Arts & Culture

Let the Gift Times Roll

Julia Reed and Keith Meacham’s new shop readies for the holidays—and all the days

Photo: Courtesy of Reed Smythe & Co

Julia Reed's beagle, Henry, sits beneath a William Dunlap painting in Jon and Keith Meacham's library.

The winter holidays call for revelry, of course, but for the author and Garden & Gun columnist Julia Reed and her friend and fellow Mississippi native Keith Meacham, any time can be a party. “We’ve always been obsessed with entertaining in addition to our real jobs,” Reed says. The author Jon Meacham (Keith’s husband) vouches for the pair’s obsession with hosting: “Traditional occasions [are], for them, only the beginning,” Meacham says in an ode to the pair’s friendship. “A successful run to the dry cleaners? Let’s have drinks! A friend visiting from Mississippi whom you had just seen at the latest wedding or funeral? Send out for tenderloin! A Monday in March? Open up the Pol Roger!”

That love of party-giving and the ever-presence of crab and capers led Meacham to dub the duo the “Crabmeat Caucus.” Julia and Keith gave themselves a more formal handle when they recently opened an online shop, Reed Smythe & Company. They reached out to their network of artisan friends to craft one-of-a-kind barware, jewelry, and home goods, and now sell them alongside books, art, and even stylish gear for dogs (Reed’s beagle, Henry, makes dapper appearances on the shop’s Instagram account). For celebratory times—whether they be Christmas, a christening, or a cookout, here are four of the friends’ favorite gifts to share.

Original Green Goblet
Years ago, Reed found a set of four deep-green vintage wine glasses at an antiques shop. While on assignment for Garden & Gun in Vermont, she discovered a glassblower who became a friend and then made a custom set of glasses inspired by Reed’s original antique finds. “The green goblets look so festive with eggnog, but they’re perfect punch size too,” Reed says. “Hell, I’ve made martinis in them.”

Henry or Bo Bottle Opener
“There is inspiration everywhere,” Reed says of this bronze bottle opener featuring Henry’s head, which Reed commissioned from a friend who is a sculptor. The Labrador version pays homage to her childhood pup Bo. Wrapped with a special bottle to share, they make a charming hostess gift or stocking stuffer.

Catfish Jigger
Here’s a sterling silver gift with a story: “I cancelled a wedding a million years ago,” Reed says. “My lifelong friend Helen Bransford, who is a super talented jeweler, made a silver jigger with a catfish that was going to be the groomsmen present. Well we didn’t have any groomsmen because we didn’t have a wedding, but I kept the jigger, and when Keith and I started the business, we reintroduced the catfish jigger and gave it the life it deserved.” Reed keeps the original on her bar and suggests sending one to “a deserving dad, super host, bartender, husband, wife, or mother,” or really anyone who loves a funny story and thinks the humble catfish deserves a sterling reputation.

And although Reed and Meacham can make any time a party, they do nod to Christmas in particular with these custom hand-painted animal head ornaments. “In a world where everything is pretty much starting to look the same,” Reed says, “It’s hard to find something unusual or one-of-a-kind. All of our stuff has the hand of the artisan in it.”