By Alexa Malevitis
Some families cuddle up with hot cocoa next to a fire and read classic tales of Santa Claus on the night before Christmas. Fashion lovers curl up with a glossy red book.
The long-awaited Neiman Marcus Christmas Book showcases the season’s most lavish, beautiful, expensive and often outrageous gifts. The book, which debuted in 1915, has featured such gifts as a baby elephant from Thailand, a pleasure cruise for 598 of your closest friends and a customized golf cart.
“People heard of this store where you could buy lipstick or a camel,” said Ginger Reeder, vice president of corporate communications for Neiman Marcus.
The popular website , wrote an in October featuring the 16 most insane gifts found in vintage Neiman Marcus Christmas books. Gifts went back to the year 1962 and ranged from a Noah’s Ark replica complete with livestock that priced for $588,247. Unsurprisingly, no one purchased the gift and the ark was never built. In 2009, one could buy a cupcake car for $25,000 to drive around looking as stylish as ever.
The world famous Neiman Marcus “book” started out as a Christmas card, inviting customers to the store to shop for the holidays. It wasn’t until 1926 that the first catalog appeared consisting of 16 pages that showcased beautiful and sometimes extravagant gifts at a variety of prices points.
In 1959 brothers Stanley and Edward Marcus presented in the catalog’s pages a black Angus steer, to be delivered on hoof or in steaks, complete with a silver-plated outdoor cooker. This set off a tradition of unusual gifts that continues to this day.
In 1960 the first “His and Hers” gifts were showcased: a pair of Beechcraft airplanes. The gift received so much attention that journalists were soon calling Stanley Marcus to find out what other new and outrageous items would be featured in future catalogs. Since then, Neiman Marcus has offered his and her hot air balloons, camels, robots and submarines, as well as other unusual and creative gifts.
THE ULTIMATE WISH BOOK
The Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog is the ultimate wish book. From the most expensive gift, an unfinished Boeing Business Jet for over $35 million, to gifts under $100, like the faux-fur mink travel blanket, the Christmas book has something for everyone. The book goes beyond the gifts found inside. The cover art – ranging from abstract and surreal to humorous — is commissioned by leading artists such as Saul Steinberg and Al Hirschfeld. The models seen on the pages also read like a who’s who of the famous including appearances by Cindy Crawford and Heidi Klum.
Another tradition of the book started in 1995 when a highly anticipated luxury car was showcased. Since then the cars have sold out each year, often in the first 24 hours of availability. One particular car, the NM Limited Edition Ford Thunderbird, had callers jamming up the phone lines at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich., trying to purchase the new “bird.” It sold out in two hours.
THE BOOK TODAY
Today, the NM Christmas Book is distributed to over two million homes worldwide and is available online. The fall debut of the Christmas book marks the start of the holiday shopping season. Bobbi Schwartz, personal stylist and founder of The Bobbi Schwartz Group, always looks to the Christmas Book to inspire her holiday shopping.
“Neimans always delivers with impeccable taste, and they always have their customers in mind,” said Schwartz.
In this year’s press release for the Christmas Book, Neiman Marcus holds true to carrying on the tradition of presenting a refined selection of items across a broad range of categories.
“A committee chooses fantasy gifts that are unusual, whimsy, fun and exclusive to Neiman Marcus,” said Reeder.
Neiman Marcus also holds a standing tradition of giving back. This year NM will donate a portion of the proceeds from each Fantasy Gift purchase to The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation which brings enriching art experiences to youth in communities nationwide.
The 87th edition of the legendary book continues Neiman’s unmatched tradition of offering its customers a selection of spectacular and unique holiday gifts that make even the wildest of dreams come true.
Notes Schwartz: “Even if you are not buying anything, the book brings an air of magic and fancy. It is every fashion lover’s favorite Christmas story.”