By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
By Raillan Brooks
We sympathize with your gift-giving dilemmas (too little time, too little money). We're even aware that maybejust maybeyou've done a little procrastinating, and so now it's Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or (gasp!) Christmas Eve. Knowing all this, we've drawn together a lifesaving list of one-stop shopping palaces where you'll find unique and affordable gifts for all your loved ones. Happy shopping.
Gold Palace, 254 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 718.855.8696
"A Brief but Startling History of the Chocolate Santa Claus" by Robert Sietsema
"Season's Spirits: Bars With Cheer"
"Merry Mayem: Holiday Events"
The regal granite mansion housing the New-York Historical Society sits adjacent to the Museum of Natural History and faces Central Park. No less interesting than the exhibits are many of the objects on offer at the museum's ground-floor gift shop: Highlights of the top-notch book collection include M. Lasek's 1960 illustrated children's classic This Is New York ($17.95); Stephen O'Connor's Orphan Trains ($27), documenting the more than 250,000 city children shipped to Midwestern homes; and Michael Henry Adams and Paul Rocheleau's Harlem Lost and Found ($65), a social and architectural history of the world-famous African American neighborhood. There are also luscious "Study of an Orchid" box cards ($9.95); an illustrated "Art of Our Town" 2004 calendar ($11.95); a New York chess set in which pawns are cabs, natch ($220); and magnets quoting E.B. White and Ambrose Bierce (consider "New York is cocaine, opium, hashish"; $3.50). And while you're roaming the grand hallways, check out "Children at Risk: Protecting New York's Youth, 1653-2003," and think about donating to The New York Times' "Neediest Cases" campaign. It would make a great gift for the girl or guy who has everything. CARLA SPARTOS
New-York Historical Society, 2 West 77th Street, 212.485.9269, nyhistory.org
The most unorthodox of gift givers will find plenty of sexual playthings to surprise their loved ones without coming off as dirtbags at Toys in Babeland's sleek new Soho store. Timid receivers will enjoy the beautiful images and recipes included in Intercourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook ($24.95) and those sulking over a relationship gone awry may take solace in the "Tainted Love" package ($25), which includes soap, bubble bath, body lotion, and lip balm. The "Sex Toys 101" set ($60) is great for newbies, featuring Sex Toys 101: A Playfully Uninhibited Guide, the Nubby G vibrator, a petite Silver Bullet vibe, a red silicone Little Flirt butt plug, lube, and batteries. Seasoned folks may relish the "Fiery Nights" gift set ($37), replete with body wax candle, a Finger Fun vibe, a vibrating cock ring called the Diamond Ring, batteries, and lube. For female clubbers, the Audi-Oh! ($80)a wearable vibrator that moves in rhythm with musiccould forever change their nightclub experience. If you don't want Grandma eyeing the naughty toys you dole out, you can stash them inside the Treasure Pillow ($33)a plush cushion shielding what lies within. Now that's getting down for the holidays! KEISHA FRANKLIN
Toys in Babeland, 43 Mercer Street, 212.966.2120
Glaringly austere Moss looks like one of those fabulously off-putting design shops you'd find only in Soho: Objects are displayed in glass cases, and a mere table setting can cost upwards of $10,000. Pricey plates aside, there's an eclectic array of affordable gifts, and some are downright warm and fuzzy: A set of five hand-crocheted finger puppets ($35)lions and tigers and bears and other creaturesmakes for creative child's play. The "Buildings of Disaster" collectible, on the other hand, is definitely not for the kiddies: Perfect for morbid history buffs, each $95 nickel-plated miniature reproduction (twin towers, Dakota building, Chernobyl, etc.) is inscribed with the date of the tragedy. A plastic-and-sterling "Tagalong" bracelet ($25.50) tightens to fit any modern-day romantic's wrist; tiny porcelain rose earrings ($116) make more appropriate adornments for Mom. And since no holiday shopping list would be complete without music, there's the homegrown "Turntables on the Hudson" CD series ($17 each). CARLA SPARTOS
Moss, 146 Greene Street, 212.204.7100, mossonline.com
Antony Zito of Zito Gallery is a master of the found object, rendering breezy designs on old 78s or a winsome portrait on a discarded car muffler. When commissioning a portrait here, you're encouraged to suggest or even to bring in the item on which it will be done. Noncommissioned paintings start at $25. Among those currently available are a portrait on a piece of a refrigerator door ($40) and a pinup girl on a rearview mirror ($150). Commissioned watercolors start at $100 and oil paintings at $300. The painted 78s are $35, or two for $50 (check out the titles, such as "Scrub Me Mama With a Boogie Beat.") Signed color prints of original works are $10. On loan in California now, but pictured on Zito's website, are highly covetable portraits of musicians painted on covers of their albums (Jimi Hendrix done on Are You Experienced is a great one), starting at $200. Zito can get these out in time for the holidays if there's one you must give (or must have for yourselfdon't they say charity begins at home?). PAMELA GROSSMAN