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Best Bets: Week of December 15, 2014

How to Wrap a Gift With Found Materials
Tips from artist Jenny Kraft, who teaches recycled gift-wrapping at Astoria’s new multipurpose venue Q.E.D. (27-16 23rd Ave.). The next class is December 17.

Take an old box that used to hold cereal (great for wrapping a sweater) or spaghetti (perfect for a necklace). Split the box along its seams, and refold it inside out along each crease, exposing a crafty brown cardboard.

Magazine clippings are always a good substitute for traditional gift wrap, but I also love museum maps and Chinese-takeout menus.

Most Italian bakeries have this cute red-and-white string to tie up their pastry boxes.

In place of a ribbon, accordion-fold one page from a magazine into half-inch strips. Then cut it in half width-wise, and fold the two segments into half-circle fans. Glue the two halves together.

Moving In
Retail veteran Alexandra Garcia just opened Manhattan’s first outpost of the brain-boosting-toy store Learning Express at 1029 Third Avenue.

Illustration by Murphy Lippincott  

Not really the sexiest name for a toy store. What’s the story? Sharon DiMinico, the founder, opened her first shop to raise money for her daughter’s preschool. Everything has an educational aspect, and when parents come in and ask me, say, how they can help their kids learn the alphabet, we have things like a Janod magnetic puzzle that kids can arrange to spell different words; it’s really popular. But some of the toys are less obvious, like our pogo jumpers and rocket launchers. That’s how kids learn hand-eye coordination.

What’s already flying off the shelves these holidays? Educational toys aside, really anything Frozen. I mean, we have a whole display.

Daisy Chain
Holiday pop-up purveyors pick the ideal gift from one of their fellow temporary shops, starting with ...

2x2: Trapper Hats
Cover that dome.

Reasonable: Left: Faux-fur bomber hat, $65 at Barbara Feinman Millinery, 66 E. 7th St.
Splurgy: Right: Eugenia Kim Owen hat, $525 at

Reasonable: Left: Varsity Check trapper, $48 at Kangol NY, 196 Columbus Ave.
Splurgy: Right: A. Knakfuss trapper hat, $175 at International Playground, 463 Broome St.

Ask a Shop Clerk
Jonna Twigg, a conservator and self-taught bookbinder, recently unveiled Twigg’s Bindery, a shop specializing in handmade albums and stationery, at 85 Fort Greene Place in Brooklyn.

“The long title for what I do is that I specialize in the exhibition and preservation of paper-based materials. I spent four years rehousing all of the Guggenheim’s works on paper, and two years preserving the Last Column for the 9/11 museum, with the original duct tape. A lot of the tools I use for that work are similar to what I use for bookbinding. My shop is a beautiful little carriage house that was a bookshop in the ’90s. We have a hot stamper that can initial anything; you can pick your typeface. I am very picky about my materials—I love Mohawk paper, because they’re based upstate and use recycled fibers. They even use biodiesel in their five delivery trucks.”

Critics Picks
Not another scarf: Our experts on their wish gifts.

“Dave Arnold’s Searzall blowtorch-thingamajig ($75 at, which promises to perfectly scorch everything from sous-vide meat to s’mores.” —Rob Patronite, food editor

“In anticipation of Sleater-Kinney’s first new album release in almost a decade: the Start Together vinyl boxed set ($125 at” —Lindsay Zoladz, pop critic

“In the graphic novel Here ($35 at McNally Jackson, 52 Prince St.), Richard McGuire depicts a single room across thousands of years.” —Boris Kachka, contributing editor

“I recently saw someone buy a small Line Vautrin mirror ($60,000 at Maison Gerard, 53 E. 10th St.) with cash at a design fair. So jealous.” —Wendy Goodman, design editor

“I don’t like being cold, and I do like wearing parkas, particularly ones that don’t look too South Park, like this Yves Salomon ($2,806 at” —Amy Larocca, fashion director