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You can find holiday gifts at area museums and galleries that both help them and assure you of some unique offerings. Harriet Howard Heithaus

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You can find purses at any store in the mall. But you will probably not find a purse like the eye-stopping bag created from gum and candy wrappers (Eco-fun, $75) at the Center for Visual Arts Bonita Springs.

The same goes for the silvery dangle earrings, chain-linked, with edging in colored stones or metals ($60), at the Marco Island Center for the Arts

Southwest Florida's museums and nonprofit galleries have long been the cagey shopper's mecca for holiday gifts like no one else's. The never-seen-that treats range from a  double-walled, painted glass mug at Corkscrew Nature Sanctuary's shop ($19.95) to cufflinks on Marco made from watch works ($30). Your guy need never go to another gala looking like everyone else.

"These same people are coming out with jewelry from computer parts," said Marco shop associate Victoria Diebler, already excited about the potential. Diebler scouts the items the store offers, and the emphasis is on locally or regionally made: "I would say 99.9 percent of everything we have is from Florida."

"I work really to make this a fun store an  experience that people want to come in and spend some time in," continued Diebler, who has prints from area artists; Denise Santos' psychedelic giraffe grazing among purple and yellow trees under a blue sunrise ($35) is a popular one. Its fun boxy miniatures are easily wrapped or suitable for a playroom or hall for from $35 to $80.

Marco Islander Wilma Sanders knits gifts cementing novelty and pragmatism, such as her bright, boxy baby hoodies($45)  and red-and-gray mouse slippers ($19). Those who just can't get over Ohio State can even buy a baby beanie with the OSU logo (Michigan fans: Sanders will knit those for you, too.).

"There's a little something for everybody," Diebler said, pointing out elegant veined turquoise-finish pens with etched rope and anchor trimming, suitable for signing a magna carta ($90). Because of its affiliation with Marco artists, there are paintings and prints of all sizes and subjects, and the clever gift giver can even encase some  in vinyl for placemats. 

Naples Botanical Garden is another gift shop that prides itself on its prints, as well as a selection of china, jewelry and — best of all, for some of us — live plants and plant containers.

There are more clothing and household needs at the Corkscrew Swamp Nature Sanctuary nature store, which prides itself in offering the offbeat, like the double-walled, painted glass mugs, which come with contrasting decorative boxes. Store manager Roswitha Marold loves those, and the American-made bent-wire pendants of dragonflies, bees and other creatures in nature ($35). 

She also likes the store's assortment of colorful handcrafted handbags ($39-$49) and hats ($48) from artisans in Madagascar and a silky tunic-like tee with asymmetrical sleeves that features an avian local on the front ($24.95). The Madagascar hats match up with them for a double treat.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is the spot for children's shopping. Its stocking stuffers include a "stained glass" mermaid coloring book ($7.99) with translucent pages, perforated  so your child can pull out the finished product and tape it to a window to let the sun shine through. Its wall of $2.99 animal masks will turn the play room into a theater of talking sharks, fish and octopuses. 

The adults have not been forgotten. Books include the colorful "Ultimate Guide to Sea Glass" ($29.99), a rarely explored topic. There are also two from Conservancy volunteer Bernard Rath, who parlayed his extensive time haunting the Gulf shores into an invaluable newcomer's guide: "Reach Your Perfect Beach In and Around Naples" ($14.99).

The Center for Visual Arts Bonita Springs dedicates a good deal of its store to art supplies for its students,  which suggests, in fact, that a certificate for a class at any of these organizations is an outstanding gift.

For those who want immediate gratification, however, there are jewelry, handmade plates and trays. Cartoons from Doug MacGregor, cartoonist for The News-Press, Fort Myers, tease snowbirds and natives alike, perfect for the den or bar ($30).

The Naples Art Association is known for its local and regional artisan jewelry. But this year it has delicate, one-of-a-kind painted scarves as well ($75 and up) and wrist-loop "dash" purses of various patterns that let you put in cash, keys and phone for errands.

Even the Baker Museum, which has been closed for the season with problems from Hurricane Irma, has transferred part of its shop to Hayes Hall for the season. The store is on the right side of the hall and is open essentially during the hours the galleries are for the Florida Contemporaries art exhibition, Thursdays through Saturdays, and one hour before any performances in Hayes Hall..

Store manager Danielle Vigliotti says the Alessi Faberjoir collectible ornaments, which change each year ($40-$48), are a wonderful hostess gift.

For stocking stuffers or hosts with young children, she likes the finger tattoos, which come in "Princess," "Safari" or "Super Hero" editions ($6) or the holiday crayons with character toppers ($9).

For an important event even sooner, there is a striking $135 MOMAS Flexus menorah for Hanukkah ($135), a gleaming set of nine acrylic candle holders  that can be arranged to one's own taste and used independently the rest of the year (candles aren't inlcuded)
$135.

Friends of Vigliotti, take note: If she were choosing a holiday gift, she'd take one of the wavy Chihuly limited-edition sculptures the shop carries. Price range $5,000-$7,500.

If you go

Audubon Corkscrew Nature Sanctuary (the store is in the admissions building), 375 Sanctuary Road W., Naples (on the north side of Immokalee Road  its second curve east from Naples); 239-348-9151

Baker Museum gift shop: Hayes Hall, Artis—Naples, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., North Naples, 239-597-1111

Center for Visual Arts Bonita Springs, 26100 Old 41 Road,  Bonita Springs, 239-495-8989; (239) 348-9151, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples (off Goodlette-Frank Road, slightly south of Golden Gate Parkway); 239-262-0304

Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples (off Goodlette-Frank Road, slightly south of Golden Gate Parkway); 239-262-0304

Marco Island Center for the Arts, 1010 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island; 239-394-4221

Naples Art Association, 585 Park St., Naples; 239-262-6517

Naples Botanical Garden, 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples; 239-643-7275

 

 

 

 

 

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