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Only-in-California Holiday Gift Guide

Only-in-California Holiday Gift Guide

Find something for everyone on your list with this collection of Golden State gifts from every region of the state

Posted 2 years agoby Katrina Hunt

Every year, you say you want to finish your holiday shopping early—but this year, that goal is more important than ever.

For one thing, Hanukkah starts early this year (Nov. 28). Also, there’s talk of supply-chain issues that could threaten to thwart last-minute shoppers everywhere—which is another great reason to support small and local businesses, which have suffered considerably during the pandemic.

The good news: It’s not that hard to shop now. After all, you likely have the same list of folks you shop for every year—the brother-in-law who’s a beer aficionado, your hiker aunt, the cousin who’s obsessed with Star Wars, and so on. Check out these can’t-fail gifts that can be bought online—or by visiting in person and soaking up the local scenery. You might even find an excuse to treat yourself too.

The Beer Lover

Sierra Nevada’s Visions of Sugar Plums, $20

Aged with plums in red wine, brandy, and bourbon casks, this tall bottle of Belgian-inspired ale makes a perfect seasonal gift. Shipping beer out of state can sometimes be tricky, but Butte County-based Sierra Nevada can ship alcohol to 10 states and Washington D.C. For recipients in other states, consider the Celebration Candle, which smells just like the beermaker’s wintery Celebration Fresh Hop IPA, accented with pine and citrus, and topped with a handy maple-wood coaster.

The Holiday Decor Enthusiast

Garlic & Herb Wreath, $57

This pretty wreath hails from a locally owned farm/vineyard in Hopland and may be the perfect holiday decoration. It doesn’t need to be packed and stored away—you just use it until it disappears. The braid of fresh garlic, thyme, rosemary and chilies are all edible, and will be primed for cooking just about the time the holiday season ends. The herbs keep for several months, too.


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The Skier

Wyatt Hersey Tumbler, $22

Help your skier reduce coffee-cup waste and travel responsibly this year with this insulated, stainless steel Camelbak cup decorated with forest or marine life art by Chico-based artist Wyatt Hersey. Camelbak is based in Petaluma, and 25 percent of the cup’s profits go to The Conservation Alliance to help protect wildlife and open spaces. 

The Cider Fan

Indigeny Reserve Extra Crisp Hard Cider, $15

California’s Gold Country region is teeming with traditional apple cider, apple pies, and, increasingly, hard apple cider. In El Dorado County, sample craft ciders paired with local doughnuts at Hidden State Camino while tasting your way through the Apple Hill Hard Cider Trail. Bay Area shoppers can also pick up Hidden Star cider orders—like its tart-cherry-enhanced Cherry Seinfeld—at a variety of farmers markets.

To order some of the region’s best ciders online, go for the Extra Crisp Apple Cider or the Blackberry Cider from Indigeny Reserve, based in Tuolumne County.

The Snow-Globe Collector

Redwood Fog Globe, $30

These playful globes from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy feature fog—not snow—that swirls around redwood trees, the Golden Gate Bridge, or Alcatraz. Proceeds support recreational and educational programs at the more than 30 parks within the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy—including Muir Woods, the Presidio, and Lands End.

The Breakfast Advocate

Mystery Honey, $5

Yolo County’s The HIVE makes its own honey and also distributes more than 30 varietals from all over the country. Let them hand-pick honey for you—like the California Orange Blossom Honey, Florida White Tupelo Honey, or the Mexican Coffee Blossom Honey—or go big with the six-jar gift set. Another option: Round Comb Honey ($19) that you can spread on toast or bite off a piece to chew (the folks at The HIVE call it “nature’s original chewing gum”). Visit The HIVE in person in Woodland to learn about the honey-making process and browse more goodies.

The Oenophile

Adopt a Grapevine in Sonoma County, $100

Give your wine fan a taste of sustainable winemaking: Their name will appear on a tagged vine at the Russian River Valley’s Old World Winery, which focuses on organic, biodynamic wines. Down the road, they’ll be sent a bottle from the first vintage. Don’t want to wait that long? Send them a Sonoma County Tasting Pass, available in 1, 3, and 90-day options, which grants discounted tastings at wineries (plus distilleries, breweries, and cideries) throughout Sonoma County.

The Cheese Lover

California Holiday Collection, $99

Your dairy-loving loved one will adore these six artisan cheeses from small-scale cheesemakers located along the California Cheese Trail. Delights include a triple-crème black truffle brie from the 150-year-old Marin French Cheese Co. and a Swiss-Italian–style cheese called Highway 1 made by Valley Ford Cheese Company.


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The Birder

Nocs Binoculars, $90

These 12-ounce, 8x25 binoculars are perfect for spotting a finch in a treetop—or for most other outdoor pursuits, like winter whale-watching. The ergonomic and waterproof scopes, available through Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City, are part of the San Francisco-based company’s Land & Sea Collection of binoculars and monoculars, inspired by the colors and patterns of California nature. Add a $27 photo rig for super-closeup pics combining the scope and a smartphone.

The Nightcap Devotee

1957 Vintage Port, $620

Located along the Madera Wine Trail, Ficklin Vineyards in Madera County boasts of being the most awarded maker of Port in the U.S. You can still experience its first bottling: a 100 percent Tinta Madeira created by its founder, Robert Ficklin, Sr. Considering going the sweet route with a Chocolate Port Sauce ($20) made with the Old Vine Tinta Port.

The Spa Maven

Pixie Tangerine-Marigold Cream Polish, $28

Each spring, the Ventura County town of Ojai becomes a hotbed for small, super-sweet tangerines known as “pixies,” which are so popular they even have their own festival. The Ojai Valley Inn’s spa channels that pixie magic into lotions, scrubs, and body butter that let you enjoy the scent year-round.

The Snazzy Dresser

Klimt Tie from the Getty Center, $50

For anyone headed back into the office (or just looking to up their Zoom game), the tie selection at the Getty Center store offers instant high style. This tie is inspired by Klimt’s Hope II in Red, which has been on display at the Los Angeles museum. Art history buffs will tell you it’s an example of Klimt’s use of “planarity” (the two-dimensional surface of the picture plane), but it also means it will look perfect for that Zoom camera.

The Movie Buff

Rear Window Poster, $18

Los Angeles’ Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which opened in 2021, offers an up-close look at the art and science of moviemaking. Browse its museum shop, online or in person, for your own cinematic treasures, like this replica from the Hitchcock classic. Consider some fun splurges, too, like the Moschino Ruby Slippers handbag ($480) that salutes one of the museum’s top artifacts: the iconic shoes worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.

The Home Decorating Maven

70s-Style Fire Screen, $4,600

This showstopping fireplace screen by designer Christopher Anthony is a classic example of the mid-century modern design still thriving in Greater Palm Springs. Browse the Destination Palm Springs online store and you’ll find plenty of small luxuries, too, like the appetizer plates featuring classic Palm Springs homes, or the glasses and t-shirts with the “modernista” logo for next year’s Modernism Week. (Shopping in person? Be sure to get the GPS’ Love Local Shopping Pass; every time you check in, you will be entered to win a prize.)

The Star Wars Superfan

Boba Fett Talking Action Figure, $32

Boba Fett will get his moment in the spotlight when The Book of Boba Fett premieres in December on Disney+. The Star Wars enthusiast in your life will be ready, thanks to this 13-inch, collector-worthy action figure from Disneyland Resort’s online store. This detailed Boba Fett has an illuminated blaster, sound effects, and 15 phrases in his arsenal (like “put Captain Solo in the cargo hold”). Pro tip: Keep an eye out for a strolling Boba Fett at the Anaheim theme park’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Chefs Life Olive Oil

The Home Chef

Lot22 Bacon Olive Oil, $15

Redlands olive grower Lot22 offers classic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil as well as oils blended with lemon, basil, and even bacon. This unique oil will add a zip to any a fried egg or spinach salad dressing.

And for the home chef who doesn’t always know how best to use gourmet gifts, consider the Chefs Life Oils by Brian Malarkey ($35). This set by the Top Chef alum behind San Diego’s Herb & Wood offers some subtle guidance: One is labeled for high-heat sautéing or frying, one for salad dressings or sauces, and one for dipping or drizzling over cooked dishes. Part of the proceeds go to the Golden Rule, a non-profit that Malarkey has set up to support hospitality workers impacted by the pandemic.

The Coffee Connoisseur

Modern Times Black House Coffee, $17

This San Diego brewery started roasting coffee beans to enhance its oatmeal stout and the results were so good they started selling the coffee by itself. Coffee lovers will also appreciate Modern Times’ Cipactli, a collaboration with a Mexican roaster that has notes of chocolate, praline and sugarcane.

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