It’s gift-giving season once again. This year I’ve found the range of items made of hardwood—from delightfully quirky children’s toys to exquisitely crafted turned vessels—is more extraordinary than ever. Here are six hardwood products I’ve already put on my holiday gifts list.
If you ever thought you’d make a suave restaurant maître d’, a delightful new children’s game will put your serving dexterity to the test. Designed by English-born Chris Collicott, who used to work in Hollywood making models for the movies and television, Don’t Tip the Waiter challenges you to stack dishes, bottles, and trays on a smartly dressed busboy's hands without tipping him over. For age six and above. Don’t Tip the Waiter, made of beech, $25. www.kikkerland.com
Your cup of holiday cheer will taste even more festive when served in these striking tumblers. Designed by Colorado-based furniture maker David Rasmussen, they eschew traditional glass in favor of walnut and ceramic, a combination that evokes the sleek wood-paneled worlds of Mad Men, Goldfinger, and other iconic midcentury-modern settings. Walnut and ceramic tumblers, set of two, $100. www.uncommongoods.com
The Analog Watch Co., founded by young Philadelphia designer Lorenzo Buffa, uses maple to create a timepiece of stunning simplicity—a circular carved hardwood body, an analog face, stainless-steel hands, markings, and hardware, and a flexible band of paper-thin wood veneer bonded to leather. The unisex watch, which has a quartz movement, has earned a coveted spot in the MoMA Design Store. The Carpenter Watch, in maple, $150. www.momastore.org
Maxx & Unicorn, a Brooklyn-based company founded by designer Nathan Gryszowka, creates handsome goods for men crafted of sustainably harvested woods. Every guy needs a place to dump the contents of his pockets, and the Valet Tray fits the bill perfectly. Featuring broad stripes of walnut, maple, cherry, ash, and poplar, the handmade tray has two sections: one to hold a smartphone with a slot for a charging cord, the other for keys, money, and miscellaneous items. Large Valet Tray, assorted hardwoods, $88. m-u.co/products
Sculptor Joshua Vogel, who has a studio in Kingston, New York, creates exquisite turned bowls and vessels from locally grown walnut, catalpa, maple, and other hardwoods. The wood is carefully selected, shaped on a lathe, seasoned to strengthen the form, and finally oiled, waxed, and polished to a low luster. No two pieces are alike. Turned solid wood vessels, from 10 to 20 inches high, starting at $750. karkula.com
Sleep like a log, thanks to advanced three-dimensional digital printing technology that turns a simple pillow headrest into an amazingly realistic bark-covered sycamore trunk. Made of spandex and filled with allergy-free microbeads, the comfortable and supportive bolster pillow can be used as a lower-back, neck, or foot rest. Platanus Log Headrest, machine washable, $22. www.kikkerland.com