Hansen: Top 10 skewed Laguna gifts

For people who believe that "mall" is a four-letter word, it's a coup to get all of your Christmas shopping done without leaving Laguna Beach.

To that end, I thought it might be useful to give you my Top 10 list of suggested unique gifts found only in Laguna.

But before you shop, remember why you are doing it. The joy is in the hunt, not the kill. It's about the window shopping and bartering, not necessarily the final transaction. In most cases it should be the expectation of giving that gives you the most pleasure.

In those, ahem, rare cases when you buy yourself a gift, it's usually because you feel the need to claim it, enjoy it and fill your space with something better.

Let's face it, we fall in love with stuff, both shiny and beautiful or unusual and twisted.

And if desire is the movement of love, then we have a pretty big shopping cart named desire.

So here goes:

No. 10: Laguna Beach Starfish Poop, Candy Baron, 231 Forest Ave., $7.99.

A great stocking stuffer for kids and adults alike. Who knew that starfish recycle chocolate-covered peanuts?

No. 9: Kitschy salt-and-pepper shakers, Coast Hardware, 240 Broadway St., $5-$20.

Coast Hardware is famous for its knickknacks. My favorites are the salt-and-pepper shakers. They come as Peanuts characters, Flintstones, Popeye and Olive Oyl, Sylvester and Tweety, Wicked Witch and crystal ball, and many, many more.

No. 8: Personalized designs on clothes and shoes, Hurley, 225 Forest Ave., $15 plus cost of clothing.

For a reasonable fee, there is a cool service in the upstairs back room where you can customize a shirt, shorts, shoes or bag with your own selected design using a specialized printing process on the spot. The results can be creative and original, plus they rotate original artwork monthly. Right now it's the "Faces of Surfing" by Letty Nowak.

No. 7: Mexican food gift certificate, La Sirena Grill; two locations, downtown and South Laguna; amount up to you.

La Sirena is a no-brainer.

No. 6: Stingray cigar case, Lloyd's Fine Cigars & Tobacco, 325 Glenneyre St., $340.

Yes, that would be stingray as in the fish. But this particular one is not endangered — we think. And the cigars are not Cuban, allegedly.

No. 5: Anything from Pacific Gallery and Art for the Soul, 228 and 272 Forest Ave., various prices.

Nothing says Laguna like blown glass and custom doodads, and both of these stores have great local art at reasonable prices. Very painless Christmas shopping. Just walk in and point randomly.

No. 4: Salvador Dali painting, Art Sellers, 1294 S Coast Hwy., $155,000.

Saying "Dali" out loud just sounds nice during a cocktail party. This conversation piece is a watercolor called "Le Roi Mark et le Soldat." If you buy it, you'll have to learn how to pronounce it. Gallery owner Mark Hefferan always has interesting pieces, most more affordable than the Dali. There is also a very attractive Leroy Neiman, "Ballerina," for $30,000.

No. 3: Oldest known Native American Mohawk shirt, Indian Territory, 305 N. Coast Hwy., "couple hundred thousand dollars."

OK, this is extremely cool, in a don't-touch-it kind of way. Doubtful that anyone has an original Mohawk Indian shirt, made sometime between 1760-1840. If you've never been in the store/museum, it's worth allocating a few hours. Ask proprietor Matt Wood to give you a history lesson. Take the family. Pitch a tent.

No. 2: A pink diamond bathtub, X and OH, 1143 S. Coast Hwy., $46,000.

For your beloved because she deserves it, go with the "diamond" bathtub. Designed by Newport Beach artist Lori Burke Gardner, the claw-foot tub has about 45,000 rose pink Swarovski crystals affixed by hand and is quite a sight — and sure to set the mood. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation affiliate in Orange County.

And the No. 1 gift recommendation: Give to local nonprofits.

No one needs more useless gifts, so consider donating something that will result in real value in someone's name or your own. Here are some of my favorites. Happy shopping.

•Boys and Girls Clubs of Laguna Beach, http://www.bgclagunabeach.org

•Laguna Beach Community Clinic, http://www.lbclinic.org

•Laguna Beach Historical Society, http://www.lagunahistory.org

•Laguna Relief and Resource Center, http://www.lagunareliefandresourcecenter.com

•No Square Theatre, http://www.nosquare.org

•Pacific Marine Mammal Center, http://www.pacificmmc.org

•ZeroTrash Laguna, http://www.zerotrash.org

DAVID HANSEN is a writer and Laguna Beach resident. He can be reached at davidhansen@yahoo.com.

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