But don't panic--we're here to help. Find that list you wrote months ago when you thought you had it under control. Remember? It's on one of those little tear-away-a-day calendar sheets now stashed away in a drawer. (Probably the underwear drawer, but whatever, that's your business.) Drink a big cup of coffee, take this guide, jump into your car and go-go-go! (We are in no way endorsing breaking speed limits on the streets, but in the shops, you'd better kick it into warp-speed.) Good luck!
Quayzee330 N. Fourth Ave.
You so Quayzee! That's what 30-year-old owner Monica Partridge thought as she came up with this playful name for her second shop on Fourth Avenue. After opening Rustic Candle a few years ago and spending lots of time in Los Angeles, she wanted to open a clothing store on the Avenue. Quayzee sells clothing for women sizes 0-13 and caters to the hip, working woman or UA student who is looking for something trendy but a bit more sophisticated. Partridge has covered all the bases--no more trekking into the foothills and malls to find fashion. A chocolate brown chiffon and satin camisole with sequined trim is only $22, and it would look smashing under a Doki Geki jacquard brown-and-tan jacket for $64 and a pair of BCBG To the Max chocolate brown cords for $78. While you're forgetting the foothills, you can also forget Louis Vuitton. Red Tango makes a lime-green leather vintage bowling bag with a white cat logo and white piping for only $62. If you prefer recycled magazine and newsprint, Your Sisters Mustache makes synthetic bags with acrylic or wood handles for $56. The most popular thing in this shop is the OM Girl yoga line of tank tops, T-shirts and capri pants with eastern symbols, like a singular rhinestone in the belly of a Buddha for $38-$64. If you appreciate detail and want a bit of an upscale yet affordable Fourth Avenue experience, then pick up your last-minute gifts for the gal in your life here.
The Folk Shop2525 N. Campbell Ave.
One of the great pleasures you can get out of the holiday season is buying loud presents for nieces and nephews. Not only do they get to run around the house with new toys that make a lot of noise, but they get to run around your siblings' houses with new toys that make a lot of noise. The Folk Shop is your No. 1 destination for such presents. From handmade palm frond rattles ($3.95) to a 22-inch brass gong ($39.95), this shop will let you give the gift that keeps on giving headaches. But if there is a serious (or not-so-serious) musician on your list, you can find plenty of instruments here as well. You can enter Banjo Heaven, a room devoted to banjos, or choose from entire walls of guitars, mandolins and ukuleles ($30 and up)--or, if you're shopping for someone who is into a world beat, try a bunch of Bolivian goats toenails ($7.50) or etched guiros ($10 and more). There's always the classic didgeridoo (starting at $25), which comes with an instructional CD and gig bag, or give the sounds of nature with a combination of a rainstick (starting at $13.95) and a thunder tube (starting at $9.99). As owner Paul Blumentritt puts it, "People are making their own acoustic music again."
Wiwipul Du'agNative Arts
Highway 86/Ajo Road
Tucked away in an old adobe building, on the side of the Coyote Convenience Store on the Tohono O'Odham Indian Reservation on Highway 86 lies a modest Native American arts shop. Deep within the walls and display cases, you'll find the most exquisite woven wire, horsehair and bear grass baskets ($12-$1,200). Originally crafted to hold such items as fruit and eggs, they now hold their own as fine examples of native art. In fact, most of the items in this shop are from O'Odham and Yaqui artists in the surrounding community. These items include colorful Yaqui dance masks trimmed with horsehair and yucca-trimmed bear grass baskets with stylized symbols of I'itoi at the top ($72-$202). The 28-mile trip down to Wiwipul Du'ag, however, doesn't have to be an expensive endeavor. You can support native culture in an educational and affordable way by purchasing any number of books or crafts, like the Tohono O'Odham/Pima to English Dictionary for $20.95, or by giving the culture buff in your life a handmade sage/cedar smudge stick or a poster of the Tribes of the Indian Nations ($5 each). If your gift-giving includes jewelry, there are plenty of choices in Hopi or Navajo silversmithing, starting at $4.
Galeria La Sirena2905 E. Broadway Blvd.
Sherry Teachnor, owner of Galeria La Sirena for the last 12 years, has a simple goal--everyone should be able to have original art in their home or office without going broke. Her shop, which focuses on Latin and Caribbean art, is full of items that she picks herself; prices range from as little as $5 to $2,000. Coconut masks from Guerrero in the shapes of mermaids, suns and moons run from $6 to $22; a Peruvian fairy with a dress of flower petals and butterfly wings is $12.50; Dominican artist Adalberto Noble's papier-mâché cups are $22.50. There's even art you can walk on, like linoleum and canvas floor cloths ($300-$695). Keeping with the mermaid theme (Galeria La Sirena), you can purchase a Dia de los Muertos mermaid ($65-$125) or hand-sewn, cloth mermaid dolls ($35 and up); recycled oil drum lids have been transformed into mermaids and angels ($85 and up). There is currently a large selection of angels and saints for the holiday season, including work from Mexico City artist Bernardo Gonzalez ($425), Venezuelan santos ($185) and a stunningly intricate portrait of a saint painted on tissue paper ($400). During the holiday season, stop by on the weekends for some light nibbles while you browse this unique shop.
Originate526 N. Ninth Ave.
What a cool idea: Let's take all the crap that people usually throw into landfills and create low-impact building material. Or, we could sustainably harvest bamboo for wood flooring that would last for years, and use clay and mineral pigments for house paint that won't poison us. With all the allergies, construction and real estate investment going on in Tucson, surely you know someone on your holiday list who could use a gift certificate from Originate instead of those big-box home improvement stores. Believe me, this is the kind of place that can really make a difference in the quality of peoples' lives. The range of material and ideas in the showroom--assembled by owner Natasha Winnik--will blow you away. She has a wealth of knowledge, and stopping in to talk to her or her staff is a gift in and of itself. She carries cobalt blue, bright red, deep plum and rich teal glass tiles embossed with spirals, Celtic designs and more that are made from recycled glass for $4-14; colorful clay-based paints by Bioshield are $40 per gallon. If your romantic partner always wanted a kitchen that looked like one of those edgy, sexy lofts seen in Desert Living, then surprise him or her with a concrete countertop with set-in recycled glass ($25-35 per square foot). Recycled glass drawer-pulls in star, dolphin, shell and fish shapes are $10-12. Money spent at Originate is money well spent--for the entire planet.
Zee's Warehouse1 E. Toole Ave.
If you've driven by Zee's (corner of Toole and Stone avenues), you've probably noticed the large pieces of art on their landing--giant quartz spheres on modern steel stands shining in the sun, or maybe the large Buddha smiling at you as you drive by. That's just the beginning. While the interior of the 11,000-square-foot building is nondescript, the artwork that resides inside is anything but. Giant Indonesian doors rest against the back wall, just waiting for someone to say "Hey, that's just what our new house needs!" ($2,000-$7,000). There's also decorative minerals for landscaping, and those who look to the stars can have their very own meteorite ($700-$15,000). If all that's a little beyond your budget, you can always find various copper minerals set in sterling silver and designed by owner Zee Haag himself ($40-$120). Haag started the company in the late '70s and traverses the globe in search of minerals, fossils and more. If none of this is tempting, how about this: A 20 million-year-old fossilized palm frond ($77,000). It may still be out of your price range, but there's no charge to come and look at this marvel. This and other wonders await your visit.
Roma Imports of America--Fine Italian Foods, Grocery & Deli627 S. Vine Ave.
Some of the best places to shop in Tucson are in the weirdest places--take Roma Imports, for example. Owned by the lovely Lilian Spieth, it's an amazing little place that does a tremendous business making and selling Italian homemade everything! What's weird is that it's located in a semi-industrial neighborhood just south of Broadway Boulevard and west of Kino Parkway, but if you find it, you've found gold! Where else could you find the ingredients for an authentic Italian gift basket of Pietro Corcelli olive oil ($13.99), Chianti red wine vinegar ($4.95), Beretta risotto ($3.49), D'Amico antipasto ($3.25) and a mini panettone bread ($2.95)? If you have to go to a holiday party or want to impress the busy person in your life with the coolest gift ever, go fresh with heat-and-serve meals, such as a bag of chicken portobello ravioli ($4.60 per pound) or a deep tray of meat lasagna ($6.99) and a desert tray of tasty vanilla pizzelles ($11.99 per pound), fig cookies ($9.99 per pound), sesame seed biscotti ($7.99 per pound) or simply a medium tray of Lilian's tiramisu ($10.50). It's the real deal, and the East Coasters you know won't whine anymore that they miss these kind of places. While you're there, forget about shopping for a second; take a break, and have an awesome lunch!
Hear's Music2508 E. Campbell Ave.
There's a reason Hear's Music made it back into our gift guide this year--they know their sh*t when it comes to having a diverse selection of music from all categories. Don't expect to walk in and find 50 copies of the latest Madonna regurgitation; this shop is for people with high standards in music. The classical section is more than just a row of CDs under the generic term "classical"; it is broken down by specific styles and eras. Tired of walking into a chain store and finding a small bin of unorganized world music? This shop organizes by country, so it's easier to find. Does someone on your list like electronica? Get them one of the Tantra Lounge compilations ($16.99), which is a blend of traditional Indian music and electronic lounge. Another great selection along these lines is the Buddha series, like Buddha Lounge 3 ($15.99), and for that special someone with whom you like to snuggle, there's Lover's Lounge ($12.99). Stop in and see why this shop has been around more than 12 years to serve music aficionados.
mfa-Eronga1605 W. Grant Road
Off the beaten path, but at least on the map, mfa-Eronga promises success for any last minute shopper who has to find the unusual and unique gift of hand-painted home furnishings. We must warn you, however, that this shop is not for the bland or color-challenged individual. This is Latin American contemporary functional art at its finest, and a gallery of sorts for the 200 artists who created it and own 50 percent of both the store and the factory in central Mexico. Maureen and Steve Rosenthal own the other 50 percent and have done a great job importing the work to Tucson. For $69-$110, you can get a vibrantly colored lazy susan with a Diego Rivera or Frida Kahlo motif. Shoppers have also fallen in love with the costumbrista--Mexican scenes on alder wood tables and chairs. A dining set will cost you a stiff $2,000 but will be the most amazing piece of furniture art you will ever own. Fun kitchen stools with cowboys ridin' high or chairs covered in calla lilies or prickly pear run $200-$300 and will surely be passed down the generations. Don't trust us, though--go and see for yourself. And there's plenty more to see at mfa-Eronga in hand-painted wardrobes, headboards, sideboards, bookcases and snack bowls, so you'll just have to stop in for a one-of-a-kind museum-like experience while you're out and about making up for lost time.
Desert Pride611 N. Fourth Ave.
The shop has been around for six years, but it's only been in its new location since February. Since the relocation, owners Dana Young and Kim Muell have made it their goal to fill the shop with a wider variety of merchandise for the entire queer community. Rainbow bumper stickers, rainbow necklaces, rainbow candles--the obvious selection of rainbow everything is just the beginning. But while we're on the subject of rainbows, Desert Pride is the only place in the entire state of Arizona where you can get a rainbow Christmas tree ($14.50 to $270, depending on size). But why stop at just rainbows? Your Christmas cards can be gay, too! A good way to never forget the date is to mark it on your hunky guy calendars that range from cowboys to construction men ($14.95). Framed posters of good-looking men and women are available (prices vary) as well as gay- and lesbian-themed travel guides such as Damron ($18.95). Forego the usual version of Monopoly for the funny "Gayopoly" ($34.95), in which instead of going to jail, you go into the closet. Does someone on your list need a new watch? DP is the only store in Tucson where you can get the hottest new watches by Android ($60-$80). You can even shop the Web site (www.desertpride.com) and pick up your purchase at the store or have it shipped to you. And you don't have to be of the LGBT persuasion to shop at Desert Pride. If you have a queer loved one on your list, you can stop by, and the staff will help find something suitable for him, her or whatever.
Strung Out on Beads5460 E. Speedway Blvd.
We're talkin' the ultimate in totally last-minute shopping here with this bead and jewelry boutique. If you've waited this long and still haven't managed to get your lazy or workaholic butt out the door to buy your sweetie a decent and thoughtful present, you can pull the wool over their eyes if you shop here. The gals who own and manage SOOB have excellent taste and design skills and will assist you in picking out any number of semi-precious gemstones, such as rubies, which are flying out the door this year ($120-$200 for a 12-inch strand). Make an exquisite necklace, earrings or bracelet for your mom, employee, brother, sister, husband or whomever else is deserving of such a gift. Black Tahitian pearls are super-hot this year, starting at $1,500 for a 16-inch strand. Cultured pearls start at $60 per strand; faceted aquamarine beads are a bit less, starting at $20 per strand. They have elegant pre-made pieces available, or they will customize something for you. Tie it all together with 14k gold or Bali silver clasps and spacers starting at 80 cents per gram. The women at the shop donate their time and a percentage of the profits to local children's and women's groups, and consider SOOB a haven for women in our community who recognize the therapeutic value of transforming beads and their lives into works of art.
Bohemia299 S. Park Ave.
The holiday season is just another excuse to go and spend an entire afternoon at Bohemia. This unique art and gift gallery doesn't just put the "fun" in funky--it capitalizes it, underlines it and puts about 10 exclamation points behind it. More than 180 of Tucson's most innovative artists and craftspeople strut their stuff in Bohemia, but Bohemia isn't like most snotty art galleries and high-end shops. Tucked away in the Lost Barrio, the converted warehouse is full of items which, as co-owner Tana Kelch puts it, "run the gamut from kitsch to spectacular, humorous to deeply moving, with price-ranges to fit most any budget." Try some of Dee Dee Koenen's kitschy treats, such as magnets (starting at $2.50), coasters ($28/set) and boxes (starting at $12.50), with themes running from Tucson to Frida. Barbara Peabody works her magic paintbrush all over household items with whimsical Mexican influences ($18-$295); Daria Sandberg's "Poetry Pieces" are stained glass housed in distressed frames with inspirational messages pounded into copper drops and beaded into the piece ($30-$90); Luon St. Pierre offers some whimsical and fully functional works of art in wood such as benches and cabinets (prices vary). And that ain't the half of it. Go in and see for yourself exactly what is going on south of Broadway. Just remember that you're shopping for others, not yourself.
Lucciola3001 E. Skyline Drive, No. 139
OK, so you don't drive a sexy European sports sedan or have a gate attendant who screens visitors to your so-called hacienda; you can still feel in your element in this exclusive little home-accessories boutique located in the foothills. The main reasons to jet here are that there are no chili peppers, coyotes or cactus motifs, and prices on most small items are surprisingly reasonable--and the quality of what you will get is superb. Remember, a small yet totally cool gift will satisfy even the most persnickety of friends. Take, for instance, the selection of French milled soaps from England, France and Spain--an exquisite bar of Spanish sea salt and carob-scented soap by Maria Evora packaged in a lovely box detailing a woman's love with the sea is only $7; the Magic Frog soap from Giana Rose Atelier comes in the shape of a cute frog inside a green-and-black box tied with a black ribbon ($19). If you have a friend who loves the Japanese aesthetic, this shop has a beautiful range of sushi plates, rice bowls and teacups that a creative decorator can use as soap dishes, incense holders and ikebana vases (prices vary). But if you've really blown it by losing your gift list, or have to make up for something really crappy you did, bring a lot of money--a set of fine cotton sheets from Anichini of Italy can cost you up to $2,000. Lucciola also stocks shi-shi pet collars and toys, darling infant/toddler clothing, toys and books (the Whimsey harmonica is $13), as well as a wonderful variety of old-school, sparkly painted glass Christmas ornaments in the shapes of cottages, trains, Santas, icicles, stars, figurines and more.
Rachel's Downtown Market100 N. Stone Ave.
Monkey Box restaurant owners Rachel and Bill Yaseen have been happily preparing their first venture, Rachel's, for the downtown holiday shopping season. Their store is located in the lobby of the Pioneer building across from the Tucson-Pima Public Library, and they've taken the time and care to stock the place with pre-made gourmet gift baskets filled to the brim with fresh cheeses, imported salami, olive oil crackers, sweet peppers stuffed with goat cheese and bottles of fine domestic and imported wines ($15-$100). If you'd like to be more original, Chris, the lovely market manager, can customize something to your taste and perhaps make a basket stuffed with just wine and chocolates (prices vary). There are some great under-$15 gifts here, too, if you've remembered someone at the last-minute. Fresh flowers are sold by the stem (starting at $2); Guyeaux and other imported European chocolates and truffles come in colorful little boxes starting at $10. If you know a cat lover, Rachel's has a lovely Riesling from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer that comes in the most adorable cat-shaped bottle in vivid red, cobalt blue, bright orange, solid white, black or pink for $14. Remember to call your order in right away, because the availability of their wines changes; they don't do shipping and are only open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Paw Prints Pet Services4621 E. Speedway Blvd.
Mingus, a rather distinguished Bouvier des Flandres about town, highly recommended his trainer, Sasha Alexander--owner of Paw Prints--for anyone looking to train their dog due to unruly behavior. For 14 years, Alexander has worked with all breeds of dogs, including canines that have been mistreated and/or abused. She opened Paw Prints on Oct. 1 to offer more to both her human and animal clients. Using behavior modification that aims to reach a balance of positive and negative reinforcement and corrections, Alexander will cater her training to the specific needs of both the dog and owner. She even has a "shrink room," where owners find themselves confessing what it is they've been doing wrong! Private lessons start at $75, and gift certificates come in any denomination. If you already own a well-behaved dog like our guy Mingus, gift baskets filled with fleece toys, doggie ice cream mix, biscuits and shampoo range from $40-$60. Individual toys start at $3. A word of caution here--for ethical reasons, the only dogs Alexander will not work with are aggressive dogs whose owners refuse to neuter them.
Paper Paper Paper3130 E. Fort Lowell Road
OK, so you finished shopping. Congrats! We knew you could do it! You went out and found some unique and thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list. You probably found a couple things for yourself as well, but who's counting? And now, it's time to wrap them! Wait! You can't wrap that gorgeous hand-made something-or-other with just any old bits of wrapping paper that were on sale at Walgreens! No! That would be like topping crème brulee with Cool Whip. Lucky for you, there's PPP waiting for you to come in and marvel at the more than 300 types of paper from all over the world, including Italy, China, India, Japan and Nepal. The prices range from $3-$25. We know what you're saying--"$25 for a piece of paper? Are you nuts?" Well, you'll just have to go and see why. There's a reason this shop has been around for 23 years and is still going strong. We've said it before, and we'll say it again--some of these sheets are so exquisite that they're suitable for framing. The kind folks at PPP also have gift-wrapping services that will cost $3 labor per item, plus the price of the paper. And just in case there's someone on your list you forgot, you can always pick up a stationary set (starting at $5).