It's a balmy 70 degrees or so as I write this, a mere 10 days before even the most restrained of retailers give it up and officially kick off the holiday shopping season. Makes it difficult to get me in the spirit, hard as the down coats in the window of Eddie Bauer are trying.
What always works for me are the extra ads in the Sunday paper and the extra hours all the stores stay open. I may be wearing shorts and Birkenstocks when I go, but if I can run out to Best Buy at 10:30 on a Wednesday night, well, deck the halls, baby, it's Christmastime.
It's too early at this point to give details about day-after-Thanksgiving specials and who's opening at what unholy hour of the morning — and God help me, now that I have a child, I may actually be out there with the other lunatics this year — so I'll just pass along some random deals and gift ideas I came across on a recent outing to Midtowne, my first in awhile.
• Bombay Co. is going out of business. Everything in the store was at least 20 percent off when I went by; furniture was 30 percent. Tons of Christmas decorations, plus dinnerware, mirrors and wall decor, desk accessories, etc.
• We do still have Thanksgiving to celebrate, and if you're hosting this year, Pottery Barn has all its fall-themed decor on clearance: Table linens and candles, etc. Looking ahead, I'm fairly certain I'll end up spending a decent amount of money on their new line of whimsical cartoon reindeer tableware. You can outfit your dining room stem to stern, or just liven things up a bit with a set of coasters ($19) or napkin rings ($49 for nine). I like 'em.
• Confound the foodie in your life with an obscure gadget from Williams-Sonoma. My vote's for the truffle shaver, which I thought was for mushrooms until I read the box. I also like the set of things-that-go cookie cutters that come in a tin shaped like a train engine ($20).
• Also in the things-to-make-you-smile category: The “Life is Good” line of clothing at Lewis and Clark. Goofy little cartoons and designs on t-shirts, pajamas, you name it, reasonably priced. Other ideas here: Cozy-looking Acorn slippers ($40ish for adult sizes) and Brazos carved walking sticks (about $20).
And a few notes from across the way at Park Plaza:
• At 6 p.m. tonight (Thursday, Nov. 15), style guru Tim Gunn of “Project Runway” and “Tim Gunn's Guide to Style” — and also the creative director at Liz Claiborne — will appear at a holiday fashion show featuring Liz Claiborne designs at Dillard's. Gunn said he'll be offering tips to help women navigate the demands of dressing for the season, plus suggestions for fashionable gifts. There'll be gift bags, prizes and refreshments too.
• Coldwater Creek is offering $30 off a $100 purchase through Nov. 26.
• The Salvation Army will once again have its Angel Tree set up in the mall — choose an “ornament” with a child's name and age, and provide a little Christmas joy for a total stranger while you're shopping for your own kith and kin. There's not much of a better feeling this time of year.
Speaking of, another way of good-doing this season — and a practical one, at that: Get your Christmas cards from the Arkansas Children's Hospital Auxiliary. Choose from close to a dozen designs, most by kids who've been patients at the hospital, but one from featured artist Les Waite (he designed the Riverfest poster a couple of years ago). The cost is $20 for 20 cards, and you can buy them online at www.archildrens.org or by calling 364-1259 or 800-595-6498.
And finally, the Arkansas Arts Center's annual Museum School sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The sale features work in a variety of media by Museum School faculty and students.
Please don't make me buy an Elmo.