Dashing Through the Mall
It's the eternal holiday question: what are you going to get your spouse, your kids--that prized business associate? Each year, catalogs pile up on doorsteps like snowdrifts. Glad offerings from e-tailers arrive in your in box. It seems as if there have never been so many gifts to choose from or so many ways to shop.
That's where tip sheet comes in. We've searched malls, cyberspace and a few secret sources for this year's hottest gifts--from mopeds to antique maps, spike heels to sports cars. Know a gearhead? In technology, it's a season of extremes: TVs are getting bigger and wider while gadgets like MP3 players are getting smaller. We've found goods at both ends to please even the technology challenged. Has your wife or husband been very, very good this year? Then earrings from Verdura or a Saab convertible are the kinds of jaw-dropping luxuries she or he deserves. How about a tween or older kid who doesn't want video or computer stuff? Well, fear not: there's a range of imaginative gifts that don't involve electronics--like an old-fashioned foosball table. On the following pages you'll find suggestions in every price range for everyone on your list.
1. Vespa ET4 Vespa Easy to ride and the ultimate in urban chic. $3,999; vespa.com for dealers.
2. Muji CD Player Muji From Japan's purveyor of sleekly designed household goods comes this CD player that hangs on the wall like a painting. The speakers are built into its body; to play a disc, just pull the cord gently. Available only in European Union countries. $130 at mujionline.com.
3. Sirius Satellite Radio Audiovox Satellite radio isn't just for your car anymore. This plug-and-play system can be used at home, in the car or on the go. Tuner, $99.95; vehicle and home docking station, $69.95 each; at sirius.com.
4. Byzantine Pendant Ear Clips Verdura Blue topaz, peridot and gold earrings from socialites' favorite jeweler say "I love you" loud and clear. $7,500 at Verdura stores; 212-758-3388.
5. Wi-Fi Finder Kensington With this pocket-size gadget, the push of a button lets you know if there's a wireless network nearby, so you no longer need to cross your fingers as you wait for your notebook to boot up. $29.99 at most stores that sell computers.
6. Bordeaux Alligator Pumps Manolo Blahnik The official name of these beauties is Maripum, but we say "Merrylujah!" $2,400. Call 212-582-3007 to order.
7. Plasma TV Samsung While thin may be in, wider is better with this 127-cm widescreen set. Just over 7cm thick, it's still easily wall-mounted. $7,999 at samsungusa.com.
8. Rose Petal Jam Treats from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a Hong Kong institution, make great gifts, and it takes international orders by phone and fax (852-2825-4892). We suggest the yummy Rose Petal Jam, which appeals to eye and palate alike.
9. Saab 9-3 Aero Convertible Not only does it have a 2.0-liter, 210-horsepower, turbocharged engine, but it comes in lime green! And did we mention a six-speed manual transmission, a 13-speaker audio system, and that it comes in lime green? $43,175, including delivery.
10. Shirt, tie and cuff links Even if you buy him a shirt and tie every year, Thomas Pink's striped cot-ton shirt ($130) and Newcastle Spot silk tie in pink and sky ($85) will make him feel special; at thomaspink.com. Splurge on Classic Oval cuff links ($110) from Links of London for an extra dash of class. linksoflondon.com.
11. SporTrak Color GPS Magellan Accurate to three meters, this handheld device comes with maps of North America or Europe (you can download other databases), so you'll never get lost again. $379; go to magellangps.com for stores.
12. Ottoman Empire map For the traveler who has everything, a beautiful antique map is proof that he or she has conquered the world. This 1665 version by Dutch master cartographer Frederick De Wit depicts Arabia, North Africa and Persia, and includes an elaborate cartouche in the lower left-hand corner of the emperor brandishing a rifle. $675 at geographicus.com.
13. Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra Creative This slim player is a good iPod alternative. The 60-gigabyte drive can store 16,000 MP3 songs and works for 14 hours. And if you need to back up your PC, it doubles as an external hard drive. $399 at creative.com. 14. Ginger Flower room spray Shanghai Tang This beautifully packaged bottle from the luxury Hong Kong-based design house will infuse anyone's home with a spritz of elegance. $35 at shanghaitang.com.
15. Photo albums Simply Life The Shanghai retailer fuses traditional Chinese silk and contemporary design to create these luxurious, handmade photo albums with matching boxes. $30 to $46 at simplylife-sh.com.
16. TravelMate C110 Tablet PC Acer Use it like a clipboard by writing directly on the screen; when you're ready to use the keyboard, just rotate the display and you have a notebook computer. And it's only 1.5 kilograms. $2,199 at acer.com.
17. Portable Foosball Table Restoration Hardware Kids can be competitive without a TV or console. This classic sport table packs up so parents can take it anywhere. $129 at restorationhardware.com.
Raise a Glogg to Handicrafts
If you're bored by the fare at your local department store, visit one of Europe's legendary Christmas markets and get your goodies from the source.
Stockholm: At the Skansen Christmas Market you'll find Swedish crafts and you can sample authentic glogg. From Nov. 29 to Dec. 21. www.skansen.se.
Dresden, Germany: Dating back to the 15th century, this market offers traditional pottery, gingerbread and intricate woodcarvings. Nov. 29 to Dec. 24. dresden.de.
Bath, England: This lovely Georgian city attracts top artisans. At the Aqua Glass stall, workers use an ancient Roman technique that brings out the oxide in the glass, turning it turquoise. Nov. 27 to Dec. 7. bath christmasmarket.co.uk.
Budapest: In the capital's main square, one of the buildings (with 24 windows) is turned into a giant Advent calendar. Traders sell leather goods, candles and angels made from corn husks. Dec. 1 to 24. budapest.com.
Salzburg: Munch on baked apples, toasted almonds and roasted chestnuts as you check out the nativity figurines and handmade toys at Mozart's birthplace. Nov. 20 to Dec. 24. salzburg.info.