Jesus Saves, but Santa Clause Splurges: The NYT Last-Minute Gift Guide

Christmas is almost here!  If you haven’t finished shopping for gifts, don’t panic.  The New York Times is here to help.  They’ve spent the whole year finding the best trends, the most must-have products, the hottest artisans and designers.  I’ve searched their archives and selected the greatest gift ideas of 2011.  Just check out this list, figure out what categorie(s) of recipient your loved one(s) is/are, and have their dream gift shipped overnight!  What could be easier?

For fashionable gals on the go: Special-event beauty service.

Why: It isn’t always easy being a fashionable gal on the go.  Sarah Remington Platt appears enviable — she boasts “a swirl of honey-blond hair, feline green eyes and a blue bloodline (her great-grandfather was Marcellus Hartley, the 19th-century philanthropist, whose funeral in 1902 drew Andrew Carnegie and J. Pierpont Morgan).”  And she is enviable — especially the part about being related to Marcellus Hartley!  HOTTIE ALERT!!

Cornelius Vanderbilt was robbed!

But life had its snags for the blueblood.  She once had to do her own makeup for a Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala.  “‘You’re on the red carpet next to Gisele Bündchen, who had a hair and makeup team and six hours to get ready…. So stressful.'”  Thus was born the idea for Vensette.com, which lets you choose from a menu of “looks” that stylists re-create on your special day.  Examples of Vensette-worthy occasions mentioned in the article include ringing the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange and… you’re going to get it for your daughter’s prom, aren’t you?  I knew it!  Next year we’re going to be reading a trend piece on the epidemic of stylist use for bat mitzvahs and junior high graduations.  “For Some, Quinceañera Style Is a Click Away.”  Sigh.

Cost: $250 to $325 per event.

For fashionable guys on the go: A town coat.

Why:  It’s hard to predict the weather.  Sometimes it can be cold, other times it’s more warm.  “Have no fear. Fashion designers are here.”  They have astonished and delighted the general public with the town coat, a garment “designed with modern man in mind — he of the gym membership.”  It is basically a “hybridizing of the two coats, sport and over.”  “It can look quite rock ’n’ roll if you wear it with just a T-shirt and jeans.'”  To be quite honest I usually go to the Wall Street Journal with my queries on how to look “rock ‘n’ roll,” but modern guys will appreciate the convenience of not having to bring two coats to the gym.

Cost: $180 to $2,990 (see attached slide show)

For fashionable, sexually confused guys on the go: Windsor Custom Shirts.

Why: Windsor Custom is an offshoot of the Ainsworth,  a bar “that typically draws a hedge-fund crowd, where the prime tables during big games command a $1,000 minimum.”  It’s “the kind of place designed for men who pay attention to the kind of details other men will notice, preferably with envy”: penises shirts.  The founder “envisioned it much like a nightclub with bottle service, but the minimum order at his parties is not measured in vodka but in shirts, which cost $120 to $400. Suits start at $750. (A recent party had a two-shirt minimum per guest, but it was open bar.)”

You’re probably asking yourself “how did I miss out on this amazing party?”, but the man-talk that goes on in the shirt-cave is even more special.  A snippet:

”What gym do you work out at?’ Mr. Mazza asked, as he nudged Mr. Anderson away from a shade of brown that he described as ‘very dominant.’  ‘At the risk of sounding like a freak, I go to two boxing gyms, and I have memberships at Equinox, New York Sports Club and Crunch,’ said Mr. Anderson, who acknowledged he may have an exercise addiction. Since adopting a diet known as the Paleo eating philosophy, he has dropped six inches from his waist, he said. As a result, he has been buying all new clothes.  ‘What is your body fat right now?’ Mr. Mazza asked.  ‘I’d say it’s 7 or 7 1/2 percent,’ Mr. Anderson said.  ‘You know what I want to show you,” Mr. Mazza said.'”  Indeed.  I will tactfully withdraw.  It’s like if The Picture of Dorian Gray was written by Ed Hardy, then turned into a shirt — then given by you as the perfect Christmas gift!

Cost: $120 to $750

For guys (all of them):  High-end skincare products.

Why:  Guys need face cream.  Just take it from a typical man: Tom Sullivan, an entrepreneur/actor/producer/restauranteur. He “can rattle off a half-dozen creams that make up his daily routine,” which costs him about $600 a year.  While some metrosexuals in the 90s “tried” to use face products, “the fad quickly died out.”  Now, the fad is back, and it’s no longer just a fad(?).  “There is once again a demand among men for high-end skin-care products, in spite of a morbid economy and high unemployment. Or maybe because of it.”

Under the pressure of Today’s Challenging Economy, human nature has changed rapidly.  “The man today purchasing these products is so different than eight years ago… now think it’s almost a badge they wear to say, ‘I’m a modern guy because I care about my skin.’ ” Wasn’t there an Iggy Pop song about that?

Cost: $50 for Kiehl’s Ultimate Man Collection; $600/year for the full-on Tom Sullivan pampering experience.

For nostalgia buffs: Art deco bling.

“You could be forgiven for thinking that the spring 2012 fashion collections were an open call for costumes for the Baz Luhrmann remake of ‘The Great Gatsby,’ in theaters late next year.”  Not only do I not need to be forgiven for thinking that, I don’t even know what it means.  Wait, why is this a must-have gift again?

Okay, here we go.  “No need to wait until Gucci, et al., reach the stores early next year when you can brave the holiday party circuit with a Ralph Lauren suede clutch with a Deco clasp, a large Lanvin faceted crystal pendant or a pair of Dannijo silver tube earrings so aerodynamically streamlined they might have been inspired by the Burlington Zephyr.” Finally!  I was totally going to wait for Gucci et al. to reach the stores next year before braving the holiday parties, even though doing so would destroy the fabric of the space-time continuum.  Now that I know where to get accessories that look like the Burlington Zephyr, that takes care of everyone on my Christmas list.  Enjoy the shagreen and pen shell minaudière, bitches!

Cost: $220 to $1,789

For foodies: Macaron pillboxes.

Why: They mimic “those delectable pastel macarons from Ladurée, the French patisserie,” except they’re boxes with crystals all over them.  “The inspired idea came about after Jana Matheson, the creative director of Judith Leiber, returned from a trip to Paris with macarons for her office.”  They had a tea and macaron meeting, and the rest was history.  These have all the charm of a plate of macarons, with none of the calories, and at 100 times the price, plus you can put pills in them for some reason.  (Now that I think of it, this is probably more of a gift for cocaine users.)

Cost: $495

I didn’t think these were pretty enough, so I added some sparkles.

For humanitarians: AK-47 jewelry

Why:  In war-torn Africa, AK-47s are an all too common sight.  In recession-plagued America, humdrum jewelry is practically ubiquitous.  Eureka!  Fonderie 47 founder Peter Thum has the solution: His organization procures AK-47s from African warlords (kinda unclear how; don’t they have the Second Amendment in Africa? maybe he pries them from people’s cold, dead hands), melts them down, and turns them into designer jewelry .  It prevents gun violence while also being “wearable art.”  For instance, “A pair of $35,000 men’s oversize cuff links, when coupled together, becomes a bracelet.”  It’s not shaped like a gun or anything, so you have to get to explain what it is to all your friends.

Cost: $23,000 to $35,000

For fashionable gals on the go who don’t understand science: Nutricosmetics.

Why: A recent trend piece sheds light on the new breed of edible concoctions that will make you beautiful with antioxidants and “minerals.”  These products are “ingenious–or ingeniously marketed,” “claim to enhance hair, skin and nails,” and “purportedly engineered to improve women’s skin elasticity and moisture.”  Can’t anyone tell me whether these products really work??

“But do the products work? Many doctors say no.” Oh.  That answers that.  Thanks!

One especially intriguing product is offered by fashion designer Norma Kamali.  “Ms. Kamali… sells olive oil, which she calls “liquid gold,” for $45 for 200 milliliters in her West 56th street store.”  Among its benefits: “You can brush your teeth with olive oil and cinnamon.”  Damn it!  All this time I’ve been brushing with sesame oil and marjoram.  Some other innovative tooth-brushing ideas you might want to try:

  • fish past and coriander
  • soy sauce and tarragon
  • chicken stock and fenugreek
  • truffle oil and Italian saffron (this one’s for high rollers.)

Cost: $45 for 200 milliliters of olive oil, or $851.71 a gallon.

For sensible people who know the value of a dollar: Valentino’s Timestrings Collection.

Why:  The shoes in Valentino’s new collection bear a stamped “numerical record of the amount of time it took to make each pair.”  “Time is the new luxury.'”  “At $1,295, that’s $34 an hour, if you break it down. And yes, it’s worth it.”  The people who write the blurbs in the Sunday Times have a tenacious grasp on which iindulgences are a “must-have” or “worth every penny.”  They must be so confused when they see someone walking into a Payless Shores or an Econo Lodge or something.  I’ve totally been meaning to spend two months’ worth of rent on a sandal, but I was never sure whether it was a good value in terms of production time broken down by hour.  Also I wouldn’t be able to pay rent for two months.  But I’m so reassured to know the people who bought it didn’t get ripped off.

Cost: $845 to $1995

For people who want to be creative but don’t know how: High-end footrest.

Why:  In a piece for the Home section, design expert Steven Sclaroff combs TriBeCa for the best footstools money can buy.  One highlight: a leather pig.  “‘It’s clearly not going to match any of your furniture,’ he said. ”Unless you are the exceptional owner of a suite of furniture shaped like livestock. But that’s the point: it’s a sculpture you put your feet on.'”  I think this gift would work best for someone who views mismatched furniture as the apex of subversive novelty, yet has never lived in a house where any of the furniture didn’t match.

Cost: $198 to $2,500

For parents who love, yet hate their kids:  Deluxe playhouse.

Why: Playhouses are getting more luxurious.  New models have amenities like hardwood floors, eight-foot ceilings, running water, mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs and air conditioning.  You can get one that matches your real house, or choose from more whimsical styles like “cottage” and “pirate ship.”  Kids appear to love them, but they are also a hit with adults.

“Apart from the open bar by the swimming pool, the main attraction at parties held at the Houston home of John Schiller, an oil company executive, and his wife, Kristi, a Playboy model turned blogger, is the $50,000 playhouse the couple had custom-built two years ago for their daughter, Sinclair.”  Oh, don’t give them short shrift.  I’m sure the real main attraction is the stimulating political debates and philosophical discussions.  (Also, I’m sure the music is incredible ~~*sarcasm*~~.)

“’I think of it as bling for the yard.’”  Since bling is typically defined as having miniature replicas made of your clothes and wearing them around your neck, this analogy makes perfect sense.

A retired executive officer observes that “I wanted to be able to go up there on Sunday morning and read The New York Times Magazine.”  What an image.  {Ring ring} “Oh nothing, just sitting in a house that’s an exact half-size version of my house, reading a New York Times article about myself sitting in a tiny house, drinking a beer, experiencing my life as a bewildering postmodern mise en abîme.  Same-old, same-old.  What about you?”

Cost: $2,450 to $200,000

For traditionalists who are also individualistic, and tactful, and super-tasteful: Jaeger-Lecoultre’s Reverso.

Why: It is “one of the truly classic watches,” a “timeless [icon] of the watchmaker’s art, having been “born on the polo fields of 1930’s India.”    “‘The watch is pure.'”  It can be customized, thus allowing you to “be part of history”: For instance, “King Edward VIII of Britain, who abdicated in 1936 to marry the divorced American Wallis Simpson, had the royal crest inscribed on his Reverso.”

This year’s models (if you didn’t know watches came in model years, you’re probably the kind of ignoramus who doesn’t even know what a tourbillon is) include the “‘Tribute to 1931′ watch [which] runs with a Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 822 ultra-thin, manually wound movement, manufactured in-house, that measures just 2.94 millimeters,” and the Reverso Répétition Minutes à Rideau, which “reinvents the traditional function of the protective case back, turning it into a sliding curtain that activates the watch’s chimes.”

Didn’t know a watch could do all that, did you?  (If you’re asking “Do all what?”, go away, philistine.)  But the watches’ mechanical ingenuity pales in comparison to the powerful message conveyed by their design.

“Both watches, meanwhile, speak to a rediscovered awareness, among the wealthy, of the charms of discretion in an age of austerity.  ‘During turbulent socioeconomic times, the wealthy don’t necessarily want to flaunt their wealth.'”  If you’re tired of people flaunting their wealth, and want your loved ones to start flaunting the discretion with which they avoid flaunting their wealth instead, this is the gift for you.

Cost:  All the websites just say “Request Price.”

For the guy/gal who has everything: Beautiful boxes.

Why: If someone can afford to buy anything she wants, your only chance to impress them is with unique packaging.  For instance, the new Colosimo safe from Döttling is inspired by 1920’s safes.  Most people like to leave them open “‘to look at the mechanism.'”  A more ladylike option is suggested by Lee Siegelson, an estate jeweler who has such items for sale as a 1930’s platinum, diamond and sapphire Cartier cigarette case. “For a truly over-the-top gesture, Mr. Siegelson suggests using the cases…as unconventional gift-wrapping. ‘What a romantic gesture.'”  How romantic!  Whats in there?  Cocaine, right?

Cost: $23,800 for the safe, $100,000 to $125,000 for the cases.

For the less well-off:  A private jet.

Why: This article on kids who take private jets to summer camp was one of the Times‘ most talked about stories of the year.  And for good reason: It gave some fantastic money-saving tips.

“Parents said round-trip commercial flights from the New York area to Portland, Me., on peak weekends… could cost $500 to $600, even when bought well in advance. Mr. Rome, the Blue Star Jets president, said families could rent a seven-person turboprop plane starting at $3,800 for a round trip in one day, making the price competitive with some commercial flights. ‘You don’t have to be a millionaire to do it.'”

If you friend or loved on is struggling in today’s challenging economy, gift her with a turboprop PC-12 or Cissna Citation Excel.  Voila: Your friend can save hundreds by avoiding commercial flights!  And who needs a job, when you can clean up thousands in one weekend just by renting out seats to hot New England destinations?

Cost: $3,000,000 to $16,000,000

Total Cost: $3,024,090 to $16,378,271.15, but the experience of spreading holiday cheer is of course priceless.

Class War Quote of the Year:  “Mr. Grieff clarified: ‘From the Hamptons’ refers to people whose parents had a summer home there as a child, not to duck farmers.”  (“Dress Code in New York Clubs.”)

Grinch of the Year Award:  This award goes to Jim Windolf, who observed that “You can’t help wondering whether a full-fledged depression might be the only real cure for what ails us.”  (“Panning Salon.”)  Merry Christmas!

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4 thoughts on “Jesus Saves, but Santa Clause Splurges: The NYT Last-Minute Gift Guide

    1. It’s so easy to mock that it’s hard to mock, if you know what I mean. (<< Hey, I made up a Bruni-ism!) FYI her blog is here. I can’t tell if any of the posts are about anything but this does NOT qualify as a substitute career.

      1. d00d.

        “Between Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, managing the life of a four year old Princess and a CEO husband, starting a non-profit charity, alphabetizing my cookbooks, deciding what to plant or what horses to breed, obsessing over the market and Jim Cramer, analyzing our burn rate, perusing Amazon, indulging in the occasional half hour of Nancy Grace, refreshing Twitter, sitting in carpool line, indoor cartwheels in stilettos (bad idea, FYI), deciding I need arbitrary items like a Concealed Handgun License or a passport or a million other excuses why I am waiting for the stars and moon to align to start writing again!”

        It’s the length of a paragraph, yet not a complete sentence.

      2. Between all those things, she forgot to finish writing the sentence! Kristi Schiller is awfully busy for someone who doesn’t have a job. Maybe I should start reading her blog. P.S. Haven’t we all wasted a day deciding what horses to breed & “analyzing our burn rate”?

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