2006-12-07 / News

Decorations and gifts are part of a holiday plan

By Michaela Kennedy

In the wake of the first snowflakes of the season, locals still clinging to their shorts and sandals are suddenly scrambling with the reminder that Christmas is just around the corner. Gift-giving season is upon us, and holiday party invitations are sitting on the table.

So, which comes first, gift shopping or shopping for decorations? Many of us still remember heading up to the attic every December to pull out grandma's hand-me-down light sets and angel music boxes singing "Silent Night." The only serious items on the decorations shopping list then were a Christmas tree and wreath.

Scrooge all you want about the commercial sellout of December; but the truth is, every year fresh ideas to adorn pop up to set the festive scene. The more décor the better is the new name of the holiday game.

Collectible caroling dolls greet visitors who walk in the door to Jamestown Designs. "A man comes in every year for a new caroler. He has over 500 of them," says shop clerk Cheryl Parker.

The Christmas collectibles do not stop at dolls. At the Secret Garden, wooden animals, angels, and nativity scenes accent the shop, priced from under $10 to as high as $80. Welcoming the holidays with exotic fruit is the theme this year, notes Helenna Livernois, showing off sparkly pears and grapes. She explains that during colonial times sea captains returning for the holidays brought back tropical fruit from faroff lands. "The pineapple is a traditional American symbol of hospitality and friendship," she adds.

Glass ornaments from a local artist sell well, says Debbie Goyette at the Purple Door. The singing bears at R & R Gallery will help break the ice at the holiday parties. Rena Tyson encourages hand-holding with the bears to get in the dancing mood.

'Tis the season to be prepping the party rooms. Carpet cleaner rentals are available at the Jamestown Hardware. "We have lights and more lights!" mentions young Scott Sherman, and reminds everyone that ladders are in stock to hang the lights.

To avoid the oh-no-I-forgot-towrap the-Secret-Santa-presentsand I'm-late-for-the-party syndrome, Baker's Pharmacy provides a quick fix with ribbons, boxes and paper. The pharmacy has plenty of chocolate on hand in case you forgot the present, too.

The house is clean, the decorations are in place, and now food and spirits are next.

Save time by ordering a party platter for pick up at McQuade's Marketplace. Fruit, veggie, or meat platters make an easy and enticing spread. Deli spreads with some pastry touches and tasty soups can be had in a snap from Slice of Heaven or the East Ferry Deli. Splurge a little more and order local seafood or tropical catering from Chopmist Charlie's or Tricia's Tropi-Grille. Pull out all the stops with an Italian holiday party catered by Phyllis Bedard of Trattoria Simpatico.

Mini-martini-making sets, hot toddie mixes and champagne baskets are ready to go at Jamestown Wine and Spirits, not to mention a keg or two. Wine or liquor baskets with a theme of your choice, complete with gourmet treats, can be custom ordered at Grapes & Gourmet.

Last but not least, a little selfpampering will crown a successful organization for the holidays. Aestheticians, massage therapists, and hair specialists are all poised at strategic spots on the island to beautify. Try a workout at Jamestown Fitness. Move on to a pedicure or manicure at Pas de Chat, and a hair styling at Anita Haircut or Dimitri's Studios.

Customized facials and make-up are only a few of the choices to indulge in at Cathryn Jamieson Salon. Try a full-blown spa experience at Ocean Essence Spa.

If you still forgot the tree, wreath, or poinsettia after all this preparation, McQuade's, the Secret Garden, or Tricia's Tropigrille will gladly help you out.

Gift-giving is heart-giving

The decorations are up, the spa dates are made, and the official holiday season is in full swing. Neighbors and family members this week have been echoing the chant, "I'm headed downtown to get gift ideas." Baked goods are selling, hot chocolate wafting in the air, and shoppers are browsing.

Rules of present exchange make many of us nervous, but worrying is a waste of good holiday party energy. A heart-felt gift, on the giving or receiving end, is an exquisite pleasure of the season.

A variety of people enrich our lives on a daily basis - co-workers, teachers, care givers, and neighbors, to name a few. A card can express your appreciation simply without stretching the wallet seams. Jamestown Designs, Baker's Pharmacy, and Pas de Chat all carry cards, books, and cute knick-knacks that will send the right message for you.

Gifts for the man of the house often end up last on the list, because his answer to the what-do-youwant this-year question is typically, "Anything is fine." Years of frustration with this answer melt away by simply believing it's true - anything really is fine with him. A new power tool or meat smoker from Jamestown Hardware is icing to all the holiday food that's really on his mind. Big sellers, says Steve Sherman, are gas grills and battery-free flashlights, with or without a radio.

Across the street at the Conanicut Marine Services' ship store, foul weather jackets, boots and other boating gear abound for the sailor who is dreaming of the day in spring when his hull hits the water again. Jamestown Designs offers warm dreams as well with board games such as Shut the Box and Dread Pirate, traditionally loved by men at sea.

Gifts for the lady of the house become a bit more complicated. Just

because she says she needs a blender or a Crock Pot doesn't mean she wants to ogle it under the tree. Be wary of the man who protests, "But she loves the toaster oven I got for her!" She may have given up hope that the man in her life understands at all the mystery of the heart. No matter how much Scott Sherman at the hardware store would love to sell all the household appliances in stock, he still tags a warning to his advice. "Dust busters are big sellers, but I was smart enough not to get my wife one," he says.

Useful household items with beauty attached is a perfect compromise. Michael Houston on the waterfront carries a wide array of glassware with florals hand-painted by shop owner Fran Hanners. A hurricane lamp with dancing palm trees or a pastry cover bursting with cherry blossoms will enhance the romance.

All women, young or old, love jewelry that has been personally picked by a loved one. One-of-akind pieces, like a mother-of-pearl shell pendant with Conanicut Island stamped out of the center from the Purple Door, will be treasured years from now. The Purple Door is also well-stocked up on supplies from beads to semi-precious stones for creating some handmade gifts. Price ranges fit any purse, Goyette adds.

Gift certificates do not sound personal. Nevertheless, what could be more personal than a gift certificate for spa beauty treatments at Ocean Essence Spa or Cathryn Jamieson Salon. Friends always love an elegant meal on the town to a charming restaurant of choice, like the Bay Voyage, Trattoria Simpatico, or Tricia's Tropigrille.

For the kids, Wiffle balls and volleyball nets are ready for wrapping at the hardware store. Books and games are aplenty at Jamestown Designs and Baker's Pharmacy. Keep the young ones busy with gift certifi- cates to Video Showcase.

If gift ideas are still eluding you, head downtown with the rest of the neighbors and mooch some inspiration from the merchants.

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