When Olivia mentioned that “Lovely at Your Side” was looking for guest contributors to share holiday gift ideas, I intuitively tried to pin down the singular perfect item. And I guess I’m a grown-up now, because I’ve been gravitating towards quality over quantity for years. When it comes to getting gifts, Christmas is my one annual chance to request a couple of big-ticket things that I wouldn’t buy for myself. Yet, since I must sheepishly admit to not quite being in a position to give as easily as I get, I need to be a bit more creative in my own ideas than a video game system or fancy pea coat.

In keeping with this thrifty-chic motif, what I’ll emphasize today is less an item than a method. I’m big on lovely little tokens that converge around a broader theme, and in the best of all possible worlds, that’s how I’d design all of my gifts. Rather than bemoan my inability to buy big luxury stuff that is decidedly outside my grad student price point, I treat myself to little things that have serious lifestyle bang for the buck. I think that the same rule of scale should apply to what I give others, so consider this little trio of brunch-focused gifts:

First, a brunch & breakfast cookbook by the Culinary Institute of America, full of user-friendly but decadent recipes. Since many French brunch recipes require soufflé dishes, I’d spring for a couple of high-end ones, like these adorable, multi-colored little stackable ramekins from Le Creuset. To top things off, you might consider a few brunchy edibles that people aren’t likely to make themselves, like this lemon curd or maple syrup from Spoon New York.

The particular mix-and-match possibilities are endless, and if you wanted to spend considerably more, you might also add a cooking lesson or gift certificate to a local brunch joint. The French Culinary Institute in New York City, for example, has recreational courses in breakfast breads, croissants, fritters and tarts. Of course, this idea also applies readily to some of my other favorite “themes,” and there is plenty of cupcake, cocktail and tea paraphernalia to go around.

Jeanne-Marie went to Drew University with Olivia, and she sometimes still misses that beautiful, sprawling campus full of deer. These days, she's a PhD student in Comparative Literature at Yale University. When she's not occupied by reading/teaching/panicking, she blogs about brunch spots around New Haven and plans her upcoming brunch wedding. Do you see a theme?

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