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NUTS & BOLTS / PATRICK MOTT

Some of the Biggest Gifts Come in Small Packages

October 31, 1992|PATRICK MOTT

We are about to enter the Extreme Season.

For the next eight weeks or so, moderation vanishes. The great middle ground goes poof. Everything swings between wretched excess and Scrooge-like tightfistedness. Micro or macro.

Your Christmas tree, for instance. It'll probably be the size of the General Sherman, hung with ornaments that medium-sized house pets could live in, or it'll be some shrimpy, anemic twig that could barely photosynthesize when it was alive.

But this has no bearing whatever on the size of the presents beneath it, which will invariably be delivered on a flatbed truck. That, or they'll fit nicely on a microscope slide.

There does seem to be a favorite in this battle for size supremacy, however. Perhaps it's because many people enjoy cramming their homes with every holiday gewgaw they can get their hands on, but small seems to win over big. After all, you can only fit so many full-sized Doctor Zhivago-style sleighs (with reindeer) into your condo, but you can stuff every tiny alcove with zillions of decorative trinkets that fall into the smaller-than-a-breadbox category.

The folks at Tiffany & Co. know this and have come up with a fair handful of small objects with big visibility (and, in several cases, big price tags). The jewelry house's 1992-93 collection can be easily contained in a few cases in a small room, but at Christmastime, that's often the idea: a maximum of glitter, from a maximum number of objects, in a minimum of space.

These things are for celebrants who don't mind parting with a little extra money to turn their house into a riot of holiday cheer.

Take the series of objects by veteran Tiffany designer Gene Moore. Called the "circus collection," each piece is made of sterling silver and bright enamel. The acrobats, the "snake lady," the giraffe and various clowns definitely meet the holiday whimsy quotient, but the real stunners are the revolving silver Ferris wheel, complete with highly detailed riders seated in the swinging chairs ($28,000) and the similarly occupied carousel ($35,000).

For more kinetic fun, there's the ultimate in indulgence for the moppets: the $75 sterling silver yo-yo (if they perform the "walk the dog" maneuver with this thing, it had better be on deep pile carpet).

For Hanukkah celebrants, there's the sterling silver dreidel at $110 and, for the truly dedicated bubble blower, a $60 sterling bubble ring--yep, the kind you dip into the soap suds and blow through.

More indulgence, for adults this time: a small silver Swiss army knife, with the emblem inlaid in 18-karat gold, for $90. And for the executive type who hates the look of unadorned office supplies, suede Post-it note covers: large size in red for $40, mini-size in green for $25.

But flights of fancy are the order with many of the objects in this collection, which is why they will probably wear so well during the holidays. The men's silver key rings, for instance, come in the forms of a ski boot, a pipe, a dog, a polo player, a bicycle, a riding boot, a golf shoe and--the capper--a Mercedes 450 SL convertible. They're priced from $30 to $115, and the Mercedes is a bargain at $90.

Not everything is in sterling. Want to guarantee double-takes at the apple bowl? Put one or two Tiffany crystal apples, at $35 each, in with the Red Delicious ones. Need a few extra tree ornaments? Tiffany has finally made a dated one, a partridge in a pear tree fashioned in etched leaded crystal for $48.

For the true Yuletide junkies, tableware is always sure-fire, the philosophy being that once you've just about run out of places to stick decorations, you can always put them underneath your food. This year, Tiffany has produced a line of china called "Tiffany Holly," with borders of greenery, poinsettias, acorns, chestnuts and pine cones. For the collector, there is also a pair of holiday spoons, one in a Christmas tree design for $95, the other with a Santa Claus figure for $80.

Finally, the most traditional of all stocking stuffers for the man of the house: the necktie. Tiffany, known principally for its silver creations, has actually produced a collection of men's ties, priced at $85 each.

So that's Tiffany's nod to holiday minimalism. If you want the really big stuff, you'll just have to go somewhere else.

Unless you happen to win the Super Bowl. The dominant feature of the room at Tiffany's Beverly Hills store in which the 1992-93 collection was contained was an exact spun sterling replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy. You need both arms to hold it properly. It's big. It's heavy. And you couldn't have it even if you could afford it.

But wouldn't it look great as a lawn decoration? Maybe it'll show up in the 1993-94 collection. Start saving now.

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