Tough Gifts, Smart Choices

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


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).


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.


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).


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).

Tough Gifts, Smart Choices