First and foremost, it's wise not to forget the lady in your life. The right scent can be a quick fix if you can sniff it out. At the Alchemist, 2737 East Third Avenue (303-377-7567), a Cherry Creek fixture that sells herbal concoctions for body and bath, you'll find some of the sweetest scents on the planet, as well as some of the oldest. That would include heady perfumes by Santa Maria Novella, an 800-year-old Florentine monastery pharmacy that's still turning out secret potions; Kneipp herbal bath oils and salts from Germany; and ultra-pure Creed Fragrances from France. And for her stocking, a thick-toothed, faux-tortoise-shell English comb by Kent.
Find a flippy frock at Jaygar Apparel, 1509 South Pearl Street (303-777-8912), or down the street at Five Green Boxes, 1596 South Pearl (303-777-2331), where you'll also find silver fake-leather teapot purses (complete with teabag latch), elegant sushi sets, silk Chinese robes and X-rated fortune cookies, plus a complimentary gift-wrap service like no other. On an opposite corner of the Denver map, there are plenty of cute clothes and trinkets -- not to mention Cosabella undies -- to pick from at Highland Square's Frolik on 32nd, 3715 West 32nd Avenue (303-458-5575).
Men are another story, but it's not too late to find something: Officially licensed Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Crush and Colorado Mammoth merchandise will be offered at discounted prices -- up to 70 percent -- at the Pepsi Trading Company Holiday Sale, December 19 through 21 in the Pepsi Center's Grand Atrium, 1000 Chopper Place (304-405-1100). Or appeal to his senses: Buy a bottle of brandy and some Karl's Dairy Eggnog, homegrown grog in quaint glass bottles, from Marczyk Fine Foods, 770 East 17th Avenue (303-894-9499). Also appreciated by foodies of any gender: holiday stollen from Denver Daily Bread, a nifty red retro tin full of King Leo Peppermint Bark, a bottle of fine wine, or one of Marczyk's gourmet-goody gift baskets.
You can tease your favorite dieting chocolate hog in the loveliest way with a set of silk organza "chocolates" in gold foil cups from the Denver Art Museum gift shop, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway (720-865-5035), where other unusual and highbrow gift items include a cute Northwest Indian-style stuffed whale, the Vance Kirkland scarf, marbleized glass ball ornaments and beaded jewelry.
Kids -- including full-grown ones -- are by far the easiest to buy for. To begin with, get your funky grownup toys at Crown Mercantile, 46 Broadway (303-715-9693), where it's tiki central all year long. Choose from mugs, drink stirrers and hula girls; for an extra treat, fill a tiki mug with classic candy canes, peppermints puffs and "Bags of Coal" from locally owned Hammonds Candy. Or chuck the tropics altogether and send a subtle message with a "Jesus hates it when you smoke" ashtray.
For real kids, give something they can sop up with those sponge-like brains: At the Denver Museum of Nature & Science gift shop, 2001 Colorado Boulevard (303-370-6366), there are fossil-digging tool kits and detailed plastic dinosaurs of every description, as well as lollipops with real, edible insects preserved inside. For babies and toddlers, you can't beat Red Carpet Baby, 1511 South Pearl Street (303-698-BABY), with its beautiful wood mobiles hand-painted in Poland and those bright-red Radio Flyer pedal cars.
And that's a wrap.