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Morgan Bass Roper
Manager, Garden of Dreams Foundation, New York Knicks
I start every morning with an iced coffee from my local coffee shop and a fresh download of recent news and culture stories from WNYC, New York's flagship public radio station. Via the WNYC app's discover option, listeners are able to curate playlists of program clips and podcasts catered exactly to their interests. I listen to everything from local and world news to pop culture, politics, food, art, sports, history, and anything else in between! One recent morning's downloads included a story on women in the big-wave surfing scene and another on how the tech world could be affected by the Trump presidency. Not only does WNYC keep listeners informed and cultured, it's also free, so it's up to donors like us to keep it going!
Special Education Chair, Austin Independent School District
Coatt Morse Coded Jewelry, $21-120
These dainty necklaces are the perfect gift. Any piece can be personalized with a special message, name, or pop culture reference in the short and long signals of Morse code. I have purchased these for special core ladies in my life and they are always a hit.
I love the variety of colors available in the silk cords; choices of metal and custom length are also available. Plus, it's an easy addition when you need that light and breezy piece of jewelry to complete an outfit. Right now, they are offering special edition necklaces that include empowering messages, and the proceeds benefit organizations like Doctors Without Borders and Planned Parenthood. Tip: The site also makes bracelets!
Principal Designer, Cucina Moda
Once you see the price, you'll understand why I bought 20 of these Umbra tissue boxes. They're a perfect housewarming present, but I strongly recommend keeping a couple for yourself. Why can't everything be this clever and well-designed?
Sonos Play:1 Speaker, $199
If you're like me, and I'm sorry to make such a big assumption right off the bat, you're probably used to listening to music and podcasts on your laptop or phone's speakers and, overall, having a pretty "okay" experience. But you know what, maybe it's time to stop being just "okay" and instead accept that you deserve to be more dope.
So then you might think the answer is to get some sort of bluetooth speaker; after all, there's lots of fun ones that look like the pills Doctor Mario threw at viruses or weird futuristic perforated boxcars (and who doesn't love a futuristic perforated boxcar). And honestly, if you go from your laptop/phone to one of those, it might feel like you've upgraded your life or something, if only because we as a culture are now obsessed with quantity over quality. So the idea of just mediocre volume (can kind of hear it in the shower) to fairly loud (can definitely hear it in the shower) feels like it's good enough. But you know what? F that! F being just "good enough." Let's demand more!
Now, to be clear, I'm not a person who considers himself an audiophile in any way (there are very few "-phile" titles I would ever really feel comfortable claiming), and audio fidelity has never meant that much to me. For most of my life, I listened to music in a very functional way, mainly to drown out the sounds of the world around me or to truly feel. But let me just say, when you go from hearing music whose most compelling quality is volume, to then a Sonos speaker, it's pretty impressive. As I don't know any of the technical terms here, the most comparable analogy I can think of is when I went from standard definition television to HD. Remember the initial shock you had at seeing all of your favorite television stars' pores? Now imagine that, BUT WITH YOUR EARS.
All of this being said, I'm sure there are other, more expensive speakers that will give you an even better auditory experience, but seeing as other people who are more knowledgeable than me feel comfortable recommending the $199 Sonos Play:1 speaker as a solid investment, I can't help but agree and be excited for you (or whomever you get this gift for) AND THE EXCITING NEW WORLD OF HIGH QUALITY AUDIO THAT'S AHEAD OF YOU.
Astrologer, Mystic Lipstick
Whenever I want to treat myself to an awesome skin experience, I reach for this product. I get to bathe my face in gold weekly without breaking the bank — who wouldn't find that super awesome? It's the best indulgent item to use on wine night when you get to just relax. Plus, it delivers intense hydration to combat the harshness of the cold winter months, which makes it fitting to receive during the holidays.
Cannabis Entrepreneur | Co-founder, Women Grow
The Mighty is perfect for the cannabis enthusiast who has been very good this year. It's a portable, German-engineered marvel from the makers of the legendary Volcano vaporizer. It's lightweight and handy, and has the most precise heat settings on the market. I've tried a lot of vaporizers, and none of them produce the huge hits and big clouds of the Mighty.
There are lots of little details that make this a great gift. It comes with a grinder designed specifically to fill its herb changer, and liquid pads that turn it into a dab lover's concentrate vaporizer dream. It also has illustrated instructions and straightforward displays and controls that anyone can understand. I'll be sending one to a few of my favorite people with wishes for a Mighty Christmas and a high, happy holiday season!
Senior Instructor, SoulCycle
Apple Watch, $369
The brand new Apple Watch Series 2 is definitely at the top of my holiday wish list this year — hint to anyone reading who wants to surprise me! It comes in a bunch of different colors, including my favorite rose gold aluminum case that you can pair with a variety of sporty or more classic-looking bands. I love that this watch is chic and sporty-looking, but also very functional and could be a useful training tool to a lot of people.
What's cool about this version of the Watch is that in addition to being sweatproof, it's water resistant up to 50 meters, so you can definitely swim with it on. It also has a built-in GPS, which can provide pretty accurate stats on your speed, pace, and distance. For someone active or trying to become active, it can be great inspiration to check out how much you're walking around and moving. I definitely don't think numbers on distance or calories should be used to determine how hard you worked out, you should still trust the way that you feel, but I do think this watch makes working out more top of mind and is a way to hold yourself accountable.
Founders, Clover Letter
Frends Layla headphones, $150 | Stranger Things print, $30
Until we have an official Clover HQ, we'll continue posting up in coffee shops across Brooklyn. Headphones are for when we need to tune people out (which is mostly always)... and once we have an office, we'll need a massive print of this genius Stranger Things illustration by a 22-year-old artist named Liz that we found on Instagram. Eleven provides the ultimate pep talk (which, let's face it, we all need sometimes).
Director, Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant Program at Columbia University Medical Center
As a child growing up, my parents gave me a personalized book like this about how I was named, and it always made me feel so special. I still have it today! I often give this book to new parents upon the arrival of their little one, but have also used it as a birthday or holiday gift. In the book, animals in the animal kingdom spell out a child's name one letter at a time. It's a beautiful keepsake that both parents and children can enjoy for years.
Amazon Echo, $179
It may be the almost 35 years of juggling under my belt or it may be coincidence, but I have a white-hot passion for multitasking and instant gratification. While there's no denying the amazingness of having a universe of information in the palm of one's hand, if I want to access that information, I have to walk all the way over to my phone and type some stuff before I get my answer. This is unacceptable when you have the brain speed and reaction time of Spiderman.
Enter the Amazon Echo, a remarkably precise, voice-controlled digital assistant like the whatchamathing from the film Her, but slightly less sentient and sexy. The Echo, which goes by the name "Alexa" out of the box (but you can change her name to anything you want, like Mrs. Rosario Dawson-Pettersen, for example), will perform all manner of tasks for the impatient multitasker who is more than five feet away from their mobile device. Features include playing music on demand, relaying the news, traffic, and weather, providing sports scores and schedules, reading your calendar, maintaining grocery and to-do lists, expounding on practically any topic found on Wikipedia, adjusting your thermostat and lighting, advising you on restaurants and cocktails, and flipping a virtual coin, among many other Star Trek-caliber functions.
Alexa communicates via a remarkably crisp 360-degree omni-directional speaker, which, unless you're a punchy-face audio elitist, performs just fine for everyday music listening. Moreover, Alexa is loaded with innumerable Easter egg responses for when you get a little buzzed on whiskey and decide to troll her with questions like "Alexa, what's the meaning of life?" and "Alexa, are you Skynet?" Literally hours of borderline creepy "we live in the future" hilarity, I assure you.
Executive Director, New York City Audubon
My husband and I have tried to uphold an agreement we made when we got married, back when we were watching every penny to pay the rent. Our gift rule was never anything over $20 and the thing had to have meaning. That taught us some life lessons about stuff: First, you really don't need much of it to be happy, and second, the thought really does count. Our cup runneth over in the stuff department these days. In fact, we have a lot of de-acquisitioning to do.
So my ideal gift this year is the gift that gives twice — a charitable contribution. And I've found the perfect one for 2016: $18.86 will make a founder donation to help build the new Statue of Liberty Museum. (The statue was dedicated in 1886.) The donations will be listed in a registry inside of the museum when it opens in 2019, so the gift will always be there when you visit.
But there is more! Not only will it help build a new museum that enhances interpretation of our immigrant heritage and appreciation for the liberty our nation espouses, it will also recognize our determination to be sustainable. The architects have designed an earth-friendly and even bird-friendly structure that will ensure safe passage for millions of avian migrants each year as they fly by our great beacon of freedom.
This is a holiday gift for adventurers. My fiancé and I have taken it on road trips from SF to LA and picnics at Golden Gate Park. I also use it almost daily — it's my favorite accessory to keep in the trunk. It holds up to 36 cans, and it's large enough to stash and chill all my groceries. After a big lunch on the weekends, I store my to-go box in the cooler so it doesn't spoil while I run other errands.
It has a sleek design and is super durable, and is made with genuine leather trim and water-resistant materials. The neutral color makes it appealing for us to carry wherever we go. Best of all, the zipper also serves as a bottle opener. Finally, a replacement for your tacky plastic Igloo!
Astronomer | Blogger, STARtorialist
If I had to choose my favorite gift for the upcoming holiday season, it would be one of the NASA Women scarves from Slow Factory. This small, ethical, Brooklyn-based company has designed several previous collections using open-source data (this scarf, one of my favorite "startorial" pieces, uses data from three space telescopes!), but this most recent collection strikes my heart strings as well as my space fancy.
Women have had it tough this year, and this collection features eight wearable reminders that some amazing women have contributed to humanity's exploration of space for decades despite the sexism and racism in their way. Better yet: Combine a scarf with a copy of the delightfully-illustrated Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky and a ticket to see Hidden Figures when it comes out early next year!
Owner, ABC Beer Co.
Trying to find someone a gift that's both cool and beer-related can be difficult because a lot of what's out there is poorly designed, impractical, or straight up bad for beer. So whenever anyone tells me they're looking to start learning about beer in a structured way, I skip the gimmicky growlers and complicated homebrew kits in favor of this gem of a beer resource.
It has everything from how beer is made, how to taste it, the history of some of the most important styles, recommendations for commercial examples, tips on how to pair it with food, and even a section devoted to helping you find a beer festival that might be of interest. There are a lot of books out there that tackle these things, but none do it as well and concisely as this. And, of course, I like to tuck in a mixed six-pack with it just to make studying a little, uh, easier.
Co-owner, Night + Market Song
Lot, Stock, and Barrel Customization, starts at $25
One of the best gifts I have received was a monogrammed towel from L.L.Bean. Instead of my initials or my name, my friend had "STIFLER" embroidered on it. (My high school nickname was Stifler because it is similar to St. Lifer, and everyone loves Stifler from American Pie.) Nothing beats a one-of-a-kind present!
This year, I'm making all of my gifts personal by hitting up Lot, Stock, and Barrel in Los Angeles. The vintage shop also provides custom chain-stitching. You can go to one of its two LA stores, buy a denim jacket, and have any name embroidered on it. It's thoughtful and makes everyone feel like they're in some exclusive and cool club.
Writer, Funny or Die | Co-Host, Throwing Shade
Maybe you're not rich. Maybe you're like me and are still using the down comforter your mom bought you at Marshall's ten years ago, a comforter so old that when you make your bed, feathers burst out of it like a duck being murdered by a jet engine. Just because you're not rich, like me, doesn't mean you can't smell rich, like me.
That's why you need Le Labo Rose 31, or as I fondly call it, "Classic Wealthy Stank." It's the smell of a rich grandma sitting at a mahogany study smoking a cigar reading legal briefs. Woodsy and floral, it's the perfect mix of hyper-masculine and hyper-feminine, warning people olfactorily that confidence and boldness is approaching. If you use it liberally, the $90 roller bottle will last you nine months. That's only $10 a month to smell like another tax bracket. What a bargain!
Senior Director, Barbie Design
People who know me know I am obsessed with all kinds of gadgets, whether the latest smartphone or tablet, or my personal favorite: cameras. The ultimate gift for me would be the beautiful full-frame Leica M240 digital camera with a superb 35mm lens, as seen exclusively on Mr Porter. While it's true that every smartphone has a camera, I love the idea of photography as an art separate from sharing your latest selfie or updating your Instagram. What better way to unleash your inner Avedon than with this German-made marvel?
While I personally am still a novice photographer, I am sure that this would help up my game. The M240 is a full-frame digital camera with all the bells and whistles, and of course comes with the superb 35mm lens as only Leica can make. This particular exclusive also features textured leather paneling for a decidedly chic look.
I also have another gift that would make me (or any other shutterbug) happy, and for a considerably smaller price tag. The Fuji Instax Mini 90 is an instant film camera that has the look and feel of a classic. It's available in both black and tan, and you see the results immediately with an actual physical artifact known as a photograph. I will always love the art of photography both as a spectator and a practitioner. I am the first person to cheer for all the ways we can share digital images and the many advances we have made in photography, but there is something I will always love about shooting pictures the old-fashioned way.
Co-host, Who Weekly | Editor, MEL
Himalayan Salt Lamp, $39
On the advice of a friend, last year I bought myself a Himalayan salt lamp. I bought it on Amazon because I'm basic and didn't feel like comparison shopping something I assumed I would find two to three hours of joy from and then abandon forever. Apparently, the lamp gives off negative ions that combat positive ions produced by electronics (my laptop, my phone, my television, everything I own), so really, it was a wellness device, not a meaningless purchase at all!
When it arrived, it weighed what felt like about 1,000 pounds and, yes, it was real salt (I licked it to make sure, please don't judge me). But aside from the science and logistics, it produced a lovely, warm orange light that I was immediately obsessed with. From then on, it became my very own night light — the grown-up version of a child's safety blanket — less to combat fear, but rather because the light was just so damn soothing. Were the ions working their magic? No, I discovered after a light Google; the lamp doesn't produce nearly enough heat to change ions in the air and produce any positive (or negative, as it were) effect. Who cares? I love my Himalayan salt lamp and you would love it, too.
Clare V. Passport Case, $115
My sister is a planner, a perfectionist, a Virgo, and a master gift-giver. Three years ago, she gave me a Clare V. passport cover with my initials (a camel-colored leather with a gold monogram), onto which I promptly spilled argan oil. I freaked out. But two things: one, spread baby powder on oil spills and let it rest; and two, that doesn't always work entirely.
The beauty of the case is that it's been all over the world with me: Cairo, Bangkok, Paris, Tokyo, Mexico City, the Andes. At this point it's covered with marks and smudges, and the leather has only deepened and wizened. I confess to having planned trips solely inspired by seeing the small leather book on my bedside table.
Head Mistress, La Domaine Esemar
As head mistress of the world's oldest (and many say finest) BDSM bed and dungeon, I am always looking for kinky, kitschy details that will make our guests feel comfortable enough to hop between the sheets and try out their new skills. Last year, one of my submissives, who is a professional house cleaner, noticed these Sin in Linen sheets on the bed of one of her clients. Obviously I asked her to check the label and find out where to buy some!
The toile print is classic and subtle enough from far away that it adds a sophisticated feel to the decor of any room, but once you slip between the sheets you notice all the sexy details. When your head hits the pillow, you'll be dreaming of stilettos, chains, and spankings galore. Not only do they offer these amazing prints as sheets, they also sell pajamas, shower curtains, table linens, and all sorts of other home goods for wherever your home needs a splash of spice — all wonderful gifts for empowered women and the people who love them.
Background Artist, Dreamworks Animation TV
As a child, my mother always told me, "When in doubt, wear black. It matches with everything!" Don't get me wrong, I've always enjoyed the sharp, crisp look of an ebony ensemble. However, a closet full of charcoals and midnights leaves me craving a bit of change every once in awhile.
That's why I'm so happy to have discovered Grass-fields and its amazing collection of bright-colored dresses, pantsuits, and headwraps. Each piece features a fresh, bold pattern that promises to shake up your wardrobe and make a fabulous statement at any event. I've currently got my eyes on the gorgeous Yello skirt with its lovely leaf print.
Mason, 13 & Parker, 11
Human Bowling Ball, $5,500
A gift that my friends and I would love is a human bowling ball, which is pretty much a giant hamster ball that you can roll around in. However, I live in a city, so I would not be able to use this too often. If you happen to live in the suburbs or the country, this could lead to hours of excitement as you roll in it around your backyard. At $5,500, this is more of a fantasy item, but I think this would make an amazing gift if it was cheaper. —Mason
A lot of kids my age like to listen to music or watch YouTube, which is why I think a pair of headphones is a good gift. I like to watch gaming videos on YouTube. I suggest the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor headphones — they're very comfortable. I like the red ones the best, but there are other colors too: black, white, and gray. —Parker
As a food stylist, I spend my days hauling groceries all around. Plastic bags are taboo, so I'm always on the lookout for that one ideal bag to lighten the load. I felt mad love at first sight for this tote from artist Jeremy Deller. I've got no doubt that it's the perfect gift: sturdy, stylish, and perfect for groceries, protein pills, and helmets.
Social Manager, Sweetgreen
Dear Evan Hansen tickets, $69-$175
Since getting tickets to Hamilton is nearly impossible, I'm going to be asking for tickets to see Dear Evan Hansen, a show that's making its Broadway debut this month. It's a stunning and heart-wrenching musical that provides an accurate commentary on the effects of social media, alienation, and mental health.
Fran's Gray Salt Caramels, $15-$58
Chocolate is my love language. Period. When I agreed to co-found my most recent business venture, Ellevest, last year, I knew wine and chocolate would be a necessity for the startup life. And really, any life, for that matter. Fran's Chocolates, based out of Seattle, is my go-to gift for friends and family. The authentic French salted caramels are beautifully packaged and rumored to be an Obama family favorite. Sure to impress.
Executive Director, The Wild Animal Sanctuary
Since the dawn of time, many of those who walk erect have been challenged to endure nature's elements; finding comfortable and steadfast protection for one's feet has remained a never-ending journey for men and women alike. Without fail, boots are the be-all and end-all for those who require the utmost protection and durability. Beyond providing critical fortification in uncompromising situations, boots also bring style, sensibility, and a bold statement to one's wardrobe.
I think strong and stylish boots make a great holiday gift for everyone. Boots are an indispensable part of my everyday life — whether it be elements or inhabitants, daily threats to the wellbeing of my feet are not taken lightly. The boots I choose must be reliable and adaptable so they can perform well in any situation. From working in extreme situations to simply going out to dinner, whatever I choose to clad my feet has to also have my back.
I am forever schlepping with a violin and bags, whether it be to rehearsals, a last-minute sub in the pit, a recording session, or to teach. I've been looking for a feminine, beautifully-made backpack that will last me through the schleps, evenly distribute the weight, and house my music, strings, teaching materials, etc. Always a fan of Kate Spade, this one seems up to the task and is the perfect size. I haven't worn a backpack in a while, but this may be a step up from my grade-school L.L.Bean-initialed backpack, don't you think?
People freak out every time I wear this two-headed cat necklace. It is the biggest piece of jewelry I own and the only statement jewelry I will wear in public. This is great for anyone who is obsessed with said animal, weighty brass, or gunmetal objects, and has incredible taste in jewelry. Works for both dudes and chicks, too. —Sarah
Psychic Reading with Gemma Deller, $321 for a 45-minute session
I know this suggestion will make me sound fully crazy to a lot of people, but if you're looking for a gift for someone close to you who isn't a total skeptic, I highly recommend it. It's great for people who want to connect with deceased loved ones or who are just feeling stuck in their lives.
I don't know if I'd be making a living in comedy if it weren't for Gemma, who I first saw six years ago, and I love what I do so much. She has none of the woo-woo vibes people expect from psychics and isn't about simply predicting your future. She will help you find direction and figure out how you are getting in your own way in your life and relationships. —Beth
Executive Director, Camp HASC
We have seven children and shopping for gifts is complicated for many reasons. There's the age range of our kids — infants to teenagers — where one thing won't suffice. And then there's the fact that I just can't handle shopping for my teenage daughters; I don't even try. In general, though, I like to buy gifts that have meaning, and this usually involves something with an experience. The best gift you can give a kid is one you can enjoy and experience together. It's the great equalizer.
Last Hanukkah, we bought the kids this giant water slide from Target. After we lit the menorah, I gave the kids a whole talk about "slipping and sliding." Hanukkah is about revealing light within darkness, and so I told them that even if you slip and slide and fall and hit the ground, it can still be okay. It's important to celebrate vulnerability and open up conversations so there's room for mistakes. After some talking, we took them outside, where we had turned the backyard into our own little water park, complete with tiki torches. We set up a kiddie pool at the end of the giant slide for us to land in. In Israel, where we live, the winter is pretty mild, so we were able to enjoy the family gift all night long.
Assistant Vice President and Head of Contemporary Curated, Sotheby's
Yoshitomo Nara PupCup, $145
At Sotheby's, we've seen record prices for paintings, drawings, and sculptures by Japanese pop artist Yoshitomo Nara. Nara's irresistible work depicts a range of angelic and devilish characters paired with wry phrases and rendered in a cutesy, cartoonish aesthetic. (Even Kylie Jenner has a Nara.)
I'm crazy about the Nara PupCup, an editioned sculpture fabricated by the artist and sold by Artware Editions for only $145; it's a great way to acquire a work by Nara at an affordable price. Sotheby's is selling several pieces by Nara in our contemporary art sales that begin today priced around $30,000, so until I find someone to buy me one of those, I'll be very content with my PupCup!
Personal Chef for Rihanna
Vintage Rolex President Watch, $10,495
My husband has been dying for a black Rolex President from 1978 — he says it symbolizes our black president and the year he was born. Time represents so much and he believes a timepiece can say more than it needs to.
Himanshu Suri, a.k.a. Heems
Rapper, Swet Shop Boys
Royal Elephant Shawl, $125
I'm a big fan of Rajput and Mughal miniatures. I studied them for a while at my alma mater, Wesleyan, and at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Whenever there's a show in town highlighting art from the region, as there was last May at the Met, I find my way to the appropriate space.
I'm not too big on museum gift shops, but I've always been big on scarves and shawls. For some time, my preference was Hermès, but these days I'm balling on a budget, and the only scarves I find of comparable visual quality hail from museum gift shops. I bought this scarf last year. I lost this scarf last year. I want this scarf again this year. I just bought this scarf this year. Buy it for your friends and be like me.