French Holiday Cadeaux
Beautiful gift collections that are magnifique and can be bought in the USA
One of my favorite French expressions is « Pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué? »
Why make it simple when you can make it complicated? You see the irony.
The reason I bring this up is because that’s precisely what I’m doing as I collect some of my favorite French holiday gifts for you.
Let me explain. I like to “bundle” presents, which is to say I collect two or more items that echo a theme, sometimes arrange them in a pretty, reusable receptacle, and then wrap with great care featuring silk ribbons. Remember, no matter what we do, from setting a dinner table to wrapping a gift, the exterior “wow” factor is part of the pleasure.
Don’t worry, I’ve made it simple for you. Here are a few of my cadeaux collections:
Who isn’t mad about lavender? I put my presents into a basket lined with a tea towel embroidered with a lavender motif. Snuggled within are a packet of lavender seeds to plant in the spring, lavender blossoms to make your own sachets or to put inside little linen sacks and toss into the dryer, pillow spray for sweet dreams, and two artisanal soaps.
My Stylish French Box
MSFB, quarterly luxury subscription boxes filled with divine made-in-France items curated by the brilliantly creative Sharon Santoni, truly reflects the ultimate essence of France. There’s still time to order the Christmas edition, if you act quickly. It was so popular that Sharon reordered all the surprises within to fill the continued demand. Click here for one or an entire year of boxes. (And yes, the lovely boxes themselves are collectible. She thinks of everything.)
Full disclosure: I love gorgeous French paper products and all their accoutrements. My monogrammed stationery and note cards come from the storied 130-year-old Armorial Paris. Then there are my notebooks (large and small), sketch pads, thank you notes, wrapping and tissue papers, and calendars.
When my daughter was in grade school we discovered that included in a French child’s required back-to-school supplies were two essentials: a calendar notebook wherein they organized their year by writing the due dates of weekly homework and future projects, and a simple pencil case to keep their pencils and pens — always including a fountain pen — well organized. The premise behind these requirements is that they are a lesson in organization and discipline. Ever since those days both my daughter and I have pencil cases in our bags. I’m including one for a friend this year with some note cards, and an Eiffel Tower wax sealing stamp. All will be presented in a box with a magnet closure she can reuse.
And staying on the paper theme, I’m giving my daughter and my childhood BFF a subscription to My French Country Home magazine. It’s beautiful, it’s in English, it’s another Sharon Santoni project, and I’m a contributing writer.
Family Fun and Games
In my family we like puzzles, board games, card games, and in the case of my granddaughter, Legos, which made me think you too might appreciate a holiday escape from electronics and enjoy sitting around a table interacting with family and friends.
Day after day for a month I played a French landmark memory game with my five-year-old granddaughter. She won every-single-time and the game is for children. It’s a play while you learn experience.
A French word-a-day is always a good idea, ne c’est pas? Think about setting up someone in your family with one of the many free Apps. If you want to go all in, every Francophile I know appreciates a French word-a-day calendar on his or her desk.
Stripes, Stripes, Stripes
Of course you could give everyone in the family — from newborns to their grandparents — a marinière t-shirt, but I think it’s much more fun to take the unexpected route and opt for marinière accessories like socks, scarves, espadrilles, gloves, or watch caps.
These fall into that “perfect gift” category because they are neither gender nor age specific. Who doesn’t like stripes?
Champagne and More
The holiday season almost requires festive bubbles. Champagne is a celebration in a bottle, it brings a splash of gaiety to every gathering. First choose your favorite Champagne, then add a silver-plated opener, and Eiffel Tower cocktail napkins. Et Voilà!
Home for The Holidays
When we think of the holidays, memories of family traditions come to mind. Often those souvenirs revolve around food. I find the notion of adding new traditions to the repertoire an exciting part of shared experiences.
Over the years, we’ve added an Eiffel Tower cookie cutter into the classic mix of our holiday cookies and homemade madeleines to accompany afternoon tea when our energy is flagging. This year I’m giving the limited edition Kusmi tea, Tsarevna, a blend of organic black tea, organic orange peel, winter spices, with sweet notes of vanilla and almond. The charming red metal container falls nicely into my reuse it forever category.
What is winter without hot chocolate? In my experience the richest, thickest, most seductively delicious chocolat chaud is found in Paris. It is made not with powder, but with morsels of melted chocolate. When not in Paris, we improvise with the best chocolate bars we can find, like this one from La Maison du Chocolat. To arrive at hot chocolate nirvana, the next step is to follow David Lebovitz’s Parisian Chocolat Chaud recipe.
A Scent for the Season
On my first trip to Paris, long before I lived here, I discovered an enchanting boutique on the Left Bank selling what I thought were the most exquisite perfumed candles I had ever seen. (In fact, before wandering into the shop I don’t think I had ever experienced the pure joy of a room lightly perfumed with a scented candle.) To this day, I cannot imagine living without Diptyque candles in almost every room in my house. My favorites for the holidays are Baies and the limited edition, Pin Protecteur.
For an elegant and completely unexpected complement for their candles, Diptyque has created a golden metal limited edition carousel that sits atop the candle featuring five lucky charms that glow and gently twirl in the light of the flame.