I can't figure out why I find Anne Hathaway's insincerity so affected and annoying, while I find Gwyneth Paltrow's total lack of self-awareness charming and amusing -- it's just the way things are, I guess. Maybe it's because Gwyneth Paltrow is the product of Hollywood royalty (Blythe Danner and the late Bruce Paltrow, FYI) and so her entire life has been inside that fame-and-fortune bubble; who can blame her for having expensive tastes, or irrational expectations for what "regular people's lives" are really like? Plenty of folks -- but not me; I simply find it entertaining.
Between acting gigs, Gwyneth has been pimping out her GOOP lifestyle Web site for a few years now. Her monthly newsletter metes out what I'll call "aspirational" advice and shopping suggestions. And when I say "aspirational" I mean "mostly hilarious, out-of-touch and super-expensive." At no time of year is GOOP more inexplicable than at Christmas, when Gwyneth releases her GOOP Annual Gift Guide. It's like the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book and Martha Stewart had a pretentious baby -- and it's excellent.
(By the way, if you haven't seen Stephen Colbert's riff on the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, treat yourself to the next three and a half minutes.)
In a brief message to readers, Paltrow lets us know that while she is normally way ahead of the curve when it comes to Christmas shopping, this year she has slacked off hard. This list, she says, comes just in time for all of us (We're just like Gwyneth!) to get some meaningful holiday shopping done. Get ready to cross some shit off your list, people! Gwyneth's GOOP Gift Guide is divided into five categories: Personalized, Knick Knacks, Special Delivery, Unplugged and Kids Choice Awards. It's quite a list, and in spite of including "regular folk" items like personalized L.L. Bean canvas totes (a personal favorite of mine since high school), the GOOP Christmas guide is, by and large, hilarious. Let's take a look.
This former Alaskan fell instantly in love with the Rust Designs Birch Dinnerware, but at $55 per plate (before food!), I may have to stick with Target for the moment. Bespoke PJs also appealed to the stay-at-home writer in me, until I saw the price on Gwynny's Olivia von Halle selection, which comes in at around $500 -- before the monogramming. My SUNY Geneseo sweats are here to stay.
Knickknacks are bound to hold a few affordable surprises, but Hermès playing cards and big-ticket Malle W. Trousseau gadgets from the MoMA gift shop do not qualify. The 43-pc. MWT set from MoMA is almost $6,000. Are you knickknacking kidding?
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If you're thinking, "Well, the special delivery boxes -- those are like 'Fruit of the Month,' right? I can afford one of those." But it wouldn't be a GOOP guide if there weren't a gluten-free vegan option (from Sprig) -- and it's only about $20 per month. Paltrow's Orin Swift "Equinox" wine club selection is so exclusive (only 500 annual members are allowed) that the link from GOOP displays a completely empty page. (Yeah, it probably just means this gift is sold out, but still -- that's funny.)
Nowhere is Gwyneth's adorable lack of self-awareness more on display than when she's choosing toys for children. I have no idea what her kids are like, but this list has left me dying to meet these little moppets; here are some highlights from her Unplugged/Kids Choice lists:
• A $100 sling shot (plus shipping & handling from the UK) by Artefacts. The one in the middle is funny because it looks like someone made it out of those little faux-cigarette one-hitters. • A $50 child's bracelet that they will grow out of in five minutes, from Merci Maman. • A $35 paper lion costume that has to ship from the UK. Thirty dollars in lion-shaped paper for Christmas -- that was the original toy written into A Christmas Story, you know. They changed it to a Red Ryder BB Gun later on.
Now, the kids' lists are mostly affordable, and the snippets of the reasons why each child chose the toys he or she did are precious; five-year-old Sky picked an $80 duvet set because it comes with a tiara-printed pillowcase that allows you to "wear" a tiara in bed. Do I really believe that three-year-old Ralphy picked out a $50 bracelet? Probably not, but suspended belief is a critical component of reading any GOOP list, especially during the magic of the Christmas season.