What was hot in ’98

At Room at the Beach, a small decorative pillow reads “Whoever Said Money Can’t Buy Happiness, Doesn’t Know Where to Shop.” Few seemed to have that problem at the Country Mart and Colony Plaza last week as thousands of gift givers sent cash registers ringing.

At The Malibu Colony Company card shop, they lined up for boxes, bows, tissue paper and cards. At Cosentino’s, party goers carted off poinsettias. At Ralphs, party givers stocked up on supplies.

By Wednesday, ‘Bu Heaven had sold its last food basket. Custom orders included bottles of bubbly, beluga caviar, cocktail-size bilinis and creme fraiche, all the ingredients for an instant holiday celebration. “When it comes to wine, chardonnay has been our most popular,” said Rich Olson packing up another sale. “Cabernets and merlots do well and pinot noir is really on the upswing.” Premium vodkas and tequilas proved popular as well as specialty pasta sauces and designer chocolates.

December’s chilly weather boosted sweater sales. “Chenille is really popular at Christmas,” said Diana Day at Encore. “People like it because it’s so warm and it feels so good.” Other hot holiday hits included cashmere cardigans and hooded velvet cloaks. “You put this on and it’s just to die for,” noted Nicole Ferrera. “It’s been this year’s luxury gift.”

Holiday sales soared at 98% Angel where faux fur diaper bags were wrapped up for new moms and moms-to-be. The craze for kids was all about camouflage. “We couldn’t keep it in stock,” explained Barbara Gilford. “Everything sold out, right down to the last piece.”

In addition to food and fashion, there were holiday fads. Furby replaced Tickle-Me-Elmo as this year’s must-have toy. Snow globes and 3-D jigsaw puzzles were snapped up as stocking stuffers and bar sets edged in on smoking accessories. “Last year, it was cigars,” explains Trish Douda. “This year, it’s martinis — martini shakers, martini books, martini glasses.”

Holiday shopping enthusiasm stayed strong even after Christmas. “Saturday and Sunday, it was absolutely insane,” said Regina Ginsberg of Atlantis. “We were so busy, I couldn’t believe it.”

Santa was good to Malibu merchants and many said their business was way up over last year.

Now, there are cards to mark down, pine needles to pick up and ornaments to pack away. The goofy candy cane sweaters and Santa Claus socks will return to the closet and the holiday tapes will go back to their bins. After all the eating and drinking and buying and giving, some folks are happy to hang up the holidays for another year. A few might muse over the message of another decorative pillow at Room at the Beach, the one that says “Simplify.”

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