The 11th hour

Gift ideas for the Christmas finish line

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

According to Business Insider, there are 11 common traits of highly intelligent people: they’re adaptable, they understand how much they don’t know, they are curious about the world, they’re open minded, they have a lot of self control, they’re really funny, they have deep empathy for others yet are solitary, they can connect seemingly unconnected ideas, they think about the Big Questions and — most important — they procrastinate. A lot. 

A cozy winter scene in downtown Sandpoint. Photo courtesy Sandpoint Shopping District.

Taken together, these traits are those of the last-minute Christmas shopper. So don’t feel bad if you’re looking at your loved ones’ wish lists and realizing you need to launch a Christmas Eve blitz to make their holiday dreams come true. You’re not feckless or lazy, you’re just highly intelligent. Draw on your innate powers to pull through for Dec. 25. Here are a few ideas, from one habitual 11th-hour shopper to another, all local of course because at this stage in the game, Amazon can’t help you.

Wine and beer
Pend d’Oreille Winery (301 Cedar St.), MickDuff’s Brewing Co. (419 N. Second Ave./220 Cedar St.), Idaho Pour Authority (203 Cedar St.)

We’re not talking about actually buying wine and beer; rather, the gift that keeps on giving: a big bottle that can be refilled with wine, and/or a growler that can be topped off with the suds of your giftee’s choice.

Speaking from experience, I was gifted one of the Pend d’Oreille Winery’s big Bistro Rouge bottles last year, and it has been an unexpected boon. After 10 refills you get a freebie, and the price is right: you get about two bottles of Bistro Rouge for around $18, which is pretty close to “buy one get one free” at area grocery stores. 

Likewise, getting a growler from MickDuff’s or Idaho Pour Authority gets you more (and better) beer for fewer dollars, with the vessels containing about four beers-worth. 

Prices vary, but you’re probably looking at about $20 for a standard bottle or growler. There are fancier options, of course, and they too are worth every penny.

Sunshine Goldmine (110 S. First Ave.)

I’m going to admit to a bit of bias here, as owners Darian and Matt Kinney are dear friends of mine. Objectively speaking, however, I have never once gone wrong by stopping into their shop. They have sparkly bits for any budget and any taste — from birthstones to diamonds; gold and silver items in rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings; and, among my favorites, the Lake Pend Oreille pendant necklace expertly crafted by Matt. I bought one of these for my wife last year, and it’s among her favorite pieces of finery (there’s a really nice version on with a price listed of $145). 

Darian is an absolute genius at helping customers figure out just what their loved one(s) will like and, bonus, the gift wrapping is second to none.

Big Five (615 N. Fifth Ave.), North 40 (477181 US-95, Ponderay)

OK, this might just be my family, but my brother and I have a thing where we buy each other weapons for Christmas. This might sound bizarre, but hear me out. One year I got him a crossbow from Big Five (only cost me about $70) and he liked it so much he got me one, too. We had years of fun with those things. Another year, I got him a tactical tomahawk — great for backyard ax throwing around the fire or for utility in the woods (as I recall, it cost about $40). North 40 has a Gerber Gator Kukri machete for only $49.99, which I would have purchased for my brother if I hadn’t already scored something else, which I don’t want him to read about. No matter what, any true North Idahoan needs an ample supply of blades for adventuring in our nearby wild areas.

Curios and gimcracks
Foster’s Crossing (504 Oak St.)

Highly intelligent people have highly intelligent friends and family; and, in my experience, highly intelligent people have a taste for interesting, antique and otherwise niche objets d’art. When I’m in doubt about any gift — for any reason — I wander the floors and nooks and crannies of Foster’s Crossing with an eye out for anything unexpected yet perfect to cross my path. In years past for my friends and loved ones I’ve purchased a Kenyan Maasai lion hunting club, an intricately carved cane, antique glassware, flamboyant brooches (including one bearing the likeness of Catherine the Great), a Hemingway-worthy Royal typewriter and many other curiosities. Beyond all that, Foster’s has vintage clothing, records, books, toys, assorted implements, artworks, comic books, old toys, decor… you name it. I recently achieved “weird gift” apotheosis when I gave Reader Publisher Ben Olson an antique whaling harpoon as an early 40th birthday present (he enters middle age on Saturday, Dec. 26, just so you know). I didn’t get it at Foster’s, but if you’re going to find such a thing anywhere, you’ll find it there. You just never know, and that’s the beauty of it.

Various locations

This might seem like you’re phoning it in, but I can assure you, nothing telegraphs your regard quite like buying a gift certificate to cover dinner at any of our fine local restaurants. For my own 40th birthday in September, my dear family purchased a load of lobster rolls from Baxter’s, and it was one of my favorite gifts. Also, not long ago, I was given a gift certificate to Beet and Basil and covered the cost of a full, sumptuous meal, which I heartily enjoyed in the comfort of my own home. Again, it filled my belly and warmed my heart. I had the same enjoyment from gift certificates to Utara, Eichardt’s and Bluebird Bakery. Any of our fantastic local restaurateurs will gladly sell you a gift certificate in any amount, and I strongly suggest that you take them up on it. Not only does it help them — and where would we be without them? — but it’s an especial treat these days when dining out in person is much more, shall we say, “complex” than it once was.

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