by Ann M. Colford, Ted S. McGregor Jr and Leah Sottile
Beaded Cat Change Purse (Creature Comforts in the Flour Mill, $10)
Most cat lovers love all things feline, and this little beaded coin purse is sure to please even the most discriminating kitty fan. A cute black cat face smiles demurely from both sides of the purse, which measures approximately 4-by-4 inches. Fully lined and lightly padded, the top-zip flat bag is large enough to hold a credit card, yet small enough to tuck inside a larger handbag. The black-white-and-gold beadwork catches the light and helps this frisky feline function as both kitsch and bling. --Ann M. Colford
Cribbage Board ($45, Tres Chic Jonque)
Cold winter nights call for some old-fashioned indoor recreation. Get your minds out of the gutter, people - I'm talking about cribbage, one of the oldest card games of the English-speaking world. If you don't know how to play, check with your parents or grandparents and they can probably fill you in on the relatively simple rules. The standard cribbage board, with two or more sets of 61 holes used for keeping score or "pegging," is a rectangular wooden block, but through the years artists have come up with any number of creative shapes to hold the tracks. Diane Culley, owner of Tres Chic Jonque on West First, has created a number of custom-designed wooden cribbage boards in shapes from an apple to a four-leaf clover. As an extra bonus, these boards are pretty enough to hang on the wall between games. --Ann M. Colford
Art Print Handbag ($225, Tinman Artworks)
Some works of art are so recognizable that they've become icons - think Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup cans, the Impressionist works of Georges Seurat. and the lithographs of Toulouse-Lautrec. Now these images and more classics from the world of fine art adorn a collection of handbags and small leather goods from Icon Shoes of Santa Monica. They're available locally at Tinman Artworks, home to many a unique gift idea. Wallets and cosmetic bags start at around $35, but my money's on this stylish A-line bag, about 7 1/2 inches high and wide, bearing a vintage fashion illustration nearly a century old. --Ann M. Colford
UGG Brooks Boots ($150, The Walking Company)
In 1978, an Aussie surfer dude decided to finally make something of himself. Looking around his favorite beach, he noticed people stitching up boots out of sheepskin -- a longstanding craft in a nation with more sheep than people. He loaded a few pairs up and took his idea to New York, where he was laughed out of the Big Apple. After returning to Australia, he started by making boots for surfers -- who knew surfers needed boots? -- and it took off: Today, UGG is the world leader in sheepskin footwear. The wool pile is cozy, comfortable and breathable, and the design of the Brooks model for women is decidedly classic in a utilitarian sort of way. Surf lessons optional. -- Ted S. McGregor Jr.
Flying Circus "Jenny" Model Airplane ($55, The Zoo in Coeur d'Alene)
There's always somebody on your list who's really hard to buy for, and here's an idea that certainly won't be forgotten by next Christmas. Authentic Models has made its reputation for high-quality, accurate reproductions of classic old boats and airplanes. The Zoo in Coeur d'Alene has a huge selection, ranging from the small Flying Circus Jenny (with a 15-inch wingspan) to bigger models for $500 -- any of them would be perfect for dad's den or grandpa's library. The Jenny is a reproduction of a 1920s stunt plane that aviators would take from town to town for flying shows that attracted huge crowds. The details on these models are amazing, and they're 100 percent handmade. -- Ted S. McGregor Jr.
Bodhi Dog Toys ($14, The Urban Canine)
Dogs are people, too -- well, actually, no, they're just dogs. But that doesn't mean we can't treat our furry friends like people. Bodhi carries chew toys that will bring purity, harmony and a little bit of doggie Zen into their salivating, muddy-pawed lives. And these aren't just any toys -- Bodhi makes chewies shaped like lotus flowers, bamboo sticks and lucky carp. Each carries symbolic significance, bringing your pup strength and resilience or many years of abundance. And to top off their whole new age shtick, Bodhi's treats are shaped like fortune cookies. Namaste little doggies, namaste. -- Leah Sottile
You can find nice candles just about anywhere - Pier One, Rite-Aid, the Mannheim Steamroller Web site. The wax creations that make our homes so warm are so accessible, and it's always disappointing when that last, discontinued Tahitian Vanilla Bean pillar is burnt out. Who knew that a little Coeur d'Alene shop had the answer to all of your wax woes? Simple Pleasures carries the Eternal Flame Oil Lamp, a beautiful wax candle that won't burn out. How? Inside the candle is a small chamber that you can fill with liquid paraffin in all kinds of fragrances and smokeless varieties. You can burn that baby all night long, but it'll never die on you. -- Leah Sottile
Guinness Heritage Holiday Pint Glasses ($6, All Things Irish, Coeur d'Alene)
Coors, Budweiser -- those guys have nothin' on the Irish. I'm talking about Guinness: Anything bearing the logo of the Irish stout purveyors is sure to be a hit with the boozehound in your family. All Things Irish in Coeur d'Alene carries a hefty supply of the stuff -- including the popular heritage glasses used by Guinness to promote their beer back in the early days. The store also has glasses with each of the "Gilroy animals" (as they are called) trimming a Christmas tree with Old St. Nick himself. All Things Irish also has complete sets of coasters, posters and T-shirts with the happy little drunken animals on them, too. -- Leah Sottile
When All Else Fails...
Bottom line is, life doesn't hit the pause button even for the holidays. The family mutt will still tear into that hand-knit sweater you spent months poring over. Some Scrooge will shamelessly outbid you on that perfect, one-of-a-kind autographed thingamajig on eBay. Somehow even the holidays find ways to screw you.
We find that regressing to our childhood solutions sometimes works the best. But we're not talking about a fist-pounding temper tantrum or a sudden thumb-sucking habit -- we're talking about an age-old gift that mothers everywhere have gotten all soft on for years: Coupon books.
No, not the boring newsprint kind. We're talking personalized books of favors you're willing to do for others, chock-full of kindnesses you're willing to perform at some future date. How better to say "I wuv u" at the holidays? Depending on what you promise, they could mean hell for you - but even the longest-married couple can appreciate a few freebies every now and then. We're thinking books filled with things like "One midnight diaper change" or even "One free turn to deal with the religious zealots at the door." How about "I'll clean up the cat/dog poo, just this once?" Coupons even work for co-workers: "one thorough office-fridge cleaning" or a "whine-free day." They don't have to be all bad, though - what about "one healthy romp in the sack" or even "one chick flick, I'll buy (even though I really could care less)"? When you're done, staple them all together and wrap it up with a big bow. Sure, it's immature and suggests that you're unreliable and a holiday procrastinator, but hell, you might just get lucky and come off as cute and thoughtful. That's what we're here for. The Inlander: your guide to last-minute holiday B.S. that'll win you points -- and maybe even a little holiday action (nudge, nudge). -- Leah Sottile