STYLEBEAT HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: COZY THINGS

by Marisa Marcantonio

Doing gift guides for so many years has taught me there is a category that is often overlooked, that of "cozy things." This type of gift spans the senses, from soft to the touch materials like Alpaca and shearling, to things that are yummy to eat. I thought about what makes winter great, and all the little luxuries that make the cold bearable, even enjoyable. Here are some new classics that will make those on your list warm and toasty inside and out.

Photo courtesy of Sur La Table

Photo courtesy of Sur La Table

When I was growing up, I had a mother who made lollipops from scratch and merengue mushrooms dusted with cocoa powder for my teachers at Christmas. This marshmallow heart is something she probably would have made too. But save time and buy these cuties for your hot chocolate from Sur La Table

Photo courtesy of Rag and Bone

Photo courtesy of Rag and Bone

Don't forget your hat! I love this red and camel wool pom pom hat from Rag and Bone. It is an updated classic.

Photo courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Photo courtesy of Williams Sonoma

Have friends that turn into homebodies when the temperature drops? This Pantry Crate from Kerber's Farm comes with Columbian coffee beans, a Kerber's mug, oatmeal and chocolate chip cookie mixes, apple jam, and blueberry preserves. Add Netflix for a snowed in weekend with yummy treats.

Photo courtesy of St. Frank

Photo courtesy of St. Frank

It's refreshing to find a throw in a jaunty shade like this citron Alpaca version from one of my favorite new(ish) companies St. Frank, started by a savvy world traveler friend of mine. Light and warm, it is made from baby Alpaca and woven by artisans in Peru.

Photo courtesy of Hill House Home

Photo courtesy of Hill House Home

When I first came across this personalized robe. Called "The Boxer," from new bedding company Hill House Home I laughed out loud. Customized with classic Varsity letters, the cotton poplin robe is trimmed in navy making it a high end version of the shiny robes worn by prize fighters. I think this is such a thoughtful gift.

Photo courtesy of Rizzoli

Photo courtesy of Rizzoli

Waterwork's Barbara Sallick visits some of the most beautiful bathrooms in her new book, The Perfect Bath from Rizzoli, giving an inspired look at some seriously sumptuous baths. Thinking of redoing your own? Tips and tricks from leading interior designers provide practical advice, making the undertaking less daunting.

Photo courtesy of Matouk

Photo courtesy of Matouk

Crisp white Egyptian cotton towels with a single monogram initial is understated and luxe. The Auberge towels from Matouk add a monochromatic personal touch.

Photo courtesy of Herbivore

Photo courtesy of Herbivore

Since Coconut is in everything, why not enjoy the aroma? Herbivore's Coconut Milk Bath Soak is the way to nirvana. 

The heady white flower combination of Carnal Flower is even better in the bath. You can't go wrong with a gift from French parfumeur extroardinaire, Frederic Malle.

Shearling lined slippers are a necessary winter staple. This luxe red suede version from J. Crew is dressed up with a bow. They might even pass for black tie if you are spending the evening at home.

Photo courtesy of Everlane

Photo courtesy of Everlane

Yippee! Everlane just launched their latest category, pajamas. I love nothing more than classic pj's in crisp cotton, and these fit the bill with direct to consumer prices. I wouldn't be surprised if they sell out, the good stuff tends to go fast.

Photo courtesy of Diptyque

Photo courtesy of Diptyque

Every year, a new candle brand emerges, but Diptyque remains high on my list of favorite candles because of their beautiful, pure scents and clean and elegant packaging. Kicking things up a notch, because holiday, their scented candle set is a little more festively packaged than usual. 

Photo courtesy of Warby Parker

Photo courtesy of Warby Parker

Recovering from the holiday office party? At home or in flight, you can use this cute Warby Parker Eye Mask designed with artist by Sue Doeksen to hide your eyes. 

Photo courtesy of Hestra

Photo courtesy of Hestra

Keep those digits warm with festive Nordic wool mittens lined in wool fleece from Hestra

Photo courtesy of Food 52

Photo courtesy of Food 52

Pure Vermont Maple Syrup and a stoneware pitcher from Farmhouse Pottery in Woodstock Vermont is the real deal for Sunday brunch at home. It is easy to gift since it comes packaged in a pretty wooden box,

Photo courtesy of Serena and Lily

Photo courtesy of Serena and Lily

This delicious chunky knit wool throw is like a favorite sweater, for the sofa. Serena and Lily's Henley Throw is made by artisans in Peru of soft wool, the kind that makes you cozy on cold nights. 

Photo courtesy of J. Crew

Photo courtesy of J. Crew

Designed by Brit Penelope Chilvers for J. Crew, these sturdy hiking boots with colorful trim are made of calf hair and have cozy shearling linings. I love the 60's St. Moritz vibe they bring back.

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: THE TOP 7 GIFTS FOR THE TECH OBSESSED AND THE LUDDITES

by Marisa Marcantonio

Welcome to the first of several gift guides, starting with gifts for the tech savvy design enthusiast. This year, great new designs have emerged in unique categories that harness technology and the direct to consumer model, that cuts out the middleman which means better prices for luxury goods. From toothbrushes to luggage, practical design-forward gifts can be appreciated daily, making them the perfect gifts. Ahead, my top 7 tech and non tech presents that will make gift buying easier this holiday season. 

GIFTS FOR...

THE PUNCTUAL: 

Photo courtesy of Apple

Photo courtesy of Apple

Either you are an early adopter or you take a wait and see approach when it comes to tech and gadgets. The 2nd version of the Apple Watch comes equipped with GPS so you can leave your iphone at home when you go for a run or ride. I am partial to the sleek new white ceramic Apple Watch Edition that will set you back $1,249 and the Apple Watch Hermès selection that came out in September.  

THE BEAUTY BUFF:

Photo courtesy of Dyson

Photo courtesy of Dyson

When I first heard design guru James Dyson had designed a hair dryer, I jumped for joy. He knows a thing or two about world class product design, form and function, and if he could take on this arduous daily task with an elegant solution, he had my ear. Well, a sleek, beautiful design, low noise and heat safe temps make the Supersonic great, but is it worth the $399 price tag? They spent $67 million to develop and engineer this cool newfangled tool, but I think it is more of a luxury than anything else. But if it makes the job at hand easier, then it's worth it in my book. 

Photo courtesy of Goby

Photo courtesy of Goby

Why not add some great design to your morning routine? This new Goby rechargeable electric toothbrush (it debuted in October)  is big on style and low on price. As the first toothbrush to go the direct to consumer Dollar Shave Club route, Goby comes in fun colors and the price, at $50 with $6 replacement heads can't be beat in the electric toothbrush market. It has easy USB charging and attractive storage, and I can't wait to try it and support a woman founded startup (with an investment from Susan Lyne-headed Built By Girls Ventures over at AOL). 

THE MUSIC MINDED:

Photo courtesy of Sonos

Photo courtesy of Sonos

Listening to music makes me happy. That is why I am asking for the Sonos Play 1 speaker for Christmas. I am a longtime Bose loyalist, but since my Bose bluetooth speaker stopped working, I have come to embrace a new game in town, the mini and mighty Sonos. It's all about that bass. 

THE COMMUTER:

Photo courtesy of Starbucks

Photo courtesy of Starbucks

Now that the cold weather has arrived, its time to take hot coffee and tea seriously. With Ember's insulated to go cup, you can keep your drink at the exact temperature you like. The price tag is steep, but for commuting, nothing beats it.

THOSE ALWAYS ON THE GO:

Photo courtesy of Allbirds

Photo courtesy of Allbirds

Want to wear the hot shoe everyone in Silicon Valley is buzzing about? Allbirds, made from New Zealand Wool are lightweight, machine washable and comfy. They are the kicks to be wearing now. Technology helped make these sneakers, but they are low tech in their minimalist design. 

Here's something for the jet setter on your list. Or, Merry Christmas to you. Two former Warby Parker execs, Jen Rubio and Stephanie Korey started a well priced direct to consumer luggage brand, Away. With a minimal hard-case design and iphone charger on top, this bag is light, meets carry on size standards and is well designed. For the personal touch they are offering hand lettered monogramming on bags that take two weeks to arrive.  I've been considering this luggage and just saw it in action at LAX, so I think I am going to go for it.