Stick a bow on a 24-pack of Busch Light and send all those students home until January with a cheery goodbye — it's time for Pullman and Moscow to temporarily set aside their duties as college towns and turn up the old-fashioned, small-town holiday charm. The lights twinkle, the window displays glow and chances are good for a few snowflakes. And sure, online shopping means you could avoid Main Street altogether, but it turns out some of the best and least-expected gifts are already here.


Amid the last-minute frenzy of wish lists, gift wrap and gadgets, handsome Red Cedar Studio wine stoppers are a reminder to slow down and savor time together with family and good friends. Handcrafted by artist Daleen Boe in Moscow, the stainless steel stoppers are topped with solid blocks of ash, cherry, sycamore, lacewood and, yes, red cedar. Complete the gift with a bottle of wine, naturally. $15-$20 • Prichard Art Gallery Store • 414 S. Main St., Moscow • Also at Moscow Co-op, BookPeople and Blackbird at the Depot


Among WSU fans, the exchange of new Coug gear at the holidays is a revered annual ritual symbolizing the end of another abysmal football season and renewed hope for the year to come. Combine that with the similar so-bad-it's-good tradition of ugly Christmas sweaters, and you end up with this festive Champion sweatshirt that's practically made to be worn at the extended family's impromptu Christmas Eve beer pong tournament. $25 • Crimson and Gray • 1096 SE Bishop Blvd., Pullman


Every night in the woods needs a little illumination, and all the better if it comes from a solar-powered LED lantern that collapses into a packable little disc. Better still if that lantern could shine in seven different colors, which is exactly what the new Luci Aura model from MPOWERD can do. It also has a color-changing mode, perfect for camping at the Gorge, letting loose in the wilderness or just hanging out at a backyard campfire disco. $23.50 • Hyperspud Sports • 402 S. Main St., Moscow


Fanciful but never cloying, the illustrations of Pullman artist Cori Dantini capture the magic of the season with stylized Santas, snowmen and woodland creatures. This year's new designs are also available as prints, but pick out a set of the ornament miniatures to deck any home's halls with a little extra cheer. Each ornament is finished with a subtle shimmer that sparkles like a fresh layer of snow. $10 • Neill's Flowers and Gifts • 234 E. Main St., Pullman • At Home Designs • 250 E. Main St., Pullman


While the average belt only aspires to hold your pants up, the paracord Rattlerstrap belts made in Moscow can save your life. Most of the time they're just stylish and durable, but get into a tricky situation and you've got 100 feet of cord around your waist to help get you out. It's practically like insurance for a loved one. Also check out the new flint laces ($14), which come with a tiny ferro rod in each lace tip for emergency fire-starting. $99-$109 • RattlerStrap • • Order by Dec. 17


Tucked inside a historic rail depot in the old company town of Potlatch, Blackbird at the Depot is a trove of one-of-kind gifts crafted by regional artisans. Affection for the state of Idaho inspires many of the items, none sweeter than the colorful pairs of tiny, laser-cut wooden Idaho earrings from Boise-based Little Lost Things. Also look for the etched wood pendants shaped like guitars, vintage cameras and Airstream trailers. $10 • Blackbird at the Depot • 185 Sixth St., Potlatch


Encourage little green thumbs — and adults who like coloring; no shame there — with a Christmas tree kit that's all set up for personalizing and planting. It's just one type of garden-in-a-bag from Potting Shed Creations, a local company based in Troy, Idaho. It may be optimistic to assume that tiny seedling will one day grow up to be a beautiful Scotch pine, but 'tis the season for believing in miracles. $9.50 • Moscow Food Co-op • 121 E. Fifth St., Moscow


One of the best kinds of holiday gifts is something to look forward to during the long, dreary months that come after the holidays — especially when that something is craft beer. The third annual Palouse Cabin Fever Brew Fest in picturesque Palouse, Washington, is coming up on Feb. 7. A ticket is good for a commemorative glass and six tasters from local craft breweries: 12 String, Budge Brothers, Paradise Creek, Riverport Brewing, Laht Neppur and the Moscow Brewing Company. The event is both indoors and outdoors, so tuck those tickets into a warm new hat or scarf. $15 • Green Frog Cafe • 100 E. Main St., Palouse • Also at participating breweries

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