Ask Jeanne

ASK JEANNE Xmas gifts

Dear Jeanne,
What are you giving your dear friends and family this holiday season? What are you buying for yourself? And what are you hoping to receive?
Dear Martina—

While much of my holiday shopping for family and friends is done last minute, there are a few fun gifts I manage to stash away throughout the year. I usually acquire the most interesting presents on my travels, and this year was no exception. From the hand-knit toques I got at Aunt Maggie’s Homespun studio in Woody Point, Newfoundland to the “evil eye” silk scarves I picked up at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, these eclectic gifts serve as touch stones for the amazing trips I’ve been lucky enough to take over the past year. I can’t tell you how much joy it gives me to share my exotic adventures with loved ones in this way.

Then there are those gifts that have come a kind of tradition in my family. Take for example the cozy sleepwear I’ve been giving my girls every Christmas eve since they were little. It’s become a real treat, looking forward to opening that first present—knowing full well it’s always a pair of pajamas. “But just what kind of pj’s will mum present this year?” is the big question. Anyway, I always thought it was a wonderful idea for the girls to be able to sleep in their new pajamas on Christmas eve, to say nothing of the luxury of waking up on Christmas morning in their new sleep attire. This year, I went to Target for their holiday pj’s and loved the fare so much that I bought a pair for myself as well! (At $22.99, how could I resist?) I chose identical pajama sets for the three of us, with velvety grey tops and pale blue bottoms with little foxes on them. I also always get fun socks for my girls. And I’ve just discovered a website that features a Scottish brand of cashmere socks and accessories that are pretty irresistible: Cashmere is such a treat this time of year, whether it’s gloves or scarves or sweaters. The Lord & Taylor brand sold at The Bay ( is pretty unbeatable. I’ll definitely stock up on some cashmere gloves at $39.99, and maybe even cashmere infinity scarves for a couple of my friends.

Because I love the notion of cozy footwear at Christmas (My dad was a slipper manufacturer, so I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for cozy feet!) I’m sure I’ll be presenting at least a couple of pairs of Manitobah Mukluks to friends, and maybe even some Ugg slippers. Nothing like slipping your feet into that kind of comfort after a long hard day in stilettos!

In terms of what I’ll buy for myself—or what I’d like to receive… Well, put me down for cashmere too! I’ll likely get myself a cashmere sweater or two for that snuggly luxe feel. I’m hoping my daughter Joey, who’s coming home from the Yukon for Christmas, makes me a flannel hot water bottle cover. That’s one of her specialties, and it’s a lovely thing to cuddle up with on cold winter nights. And my daughter Bekky, who’s also super creative and crafty, always comes up with some fabulous silk-screened pieces for me. The placemats and sweatshirt I got last year were divine. Can’t wait to see what she concocts this time. I absolutely adore the precious homemade gifts that my girls give me! There are also a few new books out there that I wouldn’t mind receiving, including Anjelica Huston’s autobiography: “A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London and New York”; Simon Doonan’s “The Asylum”; and Lori Goldstein’s “Style is Instinct”. But if I really let my fantasies fly, what about that amazing 18K gold Elsa Peretti large “bone cuff” from Tiffany’s that I’ve been lusting after? ( ) I already have a medium sized one in silver that’s become a kind of signature piece for me. But this season, gold is where it’s at. And at $25,300, they’re practically giving it away. Santa, are you listening?