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Mile High Mamas’ Ultimate Colorado Shopping Guide for the Holidays

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The 2010 Ultimate Colorado Shopping Guide

Here’s my roundup of holiday shopping goodies! I scoured the state to find all Colorado-based gifts, perfect for the eco-friendly and green footprint movement we embody. There were so many fantastic choices this year, it was hard to choose only a handful, but I think I brought you the best and most clever gifts I could find. There’s something on this list for every aged child, from newborn to teen to college coed. I didn’t forget mom either—there are quite a few items I found that I didn’t have to share with Hank the Tank this year! Enjoy!

Belle Baby Carriers
Thank Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for making babies attached to the front of mom and dad hip! However, Colorado has always been ahead of the trend and we even have our own company based out of Boulder that makes unique baby carriers in a variety of appealing patterns. We choose Belle Baby’s Organic Jubilee ($109.95) that comes in black and white. I tore through the package when it arrived and couldn’t wait to get Hank in it. Whoops, it’s for babies 8-30 pounds . . . and the Tank hit 30 pounds at 10 months. I called in the reinforcements, Melissa and her 6-month-old son Gray. She loved it! Melissa was surprised by the ease of adjustment of the straps and the soft material, unlike some carriers. She also liked the head support that comes with each carrier and the ability for it to allow children to face both forward and backward. As she said, “We’re now ready to hit the Zoo lights, Gray will be able see them!” (www.bellebabycarriers.com)

Clementine Art
Hank couldn’t even get his hands on this gift package before I was playing with the goodies. Wow, this stuff is amazing! I ordered the holiday gift pack ($39) that included their Crayon Rocks, Natural Paint, Modeling Dough, Natural Glue, Natural Markers and Natural Crayons. Whether you have a budding artist or a wild tomboy, this pack will keep anyone busy for hours. All the art supplies are all natural, certified non-toxic and environmentally friendly with 100 % post consumer recycled packaging. Art already makes you feel good, but the materials and do-good nature of this company is an added bonus. Created by a clever teacher from Boulder, Diana, the thoughtfulness, knowledge and clever approach of this line is admirable. Best part—the crayon drawings easily come off airplane seats, don’t worry Southwest! (www.clementineart.com)

The Experiential Gift
In our world of materialism and holiday shopping galore, more and more families are opting for experiences together rather than more “stuff” in gift wrap and a bow. Take the kids to see the mythical King Tut exhibition! On view through Jan 9, 2011 at the Denver Art Museum, it’s a once in a lifetime experience and a first for the Rocky Mountains region. Or, invest in a family membership to the Denver Art Museum and enjoy a year’s worth of art experiences and unprecedented deals on King Tut tickets. Visit www.denverartmuseum.org for details. Purchase tickets to any of the up-coming DCPA shows. I rarely miss one and they are fantastic—from lighting and sets to an incredible array of performances for all ages. Bringing your family to the theatre is a magical memory and truly embraces the season. Visit www.dcpa.org for upcoming shows and prices. One of my local favorites, the Butterfly Pavilion is putting on the lights for the holidays starting December 11th. Watching the daily launch of butterflies is also magical and helps ring in the season. Visit www.butterflies.org for ticket information and times. Creating any family trip to the Zoo, Botanic Gardens, Train Museum or any other cultural facility is truly a phenomenal way to spend the season together.

Dancing In the Kitchen
I love anything food-related, so when the Dancing in the Kitchen CD came across my desk, I popped it right in to hear the tunes. This is darling. I was impressed by the different music genres present throughout the songs. The classic “On Top of Spaghetti” and newbie  “Jam Jam Jam” will turn the kitchen into a festive atmosphere for mealtime. There’s a kid chorus, adult voices and a band—it’s amazing how children’s music has evolved. Founded by Melanie Potock, a certified Colorado speech therapist with over 12 years experience working with children who have difficulty eating, Mel makes mealtimes fun while helping children learn to try new foods, never an easy task! Available directly from the website, the CD retails for $13.95. (www.MyMunchBug.com)

HJs Hats of Crested Butte
Homemade with love and creativity, a friend put me onto this gal’s awesome creations. Holly makes one-of-a-kind hats for sizes teen through adult (but can custom make any size you need) out of her Crested Butte abode. Although trendy, you will find they are functional as well. They’re also made from recycled materials; you can’t get any more green then that! They come in a variety of fashionable styles, my favorite, the flower cap with the button in the middle. Styles such as these are seen daily on celebrities hiding their bad hair day; who says a Mile High Mama can’t do the same? Prices range from $33.00 to $45.00. (www.hjshatsofcb.com)

ImagiPLAY
All-natural wood toys and organic cotton soft toys designed in a Boulder studio, Imagiplay has a variety of goodies for toddlers to elementary school-aged kids. Referred to as “toys with integrity,” these eco-friendly gifts are designed to inspire young imaginations and are made not only to be child safe, but with the safety of Mother Nature in mind. The Planet Pixie line, made from 100% organic cotton ($29.99/each), includes information about each Pixie’s homeland (Florida Everglades, North Pole & Amazon Rainforest), how it’s being threatened by pollution, global warming or deforestation, and what the child can do to help! We also tested out the Number Snail ($14.99) and the Ecobaby EarthWorm ($12.99) and were not only impressed by the design and durability, but also the lack of smell from paint! The prices are more than reasonable and you can find ImagiPlay items at most Whole Foods in Colorado or order them directly from the website. (www.imagiplay.com)

Jewelry (BellaBellDesigns and Twisted Pine)

BellaBellDesigns
So creative, this last minute entry had to sneak onto the list. Lisa Bell (as in the namesake) creates darling bracelets and necklaces that personalize anyone’s name onto precious metal. Each order is handmade and customized by Lisa herself. Born in Switzerland, the name of her line, Kindertags comes from the Swiss word child. Simply e-mail her your names of choice and she engraves them onto PMC—a 99.99% silver metal (an even higher count that sterling silver!) These are delightful for any woman or child. View examples in person at Bling in SouthGlenn Mall or in their Castle Rock location, and on-line, of course. The Kindertags start at $35 with one Kindertag (about the size of a dime) and go up $5 for each additional tag. Choose from a variety of bracelets and necklaces to place the designs upon. E-mail Lisa directly through www.bellabelldesigns.com.

Twisted Time
Golden artists and moms, Mary Block and Julie McManus, have come up with one clever accessory. Made with vintage chains and working parts of antique watches with added crystals and charms, each piece is truly one of a kind. All the watch pieces are from the 1950s or earlier, since plastics were introduced during this era and the two moms behind Twisted Time wanted everything to be authentic. The whimsical collection provides for the perfect item for gals, made locally and affordable. Pieces range in price from $32 – $49. Available at Baby Does Clothing in Golden. (www.babydoesclothing.com)

LOBOTOME
This Durango-based operation has mom in mind! They make a variety of notepads to keep mom sane and highly organized. I choose the MomMe weekly planer pad ($19.95). There are columns for each day and space at the bottom for house to-dos, healthy meal plans, exercise, errands and my favorite, me time… I just never know what to put in there. I even like the vitamin and water count at the bottom, so Colorado! I was also sent the Feed Me pad ($9.95). This is great when planning for family meals and trying to avoid the take-out route. There is a grocery list and a space in case you do need those Chinese to-go numbers, but the principle behind the pad is to help mom make one trip to the grocery and have weekly meals well planned and organized to avoid the constant 5 pm dinner chaos. (www.lobotome.com)

Mail a Monkey
Mail a monkey or a Grinch this holiday season! Based out of Denver, this concept is so darn cute! It’s amazing I hadn’t seen it before. I went ahead and ordered Dr. Seuss’s Grinch and was delightfully surprised when it arrived in the mailbox in a clear tube. The tube is made of recycled plastic, which is also reusable and recyclable.  The package came with a handwritten greeting card and “Hello My Name Is” card for the character you choose. I think this is a pretty clever gift for that family member you never know what to give or for a fun surprise for a child leading up to the holidays. There are 36 characters from which to choose, many made from organic cotton and recycled fabrics.  Simply visit their website, place your order and the gift ships for free anywhere in the U.S. and arrives within 2 – 4 days. (from $30,  www.mailamonkey.com)

Penny Jar Kids
This might be one of my favorites on the list this year! A brilliant invention by a caring mom, Penny Jar Kids is a “giving” club for children. It teaches youth about the wonderful nature of charity and encourages children to give to those in need in conjunction with enriching their minds about other vibrant cultures throughout the world. Ideally, the product is targeted for children aged 5 to 11, but works for any ages; charity can never be taught too young or reinforced too old. The kit ($45) is available in five different country themes (Nepal, Haiti, Kenya, Cambodia, Peru). Each Penny Jar Kid Kit comes with a book about microfinancing, a book corresponding to the country you choose, a craft representative of the region, fact sheets, a “cause” wristband, and regional recipe. The kit can also be upgraded for $25 to include a charity gift card that allows children to make their first donation or loan. Their website will go live in early 2011, but in the mean time, e-mail pennyjarkids@gmail.com to order the kits.

Rocky Mountain Popcorn
I had to put at least one food item on the list and it had to be my favorite food in the whole world, popcorn . . . at least it’s high in fiber, right? Thankfully, we have Rocky Mountain Popcorn in our own backyard. I’m crazy for popcorn; I have three different popcorn makers (one air, one stove top and one stir crazy) so it takes a lot to impress me. Well, they win. Rocky Mountain Popcorn has won my heart. Not only is popcorn a whole grain, nut and gluten free, it’s just fun, plain and simple. I ordered the ‘NottaTin,’ an eco-friendly gift box ($26.99) filled with an assortment of their flavors—scrumptious! I love the hot stuff, so the red chili and jalapeno were amazing, plus it helps you get in those eight glasses of water you are supposed to drink daily. For those who can’t take the heat, their naked line is the lowest in fat and carmel corn (made with no corn-syrup and their #2 seller) a sure crowd-pleaser. Purchase the scrumptious snack at grocery stores, online, or when out holiday shopping and filling up with gas, you can find it at just about every convenience store across the U.S. An added perk, here’s a web coupon for the mamas: milehighmamas (www.rockymountainpopcorn.com)

Steve Spangler Science
Steve Spangler might just be the Mr. Wizard from my day! This totally reminds me of his show on Nickelodeon when I was a child. We had the Lab in a Bag ($17.95) sent to us and it was truly hours of explosions and laughter. The test tube discoveries has over 15 different activities for hands-on experiments using different polymers, acids and bases and densities. This stuff makes science seem cooler than any Xbox or Nintendo Wii! After a couple experiments I handed the kit off to Emma, my 12-year-old neighbor, who often gets recruited for product assistance and trials. She took one look at the kit and her eyes just lit up! Apparently, explosions, fizz and funny noises work for any age! This Englewood-based company has something fantastic going on—get in on the affordable fun. (www.stevespanglerscience.com)

Vedante
Boulder-based Vedante makes illuminating, safe gifts for athletes and anyone walking outdoors at night. I ordered their Super Reflective Pop Bands in both pink and green and was pleased that their packaging was made of recycled material. Vedante manufacturers a variety of safety items, but I felt the Pop Bands were the most versatile for moms and teenagers, I wouldn’t recommend this item for small children as they snap on like the old school snap bracelets and might not be safe for the wee ones. They come two to a package and can be placed on ankles, wrists, strollers—pretty much anything you can think of! They reflect light and help runners and walkers remain safe in the dark, perfect for daylight savings time and active Coloradans. ($12.98 for med pair/ $13.98 for large pair, www.vedante.com)

Kaley Perchacz Custom Jewelry DesignsThe MarketPlace in BelMar is such a place and is chock full of arts, crafts, clothing, and specialty food products crafted by local artisans (a must-stop for Christmas shopping). It was there that I stumbled upon Kaley Perchacz Custom Jewelry Designs that includes unique and affordable jewelry made from sterling silver, Bali beads, Swarovski crystals and natural stones. My favorite items were the large selection of adjustable rings that Perchacz (who is employed at an OBGYN’s office) created after seeing how many pregnant women’s fingers swelled so much they could no longer wear their wedding rings. Ingenious…and chic. (Rings and bracelets starting at $20; necklaces at $35, www.themarketplaceatbelmar.com)

Give Fleece a Chance
These darling fleece hats are also a staple at The MarketPlace. Created by Jill Kelley and her Colorado Springs-based mother, these handmade warm hats use colorful, “flowerful” fleece with detachable flowers. Six different patterns range from traditional to funky or more retro, making these a must-have in any Colorado girl’s wardrobe. As an added bonus: most of the hats fit mom as well so let the wardrobe-sharing begin. ($28, www.themarketplaceatbelmar.com)

Top Photo: Woman’s Day

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