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Tough Gifts, Smart Choices

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Weekend house parties, dinners, birthdays, showers you'd never dream of missing -- all welcome invitations. Until you remember: We have to bring something. Something more inspired than a tie or a box of chocolates or worse (Hi! We got you the Sunday Times!). Herewith, 100 ideas that will earn you another invitation.

Country Weekend

  • Basket of rolls and breads (Bouley Bakery, 120 West Broadway, 964-8362; or E.A.T., 1064 Madison Avenue, 772-0022).

  • Five-hundred-piece puzzle to liven up rainy days (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 879-5500, or the Game Show, 474 Sixth Avenue, 633-6328; and 1240 Lexington Avenue, 472-8011).

  • Chestnut roaster with chestnuts (Bridge Kitchenware, 214 East 52nd Street; 688-4220).

  • Slipper socks for host, hostess, kids (Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor, or Macy's).

  • Personalized book plates (Bowne Stationers, South Street Seaport; 748-8651).

  • A caviar sampling (Zabar's, 2245 Broadway; 787-2000).

  • Set of vintage dessert plates (Bergdorf Goodman).

  • Selection of current best-sellers along with a new children's book for the kids (Barnes & Noble, all locations; or Borders Books & Music, 461 Park Avenue, 980-6785).

  • Sake cups and bottle of sake (Old Japan, 382 Bleecker Street, 633-0922; sake, Astor Wines & Spirits, 12 Astor Place, 674-7500).

  • For a return visit, a blown-up photo of the hosts' house in a silver frame (Tudor Rose, 28 East 10th Street; 677-5239).

    Dinner Guest

  • Symphony video tape (HMV or Tower Records, all locations).

  • Dessert wine (67th Street Wines & Spirits, 179 Columbus Avenue; 724-6767).

  • Kitchen brushes: mushroom, corn, pastry, and potato scrubber (Vinegar Factory, 431 East 91st Street; 987-0885).

  • Egg cups (Fishs Eddy, 889 Broadway, 420-9020; and 2176 Broadway, 873-8819).

  • Selection of the hottest hot sauces (Zabar's).

  • Le Creuset's medical-grade-silicon spatulas (Broadway Panhandler, 477 Broome Street; 966-3434).

  • Bundle of cinnamon logs for the fireplace (Platypus, 126 Spring Street; 219-3919).

  • Mother-of-pearl spoons in a cotton pouch (Wolfman-Gold & Good Company, 117 Mercer Street; 431-1888).

  • Box of Swiss candles (Zona, 97 Greene Street; 925-6750).

    Baby Shower

  • Basket filled with baby necessities: lotions, shampoos, sponge, etc. (Bath & Body Works or Crabtree & Evelyn, all locations).

  • Toy net filled with onesies (Albee Baby Carriage, 715 Amsterdam Avenue; 662-8902).

  • Baby book (Kate's Paperie, 8 West 13th Street, 633-0570; and 561 Broadway, 941-9816).

  • Baby monitor (Ben's for Kids, 1380 Third Avenue; 794-2330).

  • Comfort Silky, an haute satin-and-flannel security blanket (Baby Palace, 1410 Lexington Avenue; 426-4544).

  • Selection of children's classics (Books of Wonder, 16 West 18th Street; 989-3270).

  • Rock-a-Bye heartbeat bear (A Bear's Place, 789 Lexington Avenue; 826-6465).

    New Baby

  • Dinner delivered from a favorite restaurant for the new mom and dad.

  • "Magic lantern" night-light (Mxyplyzyk, 125 Greenwich Avenue, 989-4300; or Penny Whistle Toys, all locations).

  • Portable crib (Albee, Ben's, or Schneider's).

  • Toastee-Toddler stroller blanket (Albee or Ben's).

  • Personalized hooded bath towel (Art & Tapiesserie, 1242 Madison Avenue, 722-3222; or Little Extras, 550 Amsterdam Avenue, 721-6161).

  • Today's Kids play yard (Albee).

  • The birth announcement framed in silver (Harriet's, 997 Lexington Avenue; 288-2798).

  • Photo album (Kate's Paperie).

  • Elsa Peretti sterling-silver feeding spoon (Tiffany & Company, 727 Fifth Avenue; 755-8000).

    Special Birthday

    HER

  • Makeup bag with Kiehl's shampoo, moisturizer, cleanser, shower gel, etc. (Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, or Kiehl's, 109 Third Avenue; 677-3171).

  • Palm Pilot (Staples, all locations).

  • Personalized notecards (Cartier, 653 Fifth Avenue;753-0111).

  • Computer bag (Kate Spade, 454 Broome Street, 274-1991; or Prada, 841 Madison Avenue, 327-4200, and 724 Fifth Avenue, 664-0010).

  • Museum membership.

  • Parabolic skis (Paragon Sporting Goods, 867 Broadway; 255-8036).

  • Statusy handbag (Chanel, 15 East 57th Street, 355-5050; Fendi, 720 Fifth Avenue, 767-0100; Hermès, 11 East 57th Street, 751-3181; or Louis Vuitton, 49 East 57th Street, 371-6111).

  • Certificate for a day or a weekend at a spa.

  • Picture album with childhood photos (Kate's Paperie).

  • Silver dollars and assorted coins from her birth year.

  • Spiwak gym backpack filled with 30 or 40 golf or tennis balls (Equinox, all locations).

    HIM

  • Panasonic DVD Palm Theater (S & S Sound City, 58 West 45th Street; 575-0210).

  • Series of cooking classes (French Culinary Institute, 219-8890; or Giuliano Bugialli's Cooking in Florence, 813-9552).

  • Prince Thunderstrike long-body racquet (Paragon Sporting Goods; or Princeton Ski Shop, 21 East 22nd Street, 228-4400).

  • Vintage wine bottled the year of his birth.

  • Small leather box with knotted-silk cuff links in every color (Paul Stuart, Madison Avenue, at 45th Street; 682-0320).

  • Co-Pilot digital auto compass (Sharper Image, all locations).

  • Stack of favorite vinyl LPs: rock, blues, or jazz (Bleecker Bob's, 118 West 3rd Street, 475-9677; or Midnight Records, 263 West 23rd Street, 675-2768).

  • Gym bag outfitted with shorts, tank top, and socks (Sports Authority, all locations).

    Important Anniversary

  • Weekend in Paris.

  • Tickets for a ballet, opera, theater, or concert series.

  • Monogrammed linens (Polo/Ralph Lauren, 867 Madison Avenue; 606-2100).

  • Series of Italian or French classes (Italian Language School, 744-4793; or the French Institute, 355-6100).

  • Copper sauté and sauce pans (Bridge Kitchenware).

  • Towel warmer (Gracious Home, 1220 Third Avenue; 517-6300).

  • Capresso programmable coffeemaker (Hammacher Schlemmer, 147 East 57th Street; 421-9000).

  • Matching Montblanc pens (Montblanc Boutique, 595 Madison Avenue; 223-8888).

  • Arrangement with a photographer for a family photo.

    Bridal Shower

  • Wedding organizer (Borders Books & Music).

  • Boxed set of champagne flutes (Cartier).

  • Silk robe (Barneys New York or Bergdorf Goodman).

  • Set of Oxo kitchen utensils (Lechters, all locations).

  • Gold bracelet with an umbrella charm (Fortunoff, 681 Fifth Avenue; 758-6660).

  • Cookbook classics: Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Kitchen Arts & Letters, 1435 Lexington Avenue; 876-5550).

  • Series of massages.

    Wedding

  • Engraved monogrammed stationery (Dempsey & Carroll, 110 East 57th Street; 486-7526).

  • Featherbed (Down & Quilt Shop, 1225 Madison Avenue, 423-9358; and 518 Columbus Avenue, 496-8980).

  • Vintage sterling-silver soup ladle (James II Galleries, 11 East 57th Street; 355-7040).

  • Personalized his and hers terry bathrobes (Hoofbeats, 232 East 78th Street; 517-2633).

  • Canon ZR digital camera (B & H Photo, 420 Ninth Avenue; 444-5020).

  • Illuminated shaving and makeup mirror (Gracious Home).

  • Mandoline slicer (J.B. Prince Company, 36 East 31st Street; 683-3553).

  • Matching Tumi weekenders (Bloomingdale's or Macy's Herald Square).

    Graduation

  • Bose Wave radio (Hammacher Schlemmer).

  • Canon Elph camera (B & H Photo, 420 Ninth Avenue; 239-7500).

  • LapPak computer backpack (P. Chanin, 152 Eighth Avenue; 924-5359).

  • Electronic address book (Nobody Beats the Wiz, all locations).

  • Oregon Scientific's Time Machine alarm clock (S. Feldman Housewares, 1304 Madison Avenue; 289-7367).

  • North Face Base Camp duffel (Paragon Sporting Goods).

    Birthday Gift for 9-Year-Old Boy

  • Timex Expedition watch (Lord & Taylor).

  • Gift certificate for rock climbing (Chelsea Piers).

  • Professional-quality magic tricks (Unique Science, 410 Columbus Avenue; 712-1899).

  • Strobe yo-yo and holder (Marsha DD Boys, 1326 Lexington Avenue; 876-9922).

  • And 1 duffel bag (Marsha DD).

  • Subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids.

  • Adventurers or Ninja Lego (Toys 'R' Us, 24-32 Union Square, 674-8697; and 1293 Broadway, 594-8697).

  • Family weekend at Cooperstown.

  • Kitchen Table chemistry set or slide-making kit (Store of Knowledge, 1091 Third Avenue; 223-0018).

    Birthday Gift for 12-Year-Old Girl

  • Groove Camp T-Shirt with key chain attached (Infinity, 1116 Madison Avenue; 517-4232).

  • Rainbow feathered blow-up pillow or chair (Infinity).

  • Baby G-Shock watch (Tourneau Time Machine, 12 East 57th Street; 758-7300).

  • Subscription to Seventeen or YM.

  • Transpak ski board shoulder bag (Paragon Sporting Goods).

  • Smell This body lotion or fragrance in Cake Batter or Soda Pop Fizz (Marsha DD).

  • Spiwak messenger bag (Marsha DD).

  • Mehndi henna kits (Hudson Street Papers, 357 Bleecker Street; 229-1064).


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