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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.”

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.


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.

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.

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