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Late Summer Host/ess Gift Guide

by Mark Thompson

EDGE Style & Travel Editor

Wednesday August 22, 2012

Pity the poor owner of a summer house: friends from yesteryear descending upon him or her like a plague of cicadas emerging after a thirteen-year hiatus. Family arriving by the carload: camping in the backyard and setting off fireworks in the front lawn.

If you've a friend fortunate enough to have secured a summer sanctuary and if you're fortunate enough to have secured a weekend invitation, then at least have the decency to arrive with a host/ess gift - and without a list of demands.

A bottle, a case, a basket - anything to show that you'll be a good guest and not expect breakfast in bed, at least not more than once.

Give a gift that brings a late summer smile to your beleaguered host's face.

STUNglasses: Director’s Cut Tortuga

Please, aren't we all tired of trampling on our $300 sunglasses after tripping on the beach while carrying an armful of cocktails? Who doesn't want a more reasonably priced pair of shades that work the jerk and talk the walk?

How does less than twenty sound? That's how much it'll cost you for a pair of STUNglasses.

Ever since the summer of '83 (yes, that's right: way before you were born, ahem, ahem), STUNglasses has development, you might say.

1983 was the year of the birth of the founders of STUNglasses, who have spent their life trying to look fresh while keeping Miss Piggybank happy.

These days, Miss Piggybank must be euphoric, for STUNglasses have been seen on numerous celebrities, including Zac Efron, Jessica Alba, and Snoop Dogg. The point is, who can resist a pair of STUNglasses that rock classic style for less than the price of a cocktail.

We're partial to the Director's Cut in Tortuga (which, of course you know is the Catalan word for "tortoise"). These oversized frames are as large as your ego, insuring that everything looks good while everyone's looking - at you. Featuring a boxed hinge foundation with alloy hinges, and UV 400 gradient amber lenses that are scratch- and shatter-resistant, STUNglasses can weather the weight of you and your cocktails the next time you find yourself face in the sand.

Looking pretty, as usual.

PRICE: $18
LINK: STUNglasses Director's Cut Tortuga


Strange Invisible Perfumes: Hydro-distilled Frankincense & Coriander Body Wash

What with all the guests passing through your summer share, it's nicer for everyone if, at the very least, they smell good. One way to make that happen is to leave a good body wash in the guest shower.

Something by Strange Invisible Perfumes, for example, something from their new line of bath washes and body lotions. Perhaps Frankincense & Coriander Body Wash? Doesn't that sound like a gift from the magi? And given how many queens walk through your guesthouse door, it's probably perfect for you.

Suitable for all skin types and formulated with frankincense from Oman, this body wash has a fragrance evocative of an Egyptian garden in summer. Inhaling this while showering, you might find yourself reminded of Lawrence Durrell's heroine Justine from his magnum opus "The Alexandria Quartet."

Founded in 2000 by botanical perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis, Strange Invisible Perfumes is dedicated to creating fragrances and beauty products from real botanical essences. Balahoutis utilizes 100% certified organic, beverage-grade grape alcohol alongside her proprietary blends of ethically sourced essential oils.

The line of bath washes and body lotions are handcrafted, with the most nourishing base ingredients and the purest botanical aromas. Strange Invisible Perfumes uses ingredients that are certified organic, wildcrafted, biodynamic, and pesticide-free.

The company's fragrances are designed, hand-blended, and bottled in Venice, California, which is also where the Strange Invisible Perfumes boutique is located.

Shower with this and you might start thinking you're Cleopatra.

PRICE: $40 / 8 fl. oz.
LINK: Strange Invisible Perfumes Hydro-distilled Frankincense & Coriander Body Wash


Hipstripes: Boxer Brief

There are decided advantages in giving a gift of underwear. For one thing, that pair of sexy briefs might get you a private fashion show. And then, of course, there's always the pleasure of ripping off new undies with your teeth.

Let's face it, everyone feels more sexy when they're packing it into something snug and suggestive. Hipstripes new boxer brief is made from 95% cotton and 5% spandex (for that snap back into place that always give you a little thrill).

Most suggestive of all, however, is the woven waistband in a yellow and black caution tape jacquard print that can be personalized with messages like "Caution Protruding Objects" or "Heavy Equipment."

Feel your inner construction worker coming out? How about "Objects Are Bigger Than They Appear"? That might get you more than you bargained for at the next Underwear Party. We're less keen on "Wide Load" (don't go there); however, "Explosives" makes its point perfectly clear.

One more advantage in giving a gift of Hipstripes is the striking gift box, which is colorful and stylish enough to wear as a hat (after you've finished a quart of vodka). Next thing you know, you'll be directing traffic in your Hipstripes undies.

PRICE: $30.00
LINK: Hipstripes Boxer Brief


Lacoste: Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Energetic Red

Summer heat equals hot summer sex. It doesn't get more basic than that.

If you've had enough of those fragrances that smell like clean laundry on an outdoor clothes line, if you like Febreze - but you don't want to wear it, then you might think about Lacoste's latest addition to its Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 collection: Energetic Red.

Introduced by Lacoste in 2011 and now numbering four scents marked by color (Blanc, Bleu, Vert, and Rouge), Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 is an homage to French tennis player Ren Lacoste and his timeless savoir-faire. The L symbolizes the eponymous founder, followed by the numbers 12, which represent the piqu material, the classic short sleeves, and the twelve original prototypes.

Lacoste chose the color red for masculinity, energy, and confidence - which are basically synonyms for virility, passion, and fiery loins. What else does red mean but sex, sex, and more sex?

A gift of fragrance is a personal thing - and a gift of Lacoste: Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Energetic Red is equivalent to an invitation to bed. A burst of spices makes this the rooibos of fragrance, the chai for your pulse. Black pepper and cardamom swirl with ginger, evoking a tropical drink you imbibed at a bar called RumFire - with a volcano in the distance. With a smoky base note of agar wood, seduction lingers in the air.

Choose carefully upon whom you gift this fragrance - for lava is all but certain to flow.

PRICE: $62.00 / 3.3 oz spray
LINK: Lacoste Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Energetic Red


(Late Summer Host/ess Gift Guide continues on next page)

Perrier Slim Cans

Oh, let's face it: slim is in, always and forever more. Why fight it? Get with the program and carry a slim can - because really, doesn't everyone feel more slender when drinking from a slim can? And apparently, being photographed with a slim can takes at least ten pounds off your body weight. People ask you what diet you're on and you just hold up the slim can.

Perrier is the latest beverage company to get slenderized. The new Perrier Slim Can is even more adorable than its sassy signature green bottles, if that's even possible. Your hand wraps around a Perrier Slim Can so easily, just like it's... Well, let's just say it's something you enjoy holding onto.

Even better, Perrier Slim Can comes in a trio of flavors: Original, Lime and Pink Grapefruit. We're all about the Pink Grapefruit: It's a little like the Orangina you order in Paris, but without that cloying sweetness. More tart and astringent - just like you.

Perrier is all natural with zero calories and each slim can comes from the same source as every bottle of Perrier sold throughout the world, which would be Vergeze, France.

Okay, but really, best of all, Perrier Slim Cans make for elegant mixers. Give your Greyhound a little summer sizzle with some Perrier Slim Can Pink Grapefruit. Now, that's sassy!

Available in Target stores nationwide and additional retailers later this summer.

PRICE: approximately $6.00 for a ten-pack of 8.4 ounce slim cans
LINK: Perrier Slim Cans


LUSH: Breath of Fresh Air

Summer ain't over - not yet, and the heat is most definitely hanging on until well into September. Which means the A/C is still on and the window blinds drawn and you're looking like a vampire living in a cave.

What you need is Breath of Fresh Air, LUSH's soothing seawater spray that cools down your summer skin. Facial toners are weapons against the drying effects of air-conditioning, so you might think about carrying one with you wherever you go. In other words, spritz the world - and the world spritzes with you.

The seawater in Breath of Fresh Air cleanses your skin while seaweed extracts provide essential vitamins and minerals. Formulated with aloe vera and rose absolute, both of which moisturize and soothe dryness, Breath of Fresh Air is also perfect for the airplane. Spritz yourself in flight for relief from your fellow passengers and their recirculated air.

And for a cool breeze on your face, keep a bottle of Breath of Fresh Air in your fridge.

Breath of Fresh Air makes a perfect host/ess gift for the chef who's often sweating over a hot stove. Hose that chef down with Breath of Fresh Air - and see what you and he can cook up after that.

PRICE: $19.95 / 8.4 fl. oz.
LINK: LUSH Breath of Fresh Air


Liz Earle For Men Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser

Maybe you're the kind of guest who can't help but peep into the medicine cabinets of your hosts? Just checking, of course, to see what they might need, right?

If your host's medicine cabinet looks like a department store display, then you can be certain he'll appreciate something from the UK's most beloved skincare brand, Liz Earle - before it hits the States later this year.

Packaged in its own stylish presentation bag, complete with a pure muslin cloth, Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser Starter Kit is a powerful two-phase cleanser that removes dirt and excess oils that block pores. Massage two pumps onto your skin and let the creamy texture remove that grime from your debauchery the night before.

For the second phase of this two-in-one cleanser, rinse the muslin cloth in warm water and polish off the cream, which gently removes dead skin cells. (Kind of like polishing the silver, when you think about it...)

Formulated with moisturizing cocoa butter and hops for toning, Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish also contains essential oils of rosemary, chamomile, and eucalyptus to soothe and invigorate the skin with beneficial antioxidants.

With his face cleansed and polished, the fresh aroma of rosemary and sweet apple lingering in the morning air, your host might well serve you breakfast in bed.

Winner of "Lookmantastic Hair & Grooming Award 2011," Liz Earle Cleanser & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser Starter Kit is certain to win you a return invitation to your host's summer home.

PRICE: $24.50 / 3.3 fl. oz. pump starter kit
LINK: Liz Earle For Men Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser


Alex Elman Torrontes 2011

Why not bring your host/ess a luscious Argentinian? Something nice to sip, with a long taste in the mouth.

In case you were wondering, we're talking about the 2011 Torrontes, a lightly floral white wine with notes of honeydew and orange citrus.

Alex Elman, often referred to as the "Blind Wine Chick," lost her sight in 1995 after many years in the wine industry - yet Elman's passion for wine only intensified, along with her incredibly discerning palate.

All of Elman's wines are sustainable and organic, produced without barrel aging, resulting in wines that reflect their terroir and are better for our bodies and our environment.

From Mendoza, Argentina, the Torrontes 2011 pairs beautifully with summer salads, fish, and fruit.

Better yet, at these prices, why not bring your host/ess two delicious Argentinians?

PRICE: $12.99
LINK: Alex Elman Torrontes 2011


LUSH: Happy Feet

As a wise friend recently reminded us, sometimes a good foot rub is better than a hug. Food for thought.

Now that summer is here, our feetsies and toesies are more exposed. Walking barefoot on hot sand and tar beaches can do a nasty number on your soles. And, let's face it: a dirty foot isn't quite synonymous with a dirty mind. Icky feet in bed is a major no-no.

This summer, give your feet face time. Lush has put together a limited edition gift set of four of its best-selling foot products (and tied them all up in a sassy knot-wrap). A perfect host/ess gift (for the friend who opened his/her beach house to you and, subsequently, has been on his/her feet all weekend, attending to your every desire), "Happy Feet" enables you to create an at-home spa to soak, scrub, mask, and moisturize those tired dogs.

Give in to your foot fetish - and let your "Happy Feet" glide into a pair of Manolos.

"Happy Feet" includes Geo Phyzz, a sea salt bath bomb, formulated with scents of pine, sandalwood, and cypress - perfect for getting your feet ready for their Sea Salt Scrub with pumice and lemon and lime oils (to keep your feet smelling fresh - especially between the toes). The Volcano Foot Mask is a thick emollient for your feet, formulated with papaya (as well as potatoes and tomatoes), while Fair Trade Foot Lotion is a restorative cream infused with mint and refreshing arnica.

With "Happy Feet," you can stick your foot into someone's mouth - and be pleasantly surprised.

PRICE: $24.95
LINK: LUSH Happy Feet


A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.