Dec 15, 2022 City Life
For your favourite dinner party host, I recommend Pen2, the second recipe book from Coffee Pen ($65), a Misa Kuromoto knife from Public Record ($250) or a piece from the undeniably chic Gohar — my current favourites are their bottle aprons woven from bobbin lace ($45) and the black satin baguette bag ($445), the perfect accessory for a morning stroll to the bakery.
Speaking of morning routines naturally brings us to beauty gifts. Skincare is very subjective, but you can’t go wrong with the Sans [ceuticals] Activator 7 Body, Face and Hair Oil ($62), a dry brush from Everyday Needs ($41) or a facial ice roller which you can buy, inexplicably, from Dick Smith ($21).
Books are always a good gift — I recommend a personalised book bundle from End of the Earth ($30). Sure to impress the right giftee, my pick for coffee-table book of the year is Can I Ask You A Question? by Jennifer Venditti ($135). Venditti is the legendary casting director behind Good Time, Uncut Gems, American Honey and Euphoria.
For kids I recommend one of Numa Mackenzie’s hand-printed eel t-shirts from Moana Fresh ($33) or a Sunprint Kit from Garden Objects ($20). Produced by the University of California, Berkeley, since 1975, the kits mimic the cyanotype printing process and are a perfect sunny-day activity for children and adults alike.
For a twist on the classic stocking stuffers, buy a pair of socks from artist Turumeke Harrington ($35) or a box of Sal de Añana salt flakes from Cazador ($13.50). And for a Secret Santa gift your colleagues will actually appreciate, wrap up a bottle of Italian olive oil — I’d go for the Colonna Classico Extra Virgin Olive Oil Anfora from Sabato ($32) — or buy an Under the Radar voucher ($25+) your recipient can exchange for tickets to the summer gig of their choosing. If you’re really looking to impress, nab a piece from the next nineteen99 drop. Their clothes and accessories sell out quick, so be sure to turn notifications on for their Instagram posts.
Christmas drinks and dinner parties abound this time of year and you really shouldn’t show up empty-handed. A bottle of Gekkeikan plum wine ($29) or Radice Paltrinieri Lambrusco Ancestrale ($30) should do the trick. A bottle of Guignolet ($46) cherry liqueur is even better. For those who don’t drink alcohol but still appreciate a fine beverage, try East Imperial Yuzu Lemonade ($6).
Of course, I also wholeheartedly endorse buying yourself gifts. The best thing I bought this year, and the most expensive, was the Modern Times Coat ($780) from Gloria, the latest project from designer Kristine Crabb. I bought mine at a discount during their new moon sale and they’ve since sold out of the black, but it’s still available in Midnight and Sahara if you’re up to paying full price. It really is the perfect winter coat — ideal if you happen to be travelling to the northern hemisphere during the next few months — and runs a generous sizing range.
For those staying put for the summer but who wish they were travelling, I recommend hotel merch. If you want to spend a bit of money, buy a bathrobe ($400) from Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, and if you don’t, select a vintage souvenir ashtray from Etsy from a city that means something to your recipient. For loved ones abroad who miss home, send this limited-edition feijoa candle from Crushes ($25) and a packet of Gingernuts ($3). For those working from home through the summer, try a Misma Anaru ceramic organiser ($220) or a high-velocity fan ($60).
And now to a selection of Aotearoa’s artists and artisans for their own suggestions of things to give or receive this holiday season. Happy gifting!
Artist Claudia Kogachi recommends the perfect trio of gifts for a hot summer: a litre bottle of Cancer Society sunscreen ($57), a wetsuit vest from Cold Wave ($250) and a sexy mini-skirt from Jing Hé ($320). Writer and librarian Manon Revuelta suggests a Camelbak drink bottle ($100) to keep your liquids cool at the beach.
The Pantograph Punch director Vanessa Mei Crofskey recommends Emma Jing for a second year running, this time selecting the Wilbur Hsu x Emma Jing collab scrunchie ($65). She also recommends a subscription to The Art Paper ($40–$55), the NO.BO Lavender Ambroxan Fabric Deodorizer ($45) and a package of five driving lessons from the AA ($250 / $375) for the learner licence lovers in your life.
Photographer and host behind Roses Dining Room Ophelia Harradine Bayly recommends the Isosceles book and iPad stand from Powersurge ($289), saying it’s “so handy for recipes in books or on iPads, or for displaying a cute coffee-table book, or in bed for telly!” She also suggests a piece from Goodwin Ceramics or Honest’s Three Origins Coffee Liqueur ($66), which she probably wouldn’t buy just for herself but would thoroughly enjoy sharing. For a cheap and cheerful stocking stuffer, Ophelia recommends the Ilford HP5 black and white disposable camera ($30).
Filmmaker Tom Augustine recommends the Signature Geothermal Mud Wrap from Polynesian Spa in Rotorua ($169–$284, depending on the day of the week and whether you add the optional 30-minute massage, which Tom suggests you do). He’s also keen on Cormac McCarthy’s recently released companion novels The Passenger and Stella Maris (both $50), the author’s first books in decades and probably his last.
Musician Nikolai Talamahina (aka Brown Boy Magik) suggests heading along to Wheke Fortress’ two-day Christmas pop-up to support local Māori and Pasifika artists.
Artist George Watson recommends a kete woven by her partner’s mum, Corey McMinn. “She lives here in Tūranganui-a-kiwa, she began weaving earlier this year to connect with her younger sister who was a master weaver and passed away from cancer. Corey quickly picked up the skill of weaving — my partner tells me that their great-grandmother was a master weaver too. Corey’s pieces are really innovative and keep getting better.”
Hairstylist Sean Patrick Mahoney recommends heading to Karangahape Rd to suss all your presents at once. “Whether it’s picking up a record from Flying Out for my eclectic-music-loving bestie or picking up a ‘fash’ piece from That Looks, good old K Rd has a number of locally owned businesses in close proximity to each other.” Of course Sean also recommends shopping Colleen’s ‘made in New Zealand’ range of beauty and hair care products. Filmmaker Hash also recommends That Looks, in particular their wall hangings from artist Anna Fielder.
Writer and filmmaker Litia Tuiburelevu would love to be gifted the charming Baobei Nostalgia Glam necklace ($80) made from repurposed beads. Designer Frandson Bahati recommends an Audio Technica turntable ($450).
Artist Natasha Matila-Smith says a friend bought her a nice face cloth ($12) and soap bar ($26) from Everyday Needs for her birthday, and it was a great gift to receive. Otherwise, she says, an experience can be the best. “For Mum this year, I’m going to clean her car, inside and out, and get little organising baskets from Daiso, just to make her life a little easier. Hope she loves it!”
Artist August Ward recommends a cashmere cardigan or an Underlena voucher for luxury lingerie. Stylist Gala Richards recommends the Alice Langbrown Sterling Silver Kingdom Band ring ($250) or the CrazyDaysAndNights Raglan Sleeve Bardcode t-shirt ($80) from her shop Sabotage MFG, which also does vouchers. Designer Caitlin Snell recommends a pair of Kate Butterworth boxers if you’re after a sexy Christmas gift.
Writer Samuel Te Kani says, “If you feel as lethargic about Christmas presents as I do, then there’s always the excuse of financial strain and/or Covid-related mental health symptoms (cough). But sometimes the normative strain of gift-giving just cannot be avoided. If this is the case in your allocated portion of familial hell, then I’d suggest cheap but flashy trinkets jammed into a thrifted stocking. Edible things — chocolate, dried fruit, artisanal baking, single-origin coffee beans. And maybe, for the game, spice things up with a loose cock ring or two.”
Musician Frances Libeau (aka i.e. crazy), loves to give and receive books and book vouchers from independent bookstores. “As a longtime bookseller in a previous life, I know that vouchers really help indie bookstores as they get not one but two people into the shop, the giver and the receiver. I don’t know of a greater pleasure than selecting the perfect book for a person, moment or mood. Blue Flower Texts in Ōtautahi have the best local selection of creative theory I’ve seen in aeons and they ship super-promptly around New Zealand. Lamplight Books in Parnell is a stunning place to visit and they have my favourite selection of art and cookery books. And my old favourite, Time Out Books in Maungawhau Village, offers wall-to-wall options and personalised gift subscriptions that I wholeheartedly endorse.”
Photographer Apela Bell suggests “the perfect coffee table book”, Rob Tennent’s I’m Going To Miss You ($101), documenting long summer days shared with beautiful men. Film and theatre maker Nahyeon Lee recommends Nathan Joe’s Scenes from a Yellow Peril ($39), the book based on his play, which she says was “a stand-out show this year, created in a space of resistance and protest”. Photographer Brendan Kitto recommends checking out the titles from publisher Rim Books, “especially the ones that have been released over the past year”: Closing Time ($50), Jellicoe & Bledisloe ($50), Road People of Aotearoa ($50) and Motutapu ($70).
Journalist Eva Corlett recommends a subscription to Fitzcarraldo Editions ($77–$232): “this has been the best gift to myself this year — transgressive, exciting, moving fiction and essays from around the world, delivered to your letterbox each month”. Eva also has a hot tip if you’ve left it until Christmas Eve and you’re looking to do a bulk present buy. “I debated whether to share this place. Once, while there, a stranger looked at me and said, ‘Isn’t this the greatest shop in Auckland?’ I agreed, of course. She then asked with unnerving seriousness: ‘You haven’t told anyone about it, have you?’ I was shocked she would even ask. Apologies to that stranger and to my former self, but in the spirit of giving, and because I want this place to stay open forever — I give you Asia Gallery Kimono Emporium in Penrose, where you can find a beautiful gift for every person on your list, and on any budget. Many go for the thousands of silk kimono — I go for the 100-year-old knives, bins of silk, ceramics, indigo paper, oddities, wood boxes, trinkets and more.”
Writer Colleen Maria Lenihan says one of the nicest gifts she’s ever received was the Fornasetti Silencio candle ($350). She also recommends the macadamia butter toffee crunch handmade chocolates from Makana Confections ($28). For another sweet treat, artist Cora-Allan Wickliffe loves to gift the banana, toffee and almond porridge pack from Posh Porridge ($30).
Podcast host and filmmaker Julie Zhu recommends a box of ugly vegetables from Perfectly Imperfect ($32), a social enterprise trying to reduce food waste. That, or a plant: “Something a bit more mature than a tiny seedling so it can grow quickly for whoever receives it, like a tomato plant or lemon tree. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more joy or pride than when I grew my own bok choy from seed. Nature is magic!”
Prairie Hatchard-McGill says, “This year I remembered I am an artist and should probably make everyone’s gifts! It’s also cheaper and much more special than anything I could buy. I will make a run of something, maybe small resin trinkets, as that’s the material I’ve been working with recently. In lieu of this, my ultimate gift would be an hour in a sensory deprivation tank ($110). It’s a luxury that many wouldn’t buy for themselves, so I’d love to give someone an hour where everything physical melts away and you’re left with only your mind roaming free. I want one!”