Presents of mind

Support local artists, treat your loved ones and never set foot in a mall

Welcome to Thanksgiving week. Let the onslaught of holiday sales pitches begin!

Or not. This year, we suggest you mute the television commercials, toss those department-store circulars in the recycle bin and focus on extending Thanksgiving gratitude throughout the holiday season.

Of course, it’s much easier to feel grateful about your life when you’re not fighting for parking spots at the mall or agonizing over what to get your picky sister-in-law. That’s why we’ve put together this list of some of the best gifts Sacramento has to offer. Everything on these pages is locally made and less than $30 and can be ordered directly from area artists and merchants without leaving your house. (Be sure to place online orders early to allow for processing and shipping times.) For presents with a more personal touch, our crafty Erin Sierchio has included directions for two make-it-yourself projects (see the sidebar, “Just make it”).

This season, give your gift budget to our community’s artists and charities, give your friends and family unique presents that celebrate our region, and give yourself time to experience the joy of the holidays. May your days be merry and bright!

Nutz! red wine
Suzy and Jim Gullett, the mom and pop of Plymouth’s Vino Noceto, specialize in Tuscany’s noble grape, sangiovese. Their wines are among the California-boutique best, showing all the class of good Chianti without any la-di-da attitude. One in particular makes a rather festive gift by tasting more expensive than it is. The wine is called Nutz!—not because its essence approximates the family dynamic so common during holiday time, but because the Vino Noceto estate sits in a grove of walnut trees, and “noceto” is Italian for “little nut.” With its cherry and cranberry overtones, the light, easygoing and food-friendly Nutz! should get any holiday party started.

Perfect for: any relative who drives you a little nuts

Cost: $10 plus shipping

Where to buy: Call (209) 245-6556 or visit to order.

2006 Historical Sacramento Calendar
Calendars tend to be last-ditch gifts for people you don’t know very well, and they usually inspire as much wan enthusiasm as their afterthought companions: Christmas socks and fruitcake. But the Folsom Historical Society’s 2006 Historical Sacramento Calendar is different. Black-and-white photos of an eerie prison barge floating on the Sacramento River or a partially constructed Capitol standing alone in a field awaken a sense of Sacramento history like no lecture or memorial plaque could. In a time when chain stores and uniform housing developments are on the rise, the calendar is a powerful reminder of the unique history of our region.

Perfect for: longtime residents who love to talk about how things have changed, or anyone new to the area

Cost: $11.95

Where to buy: Order online at for free shipping and handling or pick one up in most Sacramento-area museum gift shops.

Stellarocco women’s clothing
Stellarocco designs fall into that rare camp of clothing that manages to be both comfortable and fashionable. These soft cotton T-shirts, blouses and hoodies for women are made without sweatshop labor, in a range of sizes and colors. The design motifs are varied—heart-shaped snowflake patterns, spare modern lines and little girls running with dogs—and printed in limited quantities.

Perfect for: teenage daughters, college roommates and the hipper-than-thou friend who moved to Los Angeles.

Cost: $20 to $28 plus shipping

Where to buy: Order online at or visit the Stellarocco booth at Sellout Buyout on December 10 at Fools Foundation, located at 1025 19th Street.

Poetry bouquets
You can wrap them in a gift box, large or small. You can roll them slightly—don’t damage the covers—and stuff them in a Christmas sock. You can stack them in the shape of a tree, to remind the recipient where the paper they’re printed on comes from. It doesn’t matter how you deliver them—our favorite is wrapped in green floral paper with baby’s breath as a true poetry bouquet—chapbooks by local poets make great and inexpensive holiday gifts. The best part is picking poems to match the gift recipient. Be prepared to spend some time browsing.

Several small local presses have worthy volumes available. Crawdad Nelson’s thoughtful collection An Acre of Violets: 100 Poems Against the War (24th Street Irregular Press), James Den Boer’s Black Dog: An Unfinished Segue Between Two Seasons (Rattlesnake Press) and Why I Collect Moose by Svea Barrett (winner of this year’s Poet’s Corner Press Chapbook Poetry Contest) would make lovely choices. Go small with the chapbooks or aim high with books by local authors. Brad Buchanan’s The Miracle Shirker (Poet’s Corner Press) or Quinton Duval’s Joe’s Rain (Cedar House Books) reflect some of the best of local verse.

Perfect for: anyone in this poetry town

Cost: Chapbooks range from $2 to $12; books from $15 to $17.

Where to buy: The Book Collector, located at 1008 24th Street, has the best selection of local poetry.

Heyday stuffies
Denise Cozzitorto’s online store, Heyday Fashion, offers a wide variety of crafty kitsch—from designer camera straps to robot-embossed note cards to fleece scarves decorated with dachshunds. Everything is charming, handmade and affordable, but our favorite products are the stuffies. Cozzitorto’s stuffed-felt monsters, kitties and tooth pillows are quirky enough to please your adult friends and cute enough to enchant children. We especially like the wide-grinning monsters holding hand-printed signs that read “I [heart] Your Guts.” No two are alike, and supplies are limited, so act fast if you want one.

Perfect for: an adult who’s never grown up and kids who are young enough to love soft friends but old enough not to swallow their button eyes

Cost: $16.50 to $18.50

Where to buy: Order online at

Discount movie cards
Both of downtown Sacramento’s art-house theaters, the Crest Theatre and the Tower Theatre, offer discount movie cards. Good for five general admissions each, the Crest’s also includes a small popcorn or drink with each ticket. The cards can be used to admit two people at one time, so there’s a good chance your recipient will take you to the movies with them!

Perfect for: students seeking culture on a budget, seniors who have time for matinees, and anyone who loves subtitles

Cost: $25

Where to buy: Buy directly from the Crest box office, located at 1013 K Street, or the Tower box office, located at 2508 Land Park Drive.

Charity donations
Help those in need and skip out on the chore of holiday shopping by donating your gift budget to local charities. Who would complain about not receiving material presents when you say your money went to feeding homeless children and protecting rescued animals? Aiding the troubled souls in our midst makes a brighter community for everyone.

Perfect for: the less-fortunate who need aid, and the more-fortunate who don’t need any more gifts cluttering their homes

Cost: as much as you can spare

Where to buy: Most local charities accept online donations. Google your interests or take our suggestions: To feed Sacramento’s homeless or to support the Mustard Seed School for homeless children, donate to Loaves and Fishes at To help women recovering from domestic abuse, donate to Women Escaping a Violent Environment at To provide clothes, food and educational resources for children in need, donate to the Sacramento Children’s Home at To support the rescue and medical care of abused farm animals, donate to Farm Sanctuary at