Flamingos by the yard and by the holiday

Ho-ho flamingos

Merry Xcess

November 28, 2003

In the spirit of the annual shopping hysteria that traditionally kicks off today, the Today section has scoured catalogs and online sites for one-of-a-kind gifts that say a lot about both giver and recipient. We'll feature these items, ranging from the utterly tasteless to the nearly useful, occasionally through Christmas Eve. Happy shopping!

Let's face it: It doesn't take long for the holiday season to grow old. It wasn't long after Labor Day that Christmas-themed CDs by Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra were playing in every shop you visited. By Halloween, the school kids selling wrapping paper and wreaths were out in hordes.

What better way to take flight from holiday blahs than to invoke the magic of a flock of fake flamingos?

Luckily, Mingo Maniacs offers the jaded consumer a unique way to spread holiday cheer - or malice - to friend and enemy alike. Want to invite your crush to meet you under the mistletoe? Want to take revenge on the neighbor who broke your prized leaf blower? Give the Maniacs a call.

On your scheduled "drop-off" date, your target's lawn will be taken over between midnight and 6 a.m., and he or she will wake up to a yard blanketed in plastic pink flamingos. Pick from several packages for your (un)loved one, including a large flamingo flanked by 30 smaller ones ($79.99) and a tacky Mingo Mobile parked in the middle of his or her lawn ($100). A "yard card" delivers a message of your choosing to the recipient. Custom orders are encouraged; flamingos are rounded up at the end of the day.

Mingo Maniacs is closed Dec. 24-26, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. But there are still ways to wreak amateur Mingo mayhem on these dates. Grab some 8-foot lighted palm trees ($150 each) or 2-, 4- or 5-foot-tall lighted flamingos ($34.99-$99.99 each) in advance. While everyone else is drinking eggnog, you can unleash your own flock in a do-it-yourself frenzy.

To peruse the options for yourself, go online to www.mingomaniacs.com. To order, call 410-769-8227, or fax the printable order form (available on the Web site) to 410-769-8112, or mail to Mingo Maniacs, 908 York Road, Towson 21204.

- Julia Furlong

Fashion is nothing if not frivolous, and nowhere is that more evident than on the runways of Milan, New York and Paris. But why stop the frivolity at your closet?

The Solutions catalog is hawking a Dress Up Flamingo: a twist on the famous lawn ornament that people love to hate. In this incarnation, the pink flamingo arrives with seven pret-a-porter little outfits - for Christmas Day, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

"Neighbors will wait in anticipation to see what your pink flamingo will be wearing," claims the catalog. "They won't be disappointed."

They certainly won't. Especially as it appears that hemlines are up, up, up for the feathered set.

But some consideration is given to wearability, and the Santa outfit - presumably worn in the colder months - is completely lined to keep the bird warm.

Don't think about going near the washing machine with these little ditties, though.

"They are itsy-bitsy; if you threw them in the washer, they'd just shrivel up," says Carol Werner, a customer-service associate with Solutions. Instructions say the outfits must be washed in mild soap and dried on a line. Mini clothespins are not included.

Dress Up Flamingo, $39.50. Item no. 66290, Solutions, P.O. Box 6878, Portland, Ore. 97228-6878. Or call 877-718-7901. Online: www.solutionscatalog.com.

- Annie Linskey

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