Will Guidara and Christina Tosi’s Christmas Traditions
Sweet cookies, and even sweeter gestures
Today we celebrate the warmth we all feel around this time of year. No, not the warmth that comes from those little hand-warmer packets (which, after much research online, I discovered are filled with magic)! This is an inner warmth. No, not the inner warmth that comes from drinking 4 glasses of eggnog (which, after much research, I discovered are filled with regret)! This is an inner warmth that comes from giving. You know, peace on Earth, goodwill toward (hu)man(s)…
As the Whos down in Whoville taught us, this time of year isn’t about what comes in boxes or bags. It’s about loved ones. Togetherness. Traditions. Which is why, this week, I’m introducing you to the other power couple in the Wondercadeverse (besides me and David, of course). It’s my pals Will Guidara and Christina Tosi sharing their family’s favorite holiday tradition. . Will is the former co-owner and operator of Eleven Madison Park in New York City (holder of 3 Michelin stars, and voted the best restaurant in the whole freakin’ world in 2017) and Christina is a chef and the founder/CEO of the wildly successful (and scrumptious) sweets purveyor, Milk Bar. Um, yeah, as I told ya, they’re BFDs. And they’re as lovely as they are successful. Which you’ll soon discover.
Hello, Wondercade! Will Guidara here. As a restaurateur, I firmly believe in the power of hospitality — giving people more than they expect, and carefully tailoring your gift to the recipient. It’s the kind of giving I talk about in my new book, Unreasonable Hospitality — and the kind of giving that makes the holiday season so special. So when Neil and David asked Christina and me to share our favorite holiday tradition in this week’s newsletter (which is a twist on stocking stuffers), we were, of course, thrilled to do so.
Christina and my birthdays are both in November, and so we’ve always struggled with gift-giving over the holidays, since they fall so close to when we honestly go kind of over-the-top for one another on our birthdays. So, a few years ago, we came up with a new tradition. It’s based on a couple of ideas: first of all, our love of the stocking. I just think the holidays are about being together and connecting, and gathering around the fireplace is one of our favorite things. Stockings just feel like a really beautiful, important part of that.
But our tradition also has to do with a quote I heard years ago, when I was working on a restaurant with the great architect Norman Foster, who has designed big buildings all over the world. He said his best design was a house that was built on the side of a mountain in Switzerland — because the setting offered the most restrictions, he did his most creative work. I love that. And stole it. I believe a really good gift is not about how expensive it is, or how impressive it is, or how luxurious it is. It’s about showing the person how well you know them, how thoughtful you were in picking it. When you apply restrictions to gift-giving, it forces you to be your most creative self.
And so Christina and I started the $100 stocking. That’s all we get one another for Christmas — just what’s in the stocking. We each have a $100 budget, and it’s a well-understood rule you cannot spend a penny over. It always results in the two of us spending so much more time thinking about the other person: What’s happened in their life over the last year? What’s a small thing that would bring them joy? Something they wouldn’t think to buy themselves, but that gives them the feeling of being known, feeling seen? For example, Christina is very into her to-do lists, and into stuff from back in the day. So what I bought her one year was a four-pack of those vintage retractable Bic pens: red, green, blue and black pens. We fill a whole stocking with gifts like that. Filling a stocking, giving a bunch of little things to unwrap, AND putting a cap on how much you spend so that you really have to dig deep and be creative in showing the person you love how much you care.
Neil Note: Genius, no? (A rhetorical question, but the only acceptable answer is “yes!”) Such a great approach to gift-giving. But…I want DETAILS! I’m as invested as I am inspired and I’m dying to know what Will and Christina get one another this year. So…I asked them to do me (and you!) one more favor: on the day after Christmas (aka Boxing Day for the Anglophiles), the charming couple is going to message me and the Wondercade elves what was in their stockings, and we’ll let YOU know on our Wondercade Instagram.
Suggested for you