In Miami

The Pleasure of Presents: INDULGE’s 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Find a gift for everyone in your life with INDULGE's 2018 Holiday Gift Guide. Photographed: candle-making classes at Taja Collection.
Find a gift for everyone in your life with INDULGE's 2018 Holiday Gift Guide. Photographed: candle-making classes at Taja Collection.

The phrase “’Tis better to give than to receive” is not just a cliché. The rush that comes from bringing joy to others by giving the perfect gift is real. Actually finding that gift, on the other hand, is not the simplest task. That’s why INDULGE rang up 11 locals with expertise in a range of categories, from food to fashion to friendship, and asked them to share their suggestions for gifts guaranteed to thrill those you most want to impress — friends, family, clients and loved ones — whatever their passion may be. The results? A full gift guide at your disposal of 60 fab finds that will land you in good graces with everyone on your list for a very long time. (You’re welcome.)

For Pet Owners!

1 Pets_2485
Meg Connolly, owner of Instagram-famous Ceili the Puppy. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

When Meg Connolly flew south to Florida from New York two years ago, by her side was budding Instagram star @CeiliThePuppy, whom she first enlisted to help her through a chronic medical condition. Today they’re inseparable, and Ceili has become the apple not just of Meg’s eye, but the world, having modeled numerous times at New York Fashion Week and in Vogue Italia, and with a social following of 40,700 — and counting.

1. “It’s so funny that the world has come to this, but now you can dress to match your pet with sweaters from Bow and Drape. They’re customizable or you can purchase pre-made designs, and new items are constantly being introduced.” From $39;

2. “Little Dove makes a pet teepee that is so tiny and cute! You can also order it in a larger size if you have a big dog. It’s basically a bed, but cozier, and it works for any pet that walks around freely inside the house.” $37;

3. “Ceili would never be caught dead here, but I know my friends who love cats are excited for the opening of The Cat’s Meow Café. You’ll be able to have great coffee and pastries while cats meander about in a calm and safe environment.” 7541 Biscayne Boulevard;

4. “Petsy Pop Art makes personalized pop art for your pet. Give it to someone who has an area of the house designated just for the pet — there are people who do that! — so they can hang their fur baby’s portrait there.” From $59;

5. “If you sign up for BarkBox, they send your dog yummy treats with a different theme every month — like Chewrassic Bark; The Good, the Bad and the Pugly; and Throwbark Thursday — along with bonus items such as toys, collars, sweaters and bandannas.” From $22;

6. “Dogs with sensitive stomachs, like Ceili, would love The Farmer’s Dog. It’s a food subscription service that customizes shipments based on your pet’s size, age and allergies.” From $16;

For Men of Style!

2 men style barber_9694
Brandon Tanner of The Spot Barbershop in Coral Gables. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

For the past 10 years, Brandon Tanner has been one of Miami’s coolest barbers. He met the owners of The Spot Barbershop, where he wields his scissors on the regular, while doing charity work; they formulated a business model that catered to the consummate gentleman, and The Spot was born. “It’s a different kind of shop,” he said. “We think it’s important for a man to invest not just in his haircut, but in himself.”

7. “The Zenix Professional Peel Off Black Mask is for the modern man who wants to take care of his skin. We place it on the T-zone of the face and use hot towels and a steamer for the full effect. It’s a therapeutic experience.” From $15; various locations;

8. “You can’t go wrong with a pair of black Chelsea boots. They’re very popular now because they look good and go with everything. I particularly like the ones offered by Aldo, like the Biondi-R.” $160,

9. “With The Spot Barbershop Gift Card, guys can come and get any service: a regular haircut, a beard grooming, a hot-towel shave. We lean ’em back in the chair and use essential oils and they go to sleep for 30 minutes, essentially. It’s like a spa treatment.”

10. “Red One makes a lot of different hair waxes, but for a gift I’d recommend the Red One Aqua Hair Wax. It’s easy to use for every style, from a comb-over to a pompadour to a low-cut. It’s water-based, not alcohol-based, so it won’t dry out your hair.” $5;

11. “A glass of Jameson Irish Whiskey is served complimentary to our customers when they get a wash and a cut. Our customers are gentlemen, and that’s a gentleman’s drink — a good one to give. I like it myself.” From $25;

12. “A blazer from Stitched at Brickell City Centre is sharp. The fabrics, the fit, the way they custom-make the clothing to perfectly suit you — I can’t say enough about it.”

For Kids!

3 kids fabi_3339
Fabiola Isabel Comas in an INDULGE Special Correspondent. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

An 11-year-old student at Weston Christian Academy, Fabiola Isabel Comas is an INDULGE special correspondent with an appetite for art, travel and fashion. She’s captain of her school’s JV volleyball team, and she proudly researched and tested every one of her gift recommendations for fellow kids. 

13. “I have been in love with the play Hamilton ever since it started back in 2015, and was not disappointed when I finally got to see it on Broadway. Don’t miss this one when it comes to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, December 18 to January20, as you have to be in ‘the room where it happens.’ What an awesome gift for a family outing!”

14. “The kid-friendly Brightline train that connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach has it all. Go all-out and choose ‘select’ tickets for a first-class experience with unlimited amenities, including snacks, drinks, parking, priority boarding and a private lounge to chill in before your train arrives and when you get to your destination. Your kids will surely love it.” From $20 roundtrip;

15. “As we say in Spanish, ‘¡En el mar la vida es más sabrosa!’ (On the sea, life is tastier.) Give your family a fun getaway by chartering a boat for an unforgettable vacation. This is an incredible way to de-stress and connect with loved ones. I suggest you book it for the Bahamas or British Virgin Islands — and don’t come back without trying snorkeling!” From $2,700;

16. “The Vendula Coffee Truck Grab Bag is a show-stopper and a unique addition to any girl’s purse collection. And, from time to time, Mom can sneak in and borrow it. Check out the original Vendula handbag collection, which is made of the latest vegan-friendly materials. I love all of them.” $83;

17. “Give yourself the gift of peace and quiet while also letting your kids jam their hearts out with the Beats Solo3 Wireless headphones. In addition to award-winning sound, there will be #NOSTRINGSATTACHED and you will get your well-deserved silence.” $300;

18. “Children not so little anymore? If you are running out of gift ideas, a debit card is a great choice. Kids can use it anywhere debit cards are accepted and learn the value of money. They also can make deposits and save up for that special item. I have had one since I turned 9, and my parents are uber happy they got it from Bank of America. Hint: transactions can be tracked online.”

For Travelers!

4 travel_2716
Greg Chin knows where to find some great presents at Miami International Airport. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Greg Chin, communications and digital marketing director for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, has the best suggestion for killing time at Miami International Airport: Do your holiday shopping while you wait to depart. As the ultimate insider, the ingenuity of his suggestions will surprise you — you may just find yourself hoping for a flight delay to snap up these presents.

19. “Whether you’re dressing up or down, nothing says Miami like the cool comfort of a linen guayabera for men or women. You can pick up one (or more) up at Cubavera in Concourse J or the Havana Shirt Store in the Central Terminal.” From $28;

20. “Quick slip-on loafers are a must for getting through the TSA checkpoint with ease. Johnston & Murphy near Gate D30 has dressy, casual and easily removable styles for men and women.” From $100;

21. “Miami is one of the top fishing locations in the world, so of course you can buy fresh Florida stone crabs in the airport. Pick up a box of Florida’s famous crabs at MIA’s Prive Gourmet Market (by Gate D34) or have them shipped to your gift recipient’s destination.”

22. “If you really want to impress your holiday dinner guests, give them the royal treatment with a 17-pound Pata Negra Jamón Ibérico from Cinco Jotas, also available at Prive Gourmet Market. It comes in a leather carrying case, and MIA is the only airport in the country that sells the exclusive acorn-fed ham.”

23. “The limited-edition Johnnie Walker Blue Label Miami, available only at the MIA location near D16, was created by local Miami illustrator Ernesto Maranje. It brings to life the brand’s journey from the agricultural lands of Kilmarnock in Scotland to the shores of Miami through a series of hand-drawn illustrations.” $350;

24. “For the cigar aficionado, a set of hand-rolled Cuban-style cigars from Cuban Crafters, near Gate D26, is a definite ‘so Miami’ gift.”

For Fitness Fanatics!

5 fitness_0407
Melanie Rinaldi owns Rinaldi Performance in Coconut Grove. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Melanie Rinaldi, the owner of Rinaldi Performance in Coconut Grove, has been bringing her A-game to athletics since she was a 13-year-old competitive swimmer. Her hard work landed her a full scholarship to University of Miami and a spot in the Olympic Trials. Her credentials go on as long as the 12 Days of Christmas, and with a career that successful, she’s learned a lot about how to optimize workouts and minimize injuries.

25. “Mini bands in multiple sizes and strengths are very effective for strengthening the butt and leg muscles and a key warm-up to any exercise. Perform Better First Place Mini Bands come in a pack of four and allow you to do multiple exercises to stabilize the core and all your joints.” $9;

26. “Jump ropes are super small and easy to travel with. I favor a metal one like the 5Billion Fitness Speed Jumprope, which is made of lightweight aluminum. It’s versatile, plus it fits in a backpack or a handbag so you can take high-level cardio with you.” $10;

27. “If you’re going for a bigger item, either a Concept2 rowing machine or the Schwinn AirDyne AD7. I mention both because someone with a lower-back injury shouldn’t row and could go for the AirDyne, which uses resistance a variety of different ways to help your core. If you don’t have back injuries, rowing is the way to go for a full-body workout.” $900 (each); and

28. “The Hidrate Spark 2.0 Water Bottle tracks how much water you’re drinking, tells you the temperature of the area you’re in to let you know how much water you need, and glows to remind you to drink.” $55;

29. “You don’t have to pay gym dues or leave the house to use the standard TRX Home 2 Suspension Trainer. You can attach it anywhere to work your upper and lower body and your core and for lunging, squatting and pushups. You won’t get bored, and they last a long time.” $200;

30. “The Vyper 2.0 vibrating roller helps not only to loosen up the muscles, but you can just lie on it and it sends vibrations through your body. Many people don’t like stretching, but they don’t mind lying on the roller. Five minutes on it can prevent long-term injuries long-term.” $200;

For Foodies!

6 food_1044
Larry Carrino is our Gift Guide's Gourmet Guru. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

After 20 years helming the culinarily focused firm Brustman Carrino Public Relations — which boasts a client list populated with James Beard Award-winning chefs as well as the South Beach Wine & Food Festival — Larry Carrino has earned his reputation as The Gourmet Guru of South Florida. Naturally, he was our go-to guy for suggestions for the food lover in our lives.

31. “I love condiments. I think you can’t have enough sauces, but the heat has to be balanced with flavor, and El Gustoso hot sauce hits the mark. It accentuates and complements food but still brings the heat. My father-in-law is a hot sauce fanatic, so for someone like him, it’s a home run.” $6.50;

32. “I am a big fan of cooking gadgets, because the kitchen is a happy place for me. For people who also love cooking, the Thermomix TM5 does just about everything you could ever want out of a kitchen appliance.” $1,450;

33. “When you remove sweetener and cream, all that’s left is coffee. If it’s not good, you’re going to know it. The quality of the coffee from Per’La is exceptional. I’d give it to anyone my life who is a coffee person; the business is local and I can’t support it enough.”

34. “Cooking classes at Two Chefs restaurant are not just classes — they are a cooking party. They have a separate room with a separate kitchen for these. You invite your friends, you pick the menu, you cook, you drink wine, the chefs are helping you, and when it’s all done, you sit down and eat the dinner.” $85 a person;

35. “Tickets to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, February 20-24, are a no-brainer. If you do it, go big, with two tickets to the Tribute Dinner, where a chef and a winemaker are honored every year; this year it’s Nancy Silverton and Rhonda Carano. It’s swanky — $500 per ticket. Another favorite is Best of the Best — $350 per ticket. It’s a walk-around event, but sophisticated and elegant.”

36. “Maybe it sounds a little odd to get someone meat as a gift. But for someone who loves to cook, and particularly to grill, something from Proper Sausages is an ideal present. The sausages are made from scratch locally by a husband-and-wife team, and the flavors are so unique.”

For Fashion-Forward Women! 

7 fashion_9073
Julian Reynolds is a former pro athlete who is now a businesswoman. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas at Minotti in the Miami Design District.

Growing up in Palm Beach, franchising consultant Julian Reynolds excelled in academics and athletics, simultaneously developing her own sense of chic, understated style. Not only does she appreciate the finer things in life, but when it comes time to buy the perfect present, she likes to tap into her list of personal favorites and share them with friends and family.

37. “I’m a huge Champs drinker, and I love Baccarat Champagne flutes and coupes. A few years ago I received them as a gift, and I decided I’m going to start giving them as presents, too.” $360 for a pair;

38. “Everyone seems to be into the sneaker craze, which I haven’t picked up on, but I think Gucci Princetown loafers are comparable. They’re comfortable, stylish, you can get them with logos, with or without fur — and they come in different materials so you can go super fancy or super casual. They work for everyone.” $890;

39. “La Mer Renewal Oil is luxurious and works with every skin type. It smells like heaven, moisturizes dry skin, and yet it’s ideal for oily skin. It’s like gifting someone the Fountain of Youth.” $245;

40. “My favorite designer right now is Thom Browne. His sweats are comfy, in cashmere or in cotton; I love the simplicity. And there are zero logos, so it’s high-end but not pretentious — you either know or you don’t know.” $570-$1,400;

41. “Kilian fragrances are the best-kept secret. My favorite is Straight to Heaven, and whenever I wear it, I get compliments. The packaging is gorgeous, the scents are unisex, and they’ve got them for the home, too.” $295;

42. “I am a workout-aholic and Ultracor leggings are my favorite. They feel like silk on your skin, come in cute designs, won’t fade when you wash them, and they have a built-in moisture-wicking technology so you don’t get sweat stains. You can actually wear them to do errands after working out. They’re amazing.” $200 for a pair;

For Car Collectors!

8 car8265
Mark Baruth is INDULGE's Contributing Automotive Editor. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas at The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

INDULGE Contributing Automotive Editor Mark “Bark M.” Baruth has been addicted to automotive speed and luxury ever since he was 7, when his father brought home a BMW. As a racer, he’s stood on the podium at some of the world’s most prestigious tracks, including Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio. As a writer, his reviews have been featured in publications like Road & Track and Jalopnik.

43. “When the original Acura NSX came to these shores in 1990, it proved that you could have it all in your exotic car experience: technology, speed and reliability. The new 2019 NSX takes that dream even further, introducing hybrid technology to generate 573 horsepower, not to mention what is probably the world’s best stereo system in a supercar.” $156,000 (base), $197,000 (as pictured, above);

44. “Cameron Weiss started his watch company in 2013 with a singular goal: restore prestige to American watchmaking. With his Weiss Executive Issue Field Watch, it’s safe to say that his mission has been accomplished. Weiss hand-assembles every watch in his Los Angeles workshop, giving him the right to stamp “Made in the USA” on the back. Even the 18k gold that forms the case is mined in California.” $8,950;

45. “If you want to take your automotive enthusiasm to the next level, get yourself to Los Angeles or Las Vegas to work with the pros at EXR Racing School. You can learn how to race under the expert tutelage of champion drivers like Tristan Vautier and Alexandre Premat. EXR provides it all: the car, the safety equipment and the coaching. $3,900;

46. “Want a cool 2+2 for driving in Miami, but also want to stand out from the sea of omnipresent German cars? Enter the 2019 Lotus Evora 400. Handcrafted in Hethel, England, the Evora 400 is a refreshing reminder of how organic driving can be. Plus, it’s bizarrely practical. My two elementary-aged children fit just fine in the back seats.” From $91,785;

47. “If you’ve been looking for that rare combination of power and nostalgia, here it is. The 2019 Ford Bullitt Mustang has both that raw, 5.0-liter Mustang grunt and the subtlety of a gorgeous, dark-green exterior that harkens back to yesteryear. Driving the Bullitt is as close as any of us will get to being Steve McQueen.” From $46,595;

48. “If you’re going to be a cool car enthusiast, it goes without saying that you need to play a cool instrument, too. Forget the guitar — that’s cliché. Grab yourself a Yamaha YTS-82ZII Custom Unlacquered Tenor Saxophone and be like John Coltrane playing at Ball & Chain on in the ’50s. While the horn looks like it comes from the golden era of jazz, Yamaha’s technology makes it easier than ever to play the blues. $7,000;

For Best Friends!

9 best friends candles_8353
Annie Jensen and Annabelle Torgman are co-founders of Taja Collection, based in Miami. Photograph by Felipe Cuevas.

Choosing gifts happens to be a favorite pastime of Annie Jensen and Annabelle Torgman, co-founders of Taja Collection, a Miami-based custom candle company. “Taja was actually born out of our passion for gift-giving,” Jensen said. “And our inability to find the right gifts for our assistants,” Torgman added. The two former attorneys met while working at the same law firm in Miami and bonded over a love of decorating; they launched their bespoke collection of customizable home accessories in 2017.

49. “A personal styling session with Paula Collarte of Paula Co Style is one of our go-to gifts. She brings everything to your home, from Zara goodies to designer duds. The best part? She styles your picks with your current wardrobe and takes pictures of all the outfit options so you’ll never have one of those ‘What should I wear?’ tornados in your closet again. P.S. She styles men, too!” $350;

50. “A 5-pack of classes at Barry’s Bootcamp is perfect for anyone, especially for those friends who have everything. Our friends know that whenever they ask what we want for birthdays or the holidays, the answer is always the same: refill my Barry’s account!” $145;

51. “The end of the year is exhausting and can take a toll on our faces. A luxurious Gold Standard Facial — or, for him, the Mr. Gee Facial — at the amazing Gee Beauty will help your bestie unwind and start the new year with a fresh face.” $350 (Gold Standard), $150-$350 (Mr. Gee);

52. “We’re all about personalization, and Poolside bags offer beautiful and fun raffia versions and accessories that can be customized with your bestie’s name, favorite hashtag or song lyric. They have that personal touch that will never go out of style.” $130-$300;

53. “Invite your best friend to a fun afternoon at Taja Collection’s Candle-Making Classes, filled with rosé and luxurious fragrances. She can unleash her creative side by designing and hand-pouring her very own candles and walk away with a one-of-a-kind creation.” $95 per person;

54. “We may be biased, but thoughtful gifting really is our specialty, so we recommend a custom candle, diffuser or vase from Taja Collection. You can engrave that inside joke that only you two know about on the inside of the wooden candle lid, or an image of your BF’s pet on the front of a diffuser.” From $35;

For Party Hosts!

10 alicehome_0438
Alice Garretti, photographed at home by Felipe Cuevas.

Originally from Milan, Alice Garretti was not only born into a “food family,” as she puts it, but she also married into one. Today she manages the events department for SA Hospitality Group, a post that has her working constantly with top chefs and planning extravagant parties, including all of the events for Sotheby’s Auction House in New York. Garretti also loves to entertain at her home in Miami, so who better to recommend gift suggestions for the home entertainers in our lives?

55. “My husband makes wine, and it’s good: Fattoria Sardi Rosé. It’s crisp and refreshing, organic and low on sulfites, which means less chance of a headache the morning after you drink it. You can try it at Mandolin, Upland and La Mar restaurants. Or buy it at La Centrale Italian Food Hall at Brickell City Centre.” $17;

56. “For the same price as sending a floral arrangement that won’t last, you can give a fruit tree. Action Sod is my go-to nursery. I recently bought some beautiful kumquat trees there. They bring you around the property in a golf cart, and you can choose from a huge variety of plants.”

57. “Bar carts are very versatile and handy. I use them a ton in my work events to serve specialty cocktails or as wandering nibbles stations. West Elm has some nice brass ones.” $300-$800,

58. Slim Aarons: La Dolce Vita, the lavish fourth volume in Abrams’ Slim Aarons collection, captures the photographer’s love affair with Italy through aerials of the Sicilian countryside, intimate portraits of celebrities and magnificent villas. It truly captures the essence of the good life.” $43;

59. “I love Amanda Lindroth drinking glasses. They’re so understated and chic; the perfect example of less is more.”

60. “A set of Ceramiche di Caltagirone’s Teste di Moro and a few cascading lemons are all you need to create amazing table décor. Very Dolce & Gabbana. They ship from Italy, so allow a bit of time for them to arrive. The legend behind them is also a good reminder of what happens if you cheat.”

More: INDULGE’s 2017 Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide.