Present company

Allow SN&R to suggest a few homegrown holiday gift ideas

So. Now it’s time for, like, the holidays, huh? It’s a time that’s supposed to be about feeling connected, but often winds up being about feeling pressured to blow a wad of cash on some mass-produced crap that you hope uncle what’s-his-face will at least pretend to have wanted. Yeah. Let us help.

Last year at around this time, we had the idea that if you’re going to be out there buying stuff, you might as well be out there buying locally made stuff. It’s a good idea, so here it is again.

The reason is simple: When you channel your gift budget into supporting our community’s independent artisans and ground-level culture-makers, you help make this town (and environs) a better place to live. You become a lone culture warrior, scoring your own personal triumph against boringness and rampant prefabery. And scoring lots of cool stuff for your loved ones. Unique, personal, not-too-expensive stuff to wear, to watch, to nibble, to rub on, to read, to write or to do other things that were not intended and we don’t want to hear about.

Even if your whole plan for holiday shopping consists of vegging out in your skivvies with the laptop on the couch, pointing and clicking and charging and being done with it, you still have options, warrior. Below, some suggestions. Stuff we like—not least because we’re proud to know it’s all local. Time to get connected, and to celebrate.

Good dogs
Just try looking at the affable cartoon hounds in Jay Howell’s Dogs and Dog Information without laughing. Suggestions for dog names, like “Craig” and “Balls,” and Howell’s goofy story on “How to Kick a Dog’s Ass” make this limited-edition zine an unbeatable gift. Though no canine butts were harmed in the creation of this publication, occasional profanity and meditations on “dog wangs” are for adult audiences only.

Perfect for: grown-up dog enthusiasts with a juvenile sense of humor

Cost: $2 plus shipping

Where to buy: Order online at Needles & Pens, Quantities are limited

Civic pride
Photographer Ilsa Hess shares her knack for capturing Sacramento scenery at her online store, where her original prints are available on T-shirts, tote bags, mugs, notecards and buttons. Iconic images like the Capitol and the Delta King waterwheel are mixed with scenes only natives would recognize, like the rainbow array of paint poles on 16th and Q streets. Our favorite? A car streaking past the city-limit sign on the Tower Bridge in “Sacramento at Night.”

Perfect for: anyone who ♥s Sacramento

Cost: varies, is reasonable

Where to buy: Order online at

Shopaholics, beware of shopahol
But if you’re energized by the hustle and haggle of an in-person shopping experience, try Midtown craft fairs, where you can buy direct from local artists. On December 9, the Sellout Buyout quarterly craft show features more than 20 independent designers selling clothing, accessories and more. The sale runs from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Fools Foundation, 1025 19th Street. Deep’s Fashion Flea Market also happens on December 9, just a few blocks away at 2030 H Street. Buy handmade gifts and holiday-themed art from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information visit and

Perfect for: your fashion-conscious friends

Cost: It varies, but bring plenty of cash since most vendors don’t take plastic

Where to buy: Hey, we just told you

When do we eat?
The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op is a local treasure, carrying food from small local farmers, cheese and wine for holiday splurges, a huge selection of bath and body-care products (see below), and much more. They also offer both gift certificates and food futures. The gift certificates come in any denomination; the food futures cost $19, and are worth $20 a year from now. (They’re a way for the Co-op to raise cash now, with a discount payoff in a year.) Stock up now on futures for stocking stuffers next year, or get gift certificates for instant gratification.

Perfect for: starving students, your resident foodie, or (if you choose futures) the very patient

Cost: $19, or, you know, whatever

Where to buy: Co-op locations at 1900 Alhambra Boulevard in Sacramento or 8517 Bond Road in Elk Grove

Chick lit
When someone you love has a chick-lit addiction, enable her with a volume from Heather Estay’s It’s Never Too Late series. These humorous novels, set in Sacramento, follow recent divorcee Angie Hawkins’ dive into the dating pool with the help of her three best friends. HarperCollins released Estay’s third book, It’s Never Too Late to Look Hot, just in time for the holidays.

Perfect for: lighthearted ladies who lunch

Cost: $12.95

Where to buy: All of Estay’s books are available at Borders, Barnes & Noble and online at

Dick lit
SN&R readers voted Bill Pieper Best Local Author this year, and we suspect the steamy mystery Gomez might have something to do with his popularity. Set in 1970s San Francisco and filled with historical touchstones from Annie Hall to Harvey Milk, the book plots an unstable love triangle hinged on a married woman with an Anaïs Nin fetish. This one’s not for kids.

Perfect for: bookworms with a libido

Cost: $14.95

Where to buy: Hit the “local authors” section at the Book Collector, 1008 24th Street, or, if you must, try

No, reely
Here’s a gift certificate that’s not even a little bit lame. Homegrown alt culture is what Movies on a Big Screen with Shiny Object is all about. This eclectic series—Fridays, 7 p.m., Fools Foundation—gets into its groove with quirky, quick-witted docs, delectably gaudy genre rarities, and other motion-picture magic acts that defy written description, like the affecting film debut of Don Johnson. Overall, there’s much love for indie swimmers against mainstream currents—as on December 8, when Orwell Rolls in his Grave reveals how f’d up big media has become (you can trust us on this; we’re small media). Also in the pipeline: one-man bands, theme-park homogenizers and Sonic Outlaws—as introduced in the hilarious postmodern collage classic by San Francisco’s “Other Cinema” auteur, Craig Baldwin.

Perfect for: aspiring cinephiles and recovering corporate-media junkies

Cost: Gift certificates are available in any denomination; individual screenings cost $5 unless otherwise noted

Where to buy: Fools Foundation, 1025 19th Streeet, in the alley and in the basement. Or call (916) 484-0747 or visit

Get out now
Do not fear the Abide Visuals Multimedia Juggernaut. It’s basically just one affable art-dude, Aaron Winters, and some of his art-dude and art-gal pals. For the just-released second issue of Exit Strategy, Winters’ choice, commercial-free annual art magazine, he granted each contributor a pair of back-to-back riffs on one governing theme: “The Outbreak b/w the Breakout.” It’s quite a trip flipping through the 70 black-and-white pages of explosive, (sometimes literally) orgiastic glyphs that mandate has inspired. Be prepared for some well-rendered grotesquery, including one artist’s take on “the ass rash outbreak called George W. Bush.” The included 10” vinyl EP features tunes from the likes of Pets, Butch vs. Femme and the Tangles—locals all.

Perfect for: eye-candy aficionados, starving artists who can’t afford to buy it themselves

Cost: $25 (plus shipping if applicable)

Where to buy: Olipom, 1115 21st Street, or in cyberspace, at

Show some skin
Brown Bag Botanicals founder and proprietor Christine Trice is a former massage therapist who came up with her shea-butter formulation to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. Her line of vegan skin-care products start with a shea-butter base (made from the nuts of the African karite tree) and add ingredients like lavender oil, orange oil and cocoa-seed butter. The result is moisturizing creams that are both effective and aromatic without being overpowering. Four-ounce jars of the skin creams retail for $29; the wonderful hemp-oil and cocoa-butter balm for lips is $11.

Perfect for: sensitive vegans with sensitive skin

Cost: under $30

Where to buy: Both Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op locations and a variety of local maternity shops, salons and boutiques. For a full list of local retailers or to order online, visit Trice’s shop at 1909 Capitol Avenue, Suite 202, will open for a holiday boutique event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 9

What about fruit?
On your way into downtown Winters, you might easily drive right by Lester Farms Bakery. From the outside, it looks like any old-school house of danishes, but inside there’s a difference: Many of the pastries are made with Lester Farms’ own flavorful fruit, not big cans of goopy fruit filling. And Lester Farms offers lavish and beautiful gift baskets of dried fruit and nuts—apricots, pears, peaches, walnuts and more—arranged in artful wheels and geometrical patterns. Truth be told, they’re a little old school, too, but in the best possible way.

Cost: Gift packs are $12 to $27.50 (plus shipping if applicable)

Perfect for: your holiday hosts, the office, or anyone who loves snacking

Where to buy: At the bakery, 606 Railroad Avenue in Winters. Or call (530) 795-2693 or visit

Things could be verse
All this talk of poetry lately, and of presents … hmm. Can they be somehow combined? It just so happens that big-fish foothills poet and respected teacher Molly Fisk will offer “The Poem as Gift,” a one-day workshop on Saturday, December 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Nevada City. Learn how to develop poems specifically so you can give them away—plus, as Fisk says, to “find out about poetry’s historic place in our culture’s underground gift economy.” That’s just what this guide is after: creative, personal and very frugal. Well, OK, yeah, you’ve gotta shell out up front for the workshop, but it’s a long-term investment: Think of all those future gifts that’ll cost nothing more than the inspiration and ink and paper and postage it takes to deliver them. Space is very limited—the available 12 slots surely will fill up fast. But if you miss it, there’s always Fisk’s “Poetry Boot Camp,” a six-day online workshop beginning Sunday, December 3, and other classes in the coming weeks.

Cost: $75 for “The Poem as Gift;” $175 for “Poetry Boot Camp”

Perfect for: loved ones who know what really matters, or at least won’t make fun of you for trying. If they’re not legitimately touched, then they’re shallow materialist swines and you don’t need them anyway

Where to buy: To register, call Fisk at (530) 470-0188, or visit or