If you can pick up a telephone, it's not too late to shop

December 22, 1992|By Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Whether you're already a savvy catalog shopper who just happened to forget a couple of presents or someone -- in last-minute desperation -- diving into your holiday shopping, catalogs can help you save time and face.

What they likely won't help you save is money. What you save in time and frustration is made up in shipping costs and, likely at this late date, overnight or second-day mail charges. But then, being able to make your selections and phone in your order -- all while curled up in your bathrobe and fuzzy slippers before a comforting fire -- could be well worth the extra dollars.

But no more procrastinating. Time's just about up. For example, the latest date you may order in-stock items with guaranteed Christmas delivery from L. L. Bean is today, and that's if you have the order shipped Federal Express, said L. L. Bean media assistant Kathleen Parker.

So get out that charge card, pull the phone over close and don't forget when ordering to ask whether your order should be shipped regular, second-day or overnight mail. Remember, too, that gifts may be sent directly to the recipient.

Here are our picks in a variety of price ranges from many catalogs received:

* Williams-Sonoma, telephone (800) 541-2233, fax (415) 421-5153, offers upscale kitchen items for cooks. To assure arrival before Christmas, (you can order until tomorrow) ask for Federal Express delivery and add $10 to shipping charges. Tasty ideas: Consorzio Basil Olive Oil (12.6 ounces, $11) and a stainless steel oil can in which to store it (1 pint capacity, $25; 1 quart capacity, $33); French vineyard coasters (six for $22).

* FAO Schwarz, telephone (800) 426-TOYS, fax (615) 867-5318, will deliver in-stock merchandise within three business days at no extra charge. Or request overnight or second-day delivery by tomorrow morning at an extra charge. Fun ideas: a wooden giraffe tricycle ($38) or a 749-piece Lego Space Set that includes six landing pads, Alpha Centauri outpost and more ($169).

* The Anatomical Products Holiday Gift Catalog, telephone (800) 621-7500, fax (708) 674-0211, offers three-day delivery for an additional $6 and overnight delivery for an additional $20 on in-stock items. Bona fide ideas: a walking skeleton puppet activated by two fingers and a sense of humor ($2.50); a silk/polyester necktie imprinted with either the human brain or skeletons playing basketball ($24.95); anatomically correct chocolate -- a 1-pound white chocolate tooth or milk chocolate heart ($19 each).

* L. L. Bean, (800) 221-4221, fax (207) 878-2104, offers good quality basics, just the thing for that no-nonsense person, and can provide quick delivery options for an additional fee varying from $4.50 to $18. Practical ideas: women's cross-stitch-print cotton knit pajamas ($54); men's handmade moose-hide slippers ($35); an 18-inch round outdoor thermometer depicting either Canada geese or a cardinal and chickadees ($24).

* Earth Care Paper Inc., telephone (608) 223-4000, fax (608) 223-4040, offers UPS Next Day or Second Day Air service. Down-to-earth ideas for recycled paper and environmental gifts: Earthnotes depicting seals at play, Earthrise viewed from the moon, or whooping cranes (8 notes and envelopes, $4.50); Where in the World?, a game of global events and geography to increase cultural awareness ($36.50); a 1993 Greenpeace calendar ($9.95).

* Gardeners Eden, telephone (800) 822-9600, fax (415) 421-5153, features gifts for the garden and the home. You may order until noon tomorrow for guaranteed Christmas delivery via Federal Express for an additional $6.50-$15. Blooming ideas: painted Italian terra cotta flower pots (three for $25); French garden gloves sewn of strong, supple cowhide and treated to prevent stiffening after getting wet ($21.50); a wooden birdhouse made of weathered poplar boards with copper roof and "welcome" sign over the door ($38).

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