Last-Minute Local Holiday Shopping Guide

Every year, it seems like the holidays sneak up and tap us on the shoulder around the middle of December. Like so many, I also put off parts of my shopping until the last minute for one reason or another; too busy, not sure what or where to get something lovely for a loved one. This year, unsatisfied with the uninspired shopping guides in other local weeklies, I decided to get out there and check out the scene for myself. In this issue, I’m saluting the local shopping scene by doing all the legwork for a last-minute holiday shopping guide. Don’t even think about shipping anything because all the cool stuff is right here in Chico. All you have to do is grab a latte, the Synthesis and your Nice List and go.


First up…for the Cat or Dog Lover:

All Cats and Dogs: 232 Main Street
Leather band bracelets for humans with silver doggy themed accents: $13.00
Fancy, blinged out adorable collars: $40 and up
Feathery kitty cat fishing poles (you must hide these when they’re not in use, otherwise you might wake up to some carnage): $4.99

Lyon Books: 121 West 5th Street
The Oatmeal Calendar, How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You: $13.99

For the Foodie:

Zucchini & Vine: 204 Main Street
Clearly everything in Zucchini & Vine is fabulous but it’s the little things that really speak to me, especially if they’re locally produced. One could put together a pretty sweet gift basket full of a few of these little things, a great gift for anybody.

Sawmill Creek Farms (Paradise) Smoked Paprikas (hands down the most flavorful smoked paprika I’ve ever found): $6.95
Local First Crush Holiday Olive Oil: $18.95
Truffle Salt: $27.95
Tony Esponde Locally Harvested Black Walnut Trivet: $20
1/4 lb of Fleur de Sel (delicious fancy French sea salt): $7.95
Chico High School FFA dried heirloom beans in 2lb burlap bags: $6
Five by Five Tonic: $20
*Also while you’re here, sample all the cheeses just for funsies and because you need fortification.

Made in Chico: 127 West 3rd Street
If you’re putting together a basket of goodies, Made In Chico carries all sorts of every amazing thing you can include. I think it’s really nice to give baskets bursting with local goodies to my out of town relatives. They enjoy getting a slice of Chico for the holidays. Be sure to include Skylake Ranch Pomegranate Grenadine in your basket!

Kids In Kitchen: 959 East Avenue
This place is another branch of the amazing, fantastic, super, ultra great, Little Red Hen Gift Shop. They’ve themed it out for kids in the kitchen, and this little shop is so packed to the gills with the gambit of culinary awesomeness, you should be prepared to spend some time. The best part is that the profits from the Little Red Hen shops go to helping developmentally disabled adults. It’s a beautiful thing.

I found it all: Emile Henry, Le Creuset, Crocodile Creek, Fiesta Ware (made in the USA since 1871!), Weck Canning Jars and supplies, Bambu, every name in cookware that you’d expect to see in a kitchen shop, with the added funtimes of carrying a lot of bitchin’ kids and baby kitchen items like tea sets, cute sippies, fun baby bibs, adorable divider plates, bottles, food mills, games, oh my! Here are a few gems of note that I found:

Kid-friendly chopsticks (with super cute characters holding the chopsticks): $4.99-$7.99
Motorized twirling spaghetti fork: $9.99
The Airfork One (a fork shaped like an airplane, for airplaning food into baby faces): $11.99
Robot Popsicle Molds: $11.99

Robot or Owl Kitchen Timer: $10.99-$17.99
Fondue Set: $59.99
Le Creuset Butter Dish: $27.99
Oil Cloth tablecloth: Starts at $25.99

This small list in no way will blow your mind like just going into the shop itself. It’s on East Avenue, across from the Donut Nook. They even have cupcake sprinkles in every shape, size and sparkle, and themed tables piled high with perfect treats and potential gifts, cookbooks, wine glasses, a collection of salt & pepper shakers that will totally tickle you; that is if you’re tickled by things like that, or if you know somebody who would be tickled by a badass pair of salt & pepper shakers.

Once you’ve visited Kids in Kitchen, be sure to traipse across the block to another offshoot of the Little Red Hen, The Vintage Hen (973 J East Avenue). While there, I purchased a sparkly clip-on mushroom ornament for my tree and two vintage inspired bb games for stocking stuffers for my boys. If you know somebody who’s a collector of vintage figurines, or plates, or you know somebody that would love a vintage punchbowl for making retro holiday punches (because they are so the fashion right now!), then be sure to go over to the Vintage Hen.

For the Dapper Gentlemen:

Tom Foolery: 126 West 3rd Street
Tweed wool newsboy caps are all the rage for the hip set. And to be perfectly honest, I have yet to meet a man that didn’t look handsome in one of these hats. Tom Foolery has a great little selection! The prices vary; an XL tweed cap made by Stetson will run you about $39.

Sounds by Dave: 1256 Esplanade
Everybody is talking about vinyl these days, whether or not they’re talking about their own collection or about starting a collection. I went to Sounds by Dave to check out their selection of turntables and accessories.
Base model Audio-Technica turntable: $120
Replacement stylus (needle): $29.99
RCA Vinyl Record Care System: $19.99

They also carry vintage and used turntables! Sometimes you can totally score. They have a Realistic Automatic Turntable that’s been restored for $125 right now.

The best part of this turntable gift idea is that right next to Duffy’s downtown is Melody Records, an actual record store, still carrying tons of rocking vinyl. Best gift ever?

Bat Comics: 218 Broadway
This shop is packed to its geeky gills with really cool stuff. Games, comics, graphic novels, knick knacks (I got a little Totoro puzzle to put in a stocking, apparently people come from miles around to find Miyazaki stuff at Bat Comics.)
Doctor Who Monopoly: $45.00 (I flippin hate Monopoly but I’d play with the Doctor Who edition so this gift isn’t just for gentleman, it’s for lady fans of the Doctor as well)

Trucker: 232 Broadway
Woodzee Sunglasses (made out of recycled skateboard decks): $95

For the Coffee Lover:

Naked Lounge: 118 West 2nd Street
The Naked is a great place to get the best coffee accessories. I live with a coffee connoisseur, let me tell you, coffee lovers are srs bsnss.
V60 Glass Single Cup Dripper (this is pretty much the easiest way to make coffee in my opinion): $19.95
Hario slim hand grinder: $35.95
Filters (Qty. 100): $5

Empire Coffee: 434 Orange Street
According to my own personal coffee connoisseur, this is the place to get your beans. The beans come from Insight in Sacramento and are roasted to medium light perfection. (Matt says, “Get the Costa Rica.”) And, you get to go on a train car to buy them; clearly the coolest coffee shop in Chico.
Coffee beans: ½ pound: $7.50 & $15 for a whole pound (protip: go on a Thursday beans)

For the Proud Chico-American:

Home Ec: 231 Main Street
Chico Is My Happy Place T-Shirt: $16.00
Nut Sack (A Home Ec specialty, made with local nutz!): $10

Chico Peace & Justice Center: 526 Broadway
Love Chapman Town T-Shirt: $15

Lyon Books: 121 West 5th Street
Check out their “Local Author” section and prepare to feel proud of living in Chico.

For the Practical Person: Socks & Underwear

Mountain Sports: 176 East 3rd Street
Socks by Smartwool, Wigwam & Damn Tough (they have a lifetime sock warranty!):
Underpants by Patagonia & Ice Breaker:

For Grandma:

Blue Door: 225 Main Street (In the Gardenwalk)
Vintage Brooches: $10 and up
Gorgeous and sought after needle-felted birds, handmade by Lupe Jones: $45

For Nieces & Nephews, Sons & Daughters:

Home Ec: 231 Main Street
Matryoshka Doll Tea For Two Set: $48
Make your own Kaleidoscope: $38

Mountain Sports: 176 East 3rd Street
Petzle Tikkina 2 Headlamp (can’t you just picture your littles reading in the dark with a headlamp on?): Beginning at $19.95, comes in Green, Orange, Pink & Blue

Bat Comics: 218 Broadway
Bone, Graphic Novel Series: $10.99 per book
Munchkin (rockin’ popular card game): $24.99

Lyon Books: 121 West 5th Street
Edward Gorey: Seventeen Cats on the Front Steps of 82 Maple Street Puzzle – 300 pieces: $14.95
IWAKO fun-shaped erasers (I got some that were shaped like sushi to stuff in stockings):

Lyon Books also has an incredible selection of books for kids of all ages. I know, from a kid’s point of view, books are historically a drag; Lyon and their staff are ready to help you find new ways to inspire your peanuts with cool books.

For Awesome Women:

For Elyse: 228 Broadway
Now when I first went into this shop to find an outfit for a holiday party, I was sure I’d be encountering a bunch of skinny snobby b-words. But I was as wrong as I have ever been. These ladies are lovely and oh so helpful! If you haven’t found an outfit for New Year’s Eve parties yet, I’d definitely pop in here (or Ruby’s – also lovely and helpful, Konjo – amazeballs cool stuff, Urban Laundry – very helpful employees, or PB&J – vintage inspired outfits of glee) As it happens, For Elyse had some of the most badass tights a girl could ask for:
Fleece-Lined Leggings in purple or black: $12.99

Ruby’s: 236 Broadway
American Flag Scarf: $35
Hair ties/headbands/bracelets by Kitsch: $12

A Bit Unruly: 222 West 3rd Street
Pendleton coin purse: $48
Morse Code Necklace (gold dots & dashes with various sayings on a silk string): starting at $42

Tom Foolery: 126 West 3rd Street
Hobo handbags (super classic, awesome leather handbags): prices vary

Grapes & Ivy: 627 Broadway
Sparkly bow-tie bobby pins: $3

Dolce Home: 127 Main Street
Vintage button & leather bookmark: $10

Urban Laundry: 222 Main Street
Tom’s Sunglasses (a portion of your purchase of these sunglasses goes towards giving somebody the gift of sight, doubly great gift!): $135-$145

Konjo: 112 West Second Street
Sparkly, delicious, festive, ribbony masks, perfect for New Year’s Eve!

The Powder Room: 239 Broadway
Rosebud Lip Balm: $6
Evian Facial Water Spray (which may seem a bit over-the-top indulgent, but it’s a guilty pleasure and I think it makes a great stocking stuffer): Mini size: $5 Large size: $10
Cupcake Bath Bombs: Mini size: $5.50 Full size: $11 Trio set of minis: $16

*Note: Grace Jr. has really amazing stuff and I would have loved to spend more time in there but because it’s such an intensely, heavily perfumed environment, I felt like I needed a gas mask to sustain any real time in the shop. If overpowering scents do not bother you, then head in and get ready to find a million amazing things.

*Double Note: Bird In Hand was also too scentsy for me but still widely considered a rockin place to find gifts.

The Art Lover:

Art Etc.: 122 West 3rd Street
This store is stocked to the ceilings with prints, both framed and unframed, by local artists like Carole Preble Miles, Dave Simcox, Lee Wright, Lloyd Liebes Jr, Garnetta Finnegan, Peter Piatt, Carob Bradlyn, Aye Jay Moreno, and Richard Verkryl. And Anna Simcox is a delightful face, willing to show you around and help you choose something perfect for your art lover.

Vagabond Rose: 236 Main Street
I fell in love with their collection of Peruvian Nativity Scenes. One in particular came with a pair of chubby sheep! They also carry Vaillancourt Folk Art and vintage Radko ornaments along with a plethora of local pottery in all ranges of cost.

The Gardener:

The Plant Barn: 406 Entler Avenue
Even though I’m not a gardener (yet), I think getting a fruit tree for Christmas would be really darling and fun. And pomegranates and mandarins are such reminders of the holidays; it’s like giving somebody a living heirloom.
Pomegranate Tree: 1 Gallon potted: $7.95
Mandarin Tree: 5 Gallon potted: $42

For No Reason Except These Things Are Great:

Lyon Books: 121 West 5th Street
Fold Your Own 3-D Zombie Calendar: $14.99

Ruby’s: 236 Broadway
Old-timey anatomy poster: $7.00

Home Ec: 231 Main Street
Air Plants and Terrariums are all the rage right now. Go get thineself one or two. I want to put air plants in all of my vintage wall pockets. Therefore, an excellent gift might be to get an air plant from Home Ec and a vintage wall pocket from a thrift store. Also from a thrift store, a manual typewriter makes a great gift for your budding Hemingway or stoic hipster. I know we have some local Etsy shops that carry typewriters and you don’t even have to pay shipping: www.etsy.com/shop/FlumeStreet

Sierra Nevada Gift Shop: 1075 East 20th Street
Nolan said there was a Frisbee in the gift shop and sure enough there is. Frisbees are legit gifts, hours of fun (unless you throw it on the roof right off the bat). $10

Maisie Janes: 1324 Dayton Road
If you like the idea of giving somebody a gift basket full of local goodies but you don’t have time, Maisie Janes will create custom gift baskets for you in a whole range of affordability.

Upper Crust: 130 Main Street
Delicious Yule log cakes! This is an excellent thing to bring to Christmas dinner. If you bring no gifts to anyone and instead decide to show up with a Yule Log with merengue mushrooms from Upper Crust, you will be the winner at life.

Outtro:
There are a variety of options here (and I know I barely scratched the surface) but don’t think you need to spend a brazillian dollars buying gifts out of obligation. It’s better to buy small tokens of your affection and then just simply show up. Just show up and be with your loved ones. Experiential gifts are the most appreciated. The evenings spent laughing and warm; dinner, lunch, brunch, it doesn’t matter. Just being together and getting to know your loved ones, sharing jollies and time, the experience of being merry together, it’s the best gift of all and I believe that’s the true spirit of the holidays. We trek out into the cold, travel far and wide, to touch and see our loved ones, to reaffirm our connections with each other and nurture our nostalgia. Give gifts from the heart, and that doesn’t always mean you have to whip out your wallet. But if you do, you should whip it out locally. If you need more ideas, please check out synthesisweekly.com and ask away! As always, I’m here for you.

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