DailyXY’s 2011 Gift Guide: Editor’s Picks

Undoubtedly, a perk of editorial rank is ease of access to merchandise from a tremendous variety of categories, including luxury, tech and simply new. Many items that come through our offices impress, but below is my year-end list of selections that didn’t just catch my attention — they commanded it. Arbitrary, sure, but that’s what lists and opinions are for and, from where I sit, the following un-ranked suggestions constitute not the goods, but the exceptionals. Unless otherwise indicated, all gift pricing is in (sometimes adjusted) Canadian dollars; no pricing includes S&H fees.


LG Bluetooth Wireless Sound Bar HLS36W
Sorry to be the bearer of realistic news at holiday time, but if you recently purchased an HD-compatible TV, you really need to upgrade your audio to digital optical. (Please tell me you’re not still using a DVD player with that plasma unit.) LG’s marketing platform for this elegant and compact self-contained sound bar + directionless subwoofer limits itself unnecessarily by targeting condo owners — “Are you short on space”? Honestly, who isn’t? — because the sound is big enough for the vast majority of in-a-house home theatres. Bluetooth compatability means you can also wirelessly link your cellphone or tablet-type device. Sounds good? Nope: sounds three-dimensionally fantastic. $400

Epson Stylus NX430 Small-in-One™ Printer
Similar to LG’s condo crowd mentioned above, Epson is pushing its ultra-compact all-in-one printer at dorm-roomers. (I think they’re just in love with their own trademarked, punny “Small-in-One” descriptor.) Since when did one need to be a student to want to maximize space? This unit is home office–perfect: wireless, 2.5-inch LCD smart-touch panel, instant-dry photo ink, two-sided printing, 2400 dpi scan — all of the everyday printer tasks, and then some. Worth it at twice the price. $100

Philips Saeco Xelsis Digital ID Automatic Espresso Machine
Saeco calls its pro-sumer espresso maker an “authentic Italian coffee experience,” but I’ve never been fingerprinted ordering un caffè in The Boot. Believe it: This machine scans fingerprints and attaches them to individual user profiles, which makes it both absurd and cool. Assuming you are styling enough to stomach the 3K+ entry fee — not quite what the coiners of the term “affordable luxury” had in mind when they applied it to coffee — there’s absolutely nothing bitter about Saeco’s highest-end bevvy experience. The nine programmable drink types are, to a one, perfect (if they’re not, every detail from crema to body structure is adjustable). It’s also perhaps the sleekest bit of stainless steel to hit your counter, easy to clean, with streamlined industrial sheen. Place it under a potlight; give it the star profile it deserves. $3,200

All Access, The Someday Funnies, Culo

By no means am I questioning our already superb suggested list of tomes for the table, but books are almost as arbitrary as music — almost, because the sheer physical presence of an art-directed publication changes the rules of shared and perceived engagement. Any of the following provide a senses-shattering flip-through (accompanying espresso suggested but optional): All Access, The Rock ‘N’ Roll Photography of Ken Regan, documenting decades of the debauched and the debonair, and phases in between (see: Neil Young resembling nothing quite so much as a beaver avec guitar, p106); The Someday Funnies, decades in the making and almost never made, a send-up of ’60s galley comics social skewered by their very creators; Culo, street slang for the rear end but here contextualized into posters purely purveying the feminine derrière, a book bigger than the average booty, mostly beautiful, and certainly impossible to not look at. $85, $65, $70

Palladium Men’s Baggy Leather Knit Boots
No, misplaced Neil Young fannishness is not making me like these rugged-look boots, made in, ahem, “Crazy Horse” leather… Storied French manufacturer Palladium simply has a wonderful knack for walking that ever-fine line between classic and edgy, seen here on the turned down tongue and collar (yes, they can be turned up and hidden under the cuff — but why would you ever want to?). As for comfortable-but-superior support: Bien sûr. $125

CashmereBoutique.com Men’s Blended Coat
Indeed, the title “Men’s Blended Coat” could be more engaging, as could the supplier’s handle. Still, credit where it’s due: CashmereBoutique.com is an online retailer that slashes prices but maintains standards. To the former, this 30% cashmere 70% fine wool hip-length jacket is almost windbreaker-light (and entirely windbreaker-effective), as well as mild winter–warm and, simply, soft. To the latter, few brick-mortar retailers are likely to meet this 50%-reduced price point. A bonus incentive: the site is Canadian-owned. $180

Stolichnaya Elit, Appleton Estate 30-Year-Old Jamaica Rum, Bowmore 18 Years Old Islay Single Malt
If a picture is indeed worth 1,000 words — and I would argue that the books listed above constitute “picture”-perfect proof — then the same is surely true for taste, which is to say, sensory perception of flavour. Men’s magazine editors are invited to more pre-holiday vintage spirits tastings than they have fingers and toes with which to count (yes, a tough job). Given the consistent, highest-standard quality pouring across the board, it’s impossible to have any legitimate preferences beyond that which makes the roof of one’s mouth smack. With that classy image, I salute: Stolichnaya Elit — I refuse to call it “elit™ by Stolichnaya®,” as should you — Stoli’s luxe vodka, which certainly shoots like white-water velvet (mix it if you must, but it’s a ridiculous waste of the pure experience); Appleton Estate 30-Year-Old Jamaica Rum, limited to 644 bottles in Canada and worth tracking down if the idea of an exceptional balance of maple, spice and ginger appeals (it should); and Bowmore 18, a single-malt from Scotland’s oldest Islay distillery, the experience alone perhaps accounting for an always exceptional balance of salt and sweet, among numerous other notes — ever just enough bite, ever well-worth barking about. $70, $450, $116

Ermenegildo Zegna Quindici Tie
Since arriving in Canada as a Harry Rosen exclsuive three years ago, the Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna has been one of my most consistent choices; old-world know-how (the label celebrated its Centenary last year) crossed with modern flair, providing style that’s always conservative-safe but with the right amount of edge. This year’s new line of 100% silk ties, Quindici, is a work of true beauty: The name means fifteen in Italian, and the ties are made with fifteen separate engraved silkscreen printings that, combined, create a bejewelled visual effect. Eye-catching is an understatement — ties this brilliant make magpies of us all. $250

Crumpler Boston “Heist” Bag
While I haven’t quite come on-side with the urban-professional murse, I am excited to observe the evolving trend in laptop bags. Sure, manufacturers call them ‘travel bags’ — mustn’t limit the buying demographic, even if laptop users are unquestionably the biggest segment. Regardless: The best travel/laptop bag to cross my desk this year was a “Boston,” from Crumpler’s “Heist” line. Five models, basically for different laptop size parameters (though one offers backpack conversion). The functionality here is top-notch: waterproof outer materials (incl. waterproof zippers, which many manufacturers skimp on), hidden pockets, padded sleeve, woven and bolstered straps. But the key is style. Simply: A great-looking bag, and the slim size still fits all of this urban commuter’s needs. Read nothing more than attitude into the “Heist” naming convention, by the way; though it suggests ‘young,’ basic black suits the business-hip straight into their 40s. $200

Donate Money to the Toronto Public Library (TPL)
Yes, friends, you’ve scanned this suggestion’s headline and caught me re(a)d-handed: DailyXY is proud to be a national web site, and when we do cater to specific Canadian markets, emphasis falls equally on the plural, from west to east — Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. We strive, constantly, for balance in our editorial coverage. Nonetheless, I am based in Toronto, and for my Gift Guide list, I do want to tubthump for our very worthy, frankly exceptional library system, which in 2008 achieved the highest circulation per capita in the world. Donations can help us keep our internationally-renowned service not just on the map, but on the globe — surely, a gesture of nationalist proportions. An easy-use TPL charitable gift webpage makes donating not just clickable, but giftable: Minimum donations of a mere $10 with 5 business days’ notice will see your giftee receive a card in the mail (and you, a tax credit). Clearly, everyone wins, all the more so when we prioritize literacy in our community. And if your preference is to support your own local library system over the TPL, well, you’re still OK in my books. $10 minimum for acknowledgement gift card to recipient of your choice, plus tax receipt


Image courtesy of nate steiner.



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