Under the same rooftop

You know what your roommates like

Overwhelmed by the daunting task of finding the perfect present for everyone on your list?

Start with the fun part, close to home: your roommates. Finding your roommates stocking stuffers just may be the easiest and most enjoyable part of your whole Christmas shopping experience.

You live with your roommates. You know their habits. You know what they like and what they don’t. While you’re making these first few purchases, you can consider your other gifting options. When you’re done, you’ll have plenty of present money to spare.

Start, along with the rest of Chico, at the recently opened Trader Joe’s. The place will most likely be bustling with hungry shoppers, but you can sneak in and out in no time. Head straight for the checkout lanes and find a 2 oz. bar of pure dark chocolaty goodness.

Hidden at the front of the store among other chocolate bars and candy of varying quality, the plain, pale yellow wrapper of the Scharffen Berger 60 percent cacao chocolate bar ($2) beckons truly discerning chocolate fans. Made in Berkeley with only the best ingredients, once you give them a Scharffen Berger, your roommates will never look at a Hershey’s bar the same way again.

It’s sort of like when your roommates tried Chico’s own Sierra Nevada and it expanded their concept of affordable micro-brews. Most Chicoans, beer drinking and otherwise, understand the prestige the world-renowned brewery bestows on our town. Take advantage of Sierra Nevada’s gift shop at 1075 East 20th St.—rather than charging premium prices for items bearing the famous logo, it offers quality products at reasonable prices.

Your roommates need the quintessential—and stocking-friendly—Sierra Nevada T-shirts ($10). If they already own one, get them a set of pint glasses with the colorful logo ($2 each). The glasses are the perfect size for any beverage. There’s only one problem: You might have to get your roommates bigger stockings to fit all goodies.

But, then your roommates’ new, larger stockings will easily accommodate a bargain DVD or two. Video stores that guarantee popular titles in stock, such as Hollywood Video and Blockbuster, have discount copies of your roommates’ favorite movies. Whether previously viewed or brand new, these deals—like two DVDs for $10 at Hollywood—won’t break the bank. You might have to dig through stacks of videos to find the ones you are looking for, but you’ll undoubtedly encounter something your roommate will enjoy.

Finish the perfect stocking with a personal touch: Sort through your photos from the last year to find the best pictures of you and your roommates. Take your photos as digital files (on a CD, memory card or other format) in to Costco and order 4-by-6 reprints (17 cents each). The luster finish, as opposed to glossy, keeps fingerprints to a minimum. Choose the free white border for a classier look. The result? An inexpensive, thoughtful gift in less than an hour!

Find a stocking-sized photo album at the Dollar Tree ($1), fill the first few pages with your reprints and leave the rest for your best pics from 2006.