State investigator Suzan Armstrong sifts through heaps of paperwork, carefully mulling over government cases. Though her eyes focus on the documents' dense text, her thoughts momentarily drift away to daydreams about erecting a creative haven where people can funnel their imaginations into a slew of colorful crafts. In January of 2007, Suzan's reoccurring daydream materialized when she hung up her investigative briefcase, broke the glass on her emergency paintbrush holder, and opened her own franchise of Color Me Mine—named one of the top 10 places for kids' birthday parties by Parents magazine.
The 1,750-square-foot studio brims with décor and fixtures crafted by its own staff members, including custom-tile floors and a grandfather clock made from shards of shattered pottery. Patrons browse well stocked shelves of ceramic plates, vases, and—thanks to an exclusive partnership with the magic magnate—Disney characters, then garnish their chosen bisques around crafting tables in the main studio or long tables in the private party room. Experienced staff members stand closely by to help with bisque or paint selection and answer any questions about materials, design ideas, or how to emblazon Tinker Bell with a perfect Mona Lisa smile, then glaze and fire each creation to forge a bounty of long-lasting keepsakes.
What began as a colony farm built by the U.S. Army in 1935 became, by the mid-1950s, the childhood home of Reindeer Farm's head honcho, Tom Williams. After studying the habits of Scandinavian and Siberian reindeer herders in high school, Tom began to understand why the antlered creatures were considered the "cattle of the North": The brisk Alaskan climate suited their dense coats and languid presence at pool parties. In 1987, after years of practicing law throughout Alaska, Tom ventured to Canada to meet his first herd of reindeer, which he kept corralled next to a tiny sign and donation jar on the modest farm. Since then, that initial herd has blossomed into 150 reindeer, who graze beside 35 elk, 13 horses, one bull moose, and one surprisingly well-adjusted bison. Now a petting zoo, the farm has grown alongside the herd, with guided tours, scavenger hunts, and horseback rides treating guests to an up-close and hands-on experience with the majestic animals. Located in the colony's original chicken coop, a gift shop provides guests with any number of collectibles to commemorate their visits.
The largest manufacturer and supplier of paints in the Pacific Northwest, Parker Paint enables new-hue-craving customers to roll and brush fresh coats of luscious pigments onto formerly drab and dreary household surfaces. To reinvent interiors, several options await including the semigloss Wall Glow ($34.27/gallon) and the Velva Kolor ($30.59/gallon), with a less-reflective eggshell finish. Parker Paint also carries a selection of weather-scoffing exterior paints, such as the flat-finish Flextron 100 ($33.03/gallon) to help homeowners paint a realistic yet unflattering outdoor mural of the neighbors.
Owner Sheri Olesen stocks her boutique Chartreuse with gently used apparel, jewelry, and accessories and blankets its walls in the creative output of local artists. Guests can cover upper hemispheres and tattoos of swear words with a women's top ($10–$30) or don a crochet hat ($30–$55) to keep noggins toasty. Legs shimmy into designer jeans or aerate calves in a skirt ($45 or less), and an array of belts ($20 or less) can keep wayward slacks from slipping off to rendezvous with capris sweethearts. Shoppers can drape collarbones in lanyards of handmade jewelry ($50 or less for most pieces) or adorn den walls with prints by local canvas-coaters ($25–$125).
Armed with more than 20 years of cleaning and restoration experience, Tyson, the owner of Sam's Carpet Care, commands a dedicated crew of trained carpet technicians. In the premium carpet treatment, which lasts one to three hours, cleaners bathe up to 450 square feet of furniture-free space in a pretreatment solution before tending to spotted stains left by sippy cups that haven't been housebroken. Next, a powerful, truck-mounted hot-water-extraction system scrubs down threads and vacuums out the soap, leaving behind a bright, newly groomed carpet. Sam's Carpet Care's technicians will relocate any obstructive furniture or squatting college buddies from the cleaning area and replace them after the treatment. Clients can upgrade either option to cover more square footage for an additional fee. Today's deal doesn't expire until May 31, 2012, making it a good holiday gift idea.