Would you believe I almost left town without a gift for the friends who invited us to stay at their home in the mountains? Dashed to the Galleria at 8 p.m. last night (great time to shop! No one there, and the center is open until 9 p.m.). I was headed to Ampersand, where I know I can always get pretty guest napkins or towels in a lovely holder – not the kind of thing one usually buys for herself, but nice to have for company and fairly easy to pack! But on the way, I felt the pull of ATAZ. Such a happy place to shop. They’re featuring some stylish bamboo kitchen accessories and bowls that are reasonably priced, but not the kind of thing I wanted to deal with packing. The Forte tea sets make for another handsome gift (except my husband told me these friends are more beer than tea), and you can’t go wrong with a striking picture frame. Yet at the last minute, I grabbed a game: Table Topics. I liked it as much for the simple, but intriguing conversation starters that I’m sure will get us through any weekend lulls, as for the contemporary clear acrylic container the cards come in. Sold!

When I have more time, I’m a big fan of buying hostess gifts – especially with a Minnesota theme – at the General Store of Minnetonka.