Holiday Gift Guide: Under $500 (For High Rollaz Only)

Yesterday in Austin it was 81 degrees at noon, then snowing at midnight. My sinuses don't know whether old man winter is coming or going, but the calendar is telling me that Santa Claus is coming to town scarily soon. Thus, therefore, anon, I shall present another day of gift guide goodies, this time for all you high class big spenders.

dollar ring

But not so high class that you can afford to buy a diamond encrusted bling ring from anywhere other than Sears -- on sale for $299! Whoo hoo!

I have to say that this guide was crazy hard for me to put together... after all, the only thing I would spend $500 on is a bedroom set or couch from Craigslist. $500 for an unspecified gift offends my sense of frugality, so for you lucky folks with a fat wad of benjamins burning a hole in the pocket of your woolen Armani trousers, I have done my very best to choose luxurious treasures that seem worth their ponderous prices. Breathe easy -- there are no Tiffany key fobs or Hermes boxes included anywhere within this post.

kartell gnomes

You know what I think is worth spending money on? Gnomes. And if I could get that figure for under $500, I'd pay for that, too. Atilla or Napoleon gnome tables, designed by Starck for Kartell, $315 each, at Y Lighting.

overstock blankets

In my opinion, natural fibers are always worth the extra buck (or two hundred). On left: Italian Made Washable Cashmere Blanket, king-sized for $270, at Overstock. On right: Dandy Italian-Made Cashmere Fringed Throw, $200, at Overstock. (Overstock has fantastic sheets, too.)

warm blankets

Did I mention that I'm really cold natured? Sorry about the sketchy pictures, but I know you have all seen these blankets splashed across the pages of glossy blogs everywhere... On the left: Alpaca Fur Blanket available in white, ivory and brown, $499, at Amazon. On right: Yves Delorme Mohair blankets, on sale for $200-$480 depending on size, Heirloom Iron Bed Company.

reform school blanket

Yet another blanket, but I saved the best for last: LADAK "Wilhelm" Blanket made of unique recycled materials, $285 and 15% of profits will be donated to an Amsterdam shelter for the homeless, at ReForm School. Make sure you enter "2" into the quanity box and ship the extra one to me!

fornasetti plates

These Fornasetti plates from his famous "Themes and Variations" series sure beat Precious Moments figurines as great annual gifts for the savvy collector. $206 each, from Unica Home.

supermarket city plates

Or why not visit New Orleans, DC, Las Vegas and Dubai, this Christmas? notNeutral has introduced four more plates in its "City Plates" series. Hang them on the wall for cultured a mix of sculpture, art and geography. $180 for four, at Supermarket.


Actually, Karly turned me on to Supermarket as a supersource for shopping. They have an awesome assortment of carefully curated art and objects by individuals and small businesses. Case in point: Gold leafed, multi-tiered, Sweets and Desserts Tray, by Blaue Blume, $249 and totally worth it, at Supermarket. Pop-Up Forest in 18k or Silver Plate, by Melissa Borrell, $150, at Supermarket. She also has pop out snowflakes for sale.

war bowl

Not to be outdone, Generate Design also has some pretty snazzy tablewares. I've had my eye on that War Bowl made of fused soldiers from the Battle of Waterloo (apparently fought between France and Britain, for those of us with holes in out historical knowledge) for months now. Since, I have a $500 imaginary budget now, I think I'll buy one for myself. War Bowl, by mosleymeetswilcox, $389, at Generate. Crazy Cast Banana Bowl -- in gold, of course! -- by Harry Allen, $119, at Generate.


My other obesession besides blankets is ceramics. Of course, I usually buy mine at thrift stores, but with a grown up budget, I'd run with the big dogs. Clockwise from top left: Vintage White Handmade German Vase, $165, at Ornaments and Objects. Blue Sixties German Vase by Horst Kerstan, $365, at Ornaments and Objects. Red Sixties Jopeko Vase, on sale for $200, at Ornaments and Objects. Blue and Gold Eighties Vase by Gerhard Liebenthron, $145 on sale for $85!, at Ornaments and Objects.

rollei digital

I don't have much in this gift guide for kids or gents because at this price point they all want Wiis and iPhones, but for the guy (or gal) who has an anachronist's taste for technology, these digital cameras will fit the bill nicely. And it's never to early to teach junior what a Leica is. On left: Minox Leica Mini Digital Camera with gold dust trim, $350, at Urban Outfitters. On right: Sweet-ass Rolleiflex Mini Digital Camera, $399, at Urban Outfitters. It even comes in red.


For Christmas, ice is always nice. Buy your man these cufflinks made from vintage watches and he'll always remember who loves him, because that's what Christmas is all about: cheesy sentimentality. Omega Rose Gold Cufflinks, $485, at The ladies will appreciate this faceted cast sterling Form One Ring, $265, at La Pisette. And if you really want to wow her, slip this vintage 80's Italian necklace of silver and paste stones into her stocking. $500, at Carole Tanenbaum vintage.

laurie brown

Meanwhile, I'll take these beauties from Laurie Brown Jewelry, if you please. Rat Bone Necklace cast in gold, $448, at Etsy. Gold Rose Thorn earrings, $282, at Etsy. Actually, I'll take pretty much anything she makes. That lady is a jewelry genius with super style.

Does your special someone have an unsightly gap on the wall... or in their geographic knowledge? This 1957 "Asia" Junior Size Pulldown Map on canvas from Three Potato Four will surely fill the void. $250.

lisa congdon

If you know someone who can't see the forest for the trees, give them this orginal acryclic on canvas painting of a Birch Forest, by Lisa Congdon, via Etsy.

Oh, and finally... my favorite gifts of all. BOOKS!

book montage

You are probably thinking, what the hell kind of book goes in the "Under $500" category? How about the kind that is chock full of amazing photography, probably a first edition, and definitely SIGNED BY THE ARTIST. Yep, that's right. Us plebes may never be able to afford an original print by the artists I have featured here, but maybe, just maybe, we could afford an artist-signed copy of a book. And almost certainly we could afford an unsigned copy -- just head over to Amazon and check out the price points for each edition. You could buy a whole library of amazing art for $500, or you could buy one signed copy of:

1. My Ghost, by Adam Fuss, $300. 2. Sleeping By the Mississippi, by Alec Soth, $129.95. 3. Shadow Chamber, by Roger Ballen, $155. 4. Subway, by Bruce Davidson, $350. 5. Theatres, by Hiroshi Sugimoto, $650 (yep, I went over budget...). 6. Sally Mann: Gagosian Gallery, by Sally Mann, $453. 7. After the Flood, by Robert Polidori, $375. 8. Gregory Credson, by Gregory Crewdson, $275.

But maybe reading's not your thing. Maybe you just want something flashy and easily digested. Something like this:

gold pills

Yep, the 24k gold pills by Tobias Wong are back. At $429 from Generate, they come in just under budget. If you buy them for a loved one, better tell them to sell the pills for their gold content instead of ingesting them. Because that would be a waste.