Jenice Armstrong's giveaway of her Favorite Things
OPRAH WINFREY recently resurrected her annual My Favorite Things holiday gift giveaway on the OWN Network. My version, which replicates her gift extravaganza on a local level, never went away!
This year I've pulled together all kinds of great gifts to give out to Daily News readers: comfy Coach moccasins, boyfriend-style watches by Speidel, Christmas cookies by Classic Cake, a sexy NFL-licensed Eagles top from All Sport Couture, $25 gift certificates rto Shake Shack, rain boots, cosmetics, jewelry and much, much more. No one has to jump up and down, cry or otherwise act the fool to get free stuff, either.
We make it easy. Simply nominate someone you know who really could use a bit of seasonal cheer. Last year's winners included a mom going through some hard times who was nominated by her 11-year-old son, and a little girl who dreamed of seeing "The Nutcracker," nominated by a family friend who knew her mom couldn't afford the tickets.
I'll bet there are some Hurricane Sandy survivors who really could use a boost, or maybe you know someone who's out of work and struggling. But don't forget the block captain who holds the neighborhood together or the bighearted neighborhood mom who can always be counted on to volunteer at your child's school.
Please send your nominations my way at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the person's name, age, telephone numbers (along with an idea of when the nominee is reachable) and any other pertinent information. Make sure we know who you are, too. You can also mail me a nomination at Daily News, 801 Market St., Suite 300, Philadelphia, PA 19107.
The deadline to nominate someone is Dec. 3. The names of our lucky winners will be announced in the Daily News during the week of Dec. 10. Ten winners will be selected. Each winner gets one of every item listed. Isn't that something?
What's more Christmas than the Pennsylvania Ballet's "Nutcracker"? The Philadelphia Boys Choir enhances the magic.
This year's rendition of George Balanchine's production opens Dec. 8 at the Academy of Music and continues through Dec. 30.
If it's not already part of your family's tradition, this is the year to start.
Tickets $20-$135, paballet.org/nutcracker.
'PEACE 'N PHILLY' T-SHIRT
Local T-shirt line Neo Daviso makes high-quality shirts, but what's most noteworthy about them is their messages. Owner Nehemiah Davis, 25, sticks to positive sayings, like "Peace 'N Philly." Other slogans include "Young Mogul in the Making" and "Success Comes in Cans Not Can'ts." The source of his entrepreneurial spirit? "I want to make it in life. Seeing people like Trump and Warren Buffett who've made it, I want to do the same thing."
Davis, who runs an annual bookbag giveaway, is donating Peace 'N Philly shirts and tote bags for the Daily News winners. Do you see why his Peace 'N Philly shirts are one of My Favorite Things?
$25, neodaviso.com, also at Myra's Vitamins and Herbs (666 N. 52nd St.) and Greek & Life Boutique (2152 N. Broad St.).
This time of year, there's nothing like a cozy pair of moccasins to warm up your tootsies. My favorites, by Coach, are especially luxurious since they're lined in shearling and have the company's signature logo embossed on them. And as Philly fashion-guy-about-town Jimmy Contreras told me recently, "Coach is cool again."
$108, Macy's stores and macys.com.
BLUEMERCURY M-61 SKINCARE
Bluemercury's M-61 product line is a natural skin-care line. I'm a huge fan of Brilliant Cleanse, which combines alpha beta hydroxy acid with grapefruit and orange scents - if it didn't work so well, I'd be tempted to eat it. Another favorite: the Fast Blast. That one's a speedy two-minute Vitamin C mask. No sitting around waiting for the product to work.
$32 (Brilliant Cleanse) and $50 (Fast Blast). Sold in Bluemercury stores at 1707 Walnut St., 3603 Walnut St., Suburban Square in Ardmore and 100 E. Lancaster Ave. in Wayne, also through bluemercury.com.
ARCHIPELAGO CANDLE AND DIFFUSER
When these showed up at our offices, I wasn't sure which I liked better: the 5-inch soy-blend Red Amaryllis candle or the matching scent diffuser, both by Archipelago. So we're giving away both. That way you can doubly enjoy the scent of amaryllis, clementine and cassis.
Candle ($19.50) and diffuser ($48), archipelago-usa.com.
'SAVE YOUR DO' GYM WRAP
I was moaning about my hair and working out when a friend said, "You haven't heard about Nicole Ari Parker's gym wrap?" A few clicks later online, I was at saveyourdo.com ordering one. They're designed to preserve your hairdo while you're sweating at the gym, using something called "edge control technology" to absorb perspiration.
An actress (Showtime's "Soul Food," ABC's "The Deep End" and "Remember the Titans"), Parker got the idea for it after she realized that both she and her friends had been skipping their workouts to preserve their hairstyles. She knew she was onto something after surgeon general Regina M. Benjamin pointed out last year that one reason women don't exercise (especially African-American women) is because of their hair.
Save Your Do isn't a cure-all, but it certainly helps. I completed the Philly Marathon wearing one and found that it kept my hair in place and did a great job wicking away sweat.
$24.99 (narrow headband) or $29.99 (triangular version), saveyourdo.com.
SEXY EAGLES TOP
The Wildkat top from All Sport Couture is the sexiest game-day top I've ever seen. Designed by a sports lover, it's also made long to stay tucked in when you're jumping around cheering. The back has an eye-catching cutout that's not overly revealing. "You're getting a little coverage," explained Lena Ward, owner and chief executive of All Sport. "As women get older, sometimes they don't want to show their upper arms."
Tight-Ends are a fashionista must-have. On the market since 2006, they now come in new jewel tones: navy, amethyst, dark red and emerald. There's also a sweater-style tight with Spanx's signature control. The line's founder, Sarah Blakely, opened a Spanx store in the King of Prussia Mall last month. This being the land of cheesesteaks, that store's going to do a ton of business.
$28 to $42 at the King of Prussia store (upper level near Lord & Taylor) or through spanx.com. (The $42 gift card we'll be awarding is valid only at the website and only until Dec. 31.)
SHAKE SHACK EATS
Shake Shack may be known for its hamburgers, but I'm obsessed with its vegetarian option, the 'Shroom Burger ($6.50). It's a breaded and deep-fried portobello mushroom sandwich with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses, lettuce, pickles, tomato slices and the chain's signature ShackSauce. I call it my Swoon Burger. I'm also a fan of the cheese fries ($3.65) with sauce on the side to keep the fries crisp. And the coffee shake ($5) is deliciously decadent. Save on calories by sharing it.
The restaurant is open 11 a.m.to 11 p.m. daily. Holiday gift certificates are available - our prize package includes one for $25 - complete with a tree ornament that the restaurant gives out to patrons who visit and buy gift certificates worth at least $25.
Shake Shack, 2000 Sansom St., shakeshack.com.
SPEIDEL BOYFRIEND WATCH
Big-faced watches mean no squinting to see what time it is. The Boyfriend Watch by Speidel looks cute even on a slender wrist, with girlie lettering to help feminize the chunky androgynous wristband. It's available in lots of colors - rose gold, white, clear, black, gold and silver - so maybe if we're really good, Santa will get us one in every color.
A portion of sales go to U.S. military service members, wounded warriors and their families in partnership with Operation Homefront.
$85.99 to $99.99, available at Walmart, Sears and the Speidel website.
CLASSIC CAKE CHRISTMAS COOKIES
These old-fashioned Christmas cookies are like the ones you'd make yourself, if you had the time and patience to decorate them all. The Santas, angels and Christmas trees are all hand-cut and hand-decorated.
"We don't use preservatives. We don't need to," chef Robert Bennett told me. "We bake them fresh and send them right out. Our ovens are running all day long, every single day."
We're giving out a $25 gift certificate for them to our winners.
$14.95 a pound, Classic Cake at Short Hills Towne Center, 480 Evesham Road, Cherry Hill, classiccake.com.
When holiday stress gets to you, get away from it all with this gift pack of natural handmade bath scents. Lush makes the best bath bombs: Toss them into water and they turn a tub into a luxurious escape. The Christmas Eve gift pack that we're giving away includes some of those, plus an almond-scented snowflake soap, a jasmine-scented massage bar, and the lavender-scented Twilight body gel. MMMmmm, lush.
$72.95, lush.com and Lush stores in the Cherry Hill and King of Prussia malls and new 1525 Walnut St. location (open Thursday) .
After the Liberty Bell, the sculpture in LOVE Park is probably the most iconic symbol of Philadelphia, so whoever came up with the idea of making it into a Christmas tree ornament was beyond smart. I wish I could cover my entire tree with these tiny replicas of the Robert Indiana sculpture.
$13 at Open House, 107 S. 13th St. or openhouseliving.com.
I was on the verge of not including the Yonanas in our gift assortment until the company's owner, Eileen McHale, showed up to demonstrate how the healthy dessert maker works. Daily News staffers were like kids oohing and ahhing as she turned slightly defrosted frozen bananas, mango, pineapple chunks and strawberries into soft, ice creamlike desserts. What made the treats even yummier is knowing that they were made from pure fruit without a drop of dairy or even a milk substitute. No added sugar, either. Guilt-free indulgences. Just like that, I was sold.
$49.99, Target; Bed, Bath and Beyond; QVC; amazon.com yonanas.com.
With the Mally 24/7 professional 17-piece gel nail polish system, you no longer have to go to a salon to get long-lasting gel-polish treatments. You can do them yourself at home. Created by Mally Roncal, makeup artist to the stars (including Beyoncé, Heidi Klum and Angelina Jolie), the kit even comes with an LED light to set the gel - no more agonizing salon waits.
RAIN BOOTS FOR A GOOD CAUSE
Who doesn't love a great pair of rain boots?
Especially a glossy plum pair like these by Roma?
But what really makes these boots da bomb diggity, as they say, is that for each pair sold, another pair is given away to a needy child.
"They started with giving them to children in Romania, where the founder is from," explained Brent Freeman, the founder of Roozt.com, an online marketplace for brands that give back.
"They have since expanded to give away boots in Guatemala and they are scheduled to do some relief work on the East Coast sometime in January."
Roozt bills itself as a website "where every purchase makes a difference."
That's something to make your heart feel as warm and snugly as your feet will in these boots.
TRACI LYNN JEWELRY
Fashion stylist Anthony Henderson introduced me to the local Traci Lynn jewelry line at a Daily News "Sexy Singles" photo shoot, where a Traci Lynn representative had a selection of pieces spread out on a table and glittering in the sun. I didn't get close until Henderson pointed out how affordable it all was. The jewelry has since become a staple accessory for me. I wholeheartedly agree with the line's creative director, Tiffany Chimere, who told me, "It's hard to find something that's inexpensive and that looks so good." We're giving out a necklace, earrings and a bracelet.
$28 (necklace), $18 (earrings) and $26 (bracelet), tracilynnjewelry.com.
WHITNEY HOUSTON COMPILATION CD
It's hard to believe that Whitney Houston is really gone. "I Will Always Love You: The Best of Whitney Houston," released earlier this month, includes "You Give Good Love," "Saving All My Love For You" and of course "Greatest Love of All."
$9.99, Walmart, other retailers.
@JeniceArmstrong / Blog: philly.com/HeyJen / Email: email@example.com