Holiday Gift Guide 2007

By Beacon Staff

Short on gift inspiration? Still too full of turkey leftovers to think about shopping? We’ve got you covered. From Bigfork to the Stillwater State Forest, the Beacon scoured the valley for the best unique, local gifts guaranteed to get you in good with your loved ones well into 2008.

Music Lessons

Price Range: $30+
If your kid is more into Beethoven and Eric Clapton than Barry Bonds and video games, the North Valley Music School has a wide range of music classes from learning guitar to choir for newborns to teens. If the kid is set on finding a musical instrument under the Christmas tree, lessons are probably worth the avoided headaches of them figuring it out on their own. Just make sure the gift is because your kid wants them, not because you’re set on having the next American Idol winner. North Valley Music School, Whitefish, 862-8074 or www.northvalleymusicschool.org
– Keriann Lynch

The Official Red Ryder

Price Range: $40+
Yes, they still sell these air rifles, essentially unchanged since 1938. And hey, if it was good for kids back then, it’s got to be good for them now. The Red Ryder has a whopping range of 195 yards, and when fired, you can usually see the BB sailing well underneath your target: Best to aim a little high. But it’s still an attractive weapon, with a stained wood forearm and stock branded by Red Ryder himself. It’s also got a technically useless, decorative saddle ring with a little leather thong hanging off of it. Let’s face it, you don’t buy a BB gun like this for the firepower; you buy it to participate in a tradition of American lust for gifts immortalized by Ralphie Parker in the 1983 classic “A Christmas Story.” Sadly, current models are no longer equipped with “a compass in the stock and ‘this thing’ which tells time.” (Insert your own joke about shooting eye out here). Available at Snappy Sport Senter for $44.95, U.S. Hwy 2 East, Kalispell
www.snappysportsenter.com or call: 257-7525
-Dan Testa

Art Easel
Price Range: $50+
We at the Beacon support the arts. That’s why this holiday season we suggest buying your kid the Melissa and Doug Deluxe Standing Art Easel. The adjustable easel has a chalkboard on one side, a dry-erase board on the other side and a dowel that holds a roll of paper and distributes it to either side. While not recommended for kids under the age of 3, it has adjustable heights for kids of all sizes. It can be found at the Imagination Station in Kalispell or Whitefish for $54.95. Call 755-5668 or 862-5668 for more information.
– Myers Reece

Gourmet Jerky
Price Range: $25
If you’re like me, you love getting bags of spicy dried meat for Christmas. Luckily for us, one of the best jerky options in Montana is right in Columbia Falls: the award-winning Montana Jerky Company, which offers both beef and buffalo jerky. For beef jerky, you can choose from honey glazed, hot, extra pepper, regular and teriyaki. For buffalo, there is one regular flavor. Eight-ounce beef jerky bags, vacuum-sealed, cost $10, while a four-ounce bag of buffalo costs $8 – a good deal for the usually overpriced jerky market. It can be found at various supermarkets or can be ordered at www.montanajerkyco.com or by calling 1-888-685-3759.
– Myers Reece

Roast Your Own Coffee
Price Range: $7.99/lb
JD Morrell’s downtown location has its own coffee roaster. Come in, tell them what type of roast and flavor you prefer and within 30 to 40 minutes you’ll have your own, custom-made blend of fresh-roasted beans. No shelf life here; you get them when they’re still warm. JD’s will also be selling custom gift baskets, where you choose from a selection of African-weave baskets and then fill them with coffees, teas, sweets or books of your choice. JD Morrell’s, Downtown Kalispell, 257-9195
– Keriann Lynch

Hot Novelty Gift: Big Mountain Logo Gear

Price Range: $25 & under
For the Luddite and loyalist on your gift list, stores throughout Whitefish are looking to unload T-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers and other schwag with the emblem of Big Mountain Ski Resort – the name and logo of which were changed to Whitefish Mountain Resort earlier this year. Whitefish Pottery still has mugs with the old Big Mountain logo, and isn’t likely to produce any more once they’re gone. At Whitefish Gift Gear on Central Avenue, score a Big Mountain sticker with Tweety Bird ripping a spread-eagle, and the Looney Tunes martian snowboarding: stocking stuffers at 50 cents each. Snatch it up while it lasts; it will be worth something some day. Maybe.
– Dan Testa

Robot-Building Classes
Price Range: $25-75
Extensive research shows that 99.2 percent of all Americans want to learn how to build a robot. So unless you’re part of that gloomy and mutinous 0.8 percent demographic, Flathead Valley Community College has what you direly need: robot-building classes. The robot classes are part of nearly 100 non-credit courses offered at FVCC in the spring starting in January. Anybody is welcome. The classes range from scuba lessons to fishing in the Flathead courses to organic farming workshops. Most of the courses range from $40 to $75 and last between five and eight weeks. Gift certificates are available. Contact Leslie Rogers at 756-3837 for more information.
– Myers Reece

Cooking Classes
Price: $45
A nice way to prompt your loved one or friend away from their nightly Ramen feast. Chef Ian Moore from the Tupelo Grille teaches one-night cooking lessons on everything from Italian cuisine to cooking game meat. The Commissary also has tons of specialty foods that would make great gifts for the friend that’s already interested in cooking: vinegars, olive oils, jams, breads, cheeses and meats. And then there are the desserts. Triple-layer carrot cake. Baklava. Handmade, decorated truffles. Gresko’s opera cake takes three days to make – the cake is soaked in a coffee liqueur and then layered with chocolate ganache ($24). The Commissary at Gresko’s, E. Idaho St. Kalispell, 755-0336
– Keriann Lynch

Whitefish Pottery
Price Range: $25-$75
Whitefish Pottery’s inventory goes on sale from Nov. 23 through Dec. 1, making it a no-brainer to score local, affordable stoneware and art. If you miss the sale and are scrambling on Christmas Eve, a set of four chili bowls goes for $38; or four cereal bowls for $34. Whether your loved one is a baker or a drinker, cookie jars go for $49.50 and wine chillers are also popular at $28. Encourage someone to make you huckleberry pancakes, with a large batter bowl ($28), a whisk and batter mix (not included). Potters also sell their work on consignment at the store location on Central Avenue, and some extraordinary wall hangings and unique pieces will go on sale as well; it’s art you can’t find anywhere else. www.whitefishpottery.com or call: 862-8211
-Dan Testa

Elk Ivory Jewelry
Price Range: $250 and up
Perhaps your idea of a satisfying present isn’t a tooth. But when the tooth in question is the distinctive elk ivory, we say give teeth a chance. Kalispell’s Jensen Jewelers offers elk ivory jewelry starting at around $250. You can bring your own ivory in from hunting season or buy an existing piece – it’s all made at Jensen’s. Diana Sims-Haymour, the store’s manager, said a large portion of Jensen’s elk ivory profits go to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Elk are the only North American land animal with ivory teeth – the “teeth” are actually remnants of prehistoric tusks. A wide range of elk ivory products is available, including earrings, pendants and rings. Prices depend on both the amount and quality of the gold and diamonds used. Jensen Jewelers is located at 2385 North U.S. Highway 93 in front of Target and can be reached at 755-2704.
– Myers Reece

Eva Gates Homemade Preserves
Price Range: $25 & under
While the cheapest gift box at Eva Gates homemade preserves in Bigfork retails for $25.15, a small price to pay for some dang good preserves homemade in the Flathead since 1949. That gift box will get you three jars of six ounces each – including the cost of shipping – and you can choose from Wild Huckleberry, Black Cap, Spiced Apple, Red Cherry, Raspberry and Strawberry. Individual jars of syrup and preserves go for less. Other gift baskets can be customized with local fudge, tea, and can range as high in price as $150.55 for 18 large containers of preserves and syrup – enough of Montana’s tart, wild bounty to stay on the good side of those in-laws for the whole year. www.evagates.com or call: 837-4356
-Dan Testa

Icebug Shoes
Price Range: $129.95
When one of the owners of Rocky Mountain Outfitters broke her hip in a skiing accident last winter, these shoes came in so handy during her recovery that she decided to stock them in the store. An outdoor-style running and walking shoe, Icebugs are equipped with 16 carbite studs along the sole. These snow tires for your feet have been popular with an older crowd so far, but are also useful for those brave (or stupid?) enough to run and hike in the winter weather. Just make sure you don’t forget to take them off before you walk on those new hardwood floors. Rocky Mountain Outfitters, Downtown Kalispell, 752-2446
– Keriann Lynch

Guided Backcountry Skiing

Price Range: $75+
For skiers and snowboarders, you simply can’t put a price on a day in the mountains, carving fresh turns in deep powder, free from crowds, corduroy and cafeterias. Such a day is exactly what you can give a lucky recipient with a $200 gift certificate to Valhalla Adventures, which offers guided backcountry skiing. The Cat will take you into the Striker Ridge area of Stillwater State Forest, where you can shred pow-pow until your legs collapse or lay in the sun, have a long lunch, and ski at your leisure. For a two-day trip or longer, stay in the yurt and maximize your backcountry time. Skiers should be at least of intermediate ability, but for beginners Valhalla offers full moonlit cruises up to the yurt for a romantic dinner prepared by a professional chef. www.valhallaadv.com or call Fred at 250-8092.
– Dan Testa

Bear Country Gallery, Jeff Fleming
Price Range: $7 – $8,500
Along U.S. Highway 93, just five miles south of Kalispell, an unusual business sticks out from the industrial warehouses lining the road. The log cabin building that houses Jeff Fleming’s gallery is surrounded by a band of carved bear sentries; the largest, a 10-foot brown bear holds a giant welcome sign. Fleming, a Montana native, started wood-carving with a chainsaw as a hobby while working as a logger. Now his gallery has bears ranging from $7 ornaments to more expensive bears holding welcome signs, coffee tables and benches. A particularly cool, and relatively inexpensive gift: a carved bear wine holder for $30 to $45. www.jeffflemingbears.com or 752-6735
– Keriann Lynch