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Area shops offer alternative gift-giving ideas

Options other than braving crowded malls

Posted: December 13, 2008 8:52 p.m.
Updated: December 14, 2008 8:00 a.m.

Rhonda Coleman, co-owner of Rooms & Blooms in Valencia, places a gold butterfly on one of the "Instant Attraction" magnet boards she sells.

 
Holiday shoppers trying to get away from crowded retail stores and interested in creative and personalized gift alternatives can find many imaginative options below:

n Rooms & Blooms at 24264 Valencia Blvd. offers "Instant Attraction," customized magnet boards that come in different shapes, styles and sizes. The boards are made to hang with a ribbon and come with strong magnets. Store co-owner Rhonda Coleman hand-paints most of the boards herself. Designs feature zebras, fairies, nature and floral prints, to music notes, crosses, peace signs and more.

For a more personal touch, customers can e-mail a photo to co-owner Donnie Coleman who will create a customized magnet board. Coleman said she's had customers use the boards in dorm rooms, as ornaments, to hold recipes in the kitchen, as sheet music holders above a piano and more.

Store customer and "Instant Attraction" fan Lisa Valenti owns two boards.

"I have them hanging in our guest room, which I'm decorating in a tropical sort of theme," she said. "One has a photo of me, my husband and my sister. The other is another pretty photo from a trip to Hawaii, with a chalkboard. I have a couple of magnets and postcards stuck to them."

A 10"x7" "Instant Attraction" board with three magnets is $16 and a 7"x5" board with two magnets is $8.50. Coleman said a plus is that the boards can easily fit in an envelope with a holiday card.

The Web site is www.roomsandblooms.com. The phone number is (661) 287-0050.

n World's Best Toffee is a local online business that produces handmade English toffee wrapped in a brown craft box with an elegant tie on top. The ribbon never has to be untied so it has the appearance of being a gift, said co-owners Criss Owens of Newhall and Vicky Nelson of Saugus.

"We use all premium ingredients and no preservatives," Owens said. "The toffee itself is a caramel type of a candy and coated with either milk, white or dark chocolate. Almonds are sprinkled on the chocolate. It's a secret family recipe."

To personalize the toffee gift, greetings can be sent in a card with the toffee or customers can send their own greeting card to be included.

A quarter-pound box is $7 and a half-pound box is $13. Bigger boxes and combination boxes range from $25 to $45. The shipping cost is usually around $4, Owens said.

Owens and Nelson urge customers to get orders in by phone as soon as possible to allow for preparation and shipping time. Pickup also can be arranged. World's Best Toffee's phone number is (661) 296-0376.

The Web site is www.worldsbesttoffee.com.

n Holiday baskets are not hard to come by, but shoppers looking beyond the ordinary might try Jo's Country Baskets in Newhall and The Treasure Basket online.

"We specialize in customizing baskets, so we will ask about the recipient's hobbies, likes, dislikes and even business so people can know they put personal thought into the gift," said Jo's co-owner Demi
Amrhein of Saugus.

From a "NASCAR" basket to an "organic" basket, Amrhein and her husband and co-owner, Terry Amrhein, have made hundreds of one-of-a-kind baskets over the years.

Demi said they ask customers to start with a budget and then work around that budget to create the basket's contents and look.

The Amrheins allow customers who order in-store to sample their different products like the dipped pretzels and Malto Bello chocolates. For personalization, customers can add gift cards, greeting cards or even pictures to the baskets. The store is located at 24012 Lyons Ave. The phone number is (661) 259-0803.

n The Treasure Basket at www.thetreasurebasketonline.com provides a similar basket-packaging service.

On their Web site, owners tout their commitment "to providing quality gift baskets for every occasion. We search for unique and custom items for all our baskets, therefore, many of our items are limited in quantity but never quality."

For example, owner Cyndee Johnson of Valencia said, "If we have someone interested in cars, we'll go out and get a hubcap" to add to the basket.

The Web site provides a display of basket designs for numerous occasions and customers can shop by price. Prices range from $25 to more than $100. If nothing on the Web site catches the eye, Johnson will also work with customers to customize a basket to fit their budget and needs. The Treasure Basket's number is (661) 263-3811.

n For those interested in spending a little extra, Emma's Nest Home Accessories and Distinctive Gifts offers customized photo albums for $117 and $125.

Customers can e-mail in a photo to be the cover of a linen photo album embellished with Swarovksi crystals and a tassel, said store owner Paula Honey.

Both the 9"x9" and 11"x11" albums hold 200 pictures. Honey said it takes one to two weeks to fill an album order, so those who are interested in an album as a holiday gift should call as soon as possible.

Emma's Nest's phone number is (661) 295-3994. The store is located at 28060 Hasley Canyon Rd.

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