I had some good luck. Santa was on my side. Now allow me to make some recommendations. Most gifts are in the $20 range.
For the lazy gourmand: Truffle salt, in 5 and 10% truffle content. $20-$30 at Pasta Shop. Amazing on pasta, french fries, or any vegetable. Who needs to cook?
For anyone who loves Paris, tea, or both: Pasta Shop has an excellent selection of Mariages Freres tea. I picked up the Provence Green ($22.50) for my sister in law who lived in Kyoto and speaks French. Porquoi pas?!
For book lovers: Diesel does soothe, but Pendragon is the place to go if you’re looking to save some dollars to keep food on the table in the new year. They have some AMAZING deals right now. Tons of new Taschen coffee table books (Atget, Doisneau, etc.) on sale for less than $10 (!!!). I got my aunt- and uncle-in-law Art of the 20th Century, also published by Taschen. So beautiful. I found it in the used section a month ago and have been lusting over it. It’s almost impossible to even tell that it is “used,” and priced at $50.
For a good laugh: I’ve never had success at Rockridge Home, but I have to give it to them. That place is banging for the holidays. The price is right and options abound, so much so they get their own section.
The “NPR Map of the United States” is amazing for the liberal Rockridge/Berkeley business traveler in your life. Maps local AM/FM NPR channels across the US.
For the Catholic grandfather who has done it all I suggest the How to be Pope book.
For the miscellaneous and omnipresent oppressed woman in a committed relationship with a messy man: I suggest Porn For Women now available in the XXX version.
I picked up the necktie napkins for my adorable MBA holding brother-in-law who can’t get through a meal, much less a business meeting, without spilling on himself.
For the girls who work too hard and just want to have fun: I picked up $20 gift certificates at Pretty Penny and Crush on College. Pretty Penny has an AMAZING selection of vintage shoes, denim, and (just for the season) gold lame and sparkly dresses. It’s a brilliantly styled place AND the accessories are phenomenal. Prices are gentle too. Crush on College was the perfect place for my high school-age cousin-in-law who digs fresh styles at low prices and hasn’t gotten into the vintage thing.
The Pretty Penny window