Holiday Gift Ideas for the Trader in Your Life

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg View columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He blogs at the Big Picture and is the author of “Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy.”
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It's that time of the year when you probably want to pick up a bauble or two for your favorite trader, fund manager or analyst.

Sure, I may make fun of Shopmas and our mad consumerist society, but every now and again I like to remind those folks who have been nice that their efforts are appreciated.

A quick disclosure: All of the items on this list were hand selected by your humble author (without interference or suggestion by the legions of public-relations weenies who clog my e-mail box). I receive no compensation for these recommendations. Here is are my sincere selections, with a little snarky commentary, to help you with your shopping list.

On with the gifts!

Under $50:

• Wall Street Movies

After a long day at the desk, what's more relaxing than kicking back and watching a movie about investing or trading? Here are 4 flicks for your favorite keyboard jockey:

Eddie Murphy's "Trading Places" ($5). Only tangentially related to trading, but filled with lots of oft quoted lines, this comedy is good for everyone.

"Wall Street" ($10). Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steel. Dated, but watchable. Skip the 2010 sequel -- it's awful.

"Boiler Room" ($5). Know a retail stock jockey? This gritty flick will show him what the bad old days were like in the land of penny stocks. A cautionary tale with a great cast.

"Margin Call" ($7). This 2011 film set during the financial crisis has already been called the greatest Wall Street movie ever made.

• Music of the Season

"Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas" ($7). Ella Fitzgerald at the top of her game made what is simply the best holiday disc ever recorded. If this doesn't make you smile, you are a hopeless grinch. Spike a cup of coffee with some Kahlua or Baileys and put this on. Enjoy.

Source: Concord Music Group

"Charlie Brown Christmas," Vince Guaraldi: Original Soundtrack to the CBS Television Special ($7). Guaraldi has a delightful way around a keyboard -- quirky, humorous piano playing that warms the soul. You cannot listen to this without breaking into a smile. This jazz collection exudes pure holiday magic. Along with Ella, this may be one of all time favorite holiday albums

"A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra" ($9). This 1957 release is a great addition to any holiday music collection. I love the first cut, Frank's version of Jingle Bells. The rest is very traditional, very 50?s. A perfect gift for the hipster with the soul patch in your trading room. No holiday collection is complete without this Sinatra holiday album.

"A Winter's Solstice: Windham Hill Artists" ($11). Is your trader dude stressed out? Then he needs to pour himself a stiff drink and chill out to this collection of acoustically rooted mellowness. The upside is this music will help him slow down and relax from the day's tensions. The downside is his heart may not realize this is supposed to occur in humans and assume he is dead.

• Shave your strategist's face!

Sure, now that half the people of your office have moved to Brooklyn, they think they are hipsters. Forget that silly soul patch! Use the following to keep your trader's face baby smooth and ready to meet investors:

Billy Jealousy Hydroplane ($16). I use this "Super-Slick Shave Cream" as a pre-shave to lubricate my skin. Less irritation, fewer nicks and cuts, a closer shave. An 8 ounce bottle lasts me almost a year. This is great stuff.

Source: L'Occitane en Provence

L'Occitane CADE Baume Après Rasage, 2.5-ounce tube ($30). I am a difficult shave, subject to razor burn, ingrown hairs and shaving bumps. This was a surprise find from a Canadian friend -- light, non greasy, with Shea Butter -- this one tube has lasted me 6 months (and counting)!

• Papa Bear's Chocolate Haus ($40-$90) Every year, a friend in California sends us the chocolate toffee with nuts from this Mendicino shop -- and it is heavenly. This is quite simply the most delicious stuff I've ever had. Astonishingly, they don't have a website, but as Google reveals, they are well loved for a reason. (707) 937-4406.

• 2009 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet ($70) This big bold red is a complex wine that has berry and floral aromatics and a dark, ruby color. Its what I get for economist David Rosenberg, who adores the stuff.

$100 to $500:

• Office Prints

C'mon, we're all sick of that cliched print of bull and bear fighting it out on Wall Street. Instead, try one of these prints, each with a contrarian behavioral message.

Fear/Greed.Hand signed by Carl Richards ($249).

Source: BehaviorGap

Buy! Sell! $85 from KAL, the cartoonist for the Economist, this classic 2 panel cartoon laughingly depicts how the crowd moves from buying to selling and back.

Source: Kaltoons

And yes, both of these hang in my office.

• Bethpage Black Golf Course ($150):

It is not so easy to get a tee time at the home of one of the toughest courses on the US Open tour, but it can be done. (Keep dialing!)

• Padron Anniversary Series 1926 Exclusivo ($250/case) For the cigar smoker on your list, I suggest one of my favorite smokes. Consistently top rated by Cigar Aficionado and frequently named Top 5 Cigar of the Year, a fast delightful smoke. Don't forget the torches -- I use a Lotus 21 Twin Flame Torch Lighter ($47) to spark them up.

• Pax Premium Loose Leaf Vaporizer($250).

Source: Ploom

Smoking still gives you tars and residues which can cause health issues, so instead go for a vaporizer. It heats but never burns "tobacco." This looks and feels like an Apple product, and is easy to use (see video; Wired review here).

• Saddleback Leather Briefcase, Classic Dark Coffee Brown ($610).

Source: Saddleback

Gorgeous heavy duty briefcase comes in a variety of colors plus a 100-year warranty. It is not light, but if you ever have to make a dash for the border, this is the bag you want to throw your bearer bonds into and run. 100 percent full-grain boot leather, made without breakable parts like snaps or zippers. Every stress point is double-stitched, riveted or reinforced with hidden nylon strapping.

$1,000 and up:

• Herman Miller Embody Chair ($1,100-$1,700).

Forget the Aeron, this is the chair your desk jockeys should be using.

Source: Herman Miller

Embody lets your body move and keeps you well supported. Blood circulates better, heart rate goes down, more oxygen flows to the brain, and there is no distracting discomfort or physical constraint. The ideal trader's chair, allowing the mind to work best when the body is liberated.

In assorted features, colors and materials. I have one in my home office in purple. If you have to sit all day, you might as well do it in style, and support your back at the same time.

• CineMassive Trio Gemini 17S 6 Screen Holder ($1,599).

This entry-level (?!) six-screen display has a crisp, clear digital signal, a full, rich digital canvas that will provide you with the full view of any picture. Designed to provide an immersive experience, allowing your trader to visualize a large amount of information at once.

Using a multiscreen display for the first time is often described as feeling like having received a new lobe of your brain.

Source: Cinemassive

• Skip Barber Performance Driving School ($1,500 - $3,200).

I previously mentioned my experiences at Lime Rock, but the it was really more than driving -- it was all about the Skip Barber classes. If you never took a high performance driving course, well, you should. (Then go back for a refresher every five years). The nice thing about giving this as a gift, is 1) It is very memorable; 2) You can save someone's life by teaching them to drive well; 3) It is ridiculously fun.

• Caddy for a Cure ($5,000 and up).

For the avid golfer who is having an especially good year. Caddy for the Cure gives an opportunity to spend the day caddying for one of the world's best golfers at an official PGA Tour tournament. Select a player from the events list; You either "Buy It Now" at the price listed, or make your best offer.

The guys I know who did this lost their minds, saying it was the greatest experience on a golf course they ever had. And 100 percent of the proceeds goes to charity.

• Breguet Classique Hora Mundi 5717 ($74,200).

Source: Breguet

For the star trader on your team, this little gift will let him know that he -- and his P&L -- are appreciated by senior management. Sure, the rest of the office may resent the indulgence of this gift, but they are easily replaced.

If you have any other gift suggestions, by all means let us know in the comments!

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Barry L Ritholtz at