50 cute-as-heck gifts for $10 and under

Pub date November 19, 2010

Our official metaphor for holiday shopping this season is just going to have to be Tron. Not just because Tron: Legacy opens Dec. 17 or because some of us are forever stuck in totally awesome adolescent ’80s video game world. We also must zip across the alien landscape of holiday commercialism, snatching up neon-fantasy presents (and possibly exploding). Go! Go! Go!

Or, you know, use this guide and pick up some killer giftos all in one easy trip. We scoured the city for cool items ringing in at 10 ducats and under. Yes, you can still wear an electric blue bodysuit. (Marke B.)



Tutti Frutti

With the exception of millions of Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindis, and Zoroastrians, Jesus is lighting up the world these days. And what better way for your Xian friends to keep His light flowing than this Jesus flashlight. Pair it with a Jesus pen; we’re pretty sure this is the pen Jesus would have used.

718 Irving, Inner Sunset, SF. (415) 661-8504



Plant’It Earth

Since Prop. 19 flopped at the polls, it’s back to dealer-only cell phones and GIY smokes. Give your dealer or favorite organic grower this perfect 7-9-5 blend of plant food and help nourish the next crop (you’ll be paying for it anyway). Plant’It Earth also has grow lights, soil, and other no-Prop. 19 essentials.

661 Divisadero, Panhandle, SF. (415) 626-5082, wwwplantitearth.com



The Animal House Pet Mercantile

As the movie “Up” taught us, if dogs could talk, their conversation would go something like this: “Squirrel!” Give Bowser this plush toy Squirrel!, which will last way longer than a real Squirrel! and not stink up your house. Animal House also has cat toys, but your cat won’t give a shit.

157 Fillmore, Lower Haight, SF. (415) 552-0233, www.theanimalhouse.com



San Francisco Zen Center Bookstore

Tired of hearing your beloved shriek “Shut the #$%@* up, I’m meditating!” when you inadvertently stumble onto your deck at 6:30 a.m.? End it with this calligraphy sign, which can be hung from a doorknob or from the back of your beloved’s neck. Back it up with a book on Zen.

300 Page, Hayes Valley, SF. (415) 863-3136, www.sfzc.org



Arch Art Supplies

The sandwich rectangle, the pizza triangle, the hamburger round — all are inadequate for toting le hot dog. End the long-standing and justifiable frustration of your frankfurtin’ friends with this washable, reusable, hot dog-specific tote. Pick up the chips bag to go with it, or maybe some drafting or graphics supplies.

99 Missouri, Potrero Hill, SF. (415) 433-2724, www.archsupplies.com



Zinc Details

‘Tis the season for sharing — but only if you want to and only if you have the technology. To make others share with you, give your BFF (or No. 1 frenemy) this 3-way music splitter and put an end to the nasty talk about how 3-ways don’t work. Zinc Details has plenty of other nifty stuff that can be done as a two-way or one-way.

1905 Fillmore, Pacific Heights, SF. (415) 776-2100, www.zincdetails.com



Cowgirl Creamery

So “some of your best friends are Jews” and you feel bad because you know Santa won’t go there. Make amends for years of no Santa with this fromage blanc, which is way better than regular cream cheese and not from Philly. Add a tub of hand-clabbered cottage cheese for their blintzes, kugels, and whatever else it is Jews eat.

1 Ferry Building, #17, Embarcadero, SF. (415) 362-9354, www.cowgirlcreamery.com



Cole Hardware

We believe that, like hemlines in other realms, a mini or micro version of the Utilikilt is due out any day now. And when that happens, utilidudes will need scaled-down, “stubby” versions of their tools to make it all work (and boy do these tools work). Cole Hardware also has stubby pliers and wrenches.

956 Cole, Cole Valley, SF. (415) 753-2653, wwwcolehardware.com




Why buy blooms destined for the dustbin for your loved ones when you can score them these long-lasting buds? Samsara’s small sales floor is packed with small treasures imported from the Far East. Pick up a colorful woven headband or Indian lotus wooden stamp for the yogi on your list.

2035 Union, Marina, SF. (415) 563-5485



Under One Roof

Many a hook-up mood has been ruined waiting for the hookee to disentangle three feet of earphone wire from a fly or brassiere. Stop the madness with the Cable Buddy, which keeps cords neatly wrapped and out of the way. And get few extra for those cords you know you’ll get ensnared in at the hook’s house.

518 Castro, Castro District, SF. (415) 503-2300, www.underoneroof.org


ECO-BAG, $1.75

Ichiban Kan

It’s not a competition, but your my-eco-bag-is-more-eco-than-your-ego-bag pals will love this Japanese-made eco bag. The bag comes in six different patterns, all groovy enough to go with all their hemp outfits. Ichiban Kan also has bento boxes, lunch bags, and knit panda hats.

22 Peace Plaza #540, Japantown, SF. (415) 409-0472, www.ichibankanusa.com



Flight 001

Your peripatetic pals can’t help it if they find themselves casting off plastic utensils everywhere they go. Detox them with the Spork, a durable, washable spoon-fork-knife in one. The brightly-colored utensil is guaranteed to make fellow travelers say “go Spork yourself” to disposables. Flight 001 also has clocks, bags, and bagatelle for the traveler.

525 Hayes, Hayes Valley, SF. (415) 487-1001, www.flight101.com



The Green Arcade

Give your honey bun some fresh-baked honey buns made with honey from Noe Valley Apiaries. Better yet, give your honey bun the whole jar and she can drink it herself. The limited-edition honey is unfiltered and antibiotic-free. Or get a book on beekeeping while you’re at this perfectly curated, eco-centric store so you can give your honey bun her own hive someday.

1680 Market, Hayes Valley, SF. (415) 431-6800, www.thegreenarcade.com




Put an end to the chronic “Yes, I loved the roses you gave me last week but now they’re DEAD” statements with this ceramic rose. Baked by a local ceramics artist and available with or without a stem, the roses come in lovely shades of pink, ivory, peach, and lavender. Xapno can also set you up with a vase or ribbon to set it off.

678 Haight, Lower Haight, SF. (415) 863-8199, www.xapno.com




The glamour girls and boys who won’t drink coffee or red wine with you anymore because it stains their teeth need to get back to reality with one of these glass straws. (Buh-bye, BriteSmile.) Ensure that they bring it with them to your next drinking game by getting them bamboo carrying case as well.

Online only. (707) 964-9350, www.glassdharma.com/straws



Rooky Ricardo’s Records

Diehard record collectors love to dig through crates of dust-covered vinyl searching for elusive, long-out-of-print song 45s. Rooky Ricardo’s is perfect for them (cool old singles for around $3!) — and for those of us who just want to hear some awesome music without the stiff back and neck (or record player). A sweet selection of classic soul, pop, and R&B mix CDs culled from Rooky’s collection will get your sweet ones humming.

448 Haight St., Lower Haight, SF. (415) 864-7526, www.rookyricardos.com



Sports Basement

This holiday season, tell your loved ones to take a hike. A handy trail map of southern Marin ($9.50) combined with the 76 Marin Headlands bus can easily help them rediscover the glorious nature beckoning just outside the Golden Gate. Also at Sports Basement: Nalgene PBA-free water bottles start at $8.50.

1590 Bryant St., SoMa, SF. (415) 575-3000;

610 Old Mason St., Presidio, SF. (800) 869-6670, www.sportsbasement.com



Rare Device

Who doesn’t love buttons? No one. They’re a quick, easy way to customize your backpack, hat, coat, scarf, whatever. And even when they’re designed by artists, they’re still cheap. Sweetie Pie buttons are produced as series by designers using security envelopes, reclaimed silk-screened posters, and other recycled materials. There’s a ton of individuality in each pack, so grab more than one.

1845 Market St., Hayes Valley, SF. (415) 863-3969, www.raredevice.net



Three Twins Organic Ice Cream

Give a special gift of sweet, sweet empty(ish) calories. Using only organic ingredients, Three Twins scoops up incredible flavors like milk and honey, lemon cookie, chocolate peanutbutter cookie, or the exotic Dad’s Cardamom. With a $5 certificate, your giftee can choose between two teensy ice cream cones or a pint to munch on at home while watching 30 Rock on Hulu.

254 Fillmore St. Lower Haight, SF. (415) 487-8946, www.threetwinsicecream.com



Al’s Comics

Do you have a friend literally salivating and moaning for next week’s The Walking Dead episode on AMC? Satisfy their zombie craving with an issue of the original comic book series (now at issue #78). And since comic books are Hollywood’s favorite source material for summer blockbusters these days, Al’s Comics is probably going to have 2013’s summer action blockbuster of the year… right now!

1803 Market St., Hayes Valley, SF. (415) 861-1220, www.alscomicssf.com



Costumes on Haight

If there’s one thing everyone should own, it’s a mustache. It might just be the most useful gift you could ever give. Who knows when your recipients may need to change identities quickly, appear as an authority figure, or even just get really really handsome instantly. Costumes on Haight provides ‘staches for any need or hair color. Spirit gum’s an extra $2, but you’ll earn that back quickly at 10 cents per ride.

735 Haight St, Lower Haight, SF. (415) 621-1356. www.costumesonhaight.com



Get Lost Books

Your perennially-traveling friend always seems to have the most fabulous stories to recount. But the on-the-ground truth is probably a lot less romantic, with miscommunications, bad directions, and an unintentional slur or two. Swing by Get Lost Books for a handy Lonely Planet phrasebook they can take with them when they do. No more ignorant American oopsies for them (and possibly a lot more sex).

1825 Market St., Hayes Valley, SF. (415) 437-0529. www.getlostbooks.com



New People

Naughty uncle gifts alert: New People’s got the goods for meal avoidance — a spoon that doubles as a superhero and another that spring-launches broccoli. Hand off to the nearest tyke, then duck (the wrath of the li’l ones’ parents). Tokyo pop culture mall New People is an amazing one-stop source for quirky, beautiful lifestyle accessories like dope headphones and separated toe socks.

1746 Post, Japantown, SF. (415) 525-8600, www.newpeopleworld.com



SF Party

This party donkey’s cool to get behind — the recipient will be stoked by his party-pumping bustability. (Hint: stuff with mini bottles.) SF Party’s got what you need for instacheer — peep the local store’s decorations and holiday flair for ways to trick everyone into thinking you’re festive.

939 Post, Tenderloin, SF. (415) 931-9393, www.sfparty.com



Good Vibrations

You already know that Good Vibes is the top spot for fun, sexy, and horizon-expanding gifts for your sweetie (or prospective sweetie). These two ounces of scented soy wax set the mood for a little post-mistletoe vida loca. Just light the candle and it melts into massage oil.

Various locations, SF. www.goodvibes.com




Looking for a wintertime wonder amid Sweetdish’s happy racks of rare and delicious candies? Try their hot chocolate sets, packaged here in San Francisco: Taza drinkable chocolate disks and a Japanese ceramic mug and spoon are included in this power punch for the holiday sweet tooth. While you’re there, pick up some locally made Poco Dolce chocolate — the burnt toffee ($6.50 per pack) is to die for.

2144 Chesnut, Marina, SF. (415) 563-2144, www.thesweetdish.com



This one’s fun for sending a pleasant mixed message: “They want me to butch it up when I’m on the go, but with a body spray?” Forunately, one sniff of this enticingly spicy scent will ax all doubts, and the travel-spritzing will begin in earnest. (Also available: floral Femme and tangy Original scents.) Local-centric beauty product makers Nancy Boy provides line after line of scrumptious freshness.

347 Hayes, Hayes Valley, SF. (415) 552-3802, www.nancyboy.com



Misdirections Magic Shop

When your teenager wants to expand his trick repertoire beyond lighting farts, it’s time for a magic laser money device. With practice, your teenager can create money out of nothing, just like the Fed! It’s also the perfect comeback to “You can stop washing the dishes when you start making money.” Misdirections has other magic galore.

1236 Ninth Ave., Inner Sunset, SF. (415) 566-2190, www.misdirections.com




Toss designs its own classy prep looks, which will hit the spot for any beachy babes within striking distance of your gift list. But if the pretty handbags and frothy dresses are too spendy, cop the store’s style with embroidered stickers that’ll customize any existing satchels your bronzed beauty swings over their shoulder.

2185 Chestnut, Marina, SF. (415) 440-8677, www.tossdesigns.com



Paper Tree

Fold-your-own hamburger, shake, and fries for … what, your vegetarian sister? Meat-loving Uncle Mark? Paper Tree’s aisles of origami kits — paper and laughably cryptic Japanese instructions included — range from make-your-own meals to puppy dogs and finger puppets, and make a fantastic offering for any of your friends who dream of creating their own world.

1743 Buchanan, Japantown, SF. (415) 921-1700, www.paper-tree.com



Park Life

Too bad hamburgers don’t go in the oven, ’cause that would be the funniest thing ever with this plump, juicy-looking thing! (The joke might work with Hanukkah sufanganiyot, too.) Park Life’s a neato outpost of cleverly designed artifacts and nom-nom art, with something for everyone, but mostly really cool everyones.

220 Clement, Richmond, SF. (415) 386-7275, www.parklifestore.com



Needles & Pens

Locally published advice on fermenting, planting, and all kinds of other stuff makes a swell gift for your favorite urbanite interested in sustainably downsizing for 2011. Needles & Pens stocks indie clothes and jewelery designs, as well as racks of zines from fresh local artists and doodlers.

3253 16th St., Mission, SF. (415) 255-1534, www.needles-pens.com



Little Otsu

Calendars can be so … quantifying. Leave it to craft wonderland Little Otsu to make date-finding creative again. Pick up this cheaply had bit of creativity designed by Ron Regé Jr., for the nonlinear thinker on your list, or browse the racks of Otsu’s recycled material stationary and precious T-shirt designs.

849 Valencia, Mission, SF. (415) 255-7900, www.littleotsu.com



Gravel and Gold

Because nothing goes better than bikes and bevvies — they’ll cruise into golden, road soda (we mean coffee, of course!) glory with an American-made bike cup holder masterpiece from this beautiful, sunny Mission store, whose shelves of hip handmade treasures take the crass consumerism straight out of your holiday shopping.

3266 19th St., Mission, SF. (415) 552-0112, www.gravelandgold.com



Sumiramis Middle Eastern Imports

Score flaky, made-in-the-Bay filo dough holiday meal or gathering treats at this fantastical, low-key grocery store, which stocks all things Mediterranean from hookahs to halvah. Your lucky guests will wonder where you got it. (Make like you had to go further than 26th Street and Mission.)

2990 Mission, Mission, SF. (415) 824-6555



Casa Guadalupe

These crumbly peanut marzipan gems are a recognizable staple of Latino bodegas, but the red rose on their 30-pack carton wouldn’t look out of place alongside brightly wrapped presents under a Hanukkah bush.

2999 Mission, Mission, SF. (415) 824-2043



Good Fellows

Reward those who’ve been nice through 2010 with this customizable bling — they can wear their sparkly identities on their lobes! Because you know you have a friend who will be more impressed if you tell them you got their present from a head shop. And Good Fellows has a dispensary in the back if your giftee’s on the very, very good list.

473 Haight, Lower Haight, SF. (415) 255-1323




Stuff the mouth of their wallet — money tastes good again with this disturbingly realistic peanut butter and jelly sandwich billfold. Therapy’s got the goods when it comes to gifts for the young fashionista on your list — another great choice is their faux-Guate coin purses ($10), decorated with colorful embroidered patterns that call up your trip last year to Lake Antigua.

Various location, SF. www.shopattherapy.com



Lola of North Beach

Lit love for the soon-to-be-bundled little one. The illustrations in this new board edition are as stunning as they were when Caldecott winner Ezra Jack Keats published the original book in 1962. Lola’s is a great gift stop for chic families — Mom and Dad included — on your list.

1415 Grant, North Beach, SF. (415) 781-1817, www.lolaofnorthbeach.com



Molinari Deli

Step around the display arrays of Italian fruitcakes and brightly-wrapped candies up to this old school neighborhood joint’s deli case. You can buy the hostess with the mostest a peck of that finest green — a skein of house-made spinach noodles. Maybe she’ll even invite you back for a holiday-themed pasta feed.

373 Columbus, North Beach, SF. (415) 421-2337



City Lights Books

Ginsberg in Benares, Ginsberg in Venice, Ferlinghetti in SF — this book of postcards is the perfect bon voyage present for your favorite wanderlustful loved one. Include a card urging that one of the notes makes it back to you when the L.O. has a spare moment. City Lights, as well all know, has the best and brightest in O.G. Beat lit as well as today’s hottest book titles.

261 Columbus, North Beach, SF. (415) 362-8193, www.citylights.com



Aldea Niños

Get ’em going on noodle bowls young with these playful pinchers. Soon enough, your tyke will be ready to slurp udon with the best of them. Aldea’s newly opened children store stocks all the finest in sustainably made baby products. For another cheap, fun gift, try the wooden fish castanets, whose clacking teeth with make a flamenco fiend of any toddler.

1017 Valencia, Mission, SF. (415) 874-9520, www.aldeababy.com




Oof — they couldn’t even keep last year’s astrophytum kicking? Lower the ante and reignite the light with this cacti candle. Current also stocks natural beauty products and small vases made to be tied up in a beautifully wrapped, color coordinating gift box. Indeed, many of its offerings already are, perfect for the gift-and-go.

911 Valencia, Mission, SF. (415) 648-2015



Shoe Biz

Sure, your buddy’s got style — but are their Technicolor kicks looking technically mussed and scuffed? You can brighten the load for any sneaker kid with these ties, which sit alongside Shoe Biz’s fantastic selection of boots and slippers and are available in a lacy rainbow of shades.

Various location, SF. www.shoebizsf.com



We Olive

Does it get more posh than Chardonnay anchovy-stuffed Californian olives? No. And they taste good too! We Olive’s racks of California olive products, from tapenade to lip balm, will tickle the palate of any gourmand on your list. Plus, the store has samples that will sate you for hours. Squirt a dab of their transcendent olive oils on a bread cube and get shopping.

2379 Chestnut, Marina, SF. (415) 673-3669, www.weolive.com



Green Apple Books

Giving new meaning to the words “liner notes,” these repurposed record sleeves have been transformed into the keepers of your giftee’s nascent raps and lovelorn lyrics. Green Apple has three floors of books and an annex of every stripe and flavor, so plan on getting lost for a few days — and emerging with an armful of amazing finds for everyone on your gift list.

506 Clement, Richmond, SF. (415) 387-2272, www.greenapplebooks.com




Haworthia, aeonium, echeveria, oh my! Snag one of these flower-producing enduring plants from this cacti shop — it even stocks two-inchers for the true budget gifty. Succulence also sells unique pots and frames, so your loved one’s new plant buddy will be looking dapper indeed.

402 Cortland, Bernal Heights, SF. (415) 282-2212




Yes, this is really just a smallish wooden star at the end of a thinnish wooden rod. We will not argue! But the star comes in such pretty colors, and the simple wooden-toyness of it conjures up childhood loveliness. Plus, hello — instantly anyone becomes a fairy princess or Harry Potter! Cool tyke hotspot Fiddlesticks has an array of neat matching outfits and other magical doo-dads.

508 Hayes, Hayes Valley, SF. (415) 565-0508, www.shopfiddlesticks.com



Oh, Christopher Elbow, chocolatier to the stars! Your gem-colored, bite-sized, often Bucky Dome-shaped chocolates tend toward adventurous flavors like Venezuelan spice, rosemary caramel, and spiced pear. But you keep it real with our favorite quick trip back to childhood: the Christopher Elbow chocolate bar No. 6. A thick slab of dark chocolate bursting with popping candy rocks? Chocolate plus fun equals win.

401 Hayes, Hayes Valley, SF. (415) 355-1105, www.elbowchocolates.com



Kamei Housewares and Restaurant Supply

Who-who can’t resist a cup of joe from a lovable owl? Kamei’s got what you need in terms of high class, unique kitchenware on the cheap. It also has out-of-the-kitchen objects — check by the front door for a stack of beautiful paper parasols for the promenading perambulator on your list.

525-547 Clement, Richmond, SF. (415) 666-3699



Lotus Bleu

Let’s spend the holidays shrooming! For your most cherished permagrinner (or possibly Smurf) come these beauties, small and large, in orange, gray, brown, and blue combinations. Made of sustainable wool by a couple in Nepal, these squishy caps fit perfectly in your hand — and also fit right in with Lotus Bleu’s dazzlingly patterned, natural fabric goods aesthetic.

325 Hayes, Hayes Valley, SF. (415) 861-2700, www.lotusbleudesign.com


True Sake

True Sake was recently anointed by The New York Times as a true original, a gem of a space specializing in nothing but sakes. Seriously, dozens of gorgeous bottles and wildly diverse flavors await you here. Our pick is this super-cute, super-fresh, super-smooth sake. Wine is so passé — put a little bow on one of these beauties and come off sophisticated.

560 Hayes, Hayes Valley, SF. (415) 355-9555, www.truesake.com