Quick Picks For All Tastes: Our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide!

Buying gifts for friends and family is always a more daunting task then it should be. Thanks to the internet, buying gifts is easier than ever but some of us still like to shop the old-fashioned way! We have put together a sampling of unique gifts that we consider crowd pleasers, especially those into luxury nutrition, travel, fashion, beauty and tech! E

I always tell my friends, family and social media followers that Jet Blue is the only way to fly domestically. I have flown them for close to 20 years now and have easily been on 30-plus trips where I used them round trip. They keep extending their destinations and my current dream is to take Jet Blue to Havana. Besides having the most leg room of any domestic airline with only $25 for even more room, I like their unlimited unique snacks including their famous blue potato, the way you get half price on their delicious special snack boxes and a free checked bag on every flight if you get a Jet Blue credit card, free streaming TV channels and wifi and a lot more. It sounds incredible but in 20 or so years of flying only one flight has been canceled and just as many have been late. If anything, my arriving flights get in early! I love the way they seem to have the lowest price for most US-based routes and lowest amount of points needed for reward trips. I probably can think of at least two dozen other things that I love about Jet Blue including the cleanliness of the planes and courteous staff but I have to stop for now due to space. To book a flight, got to www.jetblue.com.

When I randomly poll guys that I know about their skincare preferences, the large majority of them say that Kiehl’s is their favorite brand because it lives up to its promises and uses mainly natural ingredients–to be exact, Kiehl’s was one of the first ever natural skincare lines as it dates all the way back to 1851. I consider their adorable old storefront in the East Village a “must see” for anyone visiting Manhattan, just like the Empire State Building and the Statue Of Liberty because it has so much character! So I guess you are not surprised that my top two skincare product picks for guys this holiday season are Kiehl’s Age Defender Power Serum and “Close-Shavers” Squadron Smooth Glider Precision Shave Lotion. Age Defender is priced at $50 for 2.5 ounces and this super lightweight formula strengthens and firms while preventing future wrinkles and sagging. The “magic ingredient” is Cypress Extract which actually stimulates facial muscles and has astringent properties at the same time. You might just find that this ingredient clears up your acne as a side result if you are one of those people like me who still has oily skin well into middle age! “Close-Shavers” Squadron Smooth Glider Precision Shave Lotion (priced at $16 for 5 ounces) is a lightweight gel lotion that softens facial hair, making your razor glide over your skin and get a super close shave–and you don’t even need to rinse your face after shaving! It contains Kukui Oil as well as other essential oils that provide healing effects to your skin as well as helping your razor glide and provide optimum results.”Close-Shavers” has quickly become a superstar product of the Kiehl’s brand as guys on the run love the scent, the feeling of their skin after shaving and that they do not have to rinse. Both these remarkable products as well as many well-priced Kiehl’s holiday sets are available at their stores nationwide as well as at www.kiehls.com. Shop on the site between now and Christmas and get $20 off on $65 or more by using the promo code GIFT.

Everyone needs a durable suitcase and Speck Travel recently launched five quality products including a hard body 22-inch Carry-On, 26-inch Upright and 29-inch Upright-available in an Instagrammable Hyacinth Pink, Concrete Grey, Black, and Macaw Blue. They also have the terrific Business Backpack and Travel Backpack- available in Concrete Grey, Black, and Macaw Blue. (By the way, next year the will be a new colorway created by Renaissance Hotels in an exclusive collabo with Speck Travel. The color will be chosen to inspire opportunities for spontaneity and new experiences while traveling, whether it be for business or pleasure.) I have the 22-inch Carry-On in Macaw Blue and it has been on six trips with me so far with nearly no signs of wear. The outer shell is made of light and durable polycarbonate. I doubt that any hard shell suitcase is any lighter than this and I love the fact that I can charge my phone right directly on my carryon plus the material makes it waterproof (bags often get wet when being carried off planes out on the tarmac while it is raining out). There is also a durable and easy to use TSA lock on every Speck Travel bag and patented 360 Degree Shock Dampening Double Spinner Wheels. I love the triple mesh divider panels on the inside which allow for neat and tidy packing. On top of all this, there is a lifetime guarantee on each bag. The Carry On is $200 with free shipping and can be ordered on www.specktravel.com.

I am not a health but but I am willing to try any supplement that can give me energy, fight jet lag and help my skin from looking its age. That is why I am trying Tru Niagen right now. I am sure there is a member of your group of friends or family who feel the way that I do–so I think this would be an ideal stocking stuffer for them. If you want to know what the “magic ingredient” of Tru Niagen is, it is nicotinamiden ribosome, a form of Vitamin B3. Plenty of scientific research has been done on this revolutionary product and it works by helping to increase your body’s production of an essential co-enzyme, NAD (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) which stimulates cellular energy production and supports cell repair. In official studies, Tru Niagen has proven to increase NAD by 40-50 per cent after eight weeks of use. You can purchase it on www.truniagen.com or AMAZON. It costs as low as $30 per month with a subscription. All you have to do is take one capsule with breakfast every morning. The official website gives further nutritional info so definitely check it out!

Like many New Yorkers who have AC units that just do not seem to cut it on 90 plus degree days, I need an extra unit to get things cool enough to proceed with my day. I am at my computer all day since I work out of my apartment and I was thrilled to find the Kensington Cool View Wellness Monitor Stand over the summer. It creates a comfortable breeze while I work and I love the way that it lifts my iMac up about six inches. It is just more comfortable to work at that level. In case you are curious, the Kensington Cool View Monitor can support computers up to 27″ and up to 200 pounds. The fan is two speeds and the entire unique is USB powered. I also like the “little extra” goodies–integrates cable management clips which really help with the messy cords I have had all over my desk in the past. You will love the fact that the base is virtually indestructible since it is made of steel. This item has five star reviews on Amazon right now so be sure to go there and nab one. before the holidays for $59.99. For more info, go to www.kensington.com.

Is there such a thing as the perfect earring that works as well for casual looks as for evening looks? Well, I fell in love with Adrianna Papell’s Cushion Cut Solitaire Earrings immediately upon seeing them for the first time! They have just enough glitz to team up with one of Adrianna Papell’s legendary and elegant gowns (which are an evening wear mainstay at Macy’s) or they can be played down and worn with a crisp white button down shirt and jeans. You can choose from three finishes: Black Diamond in Antique Silver-Tone Finish, Crystal in Antique Silver-Tone Finish or Crystal Aurora Borealis in Antique Gold-Tone Finish. The Black Diamond is my personal favorite since it really has the coloring of a dark brown topaz and I feel that it is a neutral color that goes with everything. The stones in these earrings are sizable-they are about 3/4th inch wide, so they make a statement. Cushion Cut Solitaire Earrings are only $45 on www.adriannapapell.com. I highly recommend these as a holiday gift for when you don’t know what to get a lady who generally loves classic looks! You really can’t go wrong with these. They also feel nice and light on the ears!

Okay, once you get to be my age it’s hard not to notice bags and lines forming under your eyes! I started using Obagi Medical ELASTIDERM Eye Cream a few months ago upon the recommendation of a dermatologist and I have to say it has made a big improvement. It is pricey at $115 (available on Amazon) but it a product really works, I am happy to pay the price. It feels velvety and disappears into skin quickly. I feel that it also helps keep on makeup in that area as well! A couple of reviewers on Amazon have said that use of this product has made them decide to give up the thought of getting surgery which is really saying a mouthful. Its ingredients are well tested and I know people who have been using this cream for over six years. The key ingredients are Bi-mineral Complex and Masonic Acid. For more info and to see remarkable before and after photos, go to www.obagimedical.com.

Pictured above are my two favorite new necklaces by Upper East Side jewelry designer Janet Mavec. On the top is the adorable Pear Necklace which is available in 18k gold plated or 925 silver plated brass. You can buy it in size large which gives you a 1 1/4″ pear charm on a 23″ chain or in small which gives you a 5/8″ pear on an 18″ chain. The price range depending on size is $30 to $154. On the bottom is the charming Bubo The Owl Necklace; the pendant part of this necklace measures 1.5″ inches high and some people have told me it brings the wearer good luck. Price is $155. Both styles are available at www.janetmavec.com. I like the pear to wear for holiday occasions because of the tie in to “The 12 Days Of Christmas” line that refers to a “partridge in a pear tree.” Be sure to check out Janet’s other pieces on her site–you will love how they mix rustic charm with city sophistication! I like that she has many charms available that can be added to necklaces or bracelets.

I am crazy for IQ Air’s AirVisual Pro Indoor & Outdoor Air Quality Monitor–that’s because like many New Yorkers I am concerned with the quality of the air I am breathing in. I noticed that the air in my apartment always dried out my skin, but now I know when I have to take action. It weighs only 1.7 pounds and can detect dust particles that are not visible to the naked eye as well as give you the humidity level of the room you’re in. You can control your IQ Air from an app on your phone which makes it a breeze to use. This can be ordered on Amazon for $269 and if you need more info on this award winning device, go to www.iqair.com.

You might know Sperry as the most famous brand of “boat shoes” or “docksiders” but they make the most comfortable all-leather penny loafers and flats. I look for comfort and just a touch of glitz for the holiday and Sperry does both with their Women’s Seaport Penny Loafer in Rose Gold. You can also get them in red if you want to be as Christmas-y as possible or be practical and get them in black or grey for everyday. The comfort sole and my buck leather upper gives you the feeling of walking on whipped cream. The stitching on the uppers adds a classic touch. They are currently on sale for only $69.99 and I swear you will find yourself wanting a pair in every color. They’re available in both M and W. Purchase on www.sperry.com. Their site has the best customer support possible, by the way.

BigMouth Inc. is the ultimate shopping site for the fun, funky and fashionable at very reasonable prices-some favorites are the taco and monster snow tube, a snow globe fort, a Corgi butt bottle opener, a mermaid water bottle and the Weiner dog butter dish pictured above. I can look at the BigMouth site all day-one thing is cuter than the other. So many of these quirky bric-a-brac items are great conversation starters-just put their mermaid water bottle on your desk or Corgi butt key holder near your front door and watch the comments and compliments start. The weiner dog butter dish is 7 3/4″ long and made of ceramic-it’s just $12.99. For more info go to www.bigmouthinc.com.

I just mentioned the BigMouth Inc. Corgi Butt Bottle Opener above so now I want to post a photo of it–as well as of the Corgi Butt Doghouse Key Holder that this clever company also has on their site. You can use the Corgi Butt Bottle Opener to efficiently open bottles and get quick laugh. It measures 1.75″ x 4″ x 6.5″ and is made of high-quality resin with the actual bottle opener part in a durable metal. It is only $12.99 so it makes a great stocking stuffer. The Corgi Butt Doghouse Key Holder is a key chain and key holder wrapped up in one darling set. Measuring 3.4″ x 2.8″ x 3.4″, the little doghouse hangs on your wall so you always know where to look for your keys. The dog keychain fits perfectly inside the house while the little corgi butt sticks out and makes a great conversation starter. Made of high-quality plastic, this makes a great holiday or birthday gift for any corgi or animal lover—and it’s priced at only $14.99. You can purchase both the bottle opener and key holder at www.bigmouthinc.com.

The most popular big and tall men’s line at the moment is MVP, which stands for Mo Vaughn Productions and the reason it is so beloved is the great diversity of styles and the quality (for instance, all T-shirts are 100% cotton). I almost failed to add that it is very easy to mix and match separates in this line–you can find the same motif on several pieces, such as gold floral scroll work or a Versace-inspired chain print (and the pieces with both these motifs work together beautifully). For the most part, pieces in this line are casual and all are comfortable. There are a few fun animal prints in the MVP line right now including ones featuring python and leopard–plus lovers of tie dye and camouflage all have plenty to drool over. In my opinion, the “superstars” of the MVP Collection are their bomber jackets–there are more than a dozen to choose and my top holiday gift item would be the Perforated Faux Black Leather Jacket in Onyx (pictured above). I like the ribbed color and cuffs, the silver front zip and welt side pockets. I’d also like to mention that the faux leather which is 85 per cent viscose and 15 per cent polyester feels really soft. You can just toss this is the washing machine set on cold so you know it is easy maintenance as well. It is priced at $178 at both Macy’s and MVPCollections.com, but you can definitely catch a sale on it between now and Christmas. If you are looking for Custom Jackets in a more practical sense, you may want to check out sites like imprint.com to help you find your family and friends something practical but in the same vein.

I discovered Vint And York Eyewear at the recent Accessories Council holiday press preview and these Zelda 2 frames just screamed my name since they are an oversized cat eye style. They are available in an assortment of solid colors as well as marble prints–the full array of colors are Jet Black, Belize Blue, Purple Pizzazz, Ivory Tortoise and Cranberry Splash. The Zelda 2 style is flattering on every face shape and they looks hip and practical at the same time. There are plenty of classic retro looks like small cat eyes and Buddy Holly inspired black plastic frames . In case you are curious, the word “Vint” in the brand name stands for “vintage” and they have an adorable shop on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan. Glasses are available with both RX and plain lenses and the sunglasses are made with the Carl Zeiss Vision Sunlens and have UV coating. The price of the Zelda 2 style is $149 without a prescription lens. For more info, go to www.vintandyork.com.

The Temple Muse Lapis And Pearl Earrings from Isharya are a perfect gift for any lady who likes semi-precious mixed stone jewelry that works with any day or night time ensemble. People have called these earrings “a colorful cluster of chic”-they add a quick splash of color to your look. The Temple Muse Earrings pair fabulously with the Temple Muse Lapis Multi Stone Ring. They are handcrafted with pyrite marcasite, lapis, amazonite, “cotton ball” pearl and gold plated brass. Each earring measures 2.5 cm in width, 4 cm in length, and weighs 8 g. Be sure to check out the other items on www.isharya.com. because they are all very original and unique. Inspirations for Isharya’s jewelry include the Far East, Art Deco and classic Euro designer looks. The Temple Muse earrings retail for $108. I love the way the are almost shaped like an insect!

I am a huge fan of Ekster wallets, not just because they have a tracker works with an app on your phone, but because the new Fortuna Parliament Collection comes in the most buttery soft Italian leather imaginable and has an attractive gold embossed “E” logo on the front. With the card-slider mechanism of any Ekster RFID wallet, you will have everything you need right at your fingertips. One click of the trigger and your six most-used credit or debit cards are ejected in a smooth and staggered fashion, making fumbling through your wallet a thing of the past. Add in a tracker card offering trackability anywhere in the world with a bluetooth range up to 200 ft (60 meters). The tracker cards have unique QR code’s so that they link to your smartphone–if someone finds it they can scan the code and send you a message with the location of your tracker. Ekster wallets have a very James Bond kind of vibe and you’ll be receiving a lot of compliments! This holiday season, order any Ekster wallet including the Fortuna Parliament (which is offered in three colors and priced at $119) and the recipient might find one of several special $250 gold gift cards tucked inside to use towards future Ekster purchases! For more info, go to www.ekster.com.

Everyone loves virtual assistants and I particularly in love the chic Lenovo Smart Display 10″ With Google Assistant which can make and receive video calls through Google Duo-an easy-to-use Android and iOS app. Just say a friend or family member’s name and you’ll be connected in seconds. You can ask your Lenovo Smart Display 10″ anything from the time to the weather to which of your favorite teams are winning. Unlike other virtual assistants, Lenovo Smart Display has a 10.1″ FHD screen that can be viewed vertically or horizontally for a view that best suits you. It is priced at a very reasonable $249.99 with a lot of instant savings opportunities this time of year. I have seen it for as low as $149.99 with instant savings. The Lenovo Smart Display 10″ can be purchased at Best Buy, Amazon and www.lenovo.com. As one consumer put it in a review: “Great product to show personal pictures and listen to the radio or watch movies.” That is true but when you see everything else it does you will be blown away. The Lenovo Smart Display does not have a ton of five star reviews online for nothing! It comes with a one year warranty and fits into any decor.

Get holiday-ready skin with Obagi ELASTIderm Eye Cream Holiday Kit-Limited Edition. Obagi is a highly acclaimed skincare line created by a physician and with cutting edge scientific skincare research for the best results possible. This kit features $175 worth of products and we found the best price of $118.48 on www.lovelyskin.com. (List price is $139.50.) This set comes in an adorable color block zipper case with the Obagi logo and features all “superstar” products: Obagi Nu-Derm Foaming Gel #1 (two ounces) which works into a refreshing lather to help balance the skin and clear the pores of acne-causing bacteria; Obagi Nu-Derm Toner #2 (two ounces) which has a non-drying, alcohol-free formula that penetrates deeply to balance pH level; Obagi ELASTIderm Eye Serum (.5 ounces) which helps to strengthen, firm and protect the delicate skin around the eyes; and Obagi Professional C Microdermabrasion Polish + Mask 30% (.17 ounces) which is a dual-action facial polish + mask which exfoliates skin to prepare it for a powerful infusion of vitamin C. For more info on all Obagi products, go to www.obagi.com.

Need a great stocking stuffer for the health fanatics in your life? My favorite meal replacement/protein shake is Owyn which has 20 grams of plant-based protein, over 500 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids and includes many of your daily vegetables including kale, spinach and broccoli. The flavors are truly delicious especially the cold brew coffee flavor which you will find replacing your regular ol’ cup of Joe each morning the moment you have your first one. Owyn shakes are intensely creamy, filling and easy to carry in your purse or gym bag. Individual bottles cost about $3.69 each but you can get great deals if you buy in quantity–for instance, on Amazon you can get 12 packs of each flavor for $38.99 with free prime delivery. (You can also get a monthly product subscription on their official website.) These 12-ounce shakes are 180-300 calories each and are a terrific source of fiber and amino acids. I often have one shake in the late afternoon to avoid the energy crash I usually have–it gives me that boost I need to make it through the last two or three hours of my workday. For more information on Owyn protein shakes as well as their delightful protein powder and bar counterparts, go to www.liveowyn.com.

Tembo NYC bags are special because not only are they made of fun African-inspired splashy prints, have unique pockets that can hold three full size beverages (even bottles of wine), and can be rolled up via a band and button closure but because they promote sustainability and support women’s sewing cooperatives based out of Queens, NY (where the bags are made) and in Africa! In a nutshell, Tembo designs reusable tote bags and other sustainable products to create value for women and families and to lessen the use of non-recyclable plastics, protecting the environment. Bags are priced at $75 and under and are made of double-lined high quality cotton (you can wash them with mild detergent on “cold” and then just line dry). The word Tembo itself means elephant in an African dialect, so you can count on finding plenty of products with an elephant motif. My favorite bag is Jumping Horses (Red) because it is a perfect gift for family members and friends who ride (or just love horses like most of us do) and measures a roomy 19″ X 15″ without the strap. Jumping Horses has the aforementioned triple pockets (as you can see in the photo above) and a large cell phone pocket not in view. For more info, go to https://www.tembonyc.com. (It always feels better to buy sustainable products around the holidays!)

Gift cards are perhaps the ultimate crowd pleasing holiday gift and always the perfect choice when you really do not know someone’s tastes. The clever folks at www.giftcards.com have come up with my all time favorite gift cards-ones that work for eight multiple brands each called Happy Cards! I am wondering how no one thought of this year’s ago! While each card is “themed” with a certain type of person in mind (man, women, kids, etc) there is really a lot of overlap in terms of types of Happy Cards and who will like them. I’m an old New York City broad and any one of the Happy Cards would make me happy-they all mix shopping and eating with activities like movies! My favorite out of the lot might just be the Happy Lady card pictured above-as you can see, the recipient can use the amount on this card at Lord + Taylor, Sephora, Bed Bath & Beyond, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Panera Bread, Cheesecake Factory and Spafinder. (And yes, in case you are asking, the amount on the card can be used “a little here and a little there”!) To check out details on Happy Her and it’s sister cards, or to purchase Happy Cards, visit GiftCards.com/Happy or the Gift Card Mall display at your local retailer. Happy Card Gift Cards are issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC.

I am a huge fan of OOFOS footwear because their rubbery cushioning just provides the most comfortable and solid support (I really need it since I am flat footed and have tendonitis)! I have replaced my regular old sneakers with their Women’s OOMG Fibre Low Shoe which features revolutionary OOfoam™ technology that absorbs 37% more impact than traditional footwear foam materials to reduce the stress on feet and joints. This technology aids in the recovery process and creates an incredibly comfortable shoe you can wear anytime, anyplace and anywhere. I almost failed to mention that these shoes also feature OOFOs’ Fibreflex™ material to provide a uniquely comfortable experience in a closed-toe style. The Fibreflex™ fabric offers a durable, yet breathable feel that you can easily slip on and off. Priced at $139.95 at www.oofos.com.

I was lucky enough to go to the press preview for Shalini’s Paradis Provence in the legendary Rotunda at Midtown’s Pierre Hotel and was blown away by what I experienced. It lives up to its claim “of blue lavande, thyme, orange blossoms, sunflowers following the golden Sun, ancient olive trees, the sky that turns pink as it touches the azure of the Mediterranean and amorous nights drenched in jasmine.” I mean, Paradis Provence just might be the sexiest and longest lasting scent ever. It is costly at $500 per 1.7 oz glass bottle and is sold at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf’s, but it is well worth the money. You will immediately be transported to Provence and have no need to get on a plane. The lavender is the strongest top note in my opinion but thyme that is often found near Provence’s lavender fields come through loud and strong. I could positively smell this scent all day and night and never get bored. Just for the record, this is the fourth fragrance in a series created by the collabo between Shalini and master perfumer Maurice Roucel and each one of them is created to evoke a general feeling of well-being and strong emotions. For more info, go to www.shalinifashion.com.

Clarins’ 12-Piece Holiday Wishes Advent Calendar Set is like a skincare fantasy come true-and for only $50. (There is also a 24-piece version for only $100–both sets have nearly triple their price in product)! You will be delighted by this iconic collection for face, eyes and lips. Whether you are a newcomer to the wonders of Clarins or a veteran user, you will love discovering all the special textures and scents that have made Clarins the leader in French skincare for several decades.


Full Size Lip Comfort Oil – 03 Red Berry

Full Size Hydra-Essentiel Moisturizing Reviving Eye Mask

Travel Size Wonder Perfect Mascara 4D – 01 Perfect Black

Travel Size Instant Concealer – 02

Travel Size Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch

Travel Size Toning Lotion With Camomile – Normal Or Dry Skin

Travel Size Instant Eye Make-Up Remover

Travel Size One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser

Travel Size Gentle Foaming Cleanser With Cottonseed – Normal Or Combination Skin

Travel Size Hydra-Essentiel Silky Cream – Normal To Dry Skin

Travel Size Extra-Firming Mask

Beauty Flash Balm Sample

(Speaking of the superstar product Beauty Flash Balm, a new and improved version is due in stores momentarily!) You can purchase the Holiday Wishes Set anywhere Clarins is sold including Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. I know that Santa is bringing me one and on New Year’s Day I will be spending hours trying out all the products! I cannot think of a better way to start off a new decade! For more info on all Clarins products, go to www.clarins.com.