I remain a fan of handwritten notes, whether for personal or professional purposes. I still enjoy writing with a good old-fashioned fountain pen, and use one which I received as a holiday gift many years ago.
— PENNY SHAFFER, market president at Florida Blue
THE WRITE TOUCH: Gentle readers, doubtless you are familiar with the many bookstores, big-box stores and even some drugstores where quality paper products for thoughtful thank-you notes are purveyed. We like Crane & Co. (www.crane.com), which has a variety of boxed note cards for sale under $20; but Kate Spade (www.finestationery.com/Kate-Spade) and Original Crown Mill (its crisp laid finish papers are favored by the fountain-pen set) also are widely favored. (The paper is found in many stationery stores.) Among the go-to chains where fine papers can be found as well is Papyrus, a California-based company, where nice boxed cards can be found for under $10. Locations for Papyrus include Aventura Mall, The Falls in Miami Dade, and Westfield Broward Shopping Center in Plantation (www.papyrusonline.com).
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At several smaller shops in South Florida, you can select among paper stocks, monograms and styles to create your own note cards. Caitlin Pyfrom, proprietor of Say It With Paper in Coral Gables (3117 Ponce De Leon Blvd., www.sayitwithpaper.com), says a box of 10 preprinted note cards can be monogrammed for as little as $12. From there, prices go up: As with all things, most bespoke stationery costs more than off-the-rack options. Letterheads, 600 NE 72nd Ter. in Miami’s Belle Meade/MiMo district (www.letterheadsmiami.com); and Emilka Creative, 801 Brickell Key Blvd., Miami; emilkacreative.com are among those that offer similar services.
Inscribe your message with a high-caliber fountain pen, like the TrueWriter™ Select at www.levenger.com ($169). The nib is hand-crafted, and the pen comes in a monogrammable wood gift box. But if your own handwriting has been rendered illegible by, say, too many years at your computer keyboard — or heaven forbid, the writing of too few thank-yous — consider a service that uses the beautiful cursive handwriting of old to beautify your message. Calligraphy by Jeni, 3242 Buchanan St., Hollywood, (by appointment) is an option. After a phone consultation, Jenilee Shaughnessy can determine a client’s needs. Perhaps you want to adorn only the envelopes, for instance: Cost begins at about $50 for calligraphy on 25 of them. 954-214-9497; calligraphybyjeni.com.
A card or a note from one’s senior managers inscribed with a warm seasonal message or expression of gratitude for a job well done is glorious to receive and not expensive to send. But if you’re a boss who prefers not to dip into your personal supplies, use your own company’s letterhead instead. If you must.
A friend gave me a photo of the moon’s view of Earth signed by every astronaut that has walked on the moon. I love everything related to the Apollo moon mission.
— EDDY ARRIOLA, chairman at Apollo Bank
FLY HIM TO THE MOON: A gift that captures an adventure that one can only dream to embark on — whether it be sailing, flying, or, as in this case, lunar travel — is always memorable and appreciated.
On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins left Earth for a trip into space and into history. Forty-five years later, memorabilia and photos relating to that voyage and the ones that came after are still readily available. (Besides Armstrong and Aldrin — who were the first two astronauts to leave their bootprints on the moon — Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Eugene Cernan, and Harrison Schmitt also stepped there.)
Signed items are scarcer, and pricier. For instance, moonpans.com/signed/apollo shows mission-related, signed images priced $295 to $4,500, depending on the image. An Apollo 11 crew-signed (Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins) NASA litho listed on www.astronautcentral.com has a $13,995 price tag. Watch auction sites to see when hard-to-find items — such as a photo signed by all the astronauts who ever walked on the moon — are up for sale.
(Words of warning: Astronaut autographs are a frequent target of forgers. Your best bet to ensure quality is to buy from a reputable dealer specializing in this area, preferably one that comes recommended from a dealer you know.) “You have to trust your sources” of merchandise, emphasizes Sally Poor. Her husband, Kim Poor, owns www.astronautcentral.com, a Tucscon, Arizona-based business that deals directly with several astronauts.
If a mere taste of adventure can satisfy, however, consider visiting thespaceshop.com (Kennedy Space Center visitor complex): For $6.99, you can be the proud owner of an Apollo 11 “One Step” mug.
The best gift I ever got was a book on the history of Miami because it showed the person really spent time picking out something that was targeted for me. I am a native son of Miami. I turned down working on Wall Street because I wanted to be a part of the amazing story I saw developing here. I have always been intrigued by our city's rich (albeit relatively short) history.
— JARET DAVIS, shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, P.A.
SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME: Walk into any good-size bookstore to find entire sections that address Miami and Florida history. A notable spate of volumes on the subject appeared in the mid-1980s and early ’90s, and many more have been published since.
This year saw the publication of a coffee-table volume with a narrow focus: Miami Graffiti Art by H. Love, a snapshot of the South Florida graffiti art scene from the 1980s to the present. In it are 310 full-color images of works by V05, DFC Crew, 7 UP Crew, the Ink Heads and others (www.schifferbooks.com, $45).
Other books that emerged in 2013 are Leaving Little Havana: A Memoir of Miami’s Cuban Ghetto by Cecelia M. Fernandez (Beating Windward Press, $19.95), described by a Miami Herald reviewer as “a poignant recounting that is sure to resonate with her generation as well as the newer immigrants who call South Florida home.” Legendary Locals of Greater Miami (Howard Kleinberg and Arva Moore Parks) and Along the Miami River (Images of America) by local historian Paul S. George. (Arcadia Publishing; $21.99 each) also came out last year.
George, in addition, offers hugely popular tours: www.historymiami.org/tours/. Consider picking up the tab for someone who appreciates South Florida history.
We provide our employees with a supermarket gift certificate before the holiday season, which is very well-received. It is a time to give thanks, and the thought of all of our employees having the opportunity for a wonderful holiday celebration is very important.
— STEVE SONENREICH, president and CEO, Mount Sinai Medical Center
YOUR CORPORATE LOGO GOES HERE: Publix and Winn-Dixie are among the grocery stores that offer gift cards for sales in many denominations — as do, of course, many other retailers. But you can design your own prepaid card as well, at many sites, such as www.giftcardlab.com. The major card brands — including MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover — also have online sites where prepaid gift cards can be purchased.
That’s an easy one. One year, I gave my management team cruises — on Carnival, if I remember, because they had a great promotion going at the time!
— ARNOLD DONALD, CEO of Carnival Corp. (He was speaking about when he worked at a different company)
JOY AHOY: In the cruise ship capital of the world, it’s not difficult to find deals and promotions. Even if you can’t quite swing giving an entire voyage, you can contribute to an upcoming trip with Carnival Cruise Lines’ prepaid gift cards, available in denominations between $25 and $1,000: They can be used to pay for part of a cruise or for purchases on board. At www.carnival.com. (They’re expected to be available in Publix stores in early 2015.)
Norwegian Cruise Line (www.ncl.com/giftcard), Princess Cruises (www.princess.com) and Royal Caribbean (www.royalcaribbeancertificates.com) also have gift cards.
A box of really pungent cheese which sat in my office for two weeks while on a trip to Australia. The stench when I opened the door to my office will live with me forever.
— DANIEL CANE, president and CEO at Modernizing Medicine
THE CHEESE STANDS ALONE: If it’s cheese with the potential to breathe a little eau de fart into your life, consider hunting for Époisses — a cow’s milk cheese from France’s Burgundy region that’s so rich and creamy, it’s sometimes served with a spoon. It’s delicious (we think), despite the scent. Perhaps it’s a faint whiff of something ammonia-ish you crave? Brie de Meaux, also a creamy cow’s milk product, might work. These varieties are widely available at South Florida cheese purveyors, including Marky’s at 687 NE 79th St. in Miami. Here, a seven-pound round of Brie de Meaux goes for $114.95, and an 8.8-ounce round of Époisses (Berthaut) goes for $21.95. (www.markysgourmet.com). Experts say that most goat cheeses, which are widely available, also smell funky.
A South Florida-produced, and milder, variety of cheese is found at Mozzarita in Pompano Beach. The Miami Herald described its fresh mozzarella, also available in several markets, as “simply outstanding.” (5392 NE 13th Way, Pompano Beach; mozzarita.com; prices start at $9 for one.)
Check out www.miami.com/what039s-best-5-choice-cheese-shops-miami-and-broward-article to see Miami Herald recommendations about choice cheese shops in Miami-Dade and Broward.
A nice bottle of wine.
— KEITH KOENIG, president of City Furniture
PERENNIALLY POPULAR: Nothing beats visiting a good wine store and asking for suggestions from around the world, as Consumer Reports notes. But wines sent by Monrovia, California, Wine of the Month Club Cellar Series (a six-bottle shipment of premium wines, delivered every other month, selected by the owner, Paul Kalemkiarian Jr.; $21.95 per month) ranged from fair to very good, decreed CR experts about a year ago after blind tastings of 12 bottles shipped from the club. www.wineofthemonthclub.com, 800-949-9463.
Evan S. Benn, the Miami Herald’s food editor, says, “I’m a big fan of the sparkling wines being made right now by Gruet Winery in New Mexico. Yes, New Mexico. Its nonvintage Gruet Brut ($15) is an excellent idea for a holiday gift or a hostess present. It tastes like a much-more-expensive Champagne.” www.gruetwinery.com/wines/non-vintage-sparkling-wines/gruet-brut.
If you care to bring something South Florida-made, Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery (30205 SW 217th Ave., Homestead) produces tropical fruit wines (www.schneblywinery.com/). Try a bottle of Sparkling Passion, billed as “a semi-dry wine with hints of melon and strawberries on the nose.” ($29.95).
Couples spa package.
— JOSE LI, founder and CEO of 71lbs
SPA-LICIOUS: Does your employee deserve an upscale treat? Consider the Couples Doral Massage, www.trumphotelcollection.com/pdf/Doral_Spa_Brochure_2014. To quote: “Share your spa journey with that special someone with a side-by-side massage inside our luxurious and private couple’s massage suite.” For a Swedish-technique massage, prices are: 50 minutes $280, 80 minutes $380, 100 minutes $460.
More spa options are online at miami.com/spa-directory. One way to beat high sticker prices: See what’s on offer at one of the deal-of-the-day websites like dealsaver.com.
DOING GOOD BY DOING GOOD: As a recent Miami Herald article noted, Miami is No. 10 on Charity Navigator’s annual list of “America’s most charity-conscious cities,” mirroring the growing national interest in philanthropy. There’s an enormous range of worthy causes — from social services to education to the arts, for instance. Among South Florida’s best-known philanthropic groups: United Way (www.unitedwaymiami.org and www.unitedwaybroward.org); La Liga Contra el Cancer (ligacontraelcancer.org); and the Miami Herald Charities Wish Book (www.miamiherald.com/wish-book). Several CEOs’ comments reflect this trend.
▪ A gift made to the Humane Society years ago still resonates with me because it was my mom’s favorite charity.
— TERE BLANCA,
president and CEO at Blanca Commercial Real Estate
▪ The best corporate holiday gift our company has ever received was a donation on our behalf to a charity that our organization is passionate about supporting. The significance of this gift was that it was broad in nature, allowing everyone to enjoy its benefit and, at a very important time of year, it served as a reminder to us all of the importance of “paying it forward.”
A number of our employees and their families followed suit and made personal donations of their own. The gift was thoughtful, meaningful and something that we felt helped to make everyone involved better.
— MARCELL HAYWOOD,
CEO at Dirt Pros
▪ We prefer to make charitable contributions in honor of our clients, enabling us to share the positive community impact.
— JOHN SUMBERG, managing partner
at Bilzin Sumberg
▪ I appreciate my friends, business partners and colleagues thinking of me over the holiday season, but I really don’t need another paper weight with someone else’s company logo inscribed on an item. I enjoy seeing how creative companies have become in the digital age with video messages and spoofs. I also appreciate when an organization has a focused cause and donates a monetary gift on my behalf rather than wasting money on more swag.
CEO of 50 Eggs
COMPILED BY RORY CLARKE