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Holiday Gift Guide

Start Early...

Though we’ve barely just survived Halloween, stores are already inundated with “holiday” imagery and displays. I was in Target a few weeks ago and they were already selling Christmas socks! If you would rather avoid the crowds (Black Friday sales and fighting over the last PS3 console -- no thanks) and instead find unique gifts to bring that warming smile to your recipient, here are a few ideas to get you started.

Threads & Accoutrements

For Him
If the men in your life need a little nudge in sophisticated direction, there’s hope: the Men’s Custom Shirt from Paris ($199), from Wishing Fish. Though a little pricy, this all-inclusive gift pass for a custom-tailored shirt by Liste-Rouge-Paris, is a truly personal gift that any gracious recipient will treasure. He gets to choose the cut (full, classic, or tapered), color, collar style, cuff type and fabric weave. Included are a detailed instruction booklet explaining the options in detail and directions for measuring oneself, and a tape measure. He can even send in a shirt that fits the way he likes as a sample. The personalized dress shirt arrives in the mail five weeks later along with a privilege card to Liste Rouge’s member club in case he wants to further update his wardrobe.

For a little extra oomph, I’m a big fan of the Tymbal ties at Pixel Girl Shop. These one-of-a-kind babies go for $24 and are nothing short of badass. Vintage with a twist -- each tie is screen-printed with a collage of images. The current “Number” series feature numbers in appealing typeface meshed with roses, bamboo, vintage machines and other abstract designs.

For Her
Stars and Infinite Darkness -- a web site dedicated to showcasing emerging fashion talent offers some truly stylish options for females (and men too). Laura Dawson’s flame hoodie has a uniquely constructed, graded hood with enough room to keep the wind from destroying her coif ($195). In the dressy but casual department, Sally Bee’s Bone Dress ($52) can be worn alone or over jeans and has a unique bone pattern printed. Each piece is made to order. Both these along with many of the other clothing options on this site ship in 1-2 weeks so it’s not too early to start ordering.

For accessories, local designer Liz Saintsing adorns one-of-a-kind vintage handbags and gloves with distinctive prints inspired by nature. They can be picked up at Queen of the Meadow, Backspace, and Candy Store. If she’s the crafty type, buy her a class at Beadissimo in the Mission, where she can hone her skills in jewelry design, metalwork and beadwork. Tampon cases and pill cases by Karyn Cantor at Uncommon Goods also make great stocking stuffers. These discreet and stylish brushed brass receptacles feature old pinup beauties, ads and tattoo art (all under $30).


For coffee drinkers
The Coffee for One French Press from Wishing Fish ($26) is perfect for people who are tired of toxic sludge that passes for coffee at work or who don’t feel like brewing whole pots at a time. Available in aqua, red, blue and black, Coffee for One brews up to 14 ounces at a time and is dishwasher safe.

Help banish the paper waste generated by cardboard sleeves for your coffee and tea by going for the stylish option of fabric sleeves. CraftyBitch Coffee Cuffs ($15) are available at Little Otsu and come in sets of two in fun prints of cherries, tattoo art and sugar skulls a la Dia de los Muertos. Cup Couture Sleeves from Wishing Fish fit most 12, 16 and 20 oz. hot beverage cups and are all machine-washable except for the Chinchilla (faux fur, $14 -- great for a lover of luxury or a Burner). The fabric options (giraffe, polka dots, tiger-print and solid black) run $10.

For Wannabe Sommeliers
Gift the wine connoisseur in your life with a membership to a wine of the month club. These clubs often let you pick just one gift shipment or purchase of several months to a year. Some are specific to California wines but there are international options as well. Simply enter “wine club” into your preferred search engine and you’ll get many hits.

If that’s too much work, the Winerd Wine Game ($36) at Uncommon Goods will give your recipient an excuse to have friends over for trivia questions and blind taste tests to flex their knowledge.

Geekery and Gadget Freaks

ThinkGeek is the site you want to visit. At a glance, the Wireless Digital T-Amp and InstantMusic Vinyl & Cassette Ripper fit the bill for cool and functional. The 5.8 GHz Amp ($99.99) offers CD quality wireless stereo transmission so your recipient can add a channel to his or her 5.1 surround sound set-up without stringing speaker cables across the room, while the Ripper ($49.99) allows your recipient to record his or her precious LPs and cassette tapes to CD, MP3, or iPod. iPod users will also dig the Hitch iPod2iPod USB Transfer Device ($129.99), which allows users to copy songs between two iPods without a computer.

Catch Alls

SFMOMA MuseumStore has all kinds of eye candy that are sure to tickle art lovers. If you are unsure of your giftee’s taste, you can always opt for a gift membership. There’s also the Asian Art Museum, which happens to be one of the largest museums in the Western world devoted exclusively to Asian art, if you’re considering gift memberships, and one membership covers both the de Young and Legion of Honor, which is another option.

Finally, Endless Slope at Pier 38 is an indoor ski and snowboard school that offers classes year-round (April excluded). Gift denominations come in one, three, five, eight, ten and twelve-lesson programs and recipients call in to set up their appointments. Great for that person in your life who has never hit the slopes or loves it but wants to improve.

Yes, gift-giving and the holidays can be daunting, but starting early and spreading out your spending can help relieve some of the stress. The options and outlets listed will hopefully also allow you to avoid the rush at more traditional outlets.

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