Gifts for the traveler

Here are some ideas for making trips more pleasant, along with some suggestions on where to send your favorite globetrotters.

Maya My, What A Wonderful Day (And Night)

Give a gift of relaxation at the intimate Hacienda Xcanatun (ssh-kana-toon), the recreated “Tall Stone House” of an 18th century farm near Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. The 18-suite luxury hotel on 9 garden-filled acres has a highly rated dining room, two swimming pools and a spa, where Mayan treatments include massages using honey and flowers or sacred rocks.

From this secluded spot, it’s a day trip to the famed Mayan architecture of Chichen Itza and the Flamingo Sanctuary at Celestun, on the Gulf of Mexico.

Wrap up a four- or five-night All Things Maya package or A Flamingo Eco-Adventure package; they range from about $1,500 to $1,900 a couple (five-night packages receive a sixth night free).

Going, going!

High bid wins a stay at Amberley Castle in West Sussex, England, a Viking River Cruise through the Burgundy region of France or four nights at the St. Andrews Bay Golf Resort & Spa in Scotland in the online auction hosted by the Society of American Travel Writers. These and many other trips and gift items are up for bid through Dec. 12 (www.satwauction.com).

Picture ID

Colorful graphics in 31 designs – sunflower, cats, dogs, yoga, golf – on oversized (3.5-by-4 inch) BagTags help distinguish luggage ($7.50 each, JetSetGo, Write Impressions).

Have putter will travel

The three-section wooden handle of the metal-headed travel putter (right), plus practice hole and two golf balls, fit neatly into a zippered vinyl case ($36.85, Magellan’s).

Bright idea

Compact and lightweight, the torch clock combines a clock and flashlight ($14, FlaxArt).

Some like It hot

Warm them up with Coffee & Tea for Two, an insulated thermos tote outfitted with insulated, brushed stainless cups, a 24-ounce vacuum flask and accessories ($45, FlaxArt).

Tune time

AM/FM travel clock radio with CD player (ICF-CD2000) comes with headphones, built-in speakers and AC adapter ($189.95, Sony).

Motion pictures

The 8.9-inch-wide screen of Toshiba’s portable DVD player SD-P2500 boasts high resolution, two headphone jacks and many audio/video features at less than 2 pounds without battery ($699 Best Buy, Neiman Marcus).

Roadside dining

Equip foodies with a travel picnic kit (right), packing a cutting board, cheese knife, wine glasses, corkscrew and more in a slim carrying case with handles ($34.85, Magellan’s).

Save trees

The New York Times Touch Screen Crossword Puzzle Game carries 1,000 crosswords at different skill levels and includes a stylus and adjustable contrast for varying lighting conditions ($69.95, Marshall Field’s).

Green Gift Ideas For The Holiday Season

Scharffen Berger Chocolates

These all-natural, European-style chocolates–the “Extra Dark” is 82-percent cacao–are some of the best we’ve ever tasted, and they’re made in the USA, Chocolate-covered apricots and chocolate-covered crystallized ginger are also available, The nifty, wooden gift boxes can be reused, too. $12 to $50; (800) 930-4528; www.scharffenberger.com.

Garden Insects of North America

This new book truly is “The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs.” Written by Extension entomologist Whitney Cranshaw, it includes the best color insect photos we’ve ever seen, plus authoritative advice on least-toxic pest control options and beneficial bugs. $29.95 in paperback; (866) 803-7096; www.MotherEarthNews.com.

L.L. Bean Storm Chaser Clogs

These slip-on shoes have the cushioning of sneakers and the waterproof protection of overshoes. An elastic collar seals out dirt and pebbles, and the lining keeps toes toasty warm. $49; (800) 441-5713; www.llbean.com.

 

Heath/Zenith Solar Motion Sensor Light

This motion-detecting, solar-powered outdoor light is easy to install and, with no electric cords, especially convenient on moveable buildings such as chicken coops. The light has a battery-charged solar panel that mounts on the roof and holds a charge for several months. $80; available at hardware stores.

Gardening by the Moon Calendar

A beautifully illustrated and practical calendar that simplifies the technique of lunar planting. Packed with great information on garden activities for each month, it comes in three versions for a long, medium or short growing season. $12.95; available in natural food stores or at (707) 869-3974; www.gardeningbythemoon.com.

Green Glass

These elegant glass products are made from reclaimed bottles, collected from around the world. This “Protect the Earth” design features that message etched in four different languages into the glass. $25 to $50. Call (715) 355-1897 for questions; order online at www.greenglass.com.

Meadow Stone Farm Goat Milk Soap

Elsa, a dairy goat from Connecticut, is the sole supplier of all the milk used for these gentle hand and facial bars. Meadow Stone Farm also makes facial creams and shaving bars, and even dog biscuits! $5 to $8; (860) 617-2982; www.meadowstonefarm.com.

Energy-efficient Clothes Washers

Want to include large appliances in your holiday gift giving? Consider an energy-saving, front-loading washer. They use two-thirds less water than top-loading ones. Manufacturers such as LG Electronics, Bosch, Frigidaire, Kenmore and Maytag, as well as Asko, Haier, Equator and Thor, offer versions ranging in price from $400 to $1,600. Available at most appliance stores. Contact the American Council for an Energy–Efficient Economy for a full list of appliances: (202) 429-0063; www.aceee.org.

Smart Gift Wrap

These reusable, hand-dyed and hard-to-miss cloth bags make the gifts more special. To encourage reuse, the company created a Web log where gift givers can follow each wrapsack’s journey from person to person. $3.95 to $6.49; available in natural food stores or at (800) 505-3365; www.wrapsacks.com.

MOTHER’S Merchandise

MOTHER’S cotton tote bags are great for trips to the market or library. Also try MOTHER’S delicious, triple-certified coffees. And, best of all, give an Earth-friendly, online subscription to MOTHER EARTH NEWS, $10. Totes and coffee also $10 each; (866) 803-7096: www.MotherEarthNews.com.

Confetti leads the wedding party

Confetti has announced both a successful round of funding and a major e-commerce deal with Marks & Spencer. These put Confetti as the leading wedding services site in Europe, ideally situated to take a slice of the UK wedding market– estimated by Forrester at £7.6bn annually.

As part of the new round of funding, Confetti has acquired both Wedding Guide UK and Web Wedding from Durlacher, and has separately acquired gift services company Burley House Weddings. In addition, Confetti and M&S have agreed on a major e-commerce deal to cross-promote wedding gift services.

The acquisitions of Wedding Guide UK and Web Wedding eliminate the main UK-based competition and secure Confetti’s lead in the market. This is perfect timing: Alafolie, a French-owned wedding organisation portal, has recently announced it will enter the UK and Spanish markets in November.

M&S is an ideal match for Confetti. The retailer’s lagging e-commerce activities get a much-needed boost, and Confetti secures a comprehensive branded gift service. The UK wedding gift market is a lucrative one, worth an estimated £3.6bn a year, and competitor Debenhams has already signalled its intention to enter this market by tying up with weddingChannel.com.

As media companies realise advertising revenues alone are insufficient to support their Web ventures, there will be a growing tendency to partner with both retailers and other content sites to create what Forrester calls ultimate destinations’. These are sites that provide a one-stop shop for all the information and product needs of a chosen interest group. With these deals, Confetti is well on the way to creating an ultimate destination for wedding services.

Combined with recent deals with Moss Bros and British Airways, these agreements give Confetti a significant head start in UK wedding services. Its publicised aim to widen its services into special occasions will only work if the key audience, the getting-marrieds, are kept happy.

M&S gift services will suit a large number of couples, but not all. Many couples are interested in lodging lists at a number of retailers, a perfect application for the Web. Users should be able to create a list from M & S, Debenhams and Harrods, and manage them all from one password-protected area of Confetti.

Wedding needs don’t stop at the altar. Couples will appreciate post-wedding lists of who bought them what gift from which wedding gift supplier, email reminders from Confetti to send thank-you letters, digital photo albums from Boots for both the wedding and honeymoon photos, and wedding anniversary gift suggestions from selfridges. This will ensure a comprehensive service and a loyal user base.