Column/Browsing the holiday catalogs

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 24, 2006

Whether it makes the holiday more materialistic or not, shopping is a big part of the Christmas season.

I enjoy Christmas shopping – especially when you go into a small, out of the way shop, find a unique item that the recipient will love, and then the shop employees wrap it beautifully and tie it up in a bow.

Mail-order catalogs are a big part of the season as well. Although I do very little, if any, shopping by catalog, I enjoy browsing the publications.

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Mail-order businesses that feature food such as Harry & David, Godiva Chocolate and Allen Brothers Great Steakhouse Steaks just make your mouth water.

Harry & David features baskets filled with nuts, cheese, fruit and candy.

Of course, Godiva Chocolate needs no explanation – just more of the same sweet delicacies we’ve come to love.

The Sharper Image catalog is a great one to peruse.

With futuristic toys like high-end stereos and speakers and full body massage chairs, what’s not to like?

They even have spy-type items like a camcorder that’s hidden in the back of a normal looking clock.

Or how about your own personal breath-screening device to check your blood alcohol content?

The Wireless catalog is another fun one, with an assortment of themed T-shirts and sweatshirts like “Dad, the man, the myth, the legend” and “Gardening would be genteel if it were not for the icky dirt.”

There are patriotic items like the book, “What Would the Founding Fathers do?”

And there are pop culture icons like a signed photograph of the “Soup Nazi” from “Seinfeld.”

They also have an assortment of movie posters and CDs.

Of course, then there’s all the traditional clothing catalogs like Spiegel, Coldwater Creek, L.L. Bean, J. Crew,

Land’s End and Victoria’s Secret.

Sears and JCPenneys have their Christmas wish books filled with toys. When I was a kid, it was traditional in our house to go through those catalogs and circle the items you had on your gift list, sometimes even turning down the corner of the page for the “really important” toys.

Then there’s the “I will never buy this, but it’s fun to look” catalogs like Neiman Marcus’ Christmas Book.

It’s really as much an artistic pursuit as it is a catalog.

But, it’s the fantasy gifts that are amazing. Who wouldn’t want to put a Galactic Charter to Space on their Christmas wish list? Virgin Airlines has a 2009 deadline to launch private space travel. And it can be yours for $1.76 million.

Or how about a $40,000 human electric hybrid vehicle?

Neiman Marcus offers sports celebrity packages, and even a $100,000 backyard water park. (You might want to keep this catalog away from the kids).

It’s a holiday tradition to browse Christmas catalogs. And maybe even occasionally place an order. After all, some items are worth the shipping cost.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.