The tooth-and-claw battle to find a warmer, cozier holiday shopping experience will get a bit tamer this weekend. Put your feet up (figuratively, of course) and travel through a sale of sumptuous wearables at the Gypsies Collection Trunk Show, featuring gypsy-style clothing from designers and artisans around the world. Hosted by former Cherry Creek North retail pioneer Carol Fineran (of the late, great Tapestry boutique), the sale begins today from 4 to 8 p.m. and continues through Saturday at Sliding Door Gallery/Trog de Lights, 3560 Walnut Street; for information, log on to www.gypsiescollection.com.
Tradition is strong at the Molly Brown House Museum, 1340 Pennsylvania Street, where the pomp and circumstance of Victorian life lives on in the 21st century every day of the year. But they really pull out all the stops during the holiday season, beginning with an elegant slate of Candlelight Tours, led by costumed guides through halls completely decked with boughs of holly and old-fashioned Christmas trees, toys and memorabilia. Tours are offered at 6:30 p.m. tonight and at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. tomorrow; admission is $10 to $12, and reservations are a must. In addition, the museum will host a pair of Holiday Teas this Wednesday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., also by reservation only; tickets are $22. Call 303-832-4092, ext. 16, to purchase tickets, or log on to www.mollybrown.org.
Friday, December 12
The ever-popular Denver Brass tunes up this weekend for its annual bow to the Christmas spirit, with Home for the Holidays, a family-friendly tradition featuring bright and, well, brassy renditions of the Nutcracker Suite plus a hit list of favorite carols. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. today and tomorrow and 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Bethany Lutheran Church, 4500 East Hampden Avenue; for tickets, $8 to $20, call 303-832-4676 or visit www.denverbrass.org.
Saturday, December 13
You think that if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all? Well, it just ain't so. The David Taylor Dance Theatre's version of The Nutcracker is considered by many to be the most colorful -- and most humorous -- in town, with its famous black-and-white art-deco holiday-party sequence and its mice decked out in gangster gear. Never content to stick with a stylistic status quo, Taylor's added new nuances and tinkered with the choreography for this year's performances, taking place at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, today through December 20, at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 South Allison Parkway in Lakewood. Tickets range from $29.50 to $32.50; call 303-987-7875 or log on to www.lakewood.org.
The adventurous folks at Cordell Taylor Gallery, 2350 Lawrence Street, bounce right back at ya (see See/Be Seen, page 44) with another thought- and sense-provoking special event, an Evening of Experimental Music, Motion and Visual Art, aking place tonight at 7 p.m. Featured is a collaboration between local multimedia installationists en.vel.ope and New Mexico's experimental-music and Butoh-inspired dance troupe Djalma Primordial Science that includes live video feeds, digital imagery and interactive elements. Admission is free; for details, call 303-296-0927 or log on to www.cordelltaylor.com.
Sunday, December 14
Here's a real traveler's conundrum: Head north this weekend and take a short vacation south of the border. Preposterous? Not at the La Placita Mexican mercado. It's an indoor gift-shopping opportunity with an authentic outdoor feel bolstered by a plaza-style layout and fountain centerpiece at the Great Colorado Marketplace, 6701 Marketplace Drive in Loveland. Hosted by Colorado nonprofit LARASA, La Placita offers everything from Mexican pottery, crafts and trinkets to an array of tooth-tingling sweets. The market is open for browsing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through next weekend; today's special events include a Taste of Latin America and a Latino Iron Chef Competition. General marketplace admission is $2 (free for children ages twelve and under). For information, log on to www.larasa.org.
If you're a still member of that fast-dwindling do-it-yourself tree-cutting club, there's a place to do it without driving hundreds of miles on back roads into the middle of nowhere in search of that elusive, perfectly configured evergreen of your dreams. Today's the last day of the Golden Gate Canyon State Park Christmas Tree Sale, where, for twenty bucks, you and your whole family can march into a snowdrift and ax your own from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the state-run park in the hills above Golden. Purchase the required permit at the park office, 3873 Highway 46, then you're on your own. Call 303-582-3707.
Monday, December 15
For those completely out of ideas when it comes to buying something special (and affordable) for Uncle Harry the rock hound or Cousin Rolf, outdoorsman extraordinaire, there's a final outpost to visit before you decide to pick your way up a cliff and jump in frustration. At the U.S. Geological Survey Map Sales office, open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays in Building 810 at the Denver Federal Center, you'll find a great selection of standard topo maps, wall maps and posters, historical maps and more; for the piŤce de résistance, you can also pick up a free twelve-sheet bundle of old maps to recycle as wrapping paper. To get there, enter the Federal Center at Gate 1 (north of Alameda Avenue on Kipling Street) and follow the signs; for more information, click on Popular Products at www.usgs.gov/picturingscience or call 303-202-4200. Happy trails.