2015 Holiday Gift Guide

(Rockefeller Center – Jason Schott / New York Sports Day)

The holiday season is certainly a joyous time but it can be stressful when it comes to finding a gift for the special people in your life. Here are some last-minute gift ideas that will hopefully inspire.
Electronics and technology have become the marquee items in the world of consumer goods. As is generally the case with electronics, prices have tumbled rapidly.

iPhone 6S Plus
iPhone 6S Plus

Whereas a few years ago the battle for personal computer supremacy was between Apple’s Mac and everyone else’s Windows PC, today the main tech skirmish involves smartphones with Apple’s iOS system vs. nearly everyone else’s Android. Apple fans will enjoy using the iPhone 6s while Samsung is now the unquestioned leader in the Android field with its latest offering, the Galaxy 6S. For those who use their smartphones for correspondence the Galaxy Note5 with its larger screen and stylus is ideal.
Tablets are catching up to laptops in the area of portable computing and there LG, Lenovo, Acer and Samsung compete with the industry’s leader, Apple’s iPad. Kurio makes a wide array of tablets for kids which all have parental control (kurioworld.com).
It’s always a good idea to protect your expensive portable devices with a case from Otter Products.
The Internet has made subscription web streaming services as Amazon Netflix, Hulu, and the WWE Network competitors with cable television’s premium channels as HBO and Showtime. Devices as Roku, Amazon Fire, and Google Chromecast, when plugged into the HDMI ports on your television give Internet sites the same picture quality as those from TV channels.
For those who enjoy binge watching, HBO has just made shows as “The Wire,” Game of Thrones,” and “Boardwalk Empire” available on DVD.

Sure you can Google almost anything that you need to know these days but there is something comforting about having the facts at your finger the old school way. The World Almanac 2016 is still the best paperback reference. Offbeat trivia buffs must possess Guinness World Records 2016.

Super Bowl GoldSports fans will certainly enjoy perusing the Baseball America 2016 Almanac. The NFL is having a big milestone this coming February with Super Bowl 50. Not surprisingly, there are new commemorative books, Sports Illustrated’s coffee table “Super Bowl Gold” and Dey Street’s “Fifty Years, Fifty Moments” which features legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice as a co-author.

Sinatra book 1This is a big year for music books in the publishing industry. Carly Simon has published a memoir, “Boys In The Trees” (Flatiron Books). Coinciding with the centennial of Frank Sinatra’s birth, James Kaplan has written the definitive bio of Ol’ Blue Eyes, “Sinatra: The Chairman” (Doubleday). Rock music fans should pick up Mat Snow’s “The Who: 50 Years of My Generation” (Race Point).
If you know someone’s size and taste, fashion is always fun. American Eagle, Lands End, Ace Rivington, and Haupt all make comfortable, stylish and durable dress shirts. The arrival of winter means that hat, scarf and gloves season is upon us. Calypso St. Barth (which also makes  fragrances), Vineyard Vines, and Shaw Lux (shawlux.com) all make outerwear accessories to keep us warm on those Arctic days. Minnie Rose (minnierose.com) specializes in ponchos and others pullovers.
RoadWarriors_SCGuys are just as interested in skin care as women are these days. Jack Black (not the actor) makes gift sets of balms, creams, and body bars. Korres Butter Luxury Collection is a gift set sold at Sephora that purports to improve skin elasticity. If you prefer using argan oil as a skin moisturizer you might want to check out Joise Maran’s website, josiemarancosmetics.com.
There is no shortage of handbag designers but most of them, short of Louis Vuitton and Vera Bradley, are not well known. Baggalini, Deondra Jeree, Laudi Vindi (individual spelled backwards), and Be Brilliant (bebrilliantbags.com) make clutches, wallets, and handbags in various sizes and price points.

Armitron stainless steel sports watch.
Armitron stainless steel sports watch.

Watches are the most popular form of jewelry. Long Island City’s own Armitron makes fashionable and affordable watches.  HOH Watches, which was founded by Forest Hills High School alum Lawrence Leyderman, makes timepieces that rival Tag Heuer and Rolex at a fraction of their prices.
Dana Buchman, Marrin Costello, Luca & Danni, and Auburn Jewelry are good sources for pendants, bracelets, rings and cuff links. Icelink (store.icelink.co) has created bracelets for $250 and under that appear to be far more expensive.
Most of us can’t afford a Carrera sports car but stylish Carrera sunglasses are another story. For those with tighter budgets, Polaroid has a huge selection of frames including classic aviators that rival Ray-Ban.

Pottery Barn tic-tac-toe game.
Pottery Barn tic-tac-toe game.

Gifts for the home are always welcome. Pottery Barn has a Tic Tac Toe game comprised of a wooden square frame along with wooden square X and O blocks. Peace Toys’ Hugg-America pillow lets you rest your head on a detailed map of the USA while Madura makes all kinds of traditional throw pillows. Starbucks has teamed up with Swarovski for a line of beverage containers that have exteriors consisting of crystals. Savannah Bee and Stonewall Kitchen make a variety of upscale bath products and they also have great gift baskets. Both Yankee Candle and Aquiste’s Dark Pine (sold exclusively at J.Crew) have detailed selections of scented candles.

Godiva and Ghirardelli both make fine confections, but if you worry about allergens but still want great taste, try Vermont Nut Free Chocolates (vermontnutfree.com).

Vermont Nut Free Chocolate selection.
Vermont Nut Free Chocolate selection.

Another guilty pleasure is Amy’s Wicked Whoopie Pies from Maine (wickedwhoopies.com). Amy is getting some local competition these days from a New Yorker, Elizabeth Fife, who gave up investment banking for a career in whoopie pie baking. She started a company called Batter And Cream and the good news is that they will ship her delicacies anywhere. On the mass market front, Pepperidge Farm makes a wide array of holiday-themed Milanos as well as ginger and sugar cookies.

Adults with a sweet tooth who like to imbibe should try the wine-infused chocolates from Fredericksburg, located in Texas Hill Country (fbgwinery.com) which is quickly rivaling Napa Valley when comes to producing quality American wines.
Speaking of American wines, Dreaming Tree, ONEHOPE, and Woodbridge by Mondavi are inexpensive but quality brands. For those who prefer harder liquor, Macallan and McIvor are fine scotches; Johnny Walker Blue is top-shelf whisky while those preferring a more fun low-brow bottle should go with Manhattan Moonshine. Guinness has introduced a line of high end non-dark beers called Nitro IPA.

Ryka's Dynamic 2 running shoe.
Ryka’s Dynamic 2 running shoe.

The most popular New Year’s resolution is to exercise. Ryka’s Dynamic 2 and Achieve lines of running shoes provide well-cushioned support to reduce the tension in the legs when striking the ground. Sorry, guys; Ryka only makes shoes for women. On the other hand, Brooks Running and Altra Footwear (altrarunning.com) manufacture terrific running shoes for both sexes. Brooks Running and Stance have decorative socks that can be worn for both workouts and for casual wear.
Boxing has become a popular workout option because of its cardiology benefits. Everlast has long been synonymous with ring sports thanks to its training equipment and apparel which are available at Sears.
Franklin Sports, best known for its batting gloves, makes sports equipment, apparel, and indoor games for all ages.

Spirit cruises.
Spirit Cruise.

I can’t think of a place that has more to offer both its residents and visitors than New York City. A great way to enjoy the beauty of our area as well as take in a great meal with top-notch entertainment is to sail with either Spirit Cruise or World Yacht.
CityPASS (citypass.com) is a ticket booklet that allows you to see a lot of New York attractions (including a boat ride around NYC on the famous Circle Line) for one fixed price. The catch is that you have to do it all within nine days. CityPASS is available for other American cities.
Few things are exhilarating as traveling to exotic locales. The understandable concern is what happens if you or a loved one gets sick overseas or on a cruise. Medjet is a membership service that will transport you to the medical center of your choice if you become ill and need to be hospitalized. A membership is certainly a thoughtful gift for anyone who packs a suitcase.

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