Penn 2 Pratt


So, for advice, Penn2Pratt turned to veteran shop owner, design consultant, and master gift-giver Deborah Gore-Dean of GORE-DEAN Home ( for some gift-giving guidelines.

Deborah, who for many years owned shops in both Georgetown and Roland Park in Baltimore – a combined total of 21,000 square feet of storied antiques, luscious linens and exquisite home wares – understands the latest trends in retail as well as gifting etiquette. Deborah was destined to advise on matters of etiquette and high-end design. Surrounded by history and esteemed elegance while growing up at the Marwood estate in Potomac and on Embassy Row at the Fairfax, a member of a socially busy, bipartisan political family (her aunt, Senator Louise Gore, served in the Maryland General Assembly in the 1960’s and she is cousin to former Vice President Al Gore) – she is an astute aesthete, wise and sensitive about giving both tasteful mementos and memorable experiences, to brighten the holiday season. Penn2Pratt sat down with Deborah who shared some of her best gifting guidance:

P2P: Do you have a No. 1 gift you enjoy giving that possesses appeal to both genders and nearly all ages?

DGD: If I am sendincrab cakesg a gift to a family, I used to do sweets, but crab cakes for the family is what I am doing this year. I got some fun crab dishtowels to use as filler and I am having Casa Mia’s in Parkton send them out for me. A nice gift is a monogrammed Family History book that is great family project and then I tuck in a tin of something for the kids. Monogrammed family photo albums are good but you need to use lots of candy canes on the package to get that one past the kids!

P2P: Buying for men on the list can be a challenge. Thoughts?

DGD: I love to buy gifts for men. There are some wonderful leather bound books about cigars, Scotch, cars and golf that are easy favorites. Every man likes a great Dopp Kit and overnight luggage that hints at a fun year ahead. I give my husband every year theatre Passport IVtickets – we make a family night of it.

A monogrammed passport holder with train tickets to New York and tickets to Jersey Boys and then a generous gift card to a great Italian dinner- a weekender bag and inside a CD of songs from the show. This will relieve the stress he feels at trying to find you the perfect gift. For the other men in your life, a gift certificate to Roseda Beef [a Maryland farm] is a wonderful gift for any occasion. You can add a wonderful set of horn Bar B Q tongs but the beef alone is awesome. They do a great job getting it delivered and it is the very best.

P2P: What suggestions do you have for hostess gifts this year?

DGD: I have five favorites:

  1.  Nest holiday candles or diffusers. They are a great fragrance and so beautifully presented.
  2.  Karen NESTAdams desk calendars – a great price and so well-done each year.
  3. For men, I do a bottle of something with a pewter liquor label from Vagabond House.
  4. A local candle, Noble Fir and Juniper by Alassis.
  5. Baltimore has such great breweries- I like to give a six-pack of seasonal beer and a pewter bottle opener from Match Pewter.

P2P: In our metropolitan areas of the district and Baltimore, many people live in condos and apartments. Are there gifts (or one gift) you think appropriate for smaller living spaces?

DGD: The trick here is not to give them something for that small space because that space is all them and they are probably meticulous about what goes in it.

The trend now is smaller and smaller living spaces as people venture out more into the public spaces that are now so well designed. The Smithsonian Lecture Series is a great gift. Allow them to pick what they might like to attend. The Washington Ballet is fabulous and the BSO [Baltimore Symphony Orchestra] has such an eclectic range. You want to also encourage your condo dweller friends to get into the sunshine when spring comes – so a great new age picnic basket, a bottle of wine and a calendar page marked with the dates of the Hunt Cups with a See You There !- scrolled on a note would be fun. 

Smithsonian Lecture Series

P2P: Are gift cards too impersonal? How can someone make one ‘more’ personal/thoughtful?

DGD: I only see one drawback to gift cards: presentation. I try to give either all gift cards or all presents. You can’t give four boxes and an envelope at a gathering. It looks as though you were stymied by that one person. A gift card can’t look like an after thought – that’s impersonal. One way to make it special- and a great gift- is to place it inside a monogrammed leather business card holder. They are reasonably priced and the person will use it long after the gift card is gone. Also you can do the monogram with a single initial. I have a few D’s and G’s in my desk for the occasional graduation or thank you.

P2P: When buying for others, are their gifts that are just too personal to give between colleagues and co-workers?

DGD: Oh my YES! A work relationship is not a personal one, no matter how fond you are of that person. No clothing, jewelry – and that means ties and cufflinks! – unless they have the company insignia. No perfume and I even feel funny about gifting alcohol in professional situations. Many lobbying groups in DC do very generic and unimaginative gifts- just to play it safe. Lots of chocolate is given out – no nuts…!

The best advice from Deborah this season?

“Having a home is better than having a house, and having someone to gift is the best gift of all,” she said.

Should Penn2Pratt readers shop online with GORE-DEAN Home, and sign up to be a member of the Cart Club (which is just an email), members can request free gift wrap. GORE-DEAN Home ships orders for free when the order reaches $150.

GORE DEAN Home has 11 online stores and another opening next year. You can visit GORE DEAN Furniture Store in-person, in Monkton, beginning in March 2015.  Follow them on Facebook for news and special sales and if you are visiting in Connecticut, you can visit GORE-DEAN in Stamford, inside Hamptons Antique Galleries. Deborah is available for consulting services and in-home ‘finishing touches’ in both DC and Baltimore and along the P2P. She can be reached at 866.785.7860 or by writing to


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