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The Holiday Homestretch 

A guide to stocking stuffers and last-minute gifts

Photos by David Richmond

Risk Free
-- There's no real folly in shopping late if you know the perfect gift and where to get it. What woman wouldn't love a rusty brown Nubuck handbag with square turquoise stone accents and leather circle handles by Donald Pliner, $365; paired with turquoise and amber stones laced into a three-strand necklace on designer Chan Lu's signature ribbons, $240; both from St. Germain (333 Canal St., Canal Place, Suite 208, 522-1720).



Peace and Love -- Help a favored friend achieve inner peace with yoga essentials (in a range of colors) and aromatherapy delights: A bright purple Tapas Mat -- a yoga necessity -- $23.99; a bright green yoga exercise brick by Living Arts, $10.99; and a blue cotton yoga exercise strap by Hugger Mugger, $8.50. Add a terra cotta angel-on-a-star aromatherapy diffuser, $5.99; with pure citronella essential oil by Aura Cacia, $4.09; and -- particularly appropriate for the season -- frankincense & myrrh bath and massage treatment oil, $2.99. Finish with a blue eye pillow that can be heated or cooled for maximum effect by Hugger Mugger, $7.49. All from All Natural Foods (5517 Magazine St., 891-2651).



Fashionably Spunky -- For the hip fashionista: a red plaid mini skirt with front pleats by Dickie, $34; a long-sleeve red net pullover and black net camisole, $20; red-frame "cat woman" sunglasses, $20; and a red vinyl, crystal-studded snap-on bracelet, $10; all from Rocks Off RPM (4739 Magazine St., 895-9513).

Seeing Red -- Wrap up an assortment of footwear and accessories that beam with seasonal red, but will wear well far beyond. Red suede and leather bands on a calf boot by Wild Orchid, $90, are always in style; or get frisky with red suede high-heels with red fringe around an ankle strap by Summer Rio, $24; or red mules with decorative lace ups by Dollhouse, $58. For her wrists, choose from a fancy watch (left front) with a red band and silver frame around the face, $49; or a red leather three-dimensional rose bracelet, $14. All from Frock Candy (520 St. Philip St., 566-1133; 830 Royal St., 566-9222; 3336 Magazine St., 891-9230; 1281 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, (985) 727-9779).

Time for Fun -- Affordable and utilitarian are a variety of handbags such as a small purse with a front flap made from imported beer cans, $6.59; a black vinyl number with a large clock face that keeps accurate time (batteries included), $17.29; or a metal lunch-box purse with silver perforated metal sides and pin-up girls on the front and back, $7.69. Just for fun, mail your best friends postcards (front, center) with Chinese symbols for happiness, prosperity, etc. in a static-cling transparency that can be applied to a window, $2.49 each. All from Eve's Market (4601 Freret St., 891-4015).



Fashion Voice -- Give your favorite girl accessories that make their own fashion statement, such as a hard-side silk triangle handbag with embroidery and button embellishments by Moyna, $145; or a more casual, handmade claret-colored corduroy shoulder bag with a felt flower on the front and green silk cord straps by Monica Yafuso, $64. Adorn her neck with a one-of-a-kind multiple-strand necklace with blue and purple beads, vintage crystals and blown-glass tube beads by A. E. Rikhoff Design, $130. All from Tomato (834 Chartres St., 566-7666).

Gift of Beauty -- It doesn't take much to boost a woman's spirits -- great scents, a bit of pampering, some great lipstick. Pamper your cher with "The Grape Escape" from Caudalie, a line of cosmetics made with rejuvenating components of the grape. The gift box includes a gentle cleanser, body toning exfoliating scrub, body nourishing treatment to soften and firm the skin, bath and shower gel, shampoo and a bar of ultra-mild soap, $25; lips and cheeks are the focus of the "Starlet" gift set by Lorac, which includes sheer wash lip and cheek color and champagne-colored lip polish in a round metal tin, $25; a four lip gloss "Vega" compact by Sue Devitt, $28; or moisture-rich lipsticks in a range of shades by Lorac, $17.50 each; all from Tracy Ewell Ltd. (5500 Magazine St., Mimi, 269-8490).


Pretty Birds
-- Whether your gift list calls for traditional or whimsical tastes, these selections will cover the bases: a whimsical, plumed carved wood bird in fashion pumps with a ball of bead-studded mistletoe, $32.50; an iced snowflake-shaped chocolate sugar cookie, $5.75; a hand-painted majolica Piccolo Serpe jar filled with biscotti by Di Camillo Bakery, $129.50; and two jars of gourmet blueberry-apricot and pear-fig conserve in a fancy gift box, $22.25; all from Chez Nous Charcuterie (5701 Magazine St., 899-7303).



Beefy Gifts -- Pack up a basket full of great memories with a gift certificate for $50 or $100 to Smith & Wollensky steak house, along with a special gift set of four steak knives, $40; Steak, a cookbook by Alan Stillman, proprietor of Smith and Wollensky, $27.50; and bottles of the restaurant's signature steak sauce and barbecue sauce, $5 each or $9 for both; all from Smith & Wollensky (1009 Poydras St., 561-0770;

Strong Links -- Black enamel ovals are a dramatic background for sculpted gold fleur-de-lis, especially when they're set in 14-karat gold cufflinks by German designer Victor Meyer, $1,475, from Rubenstein Bros. (102 St. Charles Ave., 581-6666).



Heaven Scent
-- The distinctive fragrance of Yvonne LaFleur -- produced using the traditional French all-natural method -- can be bestowed in a variety of ways: body lotion, $30; bath gel, $25; real perfume, $55; eau de parfum, $37.50; body powder, $45; soap sachet, $10 (trio French-milled soaps $27.50); exclusively from Yvonne LaFleur (8131 Hampson St., 866-9666;


Dazzle Your Darling
-- Her eyes will glitter as playfully as her ears will when she puts on these impressive earrings, set in 18-karat white and yellow gold and boasting baguettes with a total of 2.5 carats in diamonds, $1,495, from Hans Luetkemeier & Son Inc. (3246 Severn Ave., Metairie, 454-1170).



High Chair -- Snazzy and affordable, pick up a metal barstool with red vinyl seat and back and a foot protector on the bottom rung by L & B Industries, $122; from LouBat (4141 Bienville St., 482-2554;


Looking Glass
-- These graceful perfume bottles are sure to attract more than glances (maybe even a few hugs). A pair of blue vintage glass perfume bottles with tulip crown stoppers and gold trim, $285 for the pair; or a French crystal perfume bottle with delicate, hand-painted flowers and gold borders, $300; from Hove Parfumeur Ltd. (824 Royal St., 525-7827;


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