Thanksgiving is over, which means that I have immediately launched into Christmas mode. I have holiday parties booked for every weekend in December, and I seriously need to start planning my shopping schedule. These things take time, of course, especially since I like the challenge of scouting for unique gifts in little boutiques rather than the admittedly convenient option of hitting a mall. The small shops typically offer more unusual items, great customer service, and I like the idea of supporting local businesses. This week, I’ll be hitting the opening of Polkadot, a new gift and home decor boutique opening this Thursday at 1577 S. Pearl St. Owner Dezi Gellman has been on the local fashion scene for years, and will offer her own line of darling handbags, along with bath products, jewelry, dishes, and clothing items. I haven’t seen the shop yet, but I know Dez. Girl’s got style, so I’m expecting this will be a great new addition to the shops on South Pearl. Friday, it’s the First Friday party at Mona Lucero’s boutique near 15th & Platte. Mona will be on hand to offer advice on pairing her signature A-line patterned skirts with the many funky tops, scarves, jewelry, bags, and shoes she stocks. Wine and cheese make for a fun party atmosphere, so it’s also a perfect way to kick off a night on the town. Friday is also a great time to pop into MoonDance Botanicals (307 W. 11th Ave.), a teensy but totally adorable shop where owner Tanja Riechley serves up sweets to nibble on – like the chocolate dipped crystallized ginger root she served during my last visit – along with wine spritzers each Friday from 4 – 7 p.m. Her handmade skincare and bath products are divine; try the Chill Out Lavender spritzer for a moisturizing, soothing effect, or try her moisture-rich shea butter soaps, like the Lemongrass Lime and Honey Oatmeal. She also mixes up fresh botanical face masks, and makes a wonderful line of vanilla-scented creams designed to keep hands and feet supple even in our dry Colorado winters. Of course, that will help get me started for gifts for the women on my list. Now I need to start planning out my stops for men. I’ve always found that men are harder to shop for when it comes to gift ideas. C’mon guys, help me out here. Any suggestions?