'Tis the season for hot cocoa and caroling. For decking the halls and hitting the malls -- and that's where we come in.
A new holiday season means a new chance to bring smiles to the faces of all your loved ones. And whether you're buying for the nephew who wants everything or the grandmother who wants nothing, Scene's Holiday Gift Guide 2001 is the perfect little helper for you. We detail the latest in music, movies, books, apparel, and more, with ideal suggestions for wide-eyed kids both young and old.
This year, keep the holidays happy -- not hectic. Let the Scene Holiday Gift Guide 2001 do the work for you. After all, 'tis also the season to be jolly!
Game Systems & Software
Microsoft's bid for game-console supremacy has arrived just in time for Christmas kids. The Xbox is the most powerful home-gaming unit on the market. Possessing a massive internal hard drive and a spiffy Intel 733 processor, this puppy wields more than three times the graphic performance and nearly twice the memory of other consoles. It sports four game-control ports, DVD capabilities, and even room to mix your own 60-minute soundtrack. But bells and whistles aren't as important as good games. Just ask Sega. $299, available at electronics and gaming stores.
After three years of development, Microsoft's first-person sci-fi thriller is earning its reputation as the Xbox's must-have title this season. Pick up the controller and find yourself crash-landing on a ring-shaped planet called Halo, facing off against an alien race dubbed the Covenant. Backed by exquisite graphic detail and superb sound quality, your eventual slaughter by angry alien hordes will be more realistic than ever. This first-person shoot-'em-up is the Doom of its time. (For mature players.) $49.99, available at electronics and gaming stores.
NFL Fever 2002
With football season in full swing, NFL Fever 2002 is the perfect pregame ritual. Fast-paced and hard-hitting, this game's bone-crunching animation and responsive game play realistically puts you in the shoes of Corey Dillon and the head of Tim Couch. Build your own team, design your own season, or face off against legendary Super Bowl squads. Any way you dice it, this is almost better than real sports. $49.99, available at electronics and gaming stores.
Nintendo Game Cube
The Game Cube embodies what Nintendo has specialized in from the beginning -- cute, yet cutting-edge game systems. This 128-bit square from SNES will no doubt reinvent its host of lovable company characters (Mario, Luigi, Zelda), now with the aid of Matsushita optical disc technology (for lay kids: mini-DVDs that are hard to pirate). The Cube boasts four game-control ports, space for two memory cards, and a digital AV output for HDTV technology. Its major handicap: only 1.5GB of storage, which is only slightly more than Sega's Dreamcast. Mama mia! But its price and wholesome game titles make it a perfect toy for your offspring. $199, available at electronics and gaming stores.
Move over, Mario, Luigi is finally gettin' his props. Nintendo's Bowser-stomping Italian plumber saga is back, and this time, Luigi's getting top billing. Luigi's Mansion is N64's main adolescent adventure epic, where the wee green Luigi inherits a haunted estate and is forced to kick a little specter keister if he's to rescue his kidnapped brother inside. Graphically, this is probably the best game on the market -- if you can put up with kiddy camp instead of real spooks. $49.95, available at electronics and gaming stores.
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II
Rogue Leader -- how many video games have abused the sacred Star Wars franchise with promise of galactic adventure, only to deliver a half-assed diversion not fit for the Pit of Sarlac? Well, no more. Nintendo has finally put its gamers into warp drive with the latest addition to the Rogue Squadron series. Climb into your X-Wing and experience all the eye-popping graphics the N64 can offer. Destroy Imperial Walkers, day trip to Tatooine, or send a photon torpedo up the Death Star's tail pipe. $49.95, available at electronics and gaming stores.
Sony PlayStation 2
Sony attempts to retain its stake on the saturated video game market this season with its PlayStation 2, released this fall. Packed with a 128-bit Emotion Engine, this futuristic, rectangular unit possesses similar system capacities to its Nintendo counterpart. But don't worry, Sony knows what the kids really want: game titles. Tempting developers like 3DO, Capcom, Dreamworks, Konami, Sunsoft, and Namco with the success of its first unit, the PS2 possesses the largest and most diverse catalog of games to choose from. On top of that, Sony's smart enough to use the same game controller this time around. Less time learning means more time playing. $299, available at electronics and gaming stores.
Devil May Cry
Resident Evil devotees, awaken from your undead slumber! Shinji Mikami, the creator, producer, and director of the famed series, has brought you his next maestro: the half-man, half-demon persona of Dante. Sword in hand, this gothic warrior must honor his father's legacy by destroying a 2,000-year-old Devil Emperor who's bent on world domination. Thanks a lot, Dad! Built on fluid 3-D action and jaw-dropping graphics, this violent adventure odyssey exemplifies why Sony continues to captivate the adult target market. $49.99, available at electronics and gaming stores.
Grand Theft Auto 3
If fast-paced, über-violent gaming is your cup of glee, PlayStation 2's Grand Theft Auto III will provide you with the perfect vehicle to vicariously live out your bloodlust. In the vein of games like Crazy Taxi, Grand Theft 3 gives drivers the chance to prowl a fully realized 3-D city in 50-plus stolen vehicles, offering rides to gang members and mob bosses on the hood of their car. Definitely not for kids, but perfect for the auto psychotic. $49.99, available at electronics and gaming stores.
Electronics & Supplies
Digital8 Video Walkman VCR
Capturing those precious moments during the holidays should be a process that's as painless as possible. It's your one day off, for god's sake, you don't want to spend it documenting everyone else's fun. Enter the Digital8 Video Walkman VCR, a simple and high-quality digital8 recorder, using affordable 8-mm tapes. This doohickey may record at the click of a button, but its extras (built-in assemble editing, PCM stereo digital audio, Super LaserLink wireless connection) are just as impressive. $999, available on the web at sel.sony.com.
Intel Personal Audio Player 3000
The music industry is steadily moving toward more and more MP3-based formats. And why not? With MP3 carriers like the Intel Personal Audio Player 3000, audiophiles can listen to a personalized list of high-quality digital tracks on a portable and lightweight squeeze box. Download songs straight from the Internet or even burn your own CDs from your 64 MB of memory. $149.99, available on the web at intel.com.
XM Satellite Radio
To put it bluntly: Cleveland radio bites. We suggest you just skip it altogether with the XM Satellite Radio system. Install this gizmo into your car and receive over 100 digital channels of music, news, sports, talk, comedy, and entertainment for a monthly fee of only $9.99. And for those music militants who despise advertisements over the airwaves, 30 of those XM Satellite Radio channels are commercial free. $249.99 (Pioneer XM Universal Receiver), $79.99 (Terk TRK-SR2 Antenna), available on the web at xmradio.com.
What could be better than capturing that special "you've bought my love" moment this December 25 as your children realize you've actually gotten them what they really, really wanted? How about four sequential photos documenting the occasion. Eddie Bauer has outdone itself this season with this cool 35-mm camera with four built-in lenses that can take four sequential photos with one click of the shutter button. It's low-light sensitive, user-friendly, and a must-have for the gadget geek in your household. $14.00, available at Eddie Bauer stores (Beachwood Place, Belden Village, Great Lakes Mall, Great Northern Mall, Prime Outlets at Lodi, SouthPark Center, and Summit Mall), on the web at eddiebauer.com or by phone: 800-426-8020.
For years, music junkies have been plagued by the constant loss and clutter of their CD collection, mostly spawned from the evil cases that house them. Who the hell put my Skynyrd disc in my Snoop Dog case!!!? Well, Discgear has heard your calls of frustration and in response has created a line of sporty CD holders that fit snugly into the glove compartment of your car or next to the 200-disc changer in the living room. These sturdy CD holders come in an assortment of colors and sizes to match any audiophile's collection. $19.95 (20-CD portable), $29.95 (40-disc portable), $34.95 (40-disc desktop), $44.95 (80-disc desktop), and $79.95 (100-disc desktop), available at Discgear (SouthPark Center Mall) or at discgear.com.
Winter Palace Truffle Box
Godiva chocolatier has given our taste buds majestic sensations through the sweet spells of Christmas for decades now. Continuing that tradition, Godiva has opened the candy-coated doors of its truffle treasury for Holiday 2001 with the Winter Palace Truffle Box. This gold-embossed box, decorated for the season, contains an enviable secret Santa gift and a mouthwatering assortment of tasty truffles, including Candy Cane, Linzer Torte, Egg Nog, Milk Chocolate, Vanilla, and Honey Roasted Almond. It's a royal ball in your mouth. Literally! $12.50, at all Godiva shops (Beachwood Place, Great Northern Mall, Summit Mall, and SouthPark Center), on the web at godiva.com or by phone: 800-9-GODIVA.
Bacon of the Month Club
The quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Just ask the Internet food bazaar The Grateful Palate. Among its web pages of wines, oils, and breads is its sumptuous Bacon of the Month Club, a fella favorite. Dry-cured, corncob-smoked, molasses-flavored bacon strips with names like Pruden's, Rains, Hempler's, and Bear Creek will arrive on your doorstep once a month. This is pig for the pig. $225, available on the web at gratefulpalate.com.
Slide a few steaks under the Christmas tree this December 25 and watch your family members turn their affection into appetite. This eight pack of Omaha Steaks' world-famous filet mignons comes with a bonus box of 16 mouthwatering gourmet burgers -- something just to whet your appetite. Once you sink your incisors into this tender, red meat, your stomach will be the first to thank you. $99.99, available on the web at omahasteaks.com.
Wine Visitor Basket
Delicate and refined, wine is a safe and civil gift for the holidays. Topped with gourmet biscotti, roasted nuts, and chocolate truffles, this housewarming basket from 1-800 Wine Shop includes two California Boutique wines -- Chateau Julien Merlot and Dryer Sonoma Chardonnay. When you give wine as gift, chances are you might get to drink some. $49, available on the web at 1800wineshop.com.
The Godfather DVD Collection
Every time you try to get out, this DVD collection keeps pulling you back in. Five different discs suck you into the entire Godfather trilogy in wide-screen anamorphic format, with additional footage, theatrical trailers, director commentary, rehearsal footage -- even Academy Award acceptance speeches. There's so much good material here, you'll need vacation time just to put a dent in it. See Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Diane Keaton travel through the world of writer Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, both at their collective height. A must-have for anyone with a heartbeat. (Rated R) $105, available at area video stores and on the web at amazon.com.
If your clan falls into that normalcy category of nuclear family, than Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas is most likely requisite viewing come late December. Though a Hollywood translation, last year's box-office behemoth The Grinch makes a nice supplement to this yearly Christmas custom. Director Ron "Opie" Howard retains the otherworldly charm of Seuss's original Whoville, while bringing new life to the American classic via prankster Jim Carrey. Light-hearted and sentimental, this reworking will melt the heart of the grinchiest of Scrooges. (Rated PG) $20.99, available at area video stores and on the web at amazon.com.
Planet of the Apes
Get your damn, dirty hands on this DVD! This remake of the classic sci-fi film is the visual smorgasbord that Pierre Boulles's original novel always envisioned. Coming in a two-disc package, this collector's set is chock-full of extras, including extended scenes, documentaries, commentaries, and music videos. Just sit back and watch Marky Mark go fisticuffs with those ape-holes. (Rated PG-13) $22.99, available at area video stores and on the web at amazon.com.
Dreamworks has outdone itself with this fractured fairy tale that follows the tribulations of title character Shrek and his fun-loving talking ass, er, donkey. This computer-animated blockbuster racked up a sick amount of cash at the box office, partly because of its off-kilter yarn and graphics, but mostly because of the leading voices (and wit) of Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy. This two-disc set includes video games, storyboards, a music hall, and full- and wide-screen options. (Rated PG) $19.95, available at area video stores and on the web at amazon.com.
The Simpsons: The Complete First Season
America's most dysfunctional family is making its way to digital. The Simpsons: The Complete First Season is simply an addict's rhapsody. Spread out on three discs, 13 episodes of the series' 1989 premiere season are shown in their entirety, with scripts, complete side notes, margin drawings, and more. Eye Homer, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and Marge as they take their first steps on network television. Hmmmmmmm . . . sardonic television at its best. (Not rated) $39.99, available at area video stores and on the web at amazon.com.
Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace
George Lucas has finally allowed the first of his Star Wars dynasty to be transferred to a visual format worthy of his digital fixations. DVD will be privy to Episode One this winter in a glorious two-disc format, with exclusive documentaries, multi-angle storyboards, music videos, and here's the kicker for the fanatics: additional scenes. Simply skip over those Jar Jar chapters, folks, and watch a young Kenobi trade sabers with Darth Maul to save a baby-faced tyke named Ani Skywalker. (Rated PG) $22.95, available at area video stores and on the web at amazon.com.
Dance duo Daft Punk is hoping to rejuvenate the silly season's cycle of mediocre live discs with its first live long-player. Recorded during its 1997 major-label breakthrough tour, Alive 1997 showcases these French clubmongers at their height, uniquely reworking three songs into a 45-minute jam session, laced with as much bounce as bravado. It's an agreeable supplement to those turntables your teenager is itching for this Christmas. Available at are music stores and on the web.
Over the course of two chart-topping albums, pop princess Britney Spears has been torn, vying for every schoolgirl's dream and every breathing man's fantasy. Her 2001 endeavor, simply titled Britney, has finally fused both images into a smooth 12-track LP, nudging her ever closer to adulthood. Backed by producer Max Martin and hip-hop trio the Neptunes, Spears sires both bubblegum love ballads and sultry siren songs to satisfy her antithetical fan base, shedding her school-girl image (and clothes, for that matter), while preserving her feminine charisma as a teen idol. Available at area music stores and on the web.
Creedence Clearwater Revival Boxed Set
Rock and roll took a transcendental frog-hop forward when Creedence Clearwater Revival put song to album in the late '60s. With ringleader John Fogerty at the helm, this quartet fathered hook-laden rock tunes over 30 years ago that can still spill from your car radio with a timeless modernity that few bands could ever realize. This comprehensive boxed set collects all five of their ageless albums, plus a bonus disc of early recordings under their first monikers, the Blue Velvets and the Golliwogs. $95, available at are music stores and on the web.
God Bless America
In the wake of the September 11 attacks, few diversions have endowed as much comfort and hope as the melodious solace of music. And no label has waved that flag higher than Columbia Records, whose patriotic God Bless America compilation has encapsulated this season's climate of remembrance and recovery. With artists like Bruce Springsteen, Celine Dion, Simon & Garfunkel, and Bill Withers, God Bless America not only pays tribute to the spirit of the victims of this tragedy, but ensures portions of the proceeds will go directly to the Twin Towers Fund. Available at area music stores and on the web.
I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings
Avant-garde quasi-rockers Radiohead threw the music mainstream for an electronic loop this year, releasing the second part of its prog/electronic double disc called Amnesiac. But the fivesome is determined to prove it's all rock and roll before 2002 roles around. I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings captures eight live songs from the band's latest two albums, reworking these heavily-produced tunes with jarring guitars and live percussion. It's the perfect seasonal hybrid of synthesizers and six strings for the brooding alt-rocker on your Christmas list. Available at area music stores and on the web.
Is This It?
Out of this year's fresh faces, no band can seem to match the musical magnetism of New York City's the Strokes. Part Stooges, part Velvet Underground, the Strokes' full-length debut Is This It? blends spiky-guitar chords and chugging backbeat into a romping combination that instantly effects the hips and head. Terse and powerful, Is This It? is rock and roll's first sound check of the century, helping to revive N.Y.C.'s solemn psyche and its floundering punk movement. Available at area music stores and on the web.
Philly dance diva Pink is introducing a few shades of fuschia to this season's banner of green and red with her sophomore effort. Dropping the R&B din of 2000's Can't Take Me Home, Pink has overhauled her harmonious stylings with alt-rock riffs and smokehouse blues. Less like TLC and more like Alanis Morissette, Missundaztood flaunts both style and soul, giving Pink one of the best surprise pop LPs of the year. Available at area music stores and on the web.
The Velvet Underground Bootleg Series Volume 1: The Quine Tapes
Some fans are just insatiable. Take, for instance, junkies of the Velvet Underground. Not satisfied with the band's four highly lauded (and extremely influential) albums of the '60s, these addicts crave not only "Heroin," but its B-sides as well. Well, this Velvety bootleg addition should occupy them for a while. Three versions of "Sister Ray," a 17-minute variation of "Follow the Leader," and the wry banter of Lou Reed only scrape the surface of this three-disc set. $30, available at area music stores and on the web.
Horror titans Steven King and Peter Straub have teamed up once again to pen 640 pages of grueling fantasy and terror. The novel is the spine-tingling sequel to 1984's collaboration The Talisman, but now it's 30 years later, and young protagonist Jack Sawyer is all grown up and battling a transient madman named the Fisherman, who abducts and eats small children. This page-turner really captures the warmth of the holidays. $28.99, available at all bookstores and amazon.com.
Romance czarina Danielle Steel has brought the usual blend of sex and saga to her 53rd novel. This steamy yarn twirls around two lovestruck blue bloods whose limo collides into a bus after their first kiss. The duo's ensuing recovery only brings them closer together -- literally. It's a tale of love, healing, transformation, and the durability of the genteel class. $26.95, available at all bookstores and amazon.com.
The Lord of the Rings (Illustrated Edition)
This latest reprinting of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy trilogy is one of the best. Adorned with 50 new paintings from Middle Earth maven Alan Lee, this elegantly packaged set celebrates the 100th anniversary of Tolkien's birth (most likely somewhere in Hobbiton). Read -- and watch -- as Frodo and friends trek through Mordor to destroy that precious ring. $70.00, available at all bookstores and amazon.com.
The Mitford Snowmen
Pull your kids out of their mindless video-game delirium with a Christmas tale that will redirect their war-monger ways into goodwill and seasonal cheer. Jan Karon's The Mitford Snowmen revisits the nicest town imaginable, Mitford, where the winter burg's residents partake in an all-out snowman-building contest. Four-color illustrations and a simple, contagious story will remind you of the charm a wordsmith can bring to the holidays. $10.95, available at all bookstores and amazon.com.
The Official 100th Anniversary Book of the Tribe
If your Tribe fanatic collects baseball paraphernalia out the Wahoo, it's a safe bet he or she's going to salivate at the thought of owning the Indians Team Shop's Official 100th Anniversary Book of the Tribe. This comprehensive soft-bound book tells the team's tale of ups and downs, from the early days of the Cleveland Spiders to the resurgence of C-town's baseball prowess in the '90s. Share 100 years of baseball memories in this colorful, picture-filled compendium of Cleveland baseball history. $19.99, available at Indians Team Shop (Belden Village Mall, Erieview Plaza, Great Lakes Mall, Jacobs Field, SouthPark Center, Summit Mall, and Westgate Mall) or by phone: 800-38-TRIBE.
Toys & Games
Your lightning-bug-catching, daddy-longleg-smitten six-year-old will have no problem redirecting his love for all things natural once he meets the mechanical pest known as the B.I.O. Bug. Utilizing Nervous Network technology developed by the U.S. Government, these mechanized insects use a type of artificial intelligence to help them learn as they explore and interact with their environment. Controlled by hand or left to roam free on its own, the B.I.O. Bug will feed, snacking on household appliances that emit infrared technology (remotes, microwaves, that transmitter in your head), and if it gets a chance, brawl with its own kind. (Ages 6 and up.) $40, available at area toys stores and on the web at thediscoverystore.com.
The remote-controlled car was, like, so '80s. If you hadn't noticed, pal, it's a new century out there, and radio-controlled technology has gone hydro. These days, the Remote-Controlled Hovercraft is what kids crave. This air-cushioned vehicle banks on three motors, which shoot pressurized air downward, providing the means to glide over water, snow, grass, and even that godawful shag carpet. (Ages 8 and up.) $80, available at area toy stores and the on web at thediscoverystore.com.
The latest Japanese animation series revolving around monstrous, state-of-the-art fighting machines, called Mobile Suits Gundam, is catching the eye of American toy devotees faster than a beam saber slices through Earth Federation butter substitute. Your feisty young'uns will no doubt "need" to have every last Gundam Wing Mobile Suit figure, each one based on the futuristic cartoon in which the warring factions of Earth Federation and Principality of Zeon battle for galactic bragging rights. Wing Gundam, Gundam Deathscythe, Gundam Heavy Arms, and Gundam Sandrock are just a few of the colorful figurines equipped with an assortment of kick-ass miniature weapons like dober guns, beam swords, hyper bazookas, and 180-mm cannons. (Ages 4 and up.) $9-$12.99, available at local toy stores or on the web at gundamofficial.com.
Harry Potter: Professor Snape's Potions Class (Edible Activity Set)
If you haven't heard of child warlock Harry Potter, then arise from your cave of solitude and renounce your hex of obliviousness. Because this Xmas, would-be wizards will want only one thing: Professor Snape's Potions Class. This motorized lab set will give hopefuls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry practice at brewing 15 droolicious drinks and creating over 100 treats with the help of a magical stirring wand, a bubbling cauldron, and, uh, magical herbs. (Ages 8 and up.) $34.99, available at local toy stores.
Kwanzaa Teddy Bear Celebration Set
Sure, Hickory Farms is known for its oodles of beef and cheese -tick baskets around the silly season, but its latest non-edible celebration set might be its niftiest. The Kwanzaa Teddy Celebration Set honors the African American holiday begun in 1966 and practiced by some 25 million people nationwide. This spiffy package includes a teddy bear family dressed in authentic Kwanzaa clothing, along with symbolic treats like the seven-candle holder, straw mat, and unity cup. This year, celebrate the season with traditional family values. $49.99, available at all Hickory Farms stands and stores (Belden Village Mall, Canton Centre, Chapel Hill Mall, Great Lakes Mall, Great Northern Mall, Midway Mall, Parmatown Mall, SouthPark Center, Summit Mall, and Westgate Mall).
With Disney's firm grip on the minds of our youth, you'll have no choice this holiday season except to splurge on the media juggernaut's latest kid flick, Monsters Inc., and its subsequent toy-store offshoots. The movie's lovable computer creations have spurned a marketing blitz that make Harry Potter seem like Beatrix Potter, and in its wake, the movie has left the monster mugs of Mike and Sulley on most anything you can image. Check out the following: hooded towels ($28), glow-in-the-dark PJs ($19.99), suitcases ($39.99), miniature pinball machines ($29.99), stuffed monsters ($15.99 and up), action figures ($8.99 and up), and even monster suits ($39.99). (Ages vary from 3 and up.) Available at the Disney Store (Beachwood Place, Great Lakes Mall, Great Northern Mall, Parmatown Mall, SouthPark Center, and Tower City Center) or on the web at disney.store.go.com.
Dirty Minds: The Game of Naughty Clues
It really sounds worse than it is, and that's the whole idea. Two to six open-minded adults can play this card game in which players read off risque clues that eventually lead to innocent answers. Example: I'm a four-letter word; I'm a name for a woman; I end with U-N-T. Answer: Aunt. Simple huh? (Wait a second, what were you thinking?) There are 912 naughty clues and 304 clean answers to this kinda-wholesome diversion. (Adults only.) $16.95-$19.95, available at local game shops or on the web at tdcgames.com, boardgames.com, and absolutelycollegiate.com.
For the Home
When your buddy's sloshed, making drinks, and trying to find that not-so-handy bar book, we'll guarantee that your Mint Julep won't be of Kentucky Derby caliber. But thank the Lord, there is a solution: Curb your friend's haphazard skills behind the bar by placing Brookstone's Barsmart Jigger under the tree this Christmas. This brilliant chrome jigger not only fills your standard measuring-cup needs; its handle has an electronic display that contains over 40 different drink recipes. Give this as a gift, and your friends will be toasting to your health come Christmas. $35.00, available at Brookstone stores (Beachwood Place, Great Lakes Mall, and SouthPark Center), on the web at brookstone.com, or by phone: 800-351-7222.
Need a gift that says, "I'm just what your daughter deserves?" Well, just jog on over to the nearest Bombay Company and ask the clerk just how to pronounce that 3-armed flower thingy on the shelf over there. That Epergne is a silver-plated vase whose three shimmering, swinging arms not only hold your ticket into Mom's "good catch" club, but tasty candy and fruit as well. Put this fancy flower holder on your future mother-in-law's table and sit down to mouthfuls of laurels. $75, available at all Bombay Company stores or on the web at bombaycompany.com.
Fix that cheese-choked monkey on your back once and for all: Get your better half interested in the tasty peculiarity known as fondue. Bed Bath & Beyond's Yuletide Fondue Set consists of a stainless-steel cauldron that brews your favorite Swiss, Gruyère, or cheddar into a viscous lake of dairy goodness, great for dipping bread or -- gasp -- vegetables. $49.99, available at all Bed Bath & Beyond stores or on the web at bedbathandbeyond.com.
Body, Mind & Spirit
Bath & Body Works is helping our tense populace relax, sleep, and stay energized this Christmas with its latest line of oils, salts, and lotions. Under the designations Awake, Relax, and Sleep, this line of master oil blends, nourishing body and massage lotions, bath salts, and pillow mists will help your significant other hit the sack, the couch, or the office board meeting. Put one of three different scents on your pulse points (wrists, temples, neck), and the spiritual potions are magically absorbed right into your nervous system. $11-$25 (lotions or oils), $20 (salts), available at Bath & Body Works (Beachwood Place, Cleveland Hopkins Airport, Golden Gate Mall, Great Lakes Mall, Great Northern Mall, Millcreek Mall, Parmatown Mall, Prime Outlets at Lodi, SouthPark Center, Tower City Center, and Westgate Mall).
Dispense peace, harmony, and good luck this Christmas all in one fell swoop by presenting your friends and family with the flora known as bamboo. These shoots of green grow out of potted gravel and water to the manageable height of 12 to 14 inches. They're not only the coolest looking plant this side of China, but they'll also put your life in order (at least in theory) through the Asian art of home harmony called feng shui. The best thing about 'em: They're hard to kill. $14.95, available at China Decor (also known as China Alley) at Great Lakes Mall, SouthPark Center, and Tower City Center.
Aveda health and beauty products have an elegance (and yes, price) that transcends most other bath wares in the budding body works industry. And one of their latest packages this season, Replenishment, has carved a new benchmark for panache. Adhering to its strict policy of no synthetics (everything's natural), Aveda's Replenishment package aims to revive body and soul with plant-based emollients, Dead Sea salts, body and hair moisturizers, foot- and hand-relief lotions, and a smoothing masque. This is aqua therapy for the lady with class. $75, available at exclusive salons and Aveda stores (Beachwood Place and SouthPark Center), on the web at aveda.com, or by phone: 800-328-0849.
Twinkle Toes Massager
Slip your chilly clodhoppers into these cozy red fleece massage boots and prepare for instant indulgence. Durable and portable, the Twinkle Toes Massager not only sends warm electro-vibes into your feet with the help of four magnets, but can also be used to massage the neck and back as well. Perfect for use at the house, office, and -- according to the manufacturer -- even your car; though we might suggest that drivers keep their hooves free while behind the wheel. The Twinkle Neck completes the set. $14.99, available at all GNC stores.
Sports & Apparel
Lambskin Gasoline Jacket
Nothing makes more fashion sense than the earthy smell and smooth feel of fine leather. So Eddie Bauer has decided to redefine the compound adjective "high-quality" this December with its Lambskin Gasoline Leather Jacket. Fully lined with polyester twill inside and cloaked with durable and stylized lamb leather on the outside, this jacket will up your cool factor by at least 10 and land you that casual, aloof look you've envisioned junior high. $350, available at all Eddie Bauer stores (Beachwood Place, Belden Village, Great Lakes Mall, Great Northern Mall, Prime Outlets at Lodi, SouthPark Center Mall, and Summit Mall), on the web at eddiebauer.com, or by phone: 800-426-8020.
Abercrombie & Fitch has set its sights on keeping the fairer sex comfy and classy this winter with its latest brand of long and stylish cable-knit sweaters. Constructed of a wool and acrylic mix, these warm, duster-like women's sweaters are now at the height of style and will make one heck of a swank gift for both your fashion-conscious wife or dapper daughter. If they don't get it, believe us, you'll hear about it. $79.50, available at all Abercrombie & Fitch stores (Beachwood Place, SouthPark Center Mall, Summit Mall, and Tower City Center) or on the web at abercrombie.com.
Skateboard and Snowboard Hooded Sweatshirts
If your teenager personifies the target market of a Mountain Dew ad, hooded sweatshirts will most likely be on the top of that Christmas list they scribbled on the back of their latest issue of Thrasher. With name brands like Independent, Etnies, Hurley, D.C. Shoe Co. USA, and Quiksilver, skateboard and snowboard hooded sweatshirts are sleek, stylish, and well, pretty tame additions to the wardrobe of the rebellious youth who has everything. Just make sure it's extra baggy. $44-$50, available at Pacsun (also known as Pacific Sunwear) at Aurora Premium Outlets, Beachwood Place, Belden Village, Chapel Hill Shopping Center, Great Lakes Mall, Great Northern Mall, Midway Mall, Richmond Town Square, SouthPark Center, and Summit Mall.
Boot-Cut Sparkle Jeans
Lane Bryant prides itself on fashioning real clothes for real women, and this season they've added a dash of iridescent denim to that recipe. The company's stretch Boot Cut Sparkle Jeans are quickly making matrons into material girls. These puppies are perfect for both domestic and club abuse. $49.95, available at all Lane Bryant stores or on the web at lanebryant.com.
Fur Trim Scarves
Ladies on the run don't have the luxury of wasting time. The fashion gods know such things and have responded with a mixture of posh and practicality intended for girls on the go: the Fur Trim Scarf. Casual Corner's latest accessory can turn boring into swanky in seconds flat, simply by donning this furry, tail-like neck garb. It comes in black and red, shaggy and sleek, and cool and ultra-cool. $38.99, available at all Casual Corner stores or on the web at casualcorner.com.
The Very Sexy Bra
Why give a gift that only benefits the recipient? Instead, we suggest you be just a little more selfish this year and indulge in the guilty pleasures that only Victoria's Secret can concoct: The Very Sexy Bra. If you haven't seen (and subsequently taped and rewatched) the ad blitz campaigned by Victoria's Secret this holiday season, you've only been missing gorgeous girls modeling the latest in cleavage-enhancing technology. Yikes! The Very Sexy Bra is the company's latest and vastly improved miracle bra (and matching panties), adorned in velvet, lace, and beads, in a variety of colors. Simply put: Guys, if you don't rush into the nearest Victoria's Secret store this season, you'll only be hurting yourself. $38 (bra), $15 (panties), available at all Victoria's Secret stores (Beachwood Place, Cleveland Hopkins Airport, Parmatown Mall, SouthPark Center, Tower City Center, and Westgate Mall), on the web at victoriassecret.com, or by phone: 800-888-8200.
Tubbs Snowshoes Kit
Mountaineer? Snow bunny? Just happen to live in the eastern suburbs? Then Tubbs Snowshoes are just the thing you'll be looking for under your 40-ft Douglas fir -- that outdoor conifer you call a Christmas tree. The kit includes snowshoes, telescoping tracking poles, and a CD-ROM that will teach those non-Jeremiah Johnson types how to prance through the Cleveland winter wasteland like a pro. They're light, rugged, easy to use, and the coolest thing since snow itself. $159, available at Eastern Mountain Sports (SouthPark Center Mall) or on the web at tubbssnowshoes.com.