Merry & Bright
Great ideas for pleasing those who matter on your holiday list.
Photography by Lance Yamamoto
With this handy gift guide, this season’s holiday shopping will be a cinch. From sparkly and stylish to high-tech and practical, this collection of goods will put you in the good graces of the receiver.
Knotty and Nice
Lise Silva’s fiber jewelry incorporates ancient sacred knot artistry that serves as a metaphor for intentions and meaningful wishes. These lightweight cords are hand-wrapped with a continuous light-reflecting cotton thread in dreamy colors such as blue moon silver, ginger copper, teal, and plum. Tassels, brass half moons, or small agate stones accent Silva’s symbolic knots in statement pieces, Vibration Knot Collar ($134); subtle hints of energy, Vibration Knot Necklace ($98); or let go and live simply through the tasseled Genie Bottle necklace ($94). Want to learn how to make your own, check out Silva’s instructional book complete with knot meanings and meditations or attend an instructional workshop at The Rare Bird. Find Silva’s jewelry at The Rare Bird, 3883 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-653-2473, TheRareBird.com, and LiseSilva.com.
Jewelry designer Joy Wilkins has always enjoyed collecting small trinkets—shells, buttons, beads, feathers, and pieces of old jewelry—all the odds and ends the average person may see no use for. Wilkins, however, gives them new life by incorporating them into bold necklaces or one-of-a-kind jeweled trees. Vintage, retro, antique, and salvaged treasures converge for artistically composed statement pieces ($95-$300). The clever mosaic-like trees ($175-$260) reflect a theme, like “Festival of Jewels” or “Chrystal Palace.” There’s always something new to discover every time you look at one of Wilkins’ visually appealing creations. Shop online at JoyWilkinsDesigns.com.
A Piece of the Sky
Have you ever promised your special someone that you would give her the stars? Truckee resident and jewelry designer Krista Tranquilla’s Orion Night Sky earrings ($64) give a unique perspective on the famous constellation as viewed through trees. The earrings began as a piece of Tranquilla’s original artwork, which was then imprinted onto brass and oxidized to highlight the stunning details. The earrings are 2 inches long and are fitted with Niobium ear wires. Choose brass, copper, or silver ($86). The earrings are available at Resurrect, 4135 Piedmont Ave., 510-653-8716, Oakland, ResurrectOakland.com, and online at KristaTranquilla.com.
It’s a Wrap
Aranami is the Japanese word for stormy seas and raging waves, and the pattern for this knitted shawl mimics the shape and color of a roiling, winter sea. The DIYer or crafter on your list will appreciate the Aranami Shawl Kit ($137), which includes needles, five skeins of yarn (enough for two shawls), and the pattern, which is worked in modular technique. A Verb for Keeping Warm, aside from having a great name, sells yarn, fabric, natural dyes, and fiber. A Verb for Keeping Warm, 6328 San Pablo Ave., 510-595-8372, Oakland, AVerbForKeepingWarm.com.
All That Glitters
This holiday dress is sure to make an entrance and incite “oohs” and “aahs” at all the go-to parties of the season. Give the gift of sparkle to an equally dazzling lady on your gift list with the Flora Fauna dress by Nicole Miller ($695), complete with intricate beading and embroidery designs on shimmering gold sequins. This flattering coquettish V-neck cocktail dress is surprisingly versatile, as it can be paired with strappy heels and understated jewelry or casual flats and a denim jacket. Lilac Dress Boutique, 1918 Encinal Ave., Alameda, 510-865-2544, LilacDressBoutique.com.
Possibly the best thing about winter is an excuse to wear buttery-leather boots, especially a perfectly chic yet durable pair. Any boot-addled adult would be thrilled with some snazzy side-zip boots this season. Crafted from burnished calfskin with leather-stacked heels and soft fleece lining, Biza’s Alps side-zip boots ($199.95) crush the competition, though Anesha’s Malibu side-zip boots in red calfskin ($189.98) are to die for. But who can resist Biza’s Shasta blue-suede boots with the high-grade rubber soles ($159.95)? These boots were meant for walking and prancing in—they’re so darned pretty. Sole Desire, 1330 Park St., Alameda, 510-214-8055.
Westerners have long understood the benefits of aging whiskey and wine, but until fairly recently, Americans were unhip to the benefits of aging green tea. Puer is a variety of fermented green tea from the Yunnan province of China. As Max Falkowitz of Serious Eats puts it, this tea does not have fans; it has junkies. Far Leaves Tea sells cakes of Old Tree Green Puer ($350), promising grassy honeysuckle notes and a sharper, more sophisticated umami flavor that can only be achieved with age. Break off a few flakes per person, infuse in a clay pot, and share this treasure with a good friend. Far Leaves Tea, 2626 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-665-9409, FarLeaves.com.
Sake is not just for the sushi bar anymore. Premium varieties abound in a plethora of flavors, from extra dry to fruity to earthy. What better way to celebrate the holiday season (and the rest of the year) than with Umami Mart’s super cute, one-cup sake gift set ($50) and a sake subscription series ($420 to $510 for a six-month subscription; yearlong subscriptions also available)? The experts at the Old Oakland celebration-of-all-Japanese-beverages shop curate the selection and offer monthly tasting notes and pairing suggestions for the subscription series. Umami Mart, 815 Broadway, Oakland, 510-250-9559, UmamiMart.com.
Berkeley-based Mosswood Distillers sources its whiskeys from outside distilleries and transforms them through the barrels they’re aged it in. Such barrels include sherry casks, apple brandy barrels, and the barrels that Drake’s Brewing uses for its sour beers. Don’t miss Mosswood’s whiskey aged in oak barrels washed with cold brew (courtesy of Oakland’s Bicycle Coffee) ($65). Chocolatey, nutty, and with a complex, bitter finish, it’s bolder and more creative than most of its shelf mates—making it just about perfect for the boozehound in your life who’s tried everything. Available online at DrinkMosswood.com or local liquor stories like Cask and Alchemy Bottle Shop.
Yet again, Nintendo has failed to produce enough of its retro game consoles for everyone to buy one at a retail outlet, but the SNES Classic is worth hunting up. The second market has driven prices up to $200, as all retailers are sold out. But if you can still find one of these “hottest-toy-of-the-season” items, you’ll be treating your favorite retro gamer to all-time greats like Mario Kart, Super Metroid, and the never-before released Starfox 2 (AKA Lylat Wars 2, if you’re from Europe). In theory, $80; in reality, $200. Nintendo.com/super-nes-classic
The intelligent speaker trend really is a game-changer for the home. With Google stepping up its offerings and focusing a lot more on users and a lot less on selling you paper towels, it’s Home voice-activated speaker is the best choice for most folks on your holiday list. It’s like a vocal window into another world, thanks to hundreds of free add-on integrations that can do things like read you the Bible, tell you a story, or even play a choose-your-own-adventure game. Plus, with multiple speakers, you can use them as intercoms in your home to call junior down for supper. Google Home ($109), Google Home Mini ($49), Google Home Max ($399), Store.google.com.
A Wall of Sound
These little circuit boards look like uncovered calculators, but are, in fact, amazing little pocket synthesizer/sequencer combinations. Teenage Engineering offers a great selection of Pocket Operators ($59) with a range of sounds. You could get a drum kit (PO-12), a bass (PO-14), or others with sounds ranging from arcade bleeps to office equipment clacks. Tremendous fun for musicians and nonmusicians alike. They are ultra portable and offer uber high-quality studio sound. Plus, they can be chained together. And how fun is that? TeenAgeEngineering.com.