Would your sweetie like a $10 million bra this year, or a private island or a personal bowling alley?
Whatever he or she wants, there’s no shortage of extravagant holiday gift options this year for those whose bank accounts rival the GDPs of small countries. From jewelry-encrusted lingerie to limited-edition Maseratis to a Zeppelin airship, the sky is not even the limit for those with fat pocketbooks.
When Neiman Marcus first unveiled fantasy gifts as part of its tony Christmas Book in 1959, they were intended "purely for publicity," said Neiman Marcus Direct spokeswoman Ginger Reeder.
But it didn't turn out that way.
"The surprising thing was that people bought them," Reeder said.
This year is no exception. A medieval enthusiast has already shelled out $20,000 for a 15th century-style custom suit of armor. Three pairs of the priciest potatoes ever tilled (Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads encrusted with Swarovski crystals) have sold for $16,000 apiece. And 60 limited-edition $125,000 Maserati Quattroporte sports sedans (search) were snapped up in a matter of minutes, Reeder said.
Victoria's Secret (search) is also known for its annual holiday temptation. The lingerie emporium is counting on the fact that women dig diamonds — and men of all incomes like lingerie — to move the $10 million Heavenly 70 Fantasy Bra (search).
"The bra is the ultimate fantasy for a woman because of the sheer diamond weight," said Victoria’s Secret spokeswoman Sarah Tervo.
This year, sexy supermodel Tyra Banks sports the Heavenly 70 Fantasy in ads — the "70" referring to the brassiere’s 70-carat, pear-shaped centerpiece diamond, set in 18-carat white gold and surrounded by nearly 3,000 other diamonds.
But so far, as with the other million-dollar bras the store has tried to sell over the years, no one has made this fantasy a reality.
"We haven’t sold it yet," Tervo said. "We’ve gotten a ton of inquiries, but it hasn’t come to fruition."
Neiman Marcus has also yet to sell its Zeppelin, which with its $10 million price tag may prove prohibitive even for the biggest spenders. But if you want to be the first person to privately own a modern Zeppelin NT, Reeder said "it’s the best in the market," and shouldn’t be mistaken for a blimp.
People of means might also be interested in the catalogue's his-and-her bowling alleys, a pass for unlimited travel on American Airlines and the underwater Deep Flight Aviator (search), a joystick-operated submersible that dives, rolls and glides through water like a plane through the sky.
Some well-to-do, however, might be turned off by such man-made status symbols. Lucky for them, getting away from it all is only a plane ride away with the purchase of a private island.
"With cities getting overpopulated and cottage country getting crowded, an island is sort of like the cottage away from the cottage," said Chris Krolow of Private Islands Online, a site that lists scads of isles for sale worldwide.
"I personally own a small island myself north of Toronto," he added. "When I spend a weekend there, it feels like I’ve been gone an entire week. … With my busy schedule, that’s priceless."
Islands, however, aren’t only for the mega-rich. While some sell for eight figures, others can be had for as little as $50,000.
"[Islands] in the really sought-after areas like the Caribbean are quite pricey," said Krolow. "But in Canada on the east and west coasts we have a ton of islands that are really, really amazingly priced and absolutely beautiful."
Of course, for most Americans, gifts of these proportions will remain the stuff of dreams.
"I’m getting clothes. A couple of sweaters and shirts. And 200 bucks in cash — that’s what I get for Christmas," said Ron Pack of Arlington, Va.
Even if he struck it rich, Pack wasn’t sure he’d lavish a fantasy gift on his special someone.
"If I was a billionaire, I’d buy them some jewelry, but not a diamond-studded bra. Who’s going to wear that?"
He did concede, however, that if he had the dough, he might do a little high-end self-gifting this season.
"I’d buy myself a sports car," he said.