Best Gifts That Make a Lasting Impression

Mama's Belly

Local sculptor Maggie Stewart was already an expert on the creation of art, but somewhere along the way she also figured out how to translate her talents into an art of creation. She came up with the idea of casting a bowl over the distended form of a pregnant woman's tummy, and her totally unique business, Mama's Belly, was, well, born. Order one, and Stewart will either cast it herself or set you up with a non-toxic plaster casting kit; after the mold is made, she'll finish the bowl in a bronze or Stone-Cast form. Every bowl is, of course, different, and -- since your newborn fits inside like it was made for her -- it makes the perfect backdrop for the cutest baby-announcement pics around.


Hey, just because the economy's in the dumper is no reason to quit playing dress-up. In fact, this might be the best time to try on a new identity without going broke. Disguises, a costume megastore, is a great place to start, with 15,000 costumes housed in what was once six strip-mall storefronts. It's now decked out with a hand-painted fairy-tale façade, a dressing room in a faux hollow tree and assorted fun and fantastic touches. Retired high school drama teacher Cindy Catanese has been selling homemade costumes for ten years, the last four from a much smaller Disguises at W. 6th Ave. and Garrison St. The new megastore opened in time for Halloween last year, and it provides costumes for local and high school theater productions, as well as individual masters of disguise.


This place is so big -- 23,000 square feet -- that you have to strategize before shopping. Just walking around and looking at the shoes won't do, because the thousands of pairs will soon make you dizzy. Instead, you need to know exactly what you're looking for -- say brown Italian-leather loafers -- and then head to that section. You'll discover about twelve different brands -- all Italian, all leather, all loafers. Off Broadway doesn't have the charm or offer the personal attention of smaller stores, but if you know what you're looking for, it's here.


Instead of the good old days of rushing to the gate just as the plane is about to pull away, security restrictions now require all of us to check in at the airport ages before our flights actually leave. Rather than hunkering down at Red Rocks Bar, board the train to your designated concourse for five minutes of relaxation at one of DIA's many shoe-shine stations. Settle into one of the plush leather chairs and put your feet in the metal stirrups -- these friendly chaps will chat you up about everything from last night's Avalanche game to what to bring the kids from your exciting insurance conference in Bismarck, North Dakota -- all while buffing your kicks to shine brighter than the Qwest sign.


Are you long on tension but short on cash? Heritage College of Massage performs full-body massages for just $19 -- quite a deal, compared to $60 or more for a rubdown at a high-end studio. Worried your spine will be karate-chopped mercilessly by some ham-fisted Massage 101 dropout? Relax -- the students who conduct the economy massage are advanced learners a step or two from graduation. Let these nimble-fingered newbies work you over with deep tissue, Swedish or other muscle-melting techniques. Massages are performed from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekdays, conducted in a private cubicle and featuring a slathering of massage oil and accompanied by the strains of new-age music to soothe the savage beast.


Twenty-seven years ago, Don Hayes was practicing acupuncture in the Colorado foothills when his wife, Hannah, a teacher with an interest in Chinese herbal remedies, began mixing formulas for specific clients. Her own tendency to come down with colds increased her zeal. "And finally," she says, "because we're a little slow, we said, hey, we're making the same formula for everyone." That formula was Cold Snap, a potent cure that can now be found in more than 500 stores nationwide, from the counterculture Alfalfa's to the mainstream Walgreen's. Snifflers, what are you waiting for?
Made fresh daily on the premises, Richard Lee's noodles bear no resemblance to the dried stuff you find in a box. Mix them with Asian vegetables, the meat of your choice and, especially, the house-made killer paste of a hot sauce, and whatever ails you will become a distant memory.


Great moments in science: the discovery of penicillin; the cure for polio; and now, Dr. Ella Lindenbaum's research has yielded the Follicle Nutrient System (FNS). The natural, non-hormonal treatment increases hair thickness and strength. And while there's no truth to the story that Ozzy Osbourne was an early guinea pig, it is certain that the stuff has found a niche at hoity-toity stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. Got $65? Get hairy.


Those who've been waxed by Mila never return to anyone else. "We call her the rock star," says her co-worker, Stephanie Martinez. "She sings, she hums; she actually enjoys what she's doing. On Valentine's Day, she'll do you heart-shaped. There's always something special with her." A seasoned aesthetician, Mila also does facials, but she's known for unparalleled attention to molten detail -- from an eyebrow arch to a full Brazilian. "Oh, she's done it all," Suzanne says. "She could tell you stories..." Rest easy, however -- she won't.


Best Place to Get Transported to a Caribbean Rainforest

Spa Universaire

For a quick jaunt to the rainforest or a soothing Oriental waterfall, book a massage at the swank Spa Universaire in the Golden Triangle. Their nine destination-themed rooms are spicier than standard spa fare, bringing the exotic to your afternoon. The Rocky Mountain Room comes complete with Native American music and peppermint and fir aromatherapy, while the Safari Room offers up Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the scents of frankincense and bergamot. All you have to do is decide whether to indulge in a facial, massage or body wrap. Tough choices.


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