When my son stopped believing in Santa Claus this year I thought I was off the hook. Because when he’d ask Santa for something, I was the one who had to come through. Santa can’t tell a kid, “Sorry, I don’t have the money to buy you that right now.” Once my son stopped believing, I figured I didn’t have to worry about making the big guy look good.

I was right as far as that went, but I’m not off the hook. In my son’s opinion, I owed him something akin to emotional damages for raising him to believe in Santa and setting him up for a big fall. He wants the equivalent of a million-dollar settlement, and he wants it paid out in toys. Boy, is he gonna be disappointed.

If your child’s having trouble dealing with disappointment, a Kimochi doll from Lexi’s Toy Box on S. Ashley can help. These soft, interactive dolls are designed to help kids learn how to handle emotions. They come with three small pillows, each with a cartoon face expressing a different feeling, and a guide to help kids recognize, express, and process those emotions. They’re $26; the less conspicuous keychain-size Kimochi minis are popular with teens, probably because they’re trying to process embarrassment. $17. For good, old-fashioned stocking stuffers try Lexi’s hand-carved, hand-painted wooden animals starting at $8. As Johnny Cash might sing, they got cows, they got pigs, they got sheep, they got mules, they got aaaaaallll livestock. He woudn’t sing they got dragons, but Lexi’s has them nonetheless. $24.

Anyone who’s ever learned a basic three-chord change-up can bang out a tune with a guitar pick, but Acme Mercantile’s guitar pick toothpicks are the only picks that double as Swedish meatball skewers at your next party. A set of 24 is $8. In case you missed it, Tiki is back in a big way. Get freaky with your Tiki with the Hui Kalui Tiki mug, designed by camp artist Sam Gambino. A vivid red, orange, and cream, it’s the perfect receptacle for your fave Tiki themed umbrella drinks. $12.

TV chef Rachel Ray made it into the Oxford English Dictionary with the acronym EVOO, her term for extra virgin olive oil. Which is not to be confused with Madonna’s acronym LAVOO, or Like a Virgin Olive Oil. You can store your EVOO in a blue recycled wine bottle sandblasted with the word “Peace” and repurposed as a decorative olive oil container; it’s $32 at the Ann Arbor Art Center. Sketch pads with leather covers, a cherrywood spine, and brass rivets beg to be sketched in. They come with 100 sheets of recycled paper and start at $55.

If you can’t make the big game because you’re busy slopping the hogs, you can still show your Michigan spirit with M Den’s Game Bib bib overalls. Instead of the usual blue and white stripes, Game Bibs’ stripes are–you guessed it–maize and blue. One size fits all, $50. For stocking stuffers, grab a four-inch Smashers Football. Throw it, and it plays “Hail to the Victors” and “Let’s Go Blue” on impact. $15.

You’ll find upscale Michigan merchandise at Carol Roeda on Main, like a wooden U-M game table with an inlaid maize-and-blue chess board and a drawer for holding game pieces. Very elegant, it’s $1,800. Little-known chess fact: if you play with maize and blue pieces, maize opens. Non-Michigan gifts include gorgeous, hand-crafted Lazy Susans made from birch, poplar, and driftwood and hand painted with whimsical imagery and messages like “Eat dessert first,” “Kiss the cook,” and “Mind Your Manners” for $420.

Get someone interested in drumming circles with a traditional African drum from Ten Thousand Villages on Main. They have a nice selection of handmade drums starting at $95, like a carved wood and goatskin djembe for $200, or a large, three-legged Kenyan table drum–aptly named because it doubles as a coffee table. $145. You can make music on the cheap, too, with thumb pianos for $14 and Panamanian pan flutes starting at $10. Mr. Ellie Pooh is an eco-friendly Fair Trade company that makes paper products from elephant droppings. Not. Making. This. Up. Ten-sheet sets with envelopes are $10, and honestly, they smell just fine.

Cherry Republic on Main sells products made from Michigan cherries, and if you can make it from cherries, they’ve got it. Get a cherry ketchup and cherry mustard box set for $11. Cherry scone mix, $7. Cherry salsas starting at $6. Or enourage someone to relax with a cherry spa gift box: it includes Cherry Silk Body Lotion, Cherry Blossom Bath Salts, a 2″ Black Cherry Scented Votive Candle, an 8-oz. bag of dark-chocolate-covered cherries, and a 10-count box of Tame Cherry tea bags, $38. (iTunes download of Neil Diamond singing “Cherry, Cherry” sold separately.) Their cherry pitter isn’t made with cherries; it’s made from steel, and it works on olives, too. $15.

Origami peace cranes were inspired by the Japanese tradition of folding one thousand paper cranes as a prayer for health, prosperity, and good fortune. If you’re short of time and you’ll settle for, say, health, you can buy enough paper to fold three hundred thirty-three and one-third peace cranes and be done with it. $11 at Falling Water on Main. World of Thanks, a box of thank-you cards for kids, would be a great gift for the holidays. It includes tips for kids on how to write a thank-you note and decorative stickers so they can personalize them. $15. Sample tip: Send thank-you notes within one to seven days. No tips on how to write a thank-you note for a gift of thank-you notes.

Know someone with carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis? Key Assist helps grip keys comfortably, making locks easier to open. Keys fold into handle when not in use. $6 at Vogel’s on Washington. If you know someone who keeps losing their house keys, get them a Hide a Key rock. Just stick a key in the hidden compartment and place the rock in your garden. But remember where you put it–I know a guy with half a dozen Hide a Key rocks scattered around his yard because he can never remember which one’s the fake one and has to keep buying more. $6. If you can’t remember, either, try a Hide a Key sprinkler head, also $6.

Peaceable Kingdom is still stocking stuffer central, with an entire table of affordable, fun, and often eccentric items, like little rubber chickens for fifty cents, round dice (weighted so that they land with the numbers facing up), and clear plastic double dice–one die fits inside the other, so rolling snake eyes has never been easier.

For those who like soft-boiled eggs, an egg cozy makes a nice gift. Made of felt in the shape of dogs, cats, owls and other animals, they’re $10 at the Himalayan Bazaar on Main. The store also has traditional Nepalese shawls in brilliant colors made of a cuddly combo of 60 percent sheep’s wool and 40 percent cotton. $55. For the pet of the house, there’s nothing like a $6 Himalayan dog chew. Really. They’re made from a combination of yak milk, cow milk, salt, and lime juice. As Rachel Ray’s dog would say, “Yummo!”

You can relive your last pub crawl with a Pubs of Ann Arbor poster from the Art Spot on Main, featuring photos of popular local watering holes like Conor O’Neills, the Blind Pig, and Ashley’s. It’s great for playing “How many places can you actually remember you were last night?” $25 unframed. Unframed Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor posters are $10.

If you give a gift that’s made from recycled materials, is that, like, pre-gifting? I don’t even know what that means, but you can regift guilt free with great recycled gifts from Found in Kerrytown. Like bracelets made from vintage license plates, $14, rings made from lovely old vintage spoons, $20, and, a personal favorite, Pabst beer cap cufflinks. “Keener refreshment,” right on your wrist. $45.

Feel like a slave to the clock? Make time serve you, with 16 Hands’ ingenious clocks made from forks, spoons, knives and even chafing dishes. Around $70. Other eco-friendly products made from reclaimed or recycled materials include very cool $80 laptop bags made from repurposed mosquito netting; they’ve also got a nifty mosquito netting coin purse for $17.

If you know someone who suffers hangovers after killing off those last six ounces in the wine bottle because they knew it wasn’t going to keep, the Private Preserve wine preserver at Everyday Wines is for them. It uses a shot of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and argon–the same combination wineries use–to lay down a protective layer over the wine’s surface that protects it from oxygen, which is what makes wine go bad in the first place. $10.

If you need it clean, just say “Hogwash!” Or don’t. But do consider Hogwash Soap from Emerald Dragonfly on Detroit St. At $8.50, these big chunky bars fit nicely in a Christmas stocking and are purported to take out the toughest clothing stains. Also works as a hand scrub for gardeners, mechanics, and finger-painting kids. Russian nesting dolls are beautiful, but not very useful. But imagine nesting dolls that double as measuring cups. M Cups (the M stands for Measuring, not Michigan) are a nesting set of six dry-measure cups modeled after Russian matryoshka dolls. At $12, they’re usefully beautiful.

Anyone who’s ever tried to give a dog a drink from a travel mug or a water fountain would appreciate a Popware for Pets collapsible bowl from Dogma Catmantoo on Fourth Ave. For $22, it’s like a go cup for dogs. And dog lovers can wear dogs on their dogs with comfy socks featuring pictures of their favorite breed. A yellow lab on gray argyle is $11.

If you know someone who likes their caffeinated morning beverage strong, and I mean strong like a smack in the face, get them a Fisticup from Teahaus. A white ceramic mug with a metal handle that looks like a set of brass knuckles, it’s $15. Cool stocking stuffers: lollipops made with Earl Grey tea, $1.50 each. Picture Captain Picard sucking one.

Most of what you’ll find at Heavenly Metal on Ann St. isn’t made of metal–they carry a remarkably eclectic selection of women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, and more–but Thomas Mann’s wonderfully intricate jewelry is. An acclaimed mixed-metal artist, Mann crafts pieces that incorporate elements as diverse as machine parts, electronic instruments, recycled costume jewelry, and old postcards. $79. For stocking stuffers, pick up a few of Mann’s hand-carved, cast pewter heart-shaped charms for $5 each.

The Caravan Shop in Nickels Arcade can get your Tigers fan into the game even when they’re not at Comerica Park with $75 cufflinks made from a baseball used in an actual Detroit Tigers game–you can even see the stitching. For the golfer on your list, try bottle openers made from the heads of real golf clubs–irons are $70, woods are $85, and they come in handy when you’re playing that 19th hole.

If you’re hoping to wean a kid from computer games, try doing it in stages by getting them to play a board game based on a computer game. Get Your Game On on State St. has a Super Mario chess set for $50 featuring characters from the video games. Kids still get to move Mario around (he’s a king), but they have to do it with their fingers and not a game controller. Younger ones might prefer Donkey Kong Jenga, $25. The goal: help Mario reach the top of the precariously balanced tower and save Pauline.

I’m old enough to remember when leg warmers were big on campus the first time around. Apparently, so are a lot of alums out there, because the folks at American Apparel say lots of students buy them at the urging of their moms: “I used to wear those! You gotta get some!” They’re $18. Another big seller for the store, $6 bottles of neon-bright nail polish, would look great in a stocking, even better on nails.

Pink Pump does, in fact, sell designer pink pumps, but they also sell awesome pink rain boots–as well as green, teal, turquoise, and yellow. Gifting someone shoes is sometimes a shaky proposition, but these are so cool, it’s worth tracing the outline of someone’s shoe on a piece of paper and bringing it to the store. Too big a stretch? The store also sells sassy clothing and accessories.

Style someone on your list on the cheap with “recycled” (i.e., used) T-shirts from Ragstock, just $5 each. Not used, but really neat, are touchscreen-compatible gloves that have small conductive patches in index fingers and thumbs, making it easy to text, talk, or use touch screens outdoors without risking frostbite. $6.

At Herb David, the ukulele has gone from hokey to hip, with the Flying V ukulele by Mahalo, $70. It has a stunning V-shaped wooden body with glossy paint finish, round sound hole, and rosewood fingerboard. Comes in a riot of colors, and it’s perfect for the uke player who wants to channel a rock ‘n’ roll guitar god. If you’re going for the uke, pick up Jumpin’ Jim’s 25 Really Groovy Songs for ukulele, $28. Includes 60s classics like “Georgy Girl,” “Daydream Believer,” “Moon River,” “Those Were the Days,” and several Beatles arrangements.

There are two great things about candy: it’s delicious, and a bag of it fills the toe of a stocking perfectly. By the Pound on S. Main is a great place for bulk treats, including Australian Kookaburra strawberry licorice, $6 a pound; Swedish Fish, $4 a pound; Skittles, $3 a pound; and gourmet jelly beans, $7 a pound for a 49-flavor mix. Just don’t go pawing through the bin to make sure you get all forty-nine.

Help someone keep their dirty martinis icy cold with the Ravencroft Crystal Martini Chiller set, $21, from Morgan & York on Packard. The cone-shaped, lead-free crystal martini glass has no stem, so it won’t stay upright on its own. Instead, you rest it between sips in a matching crystal bowl filled with ice, making that last drop as good as the first. Those tiny dribbles of pinot noir that spill from the bottle as you finish pouring the wine may not ruin a holiday dinner, but they can ruin your host’s tablecloth. If you’re bringing a bottle of wine to a holiday celebration, add a $5 Drop Stop, which, when inserted into the bottle neck, stops drips in their tracks. Their linen will thank you.

Counter-top composting is great for the planet, but many kitchen composters are so ugly they get hidden away–and therefore rarely used. Bgreen’s green ceramic composter looks like a fresh head of lettuce and it’s so pretty that if you weren’t into composting you’d want to use it as a cookie jar. It holds almost two quarts of peelings, egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps and more for easy transfer to your garden compost heap. There’s a charcoal filter to keep odors inside. $35.

Used video games start at just a buck at Game Stop on Washtenaw, but some of them are worth exactly that, so if you’re not a gamer yourself, your best bet is to ask the enthusiastic staffers which games are good–they know their stuff, and they love to point out their favorite bargains. Worried your youngster is spending too much time in front of the Wii and not enough time interacting with old-fashioned toys? Now they can do both, with Babysitting Mama. Put the Wii remote inside this plush doll, and wee players can simulate feeding, bathing, diaper-changing, and baby play. No idea how well the doll does at Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Barnes & Noble’s electronic reader, the Nook, is giving Amazon’s Kindle a run for its money. Now the store has Nook covers that are equally compelling. Made to look like canvas print book covers, one features the names of dozens of classic authors like Shakespeare, Camus, Dumas, Twain, and the name of one contemporary author that’s jarringly out of place–what John Grisham is doing in that august company I’ll never know. $30. Still know people who read the old-fashioned way? Get ’em the $30 World’s Best Book Bag, complete with expandable side gussets, an organizer pocket for small items, genuine leather trim, solid brass grommets, and a cotton, eco-friendly canvas designed to hold a stack of great reads.

Georgetown Gifts has oven mitts shaped like Michigan’s Lower Peninsula! Okay, all oven mitts are shaped like Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. But these oven mitts have actual maps on them. For $11, you can show people where you live and pull a hot pan out of the oven. For people with an appreciation for both the state of Michigan and true crime, pick up Great Lakes Crime II: More Murder, Mayhem, Booze and Broads, a $20 compendium of Wolverine State misdeeds.

OXO Good Grips kitchen tools are so named because their ergonomic handles make them easy to grip, and Barnes Ace Hardware on Washtenaw stocks a ton of them. But in a fit of inspiration OXO finally came out with a kitchen tool that makes other kitchen tools easy to grip: OXO Good Grips oven mitts! They’re made of silicone, good to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, and come with a little sewn-in magnet and a little sewn-on loop so you can stick them on a fridge or hang them on a hook, depending on your mood. OXO says they fit like a glove, which I’m still trying to figure out. $15.

Cyclists in your life will be happy to know that they don’t need hand pumps anymore. The Air Chuck Elite, from Wheels in Motion, inflates tires in seconds using CO2 cartridges. $20, and replacement cartridges are just $10. For a sweet, old-timey gift, translucent, colorful Jellibell bicycle bells are not only adorable, but allow the workings of the bell to be seen. $11.

Like many stores, Toys R Us is competing with dollar stores by offering its own in-store “dollar shop,” and there are terrific bargains to be had. Consider a $1 three-egg “fun putty” set, a $3 light saber flashlight, or a $5 balloon design kit with 20 balloons, a hopscotch set, pull-back racecars, and a children’s book called My Happy Penguin about how to make others happy. (Hint: let the penguin win sometimes.)

Faced with the daunting task of following up their hugely popular ten-years-in-the-making State Quarters Program, the United States Mint launched their America The Beautiful Quarters Program last year–fifty-six quarters featuring national parks and other national sites. Michael’s sells a collector’s map/display in the form of a big, acid-free archival board with a built-in game: collect all the quarters, one site from each state and U.S. territory, and complete one of fifty-six different map designs once your collection is complete. Which won’t be until 2021, so you might want to get yourself a sandwich or something. $11, quarters not included.

The words, “As Seen On TV” usually don’t bode well for a product, but not everything sold on cable by manic pitchmen at 3 a.m. is necessarily cheesy, and some actually work as advertised and make great gifts. The $13 Gyro Bowl at Bed, Bath & Beyond is one of them, a spill-proof children’s bowl whose “special mechanism” (a rotating inner bowl) stays level even if the user is running, swinging, or biking. If you get someone the Zibra Open It!, make sure it’s the first gift they open Christmas morning. It cuts through just about any kind of packaging but it comes in handiest when tackling those infuriating molded plastic clamshell containers.

Don’t be the parent who forgets to have batteries on hand to run the new toys. At Everything Battery on Jackson, rechargeable batteries start at $10 for a 4-pack of AAs, and battery chargers start at $15. Indispensable: a wall-mounted rack for storing batteries, complete with integrated battery tester and thirty-six assorted batteries, $29.

Glo was made for kids who can’t sleep without a night-light on. It’s like three night-lights in one, and it’s interactive because the lights are glowing, detachable, color-shifting orbs that kids can actually play with and even take to bed. $70 at the Little Seedling on Zeeb. They also have a terrific wooden scooter for toddlers that’s a blast to ride, helps develop balance and coordination, and has an abstract shape that makes it look like something you’d see in a catalog called Herman Miller Kids. $120.

A softball pitcher who wants to improve his or her game will love a Spinright Spinner from Advantage Sports. It’s a fast-pitch softball training aid that helps you learn by doing–or in this case, throwing. It comes with an instructional DVD that demonstrates the different grips necessary to achieve the correct spin and rotation for a fast ball, curve ball, change-up and more. Oddly enough, the spinner’s not round; it’s shaped like a softball-sized English muffin. There’s also one for baseball pitchers, and both are $27.

At Big George’s the handy $13 Maxell headphone/cell phone adapter kit will let your giftee plug in headphones just about anywhere. There’s an airline adapter, iPhone adapter, cell phone/PDA adapter, quarter-inch adapter, and dual headphone adapter. A 20-foot extension cord means they won’t be tethered to the spot, either.

A & L Wine Castle carries Casino tequila in elegant bottles with delicate hand-blown glass figurines inside; once you’ve downed the last tequila shot the empty bottle makes a beautiful accent piece. Figurines include a rose, hummingbird, and an agave plant (the succulent used to make tequila). You’d think a hand-blown glass worm at the bottom of a bottle would be a gimme, but no. If you really like the scotch drinker on your list, a bottle of 20-year-old Macallan will run you a cool $999.99. If you don’t, an airline-sized bottle of the 12-year-old is only $6.

There are a lot of good gifts out there this year, and now that my son doesn’t believe in Santa, there are more of them to go around. Because with Santa out of the picture, I’m no longer buying for two.