Holiday Gift Guide 2008

By Beacon Staff

Click the image above or use the arrows to flip through some of the Beacon’s ideas for gifts this season.

Historical Campaign Pins
Politics is cool again after the 2008 election, and with the McCain-Obama race relegated to history, past presidential contests have to be cooler too, right? Teach your new political buff a little history with an assortment of campaign pins from previous years, available at antique stores throughout the valley. They’re stocking stuffers providing an apt reminder that history is doomed to repeat itself.

At Station 8 antiques in Columbia Falls: Large Robert F. Kennedy, $15; Lyndon B. Johnson, $7; “All the way with Adlai” (Stevenson), $8; Richard Nixon with Agnew or Lodge, $2. Southside Consignment and Antiques in Kalispell also carries pins ranging in price for $3 to $5.

Montana Bounty Foods

These bags of ready-made food are delicious and simple ways to cook a meal at home or out in the woods. For most dishes, all of the necessary ingredients are there. Just add water, milk or beer. The cooking instructions are straightforward. Bounty Foods offers a wide variety of options: wild turkey stew and dumplings; buffalo bean soup; seasonings; sourdough quick bread; huckleberry fudge and much more. Prices generally range from $4.95 to $9.95. Stop by Murdoch’s in south Kalispell to find Bounty Foods or go online at www.bountyfoods.com.

Handmade Purses
These chic purses and bags are handmade from recycled material by Maruca Design in Boulder, Colo. Small cosmetics bags are available at the Stone Chair, along with larger handbags and purses. The bags come in a variety of colors, from funky to more traditional. The price range is between $11 and $27.50. Go to the Stone Chair on Main Street in Kalispell or visit www.marucadesign.com.

Pet Toys and Treats
Ten dollars spent on a pet toy will earn you a heck of a lot more gratification from your dog than a more expensive item purchased for a person. So stop by Tailwaggers for your four-legged friend. The durable, floatable Hurley Bone, by Bozeman-based West Paw Designs will keep your pooch gnawing contentedly for weeks ($12.45 large or $8.98 small), and the Huck ball has ridges making it easy to throw and bite ($7.98 small or $11.98 large). Four fake mice marinating in super potent organic catnip might keep the cat from attacking the ornaments on the Christmas tree ($4.95). For info, call 406-257-8245 in Kalispell and 406-862-8988 in Whitefish.

Montana Tom’s Chocolate Factory and Cannery

Everything at this Columbia Falls business is done by hand, from the chocolate to the barbecue sauces to the preserves. The ready-to-eat “Pie in the Jar” ($16.99) has been featured on the Food Network three times. Then, there’s the bear claw – $2.99 worth of chocolate, caramel and cashew goodness. Check out the Montana Tom’s manufacturing plant just off U.S. Highway 2 on the way to Columbia Falls or the gift shop in downtown Whitefish. 888-509-4546 or www.mtfudge.com

You may not think of wine as a “budget” item, but that’s the beauty of this gift: It scores high-class points without a high priced tag. About a quarter of the bottles at this north-end Kalispell store are under $20, and there’s a significant number in the $10 to $15 range. And it’s easy – the Uncorked staff can direct you to a perfect bottle, and then you add a specialty gift bag from the store or some ribbon around the stem and you’re done. (406) 257-9463

Vintage Vinyl and Stereos
Send your man back to a less complicated, pre-iPod era, with a gift from the “Retro Room” of Back in Time Antiques in Columbia Falls. Here you’ll find a wide assortment of vinyl recordings from artists including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Ricky Nelson, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson and others. Prices range from $1 for 45s to as much as $250 for some rare, mint condition Elvis LPs.

Back in Time also carries vintage 8-track players and stereos with built-in turntables. These rare electronics range in price from $675 to $795, and they still sound rich and vibrant (406-892-2727 for more info).

Three Dog Down in Polson
Pampering in a not-overly girly way: Keep him warm with a comforter from Three Dog Down. This Polson store specializes in goose down, and has several options in the $200 price-range. Grab a pair of sheep-skin slippers and you’re set. (406) 883-3696 or www.threedogdown.com

Beer Brewing Equipment

So you like beer? Me too. Perhaps this gift idea is partly in hopes that a loved one picks up the paper and hears my plea. But for the beer drinker who wants to have complete control over his hoppy beverage, Withey’s Health Foods in Kalispell has everything the home brewer needs. He can buy a complete Brewcraft beer and winemaking equipment set for $100, which will give him all the tools. From then on, he can find everything else at Withey’s: brewing kits for all different kinds of beer; bottles and caps; yeast; hops and barley – it’s all there. Stop by Withey’s on South Main Street in Kalispell or call 755-5260.

Paintings and Serigraphs by K. Bonnema Leslie
Kathy Bonnema Leslie’s serigraphs, on display at Art Fusion gallery in Bigfork, present traditional images of Montana landscapes in an entirely fresh way, with a calming simplicity and clarity. The serigraphs are made up of screened layers Leslie draws by hand, doing as many as 20 for one piece. And after printing several, the screens are destroyed, making the work unique. Her prices range from $95 to $495, reasonable for original artwork. But if it’s not to your taste, there’s no shortage of fine art on display elsewhere in Bigfork’s galleries. For more info, call 406-837-3782 or go to www.kbonnemaleslie.com.

Local Handmade Jewelry
Fawn, a new downtown Kalispell boutique, may cater to female shoppers, but come the holiday season consider it a gift to desperate guy shoppers. With its wide selection of specialty clothing, designer jeans, accessories and maternity clothes, it’s hard to miss here. Check out the jewelry lines by sisters Solveig and Signe Ensign. They use butterflies and flowers dipped in resin, semi-precious stones, and bright colors to create fun, one-of-a-kind pieces. And at $24 to about $150, they’re a lot cheaper – and more original – than diamonds. (406)257-6656

Grouse Mountain Lodge
If you can’t afford plane tickets to somewhere warm and exotic, take her on a “stay-cation” instead. Several area hotels have winter season specials. At Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, it’s just $79 a night for a couple. The lodge is located adjacent to the Whitefish Lake Golf Course, a popular cross-country skiing spot, and after you’ve spent a night on the town, their complimentary shuttle will pick you up. (406) 863-4705 or www.grousemountainlodge.com

Holiday Bouquet

Flowers by Hansen offers a diverse selection of good gift ideas, including Santa figurines, fancy candle holders and, of course, flowers. A perfect gift for Christmas is the holiday bouquet, which comes in a gold-tinted glass box with ribbons. The bouquet consists of evergreens and fresh flowers, such as roses and carnations. Not only can she enjoy the beauty of the flowers, she can use the ornate glass container for other purposes later on. The bouquets cost between $45 and $85 on average. Stop by Flowers by Hansen on Main Street in Kalispell or call at 752-1313.

Tickets to the Glacier Symphony & Chorale
Guys, you might not like this, but it could do you some good to suck it up and take your significant other to an event she would truly enjoy at the Glacier Symphony & Chorale. Maybe a symphony or a ballet or a piano recital. I think it’s safe to say she’ll enjoy it more than taking her to Rambo or a monster truck rally, but I’m not an expert on these matters. Prices for Masterworks Concerts are $23 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 for students. Other events vary in price and are held at differing locations, such as Flathead High School auditorium and the Whitefish Middle School Performing Arts Center. Visit www.gscmusic.org for more information or call 257-3241.

Alternative Energy Build Kits
Here’s a selfish idea for a happy holiday: Motivate your child to develop a cheap, clean, viable alternative energy source, and your family will become so successful you can start planning which Caribbean island to spend your retirement. Where to start? The Imagination Station, with stores in Whitefish and Kalispell, sells kits with which to build your own fuel cell hydrogen-powered car ($105.95) or an electricity-generating wind turbine ($50.95). Some of the stores’ biggest sellers are electronic snap circuits kits, which allow your kid to build devices that can do all kinds of cool stuff, and teaches them how to work with electricity ($29.95, $59.95 and $89.95 depending on the size of the kits). For more info, call the Imagination Station in Kalispell (406-755-5668) or Whitefish (406-862-5668).

Cowboy Gear
Make your kid the coolest cowboy (or girl) on the playground with boots from the Western Outdoor Store in downtown Kalispell. For girls, there’s hot pink with glitter steer emblems or lime green snakeskin. Boys can strut their stuff in John Deere or gold toe styles. Prices range from $29.95 to $69.95. Throw in a stick horse ($15.95 to $21.95), sheriff’s badge ($4) and toy revolver ($6.99) and you’re ready for a shootout. Best of all for parents, this gift doubles as a necessity (they are shoes after all). (406) 756-5818

Baby Clothes
Buy your kid clothes while you can still get away with counting that as a gift. Sprouts, in downtown Whitefish, specializes in baby and toddler clothing, including a line of super-soft bamboo shirts and pants ($9 – $26). Or pick up one of the hand knit, blabla brand dolls or backpacks, which come in dog, cow and pig styles ($34 – $44). (406) 862-7821

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