We've always felt strongly about supporting local businesses—and so that's the theme behind this holiday gift guide. Among the many local shops worthy of your attention (and dollars), we selected a handful that offer a diverse selection that will, hopefully, help you cross multiple people off your list in one stop. There's also a rundown of local food-and-drink purveyors whom you can hit up for host(ess) gifts, meal accompaniments or the perfect made-in-San Diego present. And, as always, there's a guide to upcoming gift-buying events. Now, off with you! To the stores!
Click through the page numbers for the complete guide.
Hit up these local events for last-minute gifts On Thursday, Dec. 13, the always shop-able Magpie Gallery & Boutique hosts a vintage trunk show by Mary Lou's Vintage Couture. Pick up a retro handbag or sweater pin for your best girlfriend from 6 to 10 p.m. at 2205 Fern St. in South Park. On Friday, Dec. 15, from 5 to 9 p.m., Ducky Waddles Emporium (414 No. Coast Hwy 101 in Encinitas) holds its annual holiday trunk show and sale. Also on Dec. 15 and again on Friday, Dec. 21, from 8 p.m. to midnight, the Besos Not Bombs “pop-up shop” is selling limited-edition streetwear, accessories and vintage clothing, all at 2502 B St. in Golden Hill (www.besosnotbombs.com). On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 14 and 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park hosts a trunk show of items by jewelry designer Marion Craven.On Saturday, Dec. 15, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Little Italy's Mixture (2210 Kettner Blvd.), is the spot where more than 20 local artists will be showing off their paintings, jewelry, sculpture, photography and glassware. And there'll be mimosas and snacks for you. Also on Dec. 15, our favorite female-run sexuality boutique, The Rubber Rose, puts on its annual holiday arts and crafts fair. Handmade items include knitted hats, baby quilts, knitted and crocheted dishcloths, jewelry, calendars, postcards, journals and about two-dozen other things. Check it out from 1 to 6 p.m. at 3812 Ray St. in North Park.Leave The Rubber Rose and head over to The Roseary Room where, also on Dec. 15, local artist Fresh Ginga will be hosting an art show, proceeds from which go to help folks at her son's school who lost their Rancho Bernardo homes in the Witch fire. The show starts at 6 p.m. and goes until 1 a.m. at 947 E St., Downtown. On Sunday, Dec. 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Puppet Insurgency's Art for Peace Festival features handmade affordable gifts and a make-your-own-art set-up, plus a puppet show (1601 University Ave. in Hillcrest). 619-265-1199.
The Pearl Hotel1410 Rosecrans St., Point Loma877-PEARL-SDwww.thepearlsd.comIt might not be located on the beach or within walking distance of trendy shops and restaurants, but The Pearl Hotel is less about its surroundings and more about its own charm. Refurbished to its original, mid-century modernist glory and open for only a few months now, it's drawn attention for its look and intimacy (only 23 rooms). A gift card for a night at the hotel and dinner at the hotel's Restaurant at The Pearl is a perfect gift for a couple who need a night away but don't want to leave town. The dinner menu is elegant and creative with things like a banana and macadamia nut-crusted snapper and a Grey Goose vodka penne pasta.
Direct Vinyl Source3142 East Plaza Blvd., National City619-472-9605In our last Gift Guide (see the Nov. 28 issue), we wrote about the USB tape deck (plug it into your computer and transfer cassette tapes into iTunes). For someone who loves her vinyl, there's a USB turntable. Numark makes a good version, and you can find it at Direct Vinyl Source for around $169. Direct Vinyl stocks lots of DJ gear and, of course, vinyl (they're having a huge sale December and January for your DJ pals). If you know someone who wants to start spinning, scratching and looping, the DVS guys recommend the Battlepack (also by Numark), which includes two turntables and a mixer. Want a microphone, too? The MXL USB microphone plugs into aspiring podcasters' computers for easy recording.
San Diego Museum of Artwww.sdmart.org
San Diego Museum of Photographic Artswww.mopa.org
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diegowww.mcasd.org
Tip: For some of the best shopping in many cities, head to museum gift shops. It's easy to forget that also holds true for San Diego. The San Diego Museum of Art gift store has the usual art books and exhibit posters, but also a huge selection of trendsetting gift items. Fans of Scandanavian minimalism will appreciate a stationary set by Lotta Jansdotter ($15.95). Momiji are Japanese folk-art dolls that have spawned their own collector subculture ($10.95). For digital art-and-music fans, check out the assortment of One Dot Zero DVDs, and Ibride trays ($65) are works of art in and of themselves.
At the Museum of Photographic Arts, pick up a Lomographic camera (see www.lomography.com to find out what they're all about). For a gift on the cheap, duck into the shop's old-time photo booth and shoot some photos of yourself to put in Mom's and Dad's stockings. At the Museum of Contemporary Art (gift shops at both the downtown and La Jolla locations), pick up a set of ABC cookie cutters (stands for “already been chewed”) that produce gingerbread men missing heads, arms and legs. The Loopsey Wine Rack ($150), by award-winning designer David Quan, fits up to six bottles of wine. And Klein Reed hand-carved porcelain key pendants ($85) are modeled after vintage keys.
Loopsey wine rack
Scott James915 E St., East Village619-696-0910www.scottjameseastvillage.comIn last year's Gift Guide, we recommended Harvey's Seatbelt bags, available locally at Scott James. Just last week, a visit to the East Village boutique found owner Scott Nisley with a brand-new shipment of houndstooth print Harvey's, straight outta the box and not yet placed in the shop's clever cubbyhole display shelves. The bags are indeed made from seatbelts and come in colors ranging from pink to red or black houndstooth to standard black (which looks nothing like the seatbelts we're used to). Larger bags cost around $130 to $140, but the half-wallet (big enough for five credit cards, cash and ID) is $58. Scott James sells a range of hip accessories (like JFold wallets), home goods and items for kids and pets, too.
Harvey's Seatbelt Bag
Cape Cod Clutter3523 5th Ave., Hillcrest619-291-8088 Used bookstores are a great place for unexpected finds for bookish friends and relatives. The tiny space of Cape Cod Clutter offers a first-rate used-bookstore experience, the kind where the shelves are placed in claustrophobia-inducing closeness and are crammed with books of all kinds. Owner Sandee Gillis specializes in regional Americana, poetry and nautical titles, but the store somehow manages to cover all the sections of a larger bookstore. If you ask Gillis, there's not a bad book among them: “All my children are gems.” Gillis is always up for a chat or a recommendation, but the pleasure of the place is browsing the shelves for the unthought-of, but perfect, title.
Vintage Religion3821 32nd St., North Park619-280-8408www.vintagereligion.comNo other store in San Diego is quite like this North Park boutique. Owner Philip Shirk seamlessly blends serious (and seriously beautiful) religious paraphernalia (statues, fine art, ceremonial objects from various world religions) with totally irreverent items—and therefore totally perfect for stocking stuffers—for recovering Catholics. There's “Looking Good for Jesus” lip balm and hand cream, the Nun Chuck toy gun that sends little plastic nuns flying. And who doesn't need a Jesus action figure for his cubicle? There are Buddhas, Hindu deities and Hannukah accoutrements aplenty, plus a lovely collection of Dia de Los Muertos art and artifacts.
Looking Good for Jesus lip balm
The Grove3010 Juniper St., South Park619-284-7684www.thegrovesandiego.comThe Grove is probably best known for its yarn selection, but it's also a great place to search out interesting architecture and home design books, all well-displayed on tall bookshelves for easy perusal. Some titles that got our attention: …Isms: Understanding Architectural Styles and Shop America: Mid-Century Storefront Design.
If you're thinking about making CDs to give as gifts, pick up a CD-packaging kit. For a stocking stuffer, there's Baggu, the reusable nylon “bag that folds into a pouch.” And, if you know someone who's been wanting to learn to knit, buy that person a gift certificate to put toward one of The Grove's knitting classes.
Champagne Taste2248 30th St., South Park619-234-3585www.champagnetaste.comJust west of The Grove, Champagne Taste is a small boutique that mostly caters to classy kids and their moms—but yet isn't afraid to sell those “Ugly Dolls” that the kids seem to be so fond of (see www.uglydolls.com) or the Pee & Poo stuffed-toy set.
Crass, yes, but the pair's creator has won design awards and the toys are said to be helpful in the potty-training process. Also for tykes, Champagne Taste stocks a range of kid-friendly Zutano tops and dresses, and for working moms who need their morning coffee (or tea), grab a Pylones hand-painted thermos that promises to keep hot liquids hot beautifully.
Solo309 South Cedros Ave., Solana Beach858-794-9016www.solocedros.comSolo is one of the San Diego area's truly great (if a little pricey) one-stop shopping spots. The large store is divided into easy-to-browse sections. Over in the stationary section, you can find notebooks from Chicago's Snow & Graham. For the hostess, there are tea towels from French design studio Atelier LZC—a little pricey at $24 per towel but quite stunning. If you have a bit more to spend, London's Miss Budd leather purses are screen-printed by hand and each is one-of-a-kind ($84 to $89). For kids, pick up a copy of the book Walter the Farting Dog and throw in the stuffed-animal version of Walter.
Miss Budd leather handbags
EATS AND DRINKS
Food and beverages for holiday parties and gifts
A good bottle of wine makes a perfect gift, but finding the right one can be a challenge. John Alonge, owner of the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center, provided us with a few of his picks of wine and an affordable real champage. • Deakin Estate Shiraz (Victoria, Australia) 2004: Bold, in-your-face Aussie red at a bargain price ($9).• Paraiso Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2006: Our favorite, fragrant California Pinot for less than $20 ($19).• Casalj Bianco, Rapitala, Sicily 2005: The little-known Catarratto grape from Sicily makes an incredibly food-friendly white wine ($15).• Cakebread Napa Chardonnay 2005: One of the greatest, not over-oaked and beautifully balanced. A classic ($37).• Henri Abele Champagne NV: Real Champagne, 90 points from Wine Spectator—where's the bad news? ($25)
You can purchase Alonge's picks at the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center, 200 Harbor Drive, Suite 120, Downtown. 619-231-6400. www.sdwineculinary.com. And, while you're there, if you're looking for something to get the aspiring chef on your list, purchase a gift certificate to put toward one of the center's monthly cooking classes.
There are a lot of great coffee roasters in San Diego, but Ryan Bros. is one that's especially attracted our attention (see staff picks from our recent Best of San Diego issue). The Christmas Roast is hands-down one of the best-smelling coffees ever made. After the beans are roasted and while their “pores” are still open, they're lightly sprayed with a caramel, chocolate and maple extract. The result is subtle enough for coffee snobs who normally eschew flavored beans. A half-pound bag costs $9.95 and is available for a limited time at 1894 Main St., in Barrio Logan, 619-546-6314 or www.ryanbroscoffee.com.
For her line of Jackie's Jams, Jackie Anderson makes standards like Strawberry and Apple Butter but also makes up flavors like Strawbarb, Cranberry Walnut and—our pick—Triple Berry. Each jar label has different photo of the Ocean Beach pier, making this the perfect gift to send to transplanted San Diegans or jealous East Coast pals. A sample pack of eight 1.5-ounce jams in a wooden box is only $20. Three 8-ounce jams (wooden boxed, too) are $22. You can find Jackie at farmers markets (Hillcrest and Ocean Beach, for sure) or check www.jackiesjams.com for more locations.
The Sauce Goddess, known to her friends as Jennifer Reynolds, is another local woman-done-good in the condiment category. No preservatives or additives go into her grill glazes and rubs. In the glaze department, there's the Sticky Sweet glaze and the award-winning Sweet & Spicy glaze. Rubs include flavors like Moroccan Twist and Latin Heat. Gift packs are $35 and include two glazes, two rubs and a T-shirt (men's and women's sizes with phrases like “Let me lick your fingers”). You can find Sauce Goddess products at places like Great News! in Pacific Beach (1788 Garnet Ave.) and Hot Licks in Horton Plaza or at www.saucegoddess.com.
A couple of months ago, Will Gustwiller moved his chocolate-making business, Eclipse Chocolat, into a bricks-and-mortar shop (and a cute one at that) on the border of North Park and University Heights. Browse what Eclipse has to offer online (www.eclipsechocolat.com) and then stop by the store to pick out some gifts. Gustwiller's favorites are the Exotic Salted Caramels—chocolate-covered crème fraiche caramels topped with salt that's been infused with flavors like ginger, chili, lavender or Chardonnay.
Or, pick up some tins of Gustwiller's “drinking chocolate” (a fancy name for grown-up hot chocolate) that comes in flavors like Chile Burnt Caramel, Rosemary Mint and Orange Peel Vanilla and costs $8 a tin. Eclipse is located at 2121 El Cajon Blvd., 619-504-5310.If you're looking to make a gift basket with, say, a bottle of wine, some chocolate and maybe one other item, throw in a candle or two. Clarity Candles & Gifts in South Park (3002 Juniper St.) is a little nook of a shop with rustic-looking handmade candles (and soap, too). They'll help you put that gift basket together for no charge. Scents rotate, but if they're still there, Sugar Cookie and Cinnamon Vanilla are quite nice. For North County folks, Michael Langdon, owner of Candle & Gift Shoppe (11975 Carmel Mountain Road, Suite 606) hand-pours his candles—more than 50 varieties—and promises they won't drip a drop. Plus, his quaint shop stocks a bunch of other gift-basket accompaniments like wine-bottle stoppers.