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This is less a gift guide than some general principles that might help the process. In the Coggins family we are beyond objects—there’s simply too much of everything. I think a lot of people feel this. In most cases they don’t want or don’t need more, or they may want it or think they need it but just can’t store it.
That makes gifts destined to be consumed that much better. So smoked salmon, jamon Iberico, a white truffle (if your crypto bet paid off)—are all very welcome. Something festive that people don’t normally get for themselves and can share, like large format wine or a bottle of vintage spirits from the rarities section of your liquor store.
If you’re going to buy something, then what about an upgrade? A much better knife, bottle opener, or set of crystal glasses. That way something is coming in but something is also going out.
I think subscriptions and memberships are great ideas. Is there a museum you visit with your parents when they’re in town? Then get them a membership to the Morgan Library or the Frick. I’m a big believer in the New York Review of Books, which is a truly great publication that many people overlook, but will be thrilled once it starts arriving and they realize that John Banville is a regular contributor.
And I’ve mentioned it before, but The Criterion Channel makes any lover of cinema feel even more enlightened and possibly superior. But what about a membership to Film Forum or the Metrograph? Tickets are nice—from chamber music to court-side to Yo La Tengo Hanukah shows (they’re back!).
So I guess this is a gift guide after all. So a few objects that don’t take up too much space: Hestra gloves, a Drake’s scarf, an Ettinger wallet, black and white photos, a Smythson Panama calendar or a very nice fountain pen. Now that I’m hitting my stride, how about a signed edition from a favorite deceased author? Small Japanese ceramics. Venetian linen place settings. Brass candlesticks with beeswax candles. Vintage barware. A Ginori vase. One of those beautiful red Italian meat slicers—wait a minute, this is why my apartment is full! I’ve always thought a shredder had a certain destructive charm—it gives you the illusion of bringing clarity to your life and creating more space. Which is, after all, a gift worth giving.