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Holiday Gift Guide 

Wednesday, Nov 23 2005
Gifts for Her

Shop Around Tours

If you live to shop and love to travel, European travel specialist Deborah Mayer guides sisters-in-shopping to the most fabulous European designer outlets and sales in Italy. From outlet malls to unmarked warehouses, she's hunted down the best deals worldwide (and has the credit card bills to prove it) and knows the word for "sale" in a dozen different languages. From the remote Tuscan countryside to the charming lakeside town of Como to the cosmopolitan city of Milan, Shop Around Tours scouts out the hottest trends in shoes, clothes, and accessories from name brands such as Gucci, Prada, Armani, and Fendi at unbelievably low prices. Gather your gal pals for a girls'-only adventure. For groups of ten or more, Shop Around can create a customized itinerary, from inexpensive to deluxe, to any destination worldwide. -- CP

Prices vary; an eight-day trip runs approx. $1,895 and up; (212) 684-3763,

Sundari Candle Trio

Inspired by the life-celebrating Hindu Lights of Diwali Festival, Sundari's trio of soy-based wax votives represent divine old-world aromas -- Chamell (Indian for "jasmine"), Gulkand (traditional Indian spice), and Amrus (delicious Indian dessert). According to mythology, Lord Krishna liberated the people of Goa, who were reeling under the torture of demon king Narkasur, by killing the demon on Diwali Day. The five-day festival held in November is ushered in by burning effigies of Narkasura and illuminating houses with lights symbolizing the victory of good over evil. -- CP

$50 at Sephora or

Benefit's Bad Gal Gear

According to Eileen Ford, head of "the world's most famous modeling agency" and author of A More Beautiful You in 21 Days, eyelashes are very important when it comes to making googly eyes. Ford divulges in her 1972 book that professional beauties all over the world use false eyelashes -- lashes so cunningly applied that no one knows they're not your very own. Imagine sitting across from someone, staring into his eyes, lowering your lashes ever so slowly, then looking deep into the very depths of his being. Sigh. Everything you need to let your eyes smolder is boxed up in Benefit's Bad Gal Gear limited-edition kit -- a sultry black liquid eyeliner, a mini lash mascara with full-sized brush, and, of course, a full set of falsies. -- CP

$28; available at Benefit, 2117 Fillmore St., 567-0242; and 2219 Chestnut Street, 567-1173.

Moroccan Splendors

The fusion of Arabic and African decorative arts finds its Paris in Morocco, and now you can find a little bit of Morocco in San Francisco. La Kasbah on Polk Street is a boutique of Morocco's finest handmade gifts by contemporary artisans. The goddesses that we know will gush for an ornate perfume bottle of colored glass with silver coils around its regal neck ($35). For the friend with the nervous tick, place in her agitated hands a thick silk tassel with a silver cap ($20); the texture is an ecstasy flashback and the colors will soothe her eyes. A stackable leather ottoman with a radiating stitched design ($165) is perfect for that small apartment in which a regular armchair blocks the view. For bohemian warmth, chose from lamps with henna designs printed onto glowing, tinted-leather shades of amber, red, and musky yellow ($60 and up). -- JLM

La Kasbah, 1825 Polk St., 409-4866,

Angry Little Girl Tote Bag

Accessories can tell you a lot about a person. These fabulous canvas totes tell you to stay the f*@k away. Yes, Lela Lee's original Angry Asian Girl is in the store -- in various colors and with sayings for every mood. Slogans like, "I chase boys," I hate people," and "Are you mad at me because I'm perfect!" are great for the woman in everyone's life who wants to make a statement. The 12 oz. canvas bags are fully reversible and come with a matching coin purse. -- JLM

$25.95 at Tutti Frutti, 718 Irving St., 661-8504.

Custom Duds

There are no "Made especially for..." tags quite like those in the sweater your grandma knit for you, but this gift will be every bit as custom. At EVarize Fashion Café, designer Erica Varize is mixing up flavors for what may be the most unique clothing showroom in the Bay Area. The term Café refers to the rich menu of fabrics and silhouettes that shoppers can choose from; their selections are then custom-sewn and served with style. -- JLM

Custom garments start at $50; gift certificates are available. 2634 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley,

Lucky Charms

For those in the fashion know, the nameplate necklace and the diamond bauble locket are officially over. But Alex Woo's prized pendants, as seen in People magazine and around the necks of Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria and daytime diva Kelly Ripa, are the latest accessories to be the talk of the fashionista town. Lucky girls Drew Barrymore and Lindsay Lohan are among the celebs who own chic sparklers from Alex Woo's super trendy Vegas collection. Coincidentally, Barrymore, who has a spade chain, just finished filming Lucky You, and Lohan, who wears a club pendant, is awaiting the release of her new movie Just My Luck. -- CP

$118 and up at Divine Girls, 340 Presidio Ave., 409-4901,

Natura Bissé's Diamond Ice-Lift

Plastic surgery is a mandatory part of climbing the Hollywood food chain, but what about knife- and needle-phobic folks who just want to look good (or unnaturally young, à la Joan Rivers)? Natura Bissé's Diamond Ice-Lift is a luxury peel-off mask, touted as providing a long-lasting cosmetic "face-lift" in a flash. Just 20 minutes twice a week, and no post-op recovery time, the transepidermal DNA Cryo Mask will tighten and target the telltale signs of time. Now, if it could just do something for former House Majority Leader Tom Delay's strangely asymmetrical nostrils. -- CP


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