by Marisa Marcantonio

In the right setting, the punchy combination of black and white can be just right. Mixed in with tons of other colors, or used harmoniously with a singular additional hue, there is no telling what black and white can do. Here are 5 gifts, some humorous, some serious, that capture the magic of this striking combination.

Photo courtesy of Nordstrom

This gift will go over really well if the recipient possesses a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at themselves. I love that they saying on Levtex's pillows are written in this My Three Sons font with retro overtones. Husbands, this pillow will win you major points!

Reinforcement helps. The Mr. Right version.

Photo courtesy of Vista Allegre

The graphic punch of Vista Alegre's latest collection with French fashion couturier Christian Lacroix integrates a watercolor stripe in a daring black and white linear pattern. The Sol Y Sombra dessert plates set the stage for a beautiful presentation.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Wearstler

With a dash of whimsy, Kelly Wearstler's glazed white and black ceramic bowl has a playful presence.

Photo courtesy of Alexander Wang

Having a spot near the front door to throw keys and business cards can alleviate the stress caused by a mess. Fashion darling Alexander Wang recently debuted a line of sleek home accessories, including this super chic black and white marble Junk Bowl.

Photo courtesy of Tozai

Hand-inlaid bone and ebony pieces make Tozai's delicate looking jewelry box a prized place for special baubles.

Photo courtesy of Natural Curiosities

What is more striking than the positive negative space captured in a graphic black and white piece of artwork? Playing off this natural yin yang, Natural Curiosities Geometric Study: Circle, White can hold its own or compliment a gallery wall.


by Marisa Marcantonio

There are some things you would never buy for yourself, but you know your friends or family would really appreciate the thought.  When it comes to entertaining details, it can take ages to build up a collection of wonderful vintage bar accessories, or find glasses that are pretty to look at and comfortable to hold.     So be a thoughtful gift giver, and give something unexpected that will be used and enjoyed time and time again. Cheers.

Photo courtesy of Serena and Lilly

Some people are the life of the party. Others, prefer to remain in the shadows, and would rather spend a quiet moment catching up with friends. Why not encourage that with a zippy new game for them to play, with a Serena and Lily Signature Backgammon Set?

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Adler

Store trinkets or cut lemons on the bar in Jonathan Adler's swirly blue and white malachite-edged box topped with a gold-backed pagoda.

Photo courtesy of Moma

Capturing classic surrealist Magritte paintings, these brightly colored melamine plates at Moma Store are a cheerful addition to the table that can expose children to seminal art from an early age, or, help you start your collection.

Photo courtesy of Billy Cotton

A faceted design makes Billy Cotton's new stemless wine glasses comfortable in the hand. The price, makes them easier on the wallet. 

Photo courtesy of Simon Pearce

By mixing antique decanters with beautiful newer pieces, a bar can have a bit of soul. There are s many interesting gin and tequila bottles being designed these days, so pairing them with these classic, hand-blown glass  lidded decanters from Simon Pearce keeps everything swellegant.

Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn

I like the rustic design of Pottery Barn's Mack Cocktail Shaker, it has a great 1940's retro vibe. 

Photo courtesy of Tiffany

My love of Elsa Peretti's designs knows no bounds. Every drink will look better when swirled with Tiffany's Padova spoon, complete with sinewy curved loop handle.

Photo courtesy of Crate and Barrel

Those that look forward to the arrival of cocktail hour will embrace Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Tonic, made in small batches to mix with sparkling water for a customized cocktail experience. Find it at Crate and Barrel.

Photo courtesy of Barneys

A glommed up version of the real thing, Carl Aubock's exquisitely designed brass Horse Shoe Bottle Opener from Barneys will be a welcome and handsome addition for the artisan ale bunch.


by Marisa Marcantonio

Animals have such presence. Make them presents, in their many varied forms. From feathers to horn, animal prints to zebra stripes, any time of year is a good time for the wild side. Every few years, animal prints come back into favor, and for good reason. When used right, (i.e. sparingly) their impact is memorable. For those that appreciate this lively look, here are gifts to enthrall.

Photo courtesy of Dransfield and Ross

Don't ruffle your feathers, look at them on Dransfield and Ross's chic convex mirror.

Photo courtesy of Natural Curiosities

Bring wonderous creatures into interiors with this stately elephant print from Natural Curiosities.

 Photo courtesy of Jayson Home

Having fresh flowers around makes everything look better, so why not add an interesting vase to a friend's collection? This rustic double horn version from Jayson Home has room for two small arrangements.

Photo courtesy of Branca

Urban and country dwellers can enjoy a bit of alpine style with Alessandra Branca's striking red and brown embroidered Stag's Head Cocktail Napkins, sold in a set of six.

Photo courtesy of Tozai

A Zebra hide rug real or faux adds a worldly wise exoticism to an interior.  I found this wonderful eco friendly printed canvas version designed by the talented Dransfield and Ross boys for Tozai. Trimmed in felt, it makes a chic addition to any area that needs a bit of pattern.

Photo courtesy of Jen Going

For the gal that loves blue and white, Jen Going's cobalt blue and white Zebra Pillow with contrast blue trim.

Photo courtesy of Asha

Malachite gives me wanderlust for the great African game reserve camps and chic safari style. Slide necklaces were so popular in the 70's, I am glad Asha is bringing them back, her design Isabel is a quatrefoil pendant featuring malachite in the center.

Photo courtesy of Kayce Hughes

I don't tend to wear a lot of leopard, I have 2 pairs of shoes, Belgians and Stubbs and Wooton, that have carried me through the trend resurgence over the past 10 years. Maybe its time to add a tiny bit more, with Kayce Hughes clutches trimmed in a bright hue. I like the subtle contrast and classic shape.

 Photo courtesy of Pologeorgis

Here is another way to inject a bit of leopard into your evening wardrobe without going overboard- a little Rabbit Fur Stole from Pologeorgis resembles the real thing but with a gentler price.

Photo courtesy of Iomoi

With a Cheetah spot border, the handsome leather and canvas monogram tote from Iomoi is a perfect bag for running around town. 

Photo courtesy of Sugar Paper

Mixing a gold foil printed liner  in a small leopard spot pattern and a hot pink border, letterpress cards from LA's Sugar Paper have pizazz.

Photo courtesy of Ralph Lauren

It is hard to resist a gift that helps with organization. Ralph Lauren Home's swanky leather and leopard printed letter holder assists in keeping desk clutter to a minimum.

Photo courtesy of Thomas Paul

Butterflies have been in style for some time now, and every time they get prettier. Elevating melamine, Thomas Paul's oval tray looks elegant but can go rough and tumble outdoors.


by Marisa Marcantonio

Scented candles have become the gift that keeps on giving.  Yes, the market is saturated, but, they are a pretty way to say thank you, and guarantee hours of scented bliss. No wonder they are such a popular item to give, they aren't complicated and everyone has a scent they adore. When selecting the best scent to give, try and do some fragrance homework by asking what perfume your friend wears. This tip-off should provide enough intel to select up the appropriate aroma and corresponding candle, and I've selected some fragrant candles based on their beautiful packaging and high quality aromatic oils.

Photo courtesy of Byredo

Winter is a time to hibernate with a good book. Friends who would rather spend a Sunday under a cashmere throw in a wing chair reading Anna Karenina can burn this romantic, evocative Bibliothèque candle by scent superstar Byredo, to escape the everyday. The scent, including fruity essences of Peach and Plum, is accented with leather and Vanilla. Totally rich and decadent.

Photo courtesy of Aerin

There's nothing like the allure of gold around the holidays. It just makes everything more festive. It's a good thing Aerin launched her Fireside and Fir scent just in time for the winter. A gold-leafed glass container holds a woodyy Aspen-inspired scent ,comprised of Mediterranean Cypress, Fir Balsam, and a bit of black amber along with white Birch.

Photo courtesy of Niven Morgan

Niven Morgan names his scents after the locales that inspire them. His Mustique 1958 soy candle has notes of florals, fruits and herbs such as Bergamot, fresh citrus and Neroli mixed with musks, amber, moss and blonde wood.

 Photo courtesy of L'Objet

The nice thing about

L'Objet's scented candles is that they come in porcelain and gold bowls that can easily be repurposed to hold earrings or coins. Winter is a good time to go for richer fragrances at home, so the spicy Cinnabar scent in this candle fits its ornate red exterior well.

Photo courtesy of Belle Fleur

Belle Fleur is known for their pure fragrances and clean packaging. They have just introduced a new assortment of scents with a more exotic allure.  For those that love fig, and there are many of you out there that do, myself included, Casa Malaparte, named after the famed modernist villa on Capri will enchant with Grapefruit, Heliotrope, Jasmine, Rose, Fig Leaf and Cedarwood.

Photo courtesy of Jo Malone

Tis the season for limited edition candles. Woodsy and warm with a hint of Cinnamon, the Blue Spruce deluxe candle from Jo Malone will have you singing carols in no time.

Photo courtesy of Matouk

Even when they are not lit, Matouk's White Garden candle with scents of Lilly, Orchid and Freesia give a subtle scent to the air. Like their well-designed crisp bedding, the candle is packaged in subtle white glass packaging.

Photo courtesy of Diptyque

If you are like me, and white flowers like Tuberose make you swoon, then the classic Diptyque candle is a fail-safe choice. It now comes in this red tinged glass, very holiday festive.

Photo courtesy of Cire Trudon

Know a hard to gift for captain of industry that has everything? Get this hard-to-gift-for titan a luxe leather-scented candle from Cire Trudon to burn while they read their FT in their cozy wood-paneled library. Yes, this is yet another special limited edition candle.

 Photo courtesy of Agraria

To add a bit of sparkle to the powder room, the Mediterranean Jasmine Crystal Cane Candle from Agraria comes in a petite size and will fit on the edge of a sink. Made of vegetable based soft wax, the bright blue hue keeps things interesting.

Scented in Ebony Teak, you can select which color ceramic vessel you would like with this cashmere brand heavyweight's candle - there is an assortment of pale hues offered. Made in Italy, Brunello Cuccinelli's wood wicked scented candle is quite extravagantly priced. So whomever gets it as a git  is definitely worth it.

 Photo courtesy of Astier de Vilatte

Know any aspiring actors that feel the pull of the great White Way? This Broadway scent with a high energy mix of citrus and caramel from Parisian tabletop line Astier de Vilatte will remind them to work hard and they might just make it.

Photo courtesy of Frederic Malle

Frederic Malle's scents are so pure, they are like burning his precious purfume. This season, for the traditionalists, he has created a special limited edition candle with top notes of pine, cinnamon and a bit of cotton candy (?!) . Clad in his usual red glass vessel, the Joyeux Noël scent, designed by "nose" Dominique Ropion, is packaged in a box illustrated by artist Konstantin Kakanias.  Is there a way I can frame the box afterwards? The artwork is just too good!

 Photo courtesy of Ralph Lauren Home

I tend to rotate my candle assortment for seasonally-appropriate fragrances. Last December, when my Red Currant, Evergreen and Juniper-scented candle was down to the wick, I was disappointed it was all finished. I am glad this classic scent pairing from Ralph Lauren is back in rotation every holiday season, or I would be forlorn.

Photo courtesy of Tom Dixon

Evoke reverie by escaping to exotic lands with Tom Dixon's rich Orientalist-scent candle. It come in a streamlined brass vessel with a marble lid and looks super chic in any setting.

 Photo courtesy of Lafco

If you are feeling stumped on what scent to get, there is always the safe bet of Chamomile and Lavender. Lafco's room appropriate scented candles are a no-brainer, and since so many people have trouble sleeping, this bedroom blend could be just the thing.