More and more I find giving good gifts is hard. The solution to the myriad of uninspiring and hardly unique gift guides that fill up your inbox? An edit of indulgent, elegant, and thoroughly modern items at every price point, culled by Tanya Zaben, a friend and the talented founder of the lifestyle site Interior Monologue. She, like me, believes in provenance and champions small brands who put craftsmanship first. Not only do I want one of everything (and then some) for myself and to decorate my home for the holidays (she let me borrow pieces to style in my home, she is going to have to pry them away from me), I’m also planning to created gift boxes for people in my life, for my husband’s work colleagues…the list is getting longer. Tanya has also offered TFI readers free ground shipping on all orders with the code FLAIRSHIP at checkout, valid through December 15th; she also offers beautiful gift wrap (at a small charge). Below, Tanya answered some questions. Next post: my edit of Interior Monologue Faves.
First, what is Interior Monologue and what drew you to create a lifestyle site?
Interior Monologue is a website and online shop devoted to the absolute best of the best in handcrafted and artisan made goods. I am passionate about handcrafted bespoke products that enhance our lives. Discovering the artists, the hands and the processes behind the works is something I wanted share with the world.
I started Interior Monologue’s, because I couldn’t find a place to easily shop for authentic, high-quality artisan-made goods. So I created my own marketplace for it. And I tell the maker’s stories. I was truly frustrated by most of my shopping experiences that didn’t connect the maker’s story and the story of how something that was handcrafted was actually made. Telling the maker’s story was missing in brick and mortar shops and even more so in online shopping. Thus, Interior Monologue was born!
What are your tips/guidelines for giving holiday gifts? I try to think about what would best suit the recipient and try to find something indulgent they wouldn’t have thought to buy themselves. I try to shop small, local and off-the-beaten path. Knowing that the gift I selected is unique, sustainable sourced, supporting a small business, and many times also women-owned and BIPOC owned brand, makes the gift giving even more joyful.
Favorite small gift to give: I love the idea of gifting someone something small like a bottle of maple syrup or olive oil. It is something everyone can use and if it is organic with beautiful packaging, it’s a thoughtful and stylish gift as well as affordable and unique.
Fave extravagant gift to give: I have never met someone who doesn’t like a cashmere throw.
Gift you’re hoping to receive? I’d love to receive the gift of time under the tree. Think that can be gift wrapped?
Wrapping tips: Nothing is better to receive than a handwrapped gift with something special like a wax seal, a stunning ribbon or both! I also always make sure to include a handwritten card, even if it’s a bottle of wine. That is why I offer gift wrap on most items in my shop and they all come with a wax seal and a ribbon as well as a handwritten card.
Elements for a festive holiday table: I love to mix a low, floral-filled vase with a glaze U-candle as a centerpiece, Christmas crackers from Fortnum & Mason on everyone’s plates, and of course all the tabletop that I sell on my site. Tina Frey, Cutipol, Klmichi….it all goes together so well.
Elements for a cozy, holiday home: Lots of candlelight, lots of lights and ornaments on the Christmas tree, as many wood-burning fires as you can manage, lots of baking and movie nights cuddled in cashmere.
Where will you be spending the holidays? In our home in Sag Harbor. It is our happy place. Then we plan to pack the puppy and child in the car and spend New Years in Lake Placid with lots of fires, s’mores, ice skating and snow-filled activities!
What do you look forward to the most this holiday season? So many things! Going with my family to see the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center with our traditional dinner at Fiorello’s afterwards. Baking piles of my husband’s favorite German Christmas cookies with my son then watching Miracle of 34th Street while they bake. Some of our best friends from London are coming in December to do “all things Holiday in NYC”. That means a trip to see The Rockettes, as well as the Rockefeller Center tree, holiday windows at Bergdorfs and ice skating in Central Park. I am truly looking forward to spending quality time with family and friends after 21 months of this pandemic.