Time is short to round up, wrap and ship those last-minute Christmas gifts. Sometimes a short window is a good thing — limits keep us resourceful and creative. But don’t fall into the desperation trap and purchase knick-knacks and gag gifts just to have something — anything —to give. Even if a particular person is very hard to buy for, there are plenty of uncluttery options sure to be appreciated.
Organizers love to give the two “E’s”— edibles and experiences.
With edibles, try to stay away from sugary sweets that can clutter the body with ill health and unwanted pounds. Try to think outside the See’s Candy box.
A clever relative just sent us a gift of six different gourmet barbecue sauces, the perfect gift because my husband has gotten really into grilling. These were from Stonewall Kitchen but there are local places like Napa Style that offer similar items. Check out the Napa Style Ultimo Spread Set or their varieties of olive oils and mustards for more ideas.
A gift certificate to a special local restaurant combines the edible and experience categories beautifully. You could give it attached with raffia to a bottle of Napa Valley wine or, for nondrinkers, a bottle of Calistoga sparkling water.
Premium coffee beans, especially those roasted locally, make great gifts. Napa Valley Roasting Co. in Napa and St. Helena is a local favorite, and in Calistoga, Yo el Rey, with its hand-stamped bags, is a true artisan roast for major coffee snobs.
There are lots of experiences that are easy yet thoughtful to give and very fun to receive. A manicure or pedicure is a nice treat for anyone, and I love N’Ovations on Coombs Street in downtown Napa for its super-friendly staff, fun, bustling atmosphere and great location with plenty of parking.
Be careful about giving massage certificates, because not everyone loves a massage. However, the valley has no dearth of fabulous massage therapists, and if your giftee is game, you have a lot of choices. Facials, too, are not for everyone, but for someone who adores them, Susan Finney at Heaven & Earth in St. Helena is world-class. A teen girl might go nuts for a gift of hair highlighting or a spray tan, also at Heaven & Earth (with parental permission first, of course).
For getting in shape after the new year, certificates to private or small sessions at a Pilates studio such as Jill Hoff Studio in Calistoga make wonderful gifts. The studio is a treasure: Besides owner Jill, who teaches Pilates and Nia, classes are offered in TRX with Linda Burquez and yoga with Ulrika Engman, all very inspiring instructors.
Beyond the body, how about tickets to an upcoming Opera House or Uptown Theatre show? Or movie tickets tied with a ribbon to a jar of gourmet popcorn? Or a day at the amazing Safari West, located between Santa Rosa and Calistoga? I splurged and took my extended family there last year and they were blown away. My mother even said, “Now I don’t have to go to Africa.” So there’s a major bucket list item right in our own backyard.
Of course, a Calistoga spa day is a treat any time of year. I like Indian Springs for its old-timey, humongous, hot spring-fed pool. To add more punch to the gift, make the certificate for two and include yourself as part of the present.
If you don’t even have time to get a gift certificate or tickets, just write what your plan is inside a nice card — and be sure to make good on your promise by following up with the actual certificate or tickets in the mail as soon as possible. Don’t panic and buy last-minute junk; take a few deep breaths and think about what “E” would fit each person on your list.