Sometimes, particularly during the holidays, we can get so swept away in the deals and the promotions that we forget what the act of gift-giving is really about. At its core, gifting allows us to show appreciation and admiration to those who helped and supported us throughout the year. The beautiful thing is that the emphasis is not on the gift itself, but rather the act of giving. The value of the gift is of less importance than the intention and thoughtfulness in which it is presented.

2022 was a year for reuniting. The pandemic is slowly waning and Japan finally reopened its borders. We were able to travel back to Japan over the summer and visit family and friends we hadn’t seen in years. We also were able to rekindle our relationships with many of Japan’s independent makers and artisans, experiences which informed this year’s gift guide, which is all about hospitality, appreciation and admiration.

Tools for the Table

We eat three meals per day. And whether we’re alone or with family and friends, each moment offers us the opportunity to detach from our busy, connected days to enjoy a family recipe, a new dish or just something simple. Here are a few ideas for tools that can help to heighten and enhance the experience through the stories they tell:

clockwise: wooden flowering quince trays (from $75); delicate brass utensils from WATO (from $20); STIIK chopsticks for adults and for kids ($30); elegant hand-turned wooden bowls ($55)

Seasonal Delights

“In winter the early mornings. It is beautiful indeed when snow has fallen during the night, but splendid too when the ground is white with frost; or even when there is no snow or frost, but it is very cold and the attendants hurry from room to room stirring up the fires and bringing charcoal.”

This is a famous verse from Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book, a fascinating, detailed account of Japanese court life in the eleventh century written by a lady of the court. In this particular chapter (haru wa akebono), she writes about her favorite times of day during each season: attendants or no attendants, “In winter the early mornings.”

clockwise: yuki crinkle candle ($55); winter paper incense set (from $33); yuki tsubaki tea towel ($25); solacube holiday gift set ($120)

For Hims & Hers

Do you have a special someone in your life who’s always hard to shop far? Well, they have everything so it’s hard to blame them. But take a look through our cabinet of curiosities and you just might find something.

clockwise: wooden wristwatch stand ($40); preserved sea urchin skeleton ($125); brass apple paperweight ($120); glass jewelry made by your favorite coffee tool maker (from $62)

Stocking Stuffers

You’ve made it this far and you still haven’t found something? Here are some light-hearted, affordable, yet fantastically whimsical ideas that are sure to impress, surprise and maybe even inspire.

clockwise: handmade candle and stand set ($42); awaglass filled with bubbles ($44); colored pencils whose shavings turn into flower petals and snowflakes (from $15 ); laser-cut books that open up into a 360-degree story ($29)