Fill Santa’s bag around town

Shopping around Helena, I asked for suggestions from local merchants for gift ideas for $50 or less (Or, in a few cases, just a bit more.)

Jennifer Rankin of Wildflower Wax said, “Candles of course. Make your own custom scented pillar candles with charms, beads, stones — perfect for a one-of-a-kind gift. Drop in any Saturday or Sunday … We can also wrap any of our hand-poured pillar, jar or cinnamon bun shaped candles.”

Candles range from $6-$28.

Kim at Zone 1 Video shared their top three recommendations for the gamer on your list. Number one is “New Super Mario Brothers Wii.” “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” and “Assassin’s Creed II” are also hot this Christmas.

La Reunion’s owners, Del and Robin Howell, naturally recommend their special house brand, Carpe Diem Coffee (1 pound, $13–$16). They also stock colorful and unusual teapots, mugs and picture frames.

At The Monkey Basket, Judy Ellington has ornaments for the cat lover declaring, “Cats Make a House A Home.” She also carries “The Elf on the Shelf” activity book and the just released Bamanation Hot Sauce dressed in its own houndstooth topped cap.

At Sam Lilly Liquidators, Dan Rasmussen has a truckload of framed prints, canvas prints and sports prints just in and all at tantalizing prices. At Ace Hardware, I zeroed in on these items: a retro-styled metal patio/porch chair in red or green for $49 and Alabama and Auburn drum coolers.

You may have noticed the metamorphosis in the windows of Kent’s Gallery. Kent Free is still offering art and custom framing, but is now stocking a variety of women’s purses.

With the average price at around $25, you can get one for yourself and your sister. A trendy $10 gift idea is the chain wallet, which carries a cell phone and credit cards. While at Kent’s, you may as well pick up a few packages of Sillybandz — some young person on your list is going to want them.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by e–mail at labro16@yahoo.com.