Decking the halls for Christmas before Halloween feels as wrong as wearing white after Labor Day. When I enter stores already displaying red and green before October 31, I feel rushed and a little panicked. The one exception, however, arrives in my mailbox every October. That very day, I rip open the plastic cover and commence my fantasy shopping trip through the pages of the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue.
With the 2013 book, Dallas-based Neimans celebrates the 87th anniversary of publishing their luxurious gift collection. From its modest debut in 1926, a 16-page booklet of Christmas ideas that doubled as a card to their best customers, it has evolved into an oversized and awe-inspiring representation of glamour and whimsy.
Inside this year’s book are the yearly big-ticket Fantasy Gifts which have, since 1960, included an uber-fabulous “His and Hers” selection. This year Neimans offers the “Ultimate Outdoor Entertainment System” for a mere $1,500,000. Fortunately, it includes two Apple mini iPads that serve as remotes to minimize his/her control-conflict.
Beginning in 1995, an exclusive luxury car has also been featured in the Christmas book. Interested in a 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante for $344,500? If you need one more reason to splurge, Neimans will donate a portion of the proceeds of these high end Fantasy Gifts to the “Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation” which funds arts enrichment to young people around the country.
For the first six decades of the store’s history, Neiman Marcus remained exclusively a Texas chain; it now has 42 stores coast-to-coast, including ten in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. In my opinion, its Texas roots influence the store’s grand marketing gestures, like the Christmas book and the grandiose gifts featured inside.
As a little girl growing up in Fort Worth, I remember shopping excursions at Neimans with my mother to our hometown store, or, on rare occasions, to the flagship Neimans in Downtown Dallas. We always planned lunch at the Zodiac Room where a demitasse of chicken soup and freshly baked popovers with strawberry butter arrived promptly at our table. Now, on those rare days when my teenage daughter and I have time for a quick bite at the Neimans near our home in New York, we are served the same popovers and the same chicken soup.
I love all the Neiman Marcus' traditions - from the sky-high priced "His and Hers" gifts in the Christmas book to the complimentary popovers at the Zodiac Room. When I flip through the catalogue or visit any of the stores, it always feels a bit like Texas to me.