One of my go-to gifts over the years has been flavored salt — always useful on popcorn or around the rim of a margarita, I figure — but this season I plan to present my loved ones with a different addition to their pantry: chile flakes. Easily slotted into a stocking or attached to a larger gift (a backyard pizza oven, say, or a spice drawer organizer), chile flakes are another one of those kitchen staples that can be noticeably improved when done thoughtfully. Pizza Marvin, a Providence, R.I., pie shop that combines a nostalgic neighborhood feel with careful attention to ingredients, makes its own fragrant mix using locally grown peppers. The Athens-based herb purveyor Daphnis and Chloe sells a jar of flakes made out of Karatzova peppers that have been smoked for 10 days before being crushed by hand. For a variation on the theme, try Sambal Goreng chile topping, a mix of fried shallots, garlic and chiles made by the Los Angeles-based sisters who started the Balinese food pop-up Bungkus Bagus. (If your recipient becomes obsessed, next year you can give them a bulk jar.) And while Fly by Jing’s Sichuan chile crisp is a reliable source of heat and flavor, the brand’s recently released Chengdu Crunch adds texture to the equation with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and fava beans.
Beaded Necklaces That Add Color to a Jewelry Collection
Beaded jewelry is a festive alternative to gold or silver gifts, as well as a win for versatility: These necklaces can be styled on their own as a statement, or easily mixed and matched with other everyday pieces. The designer Ashley Harris launched her brand Don’t Let Disco in 2021 with a collection of one-of-a-kind beaded jewelry. Her pieces, like this necklace composed of yellow jade and glass droplets in different shades of blue, are individually crafted by artisans or upcycled from vintage materials. The 75-year-old jewelry house David Webb produces all of its creations in a townhouse on Madison Avenue, including this necklace made of amethyst, carnelian and carved amber beads strung between white enamel and brilliant-cut diamonds. The Los Angeles-based brand Azlee makes fine jewelry for everyday wear, including a 132-carat Burmese sapphire necklace available in a spectrum of saturated colorful stones like Zambian emerald and African opal. Jessica Tse, the creative mind behind the brand Notte, which she founded in 2020, draws inspiration from the eclectic accessories she saw while growing up in Hong Kong. Tse’s focus on kitschy charms and vibrant beads is exemplified in pieces like this beaded necklace crafted from green aventurine stones. And for those looking to entertain a younger demographic, the D.I.Y. Bead kit from Super Smalls makes for a fun holiday activity.