Giving All You've Got

Jonathan Adler Solves Your Trickiest Gift Quandaries

The sculptor, designer and style-setter on what to buy for your stoner neighbors, your sorta-kinda boyfriend, your boss and everyone in between.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen December 2, 2016

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Jonathan Adler

I had questions written down for Jonathan Adler. Good ones. I met up with him on his visit to Houston at his eponymous home decor and accessories store in West Ave, where he was throwing an event alongside local tastemakers Kelli Weinzerel, Laurie DeClaire, Shelley Barineau, and Paloma Contreras, with a portion of sales benefitting the Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Seriously, they were solid questions about hosting etiquette, ornaments, color schemes, his latest catalog, all the things you want a man with a design empire to weigh in on around the holidays.

Instead, we spent 20 minutes chatting on a divine emerald green sofa discussing canonical gay cinema, the necessity of a signature eyewear look once you reach a certain age (suggested age: 75), the surprising politics of gay divorce and laughing at hilarious anecdotes about famous people that were told strictly off the record. Reader, I regret nothing. 

But this being the holidays, and Jonathan Adler being a great destination for gifts, we had to ask Adler, lighting-round-style, for his take on the perfect gift for everyone in your life—even the really tough ones. He didn't disappoint. 

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Small brass bird bowl, $198 at Jonathan Adler

For the boss that's deciding your holiday bonus: It can't be too expensive. You need to seem really sincere, and it needs to be a desk ornament, so maybe a brass bird bowl that has a veneer of spirituality.

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Eyes needlepoint pillow, $98 at Jonathan Adler

For your boyfriend that's not serious but you'd feel awkward not doing something: It needs to be irreverent—maybe an eyes needlepoint pillow.

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Vodka rocket decanter, $148

For your pseudo-estranged father: The rocket vodka decanter ... because that's probably what caused the estrangement, and it's beautiful and provocative.

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Giant brass horn, $1,250 at Jonathan Adler

For yourself when your mother-in-law refuses to give cash and demands a list: For myself, and my mother-in-law's paying? I'm going to go expensive and get a brass horn sculpture that will adorn my dining table, because it's $1,250 and that bitch can afford it.

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Set of four Malachite coasters, $78 at Jonathan Adler

The barista that hooks you up with free coffee sometimes: Here's the problem, you don't want to re-pay the free coffee, so you probably want to spend, what $40? I think a set of malachite coasters. It's an investment in future free coffee, so you need to do the math.

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Turner frames, $128-$148 at Jonathan Adler

The person you're currently catfishing: A picture frame with someone else in it!

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Bermuda tortoise campaign frame, $98 at Jonathan Adler

Your grandma who's fond of changing her will over perceived slights: Oh my god, I had that grandmother. I would give her something sincere, I'd go with another picture frame with a photo of she and I in it. 

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Black and white Bridget Bargello throw pillow, $165 at Jonathan Adler

Your mom who thinks that chevron is still in: I would go with a Bargello pillow that's chevron-adjacent, and ease her out of it.

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Beautiful People by Simon Doonan, from $8.98 at Amazon

That bitch in book club who thinks Emily Giffin is high brow: Book club women—and men—can be so annoying. I feel like that bitch needs a copy of Simon Doonan's book Beautiful People on how you can mix high and low and make it w-e-r-k.

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Hashish ceramic candle, $68 at Jonathan Adler

Stoner neighbors: Oh, so easy, a hashish candle. That's a gimme.

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Eve mirror, $1,495 at Jonathan Adler

For your kid's kindergarten teacher that looks like Karlie Kloss: I would give her the Eve mirror, because beauty fades and she should look at it as long as you can. When you're young and gorgeous you should just stare at yourself in the mirror.

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