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The T List: Holiday Gift Guide, Part I

Welcome to the T List, a newsletter from the editors of T Magazine. For this week and the next, we’ve turned it into a holiday gift guide, with recommendations from T staffers on what we’re coveting for ourselves this season, as well as the gifts we’re thinking of giving our friends and loved ones. Sign up here to find us in your inbox every Wednesday. You can always reach us at tlist@nytimes.com.

Scent of the Season

For 11 months of the year, I pretend I don’t like Christmas, but when I smell fresh pine needles for the first time each December — wafting from a stand selling wreaths on a New York street corner, maybe, or from a garland on a friend’s mantelpiece — the illusion is quickly shattered. Few scents are as lush and woodsy, or as evocative of cold nights warmed by candles and wine. This year, Flamingo Estate, the Los Angeles-based food and wellness company, is offering a new service through which it will pick up your Christmas tree from your door (if you live in either New York or L.A.) in late December and steam distill its branches to create an aromatic essential oil that will then be mailed back to you in an elegant glass bottle — meaning that your home can smell like a pine forest through the end of winter and beyond. Any waste left over from the process will be used as compost for the brand’s garden in Highland Park.

What better way to sweeten the holiday season than with actual sweets? For the artistically inclined chocolate lovers in your life, try a bar from the small-batch confectionary La Nef Chocolate. Each one is crafted in Bath, Maine, and wrapped in packaging that features the work of a local artist. I’m partial to the dark chocolate with nonpareils, and art by the painter Caroline Boylston. (A portion of the proceeds from this bar go to Spindleworks, a nonprofit arts center for adults with disabilities.) Also worth a taste and look are the ginger, bay leaf and chamomile flower bars that are part of Casa Bosques’s Makers Series ($20 each) — they were a collaboration between the Mexico City-based chocolatier and the chef and artist DeVonn Francis, and all proceeds from them support Black trans people via the Okra Project — or the brand’s three seasonal bars, which include a crisp, spicy Speculoos cookie covered in rich dark chocolate and in packaging printed with photography taken by Casa Bosques founder Rafael Prieto on his travels. For a different kind of treat entirely, consider a box of Balbosté’s crystals, inspired by the Japanese gemlike candy kohakutou — or its white-chocolate-topped matcha fortune cookies (complete with personalized messages within), so delicate they can only be purchased in-person, at the Balbosté store in Paris.

High Culture

In 2019, Brett Heyman, the designer behind the fashion accessory brand Edie Parker, best known for its acrylic clutches with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, launched Flower by Edie Parker, which offers lighters, rolling trays and other cannabis-related ephemera, all in vibrant hues like aquamarine, periwinkle and bubble gum pink. These borosilicate glass pipes from the line — modeled after grapes, a banana, an orange and, my favorite, a cherry — double as cutesy home objects that can be on display even while parents are visiting. With Flower, Heyman aims to further destigmatize the use of cannabis and support criminal reform efforts, so if you’re looking to give back this season, consider purchasing one of these fun Flower T-shirts or totes, 15 percent of proceeds from which will, depending on the item, be donated either to the Last Prisoner Project, Feeding America, the National Center for Transgender Equality or the Women’s Prison Association.

Dainty Decorations

After years of minimalist studio living, I am now the lucky tenant of an apartment with a sitting room — one with dark-wood paneling and leaded glass windows offering sometimes-snowy views — that all but demands some holiday decorations. After much scrolling, I’ve landed on these paper garlands with dip-dyed petals shaped like ginkgo leaves, which are handmade by artisans in Delhi and available from the British brand Toast — and on a few kitschy, antique-style ornaments from John Derian. New for this year are a range of mushrooms and various New York City-centric options, including an especially lustrous Statue of Liberty. They’re sure to be crowd-pleasers so, having made the rare effort, I may just have to throw a party.

Mushrooms may be an it-food among health-conscious types right now, but a delivery of funghi will still make for a delightfully unexpected holiday gift. The New York-based company Smallhold is on a mission to decrease the distance its mushrooms have to travel to reach their customers, and has installed miniature organic mushroom farms in the Standard, East Village hotel, the Lower Eastside Girls Club and various other locations across the city. It also offers grow kits that allow the recipient to grow mushrooms in their own kitchen. Each one comes with a starter block of either blue oyster or lion’s mane mushrooms that, if tended to correctly (all an amateur cultivator will need is water, a rubber-band and a knife), can yield up to two pounds of fresh mushrooms over the course of two or three flushes, or crops. Given all that bounty, you might consider pairing a kit with the brand’s new cookbook, “Mushrooms in the Middle,” which upgrades the food from side dish to main event.

On the couch

At my childhood home, cozying up on the couch for a seasonal movie has become as much a holiday tradition as decorating the tree — we’re a “Christmas Story” family — and essential to the viewing experience is the perfect throw: Ezcaray, a textile house based in Spain, hand-weaves its brightly hued Matisse throws from a blend of fibers, including mohair and wool. Jonathan Saunders, the fashion-turned-furniture designer, offers a cheerful striped blanket (named after his design assistant, Nani) with contrasting colored panels. For a more neutral option, there’s Blacksaw’s reversible black-and-white Icon throw, which is made from baby alpaca and was designed in collaboration with the Los Angeles-based artist John Zabawa, or the Herringbone wrap from Attersee, which has a smart leather trim and looks just as chic tossed on a chair as it does worn over the shoulders.

Lucky Charms

The striking gold medallions from the New York-based jewelry brand Foundrae, which are often cast with astrological or mythological symbols, all have a slightly supernatural feel, as if they might be vessels inhabited by powerful but benign spirits. The line’s sealed initial charms, though, are especially otherworldly, and one would make a perfect gift if you’re looking to really treat a loved one this month. Composed of a diamond-inlaid gold letter set within two crystalline planes of quartz sealed within a gold casing, each piece brings to mind an ancient creature preserved in amber, or perhaps a part of a long-lost missive frozen in ice.

Table Trimmings

For me, the inability to have people over for much of the past two years because of the pandemic has now inspired a renewed interest in entertaining in my apartment, which has meant refreshing my tableware — and all the better if the pieces themselves reflect interpersonal bonds. This mini ice bucket from Carolina Irving & Daughters — founded by the textile designer and her two daughters, Olympia and Ariadne — was inspired by medieval pottery and crafted in Portugal. And the iridescent Nassau cups from Sirius Glassworks in Ontario mark the first-ever collaboration between the glassblower Peter Gudrunas, who founded the brand in the 1970s, and his daughter, the artist and filmmaker Iris Fraser-Gudrunas. They’re the kind of special, handmade pieces that your guests will want to own, too, and you’d be a hero to oblige them.

Apsny News English

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