Metallic Tape Measures and Vibe Jars
What GQ, New York, Martha Stewart Living, and other magazines recommend you give for Christmas.
'Tis the season for print magazines to lavishly—and uncritically—spotlight fancy new consumer goods. In December, every newsstand shines with glossies promising the perfect gift guide—some skew cheap, some pricey; some promise advice for the geek, others for the glamorous. The one unifying thread seems to be the idea that this is an iPad Christmas: Nearly all offer something either for those who already have the gadget and therefore need accessories or for those who don't yet have iPads but who surely want to receive one. (And, somehow, most magazines find a way to recommend their own iPad apps.)
It's nice of the glossies to help consumers out each holiday season. But there's too much help. Before you can choose among the 338,749 perfect presents promised on each cover, you need to figure out which guide suits your needs, and who has the time for that? Slate does! We've read them all, so you don't have to. Below, a brief guide to the guides.
New York The Approach: myriad. One section organizes gifts by personal descriptors (mumblecore boyfriend, outdoorsy wife); another asks famous New Yorkers what they'd get other famous New Yorkers (André Leon Talley would send Nora Ephron a Japanese maple, for instance, the symbolism of which I've pondered unfruitfully); yet another offers picks from 50 stores that opened their doors in 2010; there are also sub-guides on scarves and charitable giving; and, finally, a guide catered specifically to foodies with gift bags from stores like Momofuku Milk Bar and Bklyn Larder.
Whom You're Shopping For: Status-obsessed New Yorkers, in spirit if not necessarily geography.
Nod to the Cheapskates: La Boîte Verte mini-garden ($30), USB laptop lamp ($12 and perfect for, oh, just off the top of my head, writers who spend too much time in charming but darkly lit coffeehouse nooks), a yoga retreat for a mere $55 per night.
Bottom Line: Enjoyable reading, well laid-out, and though it skews expensive, there are plenty of distinctly stylish options at all price points and for a variety of (urban) sensibilities. Plus, where else will you find out what Judah Friedlander thinks Ivanka Trump needs for Christmas? (Spoiler alert: A membership to an exclusive Manhattan ping-pong club.)
GQ The Approach: GQ frames its list not precisely as a gift guide but as a compendium of the "best stuff of the year"—to help the GQ man populate his own wish list.
Noreen Malone is a staff writer for the New Republic.