Tote + Able beverage bags
It used to be fashionable to carry an Evian bottle. Now, some folks are advocating for a ban on plastic water bottles. Neoprene beverage containers are hip and make for practical gifts, but even cooler are these canvas beverage bags by Tote + Able. Solo (309 South Cedros Ave. in Solana Beach) carries them in a few different designs, including this Death Valley version, for $24 each. They're BPA-free, recyclable and washable.
Mason jars are turning up everywhere: as drinking glasses in restaurants and bars, as repurposed pendant lights. Progress in South Park (2225 30th St.) is selling the Mason Shaker for $29.99. Displayed alongside is the book Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails ($25) by Eric Prum and Josh Williams—which is part how-to guide, part travelogue with lots of pretty photos. Throw in a nice bottle of booze and you have a complete package.
Ecor art bowls
What is Ecor? According to the San Diego-based company's website, it's "water, plus fiber, plus heat, plus pressure." It's a chemical-free, sustainable, durable material that's used to make everything from signage to protective shelter. It's also used to make cool, design-minded products like these elegant, minimalist bowls. You can find a selection at the San Diego Museum of Art gift shop in Balboa Park, where they range in price from $70 to $150.
The new San Diego Public Library's gift shop (330 Park Blvd.) is fantastic—everything you might expect in a hip museum shop and more. Among the well-curated jewelry selection are these wishbone earrings by Modernist ($34.95). The work of San Diegan Desi McKinnon, they're pretty but with an edge. You can find more of McKinnon's work on her Etsy site, but we strongly encourage a trip to the library—could be your one-stop shopping spot.
For the person who says she doesn't want more things for Christmas, what about a membership to one of San Diego's cultural institutions? Many museum memberships get you more than just admission—like, discounts at local businesses and invites to special events. New this year is the Balboa Park Explorer pass, which covers admission to 17 museums and runs from $129 for an adult to $199 for families of up to six.
Wild & Wolf corkscrew
There are numerous products that'll help you get a cork out of a wine bottle, but nothing's quite as satisfying as doing it with an old-school corkscrew. From Wild & Wolf's "Gentleman's Hardware" series, this corkscrew / bottle opener is made of sturdy stainless steel and has a nice, sharp foil knife that too many corkscrews are lacking. Find it at Progress in South Park ($14) or the shop at the new San Diego Public Library in East Village.
Cravory Teaser Box
Some Cravory cookies recently found their way to the CityBeat office—and were promptly devoured. They have an almost cake-like quality, are moist without being greasy and come in unique flavors like Pancake & Bacon and Rosemary Balsamic. The Teaser Box, at $11 a month, includes a half-dozen of the Cravory's newest flavors, individually wrapped. A brick-and-mortar store (3960 W. Point Loma Blvd.) opens this month, or place an order online.
For folks who enjoy flipping through magazines like Dwell and Anthology, this new coffee-table book from Victionary shows the extent to which office supplies can become eye candy. The book highlights 97 companies that have taken the art of branding to a new level, creating business cards, stationary and packaging that verge on collectible items (and sometimes are). Find Identity Suite at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's La Jolla gift shop (700 Prospect St.).
Utility Canvas throws
Utility Canvas is a small company started more than two decades ago by a husband and wife. Their products are practical, durable and made from canvas (natch). They're also a little tough to find. Welcome, then, new North Park store Gym Standard (2903 El Cajon Blvd.), which carries Utility Canvas throws and other smart, stylish goods. They're a little pricey—a solid throw runs $135—but they're long-lasting and classic in their minimalism.
Salt Farm gourmet salt
Warm bread and butter with a sprinkling of sea salt is a simple treat made better with flavored salt. Local company Salt Farm has taken the infused-salt thing to a whole new level, rolling out varieties like Ghost Pepper, Havana Spice and Pumpkin & Sage. Find Salt Farm gift packs—a perfect hostess gift—at spots like Pigment (3801 30th St. in North Park), or visit Salt Farm's booth at the Little Italy Mercato on Saturdays and the Hillcrest farmers market on Sundays.