We combed the East Bay for the best locally made products and found unique gift ideas from bath and body products to jewelry, olive oil to arm warmers. Or make your own gifts. No matter what your taste or how large your wallet, there’s sure to be a local product for your fickle loved one.
For the anticonsumer What to get your radical, anticonsumption friend? The Slingshot Organizer is a calendar that highlights historical events for the radically minded. Examples: the birthday of reproductive rights activist Margaret Sanger, the day when Bobby Seale was sentenced to four years in prison, or when the United States bombed the Bach Mai hospital in Vietnam in 1972. The organizer comes in two sizes and a range of colors, and features hand-drawn graphics, and space to write addresses and notes. $6-$10. WhoopDistro.org, AKPress.org, and at stores in Berkeley and Oakland: Slingshot.tao.ca/bookstores.php
A dirty way to get clean Bath and body products are a good call when you haven’t got a clue what to give. Go local and stock up on Berkeley-based Terra Nova lotions, scents, and scrubs. Give that manly man on your list its green coffee and yerba mate scrub, part of the Organic Oasis line launched this year. It looks like dirt, so naturally, he’ll love it. $4.75 and up. Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; Juniper Tree, 3303 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland; Longs Drugs, 5100 Broadway, Oakland; Pleasant Valley Shopping Center, Oakland; Soap Sistahs, 1797 Solano Ave., Berkeley. TerraNovaBody.com
Desire from Pittsburg We’d typically turn up our noses at something as mundane as a makeup case, but we changed our tune after tripping across the stellar selection offered by Pittsburg-based Objects of Desire. Its monogrammed silk bags come in 35 solid colors and 23 plaids, available online at ObjectsofDesireRetail.websitehorizon.com, and in local shops. $18-$26. Daisy’s, 1347 Park St., Alameda; Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; The Lazy K House at Orchard Nursery and Florist, 4010 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette; Misto Lino, 704 Sycamore Valley Rd. West, Danville.
Showers of shivers Remember those handheld wooden massagers made up of a big smiley-faced ball and three little ball “legs”? The Happy Company of Hayward has sold ten million of them since 1992. Now meet the massager’s cousin: The Happy Head Trip. It may look like an egg whisker that lost a fight with the garbage disposal, but it’s actually an acupressure tool that induces an oddly delightful shower of shivers. Forget the mistletoe: $15 at CosmeticMall.com or at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley.
Hoops and flowers For simpler, more delicate pieces, turn to Viv & Ingrid. Local boutiques can’t get enough of the lightweight silver and gold beaded hoops minted by this pair of designers. Their earrings are celeb faves, but we’re just as hooked on their adorable flowered pouches. From $28 at VivandIngrid.com or at shops throughout the East Bay.
Adult soda What do you bring to a party held by folks who don’t drink? Vignette Wine Country Soda fits the bill. It’s not some wussy non-alcoholic wine, but a light, confident fizzer made from California varietals. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Approximately $3 per 12 oz. bottle. The Pasta Shop, 1786 Fourth St., Berkeley; Sierra Market and Deli, Jack London Sq., Oakland; Star Grocery, 3068 Claremont Ave., Berkeley. WineCountrySoda.com
Cream of the cup Few things are more necessary during the holiday season than a strong cup of joe. East Bayers need look no further than Oakland’s Cole Coffee for some of the strongest, richest beans in the Bay Area. Cole’s international selection of beans and loose-leaf teas will fit anyone’s tastes and everyone’s pocketbook. Sumatra Organic is a well-rounded, full-bodied bean, while Max’s Blend will pack enough punch to keep you awake through the frenzied holidaze. A pound of beans coupled with a glass, mug, or T-shirt makes an excellent gift for any caffeine addict. $9.95 per lb. and up. 307 63rd St., Oakland. ColeCoffee.com
Blood (oranges) for oil For those who enjoy cooking, a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil from Berkeley’s Stonehouse California Olive Oil makes a great gift. Culled from eighty-year-old olive trees in Oroville, the oil comes in a variety of tasty flavors, such as Lisbon Lemon, Persian Lime, Garlic Oil, and Blood Orange. Great for dipping or sautéing. $12-$22. Fourth Street Studio, 1717 Fourth St., Berkeley. StonehouseOliveOil.com
Clean sweep Even if you’re not the creative type, you can still create easy, one-of-a-kind gifts for your loved ones. Nova Studio, started by soap maker Lori Nova, teaches regular folks how to make stuff you’d actually want. Classes include how to make silver rings, candles, lotions and creams, soaps, spa facial products, lip balms, natural perfume, and body butters, with a special emphasis on packaging and presentation. $40-$50 per class, plus materials. 24 West Richmond Ave., Point Richmond, 510-234-5700. TheNovaStudio.com
Beading mania Baubles & Beads features hundreds of jewelry-making supplies, from Swarovski crystals to African beads, pendants to chains, and everything in between. If you’re short on creativity, get a tip from one of the helpful employees, or just steal an idea from one of the beautiful designs on display. To take your designs further, enroll in one of their classes on metalsmithing, stringing, working with wire, chains, or precious metals. 1676 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-644-BEAD. BaublesandBeads.com
Whimsical, modern jewelry Favor is one of the best things to hit Oakland in years. The shop, which opened in October, is a treasure chest of whimsical jewelry for virtually every woman on your list, from your doily-aficionado grandma to your Vogue-loving best friend. And it’s affordable, too. Earrings start at $24 and only a few pieces top $100. 5337 College Ave, Oakland, 510-653-2741. ShopatFavor.com
Animal ears and arm warmers Arm warmers never quite took off in the ’80s, but oh, how their time has come. Hop onto BunnyWarez.com and pick up a menacingly fleecy skull-and-crossbones pair for your angsty younger sister, or a hot-pink set with spikes for the most alt-fashion-forward person on your list. The year-old East Oakland start-up also offers animal-ear hats, along with a classic made-to-order seatbelt belt for your favorite hipster. BunnyWarez.com
Bags of distinction Big bags, little bags, bags for knitters, bags for hippie chicks, bags for fashion victims, totes, clutches: Oakland’s Offhand Designs makes them all. And these handbags feel so good, in luscious velvety fabrics stitched to perfection. Sold in a bevy of East Bay shops; see OffhandDesigns.com for details.
Bags with belts Or try fellow Oakland purse designer Janine Marie, who whips up wickedly practical, chic bags in dreamy colors like tawny, sandstone, and lime. The cool catch is that they’re “belted” — an interchangeable fabric sash winds its way around each bag. $116 to $130 from Earthly Goods, 2100 Vine St., Berkeley; Erica Raes’, 1208 Blvd. Way, Walnut Creek; Relish at Home, 2703 Seventh St., Berkeley; Sage Terrace of Alamo, 215 Alamo Plaza, Alamo. Janine-Marie.com
Hella Pride Designer Dave Renshaw discovered a gold mine when he created the East Bay equivalent of the “I [heart] NY” shirts. The “I Hella [heart] Oakland” T-shirt designs sold faster than he could make them. Thankfully, the line — which has expanded to tote bags and (soon) sweatshirts — is now amply stocked at three Oakland locations. $20 and up. Clean Skate & Apparel Shop, 1432 Franklin St.; Heartfelt, 6309 College Ave.; Radio, 435 13th St. HellaLove.com
A bright idea Light up that special someone’s life with a lamp by Berkeley artist Helen Holt. She uses colorful handmade paper to craft unique shades, and often pairs them with unexpected bases such as clarinets or mini Maglites. Helly Welly Lamps don’t come cheap — the clarinet lamps start at $250 and others in her collection get going at $75. Helly Welly Showroom, 1649 Dwight Way, Berkeley; Turn of the Century Fine Arts, 2510 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; HellyWelly.com