GIVING HAS never been harder to do. We’ve gone to all the malls, the knickknack stores and the specialty shops, and yet our Christmas list is as insurmountable as before. Aunt Maude already has kitchen blenders and matching potholders in triplicate, and Uncle Elroy’s closet is overflowing with unworn ties. We are frustrated. In this season of end-\less good cheer and ceaseless yuletide Muzak, we want to rock the boat a little-put a little zest in our gift-giving. Pull out the stops.
Throwing caution to the cool winds of winter (and our bank accounts), we embark on our ardu-ous mission: in search of Christ-mas gifts that will excite, entice and enlighten. To help in this no-ble quest, here’s our annual gift guide, with details on some of the most unusual and original gifts ! available for the holiday season.
BOUGHS OF HOLLY
Once the first Christmas decorations start to go up, the holiday season can be declared in full swing. Put away those old, boring bulbs and head for The Original Christmas Store (388 Inwood Village) where you’ll find charms from the ages. We decorated our tree (see page GG22) with a wide assortment of ornaments: The Victorian balls (designed by Louis Nichole) are part of the “heirloom collections of Louis XVII” ($19.95 each); the red and white candles (99 cents a dozen) and the silver and gold candle clips ($5 per dozen) are styled after the old German tan-nenbaums. We also hung burgundy and blue doves ($1.99 each); an old-fashioned German angel ($12); a Victorian cat ($8.50); beige tassels ($2.50 apiece); beads ($1.99 per strand); large silk flowers ($5 apiece); German grape bunches ($1.99 each); and lace flowers ($12 apiece). On the mantel, we strung a 9-foot garland and hung handmade taffeta stockings with ecru lace trim ($42 each); and we placed a dapple-gray unicorn stand on top ($65). Miscellaneous items include potpourri bouquets, lace and velvet heart sachets and a sachet basket (all between $6.50 and $10.50).
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
For the executive: WorkSlate (pictured on page GG22), a new briefcase-sized computer from Convergent Technologies, and the first in a family of microportable computer-based products that performs financial forecasts, budget and cost estimates. Work-Slate also features a calculator, calendar, address book and telephone. The computer, which weighs less than a standard telephone, uses an eight- bit CMOS microprocessor that requires only battery power. It also has a typewriter keyboard and calculator pad, a liquid crystal display screen showing 16 lines by 46 characters and an optional MicroPrinter. It’s $895 at Computerland and is also available through the American Express Christmas catalog. Taskware runs from $19.95 to $49.95; the MicroPrinter is $250.
New this year is The Executive Information Service, a computer software service for the business executive with a personal computer. Produced by CompuServe, the nation’s largest provider of data base information services to the microcomputer market, the software features updated, selected price quotations for more than 9,000 security issues; Standard & Poor’s financial information on more than 3,000 companies; Value Line Data Base II, which enables the user to analyze the performance of more than 1,700 major corporations; Site II/Site Potential, a demographic data base that provides updated census information for any area of the country; electronic communications that allow instantaneous messaging and hard-copy delivery throughout the country; Executive News Service, which includes all 128 Associated Press bureaus and has an automatic clipping service that allows subscribers to select articles by topic and store them in an electronic retrieval file; Electronic Conferencing and Professional Forums for use in communication with any number of participants in a region; and updated schedule and fare information for most commercial airline flights. Subscription to CompuServe is $139.95 for a professional hookup to the IBM-PC; all other microcomputer hookups are $89.95. The CompuServe Executive Information Service is available through the Sears catalog, Radio Shack and other major Dallas-area computer outlets. Call toll-free (800) 848-8199 for information.
If you have the hardware and software but need to learn how to use it, Jacques Vroom offers a three-day computer camp. The $795 seminar includes hands-on experience; students use computers to do financial modeling and planning, word processing, record keeping and data retrieval and analysis. Each class is limited to eight students, and each day a gourmet lunch catered by Marty’s is offered. Jacques Vroom, 2516 Maple. 698-9182.
ALL WRAPPED UP
It’s hard to imagine mink any way other than draped over the shoulder of a glamorous movie star, but mink debuts this winter in the form of hand-knit sweaters by Szor-Diener, which range in price from $2,600 to $4,500. Also available are reversible mink raincoats, $2,995 to $3,995 at Szor-Diener, 2952 Stemmons (Dallas)and 6100 Camp Bowie Blvd (Fort Worth).
But mink isn’t just for women. This year, his-and-hers full-length Black Diamond Mink coats are available exclusively at Koslow’s. Each fur comes with a guarantee bond and a registration number stamped on the label. About $13,000 at Koslow’s, Caruth Plaza (Dallas) and West 7th and Taylor (Fort Worth).
If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then the spectacular yellow-gold and diamond necklace (pictured on page GG22), consisting of 44.5 carats of round and emerald-cut diamonds and 18-karat yellow gold, will be her lifelong companion. This $145,000 necklace has matching earrings ($9,200). At William Noble Rare Jewels, Registry Hotel, 15201 Dallas Parkway.
THE WILD ONES
If you or someone you know was born to be wild, take off on the new Riva from Yamaha. This sleek, futuristic motorbike will transport you into 1984 in fast fashion (check out the Riva apparel and accessories). The new two-wheeler comes in three sizes and five colors (and the 180 is legal for freeway driving). Special features include a bottom-link front suspension as well as front and rear hydraulic shocks, a step-through frame design that lets you sit normally, a fully enclosed engine and transmission for noise reduction and extra travel compartments for small items. The Riva 50 is $659 (available in red and blue); the Riva 80 is $899 (available in red and white); and the Riva 180 is $1,399 (available in blue, silver and gold). Available at Big D Yamaha (Dallas), Yamaha of Texas (Fort Worth), North Texas Yamaha (Denton) and Irving Schwinn Cyclery (Irving).
If you prefer to go on foot, go in style with these Camouflage All Stars from Converse.
The canvas shoes are built on a high-traction rubber sole for fast getaways. They’re available in green, khaki and brown camouflage patterns for men or women. About $20 at Foot Action Stores, Doak Walker Sports Center, Luke’s Locker and Athlete’s Foot stores.
A dog may be man’s best friend, but here’s one that will take a bite out of your bank account. The Chinese Shar-Pei, best known as the one with all the wrinkles, is available for $2,000 at Neiman-Marcus. Unlike us, the Shar-Pei is wrinkly when young and loses some of its wrinkles as it ages. To order, call 573-5780.
Once again, the Dallas Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) is selling gift certificates for pets. They’re $15 to $45, depending on the size and species of dog or cat. The DSPCA isn’t open Christmas Day, but is open every day before and after the holiday. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. 362 S. Industrial. 651-9611.
If Rover’s tired of those squeaky plastic steaks and rawhide bones, try Haute Canine. These natural gourmet dog snacks (thin protein and fiber wafers) are available at Fauna Mania (Prestonwood Town Center), The Tulip Tree (Highland Park Village) and The Party Place (Preston Center), or you can order a supply directly from the manufacturer, L. Coffey Ltd., 415 Eleventh Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis, MN 55414.
This gift is anything but small change for the big spender: For $150, you can get a limited edition proof set of five silver medallion coins ranging in size from one-half ounce to 5 ounces. Sunshine Bullion Co., Plaza of the Americas. 748-9872.
Dans un Jardin (“In the Garden”) offers custom-mixed perfume (see page GG22), eau de toilette, soap, room fragrance and other products for both men and women. One-fourth ounce of perfume costs $50; 4 ounces of eau de toilette is $40. Every scent is designed especially for a particular individual. No scent may be duplicated. Gift certificates are available, and they will be put in a perfume bottle for gift giving. Galleria. 392-0562.
THR0UGH THE LOOKING
For holiday and evening eyewear, The Versaille 15 has faceted lenses in a three-piece mounting of gold or silver plate. About $83 at Pearle Vision Centers.
A POUND (OR MORE) OF CHEER
If once (or twice) is not enough, we dare you to eat the 25-pound, deluxe box of mint-flavored Frango chocolates (pictured on page GG22). There’s enough chocolate here to last you through Memorial Day. It’s $200 at Marshall Field’s, Galleria.
CHEERS LOOKING AT YOU, KID
What would Christmas and New Year’s Eve be without the ol’ bubbly? We suggest you pop your cork over Dom Perignon (pictured on page GG22). It’s about $70 at The Tasting Room, 5717 W. Lovers Lane. According to tradition, Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk, was the cellar master of the abbey of Hautvillers during the late 17th century. The abbey is now owned by the champagne house of Moìt et Chandon, and the name “Dom Perignon” has been given to Moìt’s best and most expensive wine. The shape of the bottle is patterned after the bottles used for all champagne 100 years ago.
Other vintage ideas include a carved redwood gift box from Mendocino to hold one bottle ($10), two bottles ($15) or a single magnum of California Chardonnay or Cabernet wine ($13.50). In addition, The Tasting Room will guarantee the quality of the wine. And once the wine has been opened, drop clear glass marbles into the bottle to prolong the life of the wine. A package is $6.75 at The Tasting Room.
To keep your wines at their best, store them in a temperature and humidity-controlled vintage cellar from Vintage Cellars Inc. Two sizes are available. One is small enough to fit under a counter and can hold 100 bottles (starting at $4,100); the larger vault is a free- standing unit that holds 200 bottles (starting at $4,650). The temperature settings are computer-controlled, and an alarm system notifies the owner if the temperature drops even a few degrees. Allow six weeks for each cellar to be made. Dallas International, 698-9541.
For the ultimate in libational splurging, there’s no comparison to the elegance of the Rémy Martin Louis XIII Baccarat decanter and cognac (pictured on page GG22). In its hand-blown Baccarat crystal decanter and red-and-gold box, Rémy Martin Louis XIII is designed to last through 25 yuletides. When empty, the Baccarat decanter is a collector’s item. It’s about $500 at area liquor stores, including Lucky Fair Park, Lou’s, Marty’s, Airway, Goody-Goody, Hasty, World/King’s, Sigel’s, Sonny’s, Buckeye, Red Coleman’s, Cork and Bottle, 1st Stop, Centennial, Time and River. Also available at several liquor stores by request.
New on the market this year, Trenais, a yogurt-based brandy liqueur, is sure to warm even the coldest heart. At 30 proof, this stocking-stuffer is a combination of Dutch yogurt and French cognac; it tastes-surprisingly-like butterscotch, but with a bit of a kick. The liqueur will be sold in 750-, 500- and 50-milliliter sizes. The 750-mil-liliter bottle is between $13 and $16 at area liquor stores.
Eat, drink and be merry, but watch that waistline: If you or someone you know is overindulging, sprint on out to Las Colinas, where the Las Colinas Preventive Medicine Center is offering gift certificates for physical examinations. The top-of-the-line gift package is $550 for a complete physical examination that involves two visits and consultations on nutrition, exercise and disease prevention. The center also offers gift certificates in lesser amounts. 4200 N. MacAr-thur Blvd., Irving, 75062. 257-1080.
If you’ve got $10,000, you can vacation in paradise this holiday season at the 750-acre Kapalua resort on the west side of the Hawaiian island of Maui. This package will be tailored to each individual’s whim, and, among other pampering services, includes private limousine service; chartered air transportation that will fly over Lanai and Molokai islands; a personal wine tasting; a Maui helicopter tour that includes a picnic lunch at a secluded bay on the island of Lanai; a morning sail among the islands of Lanai and Molokai; windsurfing; scuba diving; snorkeling; horseback riding and championship golf courses. The cost is $10,000 per couple for six days and five nights. For each additional night, add $1,500. For reservations, call Verna Correa at (800) 367-8000.
For those who are strictly armchair travelers, Hawaii: The Audio Magazine can provide the exotic sounds of the islands. Recorded entirely in Hawaii, the audio magazine offers eight selections of music from top Hawaiian performers; narrative legends that have been passed down from past generations; travel tips; and features on nature, art, history, lifestyles and current events. The magazine will be available through subscription. A year’s subscription includes six issues (one every other month) and an ultra-suede cassette album to hold the full year’s issues. The annual subscription rate is $54 plus postage and handling. To subscribe, send check to Hawaii: the Audio Magazine, Century Center, Suite 3-250, 1750 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96826; or use Visa or MasterCard by calling the 24-hour toll-free number: (800) 227-3800, ext. 120.
Or, for $400,000, you and 100 of your closest friends can go yachting-with your own captain and crew-on a seven-day Caribbean voyage. The vessel is the 340-foot Sea Goddess 1, which is docked in Miami. The price includes 24-hour meal service and sports facilities including a swimming pool and hot tub as well as windsurfing, snorkel-ing and water skiing. For reservations and more information, call (305) 266-8705.
RULES OF THE GAME
The spin of the wheel and the roll of the dice elicits visions of Las Vegas, not sugar plums. But surely ’tis a season of chance. Place a Christmas bet on the roulette wheel and rainbow-colored chips in a finished walnut chest (pictured on page GG22). It’s about $595. Or perhaps a game of billiards is more your style. The odds have just increased with this puff billiards set from France, about $295. Originally called “Le Billiard Nicolas” in Paris more than a century ago, this game is played with bellows revolving on pivots as players attempt to push their billiard balls with puffs of air into an opponent’s pocket. The mahogany board is encircled with colored beads for scoring. And those who like a challenge will enjoy Sogo, a three-dimensional tic-tac-toe game in solid oak ($45). The game is designed for two people, with four planes to play on. All three games are available at Abercrombie & Fitch, Caruth Plaza and Valley View Center.
Everyone is trying to figure out “Decipher,” the cipher-coded game that will net the code-breaker $100,000. The game, contained in a black-and-gold gift box, consists of a gold jigsaw puzzle, the pieces of which are contained in a small flannel drawstring bag. The first task is to put the jigsaw together (the colors don’t vary, and numbers are printed on both sides). The next step is to break the code printed on both sides of the completed jigsaw. The solution is locked in two safe deposit boxes (one at the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York, the other at a secret location in Virginia). The cash prize will be awarded if the correct answer is received by March 1, 1984. Otherwise, the cash prize continues until the correct answer is received. An entry blank is included with each game. To ensure secrecy, the inventor of the game-and the only person who knows the answer-will undergo periodic lie-detector tests. It’s $12 at Sanger Harris, Joske’s, Bennett Hallmark stores and other selected gift shops.
If you’ve got a tennis buff on your list, consider the burgundy leather tennis bag (pictured on page GG22) to get him or her to the courts in style. It’s $725 at les must de Cartier in the Galleria.
Kids, big and small, will be on the fast track with Burago’s vintage models of the some of the world’s most prestigious racing cars: the Rolls-Royce Camargue, the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, the Mercedes SSK and the Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider. They’re $22.95 each at FAO Schwarz in the Galleria.
Music buffs will delight in the completely handmade 18-note Swiss movement music box (pictured on page GG22). Each animal is movable and the music box plays Carrousel Waltz. It’s $1,500 at Beau Dan, Promenade Shopping Center.
You’ll never have a hard time getting your child to take a bath again with the waterproof Sony Walkman (pictured on page GG22). About $150 at Bloomingdale’s in Valley View Center and other selected stereo stores.
Before the age of plastics, children’s toys were hand-carved from wood. With this delightful motorbike (pictured on page GG22), a child can ride back in time. Each motorbike is handmade by John and Gail Vanderslik in Cambria, CA. The toy is suggested for children ages 1 through 5. It’s $200 at Silhouettes, 3415 Milton in Snider Plaza.
But before your youngster goes zooming off, buckle him up in a bicycle reflector belt (pictured on page GG22). It’s $25 at Bloomingdale’s, Valley View Center.
This is definitely the season of mink- from sweaters to toothbrushes to teddies.
Now toddlers can enjoy the softness of mink in Rare Bear, a toy made of natural ranch mink. The 7-inch-tall teddy comes with a cowboy hat, bandanna and pedigree papers. It’s $100 at Sakowitz, Sakowitz Village.
AFTER THE PARTY
If you want a taste of New Year’s Eve all year long, try this 24-karat gold-plated toothbrush trimmed with American ranch mink and loaded with champagne toothpaste. It’s $25 at Sakowitz.
Or, if you’d just rather sit in your easy chair and let the Alka Seltzer come to you, pick up The Ro Butler, an 11 x 44-inch remote-controlled, battery-operated butler tray made by Designsense. It has start and stop motion and works on either carpet or smooth floors, indoors and outdoors. It’s $50 at Neiman-Marcus.