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What A Girl Wants, What A Girl Needs

Velvet Slipper, Uptown Park

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?

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).

Raspberry Rose in Rice Village (2434 Rice, 713-529-2260) may be one of the only places in town where you can find leather in shades ranging from pale pink to jet black.

Department stores from JC Penny to Target (multiple locations, 713-941-3800) are carrying leather and pleather in a variety of items, from jackets and pants to accessories. Leather's pretty much every-where this season, so finding something perfect for her is just a matter of stepping out and seeing what's available.

Day Spa Offerings

Can't figure out what to get a co-worker or friend? Spa certificates are a big hit with most anyone. Even teenage girls are in on the fun. Bella Rinova Salon and Day Spa in Uptown Park offers myriad packages as well as gift items like hair jewelry for as little as $18. Call 713-572-0022. All of the following day spas have cultivated a loyal clientele. The great gift certificate is just a phone call away.

Bella Rinova Salon and Day Spa: Get a "beautiful renewal" in this fresh Uptown Park salon and day spa. 1111-02 Uptown Park Blvd., 713-572-0022.

Brea Sanctuary: For a natural approach for healthy living with essential oils and aromatherapy, speak to owner Brea Pope. Her Source Vital line is distributed nationwide, and her signature potions help invoke or erase a mood. Custom gift baskets that can include music and aromatherapy candles are also available. 3637 West Alabama, Suite 235, 713-622-7722, sanctuarydscante.com.

Etienne's: Owner Steve LeJeune says customers love the spa's intimate feel and flock to Etienne's for the custom-mixed Dead Sea salt body polishes, which leaves the skin silky smooth and the body and spirit rejuvenated. 4100 Westheimer, 713-850-8441.

J. Claude: Known for its "haircut and a hug" philosophy, this full-service salon and day spa in a vintage Montrose home has a cozy feel all its own. 1411 Haddon, 713-522-1300.

Jenifer's of Australia: Allure Magazine said, "We felt confident that if this tiny salon was good enough for Ivana Trump it was certainly good enough for our facial..." 1740 Sunset Blvd., 713-528-1070.

Michael Kempner: Flexible gift certificates allow your special gift recipient to customize her choice of treatments. 4027 Westheimer, 713-877-1645.

Sunset Bodyworks: A tempting downtown escape. What could be better than getting a relaxing facial or massage in-stead of being stuck in traffic? 909 Texas (in Rice Lofts), 713-223-5900.

Tovas: A pioneer in Houston day spas, this expansive enclave offers personal attention and just about any spa or salon service you can imagine. 1409 South Post Oak Lane, 713-439-1414.

Urban Retreat: The oldest and largest in Houston, featuring a skin care line of all-natural ingredients with cranberry and rosemary. Makes your skin feel like silk. 2329 San Felipe, 713-523-2300, urbanretreat.com.

Quirky Does It

A Miami-based psychologist, Dr. Wes Patterson, offers a rather unusual holiday item: a gift certificate for positive change hypnosis over the phone. The certificate is available from Dr. Patterson's Web site, http://phonehypnosis.cjb.net. "I offer these sessions to help people to sort things out, get rid of fears and get their confidence back," says Patterson.

The toilet seat up or down debate rages on. Now there's a humorous way to help her cope: the Johnny Light, which produces a soft green glow when the toilet seat is up at night. No need to switch on bright lights in the middle of the night. And fewer accidents. Call 888-566-LITE, or visit www.johnny-light.com.

For many, chocolate equals romance and indulgence. Now it's an even sweeter gift thanks to TrendyChocolates.com. or for the greatest brownies in all of fairyland and the easiest to order go to fairytalebrownies.com.

Has she gone through a breakup with no making up in sight? Cheer her up with the Original Dump Kit. Created as a way for women of all ages to get over being dumped, it includes six fun tools to help in the process, including a voodoo doll to "stick it to him," a bar of soap to "wash yourself of him" and a dart and a target board to "hit him where it counts." Patti Watkins, the creator of the kit, decided it was time to give women the support they sometimes need to mend broken hearts and move on. Go to www.DumpKit.com.

 

Fruit of the Loom undies make an endearing stocking stuffer. For the more adventurous one, consider superhero boys' briefs la Cameron Diaz's shimmying scene in Charlie's Angels.

Now she can put her shoes on the table. Artist and designer Shoshanna Smith turned a passion for shoes into a new concept: high-heeled handbags. The purses are in the shape of pumps and boots and are decorated with zippers to open and close them. Available by special order. Call 212-579-9700.

Gifts with a Practical Twist

For the handywoman, turn to the Workforce 43-piece tool set. This household essential contains all of the basic tools she will need for most home projects, and retails for under $20 at Home Depot and other hardware stores. For decorating divas, Home Depot also offers a 1-2-3 series of home improvement books with easy-to-follow instructions on a va-riety of projects.

Digital photography continues to get more affordable. Two introductory cameras to consider are Fujifilm's FinePix A101 and A201. They retail for $180 to $250.

Cantoni Furniture accessory buyer Sarah Gibbons says the stores carry a variety of one-of-a-kind gift items from all over the world, like hand-blown stretch vases and quirky teapots. Go to www.Cantoni.com or visit one of Can-toni's local locations.

Now she can travel in style with her pup or kitty in tow with the Sherpa Bag by Sherpa's Pet Trading Company. Fea-tures include adjustable shoulder straps, large zippered compartments, and deep interior and exterior pockets and a choice of black, green, navy, or red. To order, call 800-743-7723 or go to www.SherpaPet. com.

Inspiring Treasures

Scrapbooks are a wonderful way to record, reminisce and cherish memories. Make her one or show her how using Simple Scrapbooks ($19.95 soft cover, $25 hardcover, published by Creating Keepsakes magazine). The book is de-signed to help scrapbookers get started and finished in one weekend and will help a mom, child or friend preserve me-mories without sacrificing huge amounts of time. To order, call 888-247-5282 or visit www.creatingkeepsakes.com.

Patriotic Christmas ornaments from Vaillancourt Folk Art are in high demand this season. The American Red Cross will receive 10 percent of the proceeds from sales of the ornaments. To order, call 877-665-2244 or visit www.valfa.com.

Get her inspired and give her hope with New Psalms for New Moms: A Keepsake Journal. With its nondenominational prayer-poems and multicultural illustrations, this book/journal is a thoughtful gift for any mom. It takes her on the journey from pregnancy through the first year of her baby's life. Comple-ting the journals sections results in a personal memoir. Available by calling 800-458-3766 or clicking www.amazon.com.

Specific gifts for. . . Wife or Girlfriend

For the mom with a little one, check out the myriad offerings from Mumsies in Highland Village (4029 Westheimer, 713-850-1999), $100. This store proves that diaper bags, baby totes and maternity wear needn't be drab. Other great places to find gifts for moms and moms-to-be include Cowboys and Angels (Uptown Park, 713-622-5437) and A Pea in the Pod (2367 Rice, 713-522-3400).

Or, get away from it all without leaving the kids too far with a romantic evening of dinner and a room at the Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa. 111 N. Post Oak Lane, 713-680-2626.

Another luxurious idea is a custom outfit from Vanessa Riley of London Vanessa has helped dress ladies for the Grammy Awards and Oscars, and carries a full inventory of over 700 items for sale at any one time. "It's all luxurious women's wear in fabrics like silks, organza and cashmere," Riley says. "We can make any dress to fit any size within two weeks during the holidays. We do luxurious gowns and one-of-a-kind designs, so you can have your dream dress." Riley also carries a collection of silk velvet scarves and novelty handbags for under $100. Gift certificates are available for $50 and up.

A stocking stuffed with fetching accessories could be lots of fun. Consider filling it with python print headbands, a small box of Godiva chocolates (multiple locations, 713-623-4707), and a Body Shop (multiple locations, 713-626-7144) gift certificate.

Co-worker

Why not help her kick back with a bottle of wine from Spec's (multiple locations, 713-526-8787), elegantly wrapped in a velvet wine bag from the Pottery Barn (4011 Westheimer, 713-627-8901) Add fabulous Christmas CDs from Cactus Music and Video (2930 S. Shepherd, 713-526-9272), and she'll be ready to relax on her days off.

 

Brighten up her desk with a permanent flower arrangement. There are some lovely ones available at La Maison (242 West 19th Street, 713-869-2441).

And like always, gift certificates for a day at a spa are a sure thing. See the spa section for details.

Sister, Aunt or other relative

Who doesn't love sumptuously scented candles and gorgeous candle holders? Plenty of options can be found at the Longoria Collection (Uptown Park, 713-621-4241), Paula Fridkin Designs (713 981-2022) and Loft N Home (1009 Missouri, 713-522-5638). More affordable selections can be found at Wicks n' Sticks (multiple locations, 713-627-0919) or the Candle Ware-house (multiple locations, 251-580-7890).

Beth Woodman, owner of Tu Chez (1906 W. Alabama, 713-533-0818), suggests treating that special woman to fresh table linens ($18-$250). Striking pottery, from functional to arty, is also a great gift for an office desk or home decor. Find items in all styles at Tu Chez, Houston Potter's Guild Shop and Gallery (2433 Rice, 713-528-7687) and Latitudes South (1837 W. Alabama, 713-520-1233).

Daughter

Sleepovers are a ritual for girls growing up. Send her off in style with an Angels Slumber Party Bags from Cowboys and Angels in Uptown Park (713-622-5437). The monogrammable bags come in a variety of patterns and hold a sleeping bag, pillow, pajamas and more. She'll trea-sure an heirloom piece of antique jewelry for years to come. Past Era Antique Jewel-ry has a vast selection. 2311 Westheimer. 713-524-7110.

Mom

Portraits are popular gifts, and understandably so. What better way to capture a moment in time than with a picture of her beloved family? Photographer Kim Herzog Bonner (713-722-7273) specializes in portraits of kids and holiday cards. This mom of four, ages four to ten, shoots in both color and black and white.

Some other possibilities:

• Barfield Photography
1312 Woodvine, 713-688-0148

• Evin Thayer Studios
2643 Colquitt, 713-524-0199

• Karen Sachar
433 Bartlett, 713-523-1150

• Temple Webber Photography
5120 Woodway, 713-621-9320

Find her favorite fragrance at Ulta (multiple locations, 713-621-9120) or any department store. If she's not the perfume-wearing kind, treat her to wonderfully fragrant aromatherapy lotions, shower gels, bubble bath oil and more from Bath and Body Works (multiple lo-cations, 713-993-9566), Origins (multiple locations, 713-622-6363) or Pure Bliss (Uptown Park, 713-622-3858).


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