'Tis the season to shop local merchants

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Now that the insanity of Black Friday is over, and most of us have just realized there are only three more weekends before Christmas, it’s time to look close to home for some unique gift ideas. Local businesses throughout northern Larimer County have a sleighful to share for everyone on your list.

Joseph’s Hardware
Practical gifts are always appreciated, but instead of a can of Simonize, try to find something with a little pizzazz. Matt Chavez, manager of Joseph’s Hardware and Home Center at Drake and Taft Hill roads, suggests a knife sharpener, but not just any knife sharpener. The Work Sharp Knife Sharpening System, $35.99, works like a mini belt sander to put a fine edge on everything from kitchen knives to serrated hunting blades, with three grits of sandpaper and a jig to hold the blade at the proper grinding angle. For the apartment dweller on your list, Joseph’s also carries a renter’s tool kit, a canvas toolbelt filled with everything they need to make household repairs: hammer, screwdrivers, pliers and other items no home should be without, on sale for $19.99.

LaPorte Hardware
What would the holiday season be without colorful lights twinkling through the long winter nights? LaPorte Hardware at the corner of Overland Trail and County Road 54G offers every kind of decorative LED light in sizes and strings for both inside and outside displays – and replacement bulbs. In addition to a large selection of holiday ornaments and decorations, owner Cathy Thompson also has a collection of snowman figurines in a range of sizes and prices, for shoppers who want to skip the power tools this year.

Wellington Eye Care
For a gift that is both practical and fashionable, stop by the Trunk Show at Wellington Eye Care on Wellington Boulevard on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Selected eyeglass frames will be 50 percent off during the event, with representatives from different manufacturers on hand to help you select the perfect pair. There will be drinks, snacks and raffles for some fabulous prizes, too, according to Bjana Froman of Wellington Eye Care.

Proper Time
The latest Christmas beads from Pandora are in stock at Proper Time on Cleveland Avenue in Wellington, just time in time to add to your favorite person’s bracelet. Co-owner Diana Pronko says this year’s designs include a gingerbread man with a heart and a bead that features a topaz gem. Pandora beads average about $35 each. Diana and husband Peter also went to the Gem and Mineral Show in Denver this year and brought back some beautiful silver Southwestern jewelry, including pendants with turquoise and other stones.

Copper Tulip
You can always find one-of-a-kind handmade gifts and vintage jewelry at the Copper Tulip on Cleveland Avenue. And now for that very special nerd in your life, owner Tara Quick offers an assortment of science-fiction themed soaps. Who could resist a cube of soap lovingly crafted to resemble the Borg craft from “Star Trek”? There are Lego soaps for the littlest geeks, too, and non-themed scented lotions and candles for the rest of us. Your little princesses from infants to girls will love the tutus and other fancy costumes that they can accessorize with locally made Hunger Games- and Harry Potter-themed jewelry. Quick says she tries to keep a broad range of items in the $5 to $20 price range, although some vintage items can be more expensive.

Ranch-Way Feeds
Last year, Americans spent a reported $5 billion on Christmas presents for their dogs and cats. Why should our equine companions be left out of the gifting? Ranch-Way Feeds, on the corner of Willow Street and east Lincoln Avenue in Fort Collins, has a whole selection of horse candy and treats, including popular Pony Pops for $9.25. You can also find a complete line of natural weed-free feed and halters for horses, llamas, sheep, cattle, anything that needs a halter, according to Retail Store Manager Ross Archie. Ranch-Way also offers accessories for backyard chickens and treats and toys for dogs and cats, too.