2012 Shop local holiday guide

There are so many wonderful places to shop, play, and eat in the Berkeley-Oakland area that creating a specific gift guide for East Bay families was tricky. To avoid sending you back to my favorite places each year, I’ve included picks from our new contributors.

Gifts to keep:

Local tee shirts
Be proud of your ‘hood. I love the Oaklandish tees for bigs and littles (this Fairyland one is a gem); I picked up a few Berkeley-centric shirts at Cotton Basics in Elmwood (their website is lacking, but go visit in person!); and you can show your love of the island with Alameda shirts available at Modern Mouse gifts.

And finally, we’ve got our own brand of tshirts for kids and babies who live in and love the {510}. See the full selection here.

If your little part of the {510} has not been tee-shirted to your taste, it is surprisingly easy to create your own. Whitney created “Totland” and “San Pablo Park” shirts for our toddlers.

A piece of Cal history
Annika tells us that The Wooden Duck will make you custom furniture from reclaimed wood from the numbered benches in the old Cal stadium. Sounds like a super-cool gift for someone who is a big Cal fan. Expensive but so special.

A living gift
Annika said that one year she got her dad a succulent wreath from Cactus Jungle near 4th street; it was a huge success and he still has it growing on his patio.

The best eco-friendly gift shops?
For browsing local artists’ work, check out our parent posse’s favorite places:

  • Rachel likes Treehouse Gifts on College Ave; I always find unique things in there that I didn’t know I needed.
  • Juanita likes Hatch in Montclair Village for their eco-friendly designs from local artists.
  • Chris likes Modern Mouse in Alameda for their combination of handmade and vintage including artwork from 3 Fish Studios and Phil Barbato.

Gifts to eat:

Rachel suggests a decadent box of chocolates from Casa de Chocolates (pictured above). Yum, I hope I’m on her nice list.

Juanita Villa loves the Oaktown Spice Shop; she says they have excellent gift packages of their high-quality herbs, spices, and blends for $35. Rachel seconds the Oaktown Spice Shop saying how friendly and helpful the staff is.

Olivia suggests either RoastCo or Blue Bottle for the East Bay’s best coffee beans. Both offer monthly subscriptions.

Hadley loves giving and getting little gift cards for various local gelato and froyo places like lush, ici, yogurtland because cold winter days sometimes call for cold treats.

Local healthy-food treats like Annie’s gummy bunnies and Cliff Z-bars fit well in a locavore kid’s stocking.

The gift of experience

Tickets to nearby shows
Whitney wants to fill your stocking with tickets. Here are five deals for family-friendly shows coming up (discounted tix are available via Goldstar which requires signing up for free email subscription):

  1. World’s Funniest Bubble Show at the Marsh in Downtown Berkeley: (Wednesday December 26th – fun for the whole family at $5.50 per ticket instead of $11)
  2. Harlem Globetrotters on Jan 19th at Oracle Arena
  3. Phineas and Ferb live show at The Paramount Theater on Jan 20
  4. Berkeley Rep 3-show package
  5. AMC theater ticket discount movie package

Membership has its privileges
Juanita and Cara suggest Oakland Zoo memberships for families. Memberships to Fairyland pay for themselves in about 3 visits. Cara loves her Lawrence Hall of Science membership from the grandparents. For the littlest ones, consider Habitot or gift credit to Studio Grow.

Get even more active
If chasing your children isn’t enough exercise, what about memberships or packages of classes from Berkeley Ironworks, Woohoo Fit, or Ice Chamber?

Massage and Pampering

Mandy said that her husband gave her a gift card to Claremont Hotel and Spa last year (BEST GIFT EVER!) and she’s going to request a repeat.

Chris and Annika agree that Massage for Moms (who makes house calls!) is the perfect remedy for holiday and parenting stress. What’s more local than that?

{Many more clutter-free gift ideas on Rookie Moms for everyone on your shopping list}

Please add your favorite local gift ideas in the comments. The Santa you inspire may be my husband.

[photos from Oaklandish, Wooden Duck, Casa de Chocolates, Yelp for Claremont Spa]