Wandermelon's Last-Minute Gift Guide

For our world-wise friends (that’s you), the wandermelon team has done our part to make this season present perfect by assembling some unexpected wonders that don’t break the bank, can be gifted asap, and show you are thinking outside the (gift) box.

Ideal for the style-conscious traveler, the newly available Alexander McQueen-designed Black Label luggage makes a haute travel gift. This chic, ultralight trolley bag will definitely stand out on the baggage claim carousel with a torso shaped silver exterior. With retractable handles and wheels, the 22″ tall, six pound carry on even has three zebra-print bags for shoes and laundry. On sale for $231.99

Okay, so elephant dung might not be the first thing on your list to give out at Christmas, but who knew that it converts into beautiful eco-friendly stationary, journals, and note cards? Well, when American Karl Wald learned that many elephants were being killed by the farmers in Sri Lanka for encroaching on their land, he packed up and moved there, determined to help change the farmers perception of the creature.  Project Peace Paper was born as a way to tame the conflict between the elephants and farmers by converting their dung into 100% sustainable and toxic free paper products that are cool.  By buying Mr. Ellie Poo products, you are helping save the elephants who are being driven toward extinction from loss of their habitats. Part of the proceeds go to the Millennium Elephant Foundation that takes care of elderly and disabled elephants. Okay, so who doesn’t want elephant dung paper now? Boxed stationery set: $15; Long notebooks: 3 for $25.

Wine is one of the most satisfying elements of global travel.  Being able to savor the favored vintages of a particular region in wine-producing destinations like France, Australia and California remains a lingering memory long after the bags have been unpacked. Now, thanks to Bottlenotes, you can enjoy some of the world’s favorite varietals without the jet lag. Their wine-savvy “Around the World in 80 Sips” gift-pack features six bottles, including coveted varietals such as Las Perdices Cabernet Sauvignon (2004 Argentina) and Louis Jadot Chateau des Jacques Beaujolais Blanc (2004 France), as well as an informative wine guide. Part tour book and part pocket sommelier, the guide is tres instructif and rounds out a gift-set that is a wine-tasting party waiting to happen. $129.95

If you want to do your part in saving Australia’s curious, cuddly, and endangered Koalas, The Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie has just the remedy: the Adopt-A-Koala program. International donors pay just $33 (for Ozzies: AU$40) for the package, which includes a certificate of adoption with a photo, the name of the koala and a short story about its life. The Koala Hospital, located in Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, is the only wildlife hospital in the world that is solely dedicated to the care of koalas. Your support goes to helping the institution fulfill its role of treating and rehabilitating sick, injured and orphaned wild koalas with the aim of returning them to the wild. Good on you, mate.

The Mayans believed that cacao seed was a gift from the Gods. Today, the Huichol Indians, said to be the last indigenous tribe living in the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico, still use the sacred seeds in their shamanic ceremonies to honor Mother Earth. They believe that gifts of chocolate create a mutual love with the earth and between humans. Now you can show your affection for others and support this culture by purchasing these fair trade organic Shaman Chocolate bars. A sampler box with flavors like dark chocolate with coconut or ruby raspberries, sports 5 bars is 15 bucks well spent. To learn more about the Huichol and their healing traditions, you can also check out the Dance of the Deer Foundation.

Help is here at last for all those who struggle with gifts for the men in their lives, especially when they are searching for the perfect item for a travel guy. Why not give them something with a world of possibilities: the new Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Gift Card, redeemable for activities and amenities he’ll love, in fabulous Four Seasons destinations from British Columbia to Bora Bora. For the cool ski fanatic on your list, the Ski Lite Programme at Four Seasons Hotel Whistler lets them pack light for their winter getaway, suiting them up onsite with designer ski wear from Prada and Spyder, and performance rental equipment by Salomon, Rossignol, K2 and Burton (prices vary). Alternatively, try giving them something really hot, if you dare, at the fitness facilities at Four Seasons Hotel Miami: a Zumba class with a former trainer of the Miami Heat dancers! This should help them shape-up and get their groove in gear in time for New Year’s Eve. (US$35). Or wandermelon’s personal favorite for the man who has everything, kite surfing lessons at the recently opened Four Seasons Bora Bora (prices vary). Now that’s hot!

Flip Mino is a cigarette-pack sized video recorder that is so easy to use that it’s an ideal gift even for a technophobe. Two gigabytes of internal memory provide 60 minutes of record time. A rechargeable battery lasts around four hours and a USB plug built onto the device lets you plug in to a PC or Mac and automatically upload your videos to YouTube. $179 or upgrade to the Flip HD for $229.

LA’s Traveler’s Bookcase is an ideal destination for last minute gifts.  Brimming with travel gear and titles that cover everything from trekking in Tibet to the history of punk rock, the bookstore also features free delivery to all L.A. zip codes for both online and phone orders through December 24.  Located in the indie shop hotspot of West 3rd St. in West Hollywood, another benefit of shopping here is the store’s complementary personal shopping service.
A few of our favorite gift ideas here:

For a super stocking stuffer: check out the chic Tartan Passport Cover, $20
For your World Traveler: the Luxe European Box Set, $85
For the Gourmand: Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $33
For the Action Hero: “Make the Most of Your Time on Earth 1000 Travel Adventures,” $29.95

Traveler’s Bookcase: 8375 West Third Street (parking in back). 323-655-0575.

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