During the holidays there is so much activity -- parties, pageants, visits -- it's hard to find time to shop.

One solution is the mail-order catalogue. To help you get started, here are some of our favorite selections from this year's crop.

Earth Works Endangered animals displayed in color on a 16-inch inflatable vinyl globe. $10 (plus $3.95). Whale Gifts, Order Dept., P.O. Box 810, Old Saybrook, Conn. 06475-0810.

Four-compartment recycling center. Plastic pipe frame holds three 13-gallon trash bags for sorting glass, aluminum, plastic. Newspaper compartment has two built-in spools of twine for easy bundling. Assembled size 44-by-14 1/2-by-21 3/4 inches. Labels, bag clamps, twine, instructions, included. $49.97 (plus $3.50). Function Junction, Mail Order Dept., P.O. Box 30086, Kansas City, Mo. 64112.

Rainforest Crunch. 40 percent of candy's profits goes to groups working to save the rain forest. Also, cashews and Brazil nuts in this toffee-and-nut treat are purchased directly from Amazon rain forest peoples. Two 8-oz. boxes, $10 (plus $2.95). Cravings by Mail, P.O. Box 4430, Portland, Ore. 97208.

Music to Go Scuba Tunes. Swim, sail, windsurf with personal stereo secured in waterproof pack. Special earplugs seal out water. Soft web straps fit all waists. $39.95 (plus $5.95). Herrington, 3 Symmes Dr., Londonberry, N.H. 03053.

Stereo Muffs combine quality headphones with red acrylic ear muffs. Thinsulate insulation, adjustable head band. 4-foot cord, standard jack. $10.95 (plus $2.90). Water Drake & Sons, Drake Building, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80940-0002.

Sportsminded Tidewatch. Digital watch has tide indicator continuously showing tide height, rise/fall. Also programmed for future tide conditions. Can be set for any published tidal location on East or West coast. Water resistant to 100 ft. With timer, alarm, calendar. $59 (plus $2.51). Mason & Sullivan's Classics, 586 Higgins Crowell Rd., West Yarmouth, Mass. 02673.

Golf Course Area Rug of 100 percent New Zealand wool. Hand-tufted rug is carved for tees, greens, water and sand hazards. In shades of green, water blue, beige, burgundy (flags), with complementary border. It's 4-by-6-feet. $795 (plus $14.70). Horchow Collection, P.O. Box 620048, Dallas 75262-0048.

Flower Ladies Fresh flower pins. Miniature blown glass vases hang from lapel pin. Designed not to spill when wearer leans over. Set of two, $12.50 (plus $3.15). Gardener's Eden, Mail Order Dept., P.O. Box 7307, San Francisco 94120-7307.

Dried rosebud necklace. Real rosebuds alternate with pearls on mauve satin ribbon to make up 32 inch adjustable necklace. $25 (plus $4.45). The Faith Mountain Co., Main St., P.O. Box 199, Sperryville, Va. 22740-0199.

Ceramic Tea-for-One. White on white finish decorated with hand-sculpted roses. Generous-size cup nests over pot. $49.95 (plus $6.95). David Kay, Terrace Suite 114, 921 Eastwind Dr., Westerville, Ohio 43081-5306.

Flower costume. Pink petals surround face and green stem straps hold up the brown and terra pot-shaped skirt. Made of puffed and stuffed nylon. Designed to be worn over tights and leotard. Girls size XS (2T-3T) to XL (9-10). $55 (plus $4.25). Charles Keath, P.O. Box 48800, Atlanta 30362-1800.

Modern Marvels Sonic Yardstick takes measurements -- carpets, room size -- at speed of sound. Covers distances from 2 to 50 feet. $39.95 (plus $6.50). Reliable Home Office, P.O. Box 804117, Chicago. 60680-9968.

Talking Calculator. English or Spanish version performs as normal calculator then announces numbers entered, function used, total. Has repeat key for answer, volume control, automatic shut-off. Specify language. $34.95 each (plus $4.95). Haverhills, 131 Townsend St., Suite 360, San Francisco 94107.

Seiko Kitchen Whiz. Special cooking calculator refigures recipes for few or many; converts temperatures, measures; calculates portion size for dieters, and more. $39.95 (plus $6). Scope, 260 Motor Parkway, Hauppauge, N.Y. 11788-5134.

Picture These Aquaframe makes photo look like it's in with the fish. Blue-tinged aquarium/frame is 8 1/2 inches high, holds a 3 1/2-by-5-inch photo. Packet of gravel included. $29.95 (plus $5.35). Casual Living USA, 5401 Hanger Court, P.O. Box 31273, Tampa 33631-3273.

Compact-style picture frame and clock in 18K gold-layered brass. 2-by-2 1/2 inch -- closed -- unit comes with pouch in velvet box. Battery included. $59.95 (plus $7.99). Favorites' Holiday Traditions, Hanover, Pa. 17333-0081.

Photo Pocket Tee Shirt lets wearer finish the statement "I {heart symbol} -- " with a 3 1/2-by-5-inch photo of love object. S-XL. $15.95 (plus $4.65). Potpourri, Dept. P159, 120 North Meadows Rd., Medfield, Mass. 02052-1582.

Antique coin frame. 17th-century Chinese coin with genuine carnelian stone crowns red burl frame. Fitting for a treasured 3 1/2-by-5-inch photo. $89 (plus $7.95). Exposures, 9180 Le Saint Drive, Fairfield, Ohio 45014-5452.

Executive Privileges Sliptop business card case, naturally elegant in choice of three exotic woods: Bacote (lt. yellow), Bird's Eye Maple (dk. yellow), Morado (red-brown). $48 each (plus $5.95). Museum of Modern Art -- New York, Mail Order Dept. P.O. 2534, West Chester, Pa. 19380-0308.

Wall Street Tic Tac Toe. Brass-plated bulls meet silver-plated bears on scored silver plate field. Tray 6 1/2 in. square, eight animals 2 in. and 1 1/2 in., respectively. $60 (plus $2.75). Scully & Scully, Inc. 506 Park Ave., New York 10022.

Animal Kingdom Mechanical Mice. Wind them up and watch the cat (or dog) go. Painted metal with cloth ears and ever-twitching tails. 3 1/2 in. long. Set of three. $4.95 (plus $2.95). Gimbel & Sons Country Store, P.O. Box 57, 36 Commercial St., Boothbay Harbor, Maine 04538-0057.

Tapestry Cat Carrier looks like elegant tote. 17 1/2-by-11 1/2-by-11-inch holder has plexi windows front and rear, perforated end panels, large zipper opening, double-cushioned handles, luggage name tag. $49.95 (plus $5). Pedigrees, P.O. Box 905, Brockport, N.Y. 14420-9982.

Garden Plots Food In Bloom. Seeds for 14 varieties of edible flowers and herbs chosen for beauty, distinctive flavor. Kit includes seed to cover 250 sq. ft., starting medium, recipe leaflet. $10.95 (plus $4.50) World Wildlife Fund, P.O. Box 224, Peru, Ind. 46970.

Garden Tool Organizer moves garden equipment off the floor and onto the wall. Bright blue and green reinforced canvas has huge and small pockets, tool loops for 26 holding areas. Covers a 58 1/2-by-55-inch area. $29.95 (plus $5.50). Home Trends, 779 Mt. Read Blvd., Rochester, N.Y. 14606.

" How To Be Smarter Than Squirrels " has 101 strategies for dealing with the fuzzy fiends. 170 pages. Paperback. $8.95 (plus $3.50). Should that fail, give them their own feeder -- Squirrel Throne of red cedar has chair-like perch, table with skewer for holding dried corn. For wall or tree mounting. Squirrel throne, $19.95 (plus $3.50). 13 ears dried corn, $7.95 (plus $3.50). Book, throne and corn from The Plow & Hearth, 301 Madison Rd., P.O. Box 830, Orange, Va. 22960.

Wildwear, His Stainless Steel Bow Tie designed by architect Bill Bondy. Of steel mesh and pleated plain metal. Adjustable strap. $26 (plus $6). Out of Hand, 1303 Castro St., San Francisco 94114.

WWII Briefing Map Underwear. Soft cotton boxers decorated with colored military map of the Pacific Theater. S-XL. $14.50 (plus $3.95). The Cockpit, 47-10 33rd St., Long Island City, N.Y. 11101-2408.

Cosmic Socks of cotton and nylon have stars, sputniks, on black. Planet Socks of cotton/nylon/acrylic have multicolored planets on black. Both styles men's sizes 10-13. $10.95 each pair (plus $2). What-On-Earth, 25801 Richmond Rd., Cleveland 44146-1486.

Chef's Delights New Mexico Brunch comes in large terra cotta chicken planter. Includes blue corn pancake mix, chokeberry syrup, cactus salsa, chorizo sausage seasoning and more. Plus blue corn cookbook, Southwestern-design napkins, paper flowers. $39.95 (plus $5.95). New Mexico Catalogue, 1700 Shalem Colony Trail, P.O. Box 261, Fairacres, N.M. 88033-0261.

Gray Leather Suede Hotholders. Never-singe flexible potholder, oven mitt and handle cover are machine washable. With two non-suede hot-spot lid holders. Set $32.50 (plus $5.95). The Wooden Spoon, Route 145, Heritage Park, P.O. Box 931, Clinton, Conn. 06413-0931.

Hot Rock. The Japanese have long broiled seafood on superheated rocks. This nonporous stone works the same, searing food, cooking it quickly. Nine-inch (diameter) flat stone is heated in oven then removed to stainless steel tray for grilling. Small burner maintains cooking temperature. Complies with FDA regulations. Cooking rock, tray, frame, burner, windscreen, $189 (free shipping, handling). Great Living, 5051 Highway 7, P.O. Box 16058, Minneapolis 55416-0058.

Kids, Kids, Kids Lullaby Light Show. Brahm's Lullaby plays as figures swirl across walls and ceiling. Shuts off after five minutes. Battery operated. $24.95 (plus $4.95). Troll Learn and Play, 100 Corporate Drive, Mahwah, N.J. 07498-1053.

Stamp-a-Story has people, planes, robot, Rover, the house, car, everything -- including cartoon "speech balloon" -- to tell a tale. 33 stamps, nontoxic ink pad, idea book. $19 (plus $3.95). Post Scripts from Joan Cook, P.O. Box 21628, Fort Lauderdale. 33335-1628.

Build a Bonnet kit has four straw hats and flowers, feathers, ribbon and netting to decorate. Includes glue, storage box. $26.95 (plus $4.75). Constructive Playthings, 1227 East 119th St., Grandview, Mo. 64030-1178.

Omagles construction set lets kids make kid-size projects -- tricycle, dump truck, helicopter, 33 others. Set has molded pipes and locking clips that fasten without tools, plus wheels, sides. Winner of Parents Choice Gold Award. $89.95 (plus $5). Markline, 409 William St., P.O. Box 8, Elmira, N.Y. 14902.

Not So Scary Things board game has Bravery Badges for players as they work their way to Mount Courage and examine normal fears like darkness, monsters under the bed, etc. Developed by two physicians and a child psychologist. $17 (plus $5). Sensational Beginnings, P.O. Box 2009, 300 Detroit Ave. #E, Monroe, Mich. 48161.

Learn Hebrew Puzzle and Poster. Avner Katz illustrations of a Hebrew word beginning with each letter. In Hebrew and English. 13 in. puzzle and 27 in. poster set. $14.95 (plus $2.95). Moment, 3000 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20008.

Dirt Cake kit lets kids make cookie crumb "dirt" cake with chocolate "mud" frosting. All natural mixes come with measuring shovel, instructions, in reusable plastic pail. Also includes chef cap and apron stating "Born to bake!" $16.95 (plus $3.25). Enticements, P.O. Box 4040, New Rochelle, N.Y. 10802-4040.

No Way Ballet. Series of six paperback books tells adventures of three 10-year-old girls who hate dance lessons. $16.95 (plus $3.95). The Music Stand, 1 Rockdale Plaza, Lebanon, N.H. 03766-1585.