It’s not the snow, it’s not the frost.
And it’s not even the holly.
It’s the spirit that makes the holidays merry in Florida.
We have surf and sand and palm trees galore.
And tropically themed gifts for the ones you adore.
Savor and shop, and avoid all the malls.
And keep local merchants in mind when decking your halls.

— Scott Simmons

Photos by Tim Stepien

Sea turtle-themed mosaic guitar
Where: McMow Art Glass, 701 N. Dixie Highway, Lake Worth; 585-9011
How much: $2,500
Who doesn’t love sea turtles? And who doesn’t love music? This work, covered in stained glass mosaic, combines both, and — get this — it even is playable.
Crafted by Chenille Creations, this guitar is sure to get someone on your gift list marching to the tropical beat of a different strummer.
McMow Art Glass, where we found this sea turtle-encrusted beauty, also has fun fused-glass sea turtle pendants created by artist Debra Hawthorne that are priced at around $50.

Table Transformations napkin rings
Where: Beached Boat Co. 206 NE Second St., No. 2, Delray Beach; 278-3130
How much: $35 for a set of four, including four whimsies; additional sets of whimsies are $18.95.
Entertaining just got beachier, thanks to these fun, interchangeable napkin rings.
Designed in Boca Raton, the simple, elegant rings have magnetic “whimsies” that can be changed out to suit decorating whims.
With elegant starfish, sparkling sand dollars and cute seahorses to choose from, they get our vote as an ideal hostess gift this holiday season.

Decoupage tray
Where: Quigley Maguire Collections, 301 Pineapple Grove Way, Delray Beach; 430-7471
How much: $250
Decoupage — the art of decorating an object with paper cut-outs — transforms the ordinary to the sublime on this elegant tray.
The large spoonbill at the center cries “Florida” on this tray, which is covered with designs of tropical flowers.
It makes a perfect gift for serving, or would be lovely treated as the work of art that it is.

Nantucket basket purse
Where: Gulfstream Pharmacy, 4998 N. Ocean Blvd., Briny Breezes; 276-4800
How much: $220
Sea turtles rule on the barrier island!
We try to protect these endangered creatures, so why not offer a reminder of their important place in our environment?
These Farnum bags by Tropical Enterprises Inc. are created in the style of Nantucket baskets. The little sea turtle at the top — slightly larger than a baby sea turtle — is created from the company’s synthetic ivory, called Ivoryite.
Pretty and practical, these bags get our vote as a great gift for the sea turtle lover on your gift list.

Tiffany starfish brooch
Where: 900 E. Atlantic Ave., No. 21, Delray Beach; 272-9800
How much: $5,750
This brooch offers a Tiffany twist on the tropics.
The 18-karat gold starfish is an estate piece that dates from the 1950s or ’60s. But what was cool half a century ago is positively swank now.
The brooch is encrusted with turquoise and has at its center a 35-point diamond. Picture it on a beautiful black sweater. Picture that certain someone smiling. Now, picture yourself buying that brooch.

Shell-encrusted picture frames
Where: Excentricities, 117 NE Fifth Ave. (southbound Federal Highway), Delray Beach; 278-0886
How much: $140 and up
These are elegant enough to adorn a table or mantelpiece in the finest homes, yet not so highfalutin’ that they would look out of place in the more humble of cottages.
The frames have just enough shells to remind whoever receives them of what they love about Florida — surf, sand, sunshine and, yes, shells. The store also had elegant boxes to coordinate (around $160).

Dog step-stools
Where: Boynton Beach Postal & Gift Center, 562 E. Woolbright Road, Boynton Beach; 738-6002
How much: $200
Dogs are people, too, or at least that’s what they would have you believe. And why shouldn’t they think that? After all, many of them sit, eat and sleep with their humans.
So why not make it easier for that pup to get up on the sofa or in bed with you?
That’s the thinking behind artisan Shannon Magoo’s dog step-stools. The stools, are created in pyrography (that’s wood-burning), then painted with a variety of tropical themes, and Magoo, of Lake Worth, also has created a variety of lazy Susans, tables, boxes, clocks and such to coordinate with the stools, so you can coordinate your doggie decor. Also popular: the toy chests that can be personalized with a child’s name on the top ($500).

Palm Beach Breeze-scented candles
Where: The gift shop at the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach, 100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan; 533-6000
How much: $40 for candles, $50 for diffusers
What better way to send guests home with a memory of Florida after the holidays than with one of these delicately scented candles. The candles, which have a scent that will remind you of the sand and the sea, are unique to the Ritz-Carlton, too. The clerk in the gift shop says she gets calls for them all the time from all over the country. She laughed and said at least we locals don’t have to pay postage!

Mother-daughter tunic tops
Where: Periwinkle, 14 NE Fourth Ave., Delray Beach; 279-9699
How much: $88 for adult, $44 for child
Imagine the delight at dressing mother and daughter in these matching tunic tops. The deeply saturated hues of these tops will flatter any complexion, and the long tunic looks good on any figure. They’re perfect for those warm, tropical nights. Also big this year at Periwinkle: The ruffle cashmere cardigans ($395).

Tropical Santa Hawaiian-style shirt
Where: Mercer-Wenzel, 401 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 278-2885
How much: $72
Imagine jolly old St. Nick. Now, imagine him reclining under a palm tree on a beach, and sipping a tropical drink. Imagine it no more: It’s on your shirt. These Bamboo Cay shirts are embroidered with holiday themes, and should be durable for years to come. In fact, these shirts may become a holiday tradition in some circles.

Nautical chess set
Where: Yaacov Heller’s Gallery 22, Royal Palm Place, 282 Via Naranjas, No. 53, Boca Raton; 347-1677
How much: $5,000
Yaacov Heller’s talent has been recognized around the world — Presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush and Clinton have received his sculptures. So has Margaret Thatcher. He recently opened a sculpture garden outside his gallery depicting scenes from the Garden of Eden, with Adam, Eve and the serpent.
He also makes fun, practical items like chess sets. His “Israelites vs. the Philistines” set is on display at The Chess Hall of Fame. We’re partial to his nautical set, featuring the gods of the sea squaring off atop shells. It’s magnetic, too — perfect for play on the yacht.
Not shopping for a chess fan?
Heller also has created solid silver rosebuds and orchids, cast in Miami, and topped with a large cubic zirconia diamond. The price: $350.

Gift baskets
Where: The Cheese Course, Mizner Park, 305 Plaza Real, No. 1305, Boca Raton; 395-4354
How much: $20 and up
Need the perfect hostess gift? Just say “cheese.”
Opt for a basket of regional flavors. The Italian basket, for example, might include salami or prosciutto, a wedge of cheese (maybe a nice boschetto al tartufo) and a cheese knife.

Cheese boards
Where: Lifestyles of Lynne, Royal Palm Place, 284 Esplanade, No. 52B, Boca Raton; 347-2933
How much: $13
These cheese boards are a value at $13. They’re actually not boards, but are tempered glass that has been decorated with wine-themed prints. A board would make a great accompaniment to one of those gift baskets from The Cheese Course, but we’ll wager many shoppers will want one of their own. And Lynne wraps things so beautifully that the gift recipient will think you really splurged. We promise not to tell.

Tropical-themed canvas floor mats
Where: Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, 1801 N. Ocean Blvd., Boca Raton; 338-1474
How much: $60
Think of these mats as artwork for the floor. They’re so colorful and pretty that you hate to walk on them, but you can. Based on the work of artist Gerri Hyman, the mats are made of a heavy canvas and have skid-proof backing.
We were at Gumbo Limbo, which rescues sea turtles, so the turtle mat was a natural. But the mat with the grouper was equally colorful.
We also liked Hyman’s island-themed tote bags ($30), perfect for that hike around Gumbo Limbo.
The nature center’s gift shop also is a great resource for books and toys.

Tea infuser and lemon/lime squeezer in a special presentation pouch
Where: The Spice & Tea Exchange, Mizner Park, 426 Plaza Real, Boca Raton; 910-1289
How much: $10.95
These organza pouches, with a bird-shaped lemon/lime squeezer and a tea kettle-shaped handle make the perfect table favors at any affair. Store manager Sophie Freeman says the shop has lots of orders from people who want to use them just for that purpose. But the tea kits are a great inexpensive office gift, too.
Feel like going luxe? Add a pouch of tea ($4.95), as we did.
Shopping for a chef or a backyard griller? The store also has a nice selection of flavored salts and rubs.

Lazy Susan
Where: Bojanini, Mizner Park, 335 Plaza Real, Boca Raton; 368-1821
How much: $111-$225, depending on size
These tropically inspired housewares were designed and made in Barranquilla, Colombia.
They lend a Caribbean flair to an island-style home or an edgy graphic feel to a contemporary home. Made of wood covered in resin, the pieces were designed by Ana Cristina Bojanini Safdie, who also created a complete line of furnishings and housewares sold at her eponymous boutique. The coasters ($47.50 for a set of six) also lend a nice punch of color, and would make a great stocking-stuffer.

Bellari necklace
Where: D. Stern Jewelers, Mizner Park, 421 S. Plaza Real, Boca Raton; 210-5222
How much: About $16,000
All the glitters is not gold. It could be the pink and green tourmaline, citrine, blue topaz, rhodolite, peridot, iolite or diamond.
And that is the mix of stones used in this necklace.
The piece, designed by Bellari, who hails from Scottsdale, Ariz., is versatile.
Wear it as it is. Or, to be more casual, wear the pendant on a simple chain. It also can be worn as a brooch, and the rhodolite bead necklace can be worn without the pendant.

Savor the Moment cookbook
Where: Junior League of Boca Raton. Log on to and click on “Cookbook.” Navigate from the pull-down menu to order.
How much: $29.95 for the cookbook; $36.95 for the cookbook and a CD-ROM
A decade ago, the Junior League pulled out the stops and published a cookbook that won a James Beard Award. Ten years later, you can share this taste of Boca with friends anywhere in the country. The CD mirrors the book, and features photos of each recipe, and it offers recipe searches, helps cooks create shopping lists and helps them add family recipes to the database.

Sea Turtle paperweight
Where: Robb & Stucky, Mizner Park, 200 Plaza Real, Boca Raton; 347-1717
How much: $23
It’s pretty, it’s practical, and it’s great for either a man or a woman. The wood tones of the shell offer a nice counterpoint to the cool metal of the turtle’s body — and serve as a reminder of how important our coast is to sea turtles. For Florida Gators fans, the manufacturer, Arthur Court Designs, also makes a wee alligator from the same materials.

The Kook’s Guide to Surfing
Where: Nomad Surf & Sport, 4655 N. Ocean Blvd., Briny Breezes; 272-2882
How much: $19.95
The title alone makes this book worthy of coffee table status.
But Jason Borte’s book helps demystify the big waves, and illustrates the the steps to walking on water and riding the waves. The clerk at Nomad said the book is a strong seller. If your loved one is not the literary type, Nomad has a full range of shorts, boards, T-shirts and accessories.

Humidor in the shape of the U.S. Capitol
Where: Bennington Tobaccanist, Royal Palm Place, 501 SE Mizner Blvd., No. 80, Boca Raton; 391-1372
How much: $1,500
We think this is a Capitol gift idea for anyone who savors a cigar.
The humidor offers three layers of storage for up to 300 cigars. It’s designed to keep them fresh and ready to light.
Another bonus: It’s a really cool conversation piece. Other humidors come close, but are no cigar when it comes to memorable design.

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