Gift Guide: For Your Acquaintances

I have very few friends, and a ton of acquaintances.  So every year, my Christmas list is littered with church buddies, neighbors, employees, dinner party hosts, etc. who are a part of my life, but who I wouldn’t consider myself close to.  But these people still need gifts, because it’s tacky to show up to a holiday party empty handed.

And my Mother raised me better than that.  

So what do I bring?  Here are some of the gifts that I’m giving to the people in my life who aren’t A-list, but still matter enough to make it onto the Christmas list.

1. Peppermint Bark Cookies (Williams Sonoma, $23)

The Williams Sonoma holiday food catalog is XXX rated.  With its sumptuous snacks, delicious desserts and decadent treats, the catalog should come with a Surgeon General’s warning.  If I need a quick gift for my building’s concierge or the dog walker or my neighbor-whose-name-I-can’t-remember-but-always-lends-me-her-carpet-cleaner, I go straight to the catalog and these cookies are my absolutely favorite item.

Helpful tip: Don’t buy them for yourself.  You won’t be able to stop eating until you hit tin.

2. Duck Wine Decanter (Sur La Table, $40)

As my co-worker will tell you, wine is the perfect hostess gift.  There’s just one problem, I don’t know s**t about wine.  Hell, I don’t even drink wine.  So it would be foolish of me to try to give someone who does know/like wine a bottle of vino.  

Instead, give them wine glasses and/or a wine decanter.  Already own both?  Champagne bowls make a nice gift.  Unlike flutes, they’re vintage and fun and can also be used as dessert dishes.  I personally love these vintage, cut crystal ones on Etsy for just $35 for a set of five.

3.  Diptyque Oyedo Candle (Amazon, $60)

I bought this candle for my hairdresser two years ago and she loved it so much that she now asks for one every year.  The scent is so light and fresh, even a woman who doesn’t like perfume (ie. yours truly) will love it.

And if spending $60 on a cable leaves you thinking, “Whaaaa???,” try these candleholders from CB2.  They’re stylish, inviting and at just $6 perfect for those less than close friends.

4.  Woodland Vase (Anthropologie, $28)

If I bring flowers to a party, I always bring a nice vase.  Those chintzy glass things that the florist gives away are tacky.  Put the same bouquet into a nice, whimsical ceramic vase like this and you have a real showstopper.  And since this vase is white, it will match almost any decor.

As for flowers, carnations are really making a comeback, and it’s all Oscar de la Renta’s doing.  Try a nice bunch of vivid red or all white to capture the depth and texture of the flowers without any of the cheesy filler of yellow, pastel pink or those hideous two-tone carnations.

5.  Brooklyn Bridge Bookends (Restoration Hardware, $69)

As a reader and collector of books, I think bookends are a good gift.  They look chic on a bookshelf or a table, and they come in all different types and price points.  I received a set of elephant bookends as a gift some years ago, and they look great on my living room shelves.  So if you know an avid reader, this is a much better gift than a booklight or a gift card.


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  1. Jill says:

    Enjoying your gift ideas very much. I recommend the Williams Sonoma hot chocolate mix — real chocolate shavings that make incredible hot chocolate. I received as a gift once with WS marshmallows, too. Very nice as a dessert in cold weather.

    December 8, 2010/Reply
  2. Stephanie says:

    You seriously spend up to $70 on acquaintences? It would seem awkward to have someone that I put in the acquaintance category get me a gift at all, much less one costing this much.

    December 9, 2010/Reply
  3. Belle says:

    I'm very selective about who in my life is granted the title of friend. Mostly because, I deplore when people who I know because of work/blog/church/neighborhood describe me as a friend. So what I call an acquaintance, some of you might call friends.

    The bookends were a gift for the nurse who I see every other week. And the candle was a gift for my hairdresser.

    So, yes, I have some people in my life who I like, and see often, but who I don't consider friends.

    December 9, 2010/Reply
  4. Laetitia says:

    Diptyque candles are the best. Plain and simple 😉 You can get them at Blue Mercury in DC too. I have Rose at my house for the season though I also love love love their holiday candles. The winter holiday set has three mini candles (Feu de bois, pommander and pine) for $88. I would love any of my 'acquaintance” who got me one of those as a gift 😉

    December 13, 2010/Reply