$75 and up
Comfort food: A $75 certificate to City Bakery can be applied to a savory sit-down brunch or to rolls of its notoriously rich cookie dough to bake at home, best accompanied by multiple helpings of its molten hot chocolate, of course (3 West 18th Street; 212-366-1414).
Fields of dreams: Depending on which side of the Subway Series they were on, spring-minded sports fans (and what other kind is there in New York at the moment?) will appreciate two tickets to a Mets or Yankees game. Yankees tickets are not issued until the New Year, but certificates for 2003 games will be available starting December 13 (field-level seats are around $37; yankees.com). Visit mets.com and purchase Mets Money, which can be redeemed for tickets or stadium snacks. Seats at Shea are about $33 for a field-level box.
Lengthen and strengthen: A $75 gift certificate to Balance Pilates studio entitles the recipient to one private Pilates session plus one of three how-to videos from instructor Jennifer Kries (Precision Pilates, Pilates Perfect Mix, or Three-Dimensional Toning) so he can continue on his own (414 West 14th Street; 212-414-2922).
All that glitters: With a $75 certificate to Femmegems NoLiTa, the newly opened make-your-own-jewelry store, gift-getters can either learn to craft a piece themselves or pick the stones they fancy and watch as a designer makes it for them (280 Mulberry Street; 212-625-1611).
Batter up: Future heavy-hitters or those simply in need of an adrenaline rush can smack an hour's worth of fastballs ($75) in the batting cage at Frozen Ropes baseball center (202 West 74th Street; 212-362-0344).
Shopping spree: A $75 certificate to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets lets a lucky friend spend your present at any one of the 220 stores -- from Chanel, Space (i.e., Prada and Miu Miu), and Gucci to newly opened Bruno Magli and LeSportsac. A bonus: Recipients get to take advantage of post-Christmas sales.
$100 and up
Color me . . . The gift of a M.A.C makeup lesson ($90 only at M.A.C stores) will help a lucky girl perfect the latest smoky-eye technique. A lesson comes with a complimentary wand of mascara, a face chart to help her remember what she's learned, and a onetime 20 percent discount on products to be used within 30 days (maccosmetics.com).
Foot fetish: Any city dweller will welcome a session of reflexology plus a pretty pedicure ($100) at Brigitte Mansfield (37 Union Square West; 212-366-0706).
Kitchen help: An evening or weekend class ($100) at the Institute of Culinary Education, formerly known as Peter Kump's, will get things cooking for your budding chef (50 West 23rd Street; 212-847-0700).
That's the ticket: A $100 Ticketmaster gift certificate lets the recipient decide whether he's in the mood for a Broadway show or a rock concert at Irving Plaza (ticketmaster.com).
Make a racket: At the Midtown Tennis Club, a $100 certificate buys one private lesson ($95), two hours of court time (starts at $50 per hour), or tennis gear from the pro shop (341 Eighth Avenue, at 27th Street; 212-989-8572).
Body and soul: The Inhale Exhale holiday package at Stretch ($100) includes five yoga classes and a one-hour massage (601 West 26th Street; 212-366-1003).
Face time: The Little Treasures holiday package at Equinox Spa ($100) makes facials more enjoyable by pairing a half-hour pore cleansing with a half-hour Swedish or deep-tissue massage (equinoxnyc.com).
$250 and up
Camera ready: A $250 gift certificate to Sarah Merian's Photography & Company for a digital holiday-photo shoot will guarantee a fantastic family portrait. The digital camera's screen lets the photographer be sure all squirming kids are smiling at the same time. Since there's no processing, clients can leave with either a set of four 5-by-7 prints or nine 31⁄2-by-31⁄2 shots in a framed wall folio. Photos can also be posted to a password-protected site so friends and relatives can order additional prints (sarahmerians.com).
Order in: Buy someone a mini dinner party for ten with a gift certificate from Citarella. The Tuscan appetizer tray is $120; the smoked-fish platter of Nova, sturgeon, and whitefish is $135; the filet mignon with a crème fraîche–horseradish sauce is $125. And don't forget the chocolate-dipped strawberries, $40.
Culture club: Aspiring urban sophisticates will love a one-year membership to the Neue Galerie ($275), the year-old museum of early-twentieth-century German and Austrian art and design, housed in a former Vanderbilt mansion. Membership includes a 10 percent discount at the gift shop and bookstore, invitations to museum events like lectures and chamber-music concerts, plus "Members' Thursdays," when the museum is open to members only (1048 Fifth Avenue, at 86th Street; 212-628-6200).
Shoe service: A new pair of stilettos is the ultimate gift for many, but buying for a friend is next to impossible. With that in mind, Sigerson Morrison offers certificates that specify the shoe being given ($280 and up), but not the size. The gift-getter can come to the store to try on either the shoes you liked or whichever style she prefers (28 Prince Street; 212-219-3893).
Flower power: Jane Packer, the British florist famed for her sculptural designs and royal clientele, has opened an outpost of her school at the Terence Conran Shop. Day and evening flower-arranging classes, with themes like "Fruit and Flower" and "East Meets West," are $250 (407 East 59th Street; 212-754-1731).
Love connection: Just in time for New Year's Eve, give a love-seeking friend a one-hour consultation with matchmaker Samantha Daniels. The $250 gift includes a 45-minute "socializing strategy session" complete with an analysis of dating habits, plus a custom-made list of places to go and things to do to meet potential mates (samanthastable.com; 212-717-6033).
All year long: Homebodies and DVD addicts will love a year's subscription to Netflix ($240), an online service that ships new DVDs each month. The best part: You can keep them as long as you like and return them afterward in prepaid, pre-addressed envelopes (netflix.com).
$400 and up
Muscle bound: Mention New York Magazine when you call Lift Gym to get $625 worth of services on a $500 gift certificate. The package includes a one-month membership, four training sessions, and a one-hour massage of either the Shiatsu, sports, or therapeutic variety (139 East 57th Street; 212-688-3304).
At-home beauty: For $500, Oscar Blandi, hairstylist to Sarah Michelle Gellar, Salma Hayek, and Katie Holmes, will make a house call to the lucky person who gets your gift certificate (Oscar Blandi at the Plaza Hotel; 212-593-7930).
A touch of class: Treat Francophiles to French lessons at the Alliance Française. A five-week winter or spring session is $410, plus books and registration fees (22 East 60th Street; 212-355-6100).
Feast your eyes: A $500 gift certificate to Wylie Dufresne's much-anticipated new restaurant, WD50, opening in December, will cover dinner for four without skimping on the wine list (50 Clinton Street; 212-477-2900).
Hotel holiday: Give the gift of a mini-vacation at the über-chic City Club Hotel. The staff will help make the stay a romantic surprise by pampering your guest with complimentary champagne and room service from the hotel's restaurant, Daniel Boulud's DB Bistro Moderne. Five hundred dollars buys two nights in a less expensive room (approximately $195 per night) or, if you prefer, one night in a king luxe (approximately $325) (55 West 44th Street; 212-921-5500).
Food for thought: A consultation with nutrition guru Oz Garcia ($500), who counts Kim Cattrall and Veronica Webb among his charges, includes a hair analysis to assess dietary needs and a follow-up visit (10 West 74th Street; 212-362-5569).
Luxe life: Let your label-conscious friends choose their own designer with a $500 Eluxury gift certificate. The Website is the only place to shop online for LVMH products like Dior, Galliano, and Louis Vuitton. Recipients are notified by e-mail, which makes this an excellent choice for last-minute shoppers.