Radiation-blocking potassium-iodide pills do not a holiday gift make. Sure, in the event of exposure to certain types of radioactive material, these pills ($28 for 200 65-mg tablets from twotigersonline.com) will prevent your thyroid from absorbing the nasty stuff, but if the rest of you is burned to a crisp, what good is a healthy gland? And, let’s face it, girls, holiday gifts of survivalist paraphernalia-gas masks, duct tape and the like-are far more likely to fuel existing anxieties than elicit Yuletide cheer. This season, for God’s sake, choose gifts which vanquish panic rather than induce it. Here are my top 10 take-your-mind-off-the-possibility-of-Armageddon-ish suggestions:
1) Question: What do you get when you combine Che Guevara and Liberace? Answer: Liberache, a revolution in rhinestones. A company in San Francisco called www.thewrongelement.com has merged these two 20th-century icons into one gorgeous image and applied it to the fronts of 100-percent-cotton T-shirts ($18). Apart from being a guaranteed cheerer-upper, the “Liberache” T-shirt is a great gift for male friends who like to leaven the rigorously butch atmosphere of their gyms with a bit of upbeat frivolity. Female recipients might prefer the Mahatma Blondie: Give Bleach a Chance! model.
2) Buy gifts while hanging out with cheery, optimistic sailors! The Target Holiday Boat is moored at Pier 62 at the Chelsea Piers now through Dec. 1. My pick: the kid’s wooden art easel ($29.99) with large paper roll ($9.99), the perfect gift for control freaks whose only moments of calm occur after they have left insanely emphatic don’t-forget-to-clean-under-the-sink-type messages for their loved ones and domestic support staff.
3) Cheer up an aging baby boomer: Buy him a Vespa ! Yes, the star of such movies as La Dolce Vita and Quadrophenia is back and more resonant than ever … and more expensive than ever. So, if your partner is having a poignant-but very mod-midlife crisis and you have about $3,000 bucks to spare, head to the new Vespa boutique at 13 Crosby Street. (“Dragon Red” or “Verde Carducci” are my recommended colors.) Don’t let your doddery boomer ride his new toy in the city. Position it in your apartment as a ragingly hip decorative accessory, and then, when summer comes, throw him on the back and drive out to your beach rental where he can safely go stark-raving mod in the backyard, under your supervision.
4) Send a message to Martha: Tell her you love her by purchasing gifts willy-nilly from her Catalog for Living-800-950-7130. Support her! She’s a good woman who is being witch-hunted for stuff that male cigar-smoking corporate muckety-mucks do all the time. During her career, La Stewart has created jobs for thousands and, almost more importantly, she has taken schlumps like you and given them domestic savoir-faire and style. Free Martha! Avoid the gooey edibles and cookie-making kits: Inflicting calorific temptations on people who are struggling with their weight (i.e., everyone) is sadistic and unseasonably hostile. The Chiffon Wire Bug Kit ($28)-an incredibly Martha-ish gift which sentences the recipient to days of obsessive hard labor making his or her own gossamer-insect tree ornaments-will provide soothing occupational therapy for any friend who is addicted to watching Showdown Iraq on CNN.
5) Here are two reasons why you absolutely must purchase a significant number of your holiday gifts from Jonathan Adler’s shop at 465 Broome Street. First, he has great stuff. And second, he is my husband and if I put him in this gift guide I will win much-needed brownie points in our relationship, which is important to an aging poofter with a boyfriend 14 years younger than himself. My 2002 pick from the Adler oeuvre : a $165 meticulously needlepointed Seven Deadly Sins pillow . Choose from yellows, pinks, blues and black/gray.
6) If you are the kind of boozy funster whose idea of a Yuletide greeting is to slur “Who d’ya have to fuck to get a drink around here” as you push your way past the carolers and dive headlong into the Christmas tree, you are no doubt increasingly frustrated by the diminishing emphasis on alcohol at Manhattan holiday gatherings. Here’s a holiday hostess gift which obviates the need to drop heavy hints: Lilly Pulitzer cocktail napkins , $38 from the God’s Love We Deliver holiday catalog. Force your hostess to open them upon your arrival and yell, “let’s try ’em out!” Re the morning after: Beg Santa to bring you an Amemand Divadourian luxe cashmere hangover pack , $98 at Barneys. You supply the ice.
7) Fellas! Ever wondered why your girlfriend weeps copiously when you present her with those twinkly pieces of jewelry every holiday? I hate to break it to you, but those are sobs of disappointment, not joy. Yessiree, she is completely and utterly horrified by your depressingly ditsy selections. Bring a smile to her face this season with a giant diamond-, pearl- and amethyst-encrusted Duchess of Windsor–ish Pagoda brooch ($17,600) from Mish at 131 East 70th Street and buy it now before some lunatic decides that pagodas are defamatory to our Asian community.
8) Are you married to a mogul/entrepreneur whose ascension in the business world is being retarded by a lack of charisma? To become really successful your bland bloke needs a memorable idiosyncrasy or perhaps a tick or two. Even Amazon head Jeff Bezos has that annoying laugh. Enhance your breadwinner’s image with a stainless-steel designer yo-yo from Prada ($184 at Prada, 724 Fifth Avenue). Make sure he practices before unfurling his new image-enhancing toy at the next board meeting.
9) Legendary photographer William Claxton’s new book of work entitled Photographic Memory (Amazon, $45.50) is extremely soothing, unless you happen to be a highly strung Judy Garland fan. His shot of a pre-performance, panic-stricken Judy captures her agony just as a bottle of rubbing alcohol is torn from her hand by one of her caretakers. Bottoms up!
10) Foist an extra-long “Isadora strangulation” scarf -the accessory du jour-on a really short friend who is prone to colds or flu. Banana Republic purveys a luscious cable-knit number for $88. Your tiny friend can wind it round and round his/her neck, thereby soothing a sore throat or even protecting a gland or two.