The 2018 Gift Guide

Twenty-four sure-to-please notions to make the holidays shine.


Photos courtesy of merchants

Can you please everyone on your holiday shopping list this year? This answer is, yes, you most definitely can, with this little gift guide assist. Here’s how to satisfy fashion divas and foodies, homebodies and jewelry junkies, gadget geeks and the family’s four-legged friends. There are a few pampering tips sprinkled in, too, so even the pickiest present receiver will be pleased.


Clothing & Apparel

Haute Hats

Do you have a friend who lives for the races and hosts a Kentucky Derby party every May? Whether she cheers for her favorite thoroughbred from the grandstand in Louisville or from her couch in Oakland, a Derby hat is sure to make her smile. Berkeley Hat Company, the Bay Area’s largest hat retailer, sells a wide selection of bright, fanciful, unforgettable hats perfect for the racetrack, church, a royal wedding, or an exquisite tea. The Easy Going Organza Derby hat ($49) is stylish, packable, and comes in four colors. Berkeley Hat Company,

2510 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-962-4428,  —EGJ

Kicky Kicks

The sneakerhead in your life is definitely lusting after a pair of kicks from the collaboration between Converse and celebrated Japanese couturier Comme des Garçons. They are the same iconic black Chuck Taylor All Star high tops you’ve known since before Joey Ramone put them on to sing “I Wanna Be Sedated,” but in the CDG collaboration, they’re emblazoned with a cheerful heart motif designed by graphic artist Filip Pagowski and Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo ($135). Bows and Arrows, 2513 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-649-6683,  —EGJ​

Oakland Is Magic

For the fabulous friend with impeccable style, choose a locally designed-and-made, wide-neck sweatshirt. This black top is printed with the gold outline of a triangle and inside the triangle are the words, “Oakland is Magic,” surrounded by silver crystals ($42). It ranges in size from small to XXL. Designer Kate Morrow of Resurrect also made the print on crop sweatshirts ($40), a unisex tee, and muscle tanks ($30). You can dress the whole crew in holiday magic. 4135 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-653-8716,   —AC

Lingerie Love

Everyone loves something slinky. The Modern Elegance chemise from Fleur’t ($94) is the perfect balance of sexy and soft. Lingerie is wonderful, but unless it’s wearable, it may stay in the drawer for years. This slinky pullover chemise has a lace-adorned bust, adjustable straps, and luxuriously soft fabric that’s easy to wear while looking fantastically glamorous. Opt for the holiday-inspired red with delicate gold lace highlights to really score points. Revelation in Fit is a welcoming store committed to providing a body positive and trans-inclusive space, and the friendly staff will help you find the right fit for the perfect gift. For the undecided, choose a holiday gift pack ranging in price from $50-$200, which includes a bottle of Soak lingerie wash, a pack of lacy panties, and a gift certificate to the store. Revelation in Fit, 4158 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-858-5459,   —AC

Dance Time

For the dancers, yogis, and athletes in your life, stylish and well-made activewear is always a win. The unique and colorful leggings from locally designed Two Diamond Fit ($50-$70) feature beautiful patterns, mesh cutouts, and serious style. The leggings come in a range of cuts from capri to full-length to high-waisted with pockets. They’re perfect for fitness or a day of laid-back athleisure. Your dancers will adore the pull-on Bullet Pointe skirt ($30) thanks to a comfortable waistband, soft material that drapes beautifully, and an array of dreamy color choices. Choose also from a fun selection of leg warmers that every dancer will love to have in the dance bag ($15-$21). For dance-inspired stocking stuffers, look for ballet shoe keychains, Bunheads hair accessories, and Scrunchies in a rainbow of colors. Move Me Boutique, 3966 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 415-377-1080,   —AC

Elegant Threads

A timeless piece of clothing is a gift that keeps on giving. The modern Asian and European cuts and feminine lines of O.R. Sight clothing make this Bay Area-designed fashion house a sure win. For the woman who has everything, choose the crisp, white cotton shirt with cable knit trim ($78). It cruises from work to play with ease, and the slight A-line fit provides easy grace. For a fabulous, holiday unisex option, look to the infinity loop scarves ($49) in a range of rich and neutral tones. Made of 85 percent silk and 15 percent cashmere, they’re as luxe as they are cozy. Fourth Street Maker’s Row, 1910 Fifth St., Berkeley,   —AC


Food & Drink

Hopheads Unite

Give a man a beer, and you’ll slake his thirst for a day. Teach a man to brew, and you’ll slake his thirst for a lifetime. Instead of giving the beer connoisseur in your life a six-pack or a growler, why not give him a Beermaking Starter Kit instead? The starter kit ($72) comes with everything a brewmeister will need, including a six-gallon bucket for fermentation, siphoning hose, airlock, caps, and a book with step-by-step instructions on how to brew delicious beer at home. Oak Barrel Winecraft in Berkeley has everything to help your favorite hophead turn the dream of an apricot basil saison into reality. Oak Barrel Winecraft, 1443 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-849-0400,  —EGJ​

New Wave S’mores

The ultimate gift for the local-shopping gourmand, the Speculoos S’mores Kit is made to order in Benicia by Little Belgians, an artisanal cookie company. Belgian-born founder Evy Ballegeer makes the nine-spice, not-too-sweet but hella crunchy Speculoos Cookies, stamped with a campfire motif, to build this dessert in a box. Add a handmade vanilla marshmallow (from Oakland’s The Candy) and TCHO Chocolate’s dark choco square (from Berkeley), and you have an epicurean delight that elevates the childhood campfire treat to pastry-chef level: good for food snobs, small children, and pretty much everyone else.,   —MJL

Paella Party

Any aspiring foodie should have a paella pan in his or her kitchen. Spain’s most famous dish, paella, originally comes from Valencia and is typically made of rice, vegetables, and meat and/or seafood cooked in a broth spiced with saffron, rosemary, and paprika. The result is colorful and delicious and makes a big impression at parties. The Spanish Table sells enameled paella pans that can be used on the grill or in the oven, are a breeze to clean, and will not rust. They’re sized by how many people each on can serve. The 12-person pan is 18 inches across and sells for $36. The Spanish Table also sells stands, burners, utensils, cookbooks, and ingredients like Valencian rice. The Spanish Table,

1814 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-548-1383,  —EGJ


For Home

Killer Candlesticks

Bring a splash of color to any holiday table with a pair of painted ceramic candlesticks by Eugenio Ricciarelli. Ricciarelli handcrafts his ceramics in his hometown of Deruta, Italy. His geometric designs are inspired by classic Renaissance motifs and the Italian landscape. Bella Ceramica on Piedmont Avenue carries a large selection of Ricciarelli’s tableware designs. The candlesticks sell for $110 each and are meant to be mixed and matched for a bright and effortless effect. Bella Ceramica, 3982 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-601-7938,   —EGJ

Eco-Chic Candles

Candles are the gift that never fail. If your loved ones are sensitive, Love Charlie Jo ($30, 12 ounces) makes candles that are color- and phthalate-free that still create beautiful scents as they burn. Choose from individual candles or gift a subscription for a new 12-ounce candle delivered each month (plus a 2-ounce monthly sample candle). These special candles are made in small batches with soy wax instead of paraffin, a petroleum byproduct. Love Charlie Jo’s hand-poured candles from U.S.-grown soy are gentler on home and environment. Love Charlie Jo, Fourth Street Maker’s Row, 1910 Fifth St., Berkeley, Sundays noon-5 p.m., or online,  —AC



Boombox Redux

Back in the 1980s, there were two pieces of electronics you needed to be cool. The first was a boombox: those big stereos people would carry on their shoulders, playing tapes of Run DMC. The second thing you had to have was an Atari Video Computer System, aka the Atari 2600. This classic gaming console basically invented the model for modern video game systems and kicked off the home video game revolution that resulted in Fortnite and Minecraft. To commemorate that heyday of simple video games and publicly playing your music, the Atari Speakerhat ($129, includes a Bluetooth-enabled speakers embedded in the fabric. This wearable boombox alternative will show everyone you’re 40 but still able to disrupt an AC Transit ride.   —AH

Exercise Evolution

Jane Fonda wasn’t the first person to spread the gospel of working out in front of a television, but she did build an empire on VHS tapes of her workouts. The modern equivalent are YouTube personal trainers, offering free workout videos to the world in exchange for spreading their name in the hopes of hitting it big, or maxing out their client base. But for many years, the internet’s involvement in revolutionizing exercise was somewhat limited. Tonal, however, has taken the internet, the gym, and the TV and mashed them all into a single device — the Tonal Home Gym System ($2,995, that actually fits in a studio apartment. Tonal gives users a full set of workout options and ties them directly into video content that can keep you motivated, on track, and looking like Jane Fonda in Barbarella.  —AH

Quality Canvas

No matter who on your gift list needs a new bag, the waxed-canvas offerings from New York Solo — especially The Alastair Vertical Brief from the Highland Collection ($149, — will fit his or her fashion-wearing and electronics-carrying needs. These Scotland-inspired bags look just as good over the shoulder of a kilt-wearing hiker as they do on the back of a New York tech fashionista. The waxed-canvas design will be able to stand up to misty mountain mornings and nasty rainy season curb splashes from rude drivers.  —AH

Gadget Geek Out

For the gadget nerd in your life, there are few things as delectable and rare as a GPD device. These specialized computers come in a number of forms, from the GPD Win Pocket 2 ($700), which includes a built-in gamepad and buttons, to the GPD Pocket 2 ($500), which resembles a tiny laptop that fits in your hand. The real reason to own one of these devices is to have professional-grade gaming equipment in the palm of your hand. While these devices cannot possibly rival the power of a desktop gaming rig, they are powerful enough to run just about any software written before 2015 as if it were brand new. That means these devices can handle your favorite older 3D Steam.  —AH



Don’t Forget the Fur Babies

We all love pampering our fur babies with kisses and cookies, snuggles, and love. And now, we can shower them with posh spa products ranging from yuzu and coconut bath bombs to shea, jojoba, and cocoa butter balms. Rose water conditioners and lemon-raspberry shampoos will keep your sweet pup soft to the touch and fragrant as an angel. An online boutique based out of San Francisco, Mutt Cosmetics keeps natural ingredients on the forefront and prides itself on being entirely transparent about what goes into each bottle it makes. So turn up the dial on indulgence and bring home bubble baths and “paw-some” body masks that will have your pooch prancing to the tub and then cuddling in your arms. Products range from $5.95 to $15.95,  —EBD​

Made-to-Order Meals

Packed full of hearty vegetables and heaping portions of protein, NomNomNow offers packaged pet meals designed for healthy, hungry hounds (and cats, too). Since 2015, this Oakland company has been delivering delicious, pre-measured blends of turkey, pork, beef, and chicken alongside mushrooms, kale, carrots, and spinach. To get started, just enter a few details about your dog’s weight, exercise level, and general health needs, and NomNomNow calculates a nutritious meal plan to help control weight and inspire happy noshing. Whether you choose to receive orders weekly or monthly, your pup will howl for more of her favorite dinners like Porkalicious Potluck, which includes green beans, potatoes, yellow squash, and fish oil. Prepared in restaurant-grade kitchens, the food is fresh and ready to be served upon arrival or can be saved in the fridge. Next time the door bell rings, your pooch will no doubt race to see if it’s a box of Chicken Chow-Wow or Heartland Beef Mash in time for a mid-day snack. NomNomNow is a craft service every pet lover will appreciate and one every pet will adore. Price based on size, quantity. —EBD​

All Bottled Up

Vintage apothecary bottles from a historic Oakland pharmacy make a unique gift for your local history lover. These magical bottles arrived at Gold and Rust Finds via the Lee Family of Eagle Pharmacy. There are roughly 100 bottles, starting at $50. They come in a range of sizes, some in amber, green, or clear glass with glass, cork, or metal lids. Originally used for holding medicines, they originate from Oakland in the early 1900s when Eagle Pharmacy was at 4701 E. 14th St. In the late 1960s, Dr. Richard Lee (a third-generation Oakland resident) took over Eagle Pharmacy and also employed Ruby Fong, one of California’s first female Chinese-American pharmacists. Gift a piece of East Oakland’s history with one of these special bottles. 4268 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, 510-999-4653,  —AC

Fit for a King (or Queen)

Does the ruler of your house need (or just want) a throne of his or her own? Check out the hand-designed, specially made Hugo Chair ($2,000). Swiss-born Alameda resident Hugo Reichmuth has turned his passion for woodworking and proficiency with computers into making unusually fluid, ingeniously designed chairs that re-create the “cupping” feel of lying in a hammock. “The finished chair is a one-of-a-kind modern design that looks like it’s made of hammers from the inside of a piano,” he said. Your chair can be custom-made for any color combination. Check out his website to see current models, and contact his studio for an appointment. Hugo Reichmuth, Alameda,,   —LL



Lovely Lapis

Give her the gift of rain with a stunning pair of Lapis Marquis Silver Earrings from Philippa Roberts. Handcrafting jewelry in California for over 20 years, Philippa Roberts is known for her clean lines, colorful stones, and for creating timeless pieces that can be worn season after season. Rain is one of the latest collections from Roberts, and the Lapis Marquis Earrings ($97) are made from sterling silver chain that hangs down 3.5 inches, with delicate raindrops of lapis falling along the length of the chain. Philippa Roberts, 4176 Piedmont Ave., 510-655-0656,   —EGJ

Something Sweet

Does your girlfriend have a sweet tooth but also a rule forbidding high-calorie gifts? Tickle her taste buds and satisfy her sense of style with these donut-themed earrings available at Modern Mouse in Alameda, which features local artists. These laser-cut earrings by Unpossible Cuts in San Leandro are sure to hit the sweet spot — and they’re pink! Or pick up a pair made by Harumo Bakery in Mountain View with happy bunnies peeking out of the donut hole. Both pairs make for the perfect treat. Modern Mouse, 2223 South Shore Center, Alameda, 510-814-8830,  —LL

Metal Mastery

If you want to pop the question around the holidays with something nontraditional or to just surprise that special someone with an amazing piece of jewelry, Johnny Ninos crafts women’s and men’s engagement rings and wedding bands like no one else. Inspired by what he sees on his walks along the California coast — from barnacles, seedpods, and even industrial decay — his recycled metal and conflict-free diamond rings are handmade in his Los Olivos workshop in the Ynez Valley. He also fashions inspired-by-nature luxe necklaces and earrings in a unique, organic style. You can find a selection of his wearable sculpture at Esqueleto in Temescal Alley or online at   —MJL



Fancy Facial

Who on your list would like a little enlightenment with his/her pampering? Who wouldn’t? Give the gift of a healing Pink Light Glow Facial ($180 to $200 for 75 minutes), which includes deep cleansing, enzyme exfoliation, masking, and moisturizing, as well as targeted massage of your face, neck, and shoulders. Under the expert hands of herbalist Amber Woods or her associate Jordan Garrett, you should expect to feel soothed and even illuminated. Pink Light uses Woods’ own line of handmade, 100 percent organic skin concoctions, such as the Crystal Facial tonic ($80), which is infused with essences of gold and diamond to add a little magic and uplifting energy to your life. This spare yet elegant pint-sized “spa-thecary” can make everything feel all right. Call or contact the spa directly to purchase a gift certificate. Pink Light, 4454A Piedmont Ave., 510 943 2395,  —MJL​

Calming Connection Tissue

For that person on your list who sits at a desk all day and/or has tight muscles in need of relief, give the gift of myofascial release — and get a head start on New Year’s resolutions. Remedy Barre and Foam Rolling offers a variety of classes that incorporate the use of the foam roller to release tension or tightness in the connective tissue (i.e., myofascia) under your skin. The Temescal exercise studio offers gift certificates and monthly memberships for one-hour roll; half-roll, half-barre; and barre classes with a roll cool-down. The emphasis is on strength and mobility in the more strenuous barre classes and release and restoration in the more restorative roll offerings, which have a mellow yoga vibe. How better to counter a stressed lower back or tight IT bands? New client unlimited month barre and roll (take as many classes in a month as you want) is $85; single class, class packs, and membership options available. Remedy Barre and Foam Rolling, 4810 Telegraph Ave., 510 823 2445,  —MJL