Gift Guide 2012 

More than 40 last-minute ideas to help you carry the weight of the holidays

At the risk of sending you into a fruitcake-fueled frenzy or on an eggnog bender, we have to let you in on a little bit of reality: the holidays are upon us and you’re just about out of time to finish your gift shopping. We know, time flies during this part of the year. In fact, we were thinking the same thing when we flipped the calendar and realized this very gift guide appeared to be coming out a little later than most.

But you know what? If you’re anything like us, even if you crossed off a bunch of to-dos at the Holiday MADE Fair or scored some gifts during a fit of responsibility on Small Business Saturday, you’re still scrambling to find presents for a few remaining loved ones. Lucky for you, we’re here to help.

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We recently sent our entire newsroom—Matthew Frank, Erika Fredrickson, Jessica Mayrer, Alex Sakariassen and editorial intern Kelly Conde—on something of a scavenger hunt for last-minute gifts. They had less than three hours to track down ideas for specific people and, while a few used the power of the internet, almost all their selections came from local stores. The result is more than 40 items that are readily available and, hopefully, perfectly suited to helping you avoid any unnecessary holiday season stress—and, perhaps, from feeling the urge to binge on that fruitcake and eggnog.

Mission: Something for the folks

California Little, $90 adoption fee, Humane Society of Western Montana, 5930 U.S. Highway 93

Even the most bitter empty nester will smile when you present them a diminutive canine who likes nothing more than to snuggle on a cold Montana night. The Humane Society of Western Montana has been shipping in homeless Chihuahuas, dachshunds and terriers the past several months from an overcrowded animal shelter in California, making this a perfect win-win situation: low-maintenance companionship for the folks, while providing a miniature Fido with a much-needed home.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Stemless, lightweight wine glasses from GSI Outdoors, $7, The Trail Head, 221 E. Front St.

Yet another idea that promotes getting the folks out of the house. These add a little class to your parents’ excursions, like when Dad plans a romantic picnic or Mom wants a glass of wine with her freeze-dried meal in the backcountry.

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Books from Montana authors, $20 and up, shop locally at The Book Exchange, Fact & Fiction and Shakespeare & Co.

Our Mom and Dad hardly do much for fun but nag us to call more and read books. Why not support the latter to prevent any more of the former by stocking them up with the latest from Montana authors? One suggestion is The Bartender’s Tale by Ivan Doig.

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UM Theatre and Dance season tickets, $60 each, UM Box Office

The 2013 season includes Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues and Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. Score Mom and Dad tickets to five shows of their choosing and you’ll receive five “thank yous”—and five nights of your parents leaving you alone.

Best Choice

Blend of the month, $20 per month, Butterfly Herbs, 232 N. Higgins Ave.

Just because your folks don’t live in town doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy Butterfly Herbs’ coffee blend of the month on a regular basis. The coffee shop offers mail service at standard rates, enabling you to send that monthly Missoula caffeine boost anywhere in the country. The seasonal Yuletide Blend seems like a perfect place to start.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ERIC ORAVSKY

Mission: something under $10

Traffghanistan by Traff the Wiz, $10, traffthewiz.bandcamp or CD Baby

Traff the Wiz, aka Brian O’Neill, freestyle raps about where he lives (Missoula) and where he’s from (Troy). It’s authentic hip-hop with smart lines like “Handle all the mechanisms technically eclectic/Forces imitate electric hectic situations, correct it” and fun lines like “On the corner of Orange and Spruce/With a forty in my hand/Pouring out orange juice.”

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Pollinator Seed Mix, $10, Native Ideals Seed Farm,

You gotta love a gift that comes in such a small package (gorgeously designed by local illustrator Courtney Blazon) and costs so little, yet delivers a huge return. This seed mix from Arlee’s Native Ideals Seed Farm includes eight wildflower species that bloom throughout the season and attract a wide array of native pollinators, from hummingbirds to moths.

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Handmade face clock, about $10, your computer

The best part of giving the face clock for Christmas is knowing that your distorted mug will be gazing down on family for years to come. Here’s how you make it: grab your computer (we have a Mac with a Photo Booth application; for a PC, you’ll need Cameroid software or something similar) and take a photo using the “dent” effect, or whichever distorting effect you prefer. (The dent effect creates an amazing double chin, akin to a turkey with a severely engorged crop.) Next, print an 8-by-11 photo, cut it out and place it as a backdrop in an inexpensive clock from your favorite box store (we got ours for about $4 at Target). Put a bow on it, and hope your gift ends up hung above the mantle.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Montana Poop, $4.99–$5.95, Made in Montana kiosk at Southgate Mall

Montanans know our big backyard is full of poop—from elk, moose, bear, even the odd road apple dropped by a horse. These little baggies of chocolate-covered peanuts may not be the real deal, but they are a cheap and tasty celebration of our wild Western surroundings.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Best Choice

Drop-in yoga class, $10, Hot House Yoga, 127 N. Higgins Ave.

After all the holiday imbibing, give the gift of a sweaty yoga workout. It’s cheap, and it might just inspire a yoga newbie to find his inner yogi.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ERIC ORAVSKY

Mission: something for a drinker or foodie

Tajine, $70, The Red Rooster, 333 N. Higgins Ave.

Most traditional Moroccan food is prepared over coals in a ceramic dish with a cone-shaped lid called a tajine. Fill the tajine with Moroccan spices (cumin, cardamom, ginger, coriander, cinnamon), chickpeas, almonds, dried plums and apricot reserve, and your foodie has the makings of a homemade Moroccan feast.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ERIC ORAVSKY

Family Feast Package of pork, approximately $83, Farm-to-Market Pork in Kalispell,

If you’re a meat eater, you can never have too much pork. Farm-to-Market offers a number of different combination options, but the Family Feast Package is the way to go for a couple or family. The box holds eight center-cut chops,
 3 pounds of country-style ribs, 4 pounds of bone-in roast,
 3 pounds of pork steak, 3 pounds of spareribs, 2 pounds of ground pork
 and 4 pounds of sausage. All of this comes from hormone-free swine fed on local barley, and it comes frozen, making it a gift that will last.

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Kettlehouse and Big Sky candles, $12–$15, Green Light Apparel & Home Décor, 301 N. Higgins Ave.

Craft brew fanatics are known for one thing above all else: They’ve got great taste. Made from the full line of Kettlehouse and Big Sky cans, these candles will extend that taste from the tap room to the living room.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ERIC ORAVSKY

Wine of the Month Club, $30 and up, Worden’s Market and Deli, 451 N. Higgins Ave.

Save a loved one from uninformed wine-selection indecision and leave it to the good folks at Worden’s. Give a Wine Club membership and your favorite wine-lover will receive two bottles a month for a year.

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Best Choice

Garden City Fungi mushroom growing kit, $24.95–$28.95, Summer Sun and Brew, 838 W. Spruce St.

Each Garden City Fungi mushroom growing kit yields between 1 and 3 pounds of a different type of fungi. Choices including shiitake, lion’s mane, nameko and oyster mushrooms. Perhaps most exciting is these mushrooms are ready to harvest within weeks of starting the project. If you’re lucky, this gift recipient will be so pleased with your thoughtfulness that they’ll invite you over for mushroom soup.

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Mission: the big-ticket (locally made) item

Hand-blown glass water pipe, $900, Raja Smokeshop, 1220 West Broadway

Local glass-blowers are taking pipe artistry to new levels. This elaborate piece by Missoulian Eric Simpson, called “The Hand of God,” is as much about artistic form as function. It’s like the aged single-malt Scotch you break out only on special occasions.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Handmade Precambrian rock oil lamp, $25–$400, call Nel Buck at 406-288-3391

Nothing says, “I wracked my mind to think up a unique gift for you,” like a Precambrian rock oil lamp handmade by Hall resident Nel Buck. Buck harvests the ancient rock from a favorite spot west of Missoula and crafts the lamps herself. Each is a unique color, size and shape. That’s why Buck doesn’t like to sell online—she prefers to bring her offerings to you or have you come to her. “I like people to see, feel and touch it,” she says.

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The Wilma Theatre, $1.8 million, 131 S. Higgins Ave., sale info at

What, too hard to wrap? Oh, come on. If money is no object and it must be locally made, it doesn’t get any bigger than this big-ticket item. The “crown jewel of downtown Missoula” is a historic Louis XIV-style designed theater that seats 1,065 in the main auditorium. Let’s just say a quiet “movie night” for this gift recipient would never be the same again.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Print of Jeremy Lurgio’s “Ross Fork,” $500, Rocky Mountain School of Photography, 216 N. Higgins Ave.

This print from local photographer Jeremy Lurgio’s Lost and Found Montana project invokes a bit of nostalgia for the old, wide open West.

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Best Choice

“Spring Brushes in Potomac,” by David Wilson, $1,400, Dana Gallery, 246 N. Higgins Ave.

Local artist David Wilson makes oil paintings of detailed flowers, sweeping landscapes of hay bales and other colorful eye candy. Pieces like “Dark Afternoon at Waterworks Hill” and “Downpour Near Livingston” appeal to the moodier viewer, while “Dos Santos Usando el Metro” evokes an urban wildness. “Spring Brushes in Potomac,” pictured here, is another favorite. It can be difficult to buy art for someone else, but Wilson’s eclectic pieces and curious textures are easy to love by hip and traditional art-lovers alike.

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Mission: something romantic

Seven Function Remote Bullet, $73.95, Adam & Eve, 1401 W. Broadway St.

Are your friends sick of you and your lover’s public displays of affection? Well, with the Remote Bullet, you can go down low on the down-low with just the push of a button. Dinner out has never been spicier.

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Chico Hot Springs winter getaway package, $189 per night,

Getaways can be pricey, but this Chico Hot Springs winter getaway package is a hot deal. The price includes dinner and breakfast for two and lodging in select rooms, and runs Jan. 2 through April 25 (available Sundays through Thursdays).

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Fifty Shades of Grey merchandise kit, $63.80, Fantasy for Adults Only, 210 E. Main St.

E.L James’ erotic trilogy has gained notoriety across the country for its racy content, full of bondage and sadomasochism. This gift allows you to create those very same scenes at home. Fantasy For Adults sells not just the books, but also many of the accoutrements featured therein, including the grey tie featured on the first book’s cover, handcuffs, a mask and Ben-Wa Balls.

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Date in a Box, $39, Worden’s Market, Rockin Rudy’s and Green Light

Not all of us can be with our special someone on Christmas Eve. So whether you’re together or apart, try the DIY approach and pre-package your own personally planned romantic evening. Start with a mini bottle of wine from Worden’s, throw in a used CD of soft jazz from Rockin Rudy’s and top it off with a typewriter key necklace from Green Light with your loved one’s initial. Holiday bow optional.

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Best Choice

Homemade love oil, about $10, Meadowsweet Herbs, 180 S. Third St. W.

Ask for help from one of the brilliant herbologists at the store and look to mix massage oil with a couple drops of clove essential oil (it’s considered a warm scent and a stimulator), rose essential oil (it smells nice and acts as an aphrodisiac) and domiana essential oil (also an aphrodisiac). Be sure to put the sexy concoction in a heart-shaped bottle ($4.25) and you’re all set for a memorable night.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Mission: something charitable

CSA half-share, $300, Garden City Harvest,

This is a great way to give fresh, locally grown food from April through October. A half CSA share from the local nonprofit is about 215 pounds worth of food, which works out to just $1.40 per pound. That’s a bargain. Plus, the money supports Garden City Harvest’s many programs, such as its Youth Harvest Project.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Screenprinted holiday cards, $5 for 10 cards, Zootown Arts Community Center, 235 N. First St. W.

Add a little DIY flair to your gift-giving by making holiday cards for the fam or your buddies down at the ZACC. If you’re finicky about paper stock, bring your own, but all the ink and screens you need will be provided. Your purchase helps support the nonprofit’s continuing work with kids, teens and adults. The printshop is open noon to 6 p.m., Mon. through Fri., and offers group rates ($50 per hour) for up to six people.

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Christmas wreaths, $25, Teen Challenge Thrift Store, 1035 Mount Ave.

Holiday digs aren’t complete without that token wreath on the front door. Teen Challenge has a plethora of handmade pine bough wreaths leftover from its annual craft bazaar, and the proceeds benefit the faith-based nonprofit’s mission of helping women suffering from behavioral problems or substance abuse.

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Six-pack of Bayern Brewery’s Dancing Trout Ale, about $7.50, various local retailers

What says Christmas better than a beer with a slow-dancing fish on it? A percentage of all sales from this local brew goes to Montana Trout Unlimited and its efforts to conserve Montana rivers.

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Best Choice

Open Aid Alliance calendar, $16.99,

Featuring the Cigarette Girls Burlesque Troop (January), Tom Catmull and the Clerics (May) and City Councilwoman Caitlin Copple (November), among many others, this gift allows you the chance to do good and see local celebrities naked. Calendar sales benefit the Missoula Open Aid Alliance, which helps prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C across the state and provides services for those already infected.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Mission: something for the boss

Whyte Laydie Dry Gin, $28, Montgomery Distillery, 129 W. Front St.

Get your boss good and liquored up so she forgets about your antics over the past year. We recommend Montgomery Distillery’s new gin, made with Rocky Mountain juniper. The new downtown distillery released this spirit this month.

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The Dammit Doll, $11.99, Rockin Rudy’s, 237 Blaine St.

The Dammit Doll, aka “the original stress doll,” has long legs and looks a bit like Gumby in a floral pattern. The doll’s unremarkable appearance makes it easier to beat it up. After all, that’s the whole point of The Dammit Doll. As a poem on the doll’s chest says, “Whenever things don’t go well and you want to hit the wall and yell...Just grab it firmly by the legs and find a place to slam it and as you whack the stuffing out, yell dammit, dammit, dammit.”

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Laptop sleeve, $45, Green Light Apparel & Décor, 301 N. Higgins Ave.

Regardless of where you work, your boss is likely the type who totes around a laptop. Help the big cheese help the environment by wrapping that computer in a sleeve made from a recycled bike tube. It should be enough to fend off coffee spills.

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Hugger Mugger Yoga Exercise Ball, $25, REI, 3275 N. Reserve St.

Like any hard-working, office-bound person, your boss probably spends a lot of time sitting hunched over a computer. Sitting on a yoga ball rather than a normal chair will improve posture while working the abs. Your boss may not appreciate the big pastel-colored ball at first, but after a few months of building a stable core, the gratitude will pour in.

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Best Choice

Webster’s Dictionary with glass flask, $99.95,

Let’s say the head honcho’s favorite things are drinking and spouting off four-dollar words. If those two habits had a baby, it would be the Webster’s Dictionary that secretly conceals a 250-milliliter swing-top glass flask imported from Italy. If this doesn’t get you a raise, nothing will.

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But wait, there’s more!

Still need ideas? Here are seven other gift suggestions

Montana license plate coozie, $16, Upcycled, 517 S. Higgins Ave.

Whether you’re tailgating or campfire-side, a coozie is essential party equipment for keeping your beer cold. Booze in Big Sky-style with this insulated coozie made from a Montana license plate.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MATTHEW FRANK

Organic doorbell ringers, $34–$36, 4 Ravens Gallery, 248 N. Higgins Ave.

You’ve probably switched over to organic materials in every realm except for one: your doorbell. Slate artist Justin Stewart of Ardósia Stonecraft makes iron slate doorbells sourced from the Flathead—which means they’re each unique—and trimmed in your choice of gold or silver. Ding dong!

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Boobie Dodgeball, $16.95, Fantasy for Adults Only, 210 E. Main St.

The Boobie Dodge Ball looks like, well, a boobie. It’s a squishy breast complete with a faux nipple that one can throw at friends and foes. The folks at Fantasy say this item is very popular among the college crowd, making it an ideal gift for your favorite frat brother.

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Full-body bibs, $25, Green Light Apparel & Home Décor, 301 N. Higgins Ave.

No one likes to clean up after the baby. Full-body bibs are handmade by Robin Clason of Robin’s Nest out of Lolo. They’re made to look super cute and hip with mushroom and bird designs, but they’re as practical as a suit of armor was back in medieval times, shielding your child from a self-inflicted assault of sauces and squashed vegetables.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ERIC ORAVSKY

Piperoid, $16.99, Rockin Rudy’s, 237 Blaine St.

Everyone’s desk needs a little flair. These bizarre creatures, made from nothing more than rolled up paper, are just the kind of goofy, artsy kitsch to liven up a boring office and spark jealousy in nearby cubicles.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Handmade sock monkey, $55, Selvedge Studio, 509 S. Higgins Ave.

Sometimes the best gifts are the goofiest, and odds are even the person who has everything still doesn’t have a sock monkey. The owners of Selvedge Studio make these little guys from scratch, right down to the frizzy hair and tiny vests.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ERIC ORAVSKY

Best Choice

Alaskan Essence Animal Spray, $17.90, Meadowsweet Herbs, 180 S. Third St. W.

This soothing spray contains, among other things, chamomile essential oil and “Essence of Environment.” How exactly does one capture the essence of an environment? Well, according to the product’s website, they identify an element or characteristic in the environment and extend a message of love to it. They then ask for the energy from the element to be transferred into a prepared bowl of water. Water from this bowl is put into the animal spray to promote a calming energy for your pet.

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