Wallpaper gift guide: shopping with lifestyle editor Caragh McKay

A perfect puppy, a scary pot and a Hungarian lament make for a gift guide brimming with strange delights

Ceramic scary pot: from Caragh McKay's Wallpaper* gift guide
(Image credit: Courtesy, Platform Art)

I have to be honest, I'm not a great gifter at expected times of the year. It's an all-too- fraught exercise in forced expectation. Though, contrary to popular belief, I'm not a perennial grinch either, as I rate generosity as one of the great virtues. For me, then, the best gift guide is a barrage of fun stuff that is sure to prompt a smile, a welcome reminder, or an unexpected urge to buy something joyful that you'll probably never use.

Wallpaper* Gift Guide by lifestyle & shopping editor Caragh McKay

A perfect companion

Sony robot pet dog

A dog for life: the Sony AIBO ERS1000

(Image credit: Courtesy, Sony)

Keen to hear the patter of tiny feet around my house, I think it’s time someone gifted me a little dog. Scant effort would be required because I know exactly the breed I want: AIBO, and it comes in a box from a shop. The latest iteration of Sony’s robotic puppy is the perfect gift for someone like me who regularly flits between city and country and who doesn’t have time to forge natural bonds. I do, though, seem to have found a few hours to watch too many Star Wars spin-offs, so the idea of a pet called ERS1000 seems entirely natural now. Plus, Sony promises its ‘one-of-a-kind companion’ is able to ‘grow over time and form a unique personality through everyday interactions’. Who said you can’t buy love?

Sony AIBO Companion robot dog ERS1000, $2,899.99 sony.com

A glamorous secret

Van Cleef & Arpels secret watch

The Ludo bracelet unclips to reveal a watch dial at its centre

(Image credit: Courtesy, Van Cleef & Arpels)

There are secrets, then there are Van Cleef & Arpels secrets, and these are the kind I like best. The new Ludo Secret Watch is a gold, mother-of-pearl and diamond timepiece disguised as a jewelled bracelet that, in turn, is a bracelet disguised as a ‘belt’. First launched in 1935, it was a thing then for jewellers to mimic couture details, so gold was fashioned with a lamé-like fluidity, while hardware, such as buckles and clasps, was elevated in gem-set forms. I love that beneath the Ludo’s glacially glamorous surface, a whole load of mathematical thinking is going on.

Ludo Secret Watch, price on request, vancleefarpels.com

A mountainous task

Art jigsaw mountain people by Dana Schutz

Dana Schutz's jigsaw is inspired by her children

(Image credit: Courtesy, Platform Art)

I’m a big fan of museum and gallery knick-knacks, but I appreciate the odd thoughtful attempt at art and commerce, too. Platform, an art shop in partnership with David Zwirner gallery, is a one-stop shop for art collectibles. This limited-edition jigsaw puzzle by American painter and sculptor Dana Schutz is a prime example. Based on her 2018 painting Mountain Group (currently on show at the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris), the painting is said to be inspired by her children, so I imagine Schutz knows exactly how to prepare for family get-togethers – a jigsaw on the go in a corner of a room will attract young and old to partake and soothe anyone looking for a moment of respite from the carnage.

Mountain Group jigsaw puzzle, pouch and linen box by Dana Schutz, $200 platformart.com

A retrospective

Yoko Ono artist

Yoko Ono

(Image credit: Photograph: Clay Perry © Yoko Ono. Courtesy Tate Modern)

After I confessed to knowing nothing of Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions and Drawings by Yoko Ono, my colleague, Wallpaper* contributing editor Dal Choda, kindly sent me a copy. It arrived, pertinently, as a delightful surprise and was a timely reminder of Ono as a pioneering artist and musician prior to global fame as the wife of John Lennon. Because, in February 2024, Tate Modern, London, is staging a major retrospective: ‘Yoko Ono Music of the Mind’. So, I would like to gift Dal a ticket to see it, followed by lunch at a salubrious venue, to be confirmed.

‘Yoko Ono Music of the Mind’, 15 February – 1 September 1, 2024, £20, tate.org.uk

A fine line

chanel eye crayon

A multi-tasker: Chanel Stylo Ombre et Contour

(Image credit: Courtesy of brand)

The prospect of many a late night and shadowy morning over the next couple of weeks demands a rescue eye pencil. The American stylist Laurel Pantin introduced me to Chanel’s Stylo Ombre et Contour range on her blog, Earl Earl, lauding it as her on-the-go makeover tool during Paris Fashion Week. Creamy, with a perfectly pointed edge, the pencils, which come in a tidy selection of tones, can be used as kohl, liner or soft shadow. Effectively, this liner is the eye make-up equivalent of a Swiss Army knife.

Chanel stylo ombre-et-contour 3-in-1 eye pencil, £32, Chanel

A sublimely scary pot

Ceramic scary pot

Faye Hadfield's Scary Vase at Paris contemporary ceramics gallery Daguet Bresson

(Image credit: Faye Hadfield’s Scary Vase in Candy Blue)

I’m increasingly drawn to ceramics and, somewhat subconsciously, have started collecting them. So I was pleased to encounter Daguet Bresson, the Paris contemporary ceramics gallery at PAD London this autumn. The folk-art feel of ceramic artist Faye Hadfield’s Scary Vase in Candy Blue drew me in as much as the thick, glossy, dripping layers of multi-glazed colour. The gilded handles add a refined, classical feel, so that the whole effect is like a regurgitated giant 18th-century Fürstenberg porcelain figurine. I think Mozart would have liked it. I would like it, too.

Scary Vase in Candy Blue by Faye Hadfield, price on application, at daguetbresson.art

A cheesy bite

Cheese board

Feast for a cheese lover

(Image credit: Courtesy, I.J Mellis)

After a long walk on a windswept, bleak east coast of Scotland beach, a top-up of spent calories is in order, so a stop-off at I.J. Mellis, Scotland’s premier cheesemonger, is a must. The St Andrews outpost is my favourite, though you’ll also find I.J. Mellis in Glasgow and Edinburgh, where they also have the Cheese Lounge, a café offering favourite cheesy bites with fine, organic wines. And, of course, online. This year, I’m hankering after a good chunk of Lanark White, a salty, crumbly ewe’s milk variety by Lanarkshire maker Selina Cairns that hankers after a fruity partner, such as the in-house apple, peach and apricot chutney. Don’t forget the oatcakes. I prefer Stockan’s Orkney Thick

Lanark White cheese, £47.17 per kg, at Mellischeese.net

A future step

Miu Miu Mary Janes silver

Miu Miu's silver steppers

(Image credit: Courtesy, Miu Miu)

I try to treat myself to a pair of Miu Miu silver shoes at least every year, and as I have not succeeded in this annual task to date, there’s still time for someone to consider a sparkling gesture by gifting me these impossibly chic buckled Mary Janes. The textural mix of mordoré nappa leather with grosgrain, coupled with that highly wearable 25mm fluted square heel, signals a pair of shoes destined for ‘design classic’.

Miu Miu silver leather and grosgrain-pumps, £860 at Miumiu.com

A green genie

Green salad spinner

The Green Tool by Eva Trio is a colander-cum-spinner

(Image credit: Courtesy, Connox)

In case you weren’t aware, there are salad fanatics all around us. Emily Nunn, author of the Department of Salad newsletter is the ultimate devotee. A one-time magazine journalist and editor of the ‘Tables for Two’ strand at The New Yorker magazine, Nunn’s mantra that ‘salad can make your life better’ works for me, and I have the mandolin to prove it. But I have never been able to find a good-looking salad spinner, until now. The Green Tool by Eva Trio is a colander-cum-spinner adhering to brand co-founder, the Danish industrial designer Ole Palsby’s mantra of functional tools distinguished by unpretentious forms, honest lines and humanistic values.

Eva Trio salad spinner-cum-colander, £37.81 at Connox.co.uk

A fragrant jewel

Cartier perfume bottle

A sparkling scent

(Image credit: Courtesy, Cartier)

Perfume is a favourite gift at any time of the year but with so many blends to choose from, and with scent being such a personal choice, it’s hard to pinpoint the right one for the right person. So, for those in any doubt as to which scent is right for me, I have a simple but effective directive: Cartier. I have followed the scent journey of Cartier perfumer Mathilde Laurent (who showed Wallpaper* around the Cartier fragrance laboratory in 2022) for over a decade now and I love the artistry in her scents – they have a light complexity and never overpower. You can tell that she apprenticed at Guerlain. Carat is my chosen one, probably because it’s a homophone – it’s pronounced the same as my name. The bottle reflects the scent - modern but with a subtly classic aura.

Cartier Carat Eau de Parfum (100ml), £139, at Harrods.com

A good Sulk

Album cover

The Associates' Sulk is remastered on vinyl

(Image credit: Courtesy of brand)

We lost the Associates’ Alan Rankine at the start of this year, and his maverick musical partner, the singer Billy MacKenzie quite some time ago, so it’s a fitting moment to remember the ‘popera’ antics of the Dundee pop outliers. Formed in 1979, the Associates, along with the likes of Sparks and the Pet Shop Boys, are one the most avant-garde pop duos of recent history. This 40th-anniversary vinyl edition of Sulk, the band’s 1982 album, is issued in electric-blue vinyl with remastered tracks, including ‘Party Fears Two’, and an eerily cinematic version of ‘Gloomy Sunday’, the famed 1933 lament by Hungarian Jewish composer Rezső Seress, also sung by Billie Holiday.

Sulk 40th Anniversary Edition LP (Union Square), £21.99 at Amazon.co.uk

Caragh McKay is a contributing editor at Wallpaper* and was watches & jewellery director at the magazine between 2011 and 2019. Caragh’s current remit is cross-cultural and her recent stories include the curious tale of how Muhammad Ali met his poetic match in Robert Burns and how a Martin Scorsese Martin film revived a forgotten Osage art.