Chris Casson Madden - Scripps Howard News Service
I always loved taking our two boys to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New
York and enjoyed every minute of it until the final float - featuring a very
authentic looking Santa Claus - appeared. At that moment, I was also immediately
filled with a sense of holiday anxiety over the Christmas gift list that loomed.
Now, you might be one of those plan-ahead people who have your gifts purchased,
wrapped and ready. But if you're like me, you're just now making a gift list
and puzzling over what to get for whom. There's certainly nothing wrong with
the standard gifts of clothing, jewelry, CDs and electronic gadgets, but why
not look to a person's home for inspiration?
Each room of a home provides us with some gift-giving opportunities, if you
think about design elements that can be added to the space. The caution here
is to be sure you know a person's taste well. That ceramic earth-toned vase
might be great, but it might not fit into your friend's dicor. Here are my suggestions
for holiday presents with design in mind:
- Give a signature gift, so to speak. As classic as it is classy, monogrammed
items are always right in style. Items can range from the personal to the casual.
Consider giving some wonderful bed linens, monogrammed at the top or on the
pillowcases. Plump cotton towels for the bath or powder room embroidered with
a simple initial will also be enjoyed, as well.
Other things that can be monogrammed are glassware, such as a smart set of
cocktail tumblers or highball glasses. If this holiday is going to be particularly
meaningful to someone you know, like newlyweds on their first Christmas, I like
silver picture frames monogrammed with a date or simple phrase to commemorate
- Preserve memories with a present. Speaking of picture frames, I think that
people who like to take a lot of photos, whether for artistic enjoyment or to
record their families' lives, never take enough time to preserve their photos
and display them. If this sounds like someone you know, take time to find some
wonderful picture frames so they may create their own displays to enhance and
personalize their home.
- Choose a wonderful tchotchke. Want to show Mom the lap of luxury? Picture
her with a faux fur or cashmere throw draped across her feet as she relaxes.
Throw pillows, one of my favorite accessories, add an instant dash of style
to a sofa, chair or bed. Pillows can range from delicate beaded squares to large
embroidered velvet bolsters. The man in your life might even enjoy a comfy lounging
pillow in leather or suede.
- Give someone a little design push. Has your sister been all talk and no action
when it comes to faux painting her bedroom? Create a "design basket"
to get her started, complete with brushes and sponges, a how-to book on paint
techniques, a drop cloth, painter's tape and a home improvement center gift
certificate that allows her to pick out her paint.
If someone loves a particular period, choose a book that documents that style,
and add a gift certificate for an accessory. Design Within Reach (dwr.com),
circa50.com and New York's Museum of Modern Art (momastore.org) are good places
One of my personal favorite gifts is to give a holiday donation in the name
of a friend that benefits a charity that appeals to you. Citymeals-on-Wheels
in New York, for example, offers holiday cards by distinguished artists like
Milton Glaser, with the proceeds going to feed the homebound elderly of New
York. (see www.citymeals.org)
Despite the hectic pace of the season, it is possible to come up with some
unique ideas that will please your recipient as well as showing them you spent
time and care just for them.
(Chris Casson Madden, frequent contributor to Home & Garden Television,
is also author of 14 books, including the newly released "Bedrooms,"
Clarkson Potter Publishers.)
Photo Copyright Getty ImagesCopyright Scripps Howard News Service 2003