The holidays are here and this year more than ever, it’s tempting to take the easy route and succumb to the cheap and fast evils of Amazon, Walmart, et al. But you don’t have to! Smaller businesses and retailers have a presence online too and many offer great deals and shipping discounts depending on what you buy. Like so many other cities driven by tourism, retail and going out, Los Angeles has suffered a lot economically and Christmas is a chance to catch up. Many companies, craftsmen and creators have been forced to adapt, making products suited to the new reality of living in a pandemic. We think shopping local – even via online portals – is a feel good endeavor that can also be fun and ultimately more personal. With this in mind, here is a curated guide to cool gifts inspired by L.A. culture and flair.
Merry Music & Nightlife-Themed Gifts
Of The Night (Experiences)
We miss the nightlife: the dress up, the drinks, the music and the vibe. If you and your friends do too, Blake Shine and Courtney Nichols (of Disco Dining Club) want to bring it home. Their fanciful parties-in-a-box offer a contactless singing telegram delivery plus activities, decor, costume, food and drink packages with various themes including “Slumber Party Of The Night” (a ‘90’s sleepover package), “Garden Gnomes Of The Night” (a naughty gnome fantasy), “Psychedelia Of The Night” (a novel trip out) and their newest, “The 31 Days Of Night,” a month-long party package of daily gifts honoring “Queens Of the Night” including Grace Jones, Marlene Dietrich, Stevie Nicks and Cleopatra. Proceeds from the latter benefit Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight Initiative. ofthenight.club
Live Wire (Canned Cocktails)
This canned craft drink line rocks! Created by local bartender Aaron Polsky (Harvard & Stone) the brand features collectable tattoo art-swathed cans and tasty adult beverages with names like “The Heartbreaker” (which was concocted at Coachella), “The Honeydew Collins” and “The Golden God.” Since we can’t go out to bars or to see live music, at least we can capture the rebel spirit of the good ol’ days when we did, with these guzzle-worthy gifts. livewiredrinks.com
Bats Day Merchandise (Collectables)
If you miss goth club culture or Disneyland or both, the merchandise for sale in the online “Bats Day at the Fun Park” store will warm your cold black heart. T-shirts, stickers, pins, art and more are available for gifting as well as commemorative items from the legendary annual gathering at the happiest place on earth. batsdaystore.com
The Others Oracle (Candles)
This custom soy candle company features rockstar imagery and witchy designs, delicious smells and whimsical dressing perfect for intention setting and eclectic decor. etsy.com/shop/OthersOracleCandles
The Burlesque Deck (Playing Cards)
The queens of striptease (and hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades) are featured on this sultry card deck designed by local performer and promoter Lili VonSchtupp, with photography by C.B. Summers and art design by Jennifer Makes it. burlesquedeck.com
Scene Four (Rockstar Art)
Created works via a medium called “Rhythmic Expressionism,” this digitar art company uses rocks performance to create artwork- drumsticks lit with various colors, patterns, speeds and temperatures are translated into to abstract designs laid to canvas and guitar movements on the fretboard are tranferred into visuals onto canvas. All artwork is hand-signed by the artists which include Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (pictured), Stewart Copeland of the Police, Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Prince drummer Sheila E, Steven Adler of Guns N’ Roses, the late Frankie Banali of Quiet Riot and guitar legend Joe Satriani. legacyoften.com
Espresso Yourself (Subscription Boxes)
This monthly subscription box includes one bag of java along with wellness items such as candles, bath bombs, skin masks, and more from women-owned businesses. espressoyourselfbox.com/
Bello Boxes (Floral Subscriptions)
L.A.-based florist Lilla Bello came up with her subscription based “Bloom Box” program as a way to relieve stress and beautify homes in the Covid era. Supporting small flower farms, the service provides an array of fresh cut, seasonal blooms ready to be arranged by the recipient and delivered (contactless) to your loved ones’ door weekly, bi-monthly or monthly. illabello.com/shop
The RuPaul Chia Pet (Kitsch Decor)
The perennial last minute “bad” gift has become ironically cool in recent years and its latest design will seal the deal. Can I get an amen up in here? Yes, we’re talking about the ch-ch-chia pet, which just announced that its latest grow-it goodie features the likeness of Emmy-winning reality star RuPaul. At press time the green queen was about to sell out, but they will be on back order with delivery for February. If you don’t score one, they’ve also got another famous local icon to sweat for: Ricard Simmons. lootcrate.com/products/rupaul
Manifest Tea Station (Tea, Candles, Crystals)
Soothing loose leaf teas, intention candles, ritual oils, crystals, plants and more, all suitable for giving, are available from this new Whittier shop. instagram.com/manifestteastation
Los Angeles Trading Co. (Loungewear, Slippers, Bags)
Based in Valencia, this local company has lots of wearable gift items to keep you and your pals cozy at home including robes, slippers, pajamas and more with sassy slogans and phrases. losangelestradingco.com
The Pretty Cult (Witchy Stuff)
Boho-gothy clothing, ritual kits and more home items made in L.A. including room sprays made under a full moon with scents of almonds, absinthe, and vanilla musk and containing rainbow moon crystals. Inspired by Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft and magick, the latter is meant to bring harmony and balance to one’s environment. www.theprettycult.com/
A Wonderland of Wellness & Beauty Gifts
Colors Remix (Lip Balms)
Local DJ, music maker and event promoter Valida Carroll has been creating super-cute vegan tinted lip balms since the pandemic started they just might be the perfect stocking stuffers. Packaged in a sweet little burlap heart bag they are cheaper the more you buy, with six sexy subtle shades in all. instagram.com/colorsremix/Smashbox (Cosmetic Kits)
Smashbox is more than a makeup company, it’s also a famous L.A. studio. Its new “The Art of Gifting” makeup line is inspired by the iconic space which held fashion shows and shoots galore. They got artist Donald Robertson to create original designs for the limited-edition gift collection, which includes six cosmetic sets for lips, eyes and cheeks. Smashbox.com
ESalon (At-Home Hair Color)
With salon restrictions seemingly changing by the day, now may be the time to try at-home hair maintenance. Ten-year-old L.A. born-and-bred beauty brand eSalon offers an opportunity to do it right with customized, professional-grade home hair color that’s made-to-order. For the holidays they are offering e-gift cards of $25, $50 or $100, which can be used for services and products like moisturizing hair masks, touch-up dye and more. esalon.com
IPSY (Beauty Subscriptions)
The popular beauty bag subscription service just expanded its product lines joining forces with BoxyCharm to form “Beauty for All Industries (BFAI)” now offering three different “glam bags” including their original, their “Glam Bag Plus” and now “Glam Bag X” featuring big name curators, the first of which is L.A. makeup artist Patrick Ta. ipsy.com
Jennette (Skin Care)
This female-owned spa in Los Feliz offers all-natural skincare products sourced from small local businesses, small farms and producers using fresh and organic ingredients. jenetteskincare.com.
Decked in Style Gifts
Poltergeists and Paramours (Masks, Lingerie)
Buy horror-themed lingerie and masks for the sexy ghouls in your life including new edgy holiday themed looks inspired by films like Black Christmas and Midsommar. poltergeistsandparamours.com
Jonny Cota (Clothing, Accessories)
Our recent L.A. Weekly cover subject has some great gift items in his shop at the Row DTLA and online, including harnesses, bags and scarf designs as seen on the fashion competition show he won this year: Making The Cut. jonnycota.com
Unique Vintage (Fashion, Gifts)
Burbank’s retro-inspired clothing company continually unveils exciting collaborations (Harry Potter, Beetlejuice, Care Bears) and pop culture-driven designs. Their new holiday collection features lots of festive frocks and accessories that any gal would be excited to find under the Christmas tree. unique-vintage.com.
Han Cholo (Jewelry, Accessories)
The pop culture driven jewelry designer offers platinum, sterling and gold rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings licensed and inspired by everything from sci-fi to punk rock and hip-hop to famous monsters. For the holidays they also have gift packages featuring enamel pins, patches and more. hancholo.com
Onch (Jewelry, Accessories)
The colorful and kitschy L.A. designer (best known for his stint on Paris Hilton’s reality show My New BF) has a bunch of fun new merch for holiday giving including personalized tumblers, phone cases, tank tops and his yummy-enough-to-eat (but don’t!) accessories. onch.us
House of Envy (Accessories)
Local art curator, DJ and burlesque performer Vanessa Burgundy and her designer sister Natalie Phillips bring their glamorous style to gifts of clothing, masks and accessories. The duo has worked with Electric Daisy Carnival, David LaChapelle, and numerous burlesque performers. etsy.com/shop/HouseOfEnvyLA.
Looking for more gifts with L.A. connections? Etsy’s got you covered with a first-of-its-kind virtual shopping hub geared towards promoting artisans to their local communities. Check out Etsy’s new Southern California Lookbook here or just search “made in Los Angeles” on the site.
Check out the websites or schedule socially distanced visits at our favorite local shops including The Mystic Museum, Soap Plant Wacko, Tweak, Y-Que, Lemon Frog Shop, Sick City, Memento Mori, The Brat Store, Geeky Teas & Games, Dark Delicacies.
And one last reminder: many of the websites and social media pages of your favorite clubs, bars, restaurants, bands, artists, performers, psychics and tarot readers, book authors and L.A. creatives are offering unique goods to buy this gift-giving season. Hit them up and support!