Surfing For Style
A J. Peterman for the downtown party girl, girlshop.com assembles signature pieces by New York designers (Wang, Colette Malouf, Built by Wendy, etc.) into virtual boutiques of fashion you'll find nowhere else online. This Temma Dahan Baby Baguette bag ($285) purports to cause such irresistibility in its owner that Girlshop advises: "Don't forget to check your ruby lips for smudges in the elevator on your way out." Pleasure your Sex and the City addict with a fourteen-karat-gold nameplate necklace ($125; allow two weeks for completion). For women who'd rather remain anonymous on the street, click to the tried-and-true: armaniexchange.com, nicolemiller.com, apc.fr, or jcrew.com.
bluefly.com has become the Web's ultimate outlet store, and for good reason. It provides significant savings on designer merchandise from DKNY, Calvin Klein, Fendi, Prada, and more. Handbags are the site's strongest suit, like this dark-brown leather Gucci shoulder bag, discounted to $395. Bluefly allows you to search by designer or item, and even lets you customize the site according to the sizes, styles, and brands you're looking for.
Laptop Of Luxury
The only site more anticipated than boo, James A. Finkelsteins's luxuryfinder.com launches with a charming interface (a personal shopper will guide you through your purchase) and an impressive collection of high-end merchandise. Is it Asprey & Garrard cuff links you're looking for, or maybe just a small island? (They've five to choose from.) Other choice gifts include a Ghurka leather cell-phone case ($120) or hand-selected caviar from chef Daniel Boulud's private stock (Sevruga, Osetra, or Beluga in gift sets from $325 to $1,150). You'll find a similarly distinguishing array of goods at BestSelections.com, which boasts such retailers as Alan Flusser, Keni Valenti, and Anne Bruno.
You Go Online Girl
delias.com offers playful and trendy clothing, shoes, and accessories for teen girls. A cinch to navigate and stocked like your daughter wishes her closet was, the Website offers free shipping for orders over $40, and even has a "roomwares" section with bedding, furniture, and frames. We're partial to the Pale brand tux pants ($42) and the Roxy/Quicksilver Demo Suede Jacket ($154). Also try alloy.com for everything from peasant tops to p.j. pants.
Globetrotting fashionistas can just sit tight; netsetgoods.com scours the planet for hip merchants in New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo to provide Netizens with everything -- from accessories (Custard bucket bags) to technology (a Panasonic portable DVD player) to sleek home design (Blu Dot's "Uptown Cocktail Table") -- so that anyone can look world-weary without having to leave the apartment. Keep warm in these Fashion Active Lab cashmere hoodies, in hot pink with three-quarter sleeves ($170) or cabled in gray with thumb holes ($255). Only those with high-speed Web connections should attempt to shop through boo.com, the much-hyped street-style site that's proven to be more about entertainment than about e-tail.
Boys To Men
brooksbrothers.com is as clean, classic, and refined as its clothing. No dad would be disappointed with a pure silk, blue, four-color lattice tie ($52.50) or a tailored cotton-broadcloth shirt ($95; monogramming for an additional $10 with style, color, and location choices available online). We're also crazy about this cashmere V-neck sweater (in indigo, charcoal, and mushroom; $228). Too staid? Point your browser to kennethcole.com, guyshop.com, or guess.com for pieces your man may find a little more cyber-stylish.
After beyond.com has helped stuff his stocking with the new Quake III Arena CD-rom ($49.99), let droog.com, the boy's apparel counterpart to delia*s, outfit him for actually leaving the house. The watch with wide retro-punk-style leather band ($36) and Columbia's insulated, waterproof Transport Boots ($89) ought to help do the trick (and give you a chance to have the game all to yourself). You'll also find the requisite oversize pants and Spiewak down parkas.
Master Your Domain
The Website for williamssonoma.com is as helpful and tastefully designed as the store itself. You'll find everything from flatware to cookbooks to All-Clad cookware for your resident gourmand, including these gorgeous flame-colored, cast-iron Le Creuset Dutch ovens ($170 for the seven-quart size; $110 for the three-and-a-half-quart). Complete the gift with selections from Dean & DeLuca's online marketplace deananddeluca.com, offering a variety of delicacies and condiments along with an extensive list of California wines.
Unless you're planning on surprising your wife with a new bedroom set (in which case you'd click to living.com), you'd do well to pick out gifts for the home from rabidhome.com, an online-only shop that features many products created for the site by artisans and craftsmen, in addition to pieces from Japan, Scandinavia, and France. Navigate the site visually -- once you've selected from the main categories of table, desk, bath, gifts, and living, you're presented with thumbnails of the merchandise -- to find Asian-influenced, minimalist pieces like this elegant oak "Elliptical Lamp" ($500; free ground shipping with every order). At the Museum of Modern Art's cyber store momastore.org, you'll find signature works by some of world's greatest designers: a Noguchi coffee table, an Eames lounge chair, M&Co wall clocks (and MOMA members always get a discount).
Satisfying the horticultural needs of local green thumbs since 1950, Connecticut's White Flower Farm plants its magnificent blooms on the Web at whiteflowerfarm.com. Choose from a ravishing range of bulbs, shrubs, and wreaths, or pick a gift plant, like the tropical African Mallow houseplant, which comes with clay pot and saucer ($39), or a pair of "Stephen Isler" orchids ($119). For supplies for every pot, terrace, or yard imaginable, surf to garden.com.
Scrolling For Strollers
Don't take Cindy Crawford's word for it; click on babystyle.com for chic selections of maternity clothing (from designers like Liz Lange and DKNY), nursery supplies, and infant and toddler gear, like elegant, vintage-print cotton stroller blankets from Wendy Bellissimo ($44), sure to cultivate in your little one a taste for the finer things. For the baby who simply hasn't a spare moment, pick up Give Me the Three Piece to Go, a gift set of cotton leggings, onesie, and cap sent in a Chinese take-out box ($35). The site also offers a gift registry. Other sites to satisfy your mothering urges: ibaby.com, babycenter.com.
In addition to collectibles you'd never let your children touch and mini-double-decker-bus stocking fillers, London's oldest toy shop, hamleys.com, sells the Orange Fuzzy Ziggle ($59; U.S. orders delivered in three days), a sound-activated toy that could make Elmo obsolete. Keep it local and click to faoschwarz.com, where you'll find an Eloise doll complete with protruding belly and seen-it-all smirk ($45), then go to etoys.com and get the electronic Pokémon figures ($7.99 each) that she really wants.
World on a Wire
Recreational Equipment Incorporated or rei.com has been outfitting campers, climbers, hikers, cyclers, skiers, and paddlers for more than 50 years. In addition to top-of-the-line gear, footwear, and clothing, their site, which also provides outdoor sports-related tips and feature articles, offers a 100 percent guarantee on every item. Relax after the hike with this GSI Lexan Wine Glass Gift Set ($29.95), which includes two unbreakable resin wine glasses, corkscrew, and fleece tote with divider and is perfect for alfresco dining, be it in Central Park or Yellowstone. (Wine not included. You'll have to go to wine.com for that.) For sports enthusiasts who prefer the ballpark to the national park, surf to ear.com.
Whether it's a luggage rack, a Cell Safe to protect a cell phone, or a flashlight umbrella you seek, magellans.com has every gadget imaginable for the wanderlustful. This Supplex SPF 30 Sun Hat ($45) is durable and lightweight and protects sensitive faces and necks from the sun's rays. Or consider this handy currency and metric converter ($14.85), which remembers four exchange rates at a time so the tired traveler will never have to worry about straightening out her lire, sterling, and francs.
Rejuvenation, harmony, meditation, tranquillity -- all feelings we don't normally associate with the holidays. But at haiku-gift.com, the online shop from Felissimo, those are the states of being that their pampering products hope to inspire. After you've submitted your own haiku to the library, browse for gifts by mood or theme and come across multi-sensual sets that include items like "Soothing Olive Oil," "Harmony" tea, and a feng shui candle ($45). The Purity set, which consists of lavender body-and-bath oil, body lotion, and bath salts ($59.50), is sure to calm the mind and relax the body in the midst of millennial madness.
Your transplanted New Yorker doesn't have to make do with Lender's and Vlasic. Give the flavor of the city with gastronomic gifts from sites like citystuff.com, where you can order bialys from Kossar's Bialys & Bagels ($16.95 for a dozen) or this adorable Chocolate Egg Cream Kit from Junior's, which includes a 30-ounce bottle of Fox's u-bet syrup with pump dispenser, two Junior's logo glasses, and two mixing spoons ($26.95). At nycfood.com, find classic deli fare from Ratner's and Barney Greengrass and irresistible pastries from Veniero's Pasticceria & Café.
If after all your surfing you're still at a loss, leave the decisions up to the recipient, and take the easy way out with giftcertificates.com. Browse the site by category or zip code (though most of the certificates can be redeemed online), or just go straight to the list of merchants, where you'll find Chanel, Saks Fifth Avenue, Brookstone, Fortunoff, Tourneau, Michael Jordan's The Steakhouse NYC, and Zoë, to name a few. You can even get practical and give prepaid certificates for American Airlines or AT&T, and never wonder "Will he like it?" again.