Gift Giving, Orange County Style

26 Dec

I’m kind of a lousy gift-giver, but this is the time of year I do try to find unique and interesting gifts that are made and/or sold by independent retailers. In the Bay around this time, you’d normally find me on Valencia Street in the Mission District of San Francisco, or on College Avenue in Rockridge in Oakland, or on Telegraph in Berkeley. Street fairs, craft fairs, farmers markets, and products benefiting nonprofits have always been favorites. But, alas, gone are the days of Bakesale Betty gift certificates, unique magazines from Issues, and fun t-shirts from Oaklandish.

Shopping according to my values was admittedly more challenging in Orange County but I tried. Here are the top 5 gifts from Orange County that I gave this Christmas:

1. In ‘n’ Out gift cards

Started in Los Angeles and still limited to the West Coast, this is a perennial fast food favorite that shows that fast food can actually be good, using beef free of additives, fillers, and preservatives. It is one of the few fast food chains that gets the Restaurant Opportunities Center seal of approval because of a decent minimum wage and paid sick days. Bonus is that there’s one a 15-minute walk from my apartment.

2. Disc golf equipment

While not necessarily invented in Southern California, disc golf definitely flourished and was popularized here. It’s basically a game where you throw small frisbees into baskets spread out around a park. I had never heard of it before, but my partner and his friends love it. Thankfully, unlike actual golf, it’s free or very low-cost to play. But, like golf, you do need putters, mid-range discs, and drivers so a high-quality disc is desirable. I bought this at a little stand in Huntington Beach.

3. Annual pass to SeaWorld

Anyone in Orange County will tell you that the end-all-be-all amusement park pass to get is Disneyland’s. But I balked at the $200-500 price tag to be immersed in princesses and fairy tales. At least SeaWorld has educational value, teaches people to appreciate the ocean and marine life, and doesn’t use plastic straws and cup lids so that they compost more of their waste.

4. Wine rack for a boat

My partner and I happened by a farmers market in Seal Beach and I’m always a sucker for a farmers market so we pulled over. One of the vendors was selling these beautiful handcrafted wine racks designed with stability and space-saving in mind specifically for boats. And OC definitely has people with boats and people who like to drink.

5. T-shirts from Popkiller

Japanese-owned but Los Angeles-based with one store in Costa Mesa, Popkiller sells vintage style clothes and accessories including their own t-shirts created in partnership with local artists. Prices are reasonable and styles are kitschy and trendy.

Final note: Following the theme of self-acceptance, let’s not make myself appear more virtuous than I am: I also bought gifts from IKEA, Apple, Netflix, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Paper Source, Aveda, and the 99₵ Only Store. I’ll save them for a future blog post titled “Mega-corporations I like to shop at because they make me feel like I’m bucking the mainstream, even though they they are just as evil as all the others.”


One Response to “Gift Giving, Orange County Style”


  1. New Year’s Resolution: Let Go « oakland 2 oc - January 12, 2012

    […] trying to be the perfect girlfriend (“Yes, you can sleep in until 11am.” “Why don’t we go disc golf today?” “Of course you can play video games while I feed you unhealthy snacks.” “I love it […]

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