Gift Guide 2009: Presents for Every Personality

By Beacon Staff

The Beacon staff goes shopping …


Old Wood Signs – You’ve probably seen these faux-vintage signs somewhere in the Flathead, and wondered how they remained so well preserved before realizing they aren’t really that old. The signs are, however, a great way to add some “Mad Men”-style flair to your mountain home, with something for every interest, be it water skiing Flathead Lake ($105) to skiing Big Mountain ($105) to fishing the Swan River ($85). A small Flathead Lake sign runs $25.95. It’s hard to beat the selection of these signs at Electric Avenue Gifts in Bigfork (406-837-4994). One subtle sign reads, “Smokers will be pummeled with punishing blows all over their bodies.”

New Toys Made from Recycled Materials – If you’re looking for a durable, fun and environmentally responsible toy for a special kid in your life, the Imagination Station toy stores in Kalispell (406- 755-5668) and Whitefish (406- 862-5668) have the solution. The stores carry Sprig Toys and Green Toys – two eco-friendly toy companies that take a new approach on some classic toys. The toys include fully functioning trucks ($15.95 to $27.95), tea sets ($25.95) and fun characters made from 100 percent recycled plastic and wood chips. There are no batteries, so any toys with moving parts or lights are powered by a child’s movements.

MoonSpoon Cherry Wood UtensilsAccents International Design (406-752-8828) prides itself on having unique and ever-changing inventory for the Flathead Valley. Among the global gift buffet are some gems made here in the United States. The MoonSpoon utensil line, made in Pennsylvania from cherry wood, is geometrically interesting and would add an artistic flair to the table. The prices vary between products, ranging from $6 to over $20. This includes honey dippers, pie servers, spaghetti forks and butter knives and boards. The utensils are lightweight – a definite bonus for shipping – and would make lovely host or hostess gifts.

Relaxing Bath Salts – Along with all the good things that the holiday season brings, like family, friends and fun, there can also be stress. The Stone Chair in Kalispell (406-752-5719) has a unique array of soothing bath salts to help melt away any holiday anxiety. The salts are small enough to be stocking stuffers, but might just be one of the most appreciated gifts of the day. The Stone Chair also offers a variety of quality wrapping paper and gift cards, as well as other small items that could fill a stocking with style.

“Upscale Resale” Clothing – At Fashion Finds in Columbia Falls, owner Sally Petersen says “frugal never looked so good.” Designer-brand clothing rarely comes at low prices, but at Fashion Finds the items aren’t brand new, which allows them to be marked down – or, as Petersen says, “unbelievably reasonable.” Belts, dresses, shirts, shoes, jewelry – you name it, it can be found for under $25, often in the $5-10 range. Brands range from “Gap to Gucci.” To contact Petersen’s store, call (406) 249-8167 or e-mail her at [email protected].

Amazing Place: The Nature of Music – Share Montana’s splendor visually and musically this holiday season. Amazing Place: The Nature of Music is a multi-artist DVD produced by Artists New Media; a Whitefish based media strategies company. The film features 10 songs from nine Montana artists ¬– including nationally renowned musicians Brad Lee, Sylvia and Mike Eldred – as they perform in some of the state’s most incredible scenery. The DVD aims at creating a place for people to go for inspiration and comfort by infusing the visual grandeur of Montana with song. See a preview of the film at www.amazingplacedvd.com. The film will be available beginning Dec. 7 at the same Web site or call (406) 862-0300.


Timberline Vacuum Flask and Insulated Carry Case by Fishpond ($39)– Because it can be hard to know what the fisher(wo)man or hiker in your life wants for their sport, this souped-up thermos is something they’re guaranteed to use. The silver, vacuum-sealed flask slides into a durable, highly insulated sleeve, that’s good-looking too. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to keep hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold. Get it for the teacher or contractor in your life; they can take it to the job site during the week and outdoors over the weekend. Available at the Toggery in Whitefish, (406-862-2271).

Guided Raft Trip – Why not knock out your summer plans right now? At the Glacier Outdoor Center in West Glacier, highly trained guides lead raft trips all summer long, ranging from short half-day jaunts to multi-day adventures. You can choose between scenic floats and whitewater excursions on the gorgeous Middle Fork of the Flathead River. Prices begin at $48 per adult for a half day and range into the hundreds of dollars for multi-day trips. If you don’t want to wait until summer, the Glacier Outdoor Center also leads guided cross-country and snowshoeing trips in Glacier National Park, starting at $200 for a full day. Call 1-800-235-6781 or log on to www.glacierraftco.com.

The First 100 Years, by C.W. Guthrie – Next year, Glacier National Park will celebrate its centennial. A full slate of events is already planned. To gain a better understanding of this moment’s historical significance, “The First 100 Years” by C.W. (or Carol) Guthrie is your book. The book details the amazing transformation of the park since its inception in 1910. The winner of multiple awards, this book features fine historical narrative by Guthrie, impressive historical photos and artwork from the region’s artists. The book can be purchased for $39.95 from the Glacier Association, a nonprofit that supports educational activities within Glacier Park. Log on to www.glacierassociation.org for more information.


Singing Bird Cage and Musical Cigarette DispenserSouthside Consignments (406-756-8526) in Kalispell is one of those places you can spend hours digging through old records or lingering over strange, old trinkets. And the staff there can direct you to some real treasures, like a wind-up chirping bird in a cage, probably from the 1920s or 1930s, priced at $195. Another amazing piece of ephemera is a green glass cigarette dispenser. When you push a button, the panels rotate to serve cigarettes and the device plays music from Dr. Zhivago. It may sound strange, but it’s magical ($165).

CobaltChrome rings – Jewelry is a classic gift for the ones you love the most, but with gold prices skyrocketing it can be difficult to find an affordable, quality item. The folks at Keenan’s Jewelry in Kalispell have a solution. They now carry a line of rings made from cobalt and chrome and are touted as the newest, whitest and most contemporary metal. The rings are durable and more affordable (at $270) than a tradition gold band, which would run nearly $800. Keenan’s also offers titanium and tungsten rings, and they do their own jewelry repairs. (406-752-6002)

Kandahar Lodge Room and Lift Ticket Special – For those out there who think the best gift is just to get away from it all with a friend or loved one, the Kandahar Lodge at the Whitefish Mountain Resort offers the perfect escape with their “Winter Fish Package.” A four-day, three-night stay complete with lift tickets and continental breakfast costs $420 per person for a double occupancy room, which knocks $100 per person off the regular price. Décor includes down comforters, granite and tile bathrooms and leather furniture. For reservations, call 800-862-6094 or email [email protected]

Locally Handmade Pillows – Made by Liz Krautbauer of Kalispell, these pillows would serve equally well for decorative purposes as for everyday use. But with the care and stitching that goes into them, pillow fights are strongly discouraged. Available at Station 8 in Columbia Falls, the cushions feature Montana themes such as Yellowstone National Park. One pillow has a design that appears to be from an old postcard that reads: “Kalispell Roundup July 4, 5, 6.” They are adorned with 1940s buttons and range in price from $30-65. Call (406) 892-1123 or go to www.station8antiques.com for more information.

Alpine Theatre Project Tickets – The Alpine Theatre Project in Whitefish is a rare treasure of the arts for Montana. Boasting Broadway-experienced talent, Alpine has performed classics like the “West Side Story,” as well as Tony Award-winning shows such as the “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Big-name performers John Lithgow and Olympia Dukakis have taken the stage in the past. Tickets generally run between $25 and $35 for adults and the shows fill up quick. There are also season tickets with priority seating available. For show schedules, call (406) 862-7469 or log on to www.alpinetheatreproject.com.


Harley Davidson Gear – For Harley riders, it’s not a hobby; it’s an obsession. At the Harley Davidson store in south Kalispell, though, there’s a wide range of affordable gifts, even if you don’t know much about motorcycles yourself. Harley Davidson T-shirts specific to Kalispell start at $24.99. A zip-up, hoodie sweatshirt runs $34.99. Ladies tank-tops are $32.99. A Kalispell Harley Davidson patch costs $9.99. Another popular item are the Guardian Ride Bells, charms bikers hang on their cycles to ward off mechanical troubles and potholes ($10.99). If one is given to you, its power doubles. And heck, the bikes are amazing: A 2009 1200 Nightster runs $9,899. (406-752-6843)

Vinturi Wine Aerator ($40) – For those of us who love wine, but don’t necessarily possess the, er, resources to purchase the high-end stuff very often, the Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator is a simple tool to help the wine lover in your life get the most flavor from every bottle, acting as a kind of funnel you pour the wine into before it drains into your glass. In the process, it accelerates the wine’s breathing process, drawing out the flavors and bouquet. The Vinturi can make a good bottle taste great, and a great bottle taste extraordinary. Available at Roma’s Eclectic on Electric in Bigfork (406-837-2332) and across the street at The Jug Tree (406-837-6077).

That One Elusive Kitchen Item – For the home chef, the Apple Barrel between Columbia Falls and Kalispell has you covered. The store has a kitchen supply section that, while offering basics like spatulas, might just hold that quirky little item you’ve been needing in your home kitchen. The Chef’n Garlic Zoom ($9.95) chopper ends the hassle of hand-chopping garlic. Simply load garlic into the gadget, roll it on its wheels and the turning blades chop it as fine as you want. The store also offers a grain grinder ($49.95), a variety of tools to help with canning and multiple types of vegetable-specific peelers. Call (406) 755-7753.