Finding just the right little holiday gift for someone you might not know very well—a favorite teacher, a special librarian, or something for a Secret Santa Christmas party—can become a nagging problem, especially if you’re running out of time. This is where creative paper gift products can come to the rescue. You know, all those irresistibly arty little items you find at the front of your local art store and bookshop, especially at this time of year. So I looked around and came up with a few proven favorites as well as some under-the-radar special items for Xmas Present.
The adult coloring book craze continues unabated, with unlikely proponents [including science writer and Ph.D. candidate Jordan Gaines Lewis] coming out of the woodwork in media outlets beyond Instagram She wrote that many busy people are “fond of…creating for the sake of creating. That may explain why some folks (like me) can color for hours before shelving the book, for no one’s enjoyment but their own. It’s a lot like play, in other words, something that most of us could use more of.” So I looked to Laurence King Publishing, Ltd, who put out Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden coloring book, which has sold over a million copies and is still going strong in new iterations, including a set of three mini-journals that would make a great gift for any busy note-taker. Info Also new this year are a new set of Dreamday Journals that include graphic outline designs to color in interspersed among the quotidian blank pages. This series of standard-size journals debuts with Art Deco Manhattan, Heraldic Paris, Mid-Century Modern Scandinavia, and Renaisssance Florence—sophisticated designs that might appeal to an overworked list-maker. Info
If you’re looking to strike a more cerebral note, consider some of the gift items from Princeton Architectural Press. Among my favorites are the several iterations of the late Connecticut artist Brian Nash Gill’s Woodcut prints, made from impressions of actual sections of fallen trees. Gill’s remarkable art has evolved from a book with an introduction by naturalist Verlyn Klinkenborg to the Woodcut Memory Game, new this year. Klinkenborg wrote, “Something [happens] as you look across all of the tree’s living years, exposed at one. And yet, as you move from the center to the periphery — to the final present of that individual tree — you’re also looking along time, along the succession of growth cycles that end in what is, after all, the death mask of a plant.” A beautiful follow-up to the book and the previously issued Woodcut Notecards, Woodcut Memory Game includes 26 distinctive prints (52 paired tiles in the game), presented in a handsome keepsake box. Info Also new this year from PAP is a set of 12 metallic color pencils housed in a beautiful box with artwork by Louise Fili—Brilliante Metallica—just right for that someone who is hooked on sketching or coloring. Info
Last—and decidedly not least—are some ideas from Chronicle Books, the publisher that pretty much invented the high-end gift item category and is [truth revealed] the distributor for the products included on this page. Chronicle is so big on gift items that their website is organized for quick results: Gifts for Pet Lovers, Gifts for Food Lovers…you get the idea. Among my favorites from New this year is the Marimekko Birthday Book, so beautifully interspersed with classic suomi Finland designs that a forgetful friend would never feel scolded for needing a book like this. Info I also liked the punch-out Paper Globe that can be assembled in minutes with no tools or glue required—the perfect DIY accessory for the travel-deprived. Info
This is just a handful of ideas from three reliable sources of beautiful journals, notecards, stationary items and art books that seem to spring from a well of creative inspiration. Laurence King. Princeton Architectural Press. Chronicle Books.