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Hater's Guide

The 2020 Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog

Illustration: Jim Cooke

Oh my goodness, you’re here! Welcome, welcome! Come on in. Duff that snow off your boots. And for God’s sake, take off that pesky mask already! Karen and I just quarantined for six days in St. Barts! The staff at the Gustavia Hilton kept a proper distance the entire time, and they only charged us $300 a night for the room! So we don’t have the virus. Only the little people have to worry about that sort of thing. And we had the grandest time when we were in the tropics. Have you ever had spiny lobster? You simply MUST try it. Karen said it was unlike any lobster she’d ever had whilst summering in Cape Elizabeth!

[sits down on a velour sofa]

Anyway, now we’re home again. We do love traveling, especially with so much extra elbow room on the plane these days. But we ALSO love coming back to our country estate. Feeding the labradoodle. Drinking wassail with our favorite neighbors. Welcoming the kids home from Bucknell. Tipping five bucks to Chacho, our trusted landscaper who’s been with us FOREVER. And decorating for Christmas! Can you believe it’s already Christmas? The year has gone by so fast! One day we’re planning a debutante ball for our precious Dede, the next thing we know we’ve got a dozen charity balls to attend! I can’t even remember HOW many times we visited Randy at his vineyard this summer! Did we give you a Christmas card? Here…

[hands you a Christmas card that’s actually one of those really long our-year-in-review letters that no one reads]

ENJOY! And have yourself a cranberry spritzer while you’re at it. We have a LOT of catching up to do. But first, take in the winter wonderland that is our fair home! Because once again, we have festooned it with goodies from the Williams-Sonoma catalog. It’s the only catalog in existence willing to tell the TRUTH, which is that, if you’re wealthy and ignorant enough, life never has to change. Pandemic SCHMANdemic, it says! Who needs a vaccine when you can have café-quality espresso AT HOME? Only treatment I’ll ever need!

Sit down next to me, dear friend. Let’s you and I peruse this season’s catalog together, in the spirit of giving. Will there be tartan? OH YOU BETTER FUCKING BELIEVE THERE’LL BE TARTAN. Other people keep giving each other highly communicable lung infections this time of year. Why not give the gift of SMEG instead, I say?

ITEM #35-683594 – SLICE AND BAKE COOKIES

Oh, do you not have a cookie tree?

Price: $64.95

Copy: “Whether your baking project is a spectacular cookie tree or a simple holiday favorite, we have just what you need for festive holiday treats.”

Drew says: Who the fuck asked for a cookie tree? Look at that thing. Those cookies have clearly been glued into place using industrial strength epoxy. You and I have no hope of replicating it. I could build a fucking actual-size house of cards and have it stay upright longer than that pile of cookie trash.

More important, look at that price again. That’s $65 for slice-and-bake cookies. I can get a tube of Pillsbury slice-and-bakes at the Big Y for three bucks. Oh but let’s have a look at the ELITE flavors W-S is offering as an alternative:

Plain: Butter-rich shortbread dough rolled in large, crunchy sugar crystals.

I have lived long enough to know that basic Christmas cookies are garbage. They exist to be decorated and not eaten. The packet of sugar crystals (also known as “sugar”) included here better be the size of a duffel bag to make up for the flavorlessness.

Chocolate Chip: Butter-rich shortbread dough studded with semisweet chocolate chips.

EXOTIC.

Cranberry: Butter-rich shortbread dough with bits of chewy dried cranberries.

Apricot: Butter-rich shortbread dough with chopped dried apricots.

This is the WASP cookie move. Instead of putting exciting shit like chocolate chips and extra chocolate chips into a cookie, they toss scraps from a nearby cheese platter into them instead. So subtle. So elegant. I wish you had given me a tub of frosting instead.

Still not over that cookie tree. Fucking unreal.

ITEM #35-5235432 – BREVILLE SMART OVEN AIR
ITEM #35-892289 – EMILE HENRY NO KNEAD BREAD POT
ITEM #35-2028588 – WILLIAMS-SONOMA ARTISAN BREAD MIX

YO DAWG I HERD YOU LIKE OVENS SO WE PUT AN OVEN IN YOUR OVEN

Prices: $399.95; $135.00; $11.95

Copy: “ARTISAN BREAD AT HOME. The warm, welcoming aroma of fresh bread baking in the best gift of all.”

Drew says: This is a grotesque lie. The warm, welcoming aroma of fresh bread baking is not a gift. It’s a triggering event. It reminds me of my half-assed attempts to make homemade bread back in March when every store ran out of yeast and toilet paper. I’m not making any more fucking bread, you hear me? NEVER. The dough sticks to everything. The bottom burns. The bread is tasty for five seconds out of the oven and then turns into a dish sponge immediately afterward. OH BUT MAYBE I MADE MY BREAD WRONG. Maybe what I need to do is spend over $400 for the privilege of sticking a dutch oven into a toaster oven. Why don’t I then put the toaster oven into my bathtub to finish the job?

Also, $12 for bread mix. They’ve got bread flour at the store, you know. You can’t fool me with this shit.

ITEM #35-634954 – RAINBOW MUG

Santa mallow just kickin’ it

Price: $16.95

Copy: “Discover the season’s best—from the ultimate surprises for creative cooks and bakers to exciting ideas for techies, mixologists, coffee lovers, and everyone on your list!”

Drew says: Those really are the five core demographics of any yuppie friend circle. Every dipshit living in Westport must know:

  • A creative cook who works in finance but openly dreams of one day becoming a saucier
  • A baker! Like Jen!
  • A “techie,” the definition of which now includes anyone who uses anything that has a charger
  • Some asshole who’s never satisfied with just a beer
  • Yet another coffee addict. Don’t talk to them until they’ve had their java! IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE THEY’RE INSUFFERABLE.

Anyway yeah, give all of these people a rainbow mug with “do what you love” printed inside the rim. Coincidentally, I have that exact saying tattooed on the lip of my asshole.

ITEM #35-5492269 – PERSONALIZED PEPPERMINT BARK

“Dearest Stephanie, sorry about the herpes”

Price: “Starting at $38.95.” Obviously if your name is Baron von Crystal Landsnatcher VII, you risk exceeding this item’s standard typography allowance.

Copy: “EXCLUSIVE! Online only. Make our once-a-year holiday confection even more memorable by customizing this keepsake tin with a special name or holiday message. A great gift, our peppermint bark showcases the finest ingredients, including custom-blended Guittard chocolate and triple-distilled oil of peppermint.”

Drew says: You cannot utter the phrase “triple-distilled oil of peppermint” without cackling like a green witch. I now have the perfect vehicle for poisoning all of my greatest enemies: Bon Jovi, cat people, Cazzie David, Scott Caan, that one Pope who retired, aggro UPS drivers, and so forth. For them, I shall procure only the finest, hand-crafted batches of strychnine. Then I shall deliver that poison in the guise of tastefully essenced confectionery, with a decorative tin to seal the ruse! And then I’ll say, “Oh my dear Jimmy Fallon, you’ve cut off your finger while intoxicated yet again. Won’t you soothe your pains by indulging in the sweetest of sins?” THEN I SHALL SEAL HIM INSIDE THE WALL OF MY LIBRARY FOREVERMORE.

ITEM #35-4296872 – PEPPERMINT BARK TRIO DOG TIN

Who can forget this dog besides everyone

Price: $29.95

Copy: “Inspired by our legendary peppermint bark… these individually wrapped treats come in a keepsake tin in the iconic shape of our lovable Williams-Sonoma Dalmatian.”

Drew says: Keepsake tins are a standard rich person move. Any dipshit can bake cookies. All they gotta do is plunk down $700 for artisanal slice-and-bakes. But old-money types know that you must have the right CONTAINER in which to store those cookies, to give them that Lexus December To Remember sheen. I mean, what else are you gonna put your cookies? In a Tupperware? OK TAMMY.

That’s why the sly folks at W-S made sure to include customizable tins for all the Margots in your life. Throwing their supposedly legendary Dalmatian—use of the word “iconic” in the sales has real World’s Best Cup Of Coffee vibes—into the scam is an even shrewder way of separating you from your credit card reward points. Look at that stupid fucking tin. How many cookies are gonna fit in there? Three? No wonder the bark that comes with it is individually wrapped. You can’t fit enough chocolate into this thing to kill a real dog.

ITEM #35-7479113 – CORKCICLE FAIRISLE UNICORN MAGIC WINE GLASS.

Run that name by me one more time?

Price: $29.95

Copy: “This triple-insulated mug from Corkcicle keeps your favorite beverages warm for hours. Its silicone base resists slipping while its tight-fitting lid prevents spills. Featuring a sweater-inspired snowflake design, this mug is ideal for outdoor activities and on-the-go sipping.”

Drew says: THAT’S A YETI! YOU’RE SELLING ME A FUCKING YETI! A Yeti inspired by fucking sweaters. And where’s the wine factor into all this? Now I’m pissed. Oh hey guys, I just disrupted the beer coozie sphere with my new product, the TABLACTITE NARNIA LION.

ITEM #35-9542723 – WILLIAMS-SONOMA CHRISTMAS BREAKFAST GIFT CRATE

TOLD YOU THERE’D BE TARTAN

Price: $99.95(!!!!!!!!!!!)

Copy: “NEW & EXCLUSIVE… Includes our signature mix for creating perfectly fluffy pancakes and our pancake pen for getting creative on the griddle… arrives ready for gift-giving in a reusable wooden crate.”

Drew says: Note the crate. Crates are the decorative cookie tins of non-cookie products. When you want to give a gift, but you also want splinters in December, crates are the way to go. They make everything look like they just came off a steamship, and who can argue with that?

Look again at that price. Now lemme add a few more gratuitous exclamation points. A H!!!U!!NDRED G!ODD!!!AMN D!!!!OLL!!!ARS!!!!!!! For a box of Hungry Jack, a squeeze bottle, a spatula, an obligatory tartan tchotchke, and some goddamn syrup. Now I’m a pancake enthusiast, so I know that the market for pure maple syrup is highly volatile. But for $100, I could drive to Vermont and tap a maple tree MYSELF to get the goods. Fuck this crate.

ITEM #35-1304612 – AREZZO BRUSHED GOLD FLATWARE

If you like gold trim, wait till you see my toilet!

Price: Starting at $55

Copy: “Introducing… THE WALDEN COLLECTION. Bring the beauty of natural botanicals to your table. Designed in house, our Walden collection is made for layering, mixing and matching.”

Drew says: Made for layering? Oh, was it inspired by sweaters?

ITEM #35-1597389 – VITAMIX A3500 ASCENT SERIES BLENDER
ITEM #35-2623480 – VITAMIX FOOD PROCESSOR ATTACHMENT

Christ, people and their yogurts

Price: $599.95; $199.95

Copy: “The powerhouse of the Vitamix blender family.”

Drew says: It wouldn’t be the W-S catalog if it didn’t include Rolls-Royce coffee makers and a blender that costs more than a fucking houseboat and sports the same model name as a premium health insurance plan. Don’t worry; we’ll get to the coffee makers in just a moment. But for now, I strongly doubt that you’ll regret taking out a PPP loan for the powerhouse of the Vitamix family. Not when you’re drinking the freshest papaya smoothie you’ve ever tasted. At some point over the course of this new century, well-to-do Americans on both coasts decided that all food is healthier when pulverized into drinkable form. The heartless execs at BIG APPLIANCE are more than happy to continue propagating this myth.

Also, your eyes don’t deceive you. That really is $200 for an attachment that makes your blender a food processor. Does the average food processor cost less than $200 on its own? Yup. In fact, you can get a Cuisinart for half that on Amazon right now. But is it the POWERHOUSE of Cuisinarts? Lemme toss some Dalmatian meat into one to see if it truly is.

ITEM #35-2994963 – NEVARRO NUMMIES™ MACARONS

The preferred macaron of ANY bounty hunter

Price: $49.95

Copy: “Inspired by a sweet moment when a young Nevarro student debated sharing his treats with the Child, 21st-century artisans in California have created these ethereal French-style almond macarons capturing the essence of this scene with Nevarro Nummies™. For authentic galactic flavor, each exquisite treat is artfully hand-piped with a rich, creamy vanilla filling. This item cannot be returned.”

Drew says: The second I saw Baby Yoda macking on some of these during an episode of The Counterfeit Boba Fett Fun Time Hour Brought To You By Mattel, I knew IMMEDIATELY that they’d be available on the open market that same day. And so it has come to pass. For even in a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, no one can resist the allure of overpriced vanilla macarons tinted the color of a pneumonia patient.

For the bulk of my adult life, I’ve had to deal with fancy cupcakes being A Thing. Once Magnolia Bakery popped up on HBO, white people far and wide decided they just HAD to wait an hour in line for a $6 cupcake. Macarons now have their own similarly inessential cottage industry. Walk into any upscale patisserie situated next to a newly opened REI outlet and PRESTO! There’s a baggie of six macarons wrapped up ribbons and available to purchase for a mere $35. You’ll never know which flavors are which! All you’ll know is that the green ones are pistachio. The rest of them are as much of a gamble as anything inside a Whitman’s Sampler.

ITEM #35-4674484 – JURA Z8 FULLY AUTOMATIC ESPRESSO MACHINE

Yes, the glass costs extra

Price: $4,499.95

Copy: “The ultimate solution for an unbeatable coffee standard… the Jura Z8 offers a true bean-to-cup experience from freshly ground coffee.”

Drew says: What’s that I see beside the coffee Lamborghini? ARE THOSE MACARONS? Oh you better believe they are. Let’s pin them at $60 each. Every year I hunt around this catalog for the highest priced item and every year it ends up being some bullshit espresso maker. We have a lot of rich people in this country and the sole mission of those rich people is NOT to get laid as often as is humanly possible, which would be my personal game plan for obscene wealth. No no, their only interest is in finding the perfect cup of coffee. That’s the dragon they prefer to chase. They burn countless hours and spend hilarious sums of money to acquire the superpower of being able to recreate that one really good cappuccino they had in Milan one time. Student debt relief can wait. MY MORNING COFFEE SIMPLY CANNOT.

I remember I goofed on one of these upscale Mr. Coffees a couple of years ago and one reader wrote in and said, huffily, “No but seriously, these things are TOTALLY worth it.” Motherfucker, unless that thing works my shaft while it’s brewing up a pot, it’s worth NOTHING to me. If you’re stupid enough to buy one of these things, you’re also stupid enough to convince yourself that $4,500 is a fair price for it. Fuck you and fuck your coffee. Look at these sad coffee people…

What a waste. Buy a yacht and become an enraged alcoholic like a respectable one percenter already.

ITEM #35-6004930 – ‘TWAS EMBROIDERED NAPKINS

Make sure your napkin ring game is tight

Price: $59.95, set of four

Copy: “Each soft cotton napkin is embellished at one corner with a vintage-style icon from our beloved ‘Twas collection and finished with a hemstitched border.”

Drew says: $60 for four napkins! Were those borders hemstitched with hair from Christ himself?!

ITEM #35-4203118 – CRAFTHOUSE BY FORTEZZA SMOKING BOX

PICTURED: Teleportation device prototype as envisioned by Elon Musk

Price: $249.95

Copy: “Charles Joly, world-champion bartender and creator of Crafthouse Cocktails, has teamed up with Fortessa (NOTE FROM ME: Finally!) to design a line of bar tools celebrating the bold spirit of handcrafted cocktails.”

Drew says: That’s just quality mixology-ese right there. Ah yes, the bold spirit of plunking down $250 to make a smoked negroni. DON’T FORGET THE SPRIG OF ROSEMARY TO EVEN OUT THE FLAVORS! If I’m buying a spooky glass case, I’m only using it for preserving smuggled organs and human breast tissue. I like to explore the more… unnatural… aspects of human physiology. With this box, I shall create the ultimate techie gift recipient. DON’T TELL ME I AM NOT GOD. ONLY I CAN JUDGE ME.

ITEM #35-6754186 – WINTER WONDERLAND BÜCHE DE NOEL

[Booger voice] “We’ve got büche.”

Price: $99.95

Copy: “Rolled with peppermint buttercream that’s blended with crushed peppermint candies. Smooth peppermint buttercream frosting and decorative white poinsettias add the picture-perfect finish.”

Drew says: THAT’S JUST OBSCENE. OF ALL THE GODDAMN THINGS TO HAVE IN THIS CATALOG, YOU’RE SELLING ME AN ALBINO TURD CAKE AND I WON’T STAND FOR IT.

[sees that cake at a Christmas party spread]

Everyone get away from that. That’s mine. I’m gonna house the shit out of that büche.

ITEM #35-25455615 – SMEG MATTE BLACK TOASTER

S-M-E-G! SMEG!

Price: $199.95

Copy: “Designed in Italy with a 50s retro look, SMEG’s iconic countertop essentials are available in a new matte black finish with chromes accents.”

Drew says: At last. I’ve always wanted a SMEG toaster with a custom paint job that matches my Tesla. Now I feel like a rapper!

ITEM #35-1514375 – MARTHA STEWART BRUNCH DELIVERED

You knew she’d make a cameo here, didn’t you?

Price: $69.95

Copy: “We partnered with culinary and lifestyle icon Martha Stewart to bring her brunch favorites to your doorstep.”

Drew says: And those favorites include a quiche and… I guess another quiche. Possibly a Spanish omelet although the catalog doesn’t actually specify what kind of lazy boomer egg pie I’m getting. Quiche always looks better than it tastes. There’s a reason you never see it on any diner menu, you know. If I’m going to a brunch, there better be eggs, bacon, pancakes, waffles, pastries, donuts, bagels, smoked fish, and a prime rib carving station. Or you can serve me room temperature salmonella. That’s when I’ll know you don’t really give a shit.

ITEM #35-4189103 – ANTIQUE BRASS COCKTAIL PICK SET

NOT PICTURED: Tall boys

Price: $29.95, set of six

Copy: “A lustrous brass finish gives our cocktail picks striking style. Use them to skewer olives, onions, cherries, and other garnishes to bring glamour to cocktail hour.”

Drew says: This is not the first time these fancy toothpicks have invaded this particular catalog. They wouldn’t keep selling this garbage if you didn’t keep buying it, folks. On a certain level, I get it. Christmastime in this country is a single, sustained, plasticine smile. Everyone is keeping up the appearance of festiveness while their minds are putrefying in real time. I’m no stranger to this kind of superficiality. I grew up in Minnesota, man. I know how to be a fake piece of shit like the rest of them.

Keeping silent about unpleasantries does have its advantages. If I keep the mask on long enough, I can forget—albeit briefly—that I live in a deeply fucked up country. But only a legitimate psychopath could pull off that trick THIS year. You’re telling me you can forget all your troubles with a $30 set of olive picks? Well then, Georgia has a senate seat waiting for you. But as far as I’m concerned, you can get the fuck out of my house and go die in a ditch.

AND MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!!!

Looking for a holiday gift that is NOT complete ass? Then treat your loved ones a Defector gift subscription. Defector is employee-owned! And the free tote bag that comes with every gift sub has a hemstitched border! I think!