Guest Columns

What to buy your favorite lobbyist this holiday season

The Colorado Statesman

With very little thought, anybody can buy anyone a conventional holiday gift and many people do. Think of the boxes of candy you receive that go right into the garbage can — better there than on your hips. And what about bouquets of flowers? Not so good. They all eventually die (depressing), they drop dead leaves and petals, and the poor gift recipient has to clean them up. Happy Holidays to you too. With all the allergies and sensitivities in the workplace, perfume, colognes and aftershaves are verboten. Even certain deodorants overstep their olfactory boundaries.

And yet, a thoughtful gift, a useful gift, a gift that says I really put some thought into this is so appreciated. The holiday season is the perfect time to thank your local politico for their help during the year, whether it be getting snow plows to your street early in the morning, voting for a bill you support or just plain exercising some fiscal restraint.

The Colorado General Assembly wisely passed a law a few years ago that’s limited public officials to receiving no more than gifts valued at $50 per constituent per term. Style Matters has kept this in mind while shopping, but family members are apparently exempt from these restrictions, and is there a problem with several constituents going in on a gift? (Are there any Amendment 41 experts out there who can weigh in?)

Elected officials are nothing if not proud of their political affiliations so why not incorporate their symbols into their gifts. Ever wonder what the story is behind those two famous party animals — the donkey and the elephant? According to factmonster.com, the Democratic donkey was first associated with Democrat Andrew Jackson’s 1828 presidential campaign. His opponents called him a jackass (a kind of donkey), and Jackson decided to use the image of the strong-willed animal on his campaign posters. Later, cartoonist Thomas Nast used the Democratic donkey in newspaper cartoons and made the symbol famous. He also invented another well-known symbol — the Republican elephant. In a cartoon that appeared in Harper’s Weekly in 1874, Nast drew a donkey clothed in lion’s skin, scaring away all the animals at the zoo. One of those animals, the elephant, was labeled “The Republican Vote.” That’s all it took for the elephant to become associated with the Republican Party.

Democrats rationalize their animal labels by proclaiming the donkey as smart and brave and the Republicans insist elephants are strong and dignified. Whatever. Better we should focus on giving our favorite senator or representative a gift that reflects their hard work (on our behalf) during the year.

Here are ten gift ideas courtesy of The Colorado Statesman. One of these just might be the one to do you proud.

Happy Holidays!

Judie Schwartz is the co-author of two best-selling books on the best places to shop in Colorado. Called “A Fashion-Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond,” the books are available at stylematters.us. Schwartz presents image seminars to corporations on the importance of a business casual wardrobe and entertains conventioneers with talks on how to look great on a budget. She is also a wardrobe consultant. Schwartz has one husband, three children, no pets and small closets.

Style Matters Shopping Guide


1. Back to the Silver Standard: Target carries an adorable sterling silver elephant pendant with an on-line price of $14.44. This dainty necklace goes perfectly with any neckline worn by any female Republican. target.com

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2. What elephant doesn’t deserve a few diamonds: A more upscale elephant, a gift for a politico who is perhaps retiring, is an 18 Kt. white and gold diamond elephant necklace from the Tiny Treasures collection of famed Italian jewelry designer Roberto Coin. Price: $1,180.00 (Yikes, but gorgeous.) Available at neimanmarcus.com

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3. Brass for the Jack ——: How about this cute raw brass donkey measuring 2” wide by 1.5”. The brass looks just like gold. Throw in free shipping and this $16.00 necklace is an accessory ass-et for any “crat.” Etsy.com

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4. Put that donkey to work! How about donating a donkey cart in honor of your favorite lobbyist? Oxfam America can arrange the donation of a donkey cart that “ not only supports farmers’ efforts to go organic by allowing them to haul manure and organic compost to their fields, but it also simplifies the chore of getting goods to market. It’s a donkey-drawn life-changer. Give someone you love a “bray” of sunshine.” $100. oxfamamerica.com

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5. Smears are for bagels. Women politicians know how to multitask and use every moment of their day. Here’s a gift idea guaranteed to give them a few extra minutes. They’ve had their pedicure, but its freezing outside (too cold for flip flops) and the toes are taking forever to dry. What does a busy madam chairman do to avoid smearing the polish? Thank goodness, she received a pair of Bootie Pies for the holidays. No, you don’t eat them. Bootie Pies are warm Ugg-style boots with removable top toe pieces exposing those newly painted tootsies to the drying air. She raises the top and gets on with her day. Price range $68-$88. bootiepies.com

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6. Ugg boots have burrowed their way into everyday fashion as successfully as denim. And like jeans, their looks and colors can now be changed thanks to Huggrz.

Huggrz are boot wraps that fit over shearling style boots creating lots of new fashion statements. From faux fur to cable knits, the collection consists of about 20 different looks reasonably priced at around $44. huggrz.com

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7. Blowin’ in the Wind: There isn’t a woman in the world who doesn’t revel in a shampoo and blow dry. Say hello to Denver’s new Blow Dry Lounge in Cherry Creek. (222 Steele). That’s all this boutique offers: a wash and blow. These well-trained gals can create styles from curly to straight for about $35-$40 (depending on hair length) in about 30 minutes. Enter looking like something the cat dragged in and leave a half hour later looking like Angelina Jolie. It’s the perfect confidence builder right before grabbing the gavel. Style Matters recommends the gift package: 10 blow dries for $300 with an 11th one for free.

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8. Can’t get that song out of your head? No longer will flat ironing hair be a boring chore. Not with the Inglam digital styling iron with built-in MP3 player. The 2GB memory holds up to 500 songs and allows you to listen to your favorite tunes while styling your hair. Memorize all the words to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” while sealing in vital moisture from the negative ions the iron produces. $44.99. JC Penney.

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9. Cuppa Joe: De’Longhi makes an adorable 5 cup drip coffee maker with built-in cup warmer that sits perfectly on a hard working lobbyist’s desk. The kMix model comes in four bright colors — green, magenta, blue and orange to further perk up your day. $130.00. shopdelonghi.com

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10. Fakin’ it. Faux fur is not real fur, but the newest fabric concoctions feel and look like the real thing. Swaddle up to the Capitol in a faux fur jacket (Style Matters likes the Ellen Tracy version in the chocolate brown “mink” shade) that says: Whoa, that’s some faux! $178. Nordstrom.com