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When the opportunity to put together our annual Holiday Guide presented itself, I jumped on it faster than you could sing, "Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg."

I thought, "Who better to write a shopping guide then me?" After all, I am what some might call a "professional shopper." I shop and never drop. If shopping was a sport, I would be the champion, first place, blue ribbon winner. Boutiques, department stores, online catalogs ... I do it all. My husband thinks I have a problem but I say it's a gift. "Yep," I thought, "this will be a piece of cake!"

Then it started, the mad flurry of e-mails clogging my in-box with requests from retailers. The dizzying number of phone calls from eager publicists vying for a spot in the gift guide. It started to feel more like a piece of fruitcake ... born of good intentions but not what I expected. Clearly, I needed help and fast. I quickly assembled the very best journalists I could find to seek out the very best gifts for this holiday season. Then it happened, Christmas came early. You see, in order to recommend these gifts to our readers, we had to take them for a test drive. We played video games until we were cross-eyed, made our own beer, endured hours at the best spas and salons getting rubbed and scrubbed, and joined the "Mini Mile High Club" (see page 13). Things were definitely looking up! Intoxicated by lovely scented candles and yummy holiday treats, we were invigorated. We would stop at nothing to find the hottest new high-tech gadgets and must-have music. We left no store unturned in search of the coolest, smartest, most unique gifts we could find.

As a result, there's something for everyone on your list here, as well as a few things you will want to keep for yourself. Clearly, "Santa's little helpers" have nothing on us. We were so busy that I haven't even started my own holiday shopping. But I'm not worried, I know exactly what to buy and where to get it. If you're on my list, you are definitely having a happy holiday.

Holiday Highlights Event and Gift 2004 is our gift to you. Enjoy and happy shopping!

-M. Johanna Lopez-Miyaki


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