2004 Gift Guide
We asked dozens of experts: You know what's best in your field—what would you give this holiday season?THE RESULTS: TONS OF GREAT GIFT IDEAS FOR YOU AND YOURS
By Adrienne Carter


PICKS BY RICK BAYLESS Chef at Frontera Grill in Chicago GALE GAND Executive pastry chef at Tru in Chicago

Scharffen Berger Gift Box Set $25 Gand bought Scharffen Berger's chocolate cigars to celebrate the birth of her twins. These 48 little squares, in four flavors, transcend the so-called chocolate we all grew up on. At scharffenberger.com.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child $24 Authentic yet accessible, this foodie bible covers the basics as well as the classics. "Pay homage to the patron saint of cuisine," urges Gand. At overstock.com.

A Lemon-Lime Juicer $8 "The best kitchen gadget ever," declares Bayless. Little wonder, since he expertly uses lime in everything from salad dressings and marinades to salsa and margaritas. Fast, sturdy and easy to clean. At gourmetsleuth.com.

All-Clad LTD 12-Inch Nonstick Fry Pan $160 A 12-incher is the best all-around pan, and All-Clad is the name in cookware. So Bayless loves giving these as gifts, especially on his frequent research trips down Mexico way. At bedbathandbeyond.com.

Henckels Seven-Inch Santoku Knife $85 These Japanese-style blades are popular for their versatility—santoku means "three benefits," a nod to the knives' mincing, slicing and dicing abilities. Henckels (along with Wüsthof) defines the gold standard in knife-making. All this explains why Bayless says this professional-grade knife is the only one he uses. At williams-sonoma.com.

Oxo Gift Set $82 Not just good-looking, Oxo's award-winning kitchen tools, with their distinctive rubber grips, truly make tedious tasks easier. The line is always expanding, so even well-equipped cooks will squeal over a mix-and-match set. At oxo.com.

Crate & Barrel Colander $23 Big and deep and modestly priced. "I use mine not only for draining pasta," says Gand, "but also for rinsing vegetables, washing sauerkraut and draining salted eggplant." At crateandbarrel.com.

Bacon of the Month Club $135 a year Perfect for gourmands on Atkins, this ain't your average supermarket pork belly. "They're all delicious," says Gand. At gratefulpalate.com.

1. A Molcajete and Tejolote $37 This traditional mortar and pestle, made from durable volcanic rock, is perfect for grinding spices or making a great guacamole. Bayless' advice: "Buy the real thing, not the tourist model." At gourmetsleuth.com.

2. Monogrammed Chef's Jacket $55 A classic chef's frock that'll make anyone feel like a pro. At chefwear.com.

3. KitchenAid Stand Mixer $300 This professional-grade mixer can process up to 12 cups of flour without missing a beat, but it handles small jobs as well. The bowl-lift feature makes it easy to use, even if you're not in the back kitchen of Tru. At amazon.com.

NOTE: Prices listed are the lowest ones found at established retailers during the last week of October. If no price break could be found, then the manufacturer's suggested retail price is used. Prices don't include rebates, coupon promotions or shipping charges.


PICKS BY ED DEL GRANDE Master contractor and plumber, host of DIY Network's Ed the Plumber show

1. DeWalt Heavy-Duty Worksite Radio Charger $129 A boom box for worksite wear and tear, it doubles as a battery charger for other DeWalt products. At big hardware stores.

2. Black & Decker Bulls Eye Auto-Leveling Laser $69 Yeah, an old-fashioned level is cheap and works just fine. But this one has a laser. (Say it like Dr. Evil.) Good for hours of pure parallel fun, it also happens to make practical tasks like hanging pictures and mounting shelves easy and quick by shooting a perfectly straight horizontal beam across your wall. At lowes.com.

3. DeWalt Heavy-Duty XRP 1/2-Inch 14.4-Volt Cordless Drill and Driver Kit $199 DeWalt's XRP drills are professional-grade, but Del Grande likes them because they're easy to operate, even for the beginning DIYer. At major hardware retailers.

4. Craftsman Autoloader Multi-Bit Screwdriver $20 Phillips head? Quarter-inch flat head? This tool does the job of six. Turn the handle to your choice, give it a pump, and you're ready to go. Very high male fun factor, despite not having a laser. At sears.com.

Porter-Cable 12-Inch Compound Laser Miter Saw $349 Thanks to twin laser guides—no more pencil marks, no guessing where the blade is headed—this saw "makes an absolutely perfect cut," says Del Grande. Brings ambitious jobs within reach of mere amateurs. At big hardware stores.

Gladiator GarageWorks Modular Garage Refrigerator $499 Nothing works up a sweat like an afternoon in the workshop. Install this industrial-style six-cubic-foot fridge, and you won't have to go far for a cold drink or risk tracking debris through the house. At gladiatorgw.com.


PICKS BY BOB CONLEN Head groundskeeper at Hearst Castle, San Simeon, Calif.

Sunset's Western Garden Book $26 The go-to source for gardeners for decades. The latest edition includes tips on working in clay and sand and choosing the right ground cover for your yard. Plus, there's a colorful encyclopedia. If your garden doesn't grow in the West, consider other titles in the Sunset series, like the Midwestern Landscaping Book and Northeastern Garden Book. At amazon.com.

American Nurseryman Guides Winter can be hard for ardent gardeners. To pass the time, Conlen recommends this selection of books, CD-ROMs and videos. House Plants Made Easy ($40), a multimedia megaguide on CD-ROM, lets you search by type of plant, features or light conditions. At amerinursery.com.

Felco Pruning Shears Model 13 $58 This professional-grade clipper is amazingly versatile. Great for deadheading marigolds, as well as cutting through heavy branches, Conlen says. "It's the only one I use." At smithandhawken.com.

Leatherman Wave $70 Conlen rarely hits the grounds without this multipurpose wonder, which packs pliers, knives, screwdrivers, scissors and more into a four-inch-long tool. At amazon.com.


U2, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb The new album from the world's reigning rock band. The lead single, "Vertigo," is that great song from (natch) the iPod ads.

Shania Twain, Greatest Hits The best of her infectious countrified pop, plus two new songs.

Nirvana, With the Lights Out Long delayed by a legal dispute, this three-CD box set is a grunge fan's dream, containing demos, live recordings and a DVD with rare concert footage.

Eminem, Encore Mr. Marshall Mathers delivers yet another dose of uniquely tantalizing hip-hop.

Destiny's Child, Destiny Fulfilled The ladies have reunited after solo projects. Still sexy R&B, this time with a more adult flavor.

Elvis Costello, Il Sogno The pop master collaborates with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Lyfe Jennings, LYFE 268-192 The self-taught R&B musician incorporates bass, guitar, piano and vocals on his debut album.

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue No jazz collection is complete without this 1959 groundbreaker.

Diana Ross, Lady Sings Jazz & Blues: Stolen Moments The quintessential diva does Billie Holiday's song catalogue, including "Strange Fruit."

Jamie Cullum, Twentysomething Part of the new generation of young jazz artists, pianist and vocalist Cullum adds a hip, personal twist to standards like "But for Now" and "Singin' in the Rain."

Marc Broussard, Carencro Sure to be one of the breakout stories of 2005, says the iTunes team, Broussard has a soulful voice, rapturous stage presence and a collection of radio-friendly songs.

Cream, Disraeli Gears With this seminal rock album, electric guitar master Eric Clapton arrived.

Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die Dark but entrancing, one of hip-hop's most enduring albums.

Marvin Gaye, What's Going On (Deluxe Edition) A breakthrough record for the Motown sound in 1971, it remains relevant and influential.

The Clash, London Calling (25th Anniversary) One of the greatest rock albums of all time.

Yo-Yo Ma, Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone The cellist takes on the music of the Italian film composer known for the Spaghetti Western sound.


PICKS BY TOY TESTERS FROM HERNDON, VA. with help from Marianne Szymanski, founder of Toytips.com

1. Schwinn 20-Inch Sting-Ray $178 It's modeled after the classic '60s and '70s Schwinn two-wheeler. Jamel Hubbard, 10, says he likes it because it looks like a low-rider motorcycle. At walmart.com.

2. Discovery Kids Frog Pond $30 With this habitat (think ant colony, but with frogs), Will McCabe, 6, can study his favorite critter. At discovery.com.

3. Graco Doll with My Little 2-in-1 Turbo Booster and Travel Seat $25 Rachel Hoyt, 6, is smitten with this highly huggable 16-inch doll, whose mini-seat can be strapped next to Rachel in the car or at the dinner table. At toysrus.com.

4. E-L-M-O $24 The latest Elmo doll dances and sings E-L-M-O to the tune of "YMCA"—again and again and again and again. (Tip: Batteries are removable.) At walmart.com.

5. Safety 1st Corvette C5R $300 Daylin Lott, 5, can drive this battery-powered car up to 5 mph, but the Indy 500 effects make it sound like 150. At amazon.com.

6. Gadget Headz Car Factory $30 This device turns melted crayons...into cool cars! Spencer Coppage, 4, says it's a great use for his old crayons. At crayolastore.com.

7. Hasbro Tonka Toughest Mighty Dump Truck $30 Tonka trucks are big with tough boys like Jacob McCarty, 4. This new one hauls twice as much as the old one. At major toy stores.

Batman Animated Batcave $35 Talk about hot toys: The latest Batman movie isn't even out yet, and already Jacob McCarty is asking for this playset with a working elevator and zip wire. At amazon.com.

Discovery Kids Fingerprint Investigator $30 This little C.S.I.-like lab includes everything a kid detective needs to record, lift and uncover fingerprints. At discovery.com.

American Girl Nellie Doll $84 "All girls love American Girl," says Rachel Hoyt. The newest, Nellie, is "best friends" with Samantha, one of the collection's first dolls. At americangirl.com.

Bratz Retro Ride $90 Bratz dolls are like Barbies with supremely funky attitudes. Their party van holds a Jacuzzi and a working radio. At major toy stores.


PICKS BY STEVE BELKIN Ultrafrequent flier who's generated more than 15 million miles over the past decade

1. Bose QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones $299 A must-have for any flight, Belkin insists. These high-end headphones drown out engine noise so you can sit in perfect silence or listen to your tunes—instead of the wailing baby in seat 15B. At bose.com.

2. Panasonic Portable DVD Player $397 Bring your favorite flicks onboard, Belkin says, and "escape the tyranny of the crappy movie selection." Panasonic's DVD-LS50 has one of the largest screens (seven inches) at this price. And with a battery life of up to 2.5 hours, you can watch movies throughout your flight from New York City to Chicago. At walmart.com.

3. Travelpro Platinum 4SE 22-Inch Expandable Rollaboard Suiter $300 Belkin considers this the best carry-on bag you can find for the price. "It's large enough to pack efficiently," he says, "but small enough not to be banished at the gate to checked baggage." It also features a well-placed pocket for fast access to your tickets or passport. At luggagepros.com.

Fodor's U.S.A. $24 Belkin says this easy-to-flip guide to the 50 states (complete with restaurant and hotel picks) works for both business and tourist travel. At stores everywhere or at amazon.com.


PICKS BY PAUL JOHNSON Publisher of Kelley Blue Book

Skip Barber Racing School's One-Day Combo Program $1,295 It's driver's ed on, well, speed. Roar up to 130 mph on a professional track in a Formula Dodge race car after practicing NASCAR-like maneuvers in three vehicles (a Dodge Neon, a Dakota Quad Cab truck and a Viper SRT-10). At skipbarber.com.

Ionic Breeze Car Air Purifier $50 Miss that new-car scent? Plug this book-size unit into your lighter to purify the air. Then toss out those silly old cardboard pine trees hanging from your rearview mirror. At sharperimage.com.

Wagan Fridge Warmer $70 A portable fridge that keeps food and drink cold or (yes) warm, so you'll never hear the offspring whine—at least that they're hungry—again. "Great for long trips or toting the kids around every day," Johnson says. At griotsgarage.com.

Magellan RoadMate 700 $1,199 This navigation unit will tell you where to go—literally. An excellent choice for certain male drivers: Its detailed trip directions for all of the U.S. and Canada mean they (gasp!) don't have to ask for directions at a gas station. At kmart.com.



1. GoFit Yoga Kit $35 Like all gymnasts, the Hamms do intensive stretching—a routine that mimics yoga—to stay limber. This kit includes a mat as well as a yoga brick and straps to help you master a more difficult Heron pose. At gofit.net.

2. Everlast Medicine Balls $30 to $50 Paul says tossing medicine balls is key to improving upper-body strength. "They're also a great way to work the wrists," he adds. These colorful versions range in size from 4 to 15 pounds. At fogdog.com.

3. Polar Heart-Rate Monitor $60 to $400 Check your pulse and track the calories you're burning with this watchlike device. At major sporting goods retailers.

4. Aquabells $50 Just because the Hamms are always traveling to meets doesn't mean they stop training. Fill these collapsible travel weights with water from the hotel tap for on-the-go dumbbells that can weigh as much as 16 pounds each. At aquabells.com.

5. GoFit 65-Centimeter Burst-Resistant Exercise Ball $30 The twins agree: Inflatable balls like this are especially good for sit-ups and other exercises that strengthen the muscles in the stomach and back—crucial for balance, alignment and posture. The ball comes with an instructional DVD. At gofit.net.

Spa-2-Go Portable Spa $899 Need to soothe sore muscles? This inflatable soaker is a grown-up version of a backyard kiddie pool. "It's a great little hot tub for folks on a budget," says Morgan. At backyardking.com.


PICKS BY LAURA CHARLES JOHNSON Director, Beagle Rescue of Northern Virginia

Soft Bite Floppy Disc $9 and $13 What dog ever gets tired of chasing flying objects? This flexible disc comes in two sizes and won't damage Rover's teeth as you try to wrest it from his jaws. At petsmart.com.

Personalized Pet Art $34 and up Johnson likes to take her four dogs to work. When she can't, she goes for the next best thing: their mugs on a mug at work. Art Paw will put a photo of your dog, cat or other animal companion on T-shirts, mugs, tote bags and more. They'll even depict your pet in the style of Andy Warhol or Michelangelo. At artpaw.com.

Deluxe Berber Snuggle Ball Bed $35 to $87 A supersoft pet bed so fuzzy and comfortable that Johnson's dogs regularly fight over who gets it at night. The fleece cover is, thankfully, removable and washable. Available in hunter green or oatmeal in four different sizes. At contentedpets.com.


PICKS BY MATTHEW ANDERSON World Cyber Games U.S. winner

Logitech MX510 Performance Optical Mouse $40 Gamers know the slightest lag between a mouse's movements and the action on the PC screen can mean the difference between life and a grisly digital death. At tigerdirect.com.

Half-Life 2 $51 Desktop warriors have been clamoring for the follow-up to this wildly popular PC game (Anderson: "the best team game around") for six interminable years. Round 2 was slated to become available Nov. 16. At overstock.com.

Halo 2 Limited Collector's Edition $50 Anderson long ago flagged his calendar for the November release of this sequel to what he enthusiastically calls "the best game ever made." Players again guide an alien-blasting cyborg that's trying to save the human race. Note to Clemson University profs: Freshman Anderson predicts "hours upon hours of gameplay." This edition has two DVDs with extras (like a making-of featurette) that should keep hard-core vidiots busy between bouts. At mtvshop.mtv.com.

1. Trivial Pursuit 1990s Time Capsule Edition $27 The classic board game, updated with brain-busters from the decade that made MC Hammer both a millionaire and a debtor. Gamers like Anderson came of age in the '90s, so the updated questions are right up their alley. No pie-shaped player markers this time; the pieces include era-appropriate icons like a cup of cappuccino and a dotcom stock certificate. At toysrus.com.

2. Microsoft Xbox $150 Why does Anderson want an Xbox over the competing Sony PlayStation 2 or Nintendo GameCube? Simple: It's the only console that will run Halo 2 (see above). A big markdown earlier this year has made the Xbox cheaper than ever. At major retailers.


PICKS BY JOEL JOHNSON Editor of the consumer-electronics blog Gizmodo.com

Fuji F450 Digital Camera $400 The Fuji F450 packs five megapixels into a handsome shell that's no bigger than a Pop-Tart. It's great for snapping quick pix on vacation, but it also has enough definition to shoot poster-size photographs. At bhphotovideo.com.

AT&T Wireless OGO $130 (plus $18 a month for service) The perfect gadget for text messaging and e-mailing, Johnson says. Considering the $130 starter price, he adds, don't be surprised if it soon becomes all the rage among teenagers. At attwireless.com.

LaCie Mobile Hard Drive $150 A portable drive that's high on design. At five inches long, it's the same size as most hard drives, but its sleek aluminum shell is far snazzier than your standard clunky model. At lacie.com.

Treo 650 $600 "I want this phone so bad I could spit!" Johnson says. The Treo is the hottest PDA-phone combo on the market. This latest upgrade features a faster processor, a better camera and a higher-resolution LCD screen. Its phone service plans cost an extra $35 to $115 a month. At sprintpcs.com.

Archos Gmini400 Portable Media Player $400 The Archos Gmini400 plays up to 300 hours of music or 80 hours of video. It's the size of an old-school cassette tape but has a big enough screen for you to easily take in a movie while traveling by plane, train or automobile. At jr.com.

Lazer Tag Team Ops Game $50 Bring the shoot-'em-up video-arcade experience home to the computer-bound techie who likes to go postal (at least virtually). This electronic game includes two Tagger guns with LCD screens that let you know when you've blown away your opponent—or when your opponent has tagged your sorry hide. At major retailers.

Book Picks


Great yarns The Complete Aubrey/Maturin Novels by Patrick O'Brian $150 Last year's Master and Commander film spawned a whole new set of rabid fans of O'Brian's 20-book series of sea adventures. Catch up with this complete five-volume clothbound set, which also includes the unfinished manuscript O'Brian was working on when he died.

McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories edited by Michael Chabon $14 This "pulp fiction" collection includes tales from Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates.

The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes $75 Dr. Watson, Moriarty, the hound: All here in a two-volume illustrated collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 56 detective stories. Sure to keep any reader turning the pages.

True tales On the Wing: To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon by Alan Tennant $25 Two men's quest to track this migrating bird in a Cessna.

Who the Hell's in It by Peter Bogdanovich $35 In the tradition of his book on legendary directors, Who the Devil Made It, the not-yet-legendary director, actor and journalist profiles and talks with legendary actors from Boris Karloff to River Phoenix.

Queen: The Life and Music of Dinah Washington by Nadine Cohodas $29 Strom Thurmond biographer Cohodas turns her attention 180 degrees, to a blues and jazz great whose seven marriages alone are sure to make for a great story.

Coffee-table tomes The Sweet Breath of Life by Ntozake Shange $30 Poems by the notable playwright and poet, paired with 135 black-and-white photos from the Kamoinge Workshop—an African-American photographers' group founded in 1963.

In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits $30 The best portraits from the magazine renowned for its photographic brilliance. Each chapter of this 500-plus-page collection kicks off with an essay by a famous photographer, such as Sam Abell or Jodi Cobb.

Postcards from the Boys by Ringo Starr $25 Who knew? John, Paul and George wrote postcards. And Richard Starkey saved them.

Garden of Dreams: Madison Square Garden 125 Years $35 Great sports and concert snaps over the years, from the first Ali-Frazier heavyweight-title fight to Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday" to Mr. President.

Cookbooks Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten $35 The latest cookbook from the Food Network's popular Barefoot Contessa host features easy recipes for French delights.

Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow $35 From the owner of Fran's Chocolates in Seattle, a sweet gift for the chocoholic who likes to bake.

Kids' books The Brick Testament: The Story of Christmas by Brendan Powell Smith $13 Yup. That's bricks as in Lego bricks. Stewart is stocking up on this Christmas tale illustrated entirely with Legos. Last year, the author's Lego-filled storybook on the book of Genesis was a sellout at his shop.

O Holy Night: Christmas with the Boys Choir of Harlem $19 Illustrated by prominent artist and quilter Faith Ringgold, this book featuring an African-American Holy Family includes a CD of five holiday classics sung by the famous New York choir.

Hands: Growing Up to Be an Artist by Lois Ehlert $15 The author and illustrator's own story of becoming an artist is told from the perspective of a young child. Stewart recommends it especially for kids ages two to five.


PICKS BY ROBERT VERDI Host of the Discovery Channel's Surprise by Design

Juliska Florence Vases $135 to $230 Who needs flowers? These glass vases are handblown in the Czech Republic and come in green or clear. At juliska.com.

Liora Manné Place Mats $24 Playful yet sturdy, these handmade place mats will brighten even the drabbest kitchen table. Available in dozens of colorful patterns. At lioramanne.com.

Anichini Limousine Travel Quilt $450 This silk and cashmere quilt easily folds into its pillow-size carrying case. A wide range of two-tone color combinations means you're sure to find one to match the seat on your jet to the Riviera—or simply your living room couch. At anichini.com.


PICKS BY DUKE KLAUCK President of Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa

Blue Lagoon Spa Gift Sets $47 to $63 When you're giving someone moisturizers or body wash, a basic sampler from Bath & Body Works just won't cut it. This collection of scrubs and other goodies from an Icelandic geothermal spa is far more distinctive. At bluelagoon.com.

The Japanese Bath by Smith & Yamamoto $14 In Japan, bathing is about cleansing not just your body but also your soul. "The Japanese have made bathing an art," says Klauck. Peruse this lavishly illustrated volume, featuring dozens of luxurious baths, for relaxation—or to find ideas for transforming a bathroom into something more Zen. At walmart.com.

Pordamsa Porcelain Votive Candleholder $25 This Asian-inspired candle vessel is just one of many great finds from Klauck fave Dandelion, a housewares boutique that's tucked away on San Francisco's artsy Potrero Avenue. At tampopo.com.