Mara’s 2011 Gift Guide

Christmas is right around the corner!  Let’s make it a good one.

Here are some rad gift ideas.  Some of them are mad money $$$$, Dirt Cheap, Tasty, Practical, Vintage or Just Cool.

Chocolate Editions by Matt & Mary.  These two are amazing artists/designers in Brooklyn.  I have met them on a few occasions and they are some of the coolest people I’ve ever met (and they run an awesome design blog, too.)  They sell these handmade chocolates that are really, really good.  I die over their caramel chocolate.  In stripes…seriously?  And strawberry.  And tangerine.   And who doesn’t like dark chocolate, salted or chocolate pie charts?…So clever & fun for all your finance/accountant/banker loved ones.  This duo learned their trade from Jacques Torres.  And they have the coolest packaging.  (Bars, $5; Pie Chart, $20)

Posteritati – One of my favorite places to visit in the city is Posteritati, one of the best sellers of vintage movie posters.  Vintage movie posters happen to be one of my favorite things to collect.  Stanley Oh has been at Posteritati for years and years and is extremely helpful & has a great eye for posters.  Every time I go there,  I find at least 5 posters that I don’t want to live without.  My absolute favorites are the ones done by Polish designers.  In Poland, the designers had a dramatic license in marketing American (or other) films and so what resulted were some of the most brilliant, amazing pieces of movie artwork ever created.  The movement began in the 1890s, before the era of globalized entertainment when movie posters became the same in every country.  The artists’ work was so popular that they had the first International Exposition of Poster in Krakow in 1898.  You can read more about the movement here.  Click on the posters, below, for pricing.  These are my current favorites, all from the 1950s & 1960s.  (Though that dear Pinokio is no longer available.  But it’s one of my favorites so had to include it anyway.)


And, if you DO get a movie poster & want it framed in the most tasteful / high quality way possible, you must go to Alpine Art in Salt Lake City.  You can ship anything to them.  This is Adrian Pulfer’s favorite place (he is an amazing designer & professor of design at BYU.)  Alpine has done superb work for me, too…..much, much better than places I’ve gone to in NYC.  Say hello to April, she is wonderful.

-New York City Subway Destination Scrolls – (from Winter Works) Well, I just love these Subway Scrolls .  A bunch.  Cause I know all these stops & locations.  But I am guessing you do, too.  Cause who doesn’t have New York in their heart??  Price is $200 for the 19 x 30 size.  AND – I am very pleased to say that Winter Works will give a 10% discount to all readers from {A Blog About Love}!  I think I myself, might have to go for this one:

Mirrored Plastic Letters by Canal Plastic Center.  I just love typography.  And I love an excuse to go to gritty Canal Plastic (right on Canal Street).  There are many things you can do with these letters.  I have them hanging with string from some branches (like ornaments) in our bedroom.  I love it.  They are 2 inches tall, $1 each.  Canal Plastics doesn’t sell on-line, but the nice Asian man I just spoke to says they can take a phone order and send you these wherever you are.  But unfortunately you’ll miss out on the fake Prada bags being sold next door.

Vintage Stamps (via HI + LOW):  My friend Abby is an avid vintage stamp collector (click link for more stamps + her favorite e-bay stamp source).  I can’t tell you what a treat it is to receive a letter or invitation from her in the mail with 3 or 4 vintage stamps on it.  We also used a ton of vintage stamps for our HARVEY FAIRCLOTH mailings.  I wish I had photos.  I hope Lucky & Elle & W liked it.  I think they did.

Pints of Ted Drewes Frozen Custard.  Ted Drewes is in St. Louis (since 1929), but they are famous among some in NYC with deep pockets who have the stuff shipped.  My former hedge fund boss LOVES this custard.  It’s the shipping that’s pricey (minimum order is 8 pints of custard for $28, with $100 shipping!), but how fun would it be to get a collection of (8) pints of custard in the mail?  The flavor first on my list would be pistachio.

Uncle’s Puzzles – My family looooves puzzles.  Every year someone shows up with some puzzles, and the more brain power needed, the better.  One Christmas my brother, George, flew home from Chicago with a load of these ‘Uncle’s Puzzles’ for all my uncles (I have 8!)  Each puzzle comes in its own box – they are great quality and will provide hours of entertainment (unless you are my brother.  He happens to be a genius.  For reals, guys.  And he can do these things in seconds.)  These are about $15 each.

Kee’s Chocolates – In my opinion, these are simply the best & freshest chocolates in NYC.  Kee Lee Tong, the Japanese owner, can be found making fresh chocolates in her shop in Soho 7 days a week.  If I ever go to a destination for chocolate, this is exactly where I would want to go.  See if these flavors don’t entice you….. Pignoli, Lemon Basil, Thai Chili, Pistachio, Almond, Blended Pepper, Black Sesame, Creme Brulee.  Trust me…..they are to die for.  The best I’ve ever had.

Set – So if you are a game type family, I highly recommend this game called Set.  I freaking love this game.  Apparently the NY Times loves it, too.  Both adults and kids can really, really enjoy this game.   Of course, my brother George can take on the entire extended family and he still dominates.   A ‘Set’ is 3 cards in which each individual feature (color, quantity, shape, solid/striped/blank inside) is either all the SAME on each card…OR all DIFFERENT on each card.  Can you see a ‘Set’ here?  I see 5 so far.  $10.69.

Magnetic Door Stop – Do you guys have doors that close automatically?  In New York, everybody’s front doors shut automatically.  And let me just tell you that it gets tricky.  But I bought this magnetic door stop years ago for my current apartment, and it is life changing.  haha.  JUST GET ONE and see what I am talking about.  Oh, the ease of getting in the door with loads of groceries on each arm and an umbrella and who knows what else (one day a baby & a stroller & a toddler?  How on earth??)  I know you won’t believe me, but this really is one of my most favorite things in this apartment.  Only other things that beat it are a washer & dryer and a dishwasher.  We get very, very excited about the basics in this town. 

Vintage Pop Cans – I have a little vintage pop can collection in my kitchen.  They are so colorful and fun.  My friend, Abby, did a little post about them.   You can find them on Ebay for super cheap.  Most of mine were under $1 each.  Major bang for the buck.  Here are some of my cans…

Sedici Animali – Animal Jigsaw Puzzle– Yes, I once knew a Santa that shopped at Moss.  Can you imagine a Christmas tree loaded with Moss boxes underneath?  It was kind of awesome.  This is the only toy in my house.  But it’s a good one.  The kids that visit my home certainly enjoy it, but I think all their hip designer dads & moms love it even more.  I’ll just keep the price off of this one.  You’d rather not know.  

Brinca Dada Dollhouses – This company is just awesome.  I just love the dollhouses.  Some friends, Rusty Clifton & Matt Simpson, did the branding for the company…so I think I have to get one of these someday, right?  It was fun to see some of the designs and ideas before they launched.  Love, love, love!  ($149-$599) 

[If I can get pregnant without IVF, dollhouses for everyone! ;)] NEW UPDATE:  Brinca Dada will give 10% off to readers of {A Blog About Love}.  SWEET!  Please email them at with your order and reference the blog name to get the discount.


Crayon Rings by Eli Phant.  Aren’t these fun?  I am just such a sucker for color.  These just pull me in.  And the best part is, they come as a set of 8 (!) so you don’t have to choose a color!  And if you get stuck without a pen in your purse, well, I guess you’ll be set.  🙂  $50.

Sock & Glove – Here it is…..the book that taught me how to make sock & glove animals!  It’s written by a Japanese crafter, Miyako Kanamori.  Love, love, love.  Read more about my sock animals on this post.   I get all my supplies online from Michaels (cause we just don’t have stores like that around here).  They also have the plastic beads you will need to fill the cute bums. 


Bosisto’s Eucaplyptus Spray – OK, this one is weird, I know.  But it’s a good gift for any mom.  Eucalyptus oil is 100% natural.  And it will kill germs AND will safely remove gum from shoes or hair and paint from anything – walls or children.   And it’s pretty handy to have it in a spray can.  These come from Australia.

Stendig Calendars –  You already know I love the MUJI Calendars (from a Japanese office & home supply store in NYC).  But I also love these huge Stendig Calendars, designed by Massimo Vignelli in 1966.  Yes, they’ve been around awhile.  But I still love them & have had them for years.  They make a huge impact in a room (& they’re a cheap way to cover a blank wall).   And….my favorite thing about them is they make the best wrapping paper.  When you rip off a month, roll it up and save it …next time you have a January birthday gift to give, you are set.  Or you can use the letters or numbers to highlight a gift – wrap it so the relevant one is on the top.  I also cut out a bunch of 3s and 0s and hung from the ceiling on Danny’s 30th birthday.  There are so many things you could do !

3-D Animal Puzzles from MUJI – Loving these.  Seems like they’d be fun to make and fun to play with, too!   Noah’s Ark!  A day at the zoo!  So fun.  $12.50.

Origami Paper – Also from Muji.  I just love origami, especially in bright colors.  Great for kids.  Great for adults.  And fun to make ornaments or decorations for parties.  $4.75

And, of course… NYC in a Bag –  Also from MUJI.  You can also get “Toyko in a Bag.”  $14.

Ork Posters – See if they have your city!  $27.  We are partial to these two…….

Books Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger – I have a nice little collection of her books. 
I’m just in love with her illustrations.  Some of my favorite books are Thumbeline, The Wizard of Oz, Noah’s Ark, Little Hobbin, The Canterville Ghost, Alice in Wonderland.

Metal Letters (see for Etsy link) – Yep.  More typography.  Can’t get enough of it around here.  🙂  I tracked these down after seeing them being used by a store owner in Brooklyn to advertise his store.  I finally found some for my own from the guy who makes them….it’s called Gauge NYC, in Brooklyn.

Prints from Kristiana Parn – You guys, Danny is the sweetest husband.  While we were dating, for Valentine’s Day we visited the Dia: Beacon, a modern art museum in Beacon, NY.  It was just a wonderful day trip from the City (highly recommend it).  The town has a sweet little shopping district with lots of art galleries.  Danny spotted some prints from Kristiana Parn and LOVED them.   Over a year later on our first wedding anniversary, what does he get me??  Those same prints that he loved – for our soon-to-be nursery!  I just melted.



Coat Rack, by Desu Design – I spotted this at the Brooklyn Design Show in DUMBO many years ago.  It’s made by a welder in Williamsburg.  He has a whole factory where he makes these and other items.  The hooks fold down, as needed.  We love it.  Looks great year round.  $435. 

Klein Tool Pouches -These are just great for girls, boys, men, women.  I can think of all kinds of things that I would love to keep in these.  $13.75.

Futsal Ball – I am crazy about the colors on this soccor.  So fun.  From Future Perfect Brooklyn.  $77.

Bird Callers –  A friend knows about these French bird callers and I have been wanting to try them.  She says they really work!  You can get a boxed set or buy them individually for about 20 euro.
They all come in little wooden boxes.

Colored Shoelaces –  There is nothing more adorable than a little pair of vintage leather boots on a 1 year old with bright blue shoelaces.  I think bright colored shoelaces are the new accessory we all need to add a punch of unexpected color to whatever it is we’re wearing.  I’d get several colors to have on hand.  We Love Colors.  $1.50. 

Hand Turned Spinning Tops – How beautiful are these?  I want all of them.  $8.50 from designer, Saikai, at Future Perfect Brooklyn.

Forget Me Knot Rings – ahhh… these.  Love the colors.  Love that they can be a little reminder to us of something we don’t want to forget.  From designer Kiel Mead.  Powder coated brass.  Future Perfect Brooklyn, $50.

Themis Mobile – by Clara Von Zweigbergk for Artecnica.  So sweet.  Love the colors.  Future Perfect Brooklyn, $29 . 

Church’s Wingtips for Women (or Men) – This place has THE best wingtips you could find – & they carry styles for women!  I would love to get any one of these. 

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  1. Alie November 14, 2011 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    I just bought a poster from Ork (thanks for the tip, Mara!) and they are $7 off today! So go buy one!!

  2. Erin November 14, 2011 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    thanks for all the great ideas, Mara. I especially love the letters (both the metal and the plastic)!

  3. tawnya November 15, 2011 at 12:54 am - Reply

    My husband and I play set online every morning (competing with our times, of course!) and have for years. Love it.

  4. The Harper Family February 22, 2012 at 5:51 am - Reply

    We LOVE Set!!! 🙂

    And I am loving your soda cans!

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