Hansen: Christmas gifts, Laguna style

If you believe the mall is a four-letter word, then you may like my annual top 10 alternative Christmas gifts.

These are the only-in-Laguna type gifts that help make the city unique. And after all, people shop in Laguna Beach during Christmas for a reason: We have weird and cool stuff.

So if you are still shopping, here are some handpicked suggestions that may help spice up that office white elephant gift exchange.

No. 10: Fabulous ornaments. Madison Square, 320 N. Coast Hwy. Price: $24. Don we now that gay apparel ... for that special Christmas ornament, go to Madison. While not strictly speaking a Laguna original, these "Mermen" are all about the bling. With names like "Jack Hammer, "Clam Bake" and "Doctor Turnencoff," they appeal to both sexes. Well, sort of.

No. 9: TV Christmas. Madison Square, 320 N. Coast Hwy. Prices vary, $85-$185. This retro TV Christmas is very cool, with lights and moving mechanical parts. Christmas in real life is fine, but who doesn't want to watch it on TV?

No. 8: Bone sculpture. Jasmine Street General Store, 397 N. Coast Hwy. Price: $595. This unusual bone sculpture by artist Lyn Chevli is at the new Jasmine store in North Laguna. The bone types vary, including chicken and turkey bones.

No. 7: Local books. Laguna Beach Books, 1200 S Coast Hwy. Prices vary, $15-$22. Support local authors. The history book "Laguna Beach (Then & Now)" by Foster J. Eubank and Gene Felder joins other recent Laguna arrivals, including "Loving Laguna: A Local's Guide to Laguna Beach" by Skip Hellewell, and "It Takes a Villager" by Arnold Hano. All of the books are also available through online retailers.

No. 6: Nice wine. Laguna Wine, Coffee and Specialty Foods, 381 Forest Ave. Price: $1,180. This Chateau Mouton Rothschild Bordeaux is at the new Laguna wine shop downtown. If you need anything involving wine, this is the place.

No. 5: Air plant. Green Tree General Store, 998. S. Coast Hwy. Price: $30. This specialty terrarium or "air plant" is a very reasonable, creative gift. Prices actually start at $15 for smaller bowls. You can also design your own at the terrarium bar.

No. 4: Movie tickets. Laguna South Coast Cinemas, 162 South Coast Hwy. Price: $6-$8.50. Best movie deal in the area, the Laguna cinema offers great matinee prices and a cheap popcorn, drink and candy special. Sure, it's not 4-D with seat warmers but I'd much rather pay $6 than $12.50.

No. 3: Skimboard. Victoria Skimboards, 2955 Laguna Canyon Road. Prices vary: $50-$500. The original masters of skimboarding, right here in Laguna. Go ahead and get the grom a custom carbon fiber.

No. 2: A classic Woody. Laguna Classic Cars, 2171 Laguna Canyon Road. Price: $65,500. For the retro surfer, you need an original Woody that fits eight people. This 1952 Ford Country Squire Steel Woody Wagon is a rare four door with a V8 overdrive.

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. My favorites:

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

• The Friendship Shelter, http://www.friendshipshelter.org/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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