Presents of Mind: Our Holiday Gift Guide

Our holiday gift guide takes the guesswork out of the shopping season.


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American-made Jeans

For the guy who has everything, you might check his denim drawer. Chances are you’ll find prewashed, pre-faded, made-in-a-factory duds. Surprise him with the manly gift of American-made jeans from Two Jacks Denim. The Uptown shop’s small collection of raw and selvedge dungarees (to sum it up, you have to break in these bad boys) come from designers who work with a handful of textile mills only found in the United States and Japan. While some of the materials come from Japan, every pair in the store was made in the good ol’ US of A. Each brand has its own story, from how the Oregon inmates earn a living wage making Prison Blues to the three founders of Taylor Stitch who partnered with a multigenerational family of shirt makers. Two Jacks Denim, 2355 Broadway, Oakland, 510-788-5832,




Whether there’s an athlete on your gift list, or you’re expecting someone close to you to make that popular New Year’s resolution of getting in shape, the Fitbit ($129–$149) is a great little device to stuff in a stocking. Using the Fitbit service, runners can track their mileage, speed, and consistency, as well as measure just how many calories they burned in the Oakland marathon. Instead of being a fashion statement, this little band is a rugged pedometer, watch, and even a heart rate monitor. You’ll be turning the runner in your family into a bionic person, of sorts, able to self-quantify their performance at the push of a button. This is the perfect gift for the person on your list who would ruin an Apple watch by diving into the Bay for a triathlon.



Timbuk2 x Blue Bottle Travel Kit

You know when you really care about the coffee elitist in your life? You buy them the pricey Blue Bottle Travel Kit for $179. Blue Bottle teamed up with Bay Area–based Timbuk2 for this slick product, which includes a hand-grinder, ceramic dripper, enamel tumblers (with cozies!), filters, and coffee. The only thing you supply each time you use it? Hot water. The coffee-obsessed can take it camping, on a plane, or even to a kid’s soccer game. James Freeman, Blue Bottle’s CEO, reportedly considered every painstaking detail during the design process, including how close the cozie (aka zarf) sat in relation to the drinker’s lips.



TCHO Chocolates

Celebrate the close proximity of local chocolatier Tcho (the T is silent) by getting your hands on their unique collection of fair-trade chocolates. Sourced from beans all over the world, these handcrafted chocolates are created by way of a direct partnership with farmers. Our favorite options include the melt-in-your-mouth Mokkacino Blue Bottle coffee bar and the Tchunky Tchotella, a bar combining a delectable combo of hazelnuts and chocolate. Wrap up a Galactic Gelato or a Dark Chocolatey Cacao for those stockings hung near the fireplace. Available for purchase online, at the factory store in Berkeley (where you can also take a tour), or at Berkeley Bowl, Bi-Rite Market, Whole Foods, and Real Foods.



Kathryn Mosher Designs

Oooh, sparkly! All it took was one class at Bead Inspirations for Alamedan Kathryn Mosher to be swept into the world of magnificent beads and jewelry design. She loves to make chunky statement pieces, often incorporating vintage baubles like brooches or earrings, and sometimes focusing on the weight and natural beauty of agate, jasper, and quartz. Humans have been using shells as beads for personal decoration for 100,000 years, she says, and that finding inspires her. As a docent for the Oakland Museum of California and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Mosher has plenty of exposure to gorgeous historical pieces of jewelry, and it shows in her craft. Available on



Good Eggs Delivery Service

If you are not sure what to get the nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free locavore in your midst, try a subscription to Good Eggs, an SF Bay Area company that pairs more than 100 farms and local food companies with an online order service that will deliver straight to a subscriber’s house. If you want to order personalized sundries, the gift section of the Good Eggs site boasts a number of delicious holiday treats from burnt almond brittle to exotic olive oils and vinegars to mushroom mini-farms. But don’t be limited by the gift section alone. Anything you want to order you can narrow down by allergy or preference to give you a full range of heartfelt treats you can put under the tree—or on the table for the holidays.



Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

If you want to be the “cool” relative who buys the kids a videogame their parents don’t want them to have, pick up Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The third installment in the first-person shooter with RPG elements delivers more of the ultra-violence and sick humor fans have come to expect. However, thanks to the unique art style, twisted morals, and over-the-top weapons and characters, the series remains a standout in the genre. Everything is excessive—killing, looting, sexual innuendos—and it’s this excessiveness, particularly from the crude but genuinely funny humor, that adds a cartoonish hue to the violence. This ridiculousness keeps the game planted in fantasy, so don’t worry too much about scarring little Timmy or Tammy; let their parents worry. Available at GameStop, 3040 E. 9th St., Oakland, 510-536-4833,




You can’t turn a corner without hearing about the healing powers of superfoods. Because of the ongoing craze, here’s an idea for surprising the health-food fanatic among you: Nutiva, an organic superfood company, boasts pure and unadulterated products, ethically sourced, and offers a package deal ($42.99) that includes a 54-ounce container of coconut oil, a 12-ounce bag of chia seeds, and an 8-ounce bag of hemp seeds. Buy it for a friend who is into these superfood superstars, or use it to experiment with your own chia pudding, hemp milk, coconut smoothies, and a myriad other concoctions you can either bake for yourself or give away. Additional goodies that can be ordered online from this Richmond-based company include palm oil, coconut manna, hemp protein, and coconut sugar.



Highwire Coffee Roasters Goods

In your holiday excursions, don’t forget to walk into this relatively new coffee shop in the Rockridge district of Oakland. Located directly inside the Pasta Shop, Highwire carries an abundance of locally sourced fresh goodies, including the must-try Paleo muffins from Muffin Revolution. The coffee itself, roasted in Emeryville, makes a wonderful decorative package for the coffee connoisseurs in your life. The beans (from $16.50) come wrapped in simple unassuming paper bags decorated with original graphics, boasting names such as Bauhaus (the darkest), Tightrope (delicate act of balance), Conscientious Objector, and a decaf called After Hours. Highwire also offers exotic teas (from $15), including the light green Genmai Cha, Roobois, and their own Highwire Breakfast Tea. Highway Coffee Roasters, 5655 College Ave., Oakland,



Playstation 4

If you’ve got a kid or a gamer on your list, this is the console to get him or her. While the videogame console wars have been going on for some time, this current generation of hardware wars has been resoundingly won by Sony, which has more enticing games on the road ahead than the Xbox One. In addition, the Playstation 4 ($399) is the perfect way to tie your living room together with NetFlix or Blu-Rays. While the Microsoft Xbox One can also perform the functions, the Playstation 4 has the clear edge in videogame quality. If you’re trying to pick the winner of this drawn-out war, it’s almost certainly Sony this time around.



S’well Bottles

Looking for a gift for the environmentally minded, that family member or friend who loses sleep over melting polar caps, rising sea levels, and the massive island of plastic refuse floating in the Pacific? S’well Bottles are the sustainable alternative to plastic bottles and then some. These indestructible, insulated beverage containers look good and work great. The stainless steel design leaves no metallic taste and keeps drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12. Available in a host of fun colors and cool patterns, these reusables are a fashion must-have. The bottles come in three sizes, each big enough to hold ice cubes and slender enough to fit the cup holder in your car, and run about $25 to $45. Plus S’well partners with charitable orgs like WaterAid and American Forest. Available all over, including Starbucks and Whole Foods locations and online,



Eye-popping Calendars

Every new year starts of with a new calendar, right? These fun twists on the traditional paper calendar from Papersource in Berkeley make great gifts. Tea Towel Calendar ($11.95) offers an easy way to keep tabs on what day it is in the kitchen. It is a great stocking stuffer for the cook in your life, especially paired with a Superhero Apron, $24.95, featuring (with adjustable ties) Wonder Woman or Superman, so the chef will know what a superhero he or she is. Who can resist popping the bubble wrap when a package arrives? The Bubble Calendar ($27.95) is filled with 365 satisfying pops to take you through the year. (See how many go un-popped by February!) The Calendar Box ($19.95) is a wooden box calendar with four colorful knobs to set the day and month—a great way for kids to learn the names of the days of the week and months and numbers. Plus the box has a hidden storage space for the special treasures, dry cleaning slips, or that extra house key that always goes missing. With a beautifully crafted poster for each month, the Wall Art Calendar ($29.95) is like having a rotating gallery exhibit. Beautiful, functional, and sustainable, the calendar includes directions for recycling the art into file folders, note cards, storage boxes, or hangtags. The Downton Abbey Engagement Planner ($14.99 in a traditional paper design) will keep the PBS-loving anglophile in your life abreast with all of the Crawley family gossip. Available at Papersource, 740 Hearst Ave., Berkeley, 510-665-7800, and online,



Science … for Her!

Megan Amram’s satirical science textbook may be light on the accurate scientific facts, but it teaches us quite a bit about gender norms, the media’s influence, and, most importantly, humor. A mix of Cosmopolitan and Cosmos, Amram’s wit covers various scientific fields—biology, botany, space—from the point of view of a women’s magazine with articles and infographics such as “Physics Through Nail Art,” “Fashion Staples for Each Step of Global Warming,” and, of course, “Kale.” Amram, comedian and writer for Parks and Recreation, bounces from cutting social commentary to butt jokes with ease, the humor and its victims so varied that even men may learn a few things. Available at Diesel, A Bookstore, 5433 College Ave., Oakland, 510-653-9965,



Apple Watch

If you’re an Apple gadget fan, this might be up your alley. Due in early 2015, the Apple Watch will be able to function as a paired device with any iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, and 6 Plus running iOS 8 or later. The Apple Watch will incorporate a touch-sensitive screen, be able to receive phone calls, send text messages, track fitness data, function as a walkie-talkie and viewfinder for your iPhone camera, and allow payments via Apple Pay so you’ll be able to wave your Apple Watch at a payment terminal to pay for your groceries. The Apple Watch will be available in two sizes—38 mm and 42 mm—and be distributed along 34 individual models. Apple has yet to announce a final price range or release date for the device, but it’s expected out this spring in the $349 range.


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