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Holiday Gift Guide

Shopping suggestions for everyone in your life

Dec. 2, 2013
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The holiday season is here. Festive lights are hanging, store hours have been extended and streets bustle with shoppers seeking the perfect gifts for friends and family. We know you’re raring to snatch up the holiday goodies, so we’ve put together a holiday gift guide to help you with those last-minute shopping sprees. We’ve selected local and global gift ideas for all the special people on your list. Quirky and fun, these items will definitely reward you with twinkling eyes, rosy cheeks and bubbling laughter. Happy shopping!



Six- or 12-Pack Varieties of Beer or Soda

Remember the 12 days of Christmas? Why don’t you update it to the 12 beers of Christmas? It’s a gift that will be much more appreciated. If your boyfriend doesn’t drink beer, the 12 sodas of Christmas will work just as well. Take your pick from any of the local breweries for beer and gourmet sodas. Or, if you know what your man prefers, check your local liquor or grocery store for opportunities to create a personalized six-pack from an assortment of craft and import beers. (Amanda Sullivan)



USB Turntable

Dad probably still has all his Credence records, but the problem with an LP is you gotta get up every 20 minutes to turn it over. Help dad out by getting him a USB Turntable. He can take that whole shelf of LPs and play them one more time while the turntable converts them into digital files that can be uploaded onto any compatible device. This gadget also reduces the wear and tear on those collectible records that he may want to save for years to come. (A.S.)


“Downton Abbey” Fans

“Parade’s End”

It’s got everything for Anglophiles: country house soirées and townhouse balls, silken hems rustling over parquet, hooves clopping on gravel and marriages unraveling as the servants listen from the hall downstairs. And HBO’s mini-series (out on DVD) can also boast Benedict Cumberbatch as Tietjens, cuckolded and stuffy but with a keener mind than most. Based on the novels of Ford Madox Ford and written by Tom Stoppard, “Parade’s End” measures the social calculations of marriage and class as they are undercut by the twists of love and lust. Tietjens struggles to uncork his emotions as the status quo is about to be bludgeoned by World War I—a conflict he predicted when everyone else refused to recognize the warning signs. (David Luhrssen)



Specialty Liqueurs

For the loved one who adores margaritas, pick up a bottle of Mariposa Agave Nectar by Heaven Hill. This “naughty and nice” liqueur incorporates both tequila and fragrant agave nectar, products of the same plant; recommended in citrus cocktails. If “sweet and smooth” are your recipient’s drink motto, then Baileys Vanilla Cinnamon is a perfect choice. Dress it up with a sprinkle of cinnamon or stir it into root beer for the best grown-up float around. Feeling ambitious? Mix up your own gift liqueur—such as the spicy, herbal Scotch Treat—using a recipe from seattlemag.com/homemade-liqueurs-holiday-gifting-get-them-started-now. (Selena Milewski)



Mexican Chocolate

Nothing says “sweet and sassy” like Mexican chocolates, which often feature cinnamon, smoky flavors and even chili peppers, providing extra flair to a traditional gifting favorite. When choosing a bar, remember to look for a dark variety since these contain antioxidants, making the overwhelming decadence less of a concern. Many cafés also feature Mexican hot chocolate in winter—buy her a steaming cup to spice up your next shopping trip. (S.M.)


Grunge Fans

Nirvana: The Complete Illustrated History

Nirvana was one of hundreds of college radio bands before Nevermind set the world on its ear in 1991 with its naked agony and serrated melodies. The Complete Illustrated History is a coffee table book with essays covering Kurt Cobain’s childhood in Aberdeen, Wash., through his 1994 suicide and the post-Nirvana careers of Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic. Laden with photographs from every phase of Nirvana’s existence, the Illustrated History also reproduces picture sleeves, concert tickets and T-shirts. Included are some surprises: Cobain intended his first group as a Credence Clearwater Revival cover band? And among such expected favorite albums (The Stooges, Scratch Acid), Cobain included Leadbelly’s Last Sessions and Get the Knack? That’s eclectic! (D.L.)


History Buffs

The Everyday Life Series

At a time when too many academics are writing for each other, it’s a pleasure to discover the four volumes of The Everyday Life Series. Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Viking Age (written by UW-Madison professor Kirsten Wolf) and The Middle Ages are compact but well-packed, illustrated books that get to the essentials of the past in readable, engaging prose. Greece is known as the place where ideas on everything from atoms to democracy first congealed, but Robert Garland’s Ancient Greece is full of less-known, fascinating details. Book rolls were inexpensive in Athens because they were mass produced by slaves. And slaves were considered the birthright of every citizen in the world’s first democracy. As for those horn-helmeted Vikings, only a minority of Scandinavians went to sea for plunder. Most fished, farmed and drank heavily, fortifying themselves against the long winter nights. (D.L.)


Jazz Fans

Miles Davis, The Original Mono Recordings

Until the end of the ’60s when stereo was perfected, monophonic just sounded better. This is true of rock music (check out The Beatles In Mono) as well as jazz. The Original Mono Recordings collect all nine albums that trumpet great and unflagging innovator Miles Davis made for Columbia from 1956 through 1961—his superb quintet recordings with John Coltrane, his orchestral projects with Gil Evans and the live Miles and Monk at Newport. Davis was fully in command of his idiom while pushing things forward throughout the period. The Original Mono Recordings is a great way to hear some of his best work. (D.L.)



Infinity Scarf

No longer just for teen girls, the infinity scarf has become a trendy and variable winter accessory. Available everywhere from high-end department stores to your local drugstore, there’s an endless muffler to meet any budget. Some feature festive, dangling charms, and the style is now so popular that you’ll be able to find one in fabrics ranging from cotton to cashmere. Go ahead—give Mom the perfect blend of cozy, practical and fashionable! (S.M.)


Tech Savvy

3D printer

The newest gadget for your friend who has everything is definitely a 3D printer. Available at a variety of prices depending on the printer’s capabilities, this up-and-coming office toy will keep your techie friend happy. They can create unique, personalized items for friends and family, or replace the missing piece on their computer chair. Check out local or online office supply stores for 3D printers. (A.S.)


Teen Boy

Ray’s MTB Membership

For $349.99, the teenage boy in your life can get all the exercise he needs over the long winter months with his membership at Ray’s Mountain Bike Indoor Park (8365 N. 76th St.). The facility affords mountain bike and BMX riders lots of opportunities to stay in shape and develop their skills. Convenience and safety are paramount at Ray’s; patrons can rent all the necessary equipment, from bikes to the helmets and pads required in all areas. (S.M.)


Teen Girl

Animal Headphones

You know how most times you cannot tell when a teen is using their earphones? Pick out some animal-themed headphones to not only eliminate this problem, but to add something adorably fashionable to your teen’s outfit. Comfortable and affordable, animal headphones come in a variety of shapes, sizes and species. Your giftee not into anime-esque headwear? Try some animal-print ear buds instead—though harder to see, they are fun, colorful and will put a smile on any music-loving teen’s face. (A.S.)


Young Adults

Espresso Maker

Young adults don’t just drink coffee—they enjoy lattes and cappuccinos. In order to do that at home, they need an espresso maker. On a cold winter morning, what better gift than the luxury of making a frothy warm drink in the comfort of your own home? And just think, during the rest of the year, you can give them finely ground espresso to make the drinks they so love throughout the seasons. (A.S.)


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