Holiday Gift Guide 2017! Things Big, Small & In Between!


I recently went to an editor’s holiday showcase at the Hilton given by Advance Public Relations and I encountered Gettysburg Coffee for the first time. The people at the booth gave me a whiff of a few different types but I fell in love with a particularly bold blend called The General. It has hints of caramel, mocha and vanilla and is hand roasted in small batches as are all the delicious coffees in this line. You can get ground or whole beans for $14.99 a pound and I have to warm you that this stuff smells so good that you will want to use it for potpourri, LOL! I admit that I leave a bunch of it out in a small bowl on my kitchen counter! Go to https://gettysgear.com/products/the-general-flavored-coffee to order!

Lenox just launched a collection with architect and designer Luca Andrisani inspired by the tiles of the Mediterranean and I recently got to meet with Andrisani at a press preview on East 72nd up in my ‘hood. I was thrilled to see this collection because while the color story is sky blue, cornflower blue, white and gold, each piece has a different geometric pattern and they work well together. I will go out on a limb and say that this might just get men into having a “good set of dishes” that they can leave out and spruce up an otherwise mess of a bachelor pad! These are just so versatile. I am personally in love with the small square catch all dishes which can be used for everything from appetizer plates to keeping jewelry in! More info on this collection can be found at http://www.lenox.com.

I was introduced to Alpha Blu’s natural ingredient based products during their recent NYFW event at the Dream Downtown Hotel and even got a minifacial with them. I saw the tightness in my skin change right away so I got “all on board” with this line. Alpha Blu’s four new skin essentials are available in a kit for $100: you get their Day Cream, Night Cream, Eye Cream and the same Skin Serum you know and love. This kit has lasted me over three months now, BTW! Get glowing skin that appears younger, smoother, firmer and more hydrated. Alpha Blu Skin Care contains cytokines and proteins to really improve the way your skin looks. To order, go to http://alphabluskincare.com/product/skin-care-kit-of-four-products/.

I met the “crafty” JoAnn Tilghman of Granny Jo Products at a recent editor’s holiday event at Morton’s given by Consumer Products Events and I was just blown away by this silver fox’s fantastic ‘n flashy inventions that are geared for the elderly with a taste for items that cover both fashion and function. I want to add that I am not a senior and was dazzled by her napkin clips. I am always getting spots on my sweaters and blouses and her faux freshwater pearl napkin clip just rocks my world. It has saved a whole bunch of my clothing and I cannot believe that if people came up with eyeglass holders years ago, they could not have come up with a great item like this. It only retails for $5 if you can believe it! GJ also has wonderful walker bags with colorful designs that are great if you are someone who always wants to have a place to stash things and I am also in love with her fun cane ornaments. Go here to order: https://grannyjoproducts.com/collections/all.

By now you should be familiar with the Echo Dot–it is in Amazon’s top five sellers for Holiday 2017 and its temporarily priced at only $29.99 for the holidays! To say that this is an item that you get your money’s worth out of is an understatement. You just connect with your home wifi and pretty soon you are talking to Alexa, whom I refer to as the “Mistress Of Ceremonies”–you tell her what to do in your normal tone of voice and she will do everything from stream music by your favorite artists to search for the phone number to your favorite take out joint and call it for you! A lot of people keep their Echo Dot in the kitchen so they can request that Alexa pull up recipes off the internet for them as well as serve as a timer! Sports fans can get game scores from Alexa and she will even turn off your lights. The possibilities are endless. I just got mine and I like to play Mad Libs on it! I do not have to tell you that throughout the holiday season, Amazon has dozens of specials on many of their top gifting items as well as their famous Prime Membership, so be sure to do a general Top Gift search on their. To order the Dot Echo for only $29.99, go to: https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Echo-Dot-Portable-Bluetooth-Speaker-with-Alexa-Black/dp/B01DFKC2SO/ref=sr_1_1?s=amazon-devices&ie=UTF8&qid=1512236982&sr=1-1&keywords=Echo+Dot.

Christmas just is not Christmas without good chocolate and I do not have to tell you that Maison Du Chocolat has some of the world’s finest! It is pricey (averaging about $65 a pound for a mixed box of classic chocolates) but they are on the cutting edge of flavor combinations and packaging. I admit that I have already gone into the Madison Avenue store to sample the Valentine’s Day wares. I fell in love with new flavors that include Lime Tree leaves and passionfruit and they give me a reason to look forward to Cupid’s favorite holiday. It is quite the experience to walk into one of their stores and actually smell the chocolates and the desserts in the cases but if you want to make your life easy and order off the web, I would recommend the Starlit Night Gift box which retails for $49. Not only is the blue and white packaging stunning but you get truly uniquely flavored chocolates in this 15 piece collection including Pure Brazilian Ganache, Chocolate Almond Paste, Mara Des Bois (Orange Blossom) and so much more! They have a shelf life of 10 to 16 days so the person you gift them to have plenty of time to enjoy these legendary sweet tooth delights! A larger version of this collection is also available if you are planning to deal with a larger group of chocoholics over the holidays. Order here: http://www.lamaisonduchocolat.us/en_us/starlit-night-15-pieces-2017-christmas. Let me add right now that they have the best Advent Calendar collection in the entire world of chocolate! The best part is that it gives you a chance to eat one chocolate a day for 24 days! It has a beautiful blue and white three-dimensional Christmas tree on the front of the box and weighs in at .62 pounds. You get such great flavor choices as almonds dipped in milk and dark chocolate, plain and flavored pralines, almonds coated with gianduja and dusted with cocoa and much much more. Order here for $62: http://www.lamaisonduchocolat.us/en_us/advent-calendar-2017.

I was lucky enough to get turned onto PureGear products at the aforementioned editors’ holiday showcase given by Advance Public Relations at the Hilton and I was happy as a non-technie to find techie items I could understand. Everyone is in need of a great charger that can charge four tech items at one time and fast! The PureGear USB Charging Station does that job perfectly without being too heavy to carry around in your bag all day. It plugs directly into a wall outlet and charges at maximum speed with an LED light that is bright red while in action–I challenge you to try to find another charger that works this fast. It actually has three USB-A ports and one USB-C ports, by the way (so you can chargeboth phones and a laptop at the same time). You can order it here for $54.99: http://www.pure-gear.com/usb-charging-station-black-usb-c-config.html.

Vionic is my favorite brand of comfort shoe. Their copyrighted luscious and bouncy insole has an arch in it that just gets my totally flat feet feeling great. I can walk around Manhattan all day and not feel a thing which is more than I can say for other “comfort” brands. My Vionic go-to style for the holidays is the Ava Ballet Flat in buttery Italian leather which I am wearing in bronze but the pewter rocks just as much! They are $129.00 at Vionic.com, Dillard’s and Lord & Taylor right now. The special thing about Vionic is the huge team of podiatrists and other foot health experts behind the design of each pair. These shoes do just what they say: give you elevated support and natural alignment. The deep heel cup gives you extra room if you want to insert an orthotic but I doubt you will need them anymore as your feet are literally being cradled in Vionics! Order the Ava Ballet Flat here and have your most comfortable holiday season ever (Vionic.com gives you free two-day shipping and a 30-day wear test, BTW): https://www.vionicshoes.com/ava-flat.html?utm_source=google_shopping&76=47&565=77&605=218&aid=20558&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0Lveuv7r1wIV2UwNCh2lhg4jEAQYBSABEgIjzfD_BwE.
I recently went to Blue Sky Communications Holiday preview and the Belif Holly Jolly Hydration Set just spoke to me–I love the adorable blue holiday packaging that makes it unnecessary to wrap when gifting and the fact that it is a set that works for all types of skin! This line’s superstar ingredient is all-natural herbs too numerous to mention! If you have dull, lifeless skin, this will be your go-to kit–and it only costs $38.00 at Sephora right now (it would cost your $62 if you bought all the items separately)! The set includes 1.68 ounces of the True Cream Moisturizing Bomb, .33 of Hungarian Water Essence and .17 of Moisturizing Eye Bomb. Belif is a “rock star” of skincare Korean brands and let this kit be your introduction to this fast-acting line! It has across the board five star reviews at sephora.com and you can order it here: https://www.sephora.com/product/holly-jolly-hydration-set-P425268?skuId=1997428&icid2=products%20grid:p425268.

I love anything with a New York theme so I went nuts when I was introduced to PaperFinch’s New York Song Mug, which is just part of a huge line of products themed with any state that your heart desires. (I am also in love with their 12 Days Of Christmas ornaments, by the way!) The New York Song Mug is 100 per cent ceramic and dishwater safe. You will fall in love with the New York State shaped logo with the fun black and green PaperFinch logo on the back. I got my mug with the New York logo in orange but you can choose from over a dozen colors. I honestly think that this is the perfect Under $20 unisex gift for New Yorkers or just fans of New York. You can order the mug for only $17 here but be sure to check out PaperFinch’s other wonderfully creative items: https://paperfinch.com/collections/new-york-state/products/new-york-state-song-mug-orange.

Where do I like to go when I just want to browse around and get good ideas for the holidays? Why, none other than Hammacher Schlemmer, which I call “the place to go when I need to find something for everyone.” I do not have to tell you have their great warranties which gives you free replacements on damaged products for a lifetime and that is the reason that the only umbrella I will carry is by Hammacher! You can get things as small as a purse sized makeup mirror to a Zoltar fortune telling machine just like the one featured in the timeless Tom Hanks movie BIG. Zoltar might set you back around $3,500 but there are plenty of small items like I said before. They are especially strong in terms of household devices (at least in my opinion) and their drones are some of the most popular for the holiday season. The Hammacher peeps have plenty of quirky items and the Mirthful Sommelier’s Wine Glasses pictured above (at $24.95 for two) work great for both holiday and wedding presents as they can be monogrammed for $10 extra. I strongly suggest an in store visit for the complete Hammacher Schlemmer experience but if you are not in New York City, just go to http://www.hammacher.com. You can order the Mirthful Sommelier Glasses here: https://www.hammacher.com/Product/86245?promo=search&cmp=cel&trigger=ac&query=MIRTHFUL

I cannot think of a better gift for under $100 that appeals to ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE from ages 9 to 99 than the new Kodak Mini Printer. It is a real pleasure to use. Photos seems to pop out in about 30 seconds and the quality is just beautiful! The prints really look the same as the digital image! The Kodak Mini is nice and light for portability and wirelessly prints out high-quality 2×3 prints via wifi connection or NFC One Touch. The Kodak Mini Printer is compatible with both iPhone and Android. All you do to use this device is insert the cartridge of paper (one cartridge that creates ten photos comes with the unit), then you download the Kodak Photo Printer app that gives you the ability to print from your phone, social media platforms and the internet (as well as creatively edit). After that, all you do is select photos from a device using the app and hit the print button! You can purchase for $99.99 on Amazon using this link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KO0T5VA.

I have to be honest and say that I never heard of Oralgen before I went to a press breakfast for its spokesperson Angie Everhart (who was a real pleasure to speak with and a real user of this product). I started using the Oralgen NuPearl 12x Advanced Teeth Whitening System the next morning and my teeth got to be at least two shades whiter in a week. The kit has ten full size gel treatments that you simply use by putting on the enclosed tray with a syringe; you leave the tray in for 20 minutes while using the enclosed NuBright LED Brightening light which attaches to the tray! I honestly noticed improvement after one use. The bonus Perfecting Whitening Pen can be used at leisure (no tray needed) and has a 12 per cent hydrogen peroxide formula that kicks your tooth whiteness level into overdrive. The pen is perfect after you’ve had some wine or other food item that has a staining effect but I just use it to get super-white! You can purchase the kit here for $59.95: https://oralgen.com/oralgen-nupearl%C2%AE12x-products.

I was not familiar with the Shoepassion brand before getting to visit their preview of styles for buyers and press during FFANY Week here in at the One Hotel in New York. I was instantly blown away by the fact that this line is all handmade in Germany and that the quality level was “off the hook” as they say. Priced at about 400 dollars per pair, these shoes are of the softest yet durable European leather and feature classic styles–although their recent collabo with Commes Des Garcons produced styles that are a little more on the extreme side. Their bread and butter business are men’s business shoes including brogues and oxfords, but my eyes naturally gravitated to Shoepassion’s table of ladies shoes. They take men’s styles and create them for ladies (see the photo above) and my heart was stolen by the glitter oxfords. It’s hard to get high quality glitter shoes created in real leather so my heart stood still. Styles all have numbers instead of names, so if you want to buy the ladies’ glitter oxford for the holidays, you have to remember the number “113.” Check out all the great Shoepassion styles for both ladies and men here–and don’t be afraid to call the helpline on the home page because these people can answer any little “nook and cranny” question you have about each style: http://www.shoepassion.com/.

Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon recently partnered with noted graffiti artist Faust in honor of its 13th anniversary; the artist created the super street smart bottle design that you see above. Faust joined the Napa-based winery in Napa as its Artist in Residence last year and during his time there he created this gem that you will want to display on a bookcase or table long after the wine is finished! I cannot tell you how great the wine is yet because I am saving my bottle for New Year’s Eve but Faust wines in general have rave reviews on wines.com! This Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot and was aged for 19 months in 100 French Oak. It’s official description on the faustwine.com site says that it offers “siky tannins and notes of blackberry, black cherry and plum”–and that sounds strictly “to die for” to me. Order here for $110: https://www.huneeuswines.com/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=view&category_id=110.

Kids love to create things and the Wooden Birdhouse Kit designed by Scout Regalia that’s available from Kaufmann Mercantile is easy to put together (it’s about 18 pre-cut pieces) and is modeled after a famous craftsman-style home in Pasadena called the Gamble House. When your adorable birdhouse is completed, you can paint it with watercolors or oil based paints–or even stain it–since it is made of genuine unfinished birchwood. Some folks have even mixed birdseed with peanut butter and applied it to the sides of their birdhouse (note: this might bring a few squirrels and not just birds into your feeder). This wenderful DIY birdhouse project is not only high quality but educational as well and to be perfectly honest, a lot of adults enjoy assembling it as well. Order for $40 here: https://www.kaufmann-mercantile.com/product/149000059915/wooden-birdhouse-kit.

Lalique’s Mon Premier Cristal Collection is the type of fragrance gift for the woman who has everything! The collection is sold at Neiman Marcus and Lalique boutiques (as well as their respective websites)–and if you cannot afford the $730 ornate Lalique frosted “boudoir” crystal bottles, you can buy this new line of stunning fragrances’ refills in elegant glass bottles for $170. (Yes, the refill is stunningly beautiful in itself and you can genuinely use it the way you would use a regular bottle of fragrance although the top is a “splash” top with a single hole and not a “spray” top.) Guest “noses” were brought in to design the three floral-based fragrances and all three 100 ml size bottles are refillable. The first fragrance is the tender woody floriental simply called SENSUEL which has top notes of Mandarin and Orange, heart notes of Lily Of The Valley, Peach and Heliotrope and Base Notes of Vanilla, Patchouli, White Musks, Tonka Bean and Amber. This medium pink colored fragrance was created by perfumer Karine Dubreuil-Sereni. The second fragrance is the golden-hued Lumiere, which has top notes of mandarin and black saffron, heart notes of sambac jasmine and licorice and base notes of cashmere wood and musks. It was created by perfumer Alexandra Monet. The third fragrance is Tendre which is light pink in color and designed by perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur. It has top notes of Pear and Lily Of The Valley, heart notes of Rose Petals and Rose Essence and base notes of White Musks and Vanilla. Go here to order: http://www.neimanmarcus.com/search.jsp?from=brSearch&responsive=true&request_type=search&search_type=keyword&q=mon%20premier%20cristal&l=mon%20premier%20cristal&fl.

The comfiest underwear I have encountered in years comes from Tomboy X–and their Howliday Dogs print available in different styles boy-inspired briefs has captured my heart! I can’t think of a better way to spend the holidays in comfort. Once you put on a pair of Tomboy X’s 4.5″ boy trunks (my favorite style of theirs) in the world’s softest cotton, you will be unable to wear anything else. They have three packs of many styles available which gets you a good discount overall and many of the briefs have matching bras that are in a classic athletic style. I love that this is a small company run by 11 ladies in California who put their heart and soul into creating great designs and quality. For spring, I have the Micromodal Daisy Print and they look very retro–be sure to grab a pair to put some “spring” in your life. I am also loving my classic purple 4.5 trunks since it is my favorite color and always puts a smile on my face! To order the Howliday Dogs 4.5″ trunks shown above, use this link: https://tomboyx.com/collections/holiday-collection/products/4-5-trunks-howliday-print.

I generally do not believe in any sort of “anti-aging skin machines” or consumer-oriented laser-based gadgets but when I read dozens of overwhelmingly positive reviews of DermaWand and also heard that it had been around for 20 years, I just had to try it. I also had recently noticed how bad my turkey neck situation had become and I really do not want to spend the money to see a plastic surgeon at this point. I have used DermaWand for about six weeks now and it actually has become a “first thing in the morning” and “last thing at night” ritual for me. The DermaWand comes with well-reviews products as a free $120 bonus when you purchase your DermaWand either on their official site or on Amazon, but I have been using coconut oil simply because I love the scent and because I have seen it do great things for other middle-ages women’s skin. So as for the results: I have seen the strongest change in undereye lines/puffiness and my chin and neck area has shown about a ten per cent improvement. I have to say that you get the most immediate result if you put your DermaWand on one of the higher settings and hold it under the highest arch point of each brow for 30 seconds. The bottom line is that I enjoy using this a few minutes in the morning and at night as there is something relaxing about the sound of a DermaWand–and I feel like I am really doing something that will cause my saggy and lined areas to improve! I have also started using it on my hands and have noticed an improvement in my creped skin there. As a “best kept secret” or unadvertised side effect of using a DermaWand, acne and oily patches seem to clear up faster–so I really would recommend this product for all age groups, even teenagers. Order for $129.99 at www.dermawand.com and be sure to use the code DWYT6 for 10 per cent off.

Can one skin cream do everything and become the “rock star” product of your bathroom shelf? Well, Dr. Mirela Mitan who developed MMXV INFINITUDE thinks so. Her Universal Facial Treatment–which is backed by 25 years of Dr. Mitan’s biochemistry and marketing knowledge–recently landed on on the shelves of Bergdorf Goodman and Cos Bar in Brookfield Place. It seems that 25 is the magic number for Dr. Mitan as she has more than 25 patents on skincare and other beauty products! So what is the key to making one cream that can work on wrinkles, create elasticity, balance skin oils, lighten the look of brown spots and acne, moisturize, nourish, plump and more? Dr. Mitan says that there is no one “magic bullet” ingredient but rather than there are several that work in unity to cover every skin problem! MMXV INFINITUDE contains fermented white truffle, falernum grape extract and pure olive oil blended with three types of hyaluronic acid. It’s rare that one product can do wonders for skin of all ages, but I have been using MMXV INFINITUDE in the morning and at night and feel that only does my skin look firmer and clearer, but it works great as a makeup primer as well! I like having a less shiny nose and also feeling that I have simplified my skincare routine–who wants to be using seven or more products per day like so many busy women do these days? You can order here at $225 for a one ounce jar (which lasts about two months with twice a day use): http://www.mmxvinfinitude.com.

The TRAVELPRO PLATINUM MAGNA 2 ROLLABOARD is my dream suitcase–I have it in the 22″ size in the “spinning suiter” model and it has a couple of dream features that I have been unable to find in the past. There is a metal tray in the bottom of the suitcase to make it balance better, an ergonomic handle that feels good when you grip it, sophisticated leather trim and burned silvertone metal details (including zipper pulls) and thanks to TRAVELPRO’s Magnatrac Magnetic Wheel Technology, it rolls like a feather in the wind. This is the only suitcase that I have ever had that really rolls in a straight line and almost effortlessly! In the past, I have always been the person at the airport with the wobbly wheels (just like I have always had the shopping cart at the supermarket with wobbly wheels). When you are pulling anything that is not rolling in a straight line and is wobbling back in forth or “getting away from you,” it creates unneeded stress on your shoulders and back which can create pain that hits you on later in the day! Reviewers online have mentioned that this suitcase even rides well over the cobblestone streets of old European towns. The fabric is virtually stain free and you can just wipe down stains with soap and water–and about the inside? Well, there are pockets galore–this suitcase includes TRAVELPRO’s patented super deluxe tie-down system with built-in accessory pockets and room to keep garments wrinkle-free. This suitcase has nothing but five star writeups on www.travelpro.com and retails for $289.99. Pictured here are the stunning Olive and Black by the Marsala Red and Gray are fabulous choices for the fashion forward folks! You can order your TRAVEL PRO PLATINUM MAGNA 2 ROLLABOARD here: https://www.travelpro.com/platinum-magna-2-22-expandable-rollaboard-suiter-4091522.

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