Mission impossible

Gift ideas for some hard-to-please people

Creative Apple

Creative Apple

We’re thinking gifts, you’re thinking gifts—everybody’s thinking about what to give friends and family now that the holiday season is here.

Most of us probably don’t yet know exactly what we’re going to give the people on our list, but we do know this for sure: Some of them will be easy to shop for, and others will be, well, hard to please. Not that they aren’t appreciative; it’s just that it’s hard to know what to give them.

We’d like to offer some help with this group. To do that, we’ve conjured up a list of potentially difficult gift recipients, people who are so unique or persnickety or just buried in stuff already that they’re hard to buy for, and we’ve made some gift suggestions for each of them.

Now we’re thinking these are some pretty nifty gifts.

Developmentally disabled 7-year-old

It can be difficult to find the right gift for the child in your life who faces some challenges. Barbies and skateboards might be off the mark. Well, you’re in luck. Since 1994, Toys R Us has offered a useful annual Toy Guide for Differently Abled Kids featuring toys targeted to the needs of developmentally disabled children, broken down by categories of special needs such as fine- and gross-motor, auditory, visual, tactile and social skills.

Creative Apple (2201 Pillsbury Road), locally owned by Sheri Tarman, also offers a host of toys and other items perfectly suited to the needs of a young child with developmental challenges. The store offers a wide range of Melissa & Doug wooden educational toys, such as Band in a Box, which will help with gross-motor, auditory and social skills ($24.99), a Basic Skills Board designed to work on fine-motor skills such as lacing and buttoning ($19.99), and Primary Lacing Beads ($12.99), also useful for fine-motor development—as well as a variety of Jumbo Knob wooden puzzles.

Big, door-knob-handled paint brushes in primary colors ($5.25 per set) and chunky triangular crayons ($4.25 for a box of 16) are perfect for the child with fine-motor challenges as well, and colorful, squishy Gertie balls ($5 and $6) are just the thing to help a kid with gross-motor issues learn to play catch.

Ask Tarman for other ideas—she’s got plenty.

Robin Marie’s Shoe Closet

The fashionista roommate

If you once thought your roommate was fluent in Italian because she rattles off names like Galliano, Versace and Valentino, chances are you’re dealing with a serious fashionista. Gucci may be way out of your budget, but you can still find hip gifts in Chico.

For shoe fanatics, try Robyn Marie’s Shoe Closet (215 Main St). The shop carries name-brand designers, with everything from hot high-heels to cute boots, including this adorable light-brown pair of Soda flats for $42. Or better yet, pick up a pair for her and get one for yourself with the two-for-$64 deal (20 different styles to choose from). Gift certificates, too!

If she must have something that’s one-of-a-kind, though, just hop around the block to BOHO on Second Street, between Main and Broadway, or down the street to Three Sixty Ecotique at 511 Main St. There, shoppers will find offerings by local designers—such as fashion collective Chikoko—for reasonable prices.

If upper-end brands are what you’re looking for, head into Betty’s on Broadway (at the corner of Third and Broadway). Betty’s carries high-quality items, from fun and frilly to modern and elegant. The shop stocks small lots, so your trend-setting buddy isn’t likely to run into 10 other women wearing the same outfit—the ultimate fashionista faux pas!

While you’re downtown, here are a couple more places to check out: The Fashion Lounge (212 Main St.); Weekend Wearhouse (225 Main St.); Artifax Clothing Co. (247 Main St.); For Elyse (228 Broadway); and Kreations (218 Main St.).

Masters Music & Vending Co.

Recently divorced older sister

This one’s difficult. If you’re lucky, she’s getting over the divorce easily—but some marriages die hard. You could always buy her a girls’ night out—who doesn’t love sipping cocktails at Johnnie’s (have you tried Jay Rodriguez’s concoction, the Te Amo?) or Christian Michael’s before heading out for a night of dancing?

Here’s one better—get her a full calendar of girls’ nights out. All she needs is a pool cue and a general idea of geometry. The women’s pool league has already started its season (though there are some teams still looking for alternates), so she’ll have plenty of time to brush up on her billiards skills before the 2010 season starts up.

Lucky for us, we have a top-notch cue shop right here in town: Masters Music & Vending Co. at 269 Humboldt Ave. So pick out a nice stick like this purple Schmelke ($84.95) with a case ($22.95) so she won’t lose or break the thing. Next year the two of you can go back for a pool table or one of their cool, vintage juke boxes.


Emo teenage boy

Teenaged boy on your gift list? Maybe it’s best to take the path of least exasperation and shove some cash in an envelope or grab an iTunes gift card at the checkout. Or maybe not.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, your teen will have jumped from the giant lowing herd chasing ever-shifting popular styles and landed himself in a much narrower cattle chute. If you’re dealing with, say, a goth, you might have some homework to do. But if your guy is on the emo track, your gift-buying just got easy.

Clothes are the way to go, and the uniform is really straightforward: the basics include skinny pants, skin-tight shirt and flat shoes. The pants are the signature item, and you can get the real deal at Trucker downtown (232 Broadway), where the selections range from Levi’s Skinny 511 ($54) to Insight’s City Riot Stretch Exhaust ($85).

And for shoes, you can’t go wrong with classic Converse Chuck Taylors (high- or low-tops starting at $37.99 at Heel and Sole in the Mangrove Safeway shopping center). Tight T-shirts are everywhere. Just don’t try to be hip and get something with a band’s name (you will get it wrong)—solid colors only.

To cap it off, nothing says I love my emo teen boy like a gift certificate for a painfully contrived haircut. Gearhead Barbershop and Tattoo (between First and Second on Broadway, downtown) will do him right for a mere $15.

Lyon Books, Powell’s Sweet Shoppe and Sports LTD.

Marine brother in Afghanistan

It’s no secret morale is low among our troops in the Middle East. So for your little bro who was recently deployed, there’s nothing nicer than a care package full of keep-your-mind-off-war things to do. Besides, they have down time, and sitting in a tent doing push-ups doesn’t cut it day in and day out.

Lots of soldiers ask for personal-care items—leave those to mom and dad. This is your brother, so send him some things that remind him of you, and home. Here are a few ideas:

Reading materials. So what if Joey isn’t a bookworm? He’ll appreciate a couple magazines (especially if at least one of them has a hot chick on the cover) and a fun, fast-paced book like Dan Brown’s latest, The Lost Symbol. Esquire, $3.99; Sports Illustrated, $4.99; and book, $22.95 at Lyon Books (121 W. Fifth St.).

Yum and games. It’s nearly Christmastime, so don’t forget the holiday taste of candy canes. A box of thin peppermint candies will put you back $3.99 at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe (121 W. Third St.). The throwback store also has some fun games, including puzzles that come in (bonus) small boxes for $15.99.

Warmth. A nice, thick pair of Wigwam socks ($15) will not be lost on your little warrior. Add to that a football ($22), both from Sports LTD (698 Mangrove Ave.), for throwing around with his buddies and you’ll make his (and everyone else’s) day.

If you don’t have a friend or family member serving overseas but want to brighten a soldier’s day anyway, log onto www.anysoldier.com to connect with one.

Bird in Hand

Overly active 5-year-old

Five’s a tough age. Some boys are too cool for younger toys but too little to keep up with the older kids. It’s also an important age for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, which can lead to a few bumps and bruises.

To keep an active 5-year-old entertained and safe, head over to Bird in Hand (320 Broadway St.), a quirky Chico original that sells gadgets and gifts and is best known for its National Yo-Yo Museum, the world’s largest public display of yo-yos, tucked into the rear of the store. There, they sell yo-yos that vary in size, color and price. Choose the right one for the kindergartener in your life for anywhere from $20 to $120, and toss in a picture book that teaches basic skills. Bird in Hand also offers free yo-yo lessons every Saturday in the Diamond Alley behind its store, which will drain the little tyke’s extra energy, not your wallet.

Chico Creek Nature Center

Grandfather who says he “has everything he needs”

OK, get him something he doesn’t need—but will make him happy and a little bit proud in the bargain. Buy him a paving brick with his name on it at the Chico Creek Nature Center or the new Gateway Science Museum.

The nature center has completed its new building and is selling paving bricks for its front patio. They cost $150 for a 4”-by-8” brick and $250 for an 8”-by-8” brick, with the price including up to three engraved lines on the smaller brick and five on the larger. Purchase of a brick also includes a $35 family membership to the nature center.

Go to the nature center’s Web site (bidwellpark.org) and buy Grandpa a brick. Then take him to the nature center and watch his face light up when he sees his name engraved in stone.

The Gateway Science Museum’s Legacy Paving Stones will be placed in its Founders Plaza, part of its beautiful new entryway. The pavers come in two sizes, 8” by 8” ($500; three lines of up to 14 characters) and 8” by 16” ($1,000; four lines of up to 14 characters). Go to www.csuchico.edu/ncnhm for more info.