Once again this year, the Press and the merchants of East Contra Costa are here to help. Here is the 2009 edition of “The A, B, C’s of last-minute gift buying,” an alphabetical run-down of random ideas aimed at possibly re-stoking your gifting imagination, or perhaps just reminding you that Uncle Bob takes lousy snapshots (see “P is for Picture). Whatever it is you need or want, it’s out there, and probably just around the corner from your house.
A is for Alpaca. Considered warmer and more durable than cashmere and infinitely more exotic than goat hair, Alpaca Direct in Brentwood (925-308-7655) offers an array of colorful sweaters, scarves and warm, cozy socks. Perfect for everyone on your must-stay-warm gift list.
B is for Bouquets. Nothing says Happy Holidays better than a bountiful bouquet of glorious greens or seasonal blooms. Ribbons and Roses in Brentwood (925-634-3822) offers a gardenful of choices, as does Good Scents Florist in Oakley (925-625-5550).
C is for Coffee. What’s better than a warm cuppa joe on a cold winter’s night? Brew up a gift card to a local shop for that Java junkie on your list. Gabby’s Grind (925-634-3277) or Panama Red Coffee Company (925-240-0536), both in Brentwood, are great choices. Panama Red has a location in Antioch, too.
D is for Dogs… or cats. Adopt an animal for the holidays – or forever – and give the gift of love and security to an abandoned pet through the H.A.L.O. (Homeless Animals Lifeline Organization) Foster A Lonely Pet program in Oakley. H.A.L.O. (925-473-4642) will provide all the supplies you need to care for the animals from Dec. 20 to Jan. 3. You can return the pet after the holidays or be given the first chance to adopt your houseguest.
E is for Exclusive. If it’s holiday trim, a perfect, last-minute hostess gift or that one-of-a-kind item you’re looking for, you’ll find it at the elegant Exclusively Yours (925-634-7003) in Brentwood. Shimmering Santas and tinsel trees are just a few of the unique seasonal decorations you’ll find on display.
F is for Facials. Whether you’re primping for a special party or pining for a well-deserved holiday break, facials are the number-one way to decompress and unwind. Give a facial gift certificate to that special someone, or better yet, treat yourself. Check out Brentwood’s premiere spas, The Oasis Day Spa (925-240-6274) and Spa Prima (516-3600).
G is for Going Green. Looking to reduce your carbon footprint? Why not give the gift of a living Christmas tree, or perhaps a basket-full of gardening tools and accessories for the green thumb on your holiday list? Pompeii Nursery in Oakley (925-625-7330) has everything for the blooming novice or seasoned horticulturalist.
H is for Horses. Whether your giftee is a novice with horse or an experienced equestrian, Horsetown Tack in Brentwood (925-625-9900) stocks all the essentials, from saddles and spurs to hats and western wear.
I is for Icing. Customized cookies and cupcakes from Mary’s Delicacies (925-392-3306) are a personalized way of saying happy holidays.
J is for Jewelry. Crème dela Gem in Brentwood (925-516-6200) sports the sparkle and shimmer that will bring out big smiles this season.
K is for Kayak. For the adventurer on your list, stop at REI (925-516-3540) for all your outdoor needs, from boots to backpacks, maps to kayaks.
L is for Lavender. Let the soothing scent of WoodWick candles sold at Cranberries Gifts & Decor (925-755-7467) melt away the stress of the holidays.
M is for Macy’s. Save up to 70 percent on overstocked Macy’s items at The Clothesline in Oakley (925- 625-4400), where you’ll find high-end clothes at discount prices that are impossible to pass up.
N is for Namaste. For your favorite Yogi, stop by Brentwood Yoga Center (925-240-6864) for everything from mats to therapy oils to help your giftee make good on that new year’s resolution to get fit.
O is for Olive Oil. Visit Brentwood Spice and Olive Oil (925-240-6457) at its new storefront in Brentwood, where you’ll discover gift baskets for the culinary master in your life.
P is for Picture. Don’t let your loved ones’ next big moment get away. Give them a pre-arranged photo shoot from Jennifer Fink at Generations Photography. Weddings, birthday parties and graduations are events you should be busy enjoying, not photographing, and the shots Uncle Bob gets with the disposable just won’t do. Call Jen at 925-516-3840.
Q is for Quilt stand. You can find just the thing you need to display and store that fabulous quilt at the Antique Faire on Brentwood Boulevard (925-516-1563). Dealer Terri Souza has such a stand, and there are 16 other dealers on hand as well, offering items rare and remarkable, classic and cool.
R is for Robot, or maybe Remote (as in control). Whether you’re happier with something that rolls, sails, floats, glides or flies, you’ll find some marvelous mechanical minions to do your bidding from a distance at Brentwood Hobby Store (925-240-7111) and Kit & Caboodle in Oakley (925-625-6000).
S is for Sugar, which comes in some of its most delicious forms over at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (925-513-3384) at the Streets of Brentwood. Of course, not everything Craig and Christine McKnight concoct for their customers has sugar in it; they also offer festive tins, baskets and boxes they’ll use to wrap the up yummies.
T is for Trains. You can help someone get started in the world of model railroading or even give a seasoned pro a few ideas with a how-to DVD from Black Diamond Railroad in Antioch. Check it out at www.toytrainsontracks.com.
U is for Ukulele strings. Get ’em over at Geddes Music, along with anything else your musical muse mandates. Lessons, parts, repairs, sheet music, even instrument rentals – Geddes has it covered, or they’ll help you track it down. Call them at 925-634-6684.
V is for Venice. Or Vermont or Venezuela. The gift is helping someone get there, which Almost There Travel Agency in Antioch (925-238-0001) or Casey’s Travel in Brentwood (925-634-2425) are standing by, ready to help you do. They’ll even help you make closer-to-home arrangements if that’s what you prefer.
W is for Waffle. Get an iron to make your own at Lowe’s (925-779-4560) or take your giftee out and let someone else make them. In Antioch, try Country Waffles (925-779-0134). Farther east, you can’t go wrong at the Byron Inn Cafe (925-516-7500).
X is for X-Men. The good folks over at Oakley’s Video Cinema (925-625-0088) either have, or can get, whatever film classic you want. They’re behind CentroMart on Main Street.
Y is for Yo-Yo. Sometimes the simpler the toys, the longer they last, and the more fun kids can have with them. They’re also less expensive, but then everything, including yo-yos, is inexpensive at the Dollar Tree Store (925-516-5629). Stocking stuffing was never so easy.
Z is for Zydeco, that wonderful blend of French, Caribbean and blues music so popular in New Orleans. Stop in to Rock Bottom Records in Antioch and get help locating rock, pop, rap, hip hop, imports, R&B, soul, funk, oldies, jazz, blues, reggae or just about anything else on CD, vinyl or video. At 925-757-7766 since 1974.