Great holiday gifts for home & garden

Written by Kathy Weiss

Looking for a unique holiday, housewarming or hostess gift for the home or garden? Here are some ideas for inspired gifting from experts whose recommendations are local, easy to find and sure to please.

We asked interior designer Jan Finlayson, design manager at The Mansion, the historic fine furnishings and home accessories showroom in Iowa City, to show us six gifts for the home costing less than $100, along with a "splurge" item, where the sky is the limit. Her recommendations are available in stock, ready for immediate gratification.

• An elegant hostess gift, a colorful, one-of-a-kind hand-blown glass wine stopper lets you cork it in style, by Two's Company, $15.

• An artful set of six forest leaf coasters sculpted of polished aluminum from Michael Aram are just the thing to scatter around when entertaining, $92.

• For a fun and quirky gift they'd never expect, a hand-painted, crackle finish ceramic creature from Global Views. Choose from Percy the Penguin or Billy the Duck in a variety of sizes, priced from $27.

• Distinctive and decorative, hand-crafted Italian photo frames by Martin Aborn come in standard photo sizes. Choose from classic, embossed, gilded and contemporary wood designs with prices starting at $45.

• Reminiscent of the Ice Age, cool martini glasses from Roost are easy to grasp and great for serving margaritas, as well. Set of six, $98.

• Equally entertaining, Abigail's heavy stemmed wine glasses are worthy of any celebration. Set of six, $98.

While Jan's gift suggestions speak more to a woman's sensibilities, her splurge item is considerably more manly. For the gentleman on your list, she recommends a pair of classic, oversized button-tufted leather wing chairs handcrafted by Hancock & Moore. The pair costs $3,975.

For the garden(er): For those who long for the growing season, we consulted Master Gardener and Press-Citizen columnist Judy Terry, who explored local garden centers to find her top gift picks cost less than $50, as well as one glorious splurge item. Here's what Judy found at Pleasant Valley Garden Center in Iowa and Forever Green in North Liberty:

• A quartet of paperwhite bulbs with rocks and a dish for easy forced blooming indoors in just three to six weeks, $13.95.

• The "Hope Angel" Isabel Bloom concrete sculpture, $49.99.

• A cute little toad house, a perfect child's gift, which protects a creature that "is so valuable in the garden," Judy says, "if they have a place away from predators." $22.99.

Feng Shui-inspired plagues for a garden room or porch representing tranquility, harmony, happiness and love, $19.99 each.

• Daily garden clogs from The Muck Boot Co. Slipper soft, slip-resistant and 100 percent waterproof, they go on and off easily and keep feet dry, $49.99.

• OXO Good Grip six-piece garden set with floral snips, scoop, trowel, multi-use transplanter and a cultivator all contained in a neat blue plastic caddy, $37.99.

• Hand-made Italian pottery forms a beautiful brilliant blue planter, $44.99.

As an extravagance for the garden, Judy discovered a rustic stone bench at Forever Green with a relief design reflecting the four seasons. The cost: $304.99.