Let the holidays shine in this exclusive Tadashi Shoji gown. Photo courtesy of Neiman Marcus

The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book unofficially kicks off the holiday season, as visions of sports cars, gorgeous gowns and baubles the size of sugarplums dance in our heads.

This year's eye-catching cover revives the ancient craft of paper quilling, with a design by artist Yulia Brodskaya.

StyleList caught up with Ginger Reeder, vice president of public relations for Neiman Marcus Direct, who gets to select the most dazzling items of all: The fantasy gifts. (Cue a sigh of envy.)

Throughout the year, she fields pitches for unique gifts. Of the 100 or more proposals, she investigates the most interesting, publicity-ripe choices and then narrows the list down to 30 contenders. In May, a panel of Neiman Marcus executives picks the final handful of fantasy gifts, Reeder explains.

This year's most expensive item: The $250,000 Icon A5 Sports Aircraft.

A special-edition luxury car is one of the Book's traditions. Only 50 of the Jaguar XJL Supercharged Neiman Marcus Edition cars were made -- and the sleek black sedans sold out just four hours and four minutes after they went on sale.

Not every fantasy gift is glamorous, though -- some spark a giggle rather than a gasp.

Try a new kind of sugar rush, for instance: The Customized Cupcake Car, spawned by a group of artists at the Burning Man festival. The $25,000 confection goes up to seven miles per hour.

Since Reeder's rule of thumb is "you can't sell it unless you've experienced it," she can vouch that the Cupcake isn't quite as smooth a ride as the Jag.

For the first time in a decade, you won't spot any million-dollar price tags. Reeder says that she simply didn't find any Book-worthy items in the stratospheric range.

Now the balance is almost evenly split between gifts under $250 and the more expensive indulgences. Look to the "Little Gems" and "Fab Finds" pages for relative bargains.


Reeder also chooses a charitable partner for each Christmas Book. She looks for smaller-scale organizations in need of a publicity boost; the charities also receive proceeds from the sales of a special gift.

This year's featured nonprofit, First Book, promotes literacy by donating books to schoolchildren. First Book dreamed up an ideal fantasy gift of a private literary dinner party at New York City's Algonquin Hotel. The guest list includes creative heavy hitters Malcolm Gladwell, Anna Deavere Smith and Adam Gopnik.

By happy circumstance, the Book's art director was also inspired by reading-related themes. Check out the amber-lit library setting, playful oversized books and pages of poetry in the fashion spreads.

You'll find the word "exclusive" sprinkled throughout the layouts like confetti, as Neiman Marcus rounds up dozens of "only-here" temptations -- from a gold Tadashi Shoji goddess gown to specially designed Rock & Republic jeans.

When asked, Reeder told us she couldn't wish for one gift from the Book: "It's like choosing my favorite child!"

Luckily, the rest of us don't have such limitations.