Katy Burns: That’s for me? You shouldn’t have. Really.
I’m a big fan of gift shopping locally, especially on Main Street. The shops are warm and inviting, the merchants have familiar and friendly faces, and the atmosphere about now is generally pretty festive.
But . . . there are some things that probably can’t be found on Main Street. Or in Concord. Or maybe even in New Hampshire. Such as a 14-inch high Terrier Toilet Paper Holder. In genuine painted polyresin! He is, or so the Bits and Pieces catalog tells us, “ready to dispense on command and bring a smile to all who visit.”
When you absolutely have to have the gift that no one – and I mean no one – on your gift list saw coming, you must go to the catalogs. Even in 2013, when half our lives are lived online, catalogs – with their glossy pages of richly colored photos – are somehow more inviting than electronic images on little screens.
Bits and Pieces is a good one. Mostly it offers extra-elaborate jigsaw puzzles, but every now and then a true gem like the Terrier TP stand is tucked into its pages.
Another is Signals, which supports public TV powerhouse WGBH. It doesn’t have any canine-themed toilet paper stands, but it has a wealth of Downton Abbey paraphernalia, including a leaf brooch “inspired by a hatpin worn by the Dowager Countess at the village cricket game” and a crystal drop necklace patterned after one Lady Edith Crawley wore to her non-wedding, when Sir Anthony Strallan abandoned her at the altar.
Just why someone would want a piece of jewelry last seen on a jilted weeping noblewoman is a mystery, of course.
My favorite purveyor of gift exotica is the venerable Hammacher Schlemmer operation, which has come a long way since its start as a hardware store in 1848 in New York City. The Hammacher Schlemmer catalog – first printed in 1881 – is a cornucopia of strange and wondrous stuff.
Where else would one find a full-sized Porsche 917 replica? Especially when that Porsche replica opens “like a clamshell at the touch of a button” to reveal a fully functional wooden slot car track “faithful to the iconic Le Mans raceway.” It is “an homage to the classic 1971 movie starring Steve McQueen,” the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog tells us.
And Hammacher Schlemmer wouldn’t just make this stuff up.
Yeah, it costs $125,000. But your gift recipient is unlikely to get two of the things.
Too much? Okay, what about a relatively modest $25,000 regulation-size pool table that is actually molded from an original 1959 Chevy Corvette?
It “meticulously reproduces the classic convertible from real chrome bumper to real chrome bumper” and a shiny chrome grille as well as four functioning, remote-operated headlights and four full-size whitewall tires with chrome covers.
Presumably your gift recipient would have to make sure the structure where she wanted to put the car/table is capable of bearing the load of all that steel. On the other hand, she’d almost certainly be the only one in her neighborhood to have one.
Still too rich for your blood? You are one hard gift-giver to please!
Well, the good folks at Hammacher Schlemmer have a whole slew of stuff offered by Thomas (“Painter of Light”) Kinkade – or more properly his estate – sure to gladden the hearts of his fans, including but not limited to a pop-up lighted six-foot Christmas tree and an “animated” table-top tree ($149.95) complete with 12 homes, 30 villagers including “a rendering of the artist himself” and several functioning teeny trains, all illuminated by glowing lampposts. Plus it plays a medley of carols!
For the fashionista in your life
Not your taste? How about the 5-foot “Fashionista Christmas tree,” designed for those who have an interest in fashion.” Instead of the boring conical shape of a typical tree, it “takes its shape . . . from a classic couturier’s dress form,” complete with a “high collar, long sleeves, wasp waist and hoop skirt . . . clad with faux pine needles, creating a topiary effect.” It comes with pre-strung warm white LED lights. The “tree” is “accessorized” by eight removable red globe ornaments. It’s topped by a metal star and rests on a filigreed base.
And its skirt is 15 inches above the floor, leaving lots of space for gifts underneath! For just $249.95 it’s on the way to your house.
Or – if you’ve a friend or relative who constantly complains about the inflatable statuary – Santas, elves, snowmen – festooning his neighbors’ lawns, you can help him to show them all up with a 15-foot Inflatable Rudolph. Yes, 15 feet, higher than some roofs. The critter swivels its head back and forth, “implying his natural curiosity.” And since its underbelly alone is more than 9 feet above ground, you can provide a friendly path beneath him for visitors. Hoping all the while that Rudolph doesn’t quickly deflate while the neighborhood caroling children are passing below. You can get it for just $399.95.
Not satisfied yet?
Well, for a mere $29.95 you can buy not one but two battery-operated Spinning Spaghetti Forks, complete with red-checked handles to go with the tablecloths. They wind pasta into “a mess-free mouthful” so diners are not “fumbling awkwardly” with spoons or “slurping up long noodles.”
What’s not to like?
Still not happy? Okay, see you on Main Street!
(“Monitor” columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)