This story is from Texas Monthly’s archives. We have left it as it was originally published, without updating, to maintain a clear historical record.


When the twelve days of Christmas have got you in a tizzy and your sixth sense fails you, take a cue from your first five senses. Combined with a pinch of imagination, they’ll come through every time with an answer or two to that age-old question, what to give your true love this holiday season.

You say the sound of twelve drummers drumming is hardly what you had in mind for a peaceful Christmas morn? Perhaps you’d prefer to awaken to the gentle harmonies of a wind chime. Is your family unprepared for the sight of ten lords a-leaping through your house, or even in your back yard? A brigade of windup toys may be more on the scale you had in mind. And while eight maids a-milking would certainly provide wholesome potables for the Christmas breakfast table, wouldn’t eight (or a dozen) chocolate truffles be a lot more fun?

Jack Frost rarely nips a Texan’s nose—the better for appreciating the heady fragrance of a cinnamon-stick wreath or a floral sachet. A mink teddy bear will get you plenty of strokes—a decidedly touching gift. And if you insist on tradition, there is even a new version of an old standby, two turtle doves. On the next eight pages, you’ll find these and plenty of other suggestions to help make this Christmas what it should be: absolutely sensational.


Photograph by Andy Vracin

Look

Light up your nightlife with a silk camisole ($125) and tap pants ($85). If you need extra blush, Le Coffret makeup kit by Pupa has colors for cheeks, lips, and eyes ($47.50).

Sailing, sailing: the Jalbert Parafoil kite in colorful nylon flies like a breeze ($35).

Put a winning smile on someone’s face with Abercrombie & Fitch’s rollaway table tennis set. The tabletop, on its sturdy steel frame, folds up at a right angle so one person can practice alone and is plastic coated for outdoor use. Both standard and custom colors are available ($1100).

Pedal pushers: West German metal windup toys with propeller tops ($19.50–$21).

Things roll along with Texas-made Terra Toys ($17–$20); other styles available. Hand-painted and batiked socks from Farrel and Sassy Sox ($4–$7) keep little feet warm.

Allen Solly men’s wear reins in traditional styling: cashmere jacket ($295), gray wool tweed jacket ($165), blue wool sweater ($28), cotton plaid shirts ($33.50).

A special gift or remembrance calls for a custom card, like these original hand-painted ones by Lonnie Smith for A. I. R. Paper ($3).

Time on your wrists: unisex enamel watch ported from Italy comes in eight colors ($195).


Photograph by Andy Vracin

Hear

There’ll be billing and cooing under the Christmas tree. Cooing provided by snow-white doves; the bill is $30 to $35 a pair.

Mellow, marimbalike notes, tuned to the key of C, waft from this metal, teakwood, and stained glass wind chime ($37–$40).

The music goes down and around on a Bang & Olufsen Beogram 8000 turntable ($895). The classic LPs are Japanese re-pressings on top-grade vinyl for top sound ($12–$20). Tokio metal lamp by Still Novo features minimalist high-tech Italian design ($360).

Now hear this: the Audible Audubon features Sound Plates that play a bird’s song on one side and show its picture on the other (set including twenty plates $40; each additional ten plates $7). With a chirp-chirp here: animal sound boxes ($1.15–$1.50).


Photograph by Andy Vracin

Taste

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Try easy-cleaning enamel-on-steel cookware by General Housewares (stock pot $17, double boiler $20) paired with crockery storage jars from Bee House (square $16, small round $14 each, large round $36, bottle $10).

A highly polished Regency pewter-and-glass decanter ($135) cries out to be filled with port from a great vintage ($35–$45).

Midnight Santas will welcome this espresso machine by Enrico of Italy; it makes steam to brew up the real thing ($400).

Handmade chocolate truffles come dusted with cocoa, chopped pistachio nuts, or crushed candied violets ($10.50 a dozen).


Photograph by Andy Vracin

Touch

Old softies: antique lace and cutwork pillowcases and shams, of cotton or linen, some with eiderdown pillows ($60–$395).

After a busy night as Santa’s helpers (trimming the tree, feeding the reindeer), greet dawn’s early light in this silken sleepwear by Pinky & Dianne —for her, rosy pink striped pajamas ($230) and full-length, shawl-collared robe $190); for him, muted blue pajama pants with short shaving robe ($250). What better gift could there be than a cuddly mink teddy bear ($165) to recall childhood bedtimes with adult elegance?

Tactil Board teaches children textures ($14.50).

So fur, so good: a lynx-trimmed, hand-knitted wool sweater ($695).

Go out like a lamb, carrying a German-made briefcase constructed, all but seamlessly, of top-grade lambskin with a fitted leather interior ($840) or a Bottega Veneta bag ($205).


Photograph by Andy Vracin

Smell

Scented pink satin shoe bags ($32) and toe sachets ($22 a pair) by Sherry & Cie, Ltd.

Enjoy the sweet smell of success with Floris of London’s Elite talc ($7–$9) and cologne ($27–$29). Silver mirror, shaving brush, razor, and mug by Ricci (set $350; razor $50).

Scratch, sniff, and sigh: package stickers with a little something extra (15 cents).

Scented drawer liners (box $10), potpourri in hand-marbled box ($15), china pomander ($21) and soap dish ($32), and antique crystal perfume bottles ($250–$350).

Cinnamon-stick-and-heather wreath ($50–$95); sachet pillows ($12–$17); lavender shampoo, bath grains, soap ($3.50–$5); talc ($5), lotion, liquid soap ($7.50 each).