to be grateful; for spirituality; a time to take time off and be with the people you love; or a time to meditate the end of the yearly cycle before welcoming the new one-- it's a time to live. And like one of my favourite philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche says, "That which does not kill you makes you stronger" or "You must have chaos within to give birth to a dancing star", may our stars dance and flames burn brightly forever :)