Still looking for that unique gift to put under the tree this Christmas? How about one that also supports a nonprofit organization in our community? We checked in with some places you might not consider and found some really cool gift ideas for all ages.
For 26 years, the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre has sold nutcrackers at its annual holiday performance of "The Nutcracker — Tales from the Bayou." This year's is called the Sneaux Nutcracker. At $25, it will bring joy to fans of this ballet classic. Elves will even personalize this year's nutcracker, or one from years past, at today's finale performances at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Raising Cane's River Center Theater. Tickets are available at the River Center Box Office.
For those 14 and older who like to tinker, UGEARS promises hours of fun. Found at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum store, lasm.org, these 3-D, laser-cut models are made of easy-to-assemble wood and are self-propelled by a rubber band attached to a system of gears, wheels and weights. Made by a Ukrainian company, no glue or special tools are needed to assemble the models. In addition to the musical theater ($38), seen here, models include trains and antique vehicles, a clock, a flower, a steam engine and a treasure box.
For those not quite old enough for UGEARS, the LASM store has Mad Mattr ($12.95), a seriously upgraded version of Play-Doh. This super-soft modeling compound is part sand, part clay, never dries out and comes in a variety of electric colors. It stretches and can be easily molded to create different shapes and structures, and can be used over and over again. And while the 3 and older set will enjoy it, Mad Mattr also has a calming effect on stressed-out adults.
At the LSU Museum of Art store, you can find Mimosa, handcrafted sterling silver, bronze and 14-karat gold jewelry made using the ancient art of wax casting. Each piece is created start to finish in the Baton Rouge backyard studio of founder/designer Madeline Ellis. A former landscape architect, Ellis now creates unique pieces, like necklaces of the Baton Rouge skyline ($45) or a tiger face ($60), a pelican cuff bracelet ($135) and the "You Are My Sunshine" ring ($50).
Louisiana's first lady Donna Edwards has resurrected the Governor's Mansion Foundation to raise money for a much-needed refurbishing of the home to the state's governor and family. For $30, you can purchase the official Governor's Mansion Christmas ornament, with proceeds going toward this effort. Former first lady Alice Foster formed the foundation.
Want something the entire family can enjoy all year long? Invest in a family member membership at the zoo or a local museum. Annual memberships at BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo (brzoo.org) range from $37 to $265; annual family memberships at the Knock Knock Children's Museum (knockknockmuseum.org) range from $150 to $200; and friends and family memberships at LASM range from $75 to $135 and offer yearlong benefits as well as reciprocal admission to museums worldwide.
Maybe this is your first Christmas without a loved one. If so, Hospice of Baton Rouge's Trees of Life ornaments offer a lovely way to remember that special someone or to honor someone who has touched your life. An ornament ($30) with the person's name will hang on Christmas trees decorating Hospice of Baton Rouge's offices and also be listed at hospicebr.org.