Crystal to Cashmere: Holiday Gifts for Women

Deck the halls with tubes of lipstick ... and cashmere sweaters ... and crystal earrings.

Scoring a holiday home run with the women in your life has never been easier, thanks to companies like Old Navy, Swarovski and Givenchy, all of which are selling high-end products at affordable prices this season.

"I definitely think that apparel and accessories are usually the No. 1 gifts for the holidays. They are great because you have so many options. You can go the upscale route or the affordable route," said Scott Krugman, spokesperson for the National Retail Federation.

While many stick with winter basics like gloves and scarves, beauty products are also in-demand gift items.

"Makeup is a great gift because it's not what a woman needs, it is what she desires," said Julia Sloan, a representative for Givenchy cosmetics.

"I'm positive our Make-up Palette ($65) (which is exclusive for Saks Fifth Avenue and is going to do really well this season. It's a great gift for a brother to give his sister or a boy to give his mother, because it is very sophisticated and elegant," she added.

Perfume is also a retail champ this time of the year. Some buzzworthy fragrances for winter '05 are Miss Dior Cherie, the Sephora exclusive Prada 1 and Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker.

But if you're sketchy as to whether the woman you're shopping for has allergies or a color preference, opting for a designer makeup case takes some of the guesswork out of gift-giving.

When Coach announced the launch of its wristlet Lipstick Case, $68, early shoppers rushed to pre-order this perfect gift for teenagers, moms and businesswomen alike.

The cloth case, which bears the signature Coach logo, comes in three colors (lilac, black/metallic and silver/metallic) and features a mirror as well as enough space for the gift-giver to stuff in a lip gloss and a couple of twenties.

Other Coach gift options include an $88 brown suede iPod case and a $298 Satin Convertible Flap pocketbook, which can be carried or used as a clutch.

Also, the Optic Signature Baby Bag for $398 is the perfect gift for a stylish new mom. It comes in blue, pink and black and is equipped with a diaper changing pad and plenty of storage space.

"Coach is always a nice thing to give because you get a lot of value for your money, and the name itself makes a statement," said Denise Massin, a second grade teacher from New Jersey.

"A gift should always be something better than what the person would get themselves. Something more luxurious," Massin added.

Though handbags and makeup are welcome presents, husbands and boyfriends shouldn't forget that for many women, if the gift ain't bling, it don't mean a thing.

Swarovski's crystal jewelry is always a holiday favorite. For $45, you can pick up a shiny pair of gold-plated Amethyst and Tourmaline Drop Earrings or for a bit more, the dazzling Rhodium plated crystal pavé Diamante Bracelet. The bracelet prices in at $185, still far less expensive than an all-diamond tennis bracelet.

If you're inclined to go for the real deal, Zales and Tiffany & Co. have gems for all budgets. The Elsa Peretti Open Heart Bangle with .03 diamonds, $450 at Tiffany, is the perfect gift for the gal who's been extra good this year. For $225 you can also get her a silver and pink tourmaline Tiffany ring.

"Jewelry is a great gift for a woman because you can get it for any occasion, any reason or no reason at all," said Massin, who is partial to diamonds.

"Diamond studs are my favorite because you get two of them, which shows double the love and double the devotion," Massin added.

For those on a tighter budget, Zales sells diamond studs starting at $99. Larger stone diamonds, such as ½ carat princess cut ones, are on sale for $299.

But icing-out your loved one in jewelry won't keep her warm during cold winter nights. Cashmere sweaters will.

Old Navy, the company better known for its "Performance Fleece," has stepped up its game this season by selling 100 percent cashmere sweaters for $44.50. Sizes range from XXS to XXL, and there are four different colors to chose from: baby pink, wheat, black and snow white.

Barnes & Noble is another retailer with plenty of gift options. Some of this season's highlights include Enya's latest release "Amarantine," $13.28; "Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook," $28, and the "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" DVD, $20.98.

For the more active woman, Lamar's Fascination snowboard, $199, and the $70 Prince PowerLine Excel Ti tennis raquet, both sold at Sports Authority, could be dream gifts.

But the most important thing when giving a gift, Massin says, is make sure it sends the right message.

"Never buy a woman a frying pan, toaster or vacuum for the holidays. Better yet, definitely don't buy them a membership to the gym."