Of course, the most important letter in the list might just be “L,” standing not only for “latte” but for “local.” Remember that a dollar spent locally helps keep public services funded and your neighbors employed, to say nothing of the money and aggravation saved by staying off the highway.
Take a gander at our list, and if you don’t find something enticing on it, perhaps it’ll inspire you to do some similar brainstorming of your own. We’d suggest you avoid using numbers, though; the Twelve Days of Christmas things has been done, and that stuff is pretty expensive.
Have a merry Christmas!
A is for Art
Impress your giftees with original works by local artists. Fridley Art Gallery, 1185 Second St. in Brentwood, features paintings, sketches, ceramics and sculptures created by artists in your hometown. The Gallery’s gift shop allows you to shop for several of your friends in one convenient location. For more information, call 925-783-2853. You can also contact the Arts & Cultural Foundation of Antioch (ACFA), which is dedicated to advancing all of the arts in a way that promotes communication, education, appreciation, cultural diversity and collaboration throughout our community. Visit them at 809 W. 1st St. in Antioch or call 925-325-9897 for information on venues, shows and other activities.
B is for Boots
Horsetown Tack, 6675 Brentwood Blvd., Suite B in Brentwood, stocks everything you need for the horse lover in your life, including clothes and gear. Horsetown Tack offers boots for people and bell boots for horses. Western apparel and accessories range from hats, belts, and purses to cowboy-themed items such as figurines and picture frames. Well-known for selection, friendly service and reasonable prices, you can also reach Horsetown Tack by calling 925-625-9900.
C is for Cinema
Treat the movie buff in your family to a cinematic adventure with a gift certificate to a local movie theater. CineLux Delta Cinema Saver, 641 First St. in Brentwood, shows the latest family films at discounted prices, while Rave Motion Pictures, located at The Streets of Brentwood, offers all the latest hits, including screenings in 3-D and IMAX 3-D. And don’t forget AMC Deer Valley, 4204 Lone Tree Way in Antioch. Give the gift of a date night to your favorite couple by pairing the gift certificate with a gift card to a local restaurant.
D is for Dance
Inspire anyone’s inner Lord of the Dance by reserving a space in a dance class. Kids can dabble in tap, ballet and hip-hop at Step 2 This Dance & Performing Arts, 2101 Main St. in Oakley. For the adults, try a spin on Cozette’s Ballroom Dancing floor, based in Brentwood. Try on the fox trot, tango or West Coast swing. For more information, visit www.brentwooddancelessons.com or call 925-240-9847.
E is for Epcot
A trip to the happiest place on Earth is the perfect gift for anyone on your list who could use a little fun in 2012. Almost There Travel, 506 W. Second St. in Antioch, specializes in Disney tourism and can help you plan a trip to Disney World in a snap. They can also suggest Disney cruises and Adventures by Disney that take tourists to exotic locations such as Egypt, the Galapagos Islands and China. For more information, call 925-238-0001.
F is for Fishing rod
Hook, Line and Sinker, 3100 Main St., Suite 260 in Oakley, is the place to go to find the perfect gift for any sportsman of the sea. Rods, reels, bait, tackle – you name it – the Hook Pro Shop has it. You’ll also find supplies for land hunting at the Hook. Guns and archery equipment, and all the accessories you need for both, are available for beginners and pros, and you’ll also find information on their busy schedule of bass fishing tournaments. For more information, visit www.hookproshop.com or call 888-625-4665.
G is for Guitar
For your wannabe rock star, take a trip to Gill’s Music, 5887 Lone Tree Way, Suite H in Antioch. From guitar picks to Yamaha pianos, Gill’s has something for anyone’s musical aspirations. Throw in a bonus music lesson for those looking to hone their skills on the guitar, piano or drums and you’ll be the first person they thank when they win a Grammy. For more information, visit www.gillsmusic.net. The phone number at Gill’s is 925-757-2323.
H is for Hockey
Getting the bug for some hockey, but don’t feel like driving out to San Jose to watch the Sharks? Reserve your time at the Antioch Indoor Sports Center, a place well equipped for roller hockey or just casual skating. Leagues are available for children and adults. The Antioch Indoor Sports Center, located at 1210 Sunset Drive, also sells sticks, helmets and other hockey equipment. Call 925-778-6363. Hockey equipment may also be purchased at Sport Chalet in Antioch (5839 Lone Tree Way), Big 5 in Antioch (4859 Lone Tree Way) and Sports Authority in Brentwood (5641 Lone Tree Way).
I is for iPhone
The iPhone 4S has been one of the hottest-selling smartphones of the year, and several local places have it in stock. The AT&T Store at the Streets of Brentwood (2565 Sand Creek Road) carries the iPhone 4S. But now you don’t need to be an AT&T subscriber to talk to Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant. She’s available at Best Buy in Pittsburg (4405 Century Boulevard) and Brentwood (6600 Lone Tree Way); Verizon (6471 Lone Tree Way, Brentwood); and Sprint (3120 Balfour Road, Brentwood).
J is for Jacket
As the temperature continues to fall, signaling the onset of the rainy season, give your loved ones a coat for a warm, dry winter. If your recipients plan to battle the elements, get them a rugged coat from REI at the Streets of Brentwood, 2565 Sand Creek Road. Winter and ski jackets are also available at Sport Chalet in Antioch (5839 Lone Tree Way) and several department stores such as Target, Walmart and Kohl’s. For those looking for a jacket as a way to impress, there’s Pittsburg’s Burlington Coat Factory (4105 Century Blvd.) as well as stores at The Streets of Brentwood such as Joseph A. Bank Clothiers, Banana Republic, Coldwater Creek and J. Jill.
K is for Kahlua
The creamy liqueur adds a perfect holiday sweetness to coffee or other beverages and is available at many stores all over East County, including the Brentwood Emporium (561 First St.). BevMo in Antioch (5859 Lone Tree Way) sells Kahlua and other delicious liqueurs, as well as gift sets. In Oakley, Kahlua is available at El Sombrero Liquors (3380 Main St.) and throughout East County at stores such as Safeway, Save Mart, WinCo and Raley’s.
L is for Lattes
Know of a friend or relative who needs a boost? Purchase a gift card to an East County coffee shop, such as Willy’s Bagels and Blends (1155 Second St. in Brentwood). Peet’s Coffee & Tea, 5411 Lone Tree Way in Antioch, also sells gift cards for its java. There are 13 Starbucks locations throughout East County, but gift givers can also purchase the cards at Safeway – 1125 Second St. in Brentwood, 3365 Deer Valley Road in Antioch or 14840 Highway 4 in Discovery Bay.
M is for Mix-ins
If someone on your list sports a sweet tooth, East County provides a variety of options for yummy ice cream or frozen yogurt. Buy a gift card for Yogurt Pizzazz at the Streets of Brentwood (2565 Sand Creek Road), which offers a cornucopia of low-fat and non-fat frozen yogurt, plus toppings such as fruit, cereal and crushed candy bars. Other frozen yogurt shops include Uphoria, 5601 Lone Tree Way in Brentwood, or its ice cream shop at 5009 Lone Tree Way in Antioch. Brentwood boasts a Yogurt Jungle, 761 Second St.; and Yogurt Island is located at 3100 Main St. in Oakley.
N is for News
Keep your loved ones well informed with a gift volunteer subscription to The Press. Voluntary subscriptions – $10 per year in Brentwood, Oakley or Discovery Bay; $29 in Antioch. Weekly issues of The Press will come straight to your home. Subscribers receive not only the paper, but breaking news e-mails. These voluntary subscriptions also serve as a way to show The Press’ advertisers just how much the community really loves us. Call The Press at 925-634-1441 or stop by 248 Oak St. in Brentwood today.
O is for Ornaments
Whether it’s a vintage Santa, glass-blown tree topper or whimsical Christmas character, the gift of an ornament is the gift of tradition and joy. Nothing compares to a thoughtful, handpicked personalized ornament that will become an instant keepsake and family heirloom. Specialty shops and boutiques such as Exclusively Yours on 3877 Walnut Blvd. in Brentwood (925-634-7003) offer impressive assortments, as do many of the fine stores in the Somersville Towne Center in Antioch.
P is for Poinsettias
Red, white, yellow, pink – even orange and salmon colored – the beautiful, decorative poinsettia plant makes the perfect hostess gift or Christmas surprise for that hard-to-buy-for someone on your list. Local florists and retailers offer an abundance of the non-toxic native Mexican flowers as well as other holiday floral bouquets and arrangements, including fresh-cut wreaths. Check out Good Scents Florist, 3513 Main St. in Oakley (925-625-5550); Ribbons & Roses, 151 Chestnut St. in Brentwood (925-634-3832); or Heaven Scent Florals in Discovery Bay (925-634-9325).
Q is for Quartz
As in quartz watches – but generous Santas needn’t stop there. The time-honored gift of jewelry – for both men and women – says Merry Christmas like nothing else. A fabulous piece of jewelry will light up the face of that lucky recipient and add a layer of chic to anyone’s look. For one-of-a-kind creations, stop in at Cre’me dela Gem, 613 First St. in Brentwood (925-516-6200) or Hardy Nix, 3600 Delta Fair Blvd. in Antioch (925-757-7100).
R is for Restaurants
When the stress of the holidays begins to build – and when the last pots and pans have been washed – most cooks have logged enough time in the kitchen for the season. Since everyone loves to eat out, especially if it’s free, why not give a restaurant gift certificate? It’s perfect for couples, families and those single friends on your list. Try one of the many restaurants in The Streets of Brentwood, Slatten Ranch in Antioch or Brentwood spots such as Sweeney’s Grill and Bar, 301 Oak St. (925-634-5192) or Cap’s Bar & Grill, 144 Oak St. (925-634-1025) in the city’s newly renovated downtown district.
S is for Spas
Or any pampering service for hair, nails or skin. Whether it’s a full day at the spa or a quick pedicure for that special holiday party, a gift certificate to one of East County’s specialty shops will make the season sparkle and shine for everyone on your list. And sure, it’s better to give than to receive, but after a long day of wrapping gifts, why not reward yourself with a massage or perhaps a new ’do? Choices abound, including Oasis Day Spa, 640 Harvest Park Drive in Brentwood (925-240-6274); European Wax Center, 5759 Lone Tree Way, Suite H in Antioch (925-978-1600); Discovery Bay Mobile Spray Tanning & Spa (925-570-0555); and Wild Orchid Salon, 1328 Sunset Drive in Antioch (925-756-0666).
T is for Treats
Got candy? Need sweets? Confection connections abound in East County, inspiring visions of sugarplums and more. Cupcakes, pies, cookies, candy canes and chocolate in all its wonderful forms and flavors make perfect stocking stuffers, gorgeous gifts for friends, family and co-workers and, of course, are the perfect topper to any holiday meal. Check out TL Cakes, 647 First St. in Brentwood (no phone number – walk-in retail service only); Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in The Streets of Brentwood, 2565 Sand Creek Road (925-513-3384); or See’s Candies in Brentwood, 2530 Sand Creek Road (925-516-4085).
U is for Universe
The universe is a tad big to fit in the average stocking – but a breathtaking gift when viewed from the little end of the telescope at Chabot Space & Science Center (10000 Skyline Blvd. in Oakland; 510-336-7300). The 86,000-square-foot center offers interactive space and science exhibitions, immersive digital-dome planetarium shows, and giant screen MegaDome shows. Chabot is also home to the largest research-quality telescopes open to the public west of the Mississippi. Whether it’s a gift for the entire family or a date night for two, Chabot Space & Science Center is the ideal place to stretch your boundaries and expand your cosmos.
V is for Vine
Nestled conveniently between the hubbub of suburbia and the verdant Central Valley, Hannah Nicole Vineyards offers award-winning wines (the Gold Medal-winning 2009 Le Melange Blanc was one of a dozen Hannah Nicole wines that picked up awards at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition) that you don’t need to drive to Napa to get. The splendid setting is also perfect for parties, receptions, concerts and all types of gatherings. The address is 6700 Balfour Road in Brentwood, and the phone number is 925-240-9463.
W is for Western Wear
From hats to boots to enough shirts to satisfy anyone’s taste in sparkle, the Winner’s Circle Western Wear in Antioch and the Weathervane Western Wear in Brentwood are there to help you outfit that cowboy or cowgirl in your life. The Winner’s Circle is well-known for its huge selection, and the Weathervane will have you looking good at work, at play, or both: the Weathervane also carries that professional-quality rodeo rope you’ve been looking for. Winner’s Circle is located at 20 W. 10th St. (925-757-0278) in Antioch, across from City Park. You can find the Weathervane at 225 Oak St. (925-634-5229) in newly refurbished downtown Brentwood.
X is for Xenodocheionology
This user-unfriendly term denotes the love of hotels. Pairing up an overnight stay in a local lodge with a night of babysitting service could be the perfect gift for a holiday-weary Mommy and Daddy. The Comfort Suites in Oakley, 5549 Bridgehead Road (925-755-1222) will allow your pet to join you. In Brentwood, the friendly folks at the Hampton Inn, 7605 Brentwood Blvd. (925-513-1299) will help you choose from numerous local entertainment options. Antioch’s Days Inn and Suites, 1605 Auto Center Drive (925-522-0010) offers easy access to the city’s historic Rivertown District and the Championship Roddy Ranch golf course.
Y is for Yoga
Yoga, a small word with big benefits. Sign up for classes at the Brentwood Yoga Center and cash in on the stress and pain relief, improved breathing and flexibility, and better strength and weight management this ancient practice offers. Brentwood Yoga Center provides safe, educational, fun yoga to all ages, body shapes, and abilities. It’s a Christmas present with a twist, and you can find it at 8650 Brentwood Blvd., Suite H (925-240-6864).
Z is for Zweiback
The sweet, raised bread children gnaw on when teething is also a secret ingredient in many cooks’ special pie crusts. Get some at your local grocery, then head over to Barnes & Noble for a dessert cookbook, and that budding pastry chef in your life will be the one to turn to when planning your New Year’s Eve party. The store also hosts knitting classes, fundraisers and tons of activities for kids. It’s located in the Slatten Ranch Shopping Center, 5709 Lone Tree Way in Antioch (925-978-1031). If it’s a rare, unusual or out-of-print cookbook you’d prefer, visit Books & Books in Antioch at 2329 Buchanan Road (925-778-4310).