Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

ATTENTION last-minute (male) shoppers

Here's how you can save Christmas -- and maybe even your relationship

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So, you haven't bought your special woman a Christmas gift yet?

You're in big trouble, buddy, with only one day to go!

Never fear. Help is near! This story could save your love life.

When you're down to the wire and she's asking suspicious questions, you have to pull out all the stops. Only the most personal of gifts will do at this point. So memorize this: perfume, jewelry, lingerie (no purple pom poms).

Yours truly hit three shops guaranteed to produce gifts your wife or sweetheart will love and make you look like the thoughtful, prepared partner you, well, aren't. Not that you don't love her to bits!

First an inspiring rescue story: Ari Driver, owner of Perfume Paradise at Graham Avenue and Vaughan Street, has seen it all with desperate male shoppers.

"I had a guy phone at 6 p.m. last year, just when I try to close on Christmas Eve. He was at the office and BEGGED me to help him. He worked late and wanted to do it all over the phone. I said I'd do it and stay here late if he pre-paid with a credit card over the phone. What he wanted cost a substantial amount -- but he had no credit card. I said, 'OK, ask another guy at your office if you can use his credit card,' AND HE FOUND SOMEONE! We got it all gift-wrapped and he picked it up at 7:30 p.m. and I got my Christmas dinner at 8 p.m. that year."

 

EXOTIC FRAGRANCE

 

PERFUME Paradise (253 Vaughan St.) is becoming well-known for its stock of allergen-free perfumes. No coughing, sneezing or stuffing up. "I have sourced out many fragrances made with no synthetics that cause the headaches -- like perfumes from all natural flowers. I have those as a little as $14 in Pacifica Lilac and as much as $300 for Bond No. 9. And then there's Joy by Jean Patou of Paris, made from flowers. It came out after the war and returning sailors used to bring it back for their sweethearts." Cost now? $260.

Perfume Paradise is open noon-5 p.m. today and Monday from 10 a.m. "until as long as we need to be here! My dinner will be waiting for me when I get there."

 

Top 11 Perfumes Women Love, according to Ms. Driver:

 

1) Lauren

2) Deep Red

3)Doulton

4)Trouble

5)First

6) Joy

7) Diva

8) Cinema

9) Ralph Blue

10) Gucci Rush

11) Arpege

 

SENSUAL LINGERIE

 

AT 8:30 in the morning on Christmas Eve, people are quite collected, says Eyelet Dove owner Mindy Moss (485 Academy Rd.) "But by 3 p.m. it's 'Mindy help me!' By this time, money is no object. I suggest something and he says, 'YES! That will be perfect!' "

First Rescue Rule: Christmas is not a good time for flannel even if your wife always wears cuddly PJs with cute little bears. She will buy her own jammies, thank you very much. "So that's what you think of me?" is the cry you don't want to hear from the bedroom. Your major present should be a gorgeous negligée -- a far cry from flannelette, blenders or vacuums. ("Honey, stop crying. It has great suction!")

"By the 24th of December," says Mindy, "pyjamas had better be silk." They run $115 to $140.

A guy with a smaller budget could buy his darling some fancy Hanky Panky thongs.

"These lace thongs are No. 1 in the world, because they do not bite!" laughs Moss. At $28 a pair you can buy more than one colour, too. But beware of the "sexy-selfish" trap. That gift may be construed as a gift for the man's own viewing pleasure. Says Moss: "That's only OK if you buy a second gift clearly for her. Then everybody is happy."

If you are prepared to go over the top, a lilac and lace peignoir by Feraud of Paris costs $725. You heard me. Get that VISA smokin'!

 

SPARKLY JEWELRY:

 

INDEPENDENT Jewellers (Polo Park Shopping Centre and Notre Dame Avenue at Salter Street) owner Jeremy Epp says: "People come in with a sense of immediacy -- the time is NOW. They don't spend nearly as long looking. You can see the anxiety in their faces."

That's why the clerks ask the price-point right up front. For some people, the cost in the last hour is pretty loosey-goosey "But we have jewelry here from $100 to $50,000," he says, strolling over to the Pandora showcase -- the single most popular showstopper in the place. "Pandora bracelets (for precious bead collecting) are a phenomenon the last seven to 10 years. We've seen nothing like it" he says of the bracelets that offer a choice of 2,000 beads that can be added for their beauty or personal meaning. A sterling silver bead runs $30-$70 and a gold bead $300-$700. Epp notes bracelets like this can get you out of the doghouse multiple times. "Just bring home a new bead!"

The store's most expensive ring isn't even on display. He talks about it with stars in his eyes -- a large 2.98-carat sapphire with two moon-shaped diamonds guarding it on either side, in a platinum setting. The price? $15,000. "It's so rare -- one of a kind. My dad first saw it at a show in Thailand and then finally bought it from the dealer at another show in Hong Kong."

Not everything is quite so pricey at Independent Jewellers. An 18-inch string of pastel coloured, freshwater, undyed pearls will run you about $249. But if she loves diamonds, a double swirl of tiny diamonds on a dinner ring will cost you $1,695.

Young and in love, but not wealthy yet? There's the Trésor Paris line -- a young look with hypo-allergenic stud earrings at $29. "We can't keep them in the store. We have to order more every week -- they're just gone." The colourful hematite beaded crystal ball bracelets sell from $59-$399 and are very popular with funky folks. Independent Jewellers is closed Sundays at both locations, but open Monday 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. in Polo Park mall, and 9 p.m.-5 p.m. on Notre Dame at Salter.

Merry Christmas, last-minute Christmas shopping guy. Take a deep breath. You can pull this off!

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 23, 2012 A8

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