date published: December 19, 2005


For an understated yet still lovely gift for your best gal, try the flower tea light candle set ($9) from Nomad (1741 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617-497-6677), carved to resemble real flowers, or gorgeous hand-blown glass apothecary bottles ($44-84, pictured above, top) from Nantucket Natural Oils (Hotel Commonwealth, 508 Comm. Ave., 866-514-OILS) which come in a range of colors. For a gift with more sparkle and shine, head to John Lewis Jewelry (97 Newbury St., 800-266-4101) and check out their finely textured dangling gold flag earrings ($687), tanzanite and platinum necklace ($2,849) or pink tourmaline ring ($4,546, all pictured above, middle), as worn by our cover girl.


Holiday myth #643: Men can't get enough neckties. His year, bust out of the Windsor-knotted rut and indulge your gentleman with classic luxury. Function meets fashion in a classic Swiss Army watch with black leather band ($175, pictured above, bottom) from Swiss Watchmaker (58 Church St., Cambridge, 617-864-1163). Sleek steel-framed shades from Gucci for the city sophisticate are sure to awe and come in brown, gray and black ($225) at Eleganza (275 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-739-3100). Or to keep your fella warm all winter long, consider a 100% pure Mongolian cashmere overcoat woven in Italy ($699) from Simon's Men's Clothing (220 Clarendon St., 617-266-2345).


It's no urban legend-the season's hottest trends come directly from the Wild West. Cowpokes love nothing more than adorning their jeans with some good ol' Texan flair like big, bold, belt buckles, which can be found in a variety of styles at Rick Walker's (21 Temple Pl., 617-482-7426, $20-65). But the outfit isn't complete without a pair of authentic boots. Visit Helen's Leather (110 Charles St., 617-742-2077) for red and brown Lucchese boots ($249, pictured above right), handmade from oiled calfskin.


If iPod mania has nabbed someone on your list, Cross (Zero Brattle Street, Cambridge, 617-868-7020) carries genuine leather cases ($32-48) that lets them rock out in style. Keep your iPod addicts happy at home with a stop at Levenger (Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St. 617-536-3434) for the Crosley Solo Radio ($128, pictured above right). Its wooden casing gives it an old-time radio look to your iPod, which when plugged in acts like a stereo, complete with surround sound.


At Black Ink (5 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-497-1221) you'll find a number of kitschy gifts for the hipsters on your list, like the fortune cookie kit ($6.95), which includes everything needed to make inscrutably delicious desserts. For the staples of everybody's inner teenager-comics, CDs, DVDs, posters and sports paraphernalia-visit Newbury Comics (332 Newbury St., 617-236-4930; 1 Washington Mall, 617-248-9992; 36 JFK St., 617-491-0337). Red Sox fans will love the "Real Women don't date Yankees fans" t-shirt ($17.99, pictured above right).


With their focus on flawless style, fashonistas are often the hardest people to shop for. Before succumbing to that last resort-a gift card-check out these chic digs known to be favorites of the glam and gorgeous. The stylish boutique Intermix (186 Newbury St., 617-236-5172) keeps fashion mavens warm with a lush, silk-lined, faux-rabbit fur vest ($650). And because fashion forward men need to stay warm too, Karmaloop (160 Newbury St., 617-369-0100) offers a men's gray hoodie, complete with black fur lining in the hood ($79, pictured top right). For funky handbags, brooches from the 1930s through 1970s ($15-40, pictured middle right) and more, visit vintage clothiers Poor Little Rich Girl (416 Highland Ave., Somerville, 617-684-0157).


Purse, tote, shoulder bag, clutch-whatever the occasion, she has to have the bag to match. The creations at Anna William Custom Handbags (2014 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617-547-2662) offer a distinctly local flavor, with styles such as the "Beacon Hill" and "Nantucket," named after Boston neighborhoods and nearby cities ($60-110, pictured bottom right). Or if you have an aspiring Coach designer on your list, 1154 Lill Studio (220 Newbury St. 617- 247-1154) offers gift certificates for design-your-own handbags, which range from $58-150, and pre-made creations available for $25-150.


To truly experience that warm and fuzzy holiday feeling, give a gift that gives twice. Stop by handbag haven Luna Boston (286 Newbury St., 617-262-3900) for the Elissa Bloom sequined coin purse ($20, pictured below, left). Proceeds from these pretty penny purses go toward ovarian and breast cancer research. Or visit the eclectic non-profit Ten Thousand Villages (226 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-277-7700; 694 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617-876-2414), which sells gifts, arts and crafts directly from villages around the world in hopes of creating jobs and promoting international fair trade. Pick up unique, lovely curios like onyx goblets ($14, pictured below, middle), handmade by artisans in Pakistan.


When it comes to home decorating, everyone wants something unique. Help loved ones on your list achieve that aim with a gift like glazed glass salt and pepper shakers ($54 for a small pair, pictured above right, $78 for a large pair) or any number of creative items from the Cambridge Artists' Cooperative (59 Church St., Cambridge, 617-868-4434). For a splash of eclectic wall art, head over to the International Poster Gallery (205 Newbury St., 617-375-0076), a haven for unusual and vintage posters. And while d├ęcor is great, some people just want practical gifts that do stuff. For these folks, look no further than the Museum of Useful Things (49B Brattle St., Cambridge 617-576-3322), where you can find quirky-but-helpful items, like re-usable silicon muffin cups ($12.50) and sleek silver milk carton cozies ($20-28).


Whether you have a little room left in the stocking or need a small something for that special someone, the following gifts can deliver big smiles. For all the elements of a Swiss Army knife in a convenient, credit card-like case, check out the Swiss Army card ($29.50) at Bliss (121 Newbury St., 617-421-5544). Letter enthusiasts and funky fashionistas will adore the Scrabble earrings ($5 each, pictured above, left) sold at Joie de Vivre (1792 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617-864-8188). Or head to Paper Source (338 Boylston St., 617-536-344; 1810 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617-497-1077; 1361Beacon St., Brookline, 617-264-2800) for gifts like Camden Fair's red cloud journal ($14), 4 Bar stationary set of ten note cards, envelopes and matching folio, or the sleek ACME-Lawn business card case ($27) and matching ballpoint pen ($51, all pictured above, middle).


Santa may do the brunt of toy giving this season, but if you're shopping for a tot you can't go wrong at Curious George Goes to Wordsworth (1 JFK St., Cambridge, 617-498-0062), a place jammed with picture books, toys and stuffed animals, like the Doggie Bag plush purses ($12-33, pictured above, right), the cuddliest way for your kids to carry stuff around. If that's not unique enough for you, head over to Whippoorwill (93 Franklin St., 617-422-0025). Hand-crafted toys like the wooden rocking horses ($199 and up) and three-dimensional wooden animal puzzles ($44-215) are special treats to fire young imaginations.

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