The art of gift-giving goes beyond a simple exchange of goods: the perfect present creates a memory that can last forever. In Aix-en-Provence, hosting friends is a regular part of daily life, and along with it is the exchange of small gifts. Shirin, our co-founder, shares her favorite hostess gifts to give and receive.
1. Handcrafted pottery from Atelier Buffile
Founded in Aix-in-Provence almost 75 years ago by Léonie and Jean Buffile, Atelier Buffile creates some of our favorite (and the most unique and beautiful) pottery in the world. Hand-crafted with love and years of expertise, you'll be supporting craftsmanship and presenting a truly standout gift to anyone who loves one-of-a-kind décor. It's why we feature several Buffile pieces in our Aix-en-Provence boutique: we can't get enough.
2. The gift of confection from La Maison du Chocolat
Though we love chocolate year-round, there's a particular holiday sweetness to it when you can share it with those you love and perhaps haven't seen all year. Master Chocolatier Nicolas Cloiseau is one of the best in the world at La Maison du Chocolat in Paris, though they now have stores everywhere, from New York to Japan. We love bringing along a boîte maison that lasts for days, or a chocolate mousse cake that is a true sensation whether you're a chocolate connoisseur or not.
3. Bastide’s Scented Potpourri Crystals
One of my favorite gifts to bring to a friend's home are our Bastide scented crystals. The Pot Pourri is made from the resin of an acacia tree, which the tree uses to seal injuries in its skin and repair itself. Many also believe that crystals have a healing quality to help to clear the mind, balance emotions, and enhance creativity.
I love how the crystals bring positivity and warmth to the home in such an unexpected and creative way.
4. Self-made art with Fabriano Boutique pencils & OMY coloring posters
We're so grateful for our children and our holiday celebrations and parties are not complete unless they're with us. But while we're sitting around the fire reminiscing about old times, they want to be having fun—especially if their friends are around. Coloring truly never gets old, so we love the artful combination of a Fabriano Boutique pencil case with an OMY poster for our friends who have children. They get lost in the world of creation and the results are not only beautiful, but can be hung anywhere to remind them of their amazing work. It's also incredibly relaxing and fun for adults too, so we sometimes join them and let our artistic sides take over.
5. A Polaroid camera
My favorite gift to have received recently is a Polaroid camera - it just flooded me with happy memories. The iconic square photo just feels so magical. Perhaps because these images recall a time before every phone had a camera, and when photographs were precious keepsakes, reminding people of very specific moments and seeing the "now." Polaroids also have a soft spot in my heart because it also reminds me of my childhood. Growing up in Isfahan in the 70s, my dad took so many photos with a Polaroid camera and I still remember waiting impatiently as the image magically appeared before our eyes. Seeing polaroids now will always remind me of my childhood, and of growing up there: seeing myself as a little girl, and my handsome dad dressed head-to-toe in Levis denim. Now, we take Polaroids of all of our visitors who come stay with us in Aix at our bastide, and we keep them in a guestbook to remind our children (and us!) of our happy times in Provence.