I'VE OUTDONE myself this year, if I do say so myself, lining up fabulous merchandise and experiences for our annual My Favorite Things holiday gift giveaway. As in years past, I'm taking a cue from Oprah Winfrey, making a list of things I love and giving them away to 10 lucky Daily News readers.
That's right. Each winner gets everything on the list - not only premium seats to see a Flyers home game but a free overnight stay in Atlantic City and a $100 gift card to spend while you're there. I'm also giving out tickets to see "Elf" at the Walnut Street Theatre and tea for two at the luxurious Rittenhouse Hotel.
Think about it - delicious food, gifts for practically everyone on your holiday list and wonderful stuff for you, too. We're talking nearly $2,500 in merchandise and prizes for each winner. This year, winners will be randomly selected. All you have to do is fill out a My Favorite Things entry coupon and mail or bring it to us. We need your entry by noon Dec. 19. Gifts need to be picked up by Dec. 23. Enter as many times as you want, but only with a coupon from the newspaper (no copies or faxes). Or you can pick up a coupon at the Daily News offices, 801 Market St. (See Page 36 for coupon and contest details.)
The coupon will be in the Daily News every day this week. The more coupons you send in, the greater your chances of winning.
Here's what 10 lucky winners will receive.
ATLANTIC CITY OVERNIGHT
I'm loving Atlantic City lately. I made three separate trips there this year, staying at Revel Casino Hotel, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and the Resorts Casino Hotel. Each visit was memorable (especially when Revel upgraded us to a luxury suite). AC is a great eating city - White House Sub Shop, Bobby Flay Steak, Buddakan. I'm still craving the gooey Fluffernutter waffles we had for brunch at the Continental. We also had a memorable next-day run on the boardwalk to burn off the calories. The nightlife is bumping in AC, but I also appreciate the quieter side, especially the impressive spas, such as Spa Toccare at the Borgata. Atlantic City's so close by. If I could, I'd squeeze in another visit before the end of the year.
Thanks to the Atlantic City Alliance, we're giving away overnight stays at Revel, Borgata, Harrah's Atlantic City Resort and Casino, Bally's and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Hotel, plus $100 gift cards.
Estimated value: $250. For information about A.C., log on to atlanticcitynj.com.
TEA FOR TWO
AT THE RITTENHOUSE
There's something downright civilized about the British ritual of tea in the afternoon. One of the nicest places to experience this gracious ritual is in the newly renovated Mary Cassatt Tea Room, named after the American Impressionist painter. Choose perhaps the Rittenhouse Blend, made with Ceylon bergamot, rose petals, cardamom and borage; or the Marry Me Again tea, with Ceylon, violets, lavender and cornflowers. Sublime! For kids, there's also a teddy-bear tea option.
$98. The Rittenhouse, 210 W. Rittenhouse Square, 215-790-2533, RittenhouseHotel.com.
TORTUGA RUM CAKE
This cake is so moist and delicious, you're going to want to scarf down the entire thing in one sitting. It's liberally doused with Tortuga Gold Rum and topped with finely chopped walnuts. The company sent me a four-ounce cake to sample, and I was so bowled over by the freshness and quality that I scarfed it down in minutes. I bet you will, too. It's the best rum cake I've ever had.
16-ounce Tortuga Rum Cake, $24.95. tortugarumcakes.com, 877-486-7884.
CHI FLAT IRON
Just one pass over even the most unruly locks and your hair gets miraculously straight. This is important, because the fewer the passes, the less likely you are to damage your hair with excess heat. The plates on this flat iron are made of titanium - more durable than ceramic. I don't know what I'd do without mine. Also, this one comes with a nifty carrying case and clips to help with styling. This is for the fashionista on your list.
Chi Flat Iron, $132. qvc.com, 888-345-5788.
FLYERS SANTA SACK
Here's what you get a sports lover who already has everything - a Philadelphia Flyers Santa Sack. It includes two tickets to a Flyers home game, an autographed Flyers puck, access to Adirondack Phantoms games at the Wells Fargo Center and more. We're putting a pair of premium lower-level seats in each of our 10 Santa Sacks. How cool is that? The tickets are evenly split between the Jan. 21 matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes and the Feb. 27 battle with the San Jose Sharks.
$285. Santa Sack prices start at $150. 800-298-4200, PhiladelphiaFlyers.com/santasacks or the Wells Fargo Center box office.
Don't you love it when you get a letter in the mail on personalized stationary? Emails can't compete. Our winners will get 50 personalized cards with blank envelopes. Staffers at The Papery, formerly in Old City, now in Midtown Village, work with customers to figure out what they need. And the store can turn things around quickly. It's where I went for pre-wedding help. The owner sat down with me and helped me sort through my options. I was such a nervous Nellie, I appreciated the hands-on guidance.
$49.95. The Papery, 1219 Locust St., 215-922-1500, paperyofphilly.com.
MRS. MEYER'S KITCHEN BASICS STARTER KIT
Growing up, we didn't worry whether a cleaning product was earth-friendly or fresh-smelling. Harsh scents meant it was working better, right? We've all learned a lot since then, which is why I'm a fan of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products. They make your kitchen smell like aromatherapy - not ammonia. This starter kit, with liquid dish soap, hand soap and countertop spray, makes a great hostess gift.
$10.99. Available at mrsmeyers.com and Walmart.
Baby, when it's cold outside, pull out this glammed-up acrylic cap to ward off winter's chill. But don't pull it all the way down on your head. Let it hang off the back or maybe to the side. It's way more cool that way. My favorite thing about this cap? The bling, of course!
$38. Coco-rain.com. (This is a brand new website, so plan on calling in your order while owners work out the kinks: 951-314-4228.)
Recycled wine bottles are cut in half and filled with soy wax. The scents smell deliciously like pinot noir, merlot, chardonnay and cabernet wines. The candles come in cute little carrying sacks that urge you to "be good and recycle," so there's no need for gift wrap. Get these for the oenophiles on your list.
$28. Peter Kate, 3830 Kennett Pike, Greenville, Del. peterkate.com.
HIMALAYAN SALT TEQUILA SHOT GLASSES
Oprah featured these in her 2013 My Favorite Things roundup. (Great call, O.) The shot glasses look like rose quartz but are made of Himalayan sea salt, which is believed to have healing properties. They make a great conversation starter. Pour tequila straight in them and . . . bottoms up! The longer the tequila sits in the glass, the saltier it tastes. The only thing missing is lime and tequila. Clean by rinsing under cold water and patting dry.
LUSH WHITE CHRISTMAS BATH ASSORTMENT
Men wondering what to buy their girlfriends should take note of this gift. This oversize assortment of bath bombs, bubble bars and soaps is designed for someone who believes in taking time out for the self and luxuriating in all kinds of wonderful scents. Not to mention, the box makes a statement, too. Walk in carrying that on Christmas Day and you'll earn major cool points. Impressive!
$109.95. LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, 1525 Walnut St., lush.com. Look for a LUSH spa to open on Walnut Street in early 2014.
TWO VIP ICE SKATING TIX
Ice skating is one of the absolute best things about winter. Once you get moving out on the ice, you forget all about being cold. VIP tickets at the Blue Cross RiverRink include general admission and skate rental. Not included: the RiverRink's two New Year's Eve parties, which are fun and a great family activity. The RiverRink also has a Waterfront Winterfest, which includes a holiday light show, market and a pop-up restaurant with a bar called The Lodge.
$26 a pair. 101 S. Columbus Blvd., delawareriverwaterfront.com
The stylists and makeup artists at Lotus Salon do great work and deal with all types of hair and skin needs. It's the official salon for the Daily News Sexy Singles. Instead of using strips, which can look heavy, Daryn Carpenter applies individual and small clumps of hair to make your lashes longer. A lot of folks go for longer at the edges for a flirty look, but Carpenter also likes '70s-style starburst designs. Lashes are hot now, so book ahead.
$25. Lotus Salon, Marlton, N.J. 856-574-4377, lotussalonnj.com.
CREATIVE CAFE GRAPHIC & GIFT CARD
The Creative Cafe @ Replica is the newest brainchild of Dr. Keith Leaphart, who also chairs the Lenfest Foundation. It combines a graphic design and print shop with a coffee shop. Located on the first floor of the University City Science Center, the vibe is creative and edgy. When I visited, I relaxed with a huge mug of coffee and watched music videos on a flat-screen TV. I'd brought some illustrations that my late father had made that I needed copied and bound for Christmas gifts. Leaphart hopes that Replica Cafe will become a cool hangout, as well as a go-to place for customized wallpaper, business cards, holiday cards, wall graphics and other printing needs. In addition to a $25 gift card for design services or food, winners will get a 6-by-6-foot custom wall graphic, valued at $500, and a $25 gift card for Han Dynasty, which is one of Replica's food partners. Use it there or have your food brought to you at Replica.
$550. Replica Creative, 3711 Market St., 215-583-1212. replicacreative.com.
Looking for an "it" gift for someone who's fitness conscious? Look no further. Fitbit is sleek, modern and, most important, it tracks your everyday activity - the calories you've burned, the steps you've taken and the stairs you've climbed. It even tracks the hours and quality of your sleep. Log on to the Fitbit website to keep watch over your caloric intake, weight, blood pressure and other vitals. How cool is that? It's like having a personal trainer on call. Available at Radio Shack, which last month opened a concept store in Bakers Square Shopping Center, at 2920 Roberts Ave.
PHILADELPHIA ZOO EXPERIENCE
Instead of more stuff, give the young animal lover in your life an experience she'll never forget - a behind-the-scenes visit with a giraffe at the Philadelphia Zoo. The child will meet zookeepers to learn what it's like to care for the giraffes, and will also "adopt" one of the long-necked, spotted omnivores. The zoo offers similar experiences with hippos, kangaroos, rhinos and more. Note: the Daily News' giveaway certificates must be redeemed by April 1. Participating child must be at least 3 years old, and children younger than 13 must be accompanied by an adult who will be admitted for free.
After Thanksgiving dinner, we had a good old time playing PhillyOpoly, a board game modeled after the classic Monopoly. It uses local landmarks and media outlets, such as the Reading Terminal Market, Eastern State Penitentiary and KYW Radio, and celebrates the City of Brotherly Love. Buying up landmarks, such as the Barnes Foundation and the Please Touch Museum, was such fun. Pennsylvania businessman Bernie Maopolski created PhillyOpoly after successfully launching similar games in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. For each game sold, $5 will go the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care, scheduled to open in 2015. This is a great, family-oriented holiday gift, because you can do good while having a good time.
$24.95. Giant Food Stores, Pennsylvania General Stores and at PhillyOpoly.com.
MICHAEL KORS SLIPPERS
These luxurious faux-fur-lined slippers are just the thing to relax your feet in after a long day of walking around Center City in high heels. They're glam enough for the fashionista in your life and almost look good enough to wear outside. But don't. You're going to want these to last as long as possible.
When you can't think of what to buy, give her something made of cashmere. These gloves from Neiman Marcus Last Call by the venerable Italian accessories maker Portolano come in fab colors, like purple and burnt sienna. If you lose things, like I do, you can't have too many of these around.
$50. Neiman Marcus Last Call, Franklin Mills and Philadelphia Premium Outlets, Limerick, lastcall.com.
J.JILL ETERNITY SCARVES
An eternity scarf, so named because of its circular shape, isn't a generic item when it's made of cashmere. Think of it as a way to encircle the wearer in coziness and, of course, love. This scarf, by J. Jill, which last month opened a new concept store at King of Prussia Mall, is a cozy choice that can be worn looped or just hung around the neck. We have them in gray, blue heather and rose.
$69. J. Jill, King of Prussia Mall, Marlton and Cherry Hill, N.J., and North Wales, Pa., jjill.com.
Reviewers are raving about "Elf," the new holiday musical at the Walnut Street Theatre. If you aren't familiar with the story, it's about Buddy (immortalized in film by Will Ferrell), a boy who crawls into Santa's sack and winds up at the North Pole, where he's raised as an elf. As he grows up, it becomes clear that Buddy's not an elf, so Santa lets him go searching for his family in New York City, which he does with hilarious consequences. It's laugh-out-loud funny and the music is infectious, too. I left humming. The show runs through Jan. 5. Each pair of Daily News giveaway tickets are for the 8 p.m. New Year's Eve performance on Dec. 31.