Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
Everything we do centers on food. After all, we’re only human.
And at no time is that more obvious than during the holidays.
Think about it: Near the end of each year, we savor Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas fare. We bid farewell to the old year with parties and welcome the new with brunches at which we recover from festivities the night before.
So why not feed the eye as well as the belly?
This year’s holiday gift guide offers options to treat our friends and ourselves to the quirky and the fun for our tabletops, as well as the elegant and the refined.
Surrounding those tables with people we love transforms those spaces into something exquisite.
Perhaps that’s the greatest gift of all.
— Scott Simmons
Your shopping guide to 12 gifts
for the perfect host or hostess (or yourself!)
Who’s naughty and who’s nice?
We can’t say for sure. But this is the perfect gift for that matchless friend.
Most folks tend to light a lot of candles during the holidays.
These boxes of long matches offer an elegant alternative to burning your fingers while using a cigarette lighter to do the job.
And the naughty folks on your list? Isn’t it nicer to give them a box of matches than a lump of coal?
Available at $5 a box at Spice, 521 E. Atlantic Ave. (just west of The Colony Hotel), Delray Beach; 562-8869.
Stylish salad tongs
It’s easy to put on a few pounds over the holiday season.
But these salad tongs by Michael Aram may inspire hosts and guests alike to dine sensibly.
As always, Aram’s style embraces organic motifs of leaves and vines.
They’re fanciful enough for everyday use, but fancy enough for even the fussiest of entertainers.
Priced at $100 each at Clive Daniel Home, 1351 NW Boca Raton Blvd. (at Glades Road), Boca Raton; 440-4663 or www.clivedaniel.com.
For hosts and hostesses who spread themselves a little too thin, we offer these cute enameled knives, perfect for a schmear of cream cheese, hummus or whatever suits you.
I was especially partial to the cardinal- and the poinsettia-handled blades, but all were pretty and work in any setting.
Plus, at $8 apiece, they’re perfect to throw in with a gift of jam or cheese and crackers.
Available at The Fancy Flamingo, 640 E. Ocean Ave., Suite 20, Boynton Beach; 735-8848.
Plates that are a feast for the eye
At first glance, these colorful dinner plates are pottery from France, Portugal or Italy.
Pick one up. It’s sturdy melamine, making it perfect for dinner on the deck or a picnic on the beach.
Le Cadeaux, the company that makes these plates, cups and bowls, infuses the dishes with deep, lustrous colors that will hold up to years of parties without fading or chipping.
That rooster plate truly is something to crow about.
Available at $14.95 each at Gulfstream Pharmacy, 4998 N. Ocean Blvd., Briny Breezes; 276-4800.
Mom always told you to eat your vegetables.
But now that you’re all grown up, you can simply admire them.
These life-size Ruzzetti & Gow creations would be appetizing at the center of any table.
The ear of corn is especially beautiful in its detailing, right down to the tiniest kernel.
But I also went nuts over that exquisitely crafted walnut. Hungry yet?
Priced at $1,200 (for all) at Great Stuff, 901 George Bush Blvd., Delray Beach; 243-0010.
Picture the tea table. You have the water pot and the teapots, the cream, the sugar, some cups and saucers.
But what’s missing? A biscuit jar.
This seaside-themed glass and metal container is whimsical enough for a casual setting, but classic enough in its design to fit in with a more formal space.
Available for $83 at Excentricities, 117 NE Fifth Ave., Delray Beach; 278-0886 or www.excentricities.com.
Flamingo party napkins
We offer you two options — cloth and paper.
The venerable Pioneer Linens in downtown West Palm Beach had a huge selection of witty embroidered cocktail napkins. The “Monkey See, Monkey Drink” motif napkins drew a chuckle, but these flamingo-themed “Flock Tails” napkins reminded me of our coastal communities.
Don’t feel like washing or ironing?
The stylish Quigley Maguire is selling these elegantly simple paper cocktail napkins by Caspari. I’m not sure whether the flamingo has had one too many, but it is smiling and wearing a hat and a wreath.
“Flock Tails” napkins available for $36 for a set of four at Pioneer Linens, 210 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 655-8553 or www.pioneerlinens.com.
Caspari paper napkins are available at $5 per package at Quigley Maguire Collections, 301 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach; 450-7471 or www.quigleymaguire.com.
These blown glass ornaments have appetizingly crisp detail, from the pomegranate seeds right down to the veins on the leaves of that Brussels sprout.
Picture a whole bowl of these ornaments as a table centerpiece. Or use them as table favors at each place setting.
It’s a nice way to give guests a souvenir of good times and good company.
After all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?
Prices start at $10 apiece at Sur la Table, Mizner Park, 438 Plaza Real, Boca Raton; 953-7638 or www.surlatable.com.
For centuries, the glassblowers of Venice have cornered the market on elegant flights of crystal fancy.
This set of 1920s goblets, part of a larger set that includes plates, bowls and other stems, has fanciful enameling of mythical centaurs.
Priced at $2,800 for a set of 12 at Devonia Antiques, 3703 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 429-8566 or www.devonia-antiques.com.
Lois Brezinski always has a nice selection of artwork, handcrafted items and other accessories that harmonize with life along the shore.
Picture one of these unique peppermills painted with scenes of pelicans, sea turtles and other motifs that evoke the sea and remind us of why we live in South Florida.
These are painted stylishly enough that you could dress them up or down, using them in either formal or casual settings.
Available at $75 and up at Lois Brezinski Artworks (next to The Colony Hotel), 533 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 400-8869 or www.loisbrezinskiartworks.com.
The Pioneer Cook
The Boca Raton Historical Society has the recipe for a little nostalgia this holiday season with its reprinting of Donald W. Curl’s The Pioneer Cook, offering recipes from late 19th- and early 20th-century settlers of Southeast Florida.
Some recipes, especially those involving sea turtle eggs, are outdated. But society Director Mary Csar points out that many, including coconut cakes and pies, would be right at home on any table this holiday season.
Available for $18.95 at the Boca Raton Historical Society’s Fire Bay Gift Shop, 71 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton; 395-6766, Ext. 302, or www.bocahistory.org.
Nothing says, “I love you,” quite like flowers.
And nothing says, “I really love you,” like this centerpiece by Joseph Roehm of From Roehm With Love.
He combined roses, amaryllis and magnolias for color, the red berries of prickly heath, plus seeded eucalyptus, James Storie orchids from Bangkok and gray Dusty Miller for texture, and lit it all up with underwater lights. “It’s truly an international bouquet,” he says.
We think that you’ll agree it’s one harmonious mix.
Priced at about $365 From Roehm With Love, 257 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach; 274-0190.
About the cover
Our holiday table is one at which friends and family could gather for lunch or dinner.
We wanted something that was simple, yet elegant and could transcend time and holiday traditions.
The 1930s Minton Lyre pattern dishes and 1930s ruby Candlewick goblets evoke the season without hitting you over the head with a Christmas theme.
The 1920s Towle sterling flatware lends a sophisticated touch, as do the 1920s Fostoria Irish Lace needle-etched stems, perfect for raising a glass to those we love and to that exquisite floral centerpiece by Joseph Roehm and company at From Roehm With Love.
Special thanks to Val and Steve Coz, who lent us their Ocean Ridge dining room in which to create this scene.
China, crystal, silver and styling provided by Scott Simmons.