Yes, online shopping is easy, but part of the fun of buying is browsing, and we don't mean on the Internet. While Targets, Walmarts and countless other franchises are vying for your buying attention during the holidays, it's best to ignore them and shop local. After all, indie brick-and-mortar stores tend to have a more curated collection of potential gift material, the likes of which you probably won't find online or in a big-box retailer.
Nonetheless, in an effort to cover all our bases, our little holiday gift guide has everything from point-and-click presents, such as a gift certificate, a seasonal subscription and an annual theme-park pass, to works from L.A. artists and designers, which can not only be picked up online but are also available at some of L.A.'s most interesting independent retailers.
Some might argue that a gift certificate isn't very imaginative, but when it comes in the form of a handmade wooden cooking utensil, at least it's useable in more ways that one. The Institute of Domestic Technology hosts intimate food-themed classes at locations such as the Zane Grey Estate in Altadena and the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. Gift certificates come in three different values. Ninety-five dollars gets the equivalent of the Gift of Gin and Tonic, while $195 buys classes like a one-day workshop called Foodcrafting 101. Four hundred ninety-five dollars covers more intensive primers, like the two-day Bread Camp. But don't worry about redeeming any of the amounts right away: The Institute of Domestic Technology holds compelling classes throughout the year. $95/$195/$495, instituteofdomestictechnology.com.
You can't get more L.A. than Kitson. Since the first store began attracting celebrities and paparazzi alike back when it opened on Robertson in 2000, it has become such an iconic L.A. institution that there's even a shop inside the recently revamped international Tom Bradley Terminal at LAX (not to mention ones in Orlando and Las Vegas, too). Among the store's many tony tchotchkes are some reasonably priced gems like this cute calendar, which features regular, down-to-earth Hebraic dudes such as Joel the violinist, Sam the medical professional, Max the pilot and Daniel the math teacher — one to gaze at lovingly each month of the year. As the back cover of the calendar reads, "You can take them home to Mom!" $16.95, Kitson at Beverly Center, 8500 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove. (310) 657-4380, shopkitson.com.
A Japanese holistic therapist for over 30 years, artist Keiko Matsuo runs the Topanga-based retreat Studio Cue L.A. That's where she produces her Golda line of products, including the Hiba Wood Mist, an atmospheric room spray composed of the essential oil of 300-year-old Hiba trees from Aomori, Japan. It has myriad health and household benefits, from promoting relaxation and eliminating odors to repelling insects and treating eczema. You don't have to drive to Topanga to get it, either, because it's also available for sale at the Hammer Store. $18 (2 oz.) and $38 (8 oz.), Hammer Store, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.
Inspired by 19th century Japanese artist and printmaker Utagawa Hiroshige's series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, artist Barbara A. Thomason decided to pay tribute to Hiroshige with her own series, 100 Not So Famous Views of L.A. Her paintings are landscapes that take the format of portraits, as the subjects have become characters in Thomason's own life story, and in many cases L.A.'s, too. Just a few depictions include the Western Exterminator building in Silver Lake, Angelus Temple in Echo Park, La Brea Tar Pits and Hollywood Forever Cemetery, among dozens of others. $30, The Library Store at Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., Downtown. (213) 228-7550, lfla.org/store.
When L.A.-based film, food and lifestyle executives put together gift baskets for their favorite clients, Sugarfina is sure to be one of the most eye-catching brands inside their sure-to-be tastefully prepared hampers. Most of Sugarfina's collections come in two sizes: a bigger "bento box" and a smaller "tasting box," a.k.a. "gift set." The "Cocktail Hour" collection features Champagne-infused gummy bears, while the "Taste of Beverly Hills" comes with caviar and pearls. The "Happy Holidays" variety includes seasonal flavors such as gingerbread, peppermint and pumpkin pie and "Sugarfina Faves" features a curated collection of the boutique's most popular sweets. $25-$65, Sugarfina, 9495 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. (855) SUGARFINA, sugarfina.com.
Local artist Evan Chambers grew up tinkering in his parents' art studios, then began blowing glass and working with copper as a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He's since opened his own studios, and currently works primarily with glass, copper, bronze and silver. His "Octopod" series of practical yet decorative items reflect an early interest in Art Nouveau, as well as Chambers' mastery of glass blowing and metalworking. They are fashioned from spun copper, and the tentacles are solid bronze casts, which — along with the portholes and rivets — are applied by hand prior to having the glass blown into them to create the lights. While expensive, they are a sturdy, solid investment because they are not just functional, they are also works of art. The Octopod Desk Lamp comes in two sizes. There's also the smaller Porthole Octopod and Octo-Submarine pendant lamp. $1200-$3600, Gold Bug, 22 E. Union St., Pasadena. (626) 744-9963, goldbugpasadena.com.
These gift boxes are sent out every three months and are filled to the brim with goodies that help keep friends and family, well, fab, fit and fun. Past editions have featured cozy socks, chic aprons, artisanal soaps, chic jewelry and loads of beauty products. The contents of the winter edition are anybody's guess, and should be kept that way, as each box is meant to be a surprise. The seasonal collections feature four times each box's price worth of full-size fitness, fashion, health and beauty items, and with a new one coming out every three months, it's like a gift that continues all year long. Oh, and shipping is included. $49.99 per box, vip.fabfitfun.com.
3. Knott's Berry Farm Season Pass
Besides the fact that an annual pass at Knott's usually costs less than a single ticket to Disneyland, there's plenty of reasons to visit this charming theme park besides its super-scary roller coasters and the Peanuts gang. Knott's is full of charming little nooks like the Western Trails Museum, which features a collection of antique cash registers, barbed wire and an old wreath made by Emma F. Taylor Gross in 1879 — exclusively from her own hair. The rides are sufficiently scary, and given that it makes jams and preserves, it should come as not surprise that Knott's loves to celebrate the seasons year-round with pageants such as Knott's Scary Farm and Knott's Merry Farm. Annual 2015 pass is $79.50, plus taxes and fees (offer continues through January 4). Knott's Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park. (714) 220-5200, knotts.com.
Bughouse is the brainchild of native Angelenos and husband-and-wife duo Jeff Klarin and Rebecca Johnson. The pair's art-and-design practice creates the Future Fossils series of outdated electronic items such as the Walkman, cassette tapes, Instamatic camera and Atari joystick. These tributes to retro items are all hand-cast using cement and aged by Klarin. Each is a unique representation and nostalgic reminder of the ephemeral nature of technology in popular culture, and they're all made right here in L.A. $60-$150, Jenny & Jimbob, 11114 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601, (323) 274-5684, jennyandjimbob.com.
1. You Have Everything You Need
This print by L.A. artist Deedee Cheriel pretty much sums it up, but despite its message, the limited-edition, signed and custom-framed work of art isn't free, for obvious reasons. The price is still pretty reasonable, considering what some artists are charging for prints these days, and when the holiday season rolls around next year, it's a good reminder of the fact that perhaps, indeed, we do have everything we need. $160, The Golden State Store, 564 Rose Ave., Venice, (310) 392-7800. thegoldenstatestore.com.
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