We’ve been doing some shopping again—not for ourselves, you understand, but strictly to spare you the trouble in your mad holiday dash for gifts. We’ve scoured the shelves of indie stores and chains alike (yes, a little break with tradition) to find you the newest, coolest and most sought-after gifts of the season, organized by the types of people you might find on your list.
Say your host and hostess are serving Dungeness crab, lightly dressed on a couple of peppery leaves of endive, before everyone tucks into the main event. You’ll be the evening’s very welcome guest as you offer up your La Marca Prosecco, from Italy ($17.95), in its Tiffany-like blue gift box. Whether your hosts’ holiday feast boasts turkey, goose or even a standing rib roast, this crisp Prosecco is the perfect counterpoint to whatever yummy red is already on the menu; it’s festive, a little citrusy and light enough for a second or even third toast as guests linger over a leisurely dinner. The perfect hostess gift, and that gorgeous blue box and label really do hint at more good times to come. It’s hard to find, which is just one more reason we love Julienne.
Julienne, 2649 Mission St., San Marino, 626.441.2299, juliennetogo.com.
For the person who likes nothing more than spending hours—or entire days—in the kitchen, nothing beats a gift certificate for cooking classes. La Canada’s Chez Cherie offers a range of certificates, from one class, wrapped up in a box with a wire whisk and a bow for $65, to three classes, wrapped with a condiment jar, wire whisk and a bow for $195. Classes include Tamales, Büche de Noel (holiday logs), Cold Weather Cooking, Flavors of Provence and her famous Cooking with Trader Joe’s. Big spenders can buy a really good friend (or a mother, sister, father or spouse) a ticket for Chez Cherie’s Culinary Cruise through Provence (with three days in Paris) next June.
Chez Cherie, 1401 Foothill Blvd., La Canada, 818.952.7217, chezcherie.com.
Who needs premium cable when you can watch TV shows and movies through a little HD streaming box that attaches, by cable or wirelessly, to any television? This year’s tech mavens are clamoring for the tiny boxes from Roku TV and Apple TV that allow you to stream from Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Video On Demand—as well as to listen music on Pandora—whenever you want. The Roku TV player ranges from $59 to $99 and is available locally at Best Buy or online at roku.com.Apple TV, which also gives you access to iTunes’ movies and TV shows, is $99 and is sold at the Apple Store in Old Pasadena.
Apple Store, 54 W. Colorado Blvd., Old Pasadena, 626.577.2685, apple.com; Best Buy, 3415 E. Foothill Blvd., East Pasadena, 626.351.9516, bestbuy.com.
For the clothes horse on your list—you know who she is—EG Page comes to the rescue with yummy Miel de Abejas bags ($90 each) in three sizes and many metallic colors. This Houston-based company makes these great bags of sparkly metallic leathers in several treatments. The largest is a great clutch, the middle is a perfect for a makeup bag, and the smallest fits a cell phone, ID and lipstick—ideal for a quick holiday party.
EG Page, 2507 Mission St., San Marino, 626.799.2000.
Jodi Arnold has been a fixture in the New York fashion world for the last decade as the designer for MINT Jodi Arnold. Two examples of her great designs are the pair of luxurious cashmere sweaters now on the racks at Onesipkim. The recipient of either of these sweaters is sure to put it on and not take it off until June. Heavyweight cashmere is worked into both the Metal Chain Cardigan in beige heather ($432), with heavy chain knit into the design, and the Twisted Pocket Cardigan ($279), with an origami-like pocket on each side. The prices are steep, but these investment-grade sweaters are sure to become hand-me-downs for lucky daughters.
Onesipkim, 110 W. Green St., Old Pasadena, 626.396.4926, onesipkim.com.
Rocket Fizz, which opened in Old Pasadena last July, will fuel your childhood memories for candy and soda. But look past the candy to the walls, where you’ll find great, affordable gifts for music lovers and fans of vintage ads. Tin signs, replicas of advertisement for things like Mad Magazine and Corvette cars, are $13.99; wildly colorful concert posters ($6.99) commemorate appearances by the likes of the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin and the Blues Brothers back in the day. Add to the mix more than 80 brands of root beer and 1,500 kinds of candies new and old, and you will find lots of affordable gifts here.
Rocket Fizz, 111 W. Green St., Old Pasadena, 626.449.7632, rocketfizz.com.
Thule (pronounced “tool-ee”), the Swedish company known for its luggage, sport and bike racks, has a great new line of luggage, Thule Crossover. Designed for the same customer who would buy the racks—outdoorsy types and athletes—the luggage is beautifully and intelligently designed with lots of pockets (or crush-proof safe zones, as the company calls them) for such paraphernalia as sunglasses, googles and gloves. Handles on the rolling models are engineered for stability with no side-to-side swinging, wheels are oversize, and outer shells are waterproof. Prices start at $135 for the duffle and go up to $300 for the 60-liter rolling upright with a detachable day pack.
Distant Lands, 56 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, 800.310.3220, distantlands.com.
Art Book Buff
This season Vroman’s has some fantastic coffee-table books for just about anyone on your list. (And make sure to sign up for the Gives Back Program, which gives a percentage of each sale to a local nonprofit of your choice.)
— DC Comics: The 75th Anniversary Poster Book (Quirk Books, 2010; $40). These posters—including many ready-to-frame covers—range from the usual Superman, Batman and Batgirl to the relatively unknown—like Mr. District Attorney, a 1950s comic modeled after New York Govenor Thomas Dewey, and Leave it to Binky, also from the ‘50s, a teen humor title that predated “Beaver” by nearly a decade.
— Hiroshige: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, text by Melanie Trede and Lorenz Nichler (Taschen, 2010, $39.99) is a beautiful publication made from one of the finest sets of woodblock prints from the Ota Memorial Museum of Art in Tokyo. The prints depict landscapes of Edo (what is now Tokyo) by Hiroshige, who is considered one of the greatest artists in the ukiyo-e tradition and who was the subject of a recent show at the Norton Simon.
— Barbra Streisand: My Passion for Design (Viking, 2010, $60; a portion of the proceeds go to the Barbra Striesand Women’s Cardiovascular Research and Education Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center), principle photgraphy by Barbra Streisand. The star’s first book is a lavish ode to one of her less revealed talents—her design sense. The photographs are of her many architectural and landscaping projects, both in process and the diva-worthy end results.
Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626.449.5320, vromansbookstore.com.
We may get sunshine for Christmas, but it still can get pretty chilly, and a fire in the hearth is a welcome thing. So take some time to peruse the hundreds of fireplace tool sets at Floyd S. Lee Fireplace & BBQ for the fire lover on your gift list. Floyd has been there since 1926, and it’s like going back in time to shop here. Tool sets, which typically consist of a shovel, poker, broom and tongs, range from $70 to $700, with finishes in bronze, brass, chrome, nickel, wrought iron and copper. Our favorite is a copper set from Uniflame ($199).
Floyd S. Lee Fireplace & BBQ, 1215 E. Walnut St. Pasadena, 626.792.2136, floydslee.com.
Glass bottles, antique toy cars, Brownie camera, vintage tins and more fill the shelves at Marz, so if you have a friend or family member who has a passion for collecting the odd and interesting, take a look. The glass bottles ($15 to $29) are from the 1920s and ‘30s and have embossed labels (like “California Fig Syrup” and “Hat Polish”). Vintage Lusterware salt and pepper shakers from Japan go for $15 to $29, and Brownie cameras are $35 to $45. Pick-up sticks, coffee tins and dress patterns fill out the list of collectible gifts; also in stock is a wonderful array of beautiful, witty and/or clever new items, from books to scarves to greeting cards.
Marz, 1512 Mission St., South Pasadena, 626.799.4032.
You can’t go wrong with one of Lululemon’s cozy pullovers, made of cutting-edge athletic fabric, for the walkers and runners on your list. For him: The Run Motion Pullover ($88). It’s warm yet breathes with super-soft wicking fabric, and it comes in several two-tone colors. For her: The Run Alpine Pullover ($118). Just a bit feminine, but not too, with a yoke, pocket ruching and little touches that only Lulu seems to know how to do (like mitten sleeves and a hole in the hood for your ponytail), this pullover is made from tech fleece and comes in haze and black with gray (more colors coming soon).
Lululemon, 110 W. Colorado Blvd., Old Pasadena, 626.792.0791, lululemon.com.
The Young & Young at Heart
Cuddly and cute stuffed animals don’t appeal only to kids—the ones at San Marino Toy & Book shop are so tempting anyone would want one. So for a teen, a child, or an adult nostalgic for youth, you’ll find s a huge assortment of Gund (and other brands) stuffed animals. We liked the big but not giant ones, especially the polar bear ($49.99), the traditional teddy bear ($69.99) and the sheepdog ($34.99).
San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe, 2424 Huntington Dr., San Marino, 626.309.0222, toysandbooks.com.