Wednesday, December 9, 2009

11 Terribly Suitable High WASP Presents. OK, OK, Gifts.

Presents. We like to call them presents. Do High WASPs give a certain kind of Christmas present? Is everything monogrammed, crystal, silver, or very, very old? Featuring horses? Greyhounds? Plaid?

Luckily, no. Mostly, like everyone, we want to give our friends and family things they might like to have. We ask each other, before Christmas, "What do you want?" "Well, what do YOU want" "What are you getting for Sister A?" "Do you think Brother-In-Law B will like this?" And, of course, what about Mom, Dad, Mom's husband, Dad's wife? Sometimes we give Hanukkah presents. Cultures do change. Thank goodness.

Our exchanges are pretty practical. Especially since the family fortune dwindled and the Dow Jones entered this long drought. Imagine an almost empty grain silo, wind whistling, chaff blowing. Please excuse the slight exaggeration. But the days when I gave friends silver Tiffany cigarette cases, plane tickets to London, and diamond earrings? Gone.

The point is to get somebody something they want, not something you want to give.

As it turns out, everyone, sometimes, does just want the best blue cashmere sweater, the most comfortable pair of slippers, or a good way to connect to the Internet. A femme's friend Robert agrees. Quirky, unique presents are sometimes more fun to read about than to receive. Here are my suggestions for things your friends and family might really want.

1. Alphabet earrings from Catbird $40 each earring
Catbird says these are their #1 seller. I'm not surprised. We High WASPs especially like words and letters. Not that we are in any way responsible for Catbird's success, of course. These could make a nice untraditional monogram, especially if you got that third hole pierced. I think I'd wear a "Y" in one ear, and an "N" in the other. Yes and No. Because that's how I feel about most everything.

2. Bracelet from Scosha $169
Our artsy cousin likes presents that remind her of the days of safaris, caravans, wild travel. String a little diamond on some silk fishing line and go to the opera.

3. Monogrammed necklace from Catbird $300
Because classics are classic for good reason. Beautiful. Unfortunately, this takes 3-5 weeks to produce. Oops. Know anyone with a January birthday? But this one can be had in 2 weeks for $240. Just enough time, if you like to live dangerously.

Bow created under Creative Commons license from cuttlefish's Flickr photostream.

4. Handmade Minimalist Wallet by Makr Carry Goods $65
Men are very particular about wallets. Some of them just want a place to stash a few cards, a license, and some cash. The coins of course will wind up in a mug under the telephone, on top of the TV, or denting your silver Tiffany's bowl. Love is worth it.

5. Blue Pearl Wedge Tote from scabbyrobot at etsy $88
How to get that click of yes for less. Love the soft, sophisticated blue leather. Hate her store name so much that I can barely stand to read sca....Nope.

6. More Men's Slippers Than You Know What To Do With. From LL Bean $49.95
A tradition. One year we gave my father 4 different pairs of slippers., thinking we were hysterically funny. Sheepskin-lined slippers. Delicious as chocolate chips in oatmeal cookies. Feet in love. Meaning of luxury.

7. Built By Wendy Black Fishnet Sweater $105 (reduced from $150)
We're apt to have a black sweater or two already. And still might ask for another come present time.

8. John W. Nordstrom Crewneck Cashmere Men's Sweater $155
Extremely high quality, very soft. My son says people pat him when he wears his. Always a good thing, patting. This sweater fills a very nice niche between Neiman Marcus, Tse, and Pringle high-end stuff, and Bloomingdale's $79 fuzzies that give up the ghost almost immediately. I'm picky about cashmere and I like it.

9. Something With Design Integrity From A Mall Store $34-$129
Rushing through the mall, realize you need to give someone a present, and still want to make it count. Pottery Barn has some design guy with no ego hidden back in Vermont, as I imagine him, turning out lovely, traditional house stuff. Particularly these picture frames. And leather chairs, of course.

10. Antiqued Mexican Retablo With Story $32.92 (I know, what's up with the $0.92?)
We like to give each other folk art. Probably the endless hunt for cultural authenticity. We also like to buy photographs from Peonies and Polaroids.

11. Novatel NiFi 2200 Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot Modem (price incomprehensible*)
Yes. Well, since our family fortune exited, stage left, we do have to work. And work is always better with colleagues. My tech friends have done the research. They say that IF one of your team has a Verizon wireless access card, then he or she can use this device to enable the whole team to get online without dealing with annoying connectivity issues, T-Mobile Hot Spot fees, or hotel lobbies that insist you have to actually stay there in order to use their network. Hurrah for collaboration and no additional fees.

Et voila. Having given each other presents, we then like to play word games. The favorite is Fictionary. Played with a big real dictionary, slips of paper, and a ragtag assortment of pens. One year my son defined a word, I don't remember which one, as, "Human guts. Very siccuhtating." Another, more poetic fictitious definition, again for a word I don't remember, "Dust of the cave." Happy Holidays to you all.

*In the way pricing associated with data plans always is.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Lisa, do High WASPs use "gift" as a verb?

December 9, 2009 at 6:10 AM  
Blogger Tish Jett said...

I just did a stupid thing -- per day, can't even count how many, but I digress; I just threw your response to me into the trash because it didn't go into regular e-mail and I was thinking "Privilege" instead of what your e-mail address is and, and -- would you please re-send.

Love your gift ideas. Has gift become a verb in the way summer always was? I must say the one thing I do not understand is how the verb to say has been replaced by the verb to go, but then again I'm sure you don't know anyone who does that. (Of course, nor do I.)

All the best,
Tish (

December 9, 2009 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger JMW said...

Great ideas! The bags are great, but I agree - what's with the name? It's attention-grabbing, that's for sure!

December 9, 2009 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger hostess of the humble bungalow said...

LPC I just cannot visualize you with a Y and an N in your ears! My vision of your WASP ear lobes is that they would be sporting a pair of large natural pearl studs, simple gold hoops or what I wear, diamond studs.
Fictionary for your family was called dictionary in ours LOL! Someone always has to be the joker and put in the most colorful and verbose definition that one or more of us vote for! Good times.

December 9, 2009 at 7:23 AM  
Blogger materfamilias said...

Trying not to be panicky here about being stuck at home with a cold and a pile of marking instead of getting my Christmas-shopping done. Why, why, why do I still not do online shopping, except for books?! That'll be me, rushing through a mall, looking for something with "design integrity" sometime around the 20th . . .

December 9, 2009 at 7:28 AM  
Blogger Patsy said...

Excellent choices! My parents give my husband #6 every few years, when his current #6s wear out.

I foresee spending some quality time with Catbird in my future.

December 9, 2009 at 7:31 AM  
Blogger Buckeroomama said...

I'm a bit surprised at how much I'm loving #s 2 and 3.

Just wondering... do High WASPs give ever give anything, um, whimsical as presents?

December 9, 2009 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger La Belette Rouge said...

I may have to add that monogram necklace to my list for Santa. Love that. Really pretty.

December 9, 2009 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger LPC said...

As far as is gift a verb, funny you should ask. I was talking to my mother yesterday, and she said, "I am just reviewing all the people I gave to this year." Gave to, not gifted. And I do wear diamond studs almost every day. Just sometimes I get notions...but I think we save whimsical for stocking presents. Which we tend to go overboard on. We're kind of afraid of cute, so we have to contain it in small things.

December 9, 2009 at 9:21 AM  
Blogger lauren said...

and such breathtaking hacked-up magazine bows! artsy cousins would surely approve.

i confess that my favorite thing about "presents" is its comic potential as a homophone. a week into december, and my poor coworkers are already sick of "i'm going to make like santa claus and leave your presence." it still destroys me, for i am twelve.

December 9, 2009 at 9:38 AM  
Blogger Headbands and Hand Bags said...

Delightful list! I would think a basic as a gift would be wonderful, I don't particularly buying ymself new slippers. but with a puppy, they would always be welsome! I love all of these ideas! The Dow will come back!!

December 9, 2009 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger The Mrs. said...

Very nice list indeed. Just add some heels from J crew and a cashmere sweater for me and were all set!

December 9, 2009 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger LPC said...

Hahahahaha. Lauren you are making me laugh too, perhaps I am twelve. Which reminds me that I must credit that bow, which I hacked from a hackable Flickr stream. Thanks. I hope the Dow does come back and The Mrs., glad you are feeling well!

December 9, 2009 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'll take the Verizon thingamajig ;D

December 9, 2009 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger lauren said...

oh, i was flattered by the hack with or without credit! my quasi-secret craft ego loves it.

December 9, 2009 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger LPC said...

Get this. I didn't even make the connection that the bow-maker was Lauren. Just found the photo, loved it, used it. Small world. Small, small world. Sher, if you can make that Verizon thingie work I will BOW to you.

December 9, 2009 at 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Jan said...

"Is everything monogrammed, crystal, silver, or very, very old? Featuring horses? Greyhounds? Plaid?"

I hope so - I was so looking forward to a crystal and silver monogrammed greyhound. Wearing one of those little plaid doggie sweaters.

December 9, 2009 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Joyce Lau said...

Jan -- Oh, you joke.
I cannot count the number of flower- or animal-shaped crystal thingies (only Swarovski or Lalique will do), silver engraved platters, ceramic statuettes of horses, etc., that adorn our family glass menageries.
Yes, I said menageries. In the plural.
Hong Kong is basically one big island of high WASP wannabes.
When we lived in Connecticut, my family (my CHINESE family) adorned our home with wooden ducks, quilted decorative throw pillows, wicker baskets tied with plaid bow for the holidays....
Every year I beg my family to forgo the Christmas gift swap. And every year a glimpse of a crystal panda or something catches my eye, and I end up buying it for my mum.

December 9, 2009 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Marilyn *Pink Martinis and Pearls* said...

Love the tiny letter earrings but I would need mine in upper case in a font detectable without readers. See how grinchy I am? I would buy them for moi. How about p.s. or o.k.? N.o.? :)

Must be something in the air today. I am feeling quite giddy myself.

December 9, 2009 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Miss Whistle said...

thank goodness, finally someone knows that it's a present and not a gift (i thought it was me, thought it an english thing).

love this list.

miss w

December 9, 2009 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

love #10!

December 9, 2009 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger Duchesse said...

Terrific list, praise likely b/c matches my yet to be wrapped selections so closely (cashmere, Bean slips.) I also give a lot of orchids and exotic succulents.

December 9, 2009 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

We give presents. "Gift" is most definitely not a verb. As a point of interest "gift" is the German word for poison.

December 9, 2009 at 5:48 PM  
Blogger Lipstick said...

I do like this list and I am immensely enjoying the debate over the use of the word "gift" as a verb. I have to laugh especially since I used it in that manner a few days ago. Ah...learning.

December 9, 2009 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger What Kate Wore said...

Reading this has been my little treasured time tonight away from the frenzy permeating the Prepatorium, a delightful respite, full of good ideas that are not all the mass-produced merchandise filling the malls. It is really well done Miss LPC, and seriously, it is as if you personally gave me a little isle of sanity for a brief break. Thank you for that.
Smiles at you,

December 9, 2009 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger LenoreNeverM♡re said...

Lovely selections,I'm intrigued by the Blue Pearl Wedge Tote!

December 9, 2009 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Lindy D. said...

The only time I hear "gift" used as a verb is as "regifted," which is a terrible idea. I believe any regifting should be directly to thrift shops.

The cashmere sweater is a great price point for good quality. I assume this is a Nordstrom's label? My 20-something nephews are also happy with anything from L.L. Bean, Brooks Brothers, Orvis, Ralph Lauren, and Vineyard Vine. (IMHO, VV is a little over the preppy top.)

Don't you think that most "old money" exchange practical gifts? If you live in New England, this includes things to keep you warm. Last year we received fireplace paraphernalia, ski apparel, hand knit scarves, and flannel pj's. All very useful and appreciated.

December 10, 2009 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Susan B said...

These are excellent choices! My go-to mall store for "I-haven't-a-clue-what-to-get-them" is Restoration Hardware. They always have a great collection of "vintage" toys and games that go over well. (Slinky, in pseudo-original packaging!) Or cheekily embroidered hand towels and such. It's a lifesaver!

December 10, 2009 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger LPC said...

I do think Old Money tends to exchange practical presents. Everything else smacks of showing off a bit. Which I ignore:). And I agree, Restoration Hardware's vintage toys have graced my dad's Christmas stocking many a time.

December 10, 2009 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline Weppner said...

Love the catbird necklace. If only I had put it on my own christmas list for santa. sigh!

December 11, 2009 at 7:49 AM  
Blogger Her Preppiness said...

Great ideas

December 12, 2009 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger prashant said...

Love your gift ideas. Has gift become a verb in the way summer always was?

Work from home India

December 16, 2009 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger kanishk said...

finally someone knows that it's a present and not a gift

Wagyu Steaks

December 30, 2009 at 2:25 PM  

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