Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

31 Holiday Gift Ideas For Angelenos

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Need a last-minute holiday gift? We've compiled a list of gifts that range from tasteful to silly: they are perfect for the Angeleno in your life whether they're into music or beer or Chicano art or weed. And if you're into giving back as well as giving, we've got options for you, too: many of these options support local businesses and artists. If you've got a suggestion we missed, leave it in the comments.

James Ellroy's 'LAPD '53'
For the true-crime, Serial-addicted loved ones in your life, consider LAPD '53. This book explores various crimes in committed in Los Angeles, 1953 through over 80 real crime photos from the archives. The photos and the cases behind them are explained in James Ellroy's distinctive, hard-boiled style. ($19.21, hardcover available on Amazon) —Juliet Bennett Rylah
Both Sides of Sunset: Photographing Los Angeles
From the beaches to the valley and just about everywhere between, this art book juxtaposes the gritty and the glamorous sides of the City of Angels. With a foreword by Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha, Both Sides of Sunset: Photographing Los Angeles features works from over 130 photographers and artists, including Julius Shulman, Garry Winogrand and Ed Templeton, just to name a few. Proceeds benefit Inner-City Arts, an organization that beings arts programs to at-risk youths. ($75, available online.)
Custom RetroViewer
Image3D is the brainchild of Rich Dubnow, an alum of Cal State Los Angeles who photographed endless 3D photos that went into the original View-Master reels back in the day. Now, for anyone who's ever wanted to take their own photos and make them 3D, the RetroViewer from Image3D allows users to customize their viewers and reels with seven photos each, complete with 3D captions. ($29.95 per set, available online.) Chicano Art from Self Help Graphics & Art
Since 1973, Self Help Graphics & Art has been a major center of Chicano art and activism in the country. They're the place that helped bring Dia De Los Muertos to California (long before it was co-opted). They're still doing amazing work, and you can help support their artists by actually buying some art for yourself. We like this series of prints about the Los Angeles River, which is already seeing some big changes. ($250, Etsy)Emma Gallegos

Big Lebowski Bumper Stickers
Express your devotion to the Coen Brothers' 1998 cult comedy The Big Lebowski with these silly, stupid and smart-ass vinyl bumper stickers featuring some of the film's well-known quotes, such as "A natural zesty enterprise" and "Calmer than you are," just to name a few. ($2 each or $10 for a pack of 10, available online.)

Back Home Gingerbread Stout
For craft brewers, local beer snobs and anyone who's still looking to move on from pumpkin spice lattes, local Golden Road Brewing has the holiday-themed, heavy-and-sweet "Back Home Gingerbread Stout," which comes in a four-pack of 16 oz. cans, all primed for the holidays with a to/from label. ($15, available at Golden Road Brewing, 5410 W San Fernando)

Support for LAist comes from

National Park Throwback Tees
Is there anything more prototypically Angeleno than getting the hell out of town and roving around the desert for a long weekend? Get this for that special person in your life who loves Joshua Tree—or any of the National Parks, really—with these cool throwback tees and swag we've been eyeing since we found out about them this fall. The company behind this cool shop is based in Los Angeles but the work they do supports all the National Parks. The Bigfoot T's are pretty fun and the racerback tank is cute enough to wear to Runyon. ($36, Parks Project)Emma Gallegos

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America
This is for your friend who keeps tabs on the #BlackLivesMatter movement or, alternatively, who believes that black-on-black crime is solely a problem for the black community to solve. (Spoiler: it's not.) Jill Leovy, an excellent reporter who started the Homicide Report over at the Los Angeles Times in 2007, dives headfirst into the problem of why blacks face such a high murder rate in the United States. She traces the way that our justice system has treated black Americans from slavery until the present day and compares it in revealing ways to other marginalized groups throughout history. She zeroes in on the 2007 murder of Bryant Tennelle, an 18-year-old black man. His murder was exceptional in many ways: Tennelle wasn't a gang member, he had a solid middle class upbringing and was the son of a veteran LAPD detective. However, he is the exception that proves the rule. One, that black men are at a higher risk of murder, no matter their background. And two, that murders in the black community, particularly in the titular "Ghettoside" of South Los Angeles, are exceptionally tough to solve even when your dad is a cop. She explores in excruciating detail how this murder problem causes deep anguish far outside of the gangs that perpetuate the violence. In the end, Leovy makes the case that we don't take the murders in black communities seriously and often treat them as nearly victimless crimes. ($16, paperback, Random House)Emma Gallegos

LA Phil Banner Tote
These authentic tote bags are actually recycled street banners of shows at the LA Phil and Hollywood Bowl. Made in Los Angeles, each bag is completely unique and comes in a wide variety of designs, graphics and sizes. Proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Philharmonic and its programs. ($40-$60, for sale Sunday, Dec. 20 at the LA Phil Store, at 131 S. Grand Ave. in downtown)

Chocolate Ornament Box
For those of you who'd rather eat your ornaments than hang them, Los Angeles' own Valerie Confections makes tasty, hand-molded, bittersweet chocolates filled with dried mint leaves and house-made peppermint candy, all wrapped in miniature brightly-wrapped baubles that look like little ornaments. (16 pieces for $75, available online.)
American Tea Room Classic Bento Box
American Tea Room is headquartered in Los Angeles with two other SoCal locations, offering hundreds of teas from around the world. The Classic Bento Box Collection features sets of eight global teas, along with tasting notes and descriptions of their caffeine levels, complete with a pyramid-shaped strainer. The bento boxes come in four different varieties, including the popular original. ($60 and up, available online.) Loft & Bear Vodka
For the friends and family who love a special bottle of booze, Loft & Bear's artisanal vodka is the way to go. This distillery that started inside an Arts District loft (hence the name) makes small-batch bottles of vodka with organic winter wheat. It's honestly one of the smoothest vodkas I've ever tried, and it goes down real easy—perfect for sipping. It's buttery and also has some sweet vanilla and floral notes. There are plenty of bars and restaurants around L.A. that serve Loft & Bear, but check their website here to see which liquor stores sell their bottles, which run around $40. —Jean Trinh

Secret Staircases of L.A. Book
In the early 20th century, city planners built stairs so Angelenos could easily get down from hillside neighborhoods to transit lines and shops. The cool part is that many of them are still around, and there's a guidebook that takes you through them. Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles gives detailed instructions on how to get to these secret stairs, as well as nuggets of info on history, architecture and geography. It's great gift for explorers, both native Angelenos and transplants, who also like a good workout. (Kindle $9.99, Paperback $13.84, available on Amazon.) —Jean Trinh

L.A. Note Card Set
Nothing says "I love you" like traveling through hellish L.A. freeway traffic on behalf of your beloved. This set of note cards, especially the "I would take the 101 to the 10 to the 405 for you" one, really speaks to us. These L.A.-based cards celebrate our city without giving off that cheesy feel—like something you got it off of Hollywood Boulevard. ($16 for set of 8, Etsy.) —Jean Trinh

Home-Brew Classes
The craft beer scene in L.A. is on the up and up, giving a lot of us get that itch to try our hand at home-brewing ourselves. Culver City Home Brewing Supply and Eagle Rock Home Brewing Supply each offer beginning home-brewing classes at their locations. Class participation costs $20, which comes with a keepsake pint glass. To order a gift certificate, you'll have to go into the stores and ask for one; bring cash. Call the Culver City location at (310) 397-3453 or the Eagle Rock location at (323) 258-2107 before you head in to get all the details. For more information, visit this website. —Jean Trinh

Watts Towers Bag
You can show your appreciation for Los Angeles' rich folk art tradition with a bag featuring the Watts Towers. The bag—almost a clutch—sold at the LACMA gift shop is designed by the Los Angeles-based label dosa, and it's based on Gloria Stuart's paintings of the towers in LACMA's permanent collection. You can also get a dress, pajamas, shoulder bag and shell with the design, but many of those items clock in around $1K. The 8-inch bag clocks in just under $50. As a bonus, the proceeds benefit LACMA, which helps fundraise and oversee the restoration of the crumbling masterpiece in partnership with the city and state. ($48.40, available at the LACMA Museum Store, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., and online.)Emma Gallegos

Minimalist Dodger Stadium
This one is for the baseball fan who also appreciates David Hockney's contributions to the Southern California modernist aesthetic (or at least this iconic pool painting). This is part of a larger collection of minimalist prints of stadiums around the country. So even if you're beloved baseball fan isn't rooting for the Boys In Blue, you should be able to find something. ($30, available on Etsy) Emma Gallegos

Let It Go! Coloring and Activities to Awaken Your Mind and Relieve Stress
Psychologists say that coloring can help combat stress and act as a form of meditation, which might explain why it seems that lately, there are more coloring books for adults than there are for children. In this edition, local illustrator Sherise Seven has come up with a series of 40 designs that are especially hypnotic, along with meditation exercises that can also help alleviate tension as well. ($11.99, available online.)

Country Cottage Gingerbread House
Each year, Homeboy Industries helps 10,000 people to leave gangs and rebuild their lives. One of its social enterprises is Homeboy Foods, which includes a job training program that helps get people off the streets and into the kitchen. The Country Cottage Gingerbread House is a hand-cut house that's made with Homeboy's own delicious gingerbread. But given that it's completely edible, it may not last long. ($34.95, available online.)
Skeletons In The Closet
Only L.A. County and Clark County in Nevada have gift shop in their coroner's office. And while Los Angeles has been contemplating whether it's a little too morbid to have a gift shop located within an actual coroner's office, you can still stop by to get one of their many morbid gifts. A favorite is their hefty L.A. County Coroner's mug, which can hold enough coffee to wake the dead. But you can also get body bag, medical books, L.A. County Coroner pins, chalk outline towels and a number of cheesy skeleton and death-related novelty gifts, too. —Juliet Bennett RylahSkeletons in the Closet is located in the L.A. Coroner's Office at 1104 N. Mission Rd. in Lincoln Heights, 323-343-0760.

Clifton's and Clifford Clifton
Clifton's and Clifford Clinton: A Cafeteria and a Crusader is a new book by Edmond J. Clinton III, Clinton's grandson. This hardcover via Angel City Press delves into not only the history of Clifton's Cafeteria, but the man behind it. Learn about Clinton's focus on The Golden Rule and his decision to feed anyone at his restaurants for whatever they could afford, but also discover Clinton's campaign to recall the Mayor of Los Angeles and rid the city of corruption. If you're feeling extra giving, gift your loved one this book over a meal at Clifton's, which finally re-opened after a massive four-year renovation in September. ($30, available via Angel City Press). —Juliet Bennett Rylah Hepp's Salt Co.

For the home cook or aspiring mixologist, Hepp's Salts are a must-have for adding bold and unique flavors to their delicious creations. Run by Venice-based husband and wife team, Brian and Amber Hepp, Hepp's Salt Co. offers a wide variety of wonderfully addictive salts—like the Hawaiian black lava sea salt, 7-fire smoked sea salt and French sel gris—as well as flavor-packed salt blends, including Sriracha and Thai ginger. And let's not forget about the white and black truffle salts. They also offer a range of infused gourmet sugars—like raspberry and toasted coconut—and great spice rubs. Some of the city's top chefs and mixologists use Hepp's, include Chef Bruce Kalman and renowned barman Matt Biancaniello. You can find Hepp's sold at farmers markets around town, gourmet grocers, Sur La Table, and online. We definitely recommend their handy gift sets, which come pre-selected around a theme or can be mixed-and-matched, and come in charming wooden racks and boxes. Those run from $40 to $65. —Danny Jensen

L.A. Cookbooks

For those who aspire to cook like their favorite L.A. chefs—or at least look at pretty pictures of their delicious food—a number of great cookbooks came out this year from local favorites. From the Peruvian stylings of chef Ricardo Zarate (formerly of Mo-Chica and Picca, and more recently the pop-up Once) comes The Fire of Peru: Recipes and Stories from My Peruvian Kitchen, and from Venice's deservedly buzzy hotspot, there's Gjelina - Cooking From Venice, California. You could also take the vegan route with West Hollywood's Crossroads Cookbook or explore Jewish cuisine with local writer Amelia Saltman in The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen. There's also the Fig & Olive Cookbook: The Cuisine of the French Riviera from the popular West Hollywood restaurant (which also has locations in other cities). And if you have someone on your list who finds some of their best meals on four wheels, there's the helpful guide and history, Los Angeles Street Food. —Danny Jensen

LA Beer Hop
What better way to spoil the beer nerd in your life than by giving them the chance to tour and sample some of L.A.'s best breweries without having to Uber all over town? LA Beer Hoptakes guests on a guided bus tour to breweries around L.A., Long Beach and Orange County, where on each tour, they get to try flights of beer from 3 different breweries, learn about the brewing process and breweries from their team of experts and not have to worry about Ubering all over town. They offer regular tours around the South Bay, stopping at breweries like Monkish, Smog City and Three Weavers; East and Central L.A. tours, hitting up places like Eagle Rock Brewery, Mumford Brewing Co. and MacLeod Ale; and Long Beach, which includes Beachwood Brewing and Timeless Pints Brewing Co. Some of the tours include stops in specialty beer shops and even distilleries. You can book a public tour, a private tour for groups of 6 or more, or just buy a gift certificate for $65, so they can pick the date themselves. —Danny Jensen

Happy/Sad Foot Pins
Silver Lake's rotating Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign has become an iconic landmark for anyone who's spent time much time traveling along the stretch of Sunset Blvd. near Benton Way. Some people say the sign—which advertises for the Sunset Foot Clinic—can even predict the outcome of your day, depending on which side of the sign you see first. It's even been mentioned in the writings of David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Lethem, and influenced musicians like Beck and Eels. And now you can give this wonderful bit of neighborhood lore to someone special in the form of a small pin. ($10 for each pin, $20 for a pair, available online at Atwater Village-based & Pens Press bookshop and publisher.) —Danny Jensen

Pax 2 Vaporizer
All we want for Christmas is a vaporizer we can carry in our pocket, that doesn't make us look stupid, actually works and doesn't break the bank. This Pax 2 vaporizer comes pretty close, but it is firmly in the splurge category. This vaporizer is becoming a favorite of fashion types as well as the old school stoner types. This seems like a perfectly Angeleno way to celebrate Peace on Earth during the Christmas season. (Pax 2, $279 online) —Emma Gallegos

Bureo Skateboards Holiday Edition Bundle
This eco-friendly skateboard with a fish-tail design is made from completely recycled fishing nets. Even its customized wheels are made with recycled vegetable oil and recycled cores. For the holidays, this bundle features the skateboard itself along with a canteen, t-shirt, and inexplicably, bamboo cutlery. ($199, available online.)

iam8bit Holiday Ornaments
Handmade ornaments are a nice idea except they often look, well, handmade. When an actual artist makes something to decorate a Christmas tree, however, it's more likely to daintily hang from the ends of branch instead of being buried deep inside by the trunk. Favorite LA gallery iam8bit is now holding the sophomore edition of its "Unique One-of-a-Kind Handmade Ornaments Show," featuring works from a group of talented artists and designers. If you really need to give something handmade this year, at least make sure it's well-made, too. ($5-$2, iam8bit, 2147 W. Sunset Blvd, available through December 21.) Poketo Mug
Need a gift for someone you don't know all that well? Everyone likes drinking warm things out of mugs and this one is pretty spiffy. It's made by Poketo, a local design company that has a lot cool items for the Los Angeles and design nerds (plus almost everyone else) in your life. ($18, Poketo has shops at The Line Hotel in Koreatown and Little Tokyo but you can check out their offerings online.) —Emma Gallegos

'Mulholland Dr.' - Criterion Blu-ray
One of the finest films of the millennium gets the home video release it deserves in the United States. David Lynch's Mulholland Dr.—an inscrutable enigma that is alternately both a tribute to the dreams that Los Angeles represents and also the nightmare it can become—finally upgrades the barebones DVD that, for over a decade, was the only option available for American film buffs. Leave it to Criterion to not skimp the bonus features, including handsome packaging, over an hour total of interviews with Lynch, Naomi Watts, Justin Theroux, and composer Angelo Badalamenti, behind-the-scenes footage, a deleted scene, and an interview with Lynch in the booklet. Most importantly, the 4K restoration of the Blu-ray (approved by Lynch and director of photography Peter Deming) brings out the rich textures and hues of the image that the DVD could barely hint at. ($31.96, available on Criterion.)Carman Tse

'The Best Team Money Could Buy'
When the despised McCourts finally had the Dodgers wrestled out of their hands, the new ownership group ushered in a new era of baseball. Bringing together a seemingly-endless pool of money and a progressive-minded front office (poached from the penny-pinching Tampa Bay Rays), the Dodgers singlehandedly changed the way baseball operated overnight. Molly Knight's book chronicles the ups and downs of actually finding a way to make the whole operation work while also granting the reader unprecedented access to the drama in the clubhouse, including the friction between teammates and hilarious anecdotes. ($13.99 to $17.77 on Kindle, hardcover and paperback; available on Amazon) —Carman Tse