Have you ever noticed how a cornucopia—you know, that overflowing horn of plenty—seems like it could be a metaphor for a birth canal? And presents are like babies? No?
Okay, never mind. We're gathered here this week to celebrate giving with our annual gift guide. No one knows for sure when the first gift guide was published, though tantalizingly, some theorize that the pictures that early Europeans daubed on cave walls 30,000 years ago were in fact gift guides. This theory was given further support when radiocarbon analysis seemed to show that in at least several instances, ash and pigments were used at slightly later dates to circle a wooly mammoth or place a check-mark next to a prehistoric horse.
Think about it: gift guides are who we are.
That said, we also ought to remark that journalists generally are not great shoppers. This is probably because we're too poor to do much damage at the mall or Neiman Marcus online, but we try to make a virtue of necessity and maintain that we prefer the more ethereal things in life. The truth is, we're suckers for gewgaws and gadgets just like everyone else. Read on and see.
To: the Griz alum
a Centennial Circle brick at UM
Those years spent at the University of Montana are punctuated by any number of fond memories. Dad reminisces about hiking the M Trail. That older sibling still can't stop talking about skipping Friday classes to ski at Snowbowl. Grandma remembers the good old days, when Griz fans stuck it out in the bleachers at Dornblaser Field. But the most indelible mark is that daily slog across the Oval. Fitting, since that's the place where you can literally set those stories in stone. Centennial Circle rings the iconic Grizzly statue with engraved bricks, each immortalizing a friend, a professor, an alumnus or an alumna at UM. And the proceeds go back into campus improvement projects. For the Griz who never quite left, it's the ultimate commemoration.
$150. Find it at www.umt.edu/urelations/market.
To: the man-cave denizen
Montana native Ian Crawford has been a businessman since age 18, but these days he's busy crafting stools from old oak wine barrels—the perfect addition to your buddy's man cave. The stools come in a variety of heights, styles and finishes, from the sleek, wine-stained Charleton to the squat, rustic Mini. Crawford's company, Vinoture, offers an array of other old-growth oak products, including coat racks. Every man needs his den-like getaway. Odds are you'll end up parking your butt there, too. Why not contribute something beyond the occasional six-pack?
Priced by quote. Find it at the holiday MADE fair at the Holiday Inn-Downtown at the Park, Dec. 11; or online at www.vinoture.org.
To: the Occupy protester
a JAX Hat
The temperature's dropping on the courthouse lawn, meaning your favorite Occupy Missoula protester could be suffering a little frostbite this holiday season. Sure, she probably gives you crap for being part of "the one percent," but maybe it's time to show a little compassion with a green-friendly, Missoula-made hat. Jackie Priess founded JAX Hats a few years back after making hats out of an old sweater to keep her daughters' heads warm and stylish. Her business has since gone international. Each hat has its own character and its own charm and—best of all—is 100 percent recycled.
$30. Find it at Rockin Rudy's or Green Light in Missoula, and at other retail outlets in Kalispell, Bozeman and Helena.
To: a wolf hunter
a bottle of pee
Those wolves sure are wily. We're allowed to shoot them now, but good luck getting 'em in your sights! But we know a trick: wolf urine. Territorial canines are attracted to their own pee! It's like baiting deer with a salt lick (not that we've done that). But be careful: This stuff's pungent. Dare you to put a splash in your hunting buddy's coffee...
$29.99. Find it at www.predatorpee.com.
To: your paranoid, conspiracy-theorist uncle
Is Uncle Leo constantly ranting about the New World Order stealing his newspaper? Odds are it's the neighbor kids playing a prank, or Leo forgetting that he cancelled his subscription a few years back, but if you want to help put his mind at ease, all it takes are a few MicroDots from Missoula-based MicroTrax—the latest in theft protection technology. One dab of MicroDot-speckled glue on the back of your cell phone or the underside of your laptop and you're in business. All you have to do is register your kit's validation code, place a MicroTrax sticker on the MicroDot-ed item and presto. Someone turns your stolen property in to MicroTrax, and they get it back to you within days. Just make sure to tell Leo not to blow all his MicroDots on one newspaper.
$49.99, with a one-year MicroTrax registration. Find it at Vann's electronic stores or online at www.micro-trax.com.
To: the hardcore Griz fan
Montana Grizzlies logo garter with lace
Diehard Griz faithful have no limits to their fanaticism, so perhaps it's no surprise to find a logo garter with lace alongside the team store's T-shirts, sweatshirts and pint glasses. This sexy accessory may seem like a completely unnecessary way to show your Griz pride—that is, until you see how it might become a gateway to better things. After all, how many other times in your lovemaking is it really appropriate to shout out, "Run it up the middle"?
$9.95. Find it at www.thegrizstore.com.
To: a discreet gun nut
Big Sky Racks gun rack
For some reason, rifle racks don't come standard in pickups. Fortunately, Big Sky Racks has your back. The Bozeman-based company sells gun racks that are ceiling-mounted, for quick access and out-of-sight weapon storage that saves space in your cab. They're popular with law enforcement agencies, but they're also designed for hunters and anyone else who finds comfort in having their Remington within arm's reach. Remember, hunters: no shooting from the road.
$55.95 to $109.95. Find it at Bob Ward and Sons and several other several other retailers around the state. More information at www.bigskyracks.com.
To: a friend in need of an artistic outlet
a class at the Clay Studio of Missoula
What's better than giving someone really cool pottery? Teaching them how to make really cool pottery—which is why we suggest gifting a class at the Clay Studio of Missoula. There are all kinds of options, from single-day workshops to 10-week classes for different skill levels, all taught by talented local artists. There's probably something in this for you, too: Whomever you give this to will surely thank you with a vase or something.
$85 to $205. Find the Clay Studio at 1106 Hawthorne Street, Unit A, in Missoula, and at www.theclaystudioofmissoula.org.
To: a poor housekeeper
Is your house a little stinky? Try burning some poop. Seriously. Dried moose poop. A local company, Moose-Cense, hunts for moose poop, sun-dries it, packages it and sells it as incense. And it smells really good—earthy and willowy! We think it's amazing that someone actually thought, "Let's dry this shit and burn it and see what it smells like, and then make a business of it." That's some serious intestinal fortitude. And this is the kind of gag gift that will actually be used.
$7. Find it at Rockin Rudy's and at www.moosecense.com.
To: grandma, god bless her
This traditional nativity scene reminds us of the true reason for the season—but, you know, with moose. Montana artist Phyllis Driscoll molded figurines—a king, shepherd and drummer—that are meant to complement the original moosetivity scene, which is currently out of stock. If you're looking to start a new set, why not also consider the beartivity option by Montana artist Jeff Fleming, featuring a Jesus bear, Mary bear, two angel bears and a Joseph bear?
$43 moosetivity "Set II"; $70 beartivity. Find them at www.bigskycarvers.com.
To: the little Griz fan
full Griz uniform
Kids love to dress up as their heroes, and in Missoula it's hard to find bigger role models than the student-athletes who play Saturdays at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. This three-piece set includes an authentic-looking Griz helmet, Griz "jersey" (it looks nothing like the actual jersey) and game pants. Taser marks and high-priced local attorney are sold separately.
$45. Find it at www.fansedge.com.
To: a young animal lover
a Peregrine falcon
Forget plastic crap made in China, mind-numbing video games and freaky animatronic creatures that will only haunt your little one's dreams for years to come. This Christmas, give a gift of nature. The Bitterroot's Raptors of the Rockies program offers the chance to "adopt" one of its birds. With a donation, you receive official adoption papers, a matted color photo of your animal and a life history since the bird's been in ROR's care. More importantly, your money goes to support the good work ROR does in rehabilitating some of the region's most treasured animals.
From $400 suggested donation for a Peregrine falcon to $75 for a pygmy owl. Find them at www.raptorsoftherockies.com.
To: your favorite fanboy
Black Powder: Bloody Frontier Adventure
Nothing says "happy holidays" like a violent, swash-bucklin' story about a young captain trying to rescue his lover from Mississippi River pirates. Fine, it may not be A Night Before Christmas, but Black Powder still packs a serious punch. Plus, it was created by a local! Dwayne Harris, a classically trained artist who lives in Kalispell, has been working on comics for about three years. Black Powder is the first series that he's both illustrated and written.
$2.95. Find it at Muse Comics, 2100 Stephens Avenue, #107, Missoula.
To: the do-it-yourselfer
DIY cheese-making kit and class
Some of us are craftier than others. For that friend who gets excited when fall canning season comes, the Good Food Store's cheese-making class will be a mindblower. Jennie Gregory teaches it once a month for two hours, giving students the tools to navigate the flavorful world that encompasses gorgonzola, mozzarella and mascarpone, among others. "You might not have found your perfect cheese yet," Gregory says. The class comes with a cheese-making kit so the DIY-er in your life can make the stuff at home and hopefully give some of it to you.
Find cooking-class gift certificates at the Good Food Store customer service desk, Missoula or call 541-3663. Class with kit is $40.
To: the avid local reader who already has every book
autographed, first-edition copies of local classics
Ever hear longtime locals talk about how much Missoula has changed over the years? Yeah, us too. And it's hard to compete with all those "Back in my day..." stories unless you've logged more than 20 years in the valley. Help a loved one earn some instant street cred by gifting them autographed, first-edition copies of Missoula County Images, Vol. I and II. Alternately, for a more hardboiled reader, consider the gorgeous first-edition, signed copy of local legend Jim Crumley's The Last Good Kiss. The original cover design is worth the price alone.
$125 Missoula County Images, Volume I; $65 Volume II; $75 The Last Good Kiss. Find them at the Book Exchange, 2335 Brooks Street.
To: bickering Aunt Belva and Uncle George
Counseling sessions with clinical sexologist Dr. Lindsey Doe
If Belva and George act like they need to get it on in order to start getting along, give the couple something that will help them get away from the TV and into the hot tub. Just as someone about to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro needs sturdy shoes, carbohydrates and plenty of water, couples that want to cultivate a healthy sex life for the long haul need the right tools. That's where Dr. Doe comes in. Missoula's clinical sexologist has suggestions for Belva and George about how to spice things up with new sexual techniques. Doe is also adept at smart negotiation strategies, to ensure both George and Belva get what they want. "I kind of act like a sex Sherpa," Doe says.
Sessions are $105 for individuals and $125 for couples. Doe suggests six sessions and offers a sliding scale. Call 544-1271.
To: the empty-nester
Griz gear from Go Fetch
There's no better way to show off home-team pride at the tailgate or in front of the tube than by making Fido part of the maroon tide. The practical pooch will no doubt appreciate Go Fetch's all-weather University of Montana outerwear with fleece lining, while daintier sports fans might check out the sleeveless Griz cheerleader outfit. Wrap it up and stuff it in a paw-shaped stocking with a Santa squeak toy, and you can't go wrong.
Find it at Go Fetch, 627 Woody Street, Missoula. Griz gear prices range from $26.95 up.
To: the survivalist in your family
A steel blade from Zombie Tools
Zombie Tools' motto is, "Can't save the world? Then prepare for its end." This homegrown business offers a slew of steel blades capable of doing everything from fending off the living dead to skinning a freshly harvested buck. Any self-respecting survivalist will love the Tooth ($149.95). It's a close-quarters combat knife with a 7-inch blade that's perfect for strapping onto one's tactical vest. We particularly like Zombie Tools' Ferrous Wolf ($449.95).The weapon has a 34-inch blade and, according to the company's website, "This beast will slay ice giants, zombies and meth-addicted cannibals."
Find Zombie Tools online at zombietools.net/tools/
To: the sassy bookworm
Courtney Blazon T-shirt with John Waters quote
Just because you're well read doesn't mean you have good judgment. Your bookworm friend who inexplicitly falls for the biggest losers can learn to love smartly with a very important motto by John Waters: "If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em!" This locally made T-shirt by Shakespeare & Co. is printed by Garage Tees and sports this important axiom for those who ought to know better. The design by local artist Courtney Blazon is rendered with loving, unoffensive, storybook detail. The Waters quote is in small, pretty type—you know, to keep things classy.
$15. Find it at Shakespeare & Co., 103 S. 3rd St. W. in Missoula.
To: a bird-enthusiast neighbor
trailer bird house
Bird are always traveling, so it's no big leap of the imagination to think they'd choose an Airstream-styled abode. These trailer houses for birds by retired school teacher R. Wade Nelson of Thompson Falls give the bird lover yet another fun contraption to put in the yard. The kitschy, candy-colored trailers with names like Silver Bullet, Teardrop, Kampkar and Halfmoon are eye-catching—made of wood, with bottle-cap rims, metal tops and beaded tail lights—and can be pole-mounted for the garden or hung.
$78. Find them at the Artists' Shop, 304 N. Higgins, in Missoula. Or go to rwadenelson.blogspot.com.
To: that eccentric aunt
handmade hats from the past
Katy Brennan, aka "Katy the Hat Lady," travels around the country collecting ribbons and fabrics to make hats with names like "Black Forest Cake" and "The Cat's Meow." We didn't travel back in time and board a steam locomotive to find this gift idea—the Whitefish milliner lives in the present, making dramatic hats for those who long for a little yesteryear flamboyance. The "Dragon Tea House hat," for instance, boasts double tone velvet, antique French ribbon and satin flowers, and there are hidden dragons stitched on the inside.
From $36 to $200. Find them at Grizzly Claw Trading Company, 3187 Highway 83 in Seeley Lake.
To: the practical baby
Infants don't love shoes, and why would they? Until now. We introduce you to a baby's first shoe addiction: Montana Moccasins. The soft deer hide on the outside combines with the cozy sheepskin on the inside, hand-stitched with nylon thread and snugged onto the foot via efficient ties. The beaded hearts and stars on each shoe add some sparkle. Also, you know how babies grow at a ridiculous pace? These grow with the baby for several months longer than normal shoes. Genius.
$28. Find them at Hide & Sole, 236 N. Higgins Ave., Missoula.
To: your mother
DIY wine-bottle plate
Remember when you made gifts for your family instead of buying them? Well, you're an adult now, and the coupon book full of "free hugs" will make you look like a cheapskate—but other DIY gifts won't. The Zootown Arts Community Center has tons of paint-it-yourself pottery gift options. We like the fused glass plates as a sophisticated way to say you care. Bring in a glass bottle and add glass shards and stringers to decorate it in your style, then let the staff fuse it into a colorful, abstract art piece perfect for fancy cheese. Reusing glass in a town that generally doesn't? Priceless.
$5 to $25, depending on how much decoration you do. Bring in a wine bottle to the Zootown Arts Community Center, 235 North 1st St. W., in Missoula, and give them a week to process the glass.