Some people are easy to shop for because they never buy anything for themselves, making it obvious which items they need. But then there’s that other group — the people who buy anything they could need the instant it comes to mind and take care to ensure those things are exactly right. I’m talking about the friend who sets their alarm for ceramics drops; who’s considered shelling out for Venetian glass goblets; who’s already purchased one of those Gohar World egg chandeliers. When shopping for a gift for these loved ones, it’s best to look for things specifically designed to surprise, delight, or even inspire a sense of whimsy.
This is actually a not-so-difficult task if the person you have in mind is someone who enjoys entertaining, and chances are they do — after all, what better way for them to show off their well-curated collection of things? This gift-giving season, you’ll find a host of beautifully and unexpectedly designed tableware and other pieces of home decor that consider form and function in equal measure. Just make sure you can pull off the artful wrapping job that such a gift calls for.
A coffee table book for the restaurant enthusiast
Coffee table books are a classic gift for the aesthete, as well as for the person who is liable to go out and buy anything they need for themselves. No one needs a coffee table book. And if that person also has a stated interest in restaurants and/or culinary history, they’re sure to appreciate Taschen’s new compilation of 200 years of European menu design, including examples from Parisian institution Maxim’s in 1910 as well as the earliest Michelin selections.
A statement bottle opener
Chances are your gift recipient has a bottle opener, but I’d also bet that whatever bottle opener they do have is not shaped like a crab claw or anything nearly as charming. This brass bottle opener from dinner party shop Feste via Mr Pinchy & Co will ensure that’s no longer the case.
Some snazzy cocktail napkins
For anyone with a bar cart, cocktail napkins are a no-brainer. This set from Atelier Saucier, in mismatched reclaimed fabrics with a loose animal theme, would be appropriate for the entertainer who appreciates a maximalist look.
The prettiest pour-over carafe
Imagine offering coffee to guests and bringing out what must be among the prettiest pour-over carafes around. This colored (or clear) glass carafe, complete with lid and a compartment designed to fit a coffee filter, is clearly perfect for the person who has a pour-over habit, but as Yield Design points out, it’s also a more-than-suitable vessel for sangria or perhaps some spa water.
The friend who breaks out candles at every meal could surely use some additional fuel for mood lighting. Get them this set of five Japanese candles, each with a unique curvy shape and a burn time of approximately two hours — the perfect length for a leisurely weekday dinner.
A set of delightful knife rests
Mushrooms continue to be in fashion. And for the person who recognizes this, there’s no better addition to a dinner party tablescape than this set of six knife or chopstick rests, designed to look like a realistic assortment of mushrooms, including a chanterelle, a morel, and a cute little button.
A picture-perfect teapot
This Polspotten teapot is the platonic ideal. It’s the stuff childhood tea party imaginings are made of (maybe Mrs. Potts wouldn’t have minded the transformation so much if she looked like this). Buy it for someone and then insist they have you over for tea.
A refined cup and saucer
A mug is a classic gift. But try riffing on the form with this bone china cup and saucer from Sona Home, the home goods company from Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Maneesh K. Goyal. It’s sure to make their afternoon tea a full-on moment. Plus, tea served from bone china reportedly just tastes better.
A plate for serving, or simply displaying
Designer Sophie Lou Jacobsen has an online shop filled with potential gifts for the person who hopes to fill their own space with beautiful objects. This plate, new for the season, would work as a centerpiece all on its own or as a fun vessel for cookies, fruit (really, anything that’s not soupy enough to slip past those rippled edges). If it’s within budget, spring for a set and they’ll have the most joyful dinner party place settings around.
How many of us have placemats? Now, how many of us have placemats that we love? Cairo-based Malaika’s Egyptian cotton placemats are exactly the sort to inspire adoration, and thus make for a thoughtful gift for the home design enthusiast. Malaika’s team (teaching local women and refugees embroidery skills is part of the business model) makes the placemats in linen or Egyptian cotton, all either hand-embroidered or silk-screened. It may be hard to select just one pattern from the many options, but this fish design (they’re actually tilapia, a reference to the longstanding significance of the fish in Egyptian art and culture) feels on-trend.
A centerpiece-worthy bowl
Asheville, North Carolina-based East Fork Pottery sells more than its namesake ceramics. Among those items is this elegant bowl, made in a hammered copper that is sure to fit right in with most decor. Get it for the person who prioritizes opulence above all. And given that it’s a bowl, it’s just a little bit practical, too.
And something to put in said bowl
The abovementioned bowl would pair quite nicely with some faux fruit, also from East Fork Pottery’s online shop. Opt for a ceramic apricot made by Athens-based artist Maroulió Kontizá, or perhaps cantaloupe that is actually a candle from a sixth-generation Italian candlemaker. Of course, either of these would also make a lovely gift on its own. That apricot especially would be a sweet addition to a Christmas stocking.