So it's finally Christmas Eve. Pies are being made, gifts wrapped, stores thronged with people looking for that last-minute something.
If it's the perfect gift you want, I know of two holiday shops where one can find a careful selection of intriguing gifts, artfully arrayed in a lovely, hassle-free environment with lots of parking.
One is at the Schaefer International Gallery at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. (Did you know the gallery has its own entrance at the beginning of the parking lot, where you can amble through a coconut grove to the front door?)
There, curator Neida Bangerter and Judy Bruder, owner of Duck Soup, the Indonesian import store, have teamed up to place a clever assortment of beautiful things in one place. (It's open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and before MACC events, through the end of the month).
Bangerter asked a group of artists to come up with original, compact works (no more than 24 inches, less than $500) that would make thoughtful gifts. "Tiny is good," she said. "We all have enough stuff."
For starters, she gave the artists wooden cutouts of houses to decorate for sale at $25 each - a deal. (Brian Miller burned his and put the ashes back in a bottle as a collage. Bangerter bought that one.)
There are colorful Norwegian wool caps by Nancy Skrimstad, artistic reversible men's vests by the outrageous Juicy, and tiny handmade vases by Lisa Louise Adams that hold a flower or a feather. There is (or was) an Eddie Flotte painting for $200 ("That was really nice of him").
Over in the Duck Soup section, people snapped up the hand-carved deer heads mounted on a wall, all with different personalities. "And it's not taxidermy." There are vintage ikats, affordable bronzes, shiburi-dyed scarves, Christmas-themed screen-printed potholders, and that's just the beginning.
I got my edgy teenaged niece a bracelet made in Indonesia of recycled tires.
My other favorite place this year for shopping is "Hui Holidays," the gift shop arrayed throughout the Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao, open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Today is the last day.)
Executive Director Caroline Killhour and sales coordinator Keri Mayer hunted all year to select discriminating gifts, many of them whimsical, that appeal to a wide range of folks. "We think about it all the time," Killhour said. "Our customers are very discerning - they've been all over the world. So the things we show have to be unique and meaningful."
Can't you see your friend with a black and gold Chanel-style purse ($11) in which to stash her iPhone on special evenings? ("Protegez votre telephone avec elegance.") For him, what about the Swiss-made "Seven Year Pen" ($8), a ballpoint with a jumbo ink supply able to write 1.7 meters a day for seven years? ("Worldwide, 100 million pens are discarded every day. Yikes.")
There are key chains made from objets d'art collected in Asia, amazing toys, a make-your-own music box kit, and bamboo-paper straws printed with food-safe soy-based ink ("a stylish alternative to plastic straws").
The centerpiece of the show is a labor of love, four gorgeous white snow queen gowns and marvelous hats, fashioned from a $100 roll of white butcher paper and a hot glue gun. Designer/choreographer Andre Morisette and Killhour are the guiding lights behind this imaginative "holiday window" installation, assisted by a dozen able volunteers.
"It's a little nod to the homemade holidays," Killhour said. "You don't have to spend a whole lot of money. With a little time and creativity you can make an object beautiful."
Ethel S. Baldwin, for 36 years mistress of Kaluanui, the great home where the Hui is situated, and her daughter Frances B. Cameron would have loved them. Both were artists and they adored the Christmas holidays. Frances decorated Makawao Union Church one year entirely with Christmas trees, and annually gave dozens and dozens of gifts to practically everyone she knew, carefully recording them in a ledger to avoid duplication.
During World War II Ethel invited Army generals headquartered in Makawao over for Christmas dinner and a horseback ride, something they looked back on for years with fondness. She also produced a lavish Christmas Eve entertainment for hundreds of lonely servicemen at the Crossroads USO in Makawao that she created in the old Tam Chow Store.
Store-bought or homemade or both, may your Christmas be merry.
* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose "Keiki o ka 'Aina" column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at laurelmurphymauinews@ yahoo.com.