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What A Girl Wants, What A Girl Needs

Women's gifts

 Special Advertising Supplement

Picture this scenario: The gift you thought was perfect ends up being a dud. Your girlfriend was expecting an engagement ring, and you got her a gas can. Or maybe your best friend had her handy heart set on a tool kit and you bought her perfume. Sure, the thought counts, but not for much if you don't really think in the first place. That's where we come in. We've done some of the brain work for you and have plenty of specific gift ideas for the special ladies in your life, be they daughters, wives, re-latives, grandmothers or friends.

The key to gift giving that's rewarding to both the giver and the receiver is to find something that says "I understand you. We connect." Be creative. Instead of asking someone flat out, "What do you want me to get you this year?" first ob-serve that person for the next few weeks. What are their tastes? Are they harried and in need of pampering? Do they relish tackling household projects? Do they seem to be in a reflective, sentimental mood lately? Do they love to (or need to) laugh?

Velvet Slipper, Uptown Park
Velvet Slipper, Uptown Park
Velvet Slipper, Uptown Park
Velvet Slipper, Uptown Park

Narrow it down and then check out examples from: A Touch of Pampering and Luxury; Gifts with a Practical Twist; Quirky Does It; and Inspiring Treasures.

A Touch of Pampering and Luxury

What's better than a vacation? A vacation surprise for the special woman in your life, of course. There's still plenty of time to plan an idyllic winter getaway, to trade Houston's warm climate for snow, perhaps. One idea is the "Shop Till You Drop" package offered by the Hyatt Regency Tamya Resort and Spa in the lovely Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico. The special price of $165 gets you one night's accommodations for two and a $100 gift certificate that can be used in 20-plus shops in Santa Fe and Old Town Albuquerque. Call 505-867-1234 or 800-55-HYATT. For other great getaway ideas, such as a Vermont ski adventure, consult www.11thHourvacations.com, www. lastminutetravel.com, www.orbitz.com and www.site59.com.

Platinum is more than a plus this season, it's a must. Particularly popular, according to Hollywood jewelry designer Philip Press, are art-deco-style stackable platinum bands, slim, stackable platinum/diamond bracelets, dainty platinum and diamond hoop earrings and anything with (what else?) platinum and pink diamonds. Renaissance Platinum is available in Houston at jeweler Louis Tenen-baum. For more sparkly ideas, log onto www.Diamond.com.

Additional places to find the perfect piece:

• Diamonds and Time
6222 Richmond, 713-974-4040

• Deutsch and Deutsch
3838 Westheimer, 713-627-7787

• I.W. Marks
3841 Bellaire Blvd., 713-668-5000

• Tower Fine Jewelry
6550 Fannin, Suite 215, 713-799-8500

• Walzel-Uptown Park
1141-02 Uptown Park Blvd.
713-627-7495

How would a makeover with a celebrity stylist strike her? Or maybe a Shop, Stop and Safari that spans three continents. You can bid on these and other luxurious experiences at eBay's Auction for America, which benefits victims of the September 11 attacks. The auction ends December 6.

Wildly popular in Japan, Muji's stylish and affordable storage, beauty, tabletop and stationery products are now available through www.MujiOnline.com. The site offers a range of simple, sleek, sophisticated products with understated Japanese style.

For the fashion savvy lady in your life....Pixie & Ivy (713) 630-6500. Stephanie McKinley, formerly of Barney's New York and Jean Paul Gaulteir fame, features designs by A.S.P., jeans by Seven and Peter Golding, cashmere sweaters by Time Is and Trash-a-Porter, plus handbags, accessories, and shoes.

A Helping Hand(bag)

Joyce Bertram (multiple locations, 713-622-6990) has a nice selection of totes in comforting velvets and faux animal prints for around $150. Stitches and Such (2371 Rice Blvd., 713-524-2339) has a lovely selection as well. Bonus: Both stores do monogramming.

Other outposts with lovely bags all in the Galleria include Coach store (713-877-8737), Fendi (713-961-1111), Chanel (713-850-0055), Louis Vuitton (713-960-0708) and Gucci (713-961-0778). For teens or the gal who needs a bag for a night of dancing, Claire's boutique (multiple lo-cations, 713-572-4743), Wet Seal (multiple locations, 713-840-7657) and Rampage (multiple locations, 713-961-3113) carry a variety of purses.

Little luxuries can add a dash of joy to any day. Take the lingerie purse by Genevieve Piturro, for example. Indulge her with a purse custom-made to order to match anything: her bedroom decor or her luggage. Go to www.bellalunacreations.com for this and other ideas.

What do women want in an overnight bag? Travelon thinks it knows. Its new wheeled overnighter includes a zip-off cosmetic organizer and a separate jewelry roll.

Leather Lovelies

Leather is absolutely everywhere this winter. From Express (multiple locations, 713-629-7199) to Saks Fifth Avenue (The Galleria, 713-627-0500), leather coats, pants, vests and skirts in a range of colors and textures are the rage. There's a piece of leather apparel for every budget. Here are some of the hot looks for the cool season.

BeBe offers a formidable selection of leather items such as this season's suede Malibu coat, leather skirts, pants and jac-kets in a variety of styles. Peruse www. Bebe.com to get an idea of BeBe's offerings and then hop over to the Galleria or another mall to a store that carries BeBe, such as Foley's. Be certain to check out the latest style in leather pants: low-rise pants (also known as hip huggers). Just can't get enough of the leather/ vinyl look? Pick up a classy jacket at the Veneto Collection at Uptown Park. If you want to get your leather fix on a budget, check out the pleather offerings at Edin (242 West 19th Street, 713-861-6992).

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