Bellybutton Lights . . . and Other Strange Holiday Gifts

Bellybutton Lights, Beard Vacuums and Other Unusual Gift Ideas

By Buck Wolf

Dec. 12, 2001 —  On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …

Five high-heeled handbags, Four time-release handcuffs, Three lawn robots, Two Telezappers, And bra holster gun lingerie!

What do merchants do in a time of war and economic woe, when they have to sell that same old lawn statue of Santa? They paint him red, white and blue.

Patriotic Santa may have to pass through a metal detector before he slides down the chimney, but he's coming for you.

"This is an idea whose time has come," says entrepreneur Bruno Pisano, who is selling a 22-inch porcelain Father Christmas for $39.95.

This year you can get the Stars and Stripes emblazoned on purses, bras and panties — and even a tie that plays "God Bless America."

And for a whole new way of hoisting Old Glory, how about red, white and blue condoms from Condomania, a safe-sex boutique that sells the patriotic prophylactics to raise money for victims of the terrorist attacks.

U.S. troops may be fighting in Afghanistan, but Christmas will go on. "People might not have as much money to spend. But if anything, I think they need to connect more," says Amelia Ostroff, a professional shopper at in Seal Beach, Calif.

"In many ways, the whole idea of spreading cheer and reaching out in a personal way has been reinvigorated," she says.

Here, then, are some suggested ways to reach out to those eccentric special somebodies in your life.

Outrageous Gift Guide

1. For the Hopelessly Trendy: High-Heeled Handbags

Is it crazy to turn old shoes into a purse? Not if the ladies on Sex and the City do it. Patricia Field, the costume designer for the HBO gals, features high-heeled handbags at her New York boutique. But why walk around with someone else's used pumps under your arm? Send your old shoes (and about $200) to designer Shoshanna Smith. She'll make you feel like anything but an old bag. (Suggested Celebrity Endorsement: Sarah Jessica Parker).

2. For Those Who Want to Be Alone: The Telezapper Are telemarketers ruining your life? Or at least calling while you're watching Seinfeld reruns? This little gizmo ($49.99) attaches to your phone and tells dialing computers — the sort telephone solicitors use — that your number has been disconnected. (Suggested Celebrity Endorsement: Lily Tomlin)