Thankfully, the Black Friday shopping scene in the East Bay isn’t exactly known for stampedes or fights over the last Tickle-Me Elmo. But the day after Thanksgiving — one of the biggest holiday shopping days of the year — can still feel busy and stressful as you seek out gifts to help show the people in your life how special they are.
Here are some gift options — with a focus on local and useful — that you can use to help guide your own shopping this year, and hopefully remove some of the potential stress involved. Happy holidays!
1. The gift of discovering where you live
Even if you’ve lived in the East Bay for years (or your entire life), we’re willing to bet there are still some nooks and crannies you haven’t explored yet — and the same goes for your friends and family. Maybe the history buff on your list would appreciate a ghost tour (the Haunted Haight tour is one East Bay option if you don’t want to book something across the bridge), and Bay Area Segway has guided tours all over Oakland where you can learn something new about your city. There’s also plenty for the self-guided aficionado — like the books and maps that Berkeley Paths sells in its online stores that will teach your gift recipients about secret, beloved places in their own backyard.
2. Classes and workshops
There are so many options for things to learn in the East Bay that the biggest problem might be deciding exactly which of your friends’ deferred dreams you should fund. Maybe you’ll help them manifest their future destiny as a bouquet designer with a DIY session at Voila Flower Bar or help them finally learn how to blow glass with some beginner sessions at Slow Burn Glass — or learn welding or metalwork at The Crucible. There are sewing classes and writing workshops and sailing lessons and photography classes and lessons on how to fly a drone — adding up to plenty of opportunities to awaken the budding hobbyist in your circle of friends or help them take their favorite pastime to the next level.
3. Museum visits and memberships
No one can deny the wealth of culture thriving in the East Bay, and one amazing way it manifests is through a museum for everyone. No, really — there’s one for the model railroad enthusiast, one for space and science nuts, one for people who love history (and classic cars), one for the current (and future) STEM geniuses of the world, one for nature- and animal-lovers, one for paleontology fans, one for people into art (and especially film), one for kids and adults who love high-flying, and one for the Californians at heart who want to know all about where they live. The hardest part will be selecting which one to bestow, but no matter which membership or event you decide to purchase for a friend, they’re guaranteed to love it (and you!).
4. Animal experiences
Give the gift of year-round access to the Oakland Zoo, a Bay Area favorite, especially for families. Both the zoo with its broad array of animals and new tram, and the amusement park for younger children, continue to delight both the young and old alike.
5. Literally anything from the Craneway Crafts Fair
Are crafts fairs “cheating”? Well, maybe. But if the weekend of December 16 and 17 rolls around and you still have a few people to check off your list, then give yourself permission to attend the Craneway Crafts Fair. With more than 200 booths, entertainment, and food, you’ll find fair-trade and handmade presents for everyone.
6. The gift of food and drink
If you’re hesitant to take up room in your recipients’ kitchen drawers with a spiralizer, then consider buying a gift that you know they’ll consume — local honey, local wine or beer, and local spices come to mind. Whether your recipient is a barbecue champion or really into tonic water, you’ll find something they’ll adore (and use!) at Oaktown Spice Shop. There are tons of spices to choose from, and the gift boxes make it easy with packages for curry-lovers, bakers, tea drinkers, salt enthusiasts, and some “basic” spice boxes for budding chefs.
7. Peace and quiet
This can be a hectic, fast-paced time of year — and we’re sure you have a friend or two who’d just like to drift away for an hour or two. So if you hear someone wishing aloud for a little peace and quiet, that’s your cue to look up one of the many isolation/flotation tank services available in the East Bay and book them an appointment. The sensory deprivation and silence inside the tank will help them emerge from the water feeling like brand-new people. Perhaps your gift recipient is a little more traditional, in which case, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of awesome therapeutic massage spots that offer gift certificates, so how about a nice long relaxation session via the massage table?
8. A night (or day) to remember
Is your loved one an avid Raiders fan or baseball aficionado? If they don’t already have season tickets nailed down, you could do a lot worse than treat them to a game of their choice — and if sports isn’t their thing, that’s just fine; there’s more than enough happening in the East Bay to satisfy all tastes. Maybe tickets to a show at The Back Room or the Fox Theater, to the next Oakland Ballet Company performance (you could be just in time for The Nutcracker!), or a gift voucher for a night of stand-up heaven at Tommy T’s Comedy Club or Comedy Oakland.
You don’t have to buy a bunch of stuff to make people happy — so skip Black Friday this year and give the gift of a fun experience instead!