If the number of names on your holiday shopping list exceeds your number of gift ideas, then try visiting one of the campus shops where the shelves can be packed with literally dozens of potential presents per square foot.
Nestled within the University's three major museums are gift shops as unique as the collections that surround them, while presents for the more technologically minded can be found at Yale's Microcomputer Support Center.
Yale Center for British Art
1080 Chapel St.
In the windows of the shop's High Street entrance are rough- hewn boats created from found driftwood, clocks set in elegantly curved casings and glassware shimmering with colors both subtle and bright.
Like many of the works in the shop, these items were created by British artisans and imported here for the pleasure of both Anglophiles and those who simply like beautiful things. "We view ourselves as a crafts shop," says the museum shop's manager, Lizbeth O'Connor, noting that the store has "relationships with individual craftspeople in England."
Pottery with reindeer and holly motifs, intricately wrought jewelry, inlaid frames, lambswool scarves, and "Four Seasons" plates and cups are among the handmade treasures that can be found in the shop. Some items -- such as the British Museum chess set or ceramic figures of characters from Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" -- are definitely not inexpensive, admits Ms. O'Connor, but are meant for true collectors. The shop's lower-priced inventory includes mugs featuring scenes from London, Cambridge, Edinburgh or Windsor; puzzles-in-a-book, in which the box looks like a bound volume; and games for adults, including the memory-testing "Classic Golf"; as well as cards, paperweights and tins.
In conjunction with the exhibit "British Art Treasures from the Russian Imperial Collections in the Hermitage," now on view at the British Art Center, the museum shop commissioned note cards featuring six images from the show; these are sold exclusively at the museum. Also on sale is the CD "Chants and Carols," which was recently released by the Yale Russian Chorus, and the catalogue for the show, an elaborately illustrated paperback volume that was recently reduced in price to $29.95. In addition, there are still copies of original pages by book designer Ken Campbell, whose work was on exhibit earlier this year.
Shoppers seeking to please a child's fancy will find stuffed versions of Paddington the bear, Peter Rabbit and Elmer the elephant, as well as pewter jewelry featuring Tigger and other A.A. Milne characters. There are Robin Hood figurines and knights that actually joust, as well as marbles, games and lots of books. (There are hundreds of books for adults as well.) Likenesses of Wallace and Grommit, the claymation stars of "The Wrong Trousers" and "A Close Shave," appear on watches, magnets and calendars.
The Yale Center for British Art museum shop is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Shoppers take note: The shop will be closed Monday-Wednesday Dec. 23 -25. Museum Associates get a 15 percent discount on all purchases. Admission to the museum is free. For more information, call 432- 2828.
Peabody Museum of Natural History
175 Whitney Ave.
Cowhide drums from Kenya, orange-peel boxes from Uruguay (made literally with the hide of the fruit), soapstone boxes from India, Peruvian hats and gloves, Native American bark baskets, tin and straw ornaments from Mexico, and Balinese mirrors are just some of the handmade craft pieces lining the shelves of the Peabody Museum shop. New to the store this year are Japanese teapots that reportedly improve the flavor of the tea the more they are used, and colorful pottery from South Africa.
"A nature store with an ethnic slant," is how Kathleen Sullivan describes the museum shop where she recently became manager. In addition to items with a "natural theme," the shop features "authentic handmade goods" from indigenous peoples throughout the world, she says.
It is, in fact, a matter of pride at the Peabody shop that, whenever possible, they buy directly from the villages and cooperatives where these crafts are made. That way, the profits return to the craftspeople themselves, says Ms. Sullivan. "Whatever we put on our shelves, we try to get it from the source."
Stones and minerals are also featured in various shapes and forms -- from break-your-own geodes to jewelry ornaments to carved figures of animals or native deities. There is even a kit for growing your own crystals, called "Cosmic Coal." In keeping with the museum's emphasis on environmental awareness, many of the items on sale were created from found or reused materials, including sea- glass jewelry and notepads of recycled paper.
The shop features literally hundreds of potential gifts for children. There's a menagerie of toy animals -- from dinosaurs to denizens of the jungle and the undersea world -- as well as puppet creatures in the likeness of a polar bear, triceratops or octopus, and bean-bag frogs by the dozen. There are also "Bubble Bugs" for incorrigible bubble-blowers, floppy fish pens, bendable spiders and a wide assortment of puzzles, pads, books and t-shirts. Many of the latter come in adult themes as well.
The Peabody Museum shop is open 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Monday- Saturday and noon-4:45 p.m. Sunday. Members of the Peabody Friends organization get a 10 percent discount. Note: The shop will be closed on Dec. 24 and 25. There is an admission charge for the museum, although those with Yale I.D.'s are admitted free. Admission to the shop alone is always free. For information, call 432-5050.
Yale University Art Gallery
1111 Chapel St.
The biggest challenge that Howard el-Yasin, manager of the Yale Art Gallery's museum shop, faces each holiday season is how to find the room to display the diverse items in his inventory, which is "three times" its usual size this year, he says. During the Holiday Bazaar being held Nov. 29-Dec. 15, however, the shop will expand beyond its normal borders to take over some of the space now used by the exhibit "I, Claudia: Women in Ancient Rome," which closes at the end of this month.
The Holiday Bazaar will feature several items at reduced prices, says Mr. el-Yasin. In addition, cards that entitle the holder to an extra 10 percent off a purchase are being distributed throughout the campus. These are in addition to the usual 10 percent discount afforded those with a Yale I.D. and the 15 percent discount enjoyed by Museum Associates.
In choosing items for the museum shop, Mr. el-Yasin looks for pieces that relate to recent exhibits or that "reflect the breadth and integrity of the gallery's collections," which span thousands of years and many cultures. Among the items associated with the "I, Claudia" exhibit, for example, are jewelry and sculpture with Roman-Greco themes, and plaster reproductions of famous ancient frescoes. Silver pins in the shape of oars were created by New Haven jeweler Derek Simpson for the shop's tribute to the exhibit "Thomas Eakins: The Rowing Pictures."
Among the items from around the world that are on sale now or will be available soon are M&Co. watches from Switzerland; snake- shaped staffs from Chile; textiles from Nigeria; floral-themed Russian folk art pieces; sofa cushions from West Africa; Ooloo jewelry from the Philippines; calligraphy sets from China; and, from Mexico, brightly colored Oxacan wood carvings of lizards, cats, chickens and other animals. The shop also features Gucci lamps, textured aluminum desk accessories, creations by local jeweler Wendy Lewis, books (many on sale) and calendars. Images of works by famous artists can be found on the latter, as well as on magnets, mouse pads, posters, puzzles, ties and more.
The shop features a number of gifts for children that allow them to explore first-hand the artistic process. There are kits youngsters can use to make their own book or to experience the joys of photography, sculpture and painting, such as paint-a-snake kits; and various kinds of art supplies. In an equally educational vein, there are blocks featuring letters from five different alphabets -- Arabic, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Japanese and Latin.
The Yale Art Gallery museum shop is open 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 2-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the museum is free. The museum will be closed on Dec. 23 and 24, but Mr. el-Yasin advises calling to confirm whether the shop itself will be open: 432-0601.
Microcomputer Support Center
175 Whitney Ave.
Whether you're buying for someone who gets wistful over Windows or manic over Macintosh, the Microcomputer Support Center has many ways to sate computer-related cravings.
The shop will be offering special Windows and Macintosh packages during the upcoming weeks, says Aileen Grunder, assistant manager of the center, noting that people can keep track of current specials by checking the center's World Wide Web page at: http://www.yale.edu.mscs.
For those whose disks overfloweth, the center has in stock zip drives and zip diskettes, which can back up files quickly and offer large storage capacities. "They're our biggest seller this year," says Ms. Grunder. She adds that the center has recently changed its philosophy and is keeping more items in stock in order to cut back on the delays when merchandise must be ordered. "More than ever people can walk into and walk out of the store in the same day," she notes.
Among the items that are being offered at reduced prices right now are Sony Discmans, CD-ROMs that work with laptop computers; digital cameras; speaker sets; Yale mouse pads; and assorted stocking stuffers, such as disk holders. There is, of course, a wide selection of computers and printers, as well as carrying cases, wrist rests and other computer-related accessories.
To make a purchase at the Microcomputer Support Center, you must show a valid Yale I.D. The shop is open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Note: The center will be closed following Dec. 23 for the holiday recess. For information, call 432-6660.
THE PERFECT GIFT?
Featured in the following -- thoroughly mythical -- holiday shopping list are some of the items that can be found in Yale's three museum shops. The initial at the end of the description tells where the item can be found: B = British Art Center, P = Peabody Museum and Y = Yale Art Gallery.
For Cousin Ophelia, who is always quoting "The Bard": A Shakespeare-in-a-box variation on the jack-in-the-box, or perhaps "Shakespeare's Love Kit," magnetic words for making up your own Bard-like sayings. B
For Great-Uncle Eli, who has "Yale" tattoed over his heart: A cane with the head of a bulldog. B
For Chuckles Jr., who is always threatening to run away to join the circus: Limited-edition miniatures of Chipperfield Circus vehicles. B
For Ernest, who has vowed to fish every lake in the country: A clock featuring tied flies instead of numerals. B
For Brother Yogi, who hasn't shaved in 22 years: A sponsor-a- grizzly-bear kit, which benefits wildlife preservation efforts. P
For Husband Harry, who is never on time: A carved turtle with a sundial on its back. P
For Yvonne, who enjoys weaving webs of intrigue: A bracelet of linked golden spiders. P
For Uncle Chester, who says he'll give up smoking when pigs fly: A flying pig sculpture. P
For Aunt Dotty, who claims to talk daily with "The Little People": Miniature silver chairs for her guests' comfort. Y
For Cousin Sid, who is always getting his nose bent out of shape: "Picasso's Nose," which guarantees to return to its original shape after being "stretched, squeezed, squashed and smashed." Y
For Uncle Marco, who never leaves the house: An "Explore a Culture" kit for learning about ancient Africa, Japan, Mexico, Egypt or the Renaissance. Y
For Jack, who is always making something out of nothing: A game of "Tangoes," in which you create pictures from simple geometric shapes. Y
-- By LuAnn Bishop