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d*s 2009 gift guides: d*s editors’ picks

by Grace Bonney

happy holidays everyone! this week i’ll be posting a special d*s gift guide at end of each day and for today i thought i’d kick things off with a special gift guide/wishlist from the people that make d*s possible each day: the d*s editors! each editor was kind enough to share a few things they would like to give and receive this year, so i hope you’ll enjoy their favorites. i know i’ve picked up a few ideas to wrap (and hopefully unwrap) this year so happy gifting! stay tuned the rest of this week for gifts under $25 (tomorrow), gifts under $50 (wednesday), gifts under $100 (thursday), ac’s gift guide for guys(friday) and of course, our annual design bloggers’ gift guide/wishlist (the following monday). and of course, we’ll be posting plenty of handmade projects between now and the end of the month for those wishing to make rather than buy.

CLICK HERE for the full list (and images) of editors’ picks after the jump!



to give: homemade spiced apple butter! i taught a series of canning classes, including one on making apple butter using locally sourced apples, this past october. friends and family will be receiving 1/2-pint jars of this heavenly trinity of apples, sugar, and spices.

to receive: i absolutely adore these wool felt slippers from toast (which meet right at my favorite style intersection of “function” and “fashion”):

i’m also a big baker and can’t get enough of this “gingerbread” cookbook by jennifer linder-mcglinn (and i promise to bake up a little something from the book for whoever gets it for me!)


to give: every year I get together with a friend and we spend the weekend making candy for the holidays. we get brown take-out boxes from whole foods – they’ll let you buy them – and tie them shut with red and white baker’s twine and then write a little note on a pretty tag. we experiment with different candies every year, but one recipe standard is chocolate salted caramels! yum!

to receive: i’m usually more of a necklace girl, but i’d love to start dressing things up with a pretty scarf. my dream scarf would be the dupatta ombre scarves from matta, but i also love these scarves from marc jacobs and these beautiful scarves from oak.

i’ve been a little obsessed with scissors lately and would love to have these beautiful bonsai shears, which is a little frivolous since I don’t have a bonsai tree. but maybe I could start a little herb tea garden, which would look lovely in this little container from terrain.


to receive: we’d both like a vespa to help us ‘scoot’ around philadelphia. alissa would like to receive ‘any piece of jewelry from egan day!’ ryan would like to receive a 1920 eberhard & co. one button chronograph watch

to give: we are planning to give our family and friends stockings stuffed with all sorts of little presents and toys we have collected throughout the year.


to give: jill: I usually make a holiday card in addition to giving other small handmade gifts, but this year I’m going to simplify and present an original silkscreen print to all the folks on my list. I also love having a few tea towels around as last minute hostess gifts!

to receive: the studio choo team would like to receive scarves from yokoo– it’s cold in the studio! we’d also like new fancy felco shears– can’t hurt to be a little fancy while we’re working. and an A, J, and L from albeit jewelery


to receive: Personalized notecards from Enfin, la Voila! on etsy, Helen Ficalora alphabet charms, Washi paper masking tape from Japan, and a Tiffin Bento Box.

to give: Kusmi Tea: I love a gift that helps bring people together (and actually gets used!). Over the past year, having tea with friends has become my favorite social activity. I love these teas, the variety of aromas and colorful tins that you can mix and match. It’s also is a Paris based company, which is only appropriate given my current location :)


to receive: 50mm lens for our Canon Digital SLR: This is an affordable and fun lens that we’ve been dying to get for our digital SLR. The f/1.8 capability is great for achieving those sharp foreground, blurry background shots that we love so much.

-Ceramic Orange French Press: We finally broke the glass on our beloved french press recently, and this beautiful orange one has been calling our name for awhile…

Dual Membership to SF Moma: Museum memberships make great holiday gifts. We love going for short visits every so often and it’s a luxury not to have to shell out $15 or $20 for the entry fee every time!

to give: Set of 3 screenprints by Tom Bonauro: Tom Bonauro is a local design hero of ours, and this set of bold, graphic prints is easily frame-able and would make a perfect gift for just about anyone we know.


to receive:

– this umbrella
compass button from erie basin
-Home delivery of the sunday times (and not just for the crossword!)

to give: This amazing and beautiful deck of playing cards


to receive: i’m a huge fan of “of the month” clubs. i’d love to receive some sort of fresh flowers, food product, herb, or maybe shoes (a new pair every month? yes!) every month. i’m also gunning for one of these home composters ashley wrote about. pricey, but totally worth it if you live in a small city space where open composting will attract mice and bugs. (i also like almost every pair of vintage earrings at erie basin and doyle and doyle, so i’m always happy to open a gift and see something with history.)

(ps: i already gave myself a gift of signing up for sarah and nicolette’s herb/flower class. merry christmas to me!

to give:: this year my budget is running low so i’ll be pairing vintage things with fresh, local things. ie: a beautiful but inexpensive vintage bottle from the bklyn flea with fresh flowers from saipua. i’m also excited to pair things like customized mugs or bags with homemade gifts inside like fresh bread, muffins or cookies. i love homemade gifts and baked goods, but sometimes it’s nice to have one “new” things mixed in. i’ll be making a lot of things this year using THIS and THIS project outline…

*image above via lonny magazine


to receive:

rustic wine glasses – i have been using the stemless kind, but i want something a bit more substantial. i love the rough look of these.
boskke sky planter – i would love to have one of these hanging near my desk.
moss nos da blanket – this would be a luxe gift, but i love this blanket! the colors are so rich and it looks incredibly cozy and soft.

to give: my family is full of tea drinking bookworms, myself included… so i think i might be giving some stack mugs from heath ceramics, a tea from samovar tea lounge, and a book to each member of my family. maybe one of the penguin classics that are so pretty.

kristina gill:

to receive:
-I’ve always loved the Vase de Printemps (April Vase) by Tse Tse and would love one for the kitchen counter which doubles as a breakfast bar in my studio.
-I love the Jielde lamp, and would like one of the Loft collection (large floor model) in orange or hot pink.
-A nice Denyse Schmidt quilt, or even better, to have the quilt my grandmother made for me when I was ten cleaned fixed and sent to me from home. (she made one for each of her grandchildren, i remember her cutting all the pieces and working on them over the summers)

to give:

-Inviting friends for coffee or afternoon tea in a nice place. Living far away from my friends, I only get to see them for a brief time over the holidays. If we were here, I’d bake for them, of course!

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  • Great lists – wonderful ideas as always. I especially love the boskke sky planter, and as a daily user of both Felco pruners and bonsai scissors, I must say those a prime choices for any horti-maniac !
    Thanks for the inspiration…
    ;) Michaela

  • Very nice picks. I do have to point out that in all of the editor’s choice gift guides I’ve seen so far this year the “to give” present usually costs under $20 while the “to receive” list is closer to $200+ … just sayin’!

    • Hi Marcie! Just speaking for myself here, but I think most of us are still keeping the gifts that we are giving to our family and close friends a secret. So the gifts that we listed here are those that we give to to work colleagues or are a little more generic. My mom and my sisters, for example, are certainly getting more than candy from me but they’ll have to wait until Christmas Day! ;)

  • Question. Are you doing a Holiday Card post? IE: Where to go to find the besty designs, etc. All I can find is minted.com. Anyone?

    • hannah

      i’m afraid i’m not. for some reason this year i wasn’t really loving a lot of the cards i saw, and i decided to focus on gifts this year. but we’ll be sharing a lot of craft projects that will double as cards/tags.

      grace :)

  • Thanks Grace! I know…I cant find any goodies. I will let you know if I do. I am going to try Etsy.


  • Delightful picks! I’m especially smitten with Amy Merrick’s deck of playing card recommendation and Anne Ditmeyer’s Tiffin Bento Box pick. Thanks for sharing. Cheers.

  • Marcie I made that same point last year. “giving homemade vanilla — hoping to receive a $650 necklace” LOL. But I really love these lists and I get the point the the “big” gifts are top secret

  • I agree with Marcie. The first thing I noticed is that everyone wants to give homemade food, candies and other little things, but nobody wants to receive any of it! When it comes to getting, everyone wants the high-priced items.

  • i’m with amy. we prefer to share gifts to give that are accessible for all. big gifts tend to be very specific (ie. for family). besides, i see this as a *wish* (rather than reality) list ;)

    happy holidays!

  • ryan and i thought more of the gifts to receive as a “Wish List”. i don’t think either one of us expected to wake up christmas morning to a vespa in our stocking! :) as with amy and anne, we preferred to make our giving gifts more general and keep the details a secret. plus our families love to be surprised!

    happy holidays d*s!

  • I’m with Marcie and G23. Earlier today (before this guide came out!), I posted about my love/hate relationship with design blog gift guides, because I seldom find the ideas suited to the people in my family. Does anyone else find this to be the case?

  • The intro to my list went something like this:

    “This is my dream list, and I am under no illusions that I will ever get these…but just in case any of my family or friends win the lottery and also happen to be reading this…”

    I approached this thinking about the number of people I’d like to spend holiday time with, and who I’ll get to see during my time in the U.S. The value of the gifts I give always exceeds the value of the gifts I receive. If you factor in the airfare+expenses for delivering my gifts, it’s a 10:1 ratio..!

    But it’s not about the $ (BTW we have a no gifts rule in my family) it’s about the time together!

    And then of course, if a gift falls off of Santa’s sleigh, I’d be very happy. But it rarely happens… so I allow myself to dream!

  • I hope you guys (the editors) don’t feel too beaten up by the comments. I think this is a problem inherent in all gift guides. You don’t want to give away what you’re actually buying, and you’re writing for a very specific audience — one that may not match the people on your list. I’m not quite how to reconcile it.

    • b-

      one thing to keep in mind is that d*s has always been about a very specific look and feel. i’m aware that our tastes aren’t everyone’s, but that’s what i like about the design blog scene. most bloggers have a slightly different spin on things, so you can find a different taste, style or theme on each site. rather than try to produce more main stream guides, we like to focus on things that feel more personal to us (there’s no way we can come up with ideas that suit everyone‘s families out there). magazine gift guides are great for more general ideas, or things that might appeal to people who don’t necessarily enjoy our aesthetic ;) i personally love real simple magazine’s guides, they’re the best in print for my money.


  • I would gladly take any homemade thing anyone gave me! They’re my gifts of choice! I don’t need anything, actually, and have given Heifer International gifts for several years. Simple and sincere takes the cake, in my book!

  • I always enjoy my daily dose of design sponge. I get ideas, inspiration and motivation to find something that really represents ‘me’, whether that is in gift giving, decorating my home or thinking of renovations (arrgg!). I find opening your mind and letting thoughts flow from a starting point (ie the post, a picture etc) usually leads me to something pretty special. Whilst the gift guides may not suit my family and friends, it provides a springboard to get me thinking :) so thanks for that Grace.

    this christmas i’m doing a lot of baking, and attempting to DIY some fabric coasters and printed napkins. fingers crossed for success! i’d just like to receive the gift of a great day with my loved ones, full of laughs and one that EVERYONE enjoys (typical aussie bbq this year).
    and, if i do have to pick one thing i’d like, it would be a pretty but simple necklace from my mister jamie.


  • Grace-
    I saw the electric composter on your blog and posted a link to it on facebook, saying I wanted one. The next thing you know, one arrives at our door. Bryan’s best friend saw my post and was kind enough to send it to us. So, you never know about what you wish for…

  • felt slippers, heath mugs, tea, and a snuggly fiber something. that would be heaven.

    i’m angling for wellies. that would be a great (and a bit out of budget) gift this year. ;-)

  • this is totally and completely off topic, but…. i have a question for kate pruitt (or anyone else who might know): i love the curtains hanging behind her in her headshot and would like to know where they’re from.

    i guess i’ll put them on my “to receive” list. there! now my comment isn’t off-topic, just selfish :-)

  • Thanks to Marcie for inspiring an interesting discussion. Over my three or so years of following design sponge I have had similar thoughts about some of the gift guide picks, but not so much this year. It’s interesting to see the responses. Gift giving certainly can be both an art and a dilemma. We do our best.

    • marcie

      i forgot to ask- what sort of gifts are you looking for? speaking to a large audience we can’t really tailor our guides to fit one family’s style, but perhaps there’s an area of gift giving we’re over-looking. what sort of products would you like to see?


  • this was such a fun posting with so many interesting links – loved it!
    Please keep the holiday spirit on a roll – come on it’s such a fun and pretty time of the year!

  • I love that this is PERSONAL…But then I also love the articles on people that feature “TEN THINGS I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT” or when they ask a woman what we’d find in her purse…

    It also inspires me, makes me dream and think about what I might like to GIVE to my friends and family…I love all of the ideas and inspiration of what the creative minds at d*s are WISHING for and if I had a sleigh full of goodies and a winning lottery ticket- I’d make all of those wishes come true…merry merry

  • so amazingly inspirational as always, I sure wish I could afford to spend $275 on pruners for myself, they are to die for!

  • Grace,

    I like practicality of your gifts. But where did you find that gorgeous botanical print on your list?

    • thanks bridget

      the image is actually something that was on the flower school blog to advertise the class i signed up for. if you follow the link to the sarah/nicolette flower school class you’ll see it towards the end of the post.


  • I gave that orange press to my mum a couple of years ago for Christmas, and I’m sad to report that she said it didn’t work nearly as well as her broken bodum coffee press. She said that the filter wasn’t very firm, and let a lot of coffee grounds through. Maybe you could use the filter from your old coffee press, if it fits, otherwise you might end up with some grainy coffee!

  • Hi Grace – Thanks so much for replying to me. I think I left out here what I should have said off the bat — these lists give me an excellent (too excellent) resource for my own wish list. I often find myself wishing some of my other family members had the same design obsession, so I could share some of the lovely with them, but that’s not my lot. It’s part of why I started blogging — I craved some sort of outlet, and my fam was tired of hearing about my latest obsessions. This definitely isn’t a negative reflection on the wonderful guides you pull together every year, but it is my personal frustration.

  • Wow, Gracie, G23, and B with the “give $20, get $650” smugness: I thought this post was a chance to escape from the hectic season for a few minutes and meditate on beauty, creativity, and love…I had no idea it was *also* an occasion to pass unfounded value judgments on talented, generous people we don’t even know! Thanks for setting me straight…. Seriously, kudos to the d*s editors for a) taking the time to put these wonderful ideas together (thus saving *me* a lot of time, and b) keeping a gracious holiday spirit in spite of all the insecure chatter out here on the Internets…. :)

  • It’s fun to see what is on each editor’s wishlist, whether it be “real” or “fantasy” list doesn’t really matter to me. I feel like I get to know each of the editors a little better, and that is always fun. Besides, don’t we all have a few extravagant items on our Christmas lists just incase a mysterious rich uncle pops out of the woodwork? :)

  • I didn’t think Marcie’s or G23’s comments were smug or judgmental…just funny. And I was thinking the same thing as I read the guide. I don’t believe for a moment that the editors really believe it’s okay to give a box of homemade candy and expect a $200 scarf, but the way the info was presented did make it seem that way. Most everyone went practical with what to give and fantastical with what to receive.

  • Re Lynda W’s comment:

    I have to say that this was the strongest thing I noticed in this post as well, the whole ‘I’d like to recieve X, Y, Z and I’m DIYing all of my gifts’ thing. I know that isn’t what contributors had in mind but it was a little glaring. I think what Marcie, G23, and B are pointing out is that part of the DIY spirit (one of the things I adore about D*S) is the appreciation for receiving DIY gifts. It’s hard come the holidays with all the ‘mass consumption’ propaganda around to remember that. Especially when so many dreamy things are out there like compact compost machines, shiny Vespas, and those awesome wine glasses (totally drooling). I love receiving handmade or baked items during the holidays or for my birthday, they make me feel loved and that’s why I give handmade things when I have the time. I would love to see a post about editor’s favorite handmade or baked gifts to receive. I think it would give us reader’s a better idea of what crafted goodies our friends love receiving from us.

  • I am SO COVETING that orange French Press…I don’t know that I can wait for mine to break so I can justify getting that one!

  • Not to add more work to your ever hectic schedules…but perhaps a solution to the price range problem is to treat it more like the other guides with limits. So you’d pick your wish style luxe gift to give and receive (e.g. Love to give my sister this vespa and receive a neclace) and then a reality give and receive. I wouldn’t want to lose either the practical or the inspirational!

    • hi guys

      just a quick note on the pricing of these items- there are a lot of items in here that aren’t vespa-price-range, and i really enjoy seeing a range of ideas, from budget-friendly to dream-wish-list.

      we produce at least 3 budget gift guides a year (all under $100) so if you’re looking for something with a specific price point, we’ve got you covered. this guide was meant to be a fun look into what our editors were looking for personally– not a general guide to gifts for everyone.


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