Best Kids' Haircuts
8055 W. Bowles Ave., Littleton
Parents of toddlers know it's not easy to get Junior to sit still while a strange person with scissors makes snipping noises a millimeter from his ear. The solution is Lil' Things, which has a haircutting area designed with squirming tots in mind. The barber chairs look like amusement-park rides, and they face video monitors that pump out a constant stream of Disney cartoons guaranteed to mesmerize all but the least video-obsessed youngsters. Drop in and have someone take a little off your progeny's top.
Best Party Dresses for Little Girls (Tomboys Included)
7400 E. Hampden Ave.
Some girls were made for velvet, lace and Mary Janes--but none we know of. Luckily, this store has a huge stock of un-scratchy, un-stuffy but wildly festive garments even Jo March would appreciate. Check out their knit palazzo overalls (in tiny sizes) and fabric dresses with matching hats, all made by the store's own designers, with a few Osh-Kosh staples thrown in.
Best Place to Buy Used Baby Clothes
4361 Lowell St.
To us, it's just plain silly to shell out $20 for a pair of designer overalls that your junior fashion victim will grow into and out of before you can say "Put down that ketchup bottle!" Lil' Rascals offers clean, preworn clothes for about half of what they'd cost new. The shop is filled with brand names (Osh-Kosh and Carters, to name two) as well as books, toys, car seats, Snuglis and children's furniture. Parents with a really tight budget should check out the bargain table, where all kids' clothes are marked down to 50 cents.
Best Place to Buy Froufrou Kids' Clothes on the Cheap
The Children's Exchange
307 Columbine St.
Of course, some Cherry Creek moms plunk down big bucks for DKNY and Bill Blass kids' wear. But you don't have to. This is one designer consignment store that'll make you the envy of greater Stepford. Prices run from $2 for little things to $100 for really fancy dresses. The Exchange won't accept anything for consignment that's more than two years old, so rest assured you're dressing Junior in the latest fashion. Great for Laura Ashley dresses.
Best Place to Brush Up on Your Ho Ho Ho
Professional Santa Claus School
American Events & Promotions, Lafayette
Proper Clausing involves more than sitting in a chair and enduring small children in your lap for hours at a time. That's why each Saint Nick to graduate from American Events & Promotions' program--said to be the third-largest in the nation--has to conquer everything from American Sign Language, Santa Claus history and child psychology to kazoo playing, storytelling and memorization of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" before he's let loose at a department store, school or private function. Out of hundreds of applicants, only about fifty complete the course: There's more than a bowl full of jelly under these belts.
Best Tap-Dancing Classes for the Rhythmically Challenged
Gwen Bowen School of Dance Arts
714 S. Pearl St.
Three generations of hoofers dance side by side in this 43-year-old neighborhood studio, and you don't have to be gorgeous, young or coordinated to join them. What Gwen Bowen--known to the faithful as Miss B.--loves is instilling the passion for dance, and nobody does it better.
Best Place to Hit the Charts
You can figure out how to get anywhere from here. From a wall poster of Blaue's World, circa 1665, to an up-to-date world globe, Maps Unlimited has more map-oriented merchandise--travel guides, atlases, topographical and trail maps, star and ocean-bottom maps, histomaps and children's puzzles--than we'll bet you've ever seen in one place in your life. Our favorite? It could be the bird's-eye view of Manhattan. Or possibly the topographic chocolate, available in the shape of Aspen and other exotic places (eat one and you might end up looking like the Michelin Man). By the way, you can buy little plastic Michelin Men, too.
Best Trail Maps
P.O. Box 4357, Evergreen
Forget the hassle of going to the U.S. Geological Survey for crinkly, outdated paper quad maps. Trails Illustrated was started eleven years ago to make outstanding maps for hikers, mountain bikers and other lovers of the outdoors. Cartographers here don't just sit at drafting tables--they spend hours in the wilderness, conferring with park rangers and checking every campground and trail. Best of all, the maps are printed on waterproof plastic, which satisfied customers swear works not just for finding their bearings, but for changing babies, fixing broken Jeep windows and making peanut butter sandwiches in the rain. Find these nine-buck beauties at EMS, REI and the Tattered Cover.