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Unique Gift Options

Love it or loath it, the holiday season is upon us once again. Fear not, gentle reader, this holiday season need not be filled with frenzied, stressful claustrophobic trips to the mall. With the number of festivities and cool shops our city holds, it’s easy to stay away from the malls. A few that are located near Union Square, but it’s early enough to avoid the unbearable last-minute holiday shoppers. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Save the dates!

French Connection Pop Up Outlet
Are you or is someone on your gifting list a fan of FCUK? French Connection debuted its Pop Up Outlet in the Powell Street store at the beginning of November. Interesting concept: pop-up outlet within the store where you’ll find men’s, women’s clothing and accessories at prices up to 75 percent off. It runs through the holiday season, so get it while the gettin’ is good!

New People
Fans of Japanese art/fashion/lifestyle take note: Japanese visual artists Junko Mizuno, ON ZA LINE and Kim Songhe are among those who will be featured at the Tokyo Creators Market in Japantown shopping/entertainment center New People’s Superfrog Gallery. This exciting exhibit opens November 21st in conjunction with Bazaar Bizaare’s New People Artist Village Vol. 1, which features 10 vendors in kiosks throughout the building. The one-day event on November 21st offers “works from a mix of Asian and Western artists influenced by Japanese pop culture” from 10am to 8pm.

Thread
Thread, typically a one-day event focused on independent fashion, art, music and design, expands to a whole weekend on November 21st and 22nd at Fort Mason. You’ll find works from over 1,000 indie designers and artisans. In addition to saucy apparel and jewelry, Thread will also feature a clothes-swapping lounge and clothing donation opportunities for those of you who want to make room for the new. The first 250 visitors each day get a free cocktail and there’s bike valet too!

(RED) Pop-Up Store
In honor of World AIDS Day, the (RED) Pop-Up Store opens inside the Gap Flagship store (yes, this is technically in mall territory) December 1st and runs through January 3rd. A portion of sales from (RED) go to the Global Fund to support the HIV and AIDS programs in Africa. With the (RED) collaborator roster including the likes of Apple (red video nano, anyone?), Bugaboo (super stylish and functional strollers), Converse, Dell, Emporio Armani, Girl Skateboards, Channel Islands Surfboards, Timbuk2 and others, there will be a lot to see here even if you’re only window shopping.

Handmade Ho Down
SF Etsy is holding its first ever crafstravaganza, Handmade Ho Down at 1015 Folsom on December 3rd. Plan to see many of the vendors you love on Etsy in person! In addition, a charity raffle and gift-wrapping station will benefit Drawbridge, a nonprofit organization striving to provide art programs for homeless and other vulnerable children. Music, live art, vintage galore. Please note this event is 21+.

La Cocina Holiday Gift Fair
The wonderful local food business incubator is hosting its inaugural holiday gift fair at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts on December 4th. Just about everyone loves to eat, so treat yourself and foodies on your gifting list with local foodstuffs, from cookbooks to cookware to fair-trade coffee and edibles. Shop, eat and imbibe!

Creativity Explored Annual Holiday Art Sale
Join Creativity Explored in the Mission on December 4th for its Annual Holiday Art Sale for “a multitude of remarkable art at surprisingly affordable prices.” With original prints, one-of-a-kind paintings, pen and ink drawings, ceramics, sculptures and textiles by over 100 artists and half of sales proceeds for each piece going directly to the artist, you should need little more convincing to go have a look-see. In case you didn’t know, Creativity Explored is a nonprofit supporting and working with artists with developmental disabilities. Its mission is to enable “adults with developmental disabilities to express themselves artistically in a way that is personally rewarding and appreciated by others.”

San Francisco Center For the Book Holiday Fair
The San Francisco Center For the Book is a gem and its Holiday Fair is the perfect opportunity to get acquainted if you aren’t already familiar with the organization. Gifts you’ll find include artist books and journals, handmade/decorative paper, calligraphy and book-making supplies, holiday cards, 2010 calendars from members of the Pacific Center for the Book Arts, and more. It takes place December 11th from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.

Bazaar Bizarre
A self-proclaimed “Handmade market, Indie entertainment extravaganza and D.I.Y. Festival all under one roof,” Bazaar Bizarre hosts a selection of over 100 handmade arts and crafts vendors with handbags, pottery, silk-screened t-shirts, baby clothing, body products, letterpress, and more. Bring $5 and a bag of clothes to participate in Swap-O-Rama-Rama, a workshop where you’ll get expert help cutting, sewing, printing and personalizing. Other enticements include free raffles with prizes from Chronicle Books and Craft Magazine, book signings and workshops with folks like Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching. Half of admission fees, $2 for the 12 and up, will be donated to art education organizations like Out of Site Center For Arts Education, which offers free after school, weekend and summer programs in visual and performing arts. It all goes down December 12th and 13th from 12pm - 6pm.

The Crucible Holiday Gifty Celebration
Looking for something more hands-on, with craftsmanship beyond the usual? Step across the pond to The Crucible in Oakland, a nonprofit educational facility training those who want to learn in disciplines such as blacksmithing, welding and glass fusing. Shop the Gifty for jewelry, glass creations, sculptures, clothing, and ceramics handcrafted by over 70 Bay Area artisans amidst glass blowing, metal casting and blacksmithing demos. Admission is free for the event held on December 12th and 13th, from 10am to 4pm, but classes run all year long. Note: Crucible Gift Certificates are good for classes and memberships — something to keep in mind for the crafter that might just need a little encouragement.

Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Show
Renegade Craft Fair is hosting its first ever Renegade Craft Holiday Sale in San Francisco at Fort Mason on December 19th and 20th. Hundreds of vendors apply for spots at Renegade Craft Fair events. Applicants are judged on how they fit in with the jury’s vision of desire for crafts that are DIY and unique. Knitted/crocheted works, jewelry, hand-sewn items, papery, silkscreened works and lots of unique gifts await.