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The Official Metro Christmas Gift Guide 2023

Unsure what to buy someone but don’t want to end up giving the same presents as everyone else? We got you.

The Official Metro Christmas Gift Guide 2023

Dec 19, 2023 City Life

This holiday season the gift I’m most desperately coveting is Archive by filmmaker Sofia Coppola ($157). Constructed from Coppola’s personal collection of photographs and ephemera, including early development work, reference collages, influences, annotated scripts and unseen behind-the-scenes documentation, the book offers a personal account of eight of her films. Pair this gift with a double pass to your recipient’s local cinema ready for the release of Coppola’s Priscilla in February.

If you’re headed to the beach over the summer, gift a bottle of Avene Eau Thermale Spring Water ($27) for a soothing spritz after long afternoons in the sun and sea, or alternatively give a valet car grooming service ($85) to whoever’s driving, to atone for tracking sand all through their car. 

For the homebodies in your life, what about a cotton tablecloth or kantha quilt from Southland-based textile brand Stitchwallah or a set of Autumn Sonata bath towels from Everyday Needs? For a loved one who works from home, grab a Baggu puffy laptop sleeve ($69) for ferrying their computer between meetings, or have a box of MUJI gel pens shipped over from Australia.

For years I’ve been hunting for a chic bath bag and coming up empty; now all of a sudden they’re everywhere. Autumn Sonata x Cap Beauty have recently collaborated on the Elena Toiletry Kit ($239), or closer to home Sans [ceuticals] are offering limited-edition holiday kits ($99–$159), complete with washable canvas bags, in two tones — dove grey or bronze. Città also offers a stylish contender in their Marlo Leather Wash Bag ($129), or go for a quilted pouch from The Moonflowers ($80) made from vintage cotton by Vita Vass in her Danish studio. 

A couple of years back I bought my boyfriend’s sister a portrait session (from $150) with Adrian Cook, who works with wet-plate collodion tintype photography. I couldn’t recommend this gift more, both for the thrill of the process and the remarkable heirloom produced by the end of the session. Similarly, I love the look of a knife- or pan-making class from The Solo Blacksmith ($250), for both the experience and the handmade take-home piece. 

If you’d rather not spend too much but still want your gift to feel a luxurious, pop into Cazador Delicatessen for a box of honeycomb ($30) or grab the extra-large Gloria silk scrunchie in scarlet ($45) from Colleen, for an easy dose of elegance. I also like visiting Junk & Disorderly and scrounging around for a vintage matchbox, ribbon and postcard to make any gift a little more personal. 

Over the past three months I’ve subscribed to the Spring Season of Kelmarna Community Farm’s CSA initiative. Each Wednesday morning, my boyfriend heads out to the gardens to pick up our week’s worth of vegetables, fruit and herbs and brings them home for me to unpack. This routine has been a shining light of the long busy spring, each week finding a new bounty of microgreens, fennel, lemons, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, celery, rosemary, collard greens, coriander, spring onion… the list goes on. A subscription to Kelmarna’s Summer Season ($520) would make the perfect gift for loved ones who love to cook from garden produce but don’t have the space or time to get into home gardening just now. If it seems a little expensive at first blush, consider that it works out to $40 a week, and instead of your money going to a big chain supermarket, it goes directly to the farmers for the harvest season. Kelmarna also offers a monthly payment plan. 

Mostly though, this Christmas, I’m thinking about Palestine — Bethlehem is in the West Bank, after all. As you gather with your loved ones this summer, consider those who cannot. When buying gifts, you might also like to consult the boycott, divestment and sanctions list and avoid goods from companies that support and profit from the violent occupation of Palestine. Instead, buy your gifts from Palestinian companies based in Aotearoa like Preserved Identity. Gift Adania Shibli’s brutal, moving novel Minor Detail ($32) or Raja Shehadeh’s clear-eyed memoir Occupation Diaries ($28). And of course, donate to Medical Aid for Palestinians or the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund

 

 

And now to some of Aotearoa’s finest artists and artisans for their gift suggestions this holiday season.

 

Photographer, writer, researcher, long-hair enthusiast and angel’s advocate Constance McDonald says, “When I was growing up we had a red plate with the words ‘You are special today’ [by Waechtersbach, $160] on it. My siblings and I knew we were special every day, but having this as your plate for dinner in recognition of a good mark in an English internal was so fun. This would be a great gift for your flat.” She also recommends ancient Roman rings off eBay, the Buly tortoiseshell silk-bristle toothbrush and a portable charger, specifically the Anker PowerCore Essential 20000 ($135): “I love to be the one who can pipe up and offer the world when someone laments that their phone is only on 12%.”

Designer and art director Nicole Miller-Wong suggests a pair of Hudson Wilder drinking glasses ($57) or a vintage floral duvet cover from Deiji Studios ($349). 

Filmmaker Todd Karehana loves to give loved ones handwoven Māori blankets ($489) from Noa Blanket Co. 

Tattoo artist Alma Proença recently commissioned a painting from local artist Matt Sinclair as a birthday present for her girlfriend. “He allowed me to add personal elements to the piece that were specific to her, which was really special. I think providing you allow enough time and have the budget for it, this could be a really thoughtful gift for someone.” Alternatively, Alma recommends Shoyeido’s River Path incense ($25). “I would regularly visit Babelogue to purchase this before they shut, but have recently found that they are stocking it at Everyday Needs.”

Psychoanalytic practitioner and writer Richard B Keys recommends giving A Spectre, Haunting: On the Communist Manifesto ($33) by the science-fiction-writer-slash-historian-and-political-theorist China Miéville to all your friends and family members — especially the conservative ones. “Mieville’s lyrical exposition of the infamous document raises the question of what it means to read The Communist Manifesto today, in the current historical moment marked by plague, mass protest, war, economic crises and ecological catastrophe. A profound and provocative text, but also quite simply a smashing good read.” 

Photographer and kaitiaki ranger Nicole Hunt says her current favourite gifts to give are Lalaga cards ($35) and Ora: Healing Ourselves — Indigenous Knowledge Healing and Wellbeing by Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Leonie Pihama ($65) “to weave a bit of healing and reconnection into your loved ones’ lives”. For an extra-special person, Nicole suggests a dip in the healing waters of Te Arawa with a gift voucher to Wai Ariki hot springs and spa.

Filmmaker and critic Tom Augustine suggests a slice of Karma soap from Lush ($12), a sheepskin rug from Wilson & Dorset ($179) or a t-shirt from And After That, the bootleg merch project of designer Edgar Gonzalez. 

Musician Tiare Kelly’s favourite gift, and one she finds herself coming back to for special friends, is a ceramic piece from Ford’s Factory — either a vase, mug or bowl. 

Designer Catherine Boddy’s favourite cheap gift is a Curionoir hard soap ($30), specifically the Ngutu Pā fragrance — “It’s just so divine, lathers so beautifully, and is a great sweaty summer gift! The wrapping is incomparably perfect, too, coming with a petal sachet and photograph card, making the experience easy if you’re in a last-minute rush.” To a person in her life who deserves the world, Catherine would give a Dyson Airwrap Complete Long multi-styler ($699). “Very summer-relevant if you’re swimming heaps — they’re just so cool and fun. I’m not sure why I haven’t been given one yet because I talk about them non-stop. I went to the store in Australia every day to use the display one.” 

Artist Meg Porteous recommends an artwork or merch from Māpura Studios, a creative space that provides programmes and art therapy for people “living with disability and diversity”.

Film and video editor Sophie Coombs suggests a pair of goggles to elevate your giftee’s underwater experience, an Opinel pocket knife ($36), rimu egg rack ($45) from Frances Nation, or Maryse highlighting dew ($58). “And definitely chuck an RJ’s raspberry choc log ($3) in with any of the above gifts.”

Artist Caroline McQuarrie prefers giving handmade gifts, and recommends wool from her local indie wool dyer Heather Weir or checking out your local adult education classes. “If you can’t make the gift yourself,” she says, “support a local maker such as Christine Brimer of Niche Textile Studio who designs and weaves her own gorgeous pieces made with un-dyed Aotearoa grown wool.”

Filmmaker Lara Yelavich-Coddington is a notoriously late gift-giver, but suggests a Souk mortar and pestle ($95), a Cloud World cap ($120), a lemon tree or a Speedway membership. She also recommends one of my favourite books, filmmaker Chantal Akerman’s My Mother Laughs ($35). 

Actress and model Roxie Mohebbi recommends the iconic mini tee from Buddy Hemp Goods ($79) in boysenberry or java, Awwa period undies ($43), or a beautiful monoprinted silk work from Ōtepoti artist Grace Mirams. She also shouted out AWAYDAY, the Instagram account founded by friends Gloria Griffen and Molly Scott as a platform to share hot secondhand homeware and art finds from all over Aotearoa. “It directly links Facebook marketplace and Trade Me treasures, giving you all the glory.”

Costumier Amy Tunnicliffe was recently gifted Petra Galler’s recipe book Butter, Butter ($50) and loves it. Inspired by the author’s Jewish heritage, the recipes feature ingredients like semolina, hazelnuts and tahini and toppings like candied fennel, pistachios, sesame and thyme — the perfect gift for the sophisticated cook in your life. 

Stylist Tom So is one of half a dozen people on this list who recommended an infrared sauna and ice bath from Hana studio ($100). “After a long week or just wanting some time for yourself, I encourage others to treat themselves to a sauna session. Experience inner radiance, the experience is quite life changing. Go by yourself or bring a friend or a lover for an additional $40. Health is wealth!” 

 

But wait, there’s more — Further gift ideas from some of Metro’s supporters.

 

 

Tantalus Estate

Give the experience of dining at Tantalus, a Metro Top 50 restaurant, where you can savour seasonal dishes that showcase the origins of mindfully sourced ingredients from around Aotearoa. In the winery, the Estate produces award-winning small-batch wine blends known for their distinctive quality, merging traditional techniques with new world innovation. This dedication further extends to the acclaimed Alibi craft beers, all brewed on site, and known for their contemporary takes on old world classics. With a busy brewing schedule, Alibi Brewing Co. promises to deliver with the regular release of new seasonal brews.  

Tantalus Estate has consistently been recognised as exceptional, boasting national awards in hospitality spanning dining, cuisine, architecture, and design, and international accolades for wines and craft beers. The opportunity to unlock the secrets of Tantalus Estate and all that it offers is an experience not to be missed.

Gifts, Experiences and Vouchers available. 

 

Lulu’s Jewellery

A playful take on the classic strand of pearls… Ariel Gordons Lido Strand Bracelet has a custom solid 14k gold heart clasp hand – knotted with natural baroque pearls. We’venbeen wearing these chic, chunkier pearls every day as the ultimate anchor to our favourite wrist stack. Plus, we couldn’t resist the sweet, heart clasp. $940

 

Jack Dusty Fairtrade Canvas Apron

Fair trade and made from 100% organic cotton and with some very becoming straps this apron is a workhorse that will see it’s recipient dominating any apron-friendly setting, be it cafe, barbershop, pub or home kitchen.

 

Saphir Medaille d’Or Intendant Box

A solid beech frame, with a beautiful ebony finish and black leather trims. This presentation box is filled with leather care products made in France by AVEL with Saphir Médaille d’Or formulas and available from Crane Brothers. $1696

 

Bariletto Aged Negroni

Barrel aged over many months in heavily charred oak barrels which gives it a subtle smokiness with a hint of vanilla and leaves it ever so slightly syrupy. Available in bottles and for the true Negroni lover, 5 & 10 litre barrels.

 

Huski Wine Coolers

This triple insulated Huski Wine Cooler is one of those items you’d rather gift to yourself as it will keep your wine chilled for up to six hours. $84.99-$89.99

 

Godavari Diamond Studs

Begin by selecting one pair of Godavari diamond studs. Then choose a Halo or Hoop accessory to customise or combine all three and add further accessories from other collections at any time. From $1675.

 

Golden Kiwi Necklace

Nice piece of tastefully rendered kiwiana from Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith. $1690.

Published in Metro N°441.
Available here.

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It’s our annual, inflation-busting ‘Where to Eat for Less Than $25’ list (with thanks to Uber Eats) issue! PLUS the Summer Books Special and the Auckland Property Report Card (with thanks to Barfoot and Thompson). Also, Sir Bob Harvey looks into the missing treasures in our museums and talks to Jacqui Knight about monarch butterflies. AND NOT ONLY THAT: Emil Scheffmann looks into our secondary art market, Matthew Hooton and Morgan Godfery look into the new government, Jamie Wall into the tennis, Hana Pera Aoake into the Māori response to the war in Palestine and Abby Howells into being the lion in the Wizard of Oz. We also find the 10 Best Bakeries in Auckland, a great recipe for a Japanese Breakfast and the king of the supermarket pasta brands. All this and much, much more.

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