Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The 2009 Louisville Holiday Gift Guide

Struggling to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list? We turned to the experts for help.

Dot Fox is the clothing store where your hip, hot older sister shops. While they carry clothing for both women and men, the women's fashions are what they are most known for around town. The men's items help our unshaved, craft beer-drinking boys look better than they should, but the women's fashions are the ones that get heads turning on Bardstown Road and all points east.

Sarah Smith is a personable, helpful gal who looks like Dot Fox’s customers hope to look – stylish, classy, adult, yet relaxed, fun and adventurous. She quickly recommends agate belts by Kaymen B ($48), a "really cool" brand that makes western-style belts in various colors. The look is versatile, stylish in the city and practical in the country.

On the more expensive end ($116), pink studio women’s boots by Ismaela are a similar item. The suede boots will wow onlookers at night, at a fancy dinner or at the local dive bar, while also functioning well at a picnic lunch in horse country. As an investment piece, you won’t lose with these girls.

For both fashion-forward women and their metro men, Sock it to Me Socks work for both women & men. Made from a cotton and polyester blend, the “really awesome” socks run $8 and are available in many colors.

A Bess Vane crochet hat with a hooded neck ($54) keeps it local. Vane’s Etsy page boasts that her hats “will keep you warm while making you look awesome.”

Jeremy Paulin manages the Neutral Zone in the East End. It can’t be an easy job, as the U of L and UK stores are in two separate stores in the same shopping plaza, divided only by a Wal-Mart neighborhood store. Doesn’t sound very neutral to me! To further the divide, Paulin takes me around the U of L store, assisted by the contributions shouted by the lively ladies working behind the counter.

A nice and well-mannered man, Paulin’s first stop is nonetheless in front of the Christmas “rival ornaments”. I don’t know if an ornament of a Cardinal choking a Bluecat is exactly what Santa had in mind when he created Christmas, but it’s pretty funny. If you want to prove how loyal you are to our city’s top athletes who aren’t Muhammad Ali, they’re only $17, a fair price considering how much your friends will appreciate the fighting spirit and blunt humor of the item.

Though they have many popular clothing items, Paulin declines to list any as they are harder to keep in stock. Their most popular item is the Cardinal Gnome ($23.95), an adorable little friend with a grey beard and a red cap who can, indeed, be seen from PRP to Shelbyville.

For those more practical in mind and intent, a Cardinal computer mouse ($36.95) will help remind you what you are living for every time you look down at it. The 3-button scroll-wheel is also good for UK fans, for whom looking down at it can be even more symbolic…

A surprising gift for your gourmet-minded friends comes in a twelve-ounce bag. Cardinal coffee made exclusively by the local Java Brewing Company ($10) can help transform you from fan to barista and back again. Just don’t share any with your rivals.

Dandelion may have found the perfect location for their store, what they call “your home for modern living and gift giving.” The Vogue plaza is close enough to the Highlands to service young, boho chic folks, the recent college grads who are ready to grow up a little but don’t want their home to look like a retirement center. On the edge of St. Matthews, Dandelion is even closer to those who want to be a little artsy without getting too funky.

“We’ve sold a lot of these,” says owner Andie Frisbee about their mugs decorated with all of the signs of the Zodiac ($18). “They have really great graphics on them.” Indeed, the colorful containers pop out at the eye; your first impression is of the brightness, and you realize later what is on them.

The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book is the new instant classic book by Jack’s Lounge bartender and local legend Joy Perrine in collaboration with former Courier-Journal restaurant critic Susan Reigler. The slim volume ($14.95) is filled with recipes for swinging bachelors, partying parents or just those who like attractively designed objects.

Speaking of whiskey, how about some Whiskey rocks - as in stones. The Teraforma set of 9 is “ideal for chilling your favorite spirit without diluting its flavor,” and according to their website, is milled in Vermont from the oldest soapstone workshop in the US. ($22)

For the young journal keeper or budding poet, Papaya makes seven different journals, all uniquely designed, priced between $16 and $20. You can even walk around Dandelion with it and take notes on what else would look good in your home.

An arts supply store might not be the first place that you think of for a holiday gift, but Preston Arts Center has more tricks up their proverbial sleeve than you might know about.

Manager Lynn Busch agrees that an easel is a sure bet. “People want to buy it for their artist buddy.” Prices vary but are all very reasonable, so whether you have an artist buddy (who can always use more of these) or want to help encourage your mother or son to find a new passion, you can always start here.

Also worth seeking out are canvas panels by Frederick’s (not the negligee company). They are 50% off of various prices through the holidays, many under $10 already.

Kits of all sizes are also on sale, at various prices. You can get paints, brushes and what-have-you, and learn how to cartoon, how to draw pets, or how to draw horses. The whole family can join in on this, which will be even more fun after Uncle Larry’s had a few Hot Toddys.

Whether you are shopping for your child or for the child inside, Busch endorses “Bubber”. Bubber, you say? Wow, that certainly sounds like something fun! Yes, this modeling clay (5 ounces for $12.95) can be as fun as it sounds. “People seem to really enjoy playing with it,” said Busch.

photo by Johnn Rott. c. 2009 Velocity Weekly

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