Sydney Hamilton is an intern in our editorial department. Aside from an admitted "love" of shopping, she'll tell you straight-up that she has no special qualifications or expertise when it comes to buying holiday gifts.
Now, folks at RetroMoto Toys, Rick's Garden Center, Earth Pig Music, Whickerbill Gifts, Best Buy, Terra Verde and Mountain Chalet ... they're experts. Each of these seven businesses won awards in our 2007 Best of Colorado Springs poll. When it comes to gift-giving, we figured people from these mostly local stores could point out some solid options.
So we identified seven would-be gift recipients and stripped them down to personality types (OK, stereotypes), a gender and, in some cases, a vague age.
Then we asked Sydney and the experts to determine the perfect gift for each of these faceless characters. Once the suggestions were in, we asked the seven people we knew no longer faceless which gift they'd choose.
We were pulling for Sydney, but no one was putting any money down. Here's how she did:
Set of two stemless Riedel wine glasses and a bottle of J. Bookwalter Cabernet
Price: $20 for two Riedel glasses, $36.49 for the wine
Purchase place: Glasses from Chefs Catalog retail store, 5070 Centennial Blvd.; wine from Cheers Liquor Mart, 1105 N. Circle Drive
Why buy: "This gift is meant for the food snob who is always looking to bring out specific flavors of the meal with a quality glass of wine. Riedel glasses come in a variety of shapes and sizes that actually help the wine breathe better, allowing for the full wine-pairing experience. The wine would be great with a hearty meal like, perhaps, that $150 slab of Kobe beef. Come on, it's not just there to look at."
Tea thermometer and timer
Purchase place: Whickerbill Gifts, 742 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs
Why buy: "It's very unusual and is something the food snob wouldn't have."
John Eastham, Whickerbill owner
Decision: "Because I'm a wine-o, I would definitely prefer the glasses and wine. Plus, I know those glasses they're really nice."
Door-size poster that reads, "Danger keep out. Maximum noise output. Enter at your own risk"
Purchase place: Independent Records, multiple locations
Why buy: "When I was a teen, I was addicted to posters. The more you had, the cooler your friends would think you were. This poster, which fits on any door, screams, 'I'm rebellious and cool, and no parents are allowed in here.' The kid's friends will love it, and so will he."
And All That Could Have Been by Nine Inch Nails
Purchase place: Earth Pig Music, 1953 W. Uintah St.
Why buy: "I like Nine Inch Nails, and it's for the harder-edged teenage male following." Tim Atherton, of Earth Pig
Decision: "The door-sized poster. I don't give a rat's ass about Nine Inch Nails. Nor do I know who they are."
The New York Times 1000 Gardening Questions & Answers by Garden Editors of the New York Times
Purchase place: Barnes and Noble, 1565 Briargate Blvd., 795 Citadel Drive East
Why buy: "This could be a book for the beginner gardener, or the advanced. I happen to know a few who believe they are the latter, but in all actuality are the former. This book has so many tips and tricks, you can make anyone believe you are a master horticulturist, while also helping you keep your garden beautiful."
Musically tuned wind chimes
Price: $30 to $40
Purchase place: Rick's Garden Center, 1827 W. Uintah St.
Why buy: "I love these because they're tuned musically to songs." Gail Estes, sales associate
Decision: "The musically tuned wind chimes. I would think the New York Times gardening tips would be too generic for use in this climate."
Baby Einstein Press-and-Play Pals Dragon
Purchase place: Babies "R" Us, 3555 Citadel Drive South
Why buy: "I've been a fan of the Baby Einstein products because they take the developing mind of a child into consideration when creating toys. This toy is awesome because not only is it cute, soft and cuddly, but if you squeeze the dragon's hands and feet, it introduces sounds and words in English, Spanish and French. Trs cool."
Rubber ducks, assorted sizes
Price: $2.95 for a large duck, $1.95 for a small
Purchase place: RetroMoto Toys, 738 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs
Why buy: "They're wonderful. We have such a variety of them, with all occupations and kinds. Toddlers may also like to chew on them." Karen Sucharski, manager, and Susan Wolbrueck, owner
Decision (from the toddler's mother): "Baby Einstein. She's into Spanish and Baby Einstein. And, although she's a big fan of baths, she prefers playing with washcloths."
The North Face Glacier half-zip fleece pullover and Gordini Wooly Mitt
Price: $50 for the pullover, $13.95 for the mittens
Purchase place: Mountain Chalet, 226 N. Tejon St.
Why buy: "The pullover, paired with the ridiculously soft, warm mittens, would be great for any woman who can't resist hitting the trails or the slopes, no matter what condition. Also, the pullover comes in some pretty cool colors and is light and fashionable enough to wear anywhere, whether you're going camping or going out with friends."
Haiku To-Go Bloom Bag
Purchase place: Mountain Chalet, 226 N. Tejon St.
Why buy: "This is great so that you don't lose your keys at a huge outdoor thing. And it will wear well." Hilary Studebaker, sales associate
Decision: "I'd go with the bag. I'm more of a bag person. I have lots of fleeces, and the bag is something I could use every day even when I'm not being sporty."
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS75 digital camera, 7.2 megapixel with Patriot Memory SD memory card, 512 MB
Price: $129.99 for the camera; $9.99 for the memory card
Purchase place: Ultimate Electronics, 7207 N. Academy Blvd.
Why buy: "For the price, this camera packs a punch. Its Mega Optical Image Stabilizer and 3x optical zoom make for a high-tech piece of equipment that captures pictures well, no matter if it's a still object or an action shot. It's a great addition to any technologically inclined guy's arsenal. We all know he doesn't need another copy of World of Warcraft."
4 GB Zune
Purchase place: Best Buy, 3150 New Center Point, 7675 N. Academy Blvd.
Why buy: "I like it because it doesn't use iTunes." Nolan Skinner, sales associate
Decision: "I'd go with the digital camera. I have an iPod, and the Zune is pretty much second place to that."
Giannini silver metallic handbag and Charles Klein necklace and earring set
Price: $12.99 for the handbag, $7.99 for the earrings
Purchase place: Burlington Coat Factory, multiple locations
Why buy: "This was a difficult task, to find something fashionable for under $30. However, metallics are in, as is the large, slouchy handbag. The pairing is perfect, with a pair of drop earrings and matching necklace, making for the perfect accessories for your holiday outfit. They can transcend into the spring and summer. I'm not 30, but hell, I'd wear it."
Mikasa champagne flutes
Price: $29.50 for a set of four
Purchase place: Terra Verde, 208 N. Tejon St.
Why buy: "These glasses have broad appeal, from the more trendy to the more classic." Laura Thompson, gift buyer for Terra Verde
Decision: "I already have champagne flutes, so I'd be inclined to go with the handbag, necklace and earrings. Plus, those seem more personal."
Conclusion: Well, hot damn. We don't know what this means, really. Except that you should probably remember to keep your receipts this holiday season.