Buy These Not-Boring L.A.-Made Holiday Gifts
Even if you don't buy into that "giving is better than receiving" jazz, you have to admit that buying local feels pretty good.
Encourage the man in your life to do away with that regrettable remnant of Movember with a wet shave starter kit from the Los Angeles Shaving Soap Company. Running this one-man show is John Brown, who handcrafts soaps that are every contemporary synonym of "good": artisanal, vegan, and cruelty free. He'd been making soaps for friends and family for more than a decade, but got into shaving soap when he was introduced to wet shaving a couple years ago. Now he's helping to revive that art, which requires a wet face, a steady hand, and an intimate familiarity with the grain of one's beard hair. The kit comes with a safety razor, blades, a shaving brush, and a jar of Brown's soap, which comes in a variety of L.A.-inspired fragrances like Topanga Fougère, Santa Monica Bay Rum, and Hollywood Romance. I almost wish I had (more) facial hair. —Gwynedd Stuart
The holidays are all about family, love and stuffing your fat face until your body wants a divorce from your soul. A great way to help a friend of loved one get the calorie train rolling is by sending a freshly made pie directly to their home. Enter: Sugar Pie, Honey Buns. Established in 2014 by husband-and-wife duo Michelle Park and Jonathan Lo, this baked-goods delivery service brings made-to-order, preservative-free pies right to your doorstep (starts at $34.99). The site asks for orders to be placed at least 24 hours in advanced, a friggin’ blessing for procrastinators. Park bakes all the pies herself, but will occasionally call up her parents for prep help when needed — how sweet is that?! (Yes, the pun was intended; no, we will not take it back). According to Park, Sugar Pie, Honey Buns will be introducing an apple cranberry crumble pie seasoned with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg for the holidays. Each pie is approximately 10 inches around and serves eight to 10 people so you can invite yourself over and help your friend pig out. —Marina V. Shifrin
Shen offers prints of other skylines—but this one is obviously the coolest.
The DTLA skyline, painted in a DTLA studio
Law school stifled the creative spirit of Patricia Shen so she left it behind to focus on something different: hand lettering and painting. In 2014, the self-trained maker and entrepreneur launched Our Heiday, a stationery brand carried everywhere from Los Angeles to the U.K. From her DTLA loft, Shen designs gift wrap, greetings cards and prints like this L.A. skyline. The print includes Shen’s trademark lettering — thin, flowing letters that seem delicate yet bold — and an artistic interpretation of the skyline Angelenos know so well. Gift if to your friend that constantly posts Instagram photos of the city’s skyscrapers shrouded in smog or to the rebel in the group that might relate to Shen’s unpredictable path of self-discovery. —Eva Recinos
The holiday lights tour is extra sparkly.
Photo courtesy of Neel Sodha
A little exercise and a lot of knowledge in DTLA
It is scientifically proven — by someone, somewhere — that nearly 70 percent of people will have “get fit,” or something like that, on their list of New Year’s resolutions. Booking a walking tour will not only burn off some holiday calories, but it’ll also connect your touring buddy to the city we all love (most of the time): Los Angeles. Neel Sodha has wandered the streets of DTLA, spitting out facts, since 2009, when he launched Downtown L.A. Walking Tours ($15, free for children under 13). Sodha is like a human Wikipedia page when it comes to L.A. history and facts. He started out as a volunteer at Union Station, before seeing a need for walking tours. He ended up leaving his nine-to-five accounting job to give tours full time. Total badass move, Neel. Sodha’s tours range from L.A.’s Beginnings, Architecture, Haunted Tales, Holiday Lights and more. He offers tours on almost every day of the week, at varying times throughout the day. This is a great gift for history junkies or just people who prefer experiences to material goods. (213) 399-3820, dtlawalkingtours.com. —Marina V. Shifrin
Jams or body lotions?
Photo by S. Rashkin
A gift they can spread on bread
Feel like you don’t have enough hipster cred back home? Then go peak Silver Lake on your friends, and sign them up for a subscription to Sqirl’s jam-of-the-month club. Sure, you might sound silly explaining that you bought them artisanal jam, but they should stop making fun of you once they taste how great the jams are. Members of the club receive a two pack of jam every other month, and you can gift the membership for 4 months ($60), 6 months ($90), or a year ($180). Sqirl tends to offer a mix of fairly traditional flavors (e.g. strawberry rhubarb) and more experimental ones, like black mission fig and red wine, and all of the ingredients are local and organic. If you really want to sound pretentious, you can mention that the jams were made in copper jam pans, using techniques developed in the 1500s. But with any luck, your friends will be too caught up in their foodgasm to hear what you’re saying at that point. 720 N. Virgil Ave., Silver Lake; (213) 394-6526, sqirl.myshopify.com/products/jam-club-6-month-1-year-membership. —Katie Buenneke
The Jingletinger is in the middle there.
Photo courtesy of Yetis & Friends
Cruelty-free taxidermy made in Pasadena
Pasadena-based Yetis & Friends makes plush, mounted heads for kids at heart who still love a creepy fairy tale. Got someone naughty on your list? Go for the Krampus. The German monster loves to terrorize folks during the holiday season and this mounted version is one of the company's tis-the-season best sellers. Not all of Yetis & Friends' fuzzy beasts are quite so frightful—the pastel creatures are hot gifts too. Check out Jingletinger ($120), a yeti with antlers and bells, or the hybrid Yeticorn (small version $60). The creations are handmade and priced accordingly, but they recently introduced more economical "mini" pieces. They're about half the size of the originals and cost $60. The mounted monsters are available on Etsy, but you can also purchase at local stores like Leanna Lin's Wonderland in Eagle Rock and Pasadena shops Flower Pepper Gallery and Lula Mae.
Durban Bikes' Metro model folds right in half.
Photo courtesy of Durban Bikes
For a ride-or-die friend
If you're like me (poor) you live in a small place with no storage, so finding somewhere to put a bicycle is a bigger pain in the buns than an unpadded saddle. But the weather here is great and the traffic sucks so, dammit, a bike is a must. Built in Brazil but headquartered in L.A., Durban Bikes makes cycles that fold in half for easy storage and transport. The frames are short and the wheels are small, so the seat and handle bars are tall, but both easily contract, turning the bike into a totally manageable little bundle of metal and rubber that weighs around 29 pounds. The Metro model will set you back $399 (a gift for someone you really like) but it's on sale at Target.com at the moment for $265 (still, a gift for someone you really like). durbanbikes.com. —Gwynedd Stuart
A felt bird ornament, hand-made soap and a hand-stitched coffee sleeve from Made by DWC.
Photo by Mara Shalhoup
Help women help women
Everyone can appreciate handmade luxuries such as lavender and honey soap, green-tea soy candles, woven coffee sleeves and fabric travel pouches. And everyone can appreciate them a helluva lot more when they're made by — and directly benefit — women who need help. All of the products in the Made by DWC line are crafted by homeless and low-income women from Skid Row who've sought the services of the Downtown Women's Center, and all of the proceeds from those products go straight to providing permanent housing and social services for those women. (While browsing at DWC's resale boutique or gift shop, grab a coffee and pastry at its neighboring cafe, which helps those same women learn commercial baking skills.) When you give someone a gift from Made by DWC, you're really giving two gifts at once.Find these products at Made by DWC's resale boutique, 325 S. Los Angeles St., downtown, and its cafe and gift shop, 438 S. San Pedro St., downtown; shop.madebyDWC.org. —Mara Shalhoup
Cushing Manor from BPAL's Crimson Peak line
Photo courtesy of Black Phoenix Alchemy
Good smells for he, she, or ze
The folks at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab have conjured perfume gold to suit just about every nose. The San Fernando Valley-based company makes perfume oils that are gender-neutral and often designed to be layered so that wearers can develop their own, unique scents. They release oodles of fragrances ranging from sultry to breezy and many of the oils are based on books and films, like the recently released Crimson Peak series ($30 for 5 ml vial). If you're searching for a unique gift for your favorite Sherlock Holmes fan, pick up the limited series of scents inspired by The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle. If you want your purchase to make a societal impact, check out Palmyra ($25). Named for an ancient city whose ruins are in present-day Syria, proceeds benefit UNHCR in assisting Syrian refugees. 12120 Sherman Way, North Hollywood; (818) 506-9404, blackphoenixalchemylab.com. —Liz Ohanesian
Good smells for he, she, or ze
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