Whether you want to whisk off for the weekend, enjoy a quiet, romantic gourmet meal at home or brew your own batch of Gold Bar Blonde, our second annual guide to luxury holiday presents has something to satisfy everyone on your shopping list.
If you think money can’t buy happiness, it’s possible you don’t have enough to make a fair assessment.
According to a recent Gallup World Poll of more than 1.7 million people in 164 countries, there’s a certain level where financial stability equals “life satisfaction.” Apparently a W-2 of around $95,000 per year does the trick for most individuals, researchers say. Seems astonishingly low, doesn’t it?
You probably call New Jersey home. Here in the Garden State, while the research claims you may feel emotionally rich at that salary, you’ll likely be house-, car-, retirement savings-, vacation- and stuff-poor.
And that’s no fun at all — especially at holiday time! We all need stuff! Let’s face it, while all the peace of mind in the world can’t buy you things or adventurous experiences, money can. And, if you’ve got it to spend, there’s no shortage of options.
Get ready to impress with something from this collection of gifts that no one really needs, but many on your list can’t possibly live without.
Up, up and away
Ever thought to yourself, “Hey, we should whisk off for the weekend?” Wheels Up has got you covered and is always ready to go. Think Netflix meets the airport.
Wheels Up is a membership-based private aviation company. With two membership options, Wheels Up for Individuals and Wheels Up for Business, you can summon a premium private flight with as little as 24 hours notice from Teterboro Airport to any of 5,000 others throughout the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean.
You book your flight reservation through a mobile app, drive to the plane and up and away you go. Membership does have its privileges even beyond the on-call service of more than 90 planes. Wheels Up offers luxury on-board concierge service and invitations to special events including trips to the Super Bowl and Masters Tournament, as well as pop-up meet-and-greets with celebrities.
There’s a $17,500 initiation fee to join, with block pricing for avid flyers and pay-as-you-fly options for individuals. With too many benefits to name, check it out for yourself at wheelsup.com
Who snaps more pics than you?
We’ll bet good money you’ve got countless selfies and kid/pet pics dating back to who knows when. Perhaps they are stored in your phone or the cloud waiting for the day when you have nothing to do and nowhere to go so you can organize them. With EverPresent’s Fresh Start Photo Organizing Service, you can get a handle on all of that. This is not do-it-yourself software. In fact, you need to do very little other than share your snaps.
Imagine all the digital photos and videos from all of your devices, both old and new, consolidated into one photo library with no duplicates. Everything is organized chronologically, backed up and separated by photo and video in the photo software of your choice.
If you are in New Jersey, you can visit a location in Waldwick, Pompton Plains, Morris Plains, Montclair, Warren or Highland Park to meet with a digital photo organizer. Or you can schedule an in-home visit with a personal photo organizer.
For those who are too busy for those options (sound familiar?) you can use (or gift) the company’s remote services.
Pricing starts at $599 for the basic package and increases to $1,399 for the ultra package. Get your organize on by checking out everpresent.com
The greatest gift you can give is quality time with a family member or friend. And what better way to do that than at an elegant traditional afternoon tea at The Peacock Inn in the heart of Princeton.
A renovated 18th-century colonial mansion, The Peacock Inn welcomes all who crave a bit of throwback tradition to a magnificent tea service. Feast on three elegant tiers of delectable savories and sweets.
Tea sandwiches run the gamut from cranberry walnut chicken salad on a pretzel bun and vegetable cream cheese and cucumber on pumpernickel, to egg salad in a phyllo cup and roasted turkey and brie with honey mustard.
Choose from classic or cranberry scones served with clotted cream and jam. Leave room for a chocolate truffle and many bite-sized sweets including coconut caramel tart, chocolate cake petit fours and mini hazelnut fudge tart.
Oh wait, this is a traditional afternoon tea service, yes? Choose from a wide selection of delectable loose-leaf teas or French press coffee.
But wait, there’s more! The enhanced afternoon tea experience comes with an effervescent flight of champagne or sparkling wine and Ossetra caviar, for $95 per person. (Choose the experience sans wine and caviar for $65.) Both options are available daily from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and reservations are a must. Call 609-924-1707 for gift certificates or reservations. Visit peacockinn.com for more information.
Be your own barkeep
Whether you’re a home brewer, foodie or professional distiller, PicoBrew ensures the party will always be coming to you.
The Pico Model C is small enough to fit on your kitchen counter but robust enough to brew five liters of brewpub quality craft beer in about two hours. Add yeast, let the beer ferment (for about seven to 10 days) and carbonate. Then chill and serve.
The machine uses a compostable ingredient pack from award-winning breweries around the world. Choose from close to 200 PicoPaks, including three beers from brewery partner Man Skirt Brewing in Hackettstown. Right in your own kitchen, you can brew up batches of Man Skirt’s Better Than Pants British Bitter, Gold Bar Blonde and The Great Porter.
With the new PicoStill distilling attachment, you can distill pilot batches of spirits safely and more precisely (where legal), or use PicoStill to capture the essence of hops, herbs, spices, grains and essential oils, and infuse craft beer, food and beverages with the unique flavors and aromas of your own personal brew creations.
The Pico Model C/PicoStill combo pack retails at $748. Holiday pricing is available. Visit picobrew.com for details.
Don’t mind if I do …
They start with sweet, creamy butter. Next comes fresh milk and sugar. Then, after adding a few more fresh ingredients — salts, spirits and seasonings — McCrea’s Candies handrolls its exquisite caramel into smooth pieces of perfection.
There are 15 mouthwatering flavors like Black Lava Sea Salt, Cinnamon Clove and Single Malt Scotch (made with real whisky right from the Highlands).
You can buy some in a number of Garden State gourmet shops, including Occasionette in Collingswood, Fountain Greetings in Nutley, Welcome Home in Red Bank and Thomas Sweet Chocolate in Princeton.
Know someone who doesn’t know when to say when? Consider gifting McCrea’s Caramel of the Month. Choose from a three-, six- or 12-month subscription and the recipient will receive three-dozen pieces of one flavor of McCrea’s slow-cooked luxe caramel, specially selected by the company’s caramel connoisseurs. Every month is a different flavor!
Go to mccreascandies.com to order a subscription or send small batches to family and friends anywhere in North America.
Cooking up some romance
This is almost too good to imagine. A quiet evening with soft music and candlelight, wine and delicious aromas wafting through the air. There are no screaming kids or rude waiters — time is on your side. A wonderful evening in the privacy of your own home awaits with your personal chef whipping up the romantic meal of which dreams are made.
Executive Chef Kahlil Wyche is the founder of Catering to Your Whims Inc., of Voorhees (he services parts of New Jersey, New York City, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland).
Chef Kahlil specializes in creatively mixing exotic herbs and seasonings to create a variety of cuisines such as American, seafood, creole and nouveau soul food.
But with more than 20 years in the culinary field, he can prepare whatever your heart desires. All dietary concerns and preferences will be followed so you (or your gift recipient) can relax in style with exceptional cuisine and personal attention.
In addition to offering a delicious romantic evening to remember, Chef Kahlil also specializes in interactive cooking lessons/experiences for groups. He will cater to your tastes, location and party size — from two people to pick-a-number.
To learn more about this unique culinary gift, visit cateringtoyourwhims.com or call 800-499-6071.
So many gift ideas, so little time. But here are a few more options inspired and created by talented New Jerseyans that are certainly worth checking out:
Traditionalists wouldn’t be caught late without a statement-making watch. The Diefendorff watches, says Montclair native and watch designer James Reeves, each offer a custom “1776 Case and Bezel.”
There are 17 big lines and 76 small lines on the front and side of the watch. The patent-pending design is a nod to the brand’s inspiration, Capt. Henry Diefendorff, who fought for American independence. Glow-in-the-dark hands, sapphire crystal glass and water resistance up to 330 feet make this watch a statement piece. Learn more at diefendorffwatches.com.
National Geographic’s “Ultimate Journeys for Two: Extraordinary Destinations on Every Continent” was written by New Jersey residents Mike and Anne Howard of Hoboken, owners of HoneyTrek.com. They have been traveling for seven years on the “world’s longest honeymoon” and compiled their absolute favorite 75 destinations and best tips for couples adventure travel. This gorgeous guide is full of off-the-track gems, touching stories and sound advice for anyone looking to make travel a bigger part of their lives.
Pet Vignettes is a must-have for every pet lover.
Imagine Fido or Spot posing in a historical outfit. The brainchild of Warren-native Susan and her fiance George, Pet Vignettes offers 16 options for immortalizing furry family members. Choose from styles including the Dame, the Duke, the Captain, the Queen or the Aristocrat.
Images are printed on premium artist-grade canvas. Looking for a gift everyone will remember forever? You can order at petvignettes.com.