Sometimes the people you love the most can be the hardest to shop for—so what do you get your friends who live in San Francisco, already seem to have it all and eschew the idea of accumulating more stuff?
Don’t worry—we have you covered.
Even San Franciscans with the most discriminating tastes won’t be able to resist the 11 ideas on this list. And crafting a shopping guide for Bay Area residents reveals what is best about living in the region in the first place: our diversity, creativity and love of a good time.
Love it or hate it, stinky-yet-sweet durian has been popping up all over Bay Area menus. And now you can buy a hat featuring the polarizing fruit that supports Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. The Durian Dad Hat is available in five colors, but be sure to order early, as it can take up to three weeks for purchases from the Cut Fruit Collective to arrive. Know someone who falls on the opposite side of the durian debate? Get them a persimmon beanie instead.
BART merch has always been a fan favorite in the Bay Area, and this year, the public transit system took it to a whole new level, adding light and sound to its cult favorite. While the ugly holiday sweater is currently sold out online, there will be another drop in late November—along with beanies and dog sweaters. Attendees at the first-ever BART SweaterFest on Dec. 10 can choose from a limited number of the 2023 sweaters for sale (and people are encouraged to wear any of BART’s three previous ugly sweaters).
One of the oldest LGBTQ+ bars in San Francisco, the Stud’s closure in 2020 was one of the bitterest pandemic pills to swallow. Yet the 15-person cooperative behind the queer bar assured everyone the venue would be back better than ever. The Stud Collective has now made good on that promise, securing a space on Folsom Street just three blocks from the original venue. You can help support the legendary watering hole by purchasing a snug—and ego-affirming—Stud T-shirt, with proceeds going toward the renovation fund.
If you’ve gone to Dolores Park, you’ve likely walked by Rachel Znerold’s pint-size garage studio, a veritable explosion of color and joy. Now, you can gift a piece of that sunshine to someone you love, thanks to the many reasonably priced prints of the San Francisco skyline the artist has on offer. You can check them out in person—or spring for a painting—and also shop online.
Bernal Cutlery has been supplying chefs and home cooks alike with the highest quality knives and kitchen tools for 18 years, and now it has expanded its pantry line to offer a whole array of food items. Our favorite? The Donabe Pantry Kit, a wonderful solution for harried evenings when you have no idea what to make for dinner—or for when you’re hosting a dinner party and need something that’s no-fuss. The kit includes everything you need for a hot pot; just add a protein or a veggie to turn any meal into a fun activity.
It’s no secret that movie theaters have been hit hard by the double whammy of the pandemic and the rise of streaming, so give your favorite cinephile the gift that keeps on giving when you pick up a gift card from Alamo Drafthouse. Available in denominations from $25 to $150, they can be used for film and food—and can even be customized with a photo.
Or go even more local, with a pass to the Richmond’s 4-Star Theater, where you can buy yearlong passes for any lover of the silver screen.
Watching the Giants play while perched high at Oracle Park is a delightful way to pass an afternoon, and in a world where so many of us already have too much stuff, it can be ideal to give the gift of an experience instead. The team has all sorts of holiday specials to incentivize buying tickets, like a $10 bonus holiday gift card, a Black Friday flash sale and, for the extra-fancy set, a December deal with $500 off the price of a suite.
Northern Californians have a bit of a reputation for their love of clogs, and now you don’t have to rely on Birkenstock to gift casual footwear. You can make another quintessential Bay Area move—shopping local—to buy clogs made in San Francisco. Handmade in the same shop where they are sold, you can take a peek at the shoes being crafted as you pick your partner’s favorite color.
With so much tech—and lots of, well, nerds—in the Bay Area, a board game is sure to be the perfect item for at least one person on your list. But instead of shopping at a big box store or that even bigger box online retailer, head over to Dogpatch Games, where you can play games as well as purchase them, giving you the opportunity to test-drive your gift. But not to worry if you can’t make it out—you can also shop there online.
Candles are always an easy go-to—for that colleague who stumps you or for that hard-to-buy-for White Elephant game. If you want to get a one-item-pleases-all gift, they are a pretty safe thing to have around. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Thanks to a new website by a Bernal Heights resident that includes lots of local goodies, you can pick up a hand-poured—in the Castro—candle in delightful flavors like Black Cardamom + Cream, White Oak + Vanilla or Neroli + White Jasmine.
Torani, the Bay Area’s own syrup company, just dropped its new flavor of the year for 2024, and it’s out of this world: Galaxy. You might be asking yourself, what does the cosmos taste like? You’ll find the answer in the $11.99 bottle of sweet flavoring, but you can also read it here—raspberry and bay rum. Swirl it in everything from iced teas to hot lattes to dirty sodas and know you’re supporting a company born in North Beach nearly 100 years ago.
Julie Zigoris can be reached at email@example.com