Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday may have passed, but the shopping season is far from over. If you’re hard-pressed for gift ideas, look no further than Oakland’s own home-grown food artisans. Food is the workhorse of holiday gift giving: It’s ideal for everyone from your neighbor to your hard-to-buy-for uncle; it’s relatively inexpensive (what genuinely useful non-consumable gift can you buy for $10 or less?); it’s personal without being too personal; it always gets eaten; and you can keep extras on hand for unexpected gifting occasions. Buying products from local entrepreneurs is a terrific way to share your Oakland pride with friends and family, support Oakland businesses, and give a truly one-of-a-kind gift. Read on for 10 simple gift ideas that are sure to tickle the taste buds of even the fussiest folks on your gift list – without breaking your budget.

Fix Dinner

Baia Pasta. Photo credit: Niki Ford

Want to thank someone for their hospitality? Replenish their pantry. Baia Pasta in Jack London Square has artisanal, brass-extruded pasta in all kinds of wonderful shapes, including ringlets, spinners and mohawks ($8+). There’s pasta made from wheat, spelt, and kamut, as well as a variety of fun and one-of-a-kind flavored pastas, like chipotle, tomato basil, and pumpkin and rosemary. Add a jar of pasta sauce (also available at Baia), and you’ve prepped a very simple dinner. Baia’s branded shopping bags are perfectly sized for your gift. If you like, tuck a wedge of grating cheese in the bag, too.

Raise a Glass

Urban Legend Cellars. Photo credit: Melanie Wynne (Flickr)

Wine is a festive and universally appreciated gift for any occasion. For single-varietal wines that are handcrafted in Oakland, check out the Urban Legend Cellars tasting room and winery on 4th Street. Urban Legend’s labels pay homage to one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, which makes them particularly memorable gifts. Urban Legend wines can also be found at Whole Foods. If you’ve got beer drinkers on your list, stop by Beer Revolution on 464 3rd Street to pick up a selection of Oakland-made brews.

Caffeinate ‘em

Photo credit: Roland Tanglao (Flickr)

Bags of Blue Bottle. Photo credit: Roland Tanglao (Flickr)

There’s no shortage of delicious, locally-made coffee in Oakland, and you can’t go wrong with a one-pound bag of beans for the coffee drinker in your life. From HighwireScarlet City and Red Bay, to Timeless, Blue Bottle and Peerless, there’s a bean for every taste. Tie your tidy package of beans with a colorful ribbon and a handwritten note explaning why you picked that particular roast for your recipient. For a complete themed gift, pair a bag of beans with an Oakland coffee mug from Nathan & Co.

Get in a Jam

Blue Chair Jam. Photo credit: vanessa vichit-vadakan (Flickr)

Blue Chair Jam. Photo credit: vanessa vichit-vadakan (Flickr)

Jam may be old-fashioned, but it’s not outmoded. Offer a jar of Blue Chair Fruit tied with some twine as your next hostess gift, and you’ll be the toast of the evening. Blue Chair’s jams are handmade in small batches with organic fruit from local growers. It’s nearly as good as making it yourself! Look for Blue Chair at the Grand Lake farmers’ market (Saturdays) and the Temescal farmers’ market (Sundays), as well as independent grocers. Pair it with a crusty loaf of bread or some fresh scones for a weekend surprise for a friend or neighbor.

Bee Healthy

Wrapped Jar of Honey Photo credit: Theresa Thompson (Flickr)

Wrapped jar of honey. Photo credit: Theresa Thompson (Flickr)

Believed to be a natural cough suppressant and immunity booster, honey makes a timely winter gift or stocking stuffer. Buzz on over to fourth-generation family-owned Bee Healthy Honey Shop on Telegraph Ave for a few jars of raw local honey to help your loved ones through cold and flu season — and support the local honey bee population at the same time. For wannabe beekeepers, the store also carries books about bees, beehive kits and beekeeping supplies.

Ship Local

Selections from the Oaktown Pride Box. Photo credit: Little Artisan Shop Box

Selections from the Oaktown Pride Box. Photo credit: Little Artisan Shop Box

Little Shop Artisan Box founder Maricela Yee works her magic for you with her Oaktown Pride Box. The box, which ships nationally, is available in regular size ($30) or deluxe ($50) size. It features edibles like Blue Chair Fruit Jam, Wonky Kale Chips, Oaktown Jerk Jerky, Chunk Candied Bacon Caramel Corn, Oakland Chocolate Company Spicy Chocolate Almonds and other local favorites. Note: Order by December 18 to assure Christmas delivery. To benefit a bigger cause, order a limited-time artisan gift box from The Town Kitchen, a new lunchbox service and Oakland-based training program for low-income youth. With a $100 contribution to the business’s IndieGoGo campaign, you can ship a box of six locally-made products to the recipient of your choice. Note: Order by December 15 to assure Christmas delivery.

Spice Things Up

Oaktown Spice Shop Gift Set. Photo credit: Oaktown Spice Shop

Oaktown Spice Shop gift set. Photo credit: Oaktown Spice Shop

Stop by Oaktown Spice Shop for a whiff of tantalizing spices, flavored salts and signature house blends. This handsome little shop across from Lake Merritt sells everything from to Aleppo pepper to Zahtar and everything in between, including seasonal favorites like mulling spices and house-ground cinnamon (including hard-to-find Ceylon cinnamon). While you can be plenty adventurous here, you’ll find even the most mundane seasonings fresher, brighter and more satisfying than anything in most spice racks. The shop’s glass jars are attractively labeled and nicely sized for stockings. Themed gift boxes are priced at $14 and up.

Savor Oaktown Flavors


Savor Oakland’s Chinatown tour. Photo credit: Savor Oakland

If you have extra to spend for that special foodie ($100 or more), how about a gift certificate for two for a local food tour? Savor Oakland Food Tours covers the Chinatown and Jack London food destinations while upstart Rockridge Food Tour specializes in the culinary scene along College Avenue. Both walking tours offer a well-rounded tasting, as well as a glimpse into each area’s history and culture.

Give Chocolate

Sasso Bar's Nougat and Caramel Coffee Filling. Photo credit: Sasso Chocolate

Sasso Bar’s nougat and caramel coffee filling. Photo credit: Sasso Chocolate

Who doesn’t love chocolate? I mean, really. Tuck a bar in a loved one’s stocking or present one to your hair stylist or mail person. Tie a stack of different chocolate bars flavors together with a pretty bow and bring it to a party instead of a bottle of wine. No one will be disappointed. Keep your eyes open for chocolates from these four Oakland-based companies:

  • BarloventoBarlovento is a bean-to-bar chocolate producer that makes several varieties of chocolate bars, as well as boxed truffles and chocolate-covered caramels, marshmallows and cherries. Find them at the Grand Lake farmers’ market (Saturday) or visit the kitchen at 638 2nd Street.
  • The Oakland Chocolate CompanyThe Oakland Chocolate Company makes 12 bean-t0-bar varieties, as well as adorable chocolate acorns, oak leaves and pre-boxed bonbons and truffles. Look for them at Oaklandish, the Old Oakland farmers’ market (Fridays) and the Montclair farmers’ market (Sundays).
  • Vice Chocolates: Vice Chocolates is a tech-turned-chocolatier enterprise with roots in Oakland. Find Vice’s exotic fruit-and-nut flavor combinations and pre-boxed truffles at Star Grocery, The Pasta Shop and the Temescal farmers’ market (Sundays).
  • Sasso Candy CompanySasso makes just one thing: the Sasso Bar. It’s a delightfully adult candy bar made with a combination of nougat and coffee caramel. Find it at Village Market and Piedmont Grocery.

Make ‘Em Jealous

This Is Oakland. Photo credit: Oaktown Spice Shop

This Is Oakland: A Guide to the City’s Most Interesting Places. Photo credit: Oaktown Spice Shop

Have friends who don’t want to cross the bridge? Or relatives who don’t understand what makes Oakland so awesome? (We’ve all got ’em, right?) Wrap up a copy of This Is Oakland, a photo guidebook that features Oakland’s must-visit dining spots and destinations. You can find the book at the new Oakland Supply Company, as well as the Oaktown Spice Shop, Nathan & Co and many of the hot spots featured in the book. If this book doesn’t get them interested in a visit, then there’s something wrong with them.

And finally…

Skip the Wrapping Paper

Photo credit: Tina Produce

Photo credit: Tina Produce

Instead of wrapping your gifts in paper, wrap them with something fun and useful, like a fruit-themed tea towel from Oakland-based Tina Produce, a canvas tote bag or an Oaklandish tee.

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