Chic Choices – gifts for all occasions

Photograph by Bob Rozycki.

Pleasantly plump

When your dining-room table, sideboard or bookcase needs a whimsical-yet-luxurious accent, the Gift Galleries at Neiman Marcus in The Westchester in White Plains has a charming suggestion.

And it’s pumpkin-shaped. How ideal is that for this time of year?

WAG spent time on a recent morning with Karine Chitchian, the galleries’ manager, who helped us create this lovely vignette showcasing Hot Skwash creations.

It’s hard, Chitchian cautions, to purchase just one.

“It starts like that,” she says with a laugh. “People buy them and they come back.”

And we can see why.

Hot Skwash is a family-run business founded by Daria Knowles that offers virtual bushels full of velvet pumpkins in a rainbow of hues and patterns. Based outside Portland, Ore., the company employs stay-at-home moms to fashion these textured treasures. Each feature “unwanted” pumpkin and squash stems culled from local farmers. Talk about clever recycling to create truly one-of-a-kind little works of art.

“It’s such a warming element,” Chitchian says, also suggesting these decorative accessories can easily transition from the holiday table to the library or other display space for year-round enjoyment.

Prices range from $20 to $60, with limited-edition designs $200 and up.

Replicate our display with other selections from the Gift Galleries. Chitchian artfully chose L’Objet Pour Fortuny’s three-tier server ($795), large jewel box ($1,200) and small jewel box ($395). And adding that final note of seasonal texture, a Neiman Marcus Private Label cashmere throw ($595), here in orange but also available in oatmeal, navy and charcoal.

For more visit or (914) 428-2000.

When splurge  is the word…

The 87th edition of its legendary Christmas book has found Neiman Marcus again tapping into a gift lover’s wildest dreams. The recent unveiling of the 2013 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book reveals yet another treasure trove filled with gifts to lavish on the luckiest of recipients. As always, the “His & Her” fantasy gift gains the most attention – this year’s is a stunning “Ultimate Outdoor Entertainment System” that carries a $1.5 million price tag – but the well-edited pages offer quite the stuff of dreams in so many other categories. We were particularly captivated by one of the fantasy gift “experiences,” the chance to stay overnight in The Glass House, architect and art patron Philip Johnson’s noted weekend escape in New Canaan. The proceeds of this particular gift, a $30,000 investment, go toward the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation, which supports Club Glass House (a program that provides educational tours for children). For more, visit

Say cheese (and cured meats and more…)

Two former New Yorkers with Westchester ties have launched A Local Table from their adopted home of Park City, Utah. Featuring locally produced gourmet foods from throughout the country – with a particular emphasis on Utah – the company run by Ken Kullack and Kylie Anderson offers a selection of cheeses, cured and dried meats, honey, crackers, condiments, pickles, preserves, handmade chocolates, organic dried fruits and nuts – and more. For more,

 Need an Alibi?

You gotta love the promotional blurb sent along for Panache Beverages’ Alibi American whiskey: “Alibi is an elixir for the flawed human spirit in all of us… Alibi is for real people, real drinkers and believes that at one time or another, everybody needs an alibi.” Wow. The company’s first foray into the “brown spirits” category is designed to be free of pretension, the choice for those who prefer it in a shot glass or flask. The corn-based whiskey contains elements of rye and malted barley, is aged in first-fill American oak casks, distilled in Indiana and blended in Florida. Suggested retail is $23.99 for a 750ml bottle. For more visit,

Whips and spurs and… grapes?

We’ll forgive you if you think we’re talking “Fifty Shades of Grey” here. No, The Whip and The Spur are two spotlighted vintages from Murrieta’s Well, which produces estate blends from California’s Livermore Valley. The Whip is a 2012 tribute ($21) to some of the great white blends of the world, in this case a Chardonnay that also includes Gewurztraminer, Orange Muscat and more. The Spur, a 2011 offering at $25, is a celebration of the art of blending, here a Petite Sirah with Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. We suggest a few sips of each this holiday season. For more visit,

Holiday glimmer

Larchmont-based jewelry designer Pam Older is all about inspiration. From her travels to the lovely gems she hand selects for the creations of Pam Older Designs, she delights in translating her vision into artistic and wearable pieces. Often, she is also inspired by the past, from history to antiques to design elements, also reflected in some of her newest collections. For more,

With a stylish roar

High style for the home with a decidedly cutting edge is what it’s all about at Tiger Lily’s in Greenwich. Samantha Knapp has shared some of the design studio and custom workshop’s hottest creations for the cooler months, when Tiger Lily’s, as she says, “went ‘winter white’ incorporating Mongolian sheep skins into our home accessories collection.” For more,


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