By Stephanie Cavanaugh
THE SEASON for toting host/ess gifts is here again. Brunch and lunch and cocktails and dinners and have-to-bring-something, right? The default of a bottle of wine is just fine, but why not make it a little more special with a gift inspired by the garden that won’t set you back much more than a decent bottle of plonk? Why, how thoughtful of you! How creative!
Here are 10 (10 is a rule for lists, you know) garden-inspired house gifts. Many of them can be picked up on the fly . . .
A bit of sparkle. Pottery Barn has some choice offerings this year including six feet of itty-bitty lights mixed with sparkly faux leaves and multifaceted beads on a skinny copper strand. Weave them around candles for a smashing dinner table, drape them across the mantel, wrap a banister, hang them on a tree, rope a doorway . . . Battery-operated with a timer so they go anywhere and you don’t have to fuss with a switch. $59.
A holiday classic. Pack a wine bag with paperwhite narcissus bulbs and hand it over. You can buy the bulbs for a buck or two each (depending) in hardware stores and garden centers all over right now. You can also Make a Production of It, setting the bulbs in a glass bowl filled with pretty pebbles and water. A couple of weeks and bingo, heaven scent.
Earthy handles. Anthropologie has a set of three herb-inspired cheese knives with handles shaped like the leaves of rosemary, thyme, and sage. In brass and stainless. $36.
Luscious scents. Candles from Sydney Hale, available at Salt & Sundry in Washington DC’s Union Market, at at Sydney Hale Company’s site, are like whiffing a most glorious garden. Neroli and Musk, Oaked Bitter Orange, Jasmine and Mint . . . If you don’t burn yours too often they can last for years, giving off little poofs of scent as you brush by. $34.
A growable feast. 1,305 Amazon shoppers give this Pink Oyster Mushroom Grow Kit by Forest Origins top marks. Said one reviewer: “The instructions said that it can take up to a week before you see growth, but mine started after a couple of days. Watching the mushrooms grow was strangely satisfying! They grew shockingly fast and would double in size sometimes within the same 24-hour period. About a week after starting the grow kit, I had a beautiful crop of mushrooms ready to harvest.” And, what’s more, “They tasted great.” $29.99.
A chic(k) laugh. Among my absolute favorite gifts this year was Kate E. Richards’s 2023 Drinking With Chickens calendar, so I’m overjoyed that not only will there be one for 2024, there’s also a book, carried by Amazon. Gorgeous, hilariously serious portraits of her chickens with floral arrangements are accompanied by drink recipes created from the spoils of her own garden. Think Lilac Apricot Rum Sour, Meyer Lemon and Rosemary Old-Fashioned, and a Rhubarb Rose Cobbler. $15.89.
Here’s to the pits. When you eat a lot of avocados and are filled with guilt when you toss the pit, knowing that it could be a tree . . . well. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) makes lemonade of that with a petite vase made to hold the pit as its little bottom gropes for water as leaves burst forth from the top. Available in clear and colors, as well as an acorn version if you’d prefer to go big. $55.
A time capsule. Do you remember the Twilight Zone (or was it Alfred Hitchcock?) episode with the glass container stuffed with something disgusting, maybe a dismembered baby? Neighbors would come and stare at it. I do not recall the dénouement. These vaguely disturbing glass domes filled with embalmed flowers echo that vibe. There are six to choose from including lavender, pussy willow, and one with a collection of pine cones and other Christmas dreck. I dunno, anything that involves “preservation fluid” . . . but it’s from MoMA, so . . . $80.
Livre! Just the thing for the gardener trapped inside for the winter: a toasty fire, chocolat chaud, and the droolingly photographed French Blooms: Floral Arrangements Inspired by Paris and Beyond. $23.99.
How crafty. Did you know you could make flowers out of Legos? Well, now you do. They call the Lego Icons Flower Bouquet Set a “great alternative to real flowers”; couldn’t agree more. Nasty things, real flowers. Always dying on you. These? 100% plastic! Enjoy ever-blooming roses, snapdragons, poppies, asters, daisies, and grasses. The perfect house gift. No water or vase required. $47.99.