You Know You Want It


We understand your plight. This is the year you were hoping to put some actual thought into the gifts you buy for those special freaks in your life. Yet you’re weary on what to get them. You already think they should kick some habits and stow away the absurd collections that have taken over their apartments. No need to be judgmental. This is the season to celebrate all those idiosyncrasies that make your family and friends unique. We scavenged around and found just the right things for all the addicts and fanatics you love—and sometimes even hate.


Whether you’re shopping for a casual card player or a hardcore slot jockey, Blatt Billiards offers a wide array of gifts for gamers of all stripes. For novice poker players, a rotary chip tray ($19.99) and dealer’s requisite green visor ($8) make for the perfect starter kit. For more seasoned enthusiasts, there are automatic shufflers ($40) and designer playing cards with reproductions of Klimt, Manet, and M.C. Escher ($15). And of course, no home casino is complete without a miniature roulette wheel ($34.99). If your giftee also enjoys a good cigar with his or her gaming, then Nat Sherman, self-proclaimed tobacconist to the world, is the next place to visit. A James Bond–cool humidor-and-game-set combo runs $150, but if that’s out of your range, a compact cigar cutter and ashtray can be had for $50. For even tinier budgets, their house brand cigars start around $2. MULLINS

Blatt Billiards, 809 Bway, 212-674-8855; Nat Sherman, 500 Fifth Ave, 212-764-5000


The only thing that makes buying food-related gifts a chore is the sheer abundance of specialty shops, like mighty Kalustyan’s on Curry Hill, that literally have everything one wants. For lovers of exotica, buy a candy-colored creel of woven plastic from Matamoros Puebla ($14.95–$24.95) and fill it with imported spices, candies, and other Mexican treats, plus some of the city’s best fresh tamales (pork or chicken, $1.50 each). Visit Bonnie Slotnick for a selection of vintage New York cookbooks that she boasts “ranges from Alfredo’s to Zabar’s.” Though the copper cookie cutters ($7.99–$14.99) and candied violets ($9.99 for 2.5 ounces) from a certain Chelsea baker’s emporium fascinate, the real treasures spied on a recent reconnaissance mission there were gorgeous edible copper glitter ($3.99 for 0.25 ounces) and Marimekko-hued edible-ink markers ($7.99 for eight). I confess my thoughts about how these two items might best be employed were not strictly culinary in nature. BEGHTOL

Kalustyan’s, 123 Lexington Ave, 212-685-3451; Matamoros Puebla, 193 Bedford Ave, Bklyn, 718-782-5044; Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, 163 W 10th, 212-989-8962; New York Cake & Baking Distributors, 56 W 22nd, 212-675-CAKE


Just because one’s tastes lie along subterranean strata doesn’t mean said aestheticism can’t come in refined packages. One favorite is the eclectic and curatorially exquisite Saved Gallery of Art and Craft, sort of an ABC Carpet & Home (and clothing store and tattoo shop!) for the Billyburg bedhead set. Though not a goth boutique by any means, they do have plenty of the dark and strange: vintage-like threads (with gothic and old-school tat designs, $50–$100), Persian ceramics, and Victo rian-inspired jewelry and antiques, perfect for the discerning Beetlejuice Betty in your life. Way expensive but way tasteful is East Village’s John Derian Company; not so much a haven for hipsterati or the clad-in-black, but a treasure trove of antiques and odd and elegant decoupages (“centuries-old” paper images arranged under glass) of skeletons, animals, flora, and sea life ($20–$850). For the more out-there (and more affordable) try Bedebug, an online jeweler specializing in dead curiosities—bugs (beetles, spiders, dragonflies), rat skulls, scorpions, starfish—encased in hand-sculpted resin ($25–$50). Note: No specimens were harmed or killed to make these designs. BOSLER

Saved Gallery of Art and Craft, 82 Berry St, Bklyn, 718-388-5990; John Derian Company, 6 E 2nd, 212-677-7197; Bedebug,


Don’t let snobby sommeliers scare you away from finding that perfect gift for your wino friends. Those not confined to a budget should invest in an evening tasting sponsored by wine house Acker Merrall & Condit. December events include a 1990 versus 1991 red burgundy tasting, led by the renowned wine expert and critic Steve Tanzer ($545 a person). Those with a lighter wallet can swing by the MOMA Design Store and pick up the Rosendahl wine stopper, a sleek and sophisticated creation flawlessly combining Scandinavian minimalism with a twist of Mediterranean warmth. Created by Erik Bagger and produced by the Danish design company, the cone-shaped stopper, with the stainless steel top and black rubber base, impressively combines form and function for $48. Or brave the Christmas hell of Macy’s for a pair of Riedel wine glasses from the sexy, stemless “O” collection. The Austrian company made a name for itself by designing each glass to complement a different vintage, depositing various wines on a different parts of the tongue to accentuate the flavors. Two glasses made for pinot noir and Nebbiolo, or two made for Riesling and sauvignon blanc, come to a scant $19.98. The story of “O” never looked better. BRAUNSCHWEIGER

Acker Merrall & Condit retail store, 160 W 72nd, 212-787-1700; MOMA Design Store, 81 Spring, 646-613-1367; Macy’s, 151 W 34th, 212-695-4400


The easiest and often most welcome gift for art lovers is a membership to the institution of his or her choice—the Museo del Barrio, like most, offers a range of memberships to fit all needs and budgets ($25–$2,500). Gift certificates to museum shops assure no returns; excellent choices in this line include the Cooper-Hewitt and the American Craft Museum. A great source for artistic gifts of all sorts is the International Center of Photography shop, which stocks adorable handbags made from vintage box cameras ($50), terrific books, postcards, calendars, unique jewelry, and, of course, nifty cameras: the stalwart, plastic-lensed Holga ($25), an adorable fish-eye camera ($50), and a pinhole camera kit ($19.95). For working artists, a shopping spree at the Art Store would be bliss; it’s generally cheaper than Pearl Paint and the staff is nicer and more knowledgeable than the drones at Sam Flax. The tiny, dreamy Ink Pad offers thousands of rubber stamps, stamping supplies, kid-friendly crafting classes, and special events. BEGHTOL

El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Ave, 212-831-7272; Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, Fifth Ave & 91st, 212-849-8355; American Craft Museum, 40 W 53rd, 212-956-3535; International Center of Photography, 1133 Sixth Ave, 212-857-0000; The Art Store, 15 Bond, 212-533-2444; The Ink Pad, 22 Eighth Ave, 212-463-9876


I think it was Samantha Fox who said, “Naughty girls need love too.” So why not treat your favorite nymph to a few carefully selected items this season? Maybe in return she’ll reward you with some gifts of her own. Unfed makes irresistible 400-thread-count Egyptian-cotton pillowcases ($52) that are mischievous and playful. Each is embroidered with a delicate design of a woman tied up or in mid-disrobement. If you want to spread a little extra holiday spirit in the boudoir, Jolie’s lingerie Santa suit ($12.99), available at Joyce Leslie, is traditional-looking enough (red with feathery white trim and a black belt) but much smaller and lots more fun. It even comes with a hat. For an extra dose of kink, head to J&R, where you can whip out the Amex and buy that special little lady the Sony Cybershot DSC-N1 8.1 megapixel digital camera ($499.99). It’s as big as a deck of cards, hence discreet, and can hold up to 500 photos. There’s no telling what memories she’ll be able to make this Christmas. BASTIDAS; Joyce Leslie, 20 University Pl, 212-505-5419; J&R Music World, 23 Park Row, 212-238-9100


If you don’t want to get that bookworm friend yet another novel this year, there are some creative alternatives. Coliseum Books carries a line of plush dolls ($15) in the likenesses of writers from Emily Dickinson to W.E.B. DuBois to Edgar Allan Poe. There’s even a Charles Dickens finger puppet ($5). Just as writerly but far more practical is the David Levine 2006 Desk Diary: A Literary Birthday Book ($19.95), available from The New York Review of Books. Illustrated with 117 of Levine’s classic caricatures, it lists the birthdays of many a famous poet and novelist, so you’ll never forget Tennyson’s or Faulkner’s again. Finally, if get them a proper book you must, then The Writer’s Desk by Jill Krementz ($39.95) is appropriate. In lavish duotone photographs, Krementz (who happens to be the wife of Kurt Vonnegut) depicts a host of writers at work—where else?—at their desks. Terry Southern’s was apparently very messy. Stephen King’s, on the other hand, is quite tidy. MULLINS

Coliseum Books, 11 W 42nd, 212-803-5890; The New York Review of Books, ; The Writer’s Desk ,


Toys, particularly the import collectible variety, have gotten to a weird place unknowable to outsiders, where super new and retro are almost indistinguishable. Soho’s Kidrobot is tops in the game for “art toys” and mini-figures, but the glass cases of Munnys, Dunnys, and Ice-Bots can induce panic. Afterward, finding a talking stuffed Napoleon Dynamite ($19.99) in a choice of two outfits (one of them the celebrated brown dance suit!) at the East Village’s Toy Tokyo is a relief. Plastic Godzillas in all different sizes, colors, opacities, and widely ranging scarcities are also available: How about a Gatorade-yellow two-and-a-half incher ($24)? There are many types of toys in the city, but sometimes the best ones are still the classics. In this vein, nothing beats a prototype Christmas-morning robot, such as FAO Schwarz’s Chrome Smoking Robot ($80), with “lighted eyes” and “stop and go action,” or Atomic Robot Man ($30), whose box promises nothing except “choking hazard.” FONG

Kidrobot, 126 Prince, 212-966-6688; Toy Tokyo, 121 Second Ave, 212-673-5424; FAO Schwarz, 767 Fifth Ave, 212-644-9400


In this digital age, decent—yet affordable—new turntables are devilishly hard to find; when your beloved requests a portable model, you really have only two choices: hiding his or her body somewhere it’ll never be found, or tracking down a Crosley. This clever manufacturer introduced a sturdy three-speed model built into a small suitcase in the 1950s and they still make them today in spiffy black or tweed leatherette; we love the Stack-O-Matic ($179.95). For those who prefer solitude, pick a pair of stylish, quality headphones made by Brooklyn’s family-owned Grado Laboratories ($69–$695) from the wonderful Lyric Hi-Fi shop. And when you’ve had precisely enough of other people’s noise—be it screamo, Schumann, or Rhino’s superlative new girl-group box set, One Kiss Can Lead to Another ($63.60)—have yourself fitted for a pair of custom earplugs at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary ($162). BEGHTOL; Lyric Hi-Fi, 1221 Lexington Ave, 212-439-1900;; New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, 310 E 14th, 212-979-4340


The common species of Periodical Collector can be spotted peeking from behind tall stacks of half-read magazines piled on every horizontal surface of their habitat. They carefully build their nest of short-form reading, pleasantly free from the commitment beloved by the closely related Bookworm. To gain their trust, give them a vintage fashion magazine from Gallagher’s; a 1936Cosmopolitan featuring a festive holiday cover sells for $40. Or bestow the gift that keeps on giving and head to Nikos Magazine & Smoke Shop to pick up an issue to wrap up while you mail in the subscription card of a pub they might not be familiar with. Suggestions include the independently published music magazine Paste ($49.95 for 16 issues), which is filled with indie-music features and includes a sampler CD with each installment. For techie film geeks, a subscription to Res ($24.95 for 6 issues) will keep them informed on creative digital filmmaking. A bonus DVD of shorts and music videos arrives inside each issue. Even if this addict has all the publications they need, he or she could surely use a vintage magazine rack
from Waldorf Hysteria ($25–$35), which will allow them to display their ephemera in a slightly more organized fashion. REMSBERG

Gallagher’s Fashion and Design, 126 E 12th, 212-473-0840,; Nikos Magazine & Smoke Shop, 462 Sixth Ave, 212-255-9175; Waldorf Hysteria, 165 Ave B, 212-673-6284


Face it, for some women there is one and only one appropriate gift: jewelry. The good news is they usually let you know in advance by hinting all over the place. The bad news is that unoriginal jewelry is everywhere, multiplying and infecting stores and boutiques all over the city, making it tricky to spot unique goods. EDGEnyNOHO, a new designer-run market, has hip, one-of-a-kind baubles from a variety of undiscovered talents. Stroll down the long glass cases in the center of the store until something sparkly catches your eye. A dramatic necklace by Draugsvold ($175) plays with scale by using large brass rings, three-inch-wide hummingbirds, and clear crystal beads. Sterling silver horseshoe rings by Spragwerks ($65) are decidedly non-girlie accents, reminiscent of flash tattoo designs. Nabi provides sweet and delicate contributions, including charm-laden safety pin broaches ($52). If your giftee already has enough trinkets to decorate the tree at Rockefeller Center, Anthropologie has jewelry boxes ($38–98) covered in velvet, satin, and brocade that dazzle all on their own. REMSBERG

EDGEnyNOHO, 65 Bleecker, 212-358-0255,; Anthropologie, 85 Fifth Ave, 212-627-5885,


Your muscle-bound friend whose interest can only be peaked by mentioning dumbbells might appreciate something other than protein this year. Power walk to Paragon, where you can find lots for your fitness fanatic. The Ogio Turbulence duffel bag ($60), which can apparently withstand anything judging from the name, features a vented compartment for smelly gym shoes, mesh water-bottle pockets, a pouch for an iPod, and more. Plus, it comes in orange or black. If you really want to make your buddy go apeshit, pick up the 30-meter water- resistant Polar F6 watch ($109.95). Not only does it tell time, but it also establishes personal target heart rate zones, tracks calories and percentage of fat burned, determines body mass index, and allows online transference of exercise data. Whew! Lastly, the gift any workout fiend would love: a 55-minute “Reflexology, Neck and Shoulder” massage ($115) from Equinox’s spa. Focusing mostly on the feet, this session gives overworked stair-steppers a luxurious time-out, while aiding in overall detoxification and stimulating proper body function. Just prepare for potentially bone-crushing hugs. FRANKLIN

Paragon Sports, 867 Bway, 212-255-8036,; Equinox, 10 Columbus Cir, 212-871-0425,


Christopher Brosius once wrote a perfume manifesto, filled with love/hate enigmas like “A lazy and inelegant concession to fashionable ego,” which would give him the name of his future company, CB I Hate Perfume. The first perfumer to be included in a major museum for the design of scent, Brosius makes fragrances conceived on abstractions: In the Library, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday ($45). He also does custom blends in his Williamsburg gallery (starting at $50 plus the cost of materials); for those who “miss the point entirely,” he says, “I simply sigh and direct them to Bloomingdale’s.” Or Saks, we presume, where more mass-market girls find Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb ($95 and up), a pink grenade with top notes of tea and bergamot and something of an It perfume. Bond No. 9, famous for bottling New York City neighborhoods (Nouveau Bowery, Chelsea Flowers), offers an alluring selection of vintage accomplices, such as a shimmering glass egg with a tasseled atomizer ($115). FONG

CB I Hate Perfume, 93 Wythe Ave, Bklyn, 718- 384-6890; Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Ave, 212-753-4000; Bond No. 9, 9 Bond, 212-228-1732


When your sister gave you the silent treatment after you sat on the couch with subway-worn clothes, it became clear that she’s a tad touchy about spotlessness. No worries, Tiny Living has something she’ll relish. The sleek, steel Blomus magnetic board ($41), akin to a modern bulletin board, is perforated so she can attach trays for stowing sunglasses, a paper dispenser, hooks for hanging keys, magnets to post shopping lists, and more. Foam-lined microfiber Casabella kitchen gloves in pink or lavender ($5.99) will help keep her gift as shiny as the day it was unwrapped. A great alternative to sponges, they remove dust and gunk sans cleaning products. And while on the organizational tip, any type A personality would kick up their heels using the sheer blue or silver Hipce CD-filing system (holds 80 to 120 disks; $29.95–$31.95). A drawer glides out with the press of a button bearing alphabetized slips. Plus, there’s a lock and key so your sibling can sleep soundly knowing that nothing will ever be moved out of place. FRANKLIN

Casabella, Bed Bath & Beyond, 620 Sixth Ave, 212-255-3550; Tiny Living, 125 E 7th, 212-228-274


We all have friends who’d rather be someplace else than here. Instead of buying this globe- trotter a plane ticket you can’t afford to some far-off destination, opt for something equally fitting and less pricey. The Swiss Army Soho store not only carries an assortment of pocket knives but durable travel gear as well. Their Mobilizer 22 Ultra-Light wheeled suitcase ($299.99) in classic red delivers on its name: It’s super-compact with plenty of pockets and lightweight for easy maneuvering in crowded airports. If you’re more of an under-$50 gift-giver, the American Apparel Airplane Blanket ($28) is made of California fleece, comes in plenty of colors, and is big enough to cover your jet-lagged pal. Or you can buy them Assouline’s Adventure Hotel Stories ($40). A coffee-table must-have for any escape artist, the book takes readers from climbing to the top of the world in Nepal with Sir Edmund Hillary, to surviving in the Brazilian jungle in Amazonia with Peter Fleming, to lots of other places in between. Bon voyage! BASTIDAS

Swiss Army Soho, 136 Prince, 212-965-5714; American Apparel, 104 N 6th St, Bklyn, 718-218-0002;


It’s time to find a present for that friend you lovingly refer to as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” One sip of morning java turns this raging maniac into a tolerable companion. For the fiend that is always on the go, Boss Coffee ($1.89–$2.49) is the ultimate in prepared iced-coffee drinks. Made in Japan, each can features the company logo and the picture of a classic boss man smoking a pipe. One can even shows the boss riding tall on a motorcycle, perhaps to show you how macho a tiny 6.7 ounce beverage with milk and sugar can be. If the politics of bean-growing are keeping you from making a guilt-free purchase, Allegro Coffee tackles two important issues in the coffee business: sustainable farming and fair-trade pricing. Bags of whole beans are available in enough varieties—single origins, blends, and even decaf ($5.99 for eight ounces)—to soothe the wildest thing. The gentle art-loving side of your caffeine-dependent pal will appreciate a set of Illy espresso cups designed by artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel ($160). Each of the five cups has a different version of Schnabel’s chilled-out surfer dude Chuck, and comes packaged in a life-preserver-shaped box, because even the crankiest among us deserves to be saved. REMSBERG

Boss coffee, Sunrise Mart, 212-598-3040, 4 Stuyvesant, 2nd fl; Illy Gallery, 382 W Bway, open until December 15, or; Allegro Coffee, Whole Foods, 212-823-9600, 10 Columbus Cir


Product divas who worship at the altar of Sephoras everywhere need not be punished for the holidays. Instead, toast your favorite beauty junkie with some bubbly—in the form of champagne, which contains antioxidants that infuse the skin with vitamins, especially when directly applied. Euphoria Day Spa in Tribeca offers gift certificates for a Body Bellini ($99), a decadent scrub that delivers glowing skin on contact. The spa pairs the treatment with a glass of the real thing for recipients to enjoy while getting pampered. If your darling is a bit more old-fashioned, one of our favorite apothecaries C.O. Bigelow sells vintage gift sets that any classic beauty would love. Their Tinted Love trio of lip shines ($16.50) gives kissers that extra hue and come in a collectible tin. All you need is the mistletoe. If your favorite narcissist is of the male variety, he’ll appreciate the World’s Greatest Shave kit ($49.50), which includes shaving cream, witch hazel, and aftershave lotion for fellas with sensitive skin. BASTIDAS

Euphoria Day Spa, 18 Harrison, 2nd fl, 212-925-5925; C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries , 414 Sixth Ave, 212-533-2700