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Trinkets to Wallet Busters : Best Gift Bets From the 1986 Holiday Catalogues

November 27, 1986|IRIS KRASNOW | United Press International Feature Writer

A bevy of gifts from high-ticket luxury to clever but cheap are yours for the picking without the hassle of crowded stores. Take a brandy in hand, settle into your living room near a crackling fire and go shopping in a stack of holiday catalogues.

And if that's not easy enough, we've done the shopping for you. After pruning dozens of catalogues, we've come up with the Best of '86, starting at trinkets and working up to wallet busters.

An Intimate Gift

You say your guy's got it all, well, we'd be shocked if he has these. For an intimate gift in the ho-ho-ho category, send for white cotton boxer shorts covered with dancing red reindeer imported from England. From the Lillian Vernon catalogue in Mount Vernon, N.Y., for $14.95 a pair.

Williams-Sonoma in San Francisco knows culinary aces never have too much kitsch in their kitchens. From their holiday catalogue, order your prize chef a $20 cast-iron muffin plaque that turns out exquisite little dinosaurs of the ankylosaurus, stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex varieties.

Or stuff the cook's stocking with a $39.95 tube of truffle puree from the S. E. Rykoff & Co. catalogue based in Los Angeles.

Now something for birdophiles: a sturdy redwood Oriole fruit feeder. Its pegs hold apples and oranges to lure this colorful species into the backyard. Order the feeder for $12.95 through the Duncraft catalogue in Penacook, N.H.

Antique buffs who want the vintage look without the exorbitant price will love the affordable reproductions in the Neat and Tidy catalogue published in Spring Valley, N.Y.

A real find are the oval Shaker boxes handcrafted from grained solid cherry, faithful replicas of the originals first made at Sabbathday Lake, Maine, in 1798. They range from $17 for a trinket box to $49.50 for a box nearly a foot in diameter. A set of five is $120.

Up-tight urban folks who run full-tilt Monday through Friday love to escape come weekend time. For their retreats to the wide, open spaces, outfit them in country clothes from L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine.

Wool Jacket, Underwear

Guard your outdoorswoman from wintry blasts in an Icelandic wool hooded jacket of earthy hues. The zip-up jacquard patterned wrap goes for $160. For a sexy first layer, get her wool lace long underwear from England for $38 a set in soft hues of violet, pink or cream.

Banana Republic safari chic offers gift givers a selection of rugged Outback gear. A star item this season is an oversized Australian Bushman's raincoat crafted from long-fiber cotton and waterproofed with an oil and wax finish.

Priced at $149, it comes with a poplin half-lining and inside straps to fasten around legs during rainy horseback rides.

On a more glamorous note, the December hostess will shine in this sizzler from the American Express Christmas catalogue. A galaxy of sequined stars and a rainbow of hand-cut stones shimmer on a black chiffon tunic for $350. The hem is even cut like the points of a star.

This is it, the quintessential entrance maker for holiday party season. Louis Dell'Olio of Anne Klein starts with a flared ankle-length swing skirt of black velvet, adds a matching velvet blouse with French cuffs and a high collar of ivory satin, then cinches the package with a black velvet belt. Come on, she's worth it, pay the $690 it commands in the Lord & Taylor catalogue.

Lambskin Dress

Racier revelers can deck the halls in a leather mini tinted holly red or kelly green. Out of San Francisco, this naughty but nice little lambskin dress gives Hollywood curves with its boned bustier and lace-up back for $325.

Your mate can go cherry picking any day of the year when she puts on Tiffany's cherry brooch of 18-karat gold. The three cherries are inlaid coral and the leaves are malachite and jade. Find it for $2,000 in the Tiffany & Co. catalogue based in Manhattan.

If you want to impress with a Tiffany box but can't afford the cherry-picking price, $40 buys four English bone-china cups and saucers exquisitely painted with playing cards.

We had to look twice to see if this thing was for real. But, yes, the Neiman-Marcus Christmas book, known for exotica, has one-upped itself this year with the Bubble Boat designed by Eric Staller.

600 Light Bulbs

Inspired by the Space-Age art of Christo and Buckminster Fuller, Staller's kinetic vehicle is ablaze with red, white and blue light patterns from 600 bulbs.

Measuring some 12 feet in diameter, the Bubble Boat comes with a galvanized steel dome and aluminum pontoons for flotation. Four passengers sit on Fiberglas chairs beneath a fan-cooled Plexiglas bubble. A heavy rubber rim encircles the base, bumper car style.

It looks rocket-fast, but the Bubble Boat actually putters in the water at a top speed of five knots powered by two 10-horsepower motors. This one-of-a-kind gift goes for $80,000

There. With weeks left before the holidays, your shopping is already done.

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