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Ask a Patch Pro: Last Minute Gift Ideas

Got someone on your list who is hard to shop for? We've got Twin Cities style consultants on deck to help you find the perfect gift.

We all have at least one person in our lives that presents a perennial problem during the holidays: They're impossible to shop for. Maybe they're a vegan who can't countenance any animal products whatsoever, or a friend who is allergic to everything from angora to silk, or worse, the one who never wants anything.

Enter Melissa Hardin, creator of Flaunt, a mobile boutique run by a group of fashion artists and style consultants out of a studio in Fridley. Also on deck are Jennifer Zafft, Marketing Director for The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove, and Lisa Buck, a resident of the Lake Minnetonka area and veteran holiday shopper, and Kelly Bray of Zida Boutique in Burnsville.

Stymied? Whipshawed by confusion? These ladies will help you find a thoughtful, affordable gift on the fly.

Wendy Erlien December 18, 2012 at 07:51 PM
So, I'm a little bit behind in my shopping this year. Any suggestions of places to go that I can find a little something for several different people? And, unique?
Melissa Hardin December 18, 2012 at 08:03 PM
I'll hit up Marshall's or TJ Max for some FABULOUS stocking stuffers!! They have a little of everything from personalized stationary to adorable, inexpensive coffee mugs! I walk out of there feeling like I just won the lottery!
Lisa Buck December 18, 2012 at 08:08 PM
You can't go wrong at the General Store of Minnetonka. I also like small boutiques. A new shop recently opened in Long Lake called Yofi Boutique. Cute stuff for women and girls. I got my daughter some locker decor there.
Lisa Buck December 18, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Here's a meaningful gift that won't cost you a thing: give a Joy Jar. Fill a glass canning jar with paper strips that have comments about the recipient on them. My kids made a Joy Jar for Grandma and they wrote things like "I like it when you do my hair" and "You make the best root beer floats" on strips of green and red paper.
Jennie Zafft December 18, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Goodthings at The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes has a ton of great stocking stuffers for everyone on your list! I also love stopping by Williams-Sonoma. They have kitchen gadgets, towels, soaps, lotions and wonderful ingredients.
Lisa Buck December 18, 2012 at 09:10 PM
For the foodie on your list, buy an apron (Pier 1 has cute vintage-style aprons) and put a gift card to Let's Dish or Saga Hill Cooking School in the apron pocket. For my 9-year old who likes to bake, I put in a note that says she gets to prepare a family dinner of her choosing. (I get to do clean-up.)
Clare Kennedy December 18, 2012 at 09:11 PM
This is just kind of a fun question: What's the worst gift you've ever gotten? And the best? My mother once gave me a book for Christmas—the same copy of one I'd given her for her birthday a few months before. Oops. She also gave me the best gift ever, a gym membership. And the gift of life, of course.
Lisa Buck December 18, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Worst: I'm one of those weird people that hates massages. But every year, my mother gives me a gift card for a massage at a local spa. I always give it to my husband.
Jennie Zafft December 18, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Hope my mother-in-law does not see this, but a couple of years ago she gave me a zebra-print purse cookie jar. Yes, you did read that correctly.... It was regifted at my white elephant party and we got a great laugh from it. :-)
Melissa Hardin December 18, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Melissa Hardin 4:29 pm on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 Best: a cleaning lady for the day!! There's nothing like coming home to a tidy home (especially when you have 2 wild boys like me)!! Worst: a re-gifted Christmas decoration
Martina Tresenriter December 18, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Hi, I'm a mother to three beautiful kiddos, this year we are very strapped and only have a total of $100 to spend. My oldest is 10, the middle child is a 6 year old girl, and the youngest is my son who is 5. I have no idea what I can buy them that will "knock their socks off" with $30, any suggestions? Please help :)
Martina Tresenriter December 18, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Oops forgot to mention that my oldest is a girl.
Melissa Hardin December 19, 2012 at 12:34 AM
My other favorite is selecting a family in your community (someone at your kid's school or church) & giving gifts to them for Christmas vs your own family. We all have so much & it helps teach your kids what Christmas is really about!! We personally did this a few years ago & it was my most memorable Christmas!
Melissa Hardin December 19, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Plan a special date night based on their individual interests. Maybe your little ones love to bowl or enjoy rides at the MOA. You can get coupons online for 1/2 off! If your oldest is into decorating her room, you could do an inexpensive makeover by getting unwanted paint at your nearest Sherwin Williams store for FREE. Wrap up a some swatches along w/ a paint roller. Select fabric samples at SR Haris for 50% off & the two of you can sew new throw pillows or make a simple window treatment to revamp her room!
Becky Glander (Editor) December 19, 2012 at 05:35 AM
Hi Lisa! I just made a visit to the General Store last weekend. Great place to go for all of the special people in your life! I even found a fantastic white elephant gift (I hope my book club is not reading this). It's a motorized spaghetti twirler fork. I might want to keep it because it's so cute! Thanks for the tips :)
Martina Tresenriter December 19, 2012 at 09:34 AM
I like the individual date night idea!! Thanks for the ideas :)
yomammy December 19, 2012 at 12:58 PM
lucky... (husband)
Lisa Buck December 19, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I like thrift shops, and have found inexpensive "pre-owned" toys, books and puzzles for the kids at Once Upon a Child in Minnetonka and Resale 101 in Plymouth (the proceeds at Resale 101 help Interfaith Outreach programs!)
MW December 19, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I love this idea!
MW December 19, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Worst: I got towels & a bath mat as a Christmas gift from someone who just happened to get too many as wedding gifts only two months before Christmas. It felt so insincere. Best: Television was turned OFF for a week. 2nd Best: A hand-written note promising flowers to be delivered on an unexpected, "regular" day (flowers were delivered months later when I wasn't expecting them).
MW December 19, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Consider working with others to give classes as gifts. Over the years we have given our girls "gift cards" for classes with someone they know. For example, my sis-in-law is a sign language interpreter and gave my daughters a dedicated afternoon teaching them sign language and giving them some materials to learn. An artist cousin gave a one-on-one art class with our daughter for a few hours. My brother gave a chess class. I was taught cake decorating. It is fun for the person giving the class to share their love with an eager learner, and the kids love the one-on-one time learning something new or a new approach to something already familiar to them. This could be done with anything--fishing, painting, baking, building models, photography, gardening, jewelry making, skiing, dancing, playing cribbage, learning words in a foreign language, etc. It is a special time for the teacher and the student!
Jennie Zafft December 19, 2012 at 03:39 PM
I would suggest going to Color Me Mine-- it is a really fun experience for the kids. They have all sorts of fun things to paint and the kids can pick out whatever they would like. It is a great chance for the kids to spend time together and something that they can keep forever. I also love books as gifts for kids-- you can get some great deals and it really opens up a whole new world for them!
Deanna Carciofini December 19, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I like to keep it local and support our local Stillwater businesses who typically struggle in the winter. I picked up some great flavored olives oils from Stillwater Olive Oil Company for gifts. You can add some great spices from Tradewinds or the new spice store two doors down from Stillwater Olive Oil Company. I also love giving Aveda holiday gift sets from A'Salonna in the Grand Garage or gifts from Cooks of Crocus Hill. And don't forget candy for the stockings from CandyLand. Please support the local businesses. Stillwater has some great ones: http://discoverstillwater.com/shopping/listings.php?category=13
Martina Tresenriter December 19, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Our family was adopted by a large company through our childrens school, they gave us a $100 gift card to Wal-Mart... so I have to buy them something from there. I figured we would buy them a gift from "Santa" there and then plan an individual date night with mom and dad from us. I really like that idea :)

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