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Insider Gift Tips for Your Favorite Trader

Less than a week to go. Out of ideas? Help is here.

It might have been almost 60 degrees this past weekend, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of complacency: You have less than a week of holiday shopping -- or, as I like to call it, Shopmas -- to go. If you are anything like me, your gift list is down to those hard-to-please folks. Choosing just the right memento for your favorite algo-writer, chief investment officer or coder is never easy, but we’ve got you covered.

This annual list of holiday gifts is driven by an abiding respect for great design and craftsmanship. As in our earlier gift guides, all of these items have been picked by yours truly, free from the influence of public-relations flacks and other media trolls who haunt my inbox.

On to the list!


I already gave you the 10 books I am tackling this winter, but those are for reading, not for gifting. Consider giving these:


  • Bourbon barrel-aged wine (less than $20): I’m not usually a fan of adding anything to wine outside of some fruit in sangria, but I have to admit this was a pleasant surprise: one a cabernet sauvignon from Robert Mondavi, the other a zinfandel from 1,000 Stories. They were aged in barrels originally used to make bourbon, which adds some interesting notes to what might have otherwise been unremarkable reds. Worth trying.


  • DJI Mavic Pro ($999): This is the hottest new drone this year. It’s small -- it folds down to the size of a bottle of water – and features a 12-megapixel camera and streams HD video at 1080p. It can fly for as long as 27 minutes on a single charge, then returns automatically to where it was launched. I like the tracking mechanism that can be set to follow a human, as well as the built-in obstacle-avoidance software. (Note: It’s back-ordered, so don’t expect one in time for Christmas.)
  • Polaroid Zip printer ($130): Download an app for your iPhone or Android smartphone, connect via Bluetooth, and voila! Full-color, wallet-size prints in three minutes via ZINK -- zero ink thermal paper printing (no ink cartridges, ribbons or toner). The printer costs about $125; Polaroid’s 2-inch by 3-inch ZINK Photo Paper is about 50 cents a sheet for a 30- or 50-pack.


  • SAXX Mens Pro Elite Performance Boxers Underwear ($29): I was turned onto these by a surfer friend who called them “life-changing.” That might be an exaggeration, but they are definitely much more comfortable than anything else around, especially under a suit.


  • Bowers & Wilkins 800 D3 speakers ($6,000 - $30,000/pair): When B&W announced a redesign of its legendary 800 series speakers, one wondered how they might improve upon perfection. (Here’s how they did it.) All five sizes sound spectacular, from the large 800 line down to the compact B&W 805 D3.
  • Mozart 225: The New Complete Edition” ($350): The phrase “complete box set” is usually a gross exaggeration. Not so in this case. Described as the most authoritative edition ever, this 200-CD set includes more than 240 hours of music, 600 solo performers and ensembles, including 60 orchestra recordings of every significant Mozart interpreter of the past 30 years.
  • The Leonard Cohen box set ($25): I don’t understand how all 11 of Cohen’s studio albums are this inexpensive, but I had to buy several -- one for me, the rest as gifts.
  • This Is Reggae Music: Golden Era 1960-1975” ($33): This spectacular four-disk collection takes you through the history of reggae. Many of the songs here you only know from the ripped-off mainstream versions. I highly recommend it.
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas” ($7): By Vince Guaraldi, this is a favorite to start the annual holiday party.
  • A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector” ($17): This brings the famous wall of sound into the holiday spirit.
  • Last, I received so many lovely e-mails about last year’s “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas” ($6), so here it is again by popular demand.


  • Ultra-HD televisions ($500 - $1,500): The resolution of these sets is mind-blowing. Prices have plummeted from just two years ago, when they cost as much as $4,000; today you can find off-brand versions for $500. My advice? Stick to Samsung, LG or Sony, and pay about $1,000 to $1,500 for a 60-inch set. (CNET has a nice cheat sheet.)
  • Nebo Redline 5620 310 Lumen LED Flashlight: I get more feedback about this item than any other. Enormously bright, well-made and tough. In aircraft aluminum ($36) or titanium ($40).


  • Chopard L.U.C. Perpetual Chrono ($85,000 - $95,000): Swiss watchmakers may be suffering their worst annual sales drop since 1984, but you wouldn’t know that based on some of the lovely new designs I keep seeing. This variation on a traditional moon-phase chronograph comes in rose or white gold, and is perfect for the best algo-writer on your team.   


  • Seafire Resort & Spa ($500 - $2,500 a night): When one of my favorite boutique hospitality chains (Kimpton) builds a brand-new vacation spot on one of my favorite Caribbean islands (Grand Cayman), that’s a can’t-miss combination. Perfect for that special someone on your staff, or in your personal life, who has earned a little R&R time.

That’s all for this year. Happy giving!

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

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    Barry Ritholtz at

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    James Greiff at

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