Avoid the supply chain woes and let Peninsula people and places lend a hand this holiday season.

Alexander’s Patisserie’s colorful hand-painted bonbons. (Photo courtesy Alexander’s Patisserie)

When it comes to gift giving, intentionality counts. 

Unfortunately, nothing snuffs out creativity quite like a deadline. But before you start panic buying on Amazon, see if The Six Fifty can relight your imaginative spark with our local Peninsula gift guide. Apart from being unique, these feel-good gifts support local businesses, artisans and nonprofits. What’s more, they can be shipped or purchased locally, making it easier to avoid the supply chain saga while other holiday gifts stay stranded on a barge off the West Coast. 

Among our experiential and handmade recommendations, we’ve covered everyone from concertgoers to creatives, foodies to fashionistas. Happy shopping!

For the bookworm:

Kepler’s has book bundles that are sure to delight the literarians in your life. Curated by devoted bibliophiles, each package comes with three to four novels. For the bookish adults, choose from options like Eye-Opening Nonfiction, Book Club Favorites, or Red Herring Mystery Bundle. For bookworm youngsters, opt for Bundle of Laughs, Girls Run The World, or Young Adult Lit. If you’re truly looking to outdo yourself, Kepler’s offers author-signed bundles for readers young and old. The Menlo Park bookstore also has an entire book guide in order to matchmake friends and family with their ideal books.

La Honda Winery is among a myriad of Peninsula wineries for those looking to gift local wine. (Photo by Veronica Weber)

For the foodie

Give your foodie friend a taste of decadence with Timothy Adams Chocolates’ virtual tasting. As educational as it is appetizing, the tasting begins with knowledgeable chocolatier Timothy Woods explaining the history of chocolate, the process by which it’s made, and the best cacao regions around the world, before elaborating on the flavor profiles and percentages of each chocolate you try as you savor it. We’re also fans of Alexander’s Patisserie’s artsy hand-painted bonbons and Alegio Chocolaté’s lavish assortment of truffles.

On the topic of tastings, consider scheduling a day trip to the scenic Portola Vineyards or the equally picturesque Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside. Also find worthwhile vintage and varietal bottles at La Honda Winery, Domenico Winery, and Enoteca La Storia. If you prefer pilsner to pinot, grab a couple of brewskies at Half Moon Bay Brewing Co., Humble Sea (which also sells Brewing With Brothas brews), Devil’s Canyon, or Freewheel.

Looking for something different? Try Spread the Love jams and jellies made by Coastsider Marilyn Johnson with unique flavors like rosemary jelly, pear ginger jam and honeysuckle jelly, premium plant-based instant noodles or a small-batch coffee gift box.

For the animal lover

If you know a nature documentary fanatic, take them for a docent-led tour through the dunes of Año Nuevo State Park in Pescadero to learn about the wacky creature known as the elephant seal. Trust us … watching these 5,000-pound blubbery giants galumphing across the sand shows Mother Nature at her zaniest.

If you’re hoping for a more majestic encounter with the animal kingdom, commune with whales off the coast of Half Moon Bay, where Huli Cat Sportfishing, Half Moon Bay Sportfishing & Tackle, and Riptide Charters all charter boats April through November. Inland, you can schedule an outing to hang with the goats of Harley Farms (as well as the guardian llamas and Anatolian shepherds who care for them).

A San Mateo County parks pass covers entry fees for the 22 county-run parks, including Wunderlich. (Photo by Michelle Le)

For the outdoorsy folks

Purchasing an annual San Mateo County parks pass means giving your outdoorsy loved one a passport to limitless redwoods and hiking trails. They can follow their nature-loving whims to any of its 22 park locations – meaning if they’re craving tidepools and a good sea breeze, they can travel to the coastline’s Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. If they’re seeking hillside views, they can journey to Junipero Serra Park or San Bruno Mountain. And if they want forested paths, Wunderlich Park’s got that covered too.

Filoli’s flowers are sure to please the plant lovers. Gifting them a day trip or a season pass will open the estate’s wrought iron gates to 16 enchanting acres of gardens, as well as its historic house and seasonal events (now through Jan. 2, the grounds are decked out with festive ornaments and garden lights). And to bring the outdoors inside, check out the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space’s nature calendar. 2022 marks their 50th anniversary and the calendar not only presents pristine views of the Santa Cruz Mountain region year-round, but also shares interesting facts about native plants and wildlife.

For the kiddies

Get playful with Menlo Park’s Cheeky Monkey Toys. Their staff favorites list will steer you toward jewelry-making kits, construction projects, magic trick sets and throwback toys (Etch A Sketch or Lite-Brite, anyone?). For the littlest ones on your list, Busy Baby Bottoms sells clothes and cloth diapers alongside local, handmade items from a variety of vendors, and the Avenidas online store sells baby blankets, hats, toys and other knitted goods made by volunteers, with proceeds going to support the nonprofit’s programs for older adults on the Peninsula.

If you’re hoping to go the experiential route, sign up for a membership to either CuriOddysey for hands-on science exhibits or the newly reopened Palo Alto Junior Zoo for macaws and meerkats and other hands-on opportunities (check out our guide for the top critters you shouldn’t miss). Both options will make for lighthearted learning and fond family memories.

For the art enthusiast

If you’re hoping for originality points, check out the inlaid-wooden rolling pins, jewelry, and hand-blown glass of The Artisan Shop (hosted by Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park). For the free spirit, check out Mountain View artist Harumo Sato’s whimsical work. The joyful use of color and playful visuals of her prints can make most anyone smile.

Pacifica’s Cuppa Fog Designs transfers photographs to wood blocks. To really celebrate the Peninsula, check out the prints featuring local sites — iceplants along the Pacifica Pier, a pumpkin patch in Half Moon Bay, poppies in Pescadero. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of options, our favorite is the coastal coaster set with surfers spotted around Half Moon Bay, Pacifica, and San Francisco. They also offer customization, so you can have your own photo hand-transferred onto a wood block.

Jack White, Tears For Fears and the Backstreet Boys are among the acts scheduled to perform at Shoreline Amphitheatre in 2022. (Photo by Natalia Nazarova)

For the concertgoer

For the concertgoer, you can’t go wrong with tickets. To set them up with a more intimate venue, check out Club Fox’s offerings, which range from Mike Zito and the Greaseland Allstars to Journey cover bands.

If you’re willing to wait, the new Guild Theatre opens in February with musical acts like Jazz Mafia, Delta Spirit, and Marty Stuart & his Fabulous Superlatives. And of course, there’s always good ol’ Shoreline and the offerings at Stanford University, from Bing Concert Hall to Frost Amphitheater.

For the fashion-forward

Clad the urban fashionista on your list with Empire in the Air streetwear. Everything coming from this Bay Area brand is a statement piece emblazoned with bold images and graffiti-style tags. We also love that their design work is a collaborative effort: Their Affirmations Tee incorporates messages of encouragement from the Empire staff, and a collage-decorated hoodie includes images reminding each team member of home.

Also check out Reliance, run by a third-generation retailer from Burlingame. The giftee will love that their new fuzzy mock is not only ultra-snuggly, but gives them small-batch bragging rights.

For an unconventional way to brighten your walls, Los Altos native Morgan Bricca paints elaborate custom murals. (Photo courtesy Morgan Bricca)

For the interior design enthusiast

To find something for the home decorator in your life, seek inspiration at Harvest. You’re bound to stumble across some delightful accent piece among their selection of lamps, mirrors, and wall art. If you really want to get lavish, purchase a hand-painted mural for your bedroom or dining room from Morgan Murals. With a knack for depicting the natural world, Los Altos native Morgan Bricca paints elaborate forest landscapes and underwater seascapes (in fact, you’ve seen her work if you’ve ever biked under the California Avenue underpass.) A few more muralists servicing the greater Bay Area include John Osgood, Scott Willis, Jorge Juarez, and Hayley Ferreira

For internationally made goods for a good cause, the UNICEF gift shop in Palo Alto sells handicrafts like handmade Christmas ornaments. Merchandise sales support the local chapter’s work.

Johanna Hickle Profile Photo

Johanna Harlow

Journalist with a fondness for micro-cultures and all things quirky.

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