The Express’ Holiday Gift Guide 2016

For giving in Oakland, Berkeley, and beyond.

We figured you’d need some help. So, we came up with 25 giving options this holiday — all either local, or by local artists or makers. Or at least we’re pretty sure they’re local wares (we keed, we keed).

This list has a little bit of everything. Want to read about climbing a ton of friggin’ stairs? We got you. Want a Screw Trump poster? Done.

Here’s our list. Now go get shopping!

Not Your President: #JACKASS Trump Poster

It’s official: You don’t like Donald Trump. Your friends don’t like Donald Trump. Nobody here likes Donald Trump. But is it really official if you don’t have a locally screen printed poster hanging on your window to let the world know? In the spirit of outspoken Bay Area radicalism, bring your friends into the fold of an unending political diatribe by gifting them the perfect anti-Trump conversation starter: the #JACKASS poster by Political Gridlock. You’ve probably already seen them wheat pasted pretty much everywhere in the Bay Area. Pro tip: sometimes these posters are handed out at local protests, so if you’re too busy smashing the patriarchy to cash out on a consumerist, capitalist, made up holiday, you can keep the anti-Christmas, anti-Trump spirit alive by donning a ski mask and jetting to the nearest protest and picking up one for free. (PR)

Do-It-Yourself: Knitting needles, fabric and other DIY inspo at A Verb for Keeping Warm

It doesn’t get more local than a DIY project. And the place to find all sorts of crafting tools and inspiration in Oakland is a Verb for Keeping Warm. Founder Kristine Vejar’s brick and mortar shop — which includes a store, two classrooms, two dye studios, and a dye garden — offers classes on everything from natural dyeing to knitting, spinning, and weaving. You can make it a gift that keeps on giving with a knitting 101 workshop or a how-to book. And if you can’t make up your mind between sewing patterns, yarn, and other organic fibers, gift cards for classes or store goods can be purchased in person or online. 6328 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, (SJ)

Take A Hike, err, a Climb: Secret Stairs: East Bay: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Berkeley and Oakland by Charles Fleming

It may seem slightly passive-aggressive to give someone a book full of staircases they can climb — “Oh, just in case you ever get up off the couch” — but if you’re going to send your loved one off on a walk, may it be as magical as the ones documented in Secret Stairs. Each of the book’s 38 self-guided hikes focuses on one of the East Bay’s most charming features: the hundreds of pathways and public staircases that wind through many of its residential neighborhoods, hidden away in plain sight. The walks are rated according to length, duration, difficulty, and number of stairs climbed. They take you past interesting architecture and sweeping views, and, of course, they make for great exercise. Not that I’m saying you need it. Available at various East Bay bookstores and online booksellers. (LT)

A Reason to Return Near Campus: Art supplies at The Ink Stone

Even though there’s a rarely a good reason to immerse yourself in the drudgery of the UC Berkeley student population, Ink Stone might actually be one that’s worth the push. Although small, and relatively difficult to find, the art supply store actually offers a huge variety of goods, from spray paints to acrylics to acid-free sketch pads and everything else your creative minds could imagine. If you’re looking for a unique notebook of any sort, stop by Ink Stone. They have enough for days. 2302 Bowditch St., Berkeley, 510-843-1162, (EY)

Heal the Bay: Stones and crystals at Sacred Well

In case you’re looking for some healing in this tough time, Sacred Well is the place to be. The metaphysical store is one of Oakland’s most famous, and its staggering collection of healing stones, crystals, and herbs are enough to satisfy even the most obscure of your homeopathic needs. Offering everything from protection candles to tarot readings or spiritual mentoring, this unique shop is the perfect venture for those who drift more than normal into the supernatural or the unknown. For a gift that challenges the mundane every day, stumble into Sacred Well for a moment of respite and blissful unknown. 536 Grand Ave., Oakland, (EY)

More Than Just Stationary: Japanese-inspired goodies at Miki’s Paper

If you’re looking for something a bit more special than your average clothing and jewelry, Miki’s Paper is definitely the place to go. The walls of the small, quaint store on Fourth Street are decorated with papers of all shapes, colors, and sizes. The Japanese-themed shop is also not limited to simply paper goods. They offer hair clips, pencils, and many other small trinkets you definitely wouldn’t think to find at a stationery shop. 1801 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510-845-9530, (EY)

Hella Fresh Fish: Community-supported fisheries

The community-supported-agriculture model transformed the business of growing vegetables as well as the consumer experience of buying produce. The same is now true for seafood thanks to the community supported fishery, or CSF. For anywhere from $23 to $200 per week, you can get the freshest fish, shellfish, crab, shrimp, and other bounty of the sea, and in so doing you’re buying it practically straight from the boat captains who haul in the catch each day. It’s a great way to enjoy sustainable seafood and support northern California’s fishers. The Seaforager (, Siren Fish Company (, and Real Good Fish ( all have drop-off locations throughout the East Bay where members can pick up whatever’s in season. A typical year includes salmon, various species of rockfish, mussels, oysters, tuna, sole, and halibut, but also ocean riches that are harder to find in supermarkets like spot prawns, surf smelt, butter clams, red abalone, opa, swordfish, and even fresh seaweed. (DB)

Perfect Accessories: Timeless jewelry at Marisa Mason

Tucked away in the trendy Temescal Alley off Telegraph Avenue, Marisa Mason is a subtle, classic, and timeless jewelry store that’ll provide the best for all of your jewelry needs. Originally founded in Santa Barbara, CA, the shop combines easy beach vibes of Southern California with the more urban chic of the Bay Area. Mason’s seamless designs and subtle artistry shine through the muted gold and leather strapping typical of her jewelry. Her look is sure to strike a perfect note with anyone looking for an accessory. 484 49th St., Suite D, Oakland, 510-289-6002, (EY)

Support Local Artists: John Casey Pillowheads

Even better than buying local: buying from local artists. With the East Bay’s thriving DIY art scene, there is an abundance of affordable art available for those who look. And in many cases you can find incredible original handmade pieces that don’t just hang on the wall. Local artist John Casey is just one example of an artist whose work is worth gifting this season. His wiry black and white contour drawings are wildly imaginative — if not slightly eerie at times. Casey recently released a series of “pillowheads,” which are face-shaped throw pillows hand-painted in his signature style of eccentric portraiture. Each costs $200, and is perfect for the person in your life who appreciates one-of-a-kind artworks all over their house. If that’s too steep of a price, though, Casey also offers shirts for $44, pint glasses for $10, and enamel “eyeballer” pins for $10. (SB)

Last Minute Gifts: 3-D printed jewelry and more at Viscera

This unique clothing store — located on Broadway Avenue right in the heart of downtown Oakland — offers garments that deviate from the traditional. Boasting that their clothing comes from and is made exclusively in the United States — and usually from small, local designers — Viscera consistently offers simple and sleek streamlined wear that’s perfect for any location or season. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift, the shop also offers 3-D printed jewelry, designed in-house, so that customers can come in and customize their piece exactly as they want it to be. 1542 Broadway, Oakland, 510-410-9040, (EY)

Original Gifts for the OG Pervert: Vintage Playboys From Feelmore

The Bay Area is filled with a lot of weird people, so during the holidays you’re probably asking yourself: What do you buy for the pervert who has it all? If the latest and greatest vibrator is a bit too pricey, and penis Jell-o molds are a bit too tacky, try taking it retro and picking up a couple vintage Playboys from Feelmore. Feelmore is stocked with vintage porno mags filled with classy 70s era bushes and alluring 80s mood lighting. Sometimes people like to read the articles, too! This means you might have to do some digging in order to find the perfectly tasteful vintage erotica for your friend, the sexual connoisseur. Don’t worry if you find yourself reading it cover to cover before wrapping it up and sticking it in a stocking — it’s already been used. 1731 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-891-0199, (PR)

That Robe You’ve Always Wanted: Awesome thrift finds at Anastasia

Although we’ve all seen our fair share of thrift stores, finding one with good quality, selection, and pricing is definitely no easy feat — especially with how in-style vintage has been lately. Anastasia, however, is that one rare find that boasts a great selection, while still staying true to its actual thrift store prices. There, you’re able to pick up a giant parka for $13, a silk Chinese robe for $20, and pair of low-slung Levi’s for $15. Very few places offer such great style at an actually affordable price, so don’t miss out on a great gift for your vintage-loving friend. 2360 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, 510-900-6120, (EY)

Naughty And Nice Kink: Massage bars and oils at Good Vibrations

Whether you’re shopping for someone who’s naughty or nice, massage bars and oils from Good Vibrations in Berkeley are great gifts no matter what your kink is. Made from sweet almond and other flavored oils, the Devour Me mini sampler pack comes with four flavors of massage oil — strawberry kiss, piña colada, crème brûlée, & cherries jubilee — to enhance any self-care kit, at-home spa day, or other alone time treat. For those who don’t like the mess of oils, the store also offers massage bars like the cocoa and shea butter-based Rub Me line, which melts easily at the touch of you or your partner’s body temperature. So get cozy, there’s no time like winter to heat things up! 2504 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-841-8987, (SJ)

Unique But Not Weird: Trinkets and treasures at Therapy

Looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, but not quite yet bizarre? Therapy is definitely the way. The small store has a million small trinkets and eccentric knickknacks that you wouldn’t even think to buy — things that you find and adore, but didn’t even know what you were looking for. If you’re looking for a last minute purchase that supports local businesses, while still deviating from the slightly overdone and generic, Therapy might be the place for you. Stop by to see what interesting treasures you might find inside. 1428 Park St., Alameda, 510-263-8622, (EY)

For That Obligatory Hello Kitty Figurine: Anime and merch at Gift Ichiban

Anime is in. And so is its merchandise. But don’t go to Daiso for your annual Christmas-themed Hello Kitty figure. – hop over to Gift Ichiban instead! You’ll get a better deal, and you’ll get to avoid the hordes of tourists swarming the cheap, white, plastic shelves as they scour the universe for a cute-yet-cheap gift. Even though the goods are likely manufactured abroad, there’s something to be said for supporting small business owners right in your neighborhood — especially ones unlikely to be closed on Christmas Day. 303 Tenth St., Oakland, 510-893-1828. (EY)

Local In Spirit: Oakland Raiders nail decals

Well, this isn’t a locally made gift … but it is a locally spirited gift, and that’s what counts. It’s unclear how long the Raiders will be a local team — but let’s not talk about that right now. We gotta show our team pride while we still have the chance! So if your girl is hella fashionable, and she’s already rocking that Derek Carr jersey, and she won’t stop talking about the Super Bowl, then you should probably get her some Raiders nail decals. They’re highly Instagramable, super cute, and still cheaper than a ticket to the game. Plus, these Raiders nail decals will perfectly coordinate with all her black and silver winter clothes. It’s not like she’d be caught wearing something silly like crimson or gold. (PR)

TLC in the 510: Bathing ritual supplies at Jupiter Tree

From the moment you set foot into the store, it’s clear that Juniper Tree knows how to take care of their customers well. Its walls and floors are lined with variegated soaps of all fragrances, bath beads, salts, scrubs, and even candles to set the mood during your bathing ritual. Every now and then, eveybody’s in need of a little TLC, so there’s no way you can go wrong with a gift from Juniper Tree. 2520 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-647-3697, (EY)

From Black Truffle Salt to Japanese Curry: Gift certificate to Oaktown Spice Shop

Giving gift certificates isn’t generally considered the most personal or creative gift, but a gift certificate to the Oaktown Spice Shop is far more than a mere gift certificate: it’s an invitation to the world of spice. The Oaktown Spice Shop is filled wall to wall with glass jars filled with exotic spices from far and wide. From black truffle sea salt to Japanese curry powder to better than everything bagel spice, the array of spices and the ensuing culinary inspiration behind every whiff and taste is sure to titillate the imagination of any home-made Iron Chef – and even professional chefs. The Oaktown Spice Shop is known as the place from which many restaurants source their dazzling secret spices. If you’re too old be a kid in a candy store, try being an adult in a spice shop. It’s just as fun. Still not sold on the gift certificate idea? They sell prepackaged spice medleys like “Around The World Gift Box” with Urumqi lamb rub, mole poblano, Madras curry powder and ras el hanout — if you want something that’s a bit less of a gift certificate. 546 Grand Ave., Oakland. 510-201-5400, (PR)

Shopping, and Possibly A Party: Yeezy Boosts and a bong at Solespace

This hybrid sneaker-head shop and event space is the place to snag all of the limited edition kicks you’ve been eyeing on the Instagram account of your favorite artist. Pick up the coolest pair of the latest record-breaking shoe: Kanye’s Adidas Yeezy Boosts and Rihanna’s Puma Fenty’s, just to name a few of the most well-known brands SoleSpace routinely has in stock. Located on Telegraph, smack in the middle of downtown Oakland’s most vibrant nightlife, SoleSpace is a fun, festive stop in the middle of exhausting holiday shopping. Who knows — you might even find yourself caught in an album release party or an impromptu rap show while browsing through some kicks. 1714 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, 510-910-9632. (EY)

Garden for the ‘Gram: Succulents and other drought-tolerant goodies at Dry Garden Nursery

Not everyone has a green thumb, which is why succulents make great gifts for both the drought-conscious and the gardening-impaired. At the Dry Garden Nursery in Oakland, you’ll find all of the Aloes, Aeoniums, and Agaves you need plus pots and other hand-made vessels to keep cacti happy indoors and out. The nursery also quietly mentions on its website a 10 percent off deal for customers who buy coffee at Jump’n Java (6606 Shattuck Ave), so be sure to grab a cup of joe across the street before you shop. And if all that isn’t enough for your Instagram, Dry Garden is also home to a very friendly and photogenic kitty. 6556 Shattuck Ave., Oakland, 510-547-3564, (SJ)

Real News and Stuff: Holiday cards and magazines at ISSUES

The most important thing you can do this holiday season is log off Fakebook, err, the fake news on Facebook. And what better way than to go buy some magazines and real news. ISSUES is a cool lil’ locally owned shop for reads in Piedmont. It’s a great place for holiday cards, real-news magazines, and whatnots. A smart time to visit will be next Saturday, December 3, between 4 and 7 p.m., when ISSUES and its neighbors will be hosting a tree lighting and neighborhood stroll. Bring the kids, maybe they’ll buy you a copy of Juxtapoz or Harper’s — and offer you some peace and quiet to devour at least one new issue in 2016. 20 Glen Ave, Piedmont, 510-652-5700, (NM)


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