Shopping around the holidays can be incredibly painful, so some people (present company included) choose a day toward the end of the holiday season, devote two hours of that day to parking, and then stumble around the mall, searching for a gift for everyone on their list. Sisters, grandma, random out-of-town cousin chosen in the family gift-exchange drawing: Buying presents for them is no sweat. But when you get to Mom and Dad, much time is spent convincing yourself that they really do need a miniature jukebox/skillet/giant framed print of a tiger. And while you're talking yourself into the tiny jukebox, which plays Neil Diamond exclusively, sixteen kids are running around your ankles, screaming and yanking stuff off the walls. Just when you're about to grab one of the rugrats and scream, "Where are your parents?!" you realize you've lost it and it's time to quietly leave the mall, parent gift unpurchased.
But that was last year. You've vowed to do things differently this year. In fact, you've already made a gift list, and you're ready to go. So go to a Westfield mall (specifically, Mid Rivers, South County or West County; visit www.westfield.com for directions) from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. for Westfield Works Wonders, a special after-hours shopping time that benefits local charities. Just purchase a $10 ticket, and entertainment, gift-wrapping and refreshments are free. And did we mention that the mall is closed to everyone but charming, charitable ticket-holders? -- Alison Sieloff
The Lou for You
Focus St. Louis wants you to "Lou It Up" and focus your attention on all the fun "young professional" stuff to do around town, beginning on Thursday, November 10, and continuing through Friday, November 25. A highlight of this week's "Lou It Up" festivities? The Young Friends of the Saint Louis Art Museum (314-655-5350) host a cocktail reception and treasure hunt (how professional!) at 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 12, to honor the new exhibit Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur (that's Wreath, 2500 B.C. from the show, pictured); the fundraiser costs $30 to $40. For more information about this and the many other events, visit www.focus-stl.org. -- Alison Sieloff
The Simple Life
Norman Rockwell at the Foundry
During the holidays, the responsibility of finding entertaining things to do with the visiting relatives often falls on your shoulders. Unfortunately, your parents don't know what's going on anymore and neither do your relations. While you'd love to wow Cousin Billy with some fantastic minimalist modern art, you know he won't appreciate it like he should. But you love going to new exhibits...what are you to do? Take the family out to the beautifully spacious Foundry Art Centre (520 North Main Center, St. Charles; 636-255-0270 or www.foundryartcentre.org) for its Norman Rockwell's Family Life Series show, which opens with a 6-to-9-p.m. reception Friday, November 11, and remains on view through January 6, 2006. See heartwarming prints like Lemonade Stand (pictured), and maybe drop that too-cool attitude for a while. After all, if cute kids can't make you smile, there may be no hope for you. -- Alison Sieloff
Don't Fear the Reefer
The Reefer Madness!
You'd have to be high as a kite to take a cult film and present it as a live performance, which probably explains why Reefer Madness is being staged by the aptly named Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre (though we have not yet determined exactly what the monkey is smoking). The classic anti-marijuana propaganda film (which has been reclaimed by potheads as "killer funny, man") uses scare tactics to convince kids that the grass will make them dance strangely and laugh inappropriately and it will even ruin their lives! Though these assertions seem unfounded, we suggest you stay at least two seats away from any red-eyed playgoers when you check out artistic director Donna Northcott's adaptation, Reefer Madness: Live!, at the Regional Arts Commission (6128 Delmar Boulevard) Friday and Saturday (November 11 through 26) at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $15 at 314-534-1111 or www.metrotix.com. And take note: When we asked about a DEA discount, the ticket window mysteriously closed. -- Kristyn Pomranz