Tis the season of The List. You know The List—that unmanageable, dreadfully long collection of names waiting for you to connect each one with this holiday season's perfect gift. Family members, friends and coworkers certainly make The List, as do a few marginal sorts who linger at the bottom as you try to calculate whether they'll gift back to you. The List is as much a part of the holidays as fruitcake (which should never make The List) and Rankin/Bass stop-motion specials. But for every easy check-off on The List, a maddening number of deserving names get stuck with the dreaded "?" or, worse, something like this: "Fruitcake?"
To help you avoid this stress-inducing mix-and-match game, the Independent dedicates its annual holiday gift guide to addressing almost every conceivable person on The List. Pops? Easy. Grandma? No problem. Those distant relatives who inexplicably invited themselves to this year's holiday feast? Child, please. We think we've covered the bases—at least those bases situated a little left of center—over the next five-plus pages. And if not, consider some candlesticks or a nice bottle of liquor—anything but the fruitcake.
To: The Drunkard
Beer koozie necklace or wine glass koozie
A koozie is critical for seasoned drinkers looking to keep their beer cold and their hand warm. However, a koozie with a neck strap takes the accessory to an entirely different level. Not only will the imbiber enjoy perennially cold suds and warm, dry hands, they'll be able to easily locate their drink, even as the night wears on.
Alternately, if your drunkard has more refined tastes than domestic brew and prefers a nice glass of Boone's Farm, consider getting him or her a classy wine glass koozie made of cotton, like the one pictured here. The sleeves come in various colors attached to a fashionable black strap, sure to match the recipient's best Missoula evening wear.
Wine glass koozie, $3.95. Available at The Green Light, 128 W. Alder Street. Beer koozie necklace, $7.50. Available online at www.floattripper.com
To: Raisin smugglers
Possum Pam Nipple Warmers
According to the Possum Pam website, the introduction of the brushtail possum to New Zealand from Australia resulted in a possum explosion in the early 1900s, with 60 million possums now consuming 21,000 tons of indigenous vegetation nightly. One population control solution? Make those critters into nipple warmers. The warmers come in different colors—blue, red, purple, natural and black—and are naturally non-allergenic and biodegradable, requiring no factory or harmful chemicals to make them. You just pull off the adhesive backing and apply to nipples. They're great for added warmth during Montana's cold winter months, and it's at least one way to keep people from asking you about smuggling raisins.
$9. Available at www.possumpam.com.
To: Tiny Environmentalist
Truck from Salvage Toys
Plastic schmastic. Let's return to wood. Better yet, reused wood. That's the idea behind Salvage Toys, a small venture from 27-year-old Missoulian Matt Gray. He makes trucks, tractors, bulldozers and cars from old wood he gets mostly from Home Resource, and other recycled items like coffee cans. Gray started making the toys about a year ago when his two sisters began having babies, and the hobby turned into a small business. Besides being a durable, fun and environmentally friendly holiday gift for the little kid on your list, it's probably good karma to support a guy like Gray—he has a master's degree in philosophy and works at the Good Food Store—instead of some mega-chain full of stuff made in China.
$8–$30. Available at Good Food Store, 1600 S. Third Street; Walking Stick Toys, 829 S. Higgins Avenue; and Home Resource, 1515 Wyoming Street.
To: Freezing baby
Starry Knight leather slippers
Little babies can be tough to shop for, mostly because the toys you think they'd love aren't yet age appropriate (almost everything, it seems, is labeled for age 3 and up). Plus, babies don't really play. They just squirm and poop and sleep and cry. That leaves you looking for clothes, which can be an equally tough challenge. Make the search easy by focusing on infant/toddler shoes handmade by Melanie Knight in Corvallis. She offers a wide selection of Robeez-like footwear, all made from remnant or recycled leather. We're partial to the leather boots lined with organic fleece cotton, but they're a little expensive ($40). No matter what style you choose, these would surely work better for a wee one than, say, the nipple warmers.
$20 and up. Available at Blackbird Kid Shop, 525 S. Higgins Avenue, or www.starryknightdesign.com