by Joel Smith

Homebrew Kit ($60-$135, Jim's Homebrew)

Home brewing has exploded in the last 15 years, and for good reason -- not only is homemade beer cheaper than store-bought, but with a little skill it can taste a lot better, too. Encourage the beer nut in your family to take it up a notch with one of these starter kits from Jim's. Though the $60 Basic Beer Kit is good, we recommend the more expensive Deluxe Homebrew Kit ($135). It includes a lot of the odds and ends you're going to want to buy anyway (funnels, tubes, glass carboys, etc.), and it's cheaper than buying all the components separately. The Deluxe Kit also includes all the ingredients you need to brew up your first batch.

Chocolate Tipsy Fudge Cake ($34, Joel)

When we at The Inlander think "Christmas," we think of roaring fires, bearskin rugs, willing mates and a hefty hunk of Pepper Patch Chocolate Tipsy Fudge Cake. Because nothing says "Happy Holidays" quite like a two-and-a-

half-pound ring of chocolate cake soaked in almost two cups of Black Label Jack Daniels Tennessee Sippin' Whiskey. This stuff messes you up in so many ways it's almost not funny. Happily, though, it doesn't fill you up with preservatives or artificial flavorings. It's the real deal, baked from scratch in small batches and perfectly suited to sweeten your fireside holiday love-makin'.

Martini Glasses and Book ($20 for 4 glasses, $13 for the book, Cost Plus World Market)

So you made it through Thanksgiving. Congratulations. But beware: Turkey Day is only the first step in the long, painful slog through the holidays. You've still got Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Eid and the Hajj, Boxing Day, Festivus, Yule, New Year's and the Super Bowl left to go, and that's primetime for painful parties at your boss's home. Don't get cornered by the hairless guy from accounting this year. Show up with your own stylish martini glasses, armed with the encyclopedic wisdom of Sally Ann Berk's The Martini Book, set up shop behind Boss's wet bar and dazzle your colleagues with the apple, the peppermint, the coffee martini -- no problem! We guarantee you that after three Cajun martinis, your boss will seriously consider doubling that Christmas/Festivus bonus.

Wine of the Month Club

($15-$125 per month, The Wine Cellar, Coeur d'Alene)

I know, I know, we did a wine-of-the-month last year, too. But we snooped around for space-age corkscrews, artsy-fartsy bottle racks, picnic gear, too-fragile glassware -- even parachutes for champagne corks. And none of that kitsch measures up to the knowledge that you've got a couple bottles of sweet nectar aging at the Cellar, ready to quaff at the slightest whim. Just pick a price range -- we'd, uh, recommend the $15-per-month range -- and a color (both red and white, if you want), and the Wine Cellar will pick an exemplary wine, store it for you, even send you their monthly newsletter. And that beats some stupid rechargeable electric corkscrew any day.

Immune System Booster Pack ($62, Pilgrim's Nutrition)

Listen, America is all out of flu shots; Canada doesn't want you sneaking through the borders and taking theirs; everybody you know is hacking, coughing, sneezing, sniffling and whining. More than a hot toddy, more than gingerbread cookies, more than another turkey -- what your giftee needs is a solid immune system to make it through the holidays. Stop by a Pilgrim's store and pick up these babies: one box of Emergen-C powder ("the champagne of nutritional drinks"), a little Sambucol black elderberry extract, and some Sovereign colloidal silver. Top it off with a little Immuno-Shield, and little Timmy will be dancing joyful circles around his miserable family and colleagues.

Publication date: 12/09/04

53rd Annual Art on the Green @ North Idaho College

Fri., July 30, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat., July 31, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sun., Aug. 1, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
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About The Author

Joel Smith

Joel Smith is the media editor for The Inlander. In that position, he manages and directs and edits all copy for the website, the newspaper and all other special publications. A former staff writer, he has reported on local and state politics, the environment, urban development and culture, Spokane's...