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Creative Loafing Staff Recommended Gifts

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1. The Amazing Do-It-Yourself Magic Tree may bring some holiday cheer to your desk, or to an otherwise drab corner of your life. It also may not, but it's worth a shot. It's a Christmas tree about six inches tall made out of some sort of absorbent paper. The kit comes complete with a little dish base and a plastic bag of water, a garland, star tree-topper and a tiny bag of glitter. The package says it will "grow" in six hours -- that is, it absorbs the water and the "branches" fluff out. They're only $5.95, so how can you resist? Find "em at The Paper Skyscraper, 330 East Blvd., 704-333-7130. -- Ann Wicker

2. Naughty For the chocolate lover in your life, buy Chocoholics Strip Chocolate. "A game of sensual pleasure," it combines the best elements of strip poker and "truth or dare" with one of life's guiltiest pleasures to create a board game that's anything but boring. Available for $25.50 at D.I. Central, 1111 Central Ave., 704-344-8744. -- Lindsey Grossman

3. Nice History buffs and Plaza-Midwood peeps will appreciate this thoughtful gift. In Plaza-Midwood Neighborhood of Charlotte, writer Jeff Byers explores the rise, fall, and rebirth of one the city's most historic and eclectic neighborhoods. The book is part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America Series." Available at most bookstores and in Plaza-Midwood at Coffee Central, 1509 Central Ave, 704-374-0046; Dish (Thomas Ave) and Common Market (Commonwealth Ave) starting at $19.95. -- Lindsey Grossman

4. Sehl Glow Lamps, made of a "squeezably soft" EVA material, are just the ticket for someone you know who's afraid of the dark. They're available in many styles, including an alien head, a green gecko, and in sports motifs like footballs, basketballs and soccer balls. Just plug "em in and those night terrors will go away. Now they just have to deal with a Smiley Face beaming at them all night. $10 at the Colors by Mel booth (#119) at Blacklion, 10605 Park Rd., 704-541-1148. -- Linda Vespa

5. SCTV, Volume 2 (Shout! Factory). The now-legendary SCTV 90-minute shows from the early 1980s still stand as some of the greatest American sketch comedy ever produced -- even while they were subverting the genre. The most creative, intelligent, outlandish and, yes, at times subtle comedy ensemble we'll ever see included Eugene Levy, John Candy, Catherine O'Hara, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, Andrea Martin, and Joe Flaherty. They're presented here in nine full episodes, including classics such as their Godfather parody; CCCP1, a takeover of the SCTV satellite by a hilariously skewered Soviet network; the brutally funny "I'm Taking My Own Head, Screwing It On Right, and No Guy's Gonna Tell Me That It Ain't"; "Farm Film Report" blowing up stars "real good"; and O'Hara's brilliant Rusty Warren parody, Dusty Towne. For longtime fans, it doesn't get any better than this. -- John Grooms

6. Stocking Stuffer Hysteric Glamour Clothing and Accessories offers the only game in town for several up-and-coming trendsetters including Look from London Hosiery. As seen in Elle and Vogue magazines, these one-size-fits-most sexy stockings come in a variety of funky patterns including leopard prints and daring variations on the traditional fishnet hose. Prices range from $20-$24. Located at 1216 Thomas Ave., 704-334-4888. -- Lindsey Grossman

7. Hey! Sell My Car! Need to sell your car but you don't want the hassles of dealing with lunatics coming to your home? You're in luck -- give yourself the gift of peace of mind by using Automotive Consignment, a unique Charlotte company that sells vehicles to the public for the public. Automotive Consignment rents space to private individuals with vehicles for sale, and handles everything from marketing and test drives to filling out the paperwork. Every vehicle offered for sale is fully disclosed including a vehicle history report and price detail. They're at 5000 East Independence Blvd. Check out their website at: -- Sam Boykin

8. Littlearth Belts, for the environmentally conscious, are made from recycled rubber (ground up tires) adorned with soda or beer bottle caps -- just right to emphasize the waistline acquired by drinking cases of these beverages. The belts feature car seat belt buckles and have snaps to "micro-adjust" the size. They're available in sizes XS to XL. The Ladybug Ladybug booth (#350) at Blacklion has them for $29.95 to $39.95. Blacklion, 10605 Park Rd., 704-541-1148. -- Linda Vespa

9. Umbra Hangout Frame Mobile is a great gift for that person who has simply run out of ways to display their photos. The UHFM offers a unique way to display up to six 5x7 pix. The mobile can be conveniently hung from the ceiling and features three silver brushed metal frames. Two photos fit back-to-back in acrylic holders that "float" inside the frames. It's $24.95, and is available at The Paper Skyscraper, 330 East Blvd., 704-333-7130. -- Ann Wicker

10. All Things Vespa A Vespa Scooter may be out of your gift-giving price range, but Vespa Charlotte has lots of stylish, affordable, made in Italy Vespa logo merchandise. The Vespa ET Cup is designed to resemble the side panel of Vespa ET models. Vespa mugs have the Vespa logo on the side and a scooter image on the inside rim. Both the cup and the mug are available in five colors: Pink, Alabaster, Lt. Blue, Red, and Cobalt Blue, and they go for $8. Vespa toiletries kits are in glove-soft Italian leather, and in colors to match your favorite scooter. $95. The Boblbee backpack (made in Sweden) offers excellence in ergonomics, cavernous storage and lots of pockets. Prices range from $195-$215, depending on the size. And, for the lowdown on all things Vespa, The Cult of Vespa book -- 170 pages of Vespa history for $35.00. Vespa Charlotte, 128 W. Worthington Ave., 704-373-7400. -- Linda Vespa (no relation)

11. Dolly Mama metal stand ups will get anyone's attention. The Mamas have expressive painted faces and are decked out with feather boas, hats and glittery "gems." Each one has a different "outfit" and holds a small sign offering different sentiments like "Whoo Hoo!," "Drama Queen" or "Bad Hair Day." There's also a Mama that sits on the edge of a shelf or computer, keeping you company as you slog through the day. Standing Mamas are $38.50, sitting ones $33. You can get them at The Bag Lady, 2904 Selwyn Ave., 704-338-9778. -- Ann Wicker

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