Courtesy Metro Creative.

Despite our best of intentions, at some point in the holiday process we either come up empty or run out of creative ideas for those all-important people on our gift-giving list.

 It’s ok, you are far from alone, and although there might not be something here for all those pesky, hard-to-buy-for people on your list, we hope it’ll help get those ideas flowing again. We also hope you’ll pick up what you need right here in East County. Remember, shopping locally not only saves gas and time, it helps your neighbors and your neighborhood by supporting their business and keeping tax dollars close to home.

A is for Album

Jazz up your gift recipients’ holidays with some music. RPM Records in Brentwood’s Sunset Plaza has an amazing array of vintage vinyl, CDs and cassettes. If the thought of tunes isn’t music to your ears, the store also features video games, books, comics, art, clothing and jewelry. Many of the albums are three for $15, and the store also accepts trade-ins. To make your gift a hit, visit the store at 7720 Brentwood Blvd., Suite A, on Tuesday through Thursday, from 3 to 7 p.m.

B is for Barbeque

Turn up the heat on your gifting experience by giving a grill. Brentwood Outdoor Living is located at 6061 Lone Tree Way, behind Buffalo Wild Wings, in Brentwood. The store is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 925-626-6383 or visit

C is for Creativity

Give the artists in your life a creative outlet with a paint night experience. One local painter, playfully known as Bindu the Ox, blends adult humor, music and expert instruction into his often sold-out shows. He promises all participants will leave with a stitch in their side from laughing and a masterpiece in their hands. For more information, visit

 D is for Dark Chocolate

Few things sweeten up people’s lives more than chocolate. Bella Sweet Shoppe, at 3860 Balfour Road, Suite A, in Brentwood, offers chocolate and so much more, with its assortment of cookies, ice cream and caramelized apples. All the sweetness can be scooped up Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday, from 3 to 8 p.m. For more information, call 925-265-3043.

E is for Earrings

Live up to the old adage that a diamond is a girl’s best friend by giving the girls in your life a few glittering jewels. K & Co Family Jewelers at 741 2nd St., in Brentwood is a great choice as is Crème dela Gem also in downtown Brentwood at 626 1st St.

F is for Facial

Sawã Spa, located at 1700 Trilogy Parkway, in Brentwood, is the place to go for facials and just about any other beauty treatment you can think of. Visit for ideas to pamper your over-worked loved ones.

G is for Gardening

Do you know someone who loves gardening? Introduce them to Delta Informal Gardeners, a local club for green thumbs. Affectionately known as DIG, the club meets monthly to hear from local experts about the latest in gardening tips best suited for East County growing. A individual club membership is $15, and family memberships are $20. For more information, visit

H is for Honey

Raw honey collected in your local area is not only tasty and easy to come by, it also can be used in a wide variety of applications, from cooking to health to beauty. To stock up on honey from a local, family business, visit Dwelley Farms at 515 Delta Road, in Brentwood, or call 925- 634-6508.

I is for Imagination

Barnes and Noble, located at 5709 Lone Tree Way, in Antioch, offers an array of new books in every imaginable genre. Open up your imagination and flip through the pages of a new best seller or a time-honored classic. For more information, visit or call 925-978-1031.

J is for Jumping

Do you need a way for the kids to burn off extra energy during the holidays? What about all those extra celebratory calories for the kids at heart? Head over to Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park, at 5641 Lone Tree Way, in Brentwood, or to Pump It Up, an inflatables party place, at 5351 Neroly Road, in Oakley, for hours of jumping fun.

K is for Kitten 

Are you looking to expand your family this holiday season? Why not give yourself or someone you love (and whom you know wants a pet) the gift of a rescued kitten. HARP (Homeless Animal Rescue Program) and HALO (Homeless Animal Lifeline Organization) in East County can help. Visit or for more details.

L is for Laundry Basket

Stuff a beautiful wicker laundry basket full of elegant bathroom essentials, such as handcrafted soaps, monogrammed hand towels or a plush floor mat. HomeGoods, located at 2460 Sand Creek Road, in Brentwood, has the latest in all your interior design needs. And while you’re there, Monogramming by Frichy, located at 2420 Sand Creek Road, can help personalize those hand towels. 

M is for Mason Jar 

The gift possibilities are endless when it comes to mason jars. Layer them with ingredients for a ready-made cookie recipe that looks as cute as it is tasty, or put together a sewing kit for your favorite quilter, complete with a pincushion top and adorned with ribbons. Create a ‘mini bar in a jar’ with cocktail ingredients and fancy straws or a luxury bath kit filled with spa-style products. No matter your choice, you can purchase a crate of jars at Ace Hardware, 8900 Brentwood Blvd., in Brentwood, and create gifts with a personal touch. 

N is for Notebook

Even if you don’t know an up-and-coming Hemingway, just about everyone can find a use for a notebook. Whether it’s bound in leather or covered in lace, there’s something charming about a book with fresh pages, meant for notes. You can find lovely paper, pens and journals for your loved ones this season at Tuesday Morning, 2410 Sand Creek Road, in Brentwood.

O is for Olive Oil

If you’re looking for a gift someone will actually use, high quality, locally grown and pressed olive oil is on the list of must-haves. The McCauley Olive Grove grows its own olives and crafts unique blends of extra virgin olive oil, ranging in price from $6.50 to $56. McCauley’s sells its wares through a number of vendors in Brentwood, but to get to the source, visit 300 Balfour Road, in Brentwood. 

P is for Photo Coasters

Instead of stuffing photos away in an album to sit on a dusty shelf, your loved ones may want to display their precious moments in a way that doesn’t take up tons of shelf space. Glenn Combs, Brentwood business owner of E-Z Ink Promotions can help take pictures and turn them into photo coasters, a gift that will make its recipient smile every time they take a sip.

Q is for Quality

In the midst of frantic holiday shopping and scheduling time for family and friends, quality time can unintentionally be pushed to the back burner as quantity boils over. Being present with the ones you’re with instead of worrying about getting to the next shop or appointment on time can be worth more to a loved one than any box with a bow.

R is for Retro

For the eclectic collector in your life, Urban Jumble Antiques and Salvage at 307 G St., in Antioch, has retro items in spades. From metal toy cars to scales to trunks to typewriters, you’re bound to find a unique gift they’ll delight in.

S is for Savory

The Byron Inn Café, at 16141 Byron Highway, in Byron, brings savory to a whole new level. After spending years working in upscale restaurants in San Francisco, owner and chef Roberto Rose’s farm-to-fork creations, including the ‘wafflewich,’ are out of this world. Having extended family in town is the perfect excuse to go treat your taste buds without having to cook it first.

T is for Theater

The Delta Theater in downtown Brentwood is a great way to enjoy going to the movies without breaking the bank. The small, two-screen theater harkens back to when Brentwood was still a budding town, and while it boasts big titles like “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and Disney’s “Moana,” its prices reflect that time period. Where else can you see a great movie for under $8?

U is for Underprivileged 

Do you have clothing and other items collecting dust and space around the house? H.O.P.E. House, at 218 Pine St. in Brentwood, will gladly help you de-clutter. The program collects food, clothing and household items for families in need in Brentwood, Knightsen, Bethel Island, Discovery Bay, Oakley and Byron. By helping supplement food and clothing needs for more than 1,000 people a month, there’ll be no coal in your stocking this Christmas.

V is for Volunteer

There is no shortage of valuable ways to give during the season, whether it’s popping a few dollars into the local Salvation Army bucket, picking a name from a local organization’s holiday gift tree or volunteering at your local food bank or community event. The Brentwood Regional Community Chest is always a great way to give locally, and the group is always looking for an extra pair of hands. For more information, contact Dana Eaton at or visit

W is for Wine

If a taste of the grape is what’s on your list this year, East County offers one-stop shopping for all your vino-loving friends. Stop in at CoCo Wine Company 925-634-9463; Hannah Nicole Vineyards 925-240-9463; Leer Vineyards, now under new ownership, 925-308-7963; Tamayo Vineyards 925-766-8124; or Vine+Grain 925-513-5359; all in Brentwood. Discovery Bay has UnWined, an eclectic wine and cheese bar, under new ownership, 925-420-3188. If the aficionado on your list prefers beer, many of these establishments offer craft beers in bottles and on tap as well.  

X is for Xylophone

Geddes Music, located at 359 Oak St., in Brentwood, sells new and used instruments and the staff offers lessons for budding musicians who could use some insight from the pros. Visit for more information.

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, in Brentwood. For more information, call 925-240-6864.

Z is for Zephyr

This holiday season, Zephyr Grill & Bar will donate $1 from every pumpkin cheesecake, gingerbread pudding and Holiday Boot Tini cocktail to the Boot Campaign, which gives back to veterans. Other holiday events at the Zephyr include their inaugural cookie-decorating class on Dec. 10 and 17, at 9 a.m., followed by a Santa Brunch on both days, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. So gear up and head down to get your holidays off on the right track!