A Few of My Favorite Gifts for All Occasions

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You already know I love to eat—hence the event I created called The Emporiyum and my penchant for throwing over-the-top dinner parties. But one of my other favorite hobbies is shopping! I’m always excited to search for fabulous new clothes, shoes, housewares, you name it—but what I enjoy even more is finding that perfect gift to give someone else.

I have made it a rule never to show up at someone’s house with the usual bottle of wine. Instead, I plan presents ahead of time and keep an array of giftable items on hand in case an occasion arises at the last minute. (Sending something after the fact as a thank-you is also a great option.) Over the years I’ve discovered several retailers who never let me down when it comes to beautiful, memorable presents for baby showers, birthday parties, dinners, and every other occasion. Keep reading to find out some of my favorite shops!


Baby gifts and birthday presents

Leontine Linens in New Orleans has become my go-to place for baby gifts.The store is full of the most beautiful monogrammed pieces, and the chic packaging is just the icing on the cake. If you can’t make it to the store, call or shop online. The salespeople at Leontine are very knowledgeable, and their friendly Southern charm might convince you to splurge on more than just the baby gift!



The Shelby tote, which comes in an array of colors.


I also rely on Leontine for another little luxury: diamond-quilted monogrammed lingerie cases. I bought a set for myself and one for a dear friend’s 50th birthday—they’re ideal for packing lingerie, sweaters, and delicate blouses, and I absolutely love them. I chose lilac with a purple monogram for my set.  They also come in linen, which is equally stunning.




Hostess and housewarming gifts

My new favorite homewares store is a bit closer to home: Salt & Sundry, inside DC’s Union Market.



(Photo Credit-The Washingtonian)


The shop is owned by blogger and tastemaker Amanda McClements, and I always find myself gravitating toward her stock of kitchen items. I especially like the beautiful dish towels—always a great gift, since who doesn’t need new dish towels?—and these cute ceramic fruit baskets, which (bonus!) seem to keep berries fresh in the refrigerator a lot longer than other containers I have tried.




For more beautifully made items for the home, I head to Curiosity in my hometown of Baltimore, owned and carefully curated by Katie DeStefano. Curiosity is located next to one of my favorite restaurants, Charleston, in Baltimore’s Harbor East. On a recent shopping trip there, I came away with some real treasures.

I found some sturdy, leather-handled boards that make great serving platters—and as you know, I love a good serving tray.




I bought one of these cool vintage-looking wine openers for my home bar cart, and I just love the cheese knives with the cheeky inscriptions “stinky”, “hard,” and “crumbly.”




I also found some cozy blankets, perfect for snuggling under on the couch. If you don’t see the color you want in the store, let Katie know, and within a week she can order you the shade you’re looking for from swatches on hand.  Katie ordered this orange cable-knit blanket for me.




These embroidered cocktail napkins would make a terrific hostess gift, and Curiosity also stocks them in hand-towel size.




You can stock up on gifts from Curiosity at The Emporiyum, where Katie will be selling some of her wares.

So next time you’re invited to an event, there’s no excuse to show up with a boring bottle of wine! Have fun, think outside the box, and I guarantee you’ll impress your host.