Shop ’til you drop for holiday gifts in Las Vegas

With the holidays fast approaching, we came up with a gift guide to make your shopping in Las Vegas fun, worry-free and exciting. Whether your loved ones are fans of chocolate, jewelry or clothes, Vegas is a one-stop shop for all your gift hunting.

Choco-holics, rejoice!

You can’t go wrong with chocolate: It’s affordable, tasty and lets recipients know just how sweet they are. If you plan on visiting Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens (just 15 minutes southeast of the Strip) or the store inside Fashion Show mall, you’re really in for a treat.

“From the methods used in preparation to the details in the packaging, we create genuine and quality chocolates,” said Jessica Ruttman, marketing manager at Ethel M Chocolate Factory. “During the holidays we offer something for everyone. We bring back some seasonal favorites and feature many of our classic selections.”

With so many chocolates and sweets to choose from, your safest bet is to go with fan favorites. “The peppermint bark and classic pecan brittle have to be two of the more popular gift items,” she said. “Both are made by hand in small batches with the finest ingredients.”

If you want to get something Vegas-related, Ethel M offers its bundle, the Holiday Cactus Garden Collection (seen right).

“The festively themed box includes a gorgeous photo of our illuminated Cactus Garden, but inside is where the magic is,” Ruttman said. “This collection features 16 pieces from our buttery satin crème collection including raspberry, lemon, chocolate and vanilla pieces.”

In addition, Ethel M offers a “Taste of Las Vegas” collection. It includes a commemorative Vegas-themed tin filled with its most popular pieces, as well as  solid chocolate coins. Perfect for stocking stuffers, the coins come in milk, white or dark chocolate and placed inside a slot machine-inspired box.

Chocolate gingerbread house, Jean Philippe Pâtisserie

“We aim to take the worry out of gift giving,” she added. “We purposely design our packaging so it’s ready for gifting, complete with a tag. We also try to have something for everyone, from a giant three-tier gift bundle [pictured on top] to a simple holiday bar trio.”

If you plan on staying on the Strip, there is also an Ethel M location inside Fashion Show mall.

Speaking of the Strip, make sure to stop by Jean Philippe Pâtisserie inside Bellagio or Aria. Choose from a fine selection of miniature Santa or traditional Christmas symbol chocolates. These include Santa building a sand castle, skiing and posing with one of his beloved reindeer. Each is made from the finest European chocolate. At the Bellagio location, you’ll also get to see a life-size, towering Santa. Sweet!

Jean Philippe Pâtisserie also offers an assortment of French favorites, including crêpes, pastries, chocolates and gelatos – in addition to a wide variety of retail selections like gift baskets, chocolate cookies and custom cakes.

“Chocolate is more than just a tasty gift – it leaves a lasting impression,” said the award-winning pastry chef and owner, Jean Philippe-Maury. “Chocolate is a comfort food, it reminds us all of our childhood. They are the perfect gift for a family because they are something that [they] can share.”

Shop for “Miles”

Garrett Popcorn Shops, located inside Miracle Mile Shops

Located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, the Miracle Mile Shops  inside Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino offers gifts for every lifestyle. From stylish apparel and jewelry to one-of-a-kind snacks and treats, you’ll have 170 stores to choose from.

“No matter what customers are looking for, as far as price point goes, or what kind of item for their holiday shopping list, we have something for everybody,” said Wendy Albert, senior marketing director for Miracle Mile Shops. “Whatever you’re looking for, we have it here.”

As an added incentive, there will be freebies for every shopper from Dec. 13 – 24: Stop by the customer service desk (located near the parking garage) during normal operating hours, and you’ll receive a complimentary holiday shopping survival bag.

“[It’s] something to have while you’re shopping to keep you energized,” she said. “In some of the bags, we’ll have a $50 Miracle Mile gift card as a randomly selected extra.”

Each bag contains a selection of fun and useful items for a long day of shopping, including a coupon book featuring $2,000 in savings, an offer for a free treat-size bag from Garrett Popcorn Shops, mints, bottled water and a snack bar from ABC Stores. Survival bags are limited to one per person, while supplies last.

Hello Kitty couture pop from Sugar Factory, Miracle Mile Shops

To make shopping even easier, Miracle Mile Shops comprised a “Most Wanted List,” a selection of 12 gift ideas that can be found throughout the mall. These include:

  • Frederick’s of Hollywood: Luxurious three-piece satin pajama set ($42).
  • Garrett Popcorn Shops: Signature holiday tins ($28 for a one-gallon tin, $49 for a two-gallon tin) filled with hot air-popped gourmet kernels.
  • Original Penguin: Hector V-neck sweater and shirt bundle, available in any color combination ($95 or $168 when purchased separately).
  • Paradise City: Licensed, vintage Rolling Stones concert T-shirt from the band’s June 6, 1972 show at the Winterland Arena in San Francisco ($34.77).
  • Scamp & Scoundrel: Exotic Flower Bracelet with a Siam Swarovski Twist ($148).
  • Sephora: Color Daze Blockbuster makeup kit, including 148 gorgeous formulas, finishes and textures for eyes, lips and face ($49.50, valued at $370).
  • Sugar Factory: Signature Hello Kitty couture pop ($25).
  • Sunglass Hut: Bvlgari sunglasses ($475), featuring removable brooches in silver, gold or rose gold.

    Bvlgari sunglasses and brooches from Sunglass Hut, Miracle Mile Shops

  • Swarovski: Sparkling clear crystal 2012 Christmas ornament ($75), which hangs from a white satin ribbon and a silver-tone metal tag.
  • TAGS Evolution: Pink, gray, clear or white crystal-covered Beats by Dr. Dre headphones ($780).
  • TeNo: Steel Blaze watch ($395) from the new SOB collection.
  • TRISTAR Sports Memorabilia: Peyton Manning autographed and framed Denver Broncos 16-by-20-inch photo ($599).

“We really picked 12 items that there’s something for everybody on that list,” she said. “One of my favorites is the Garrett Popcorn Shop. Their popcorn is amazing and it’s the first one on the West Coast.”

Albert also said Bvlgari’s removable brooches (pictured right) can either be worn on the temples of the glasses or on a shirt or jacket.

I personally love the Hello Kitty couture pop from Sugar Factory. Even when you finish the candy, you can keep the bedazzled stem and just buy another candy pop.

Whatever you decide to splurge on (for friends or for yourself), you won’t leave empty-handed.

“I think Las Vegas is great for shopping because our city offers a unique experience and a wide variety of options, and they’re all in one convenient of location within miles of each other,” said Albert. “The entire experience is convenient and enjoyable.”

Fun at Forum

Swarovski earrings, The Forum Shops

Shopping combined with extravagant events makes it all the more fun this holiday season. Located inside Caesars Palace, The Forum Shops offers a variety of gift options, appearances and unbelievable giveways.

The Forum Shops is giving away one $1,000 shopping spree each week during the holidays with the grand prize of a $2,500 shopping spree on Christmas Day. Register to win at any of the entry boxes located throughout The Forum Shops.

And sports fans will get a kick out of this: Dreams is featuring autograph signings now through Dec. 9 by Joe Montana, Leon Spinks, Roy Jones Jr. and Magic Johnson.

In addition to giveaways and celebrity visits, perusing through the different stores is an experience in itself.

“Holiday shopping in Las Vegas is ideal due to the great variety of retailers represented and the round-the-clock access to a large number of specialty shops and brands,” said Maureen Crampton, director of marketing and business development at The Forum Shops.

Her personal holiday shopping tip? “A gift that comes with genuine thought and consideration is truly the best gift you can receive,” said Crampton. “A leather handbag, a piece of terrific jewelry, fragrance, a monogrammed gift, a great scarf, tie, watch, electronic gadget, or even  a piece of art – something that matches your lifestyle.”

Everly pump from Tory Burch, The Forum Shops

While you’re here, you can catch the divers dressed in elf-style wet suits during the holidays in the Atlantis aquarium, located by Express and The Cheesecake Factory. Home to more than 300 tropical fish, the divers feed the fish daily at 1:15 and 5:15 p.m.

Holiday store displays include: Alfred Dunhill, Anthropologie, Bebe, Bettie Page, Breitling, Brooks Brothers, Coach Store, Custo Barcelona, DKNY, Elie Tahari, Emilio Pucci, Emporio Armani, H&M, Henri Bendel, John Varvatos, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, MAC Cosmetics, Marc Jacobs, Marc by Marc, Montblanc, Nike, Salvatore Ferragamo, Swarovski, Ted Baker London, Thomas Pink, Tiffany & Co. and Valentino.

Dance this way

Jabbawockeez fans are in luck: While the superstar hip-hop dance troupe is on hiatus from their Vegas gig, you can still get hyped up and ready for their permanent show at Luxor, scheduled to open in May 2013.

“Jabbawockeez School of Dance” is a five-disc instructional dance DVD program designed to challenge the body while teaching you the hottest new moves. The series features a step by-step breakdown of the group’s top five most popular dances.

Not your typical how-to video, “Jabbawockeez School of Dance” emphasizes technique and precision, giving the feeling of being backstage at rehearsal with an engaging lesson from the crew. Each disc of the series provides about an hour of instruction featuring a new dance. Lessons vary in genre and level of difficulty for a dynamic experience that will leave fans with the confidence to own the dance floor. From understanding rhythm and movement and how to master an eight-count, building all the way up to stomping out the competition in dance battles, each lesson will equip dancers with the tools to wow the crowds like the original champions of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew.” Aspiring dancers will pop, lock and drop the extra pounds in no time.

Quick tips and fun gift ideas

  • Try not to blow your money all in one place: There are so many great shops on the Strip for every budget and lifestyle.
  • If you’re ever stumped on what to get and find yourself wandering aimlessly, you can’t go wrong with a Vegas-themed item. Check out souvenirs from Bonanza Gifts like gold coins, shot glasses and even Hello Kitty items. For more details on Bonanza Gifts, click here.
  • For fans of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, you can take part of it with you by purchasing a used bulb, complete with a commemorative box and certificate of authenticity.
  • Don’t forget treat yourself to a gift too – you deserve it!


Most folks take their Vegas jackpot winnings back home, but my dad decided to stay here instead. That’s how I left Seattle almost 20 years ago. I moved from greenery and rainy days to hot summers, palm trees and desert. As much as I love my hometown, I decided to stick around Vegas. This city just has so much to offer. You don’t even have to be a gambler, bar hopper or an all-night partier. I love Vegas for its awesome vegan-friendly spots, concerts, swanky hotel suites and spas so big, they’re like castles. The pool scene is not too shabby either, which is why I love taking stay-cations. Besides living it up -- Vegas style -- I’m hanging out with my handsome hubby, adorable baby girl, two cats and super-fluffy Shih-Tzu. I’m also a huge fan of '90s music, shows and movies. You can find me on Google+ and Twitter.