41 gifts for the home & garden
This holiday season, provide comfort and joy to your loved one's sanctuary
The exteriors of these candleholders may be raw clay, but the interiors positively glow—and not just from the soy candles burning within. Inspired by the desert surrounding the designers’ hometown of Phoenix, the fiery-hued glazes say “Arizona” loud and clear. $26/candle; standardwax.com.
The waterfall where you proposed. The lake in which you taught your daughter to swim. Pick a place, and Portland’s Rachel Ann Austin—discovered by Sunset’s digital managing editor, Erika Ehmsen—will paint a picture using a map of the location as the background. $95/8- by 8-in. piece; rachelannaustin.com.
For that hard-to-buy father, these cozy slippers might do the trick. Woolrich’s Felt Mill Scuff Slippers are lined with fleece and have visible stitching along the outside. (They’re also unisex, so the perfect gift for anyone.) $40 per pair; woolrich.com.
Sometimes wool’s just too warm, even in winter. For those not-so-chilly occasions, give a cotton (organic, of course) knit blanket from the Berkeley-based company Coyuchi. From $128; 60 by 47 in.; coyuchi.com.
Knotweld, on Guemes Island, in Washington’s San Juans, fabricates custom lamps and doors and bookcases. But the company also turns out charming little spinning tops, made from the local madrona wood. $15; knotweld.com.
The 2013 floods in north India’s Kedarnath Valley were devastating. To help those Himalayan communities recover, Dhana, a Certified B corporation based in Mill Valley, California, has enlisted village women to spin the lamb’s wool used to make these silky-smooth neck warmers. $55 each; dhanaecokids.com.
Silicon Valley to the rescue! These sturdy, not-inexpensive umbrellas—popular in such soggy locales as Portland and Seattle—are now available with a trackable-by-Bluetooth plastic Tile already installed, so what’s lost can once again be found. From $69; bluntumbrellas.com.
Made for Restoration Hardware by Berkeley-based potter Jered Nelson (whose plates grace such San Francisco restaurants as Michael Mina and Coi), these primitive yet polished bowls will suit any dinner party, formal or casual. $56 for short or tall set; restorationhardware.com.
These stickers are for you: the gift-giver, the holiday card–sender. You can use any pictures you like to make this set of sturdy decals, but Sunset photo director Yvonne Stender suggests a selfie, to remind the recipient whom to thank. Not just for the present, but for the sapling that Paper Culture plants for each order. $30/16 stickers; paperculture.com.
Available in all kinds of shapes (we like the Scottie, though there’s also an endearingly fierce Tyrannosaurus rex) and a full range of letters, merino wool key chains from L.A.’s Gräf & Lantz are one of our go-to stocking-stuffers. $12 each; graf-lantz.com.
These easy-growing California “Native Orange” poppies from Renee’s Garden, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, is what associate garden editor Johanna Silver recommends for vibrant color. And, of course, they’re heat- and drought-friendly. One canister should brighten at least 600 square feet of ground for weeks. $13; reneesgarden.com.
With her new line of kitchen-garden supplies, Georgeanne Brennan returns to her roots—in the 1980s, the Bay Area cooking teacher introduced Lacinato kale and radicchio to the United States. This time, she brings heirloom lettuce seeds ($15), herbes de Provence ($6), and—because eggs taste only as good as a hen’s food— a “chicken scratch” seed mix ($7). lavierustic.com.
Great for busy students, the Livescribe 3 high-tech pen transfers your handwritten notes to your tablet or smartphone. Tag, organize, search—even convert to typed text. The package also includes a free app subscription, notebook, extra ink cartridge, and charging cable. $150, livescribe.com.
From L.A.-based Outdoor Tech comes the Turtle Shell 2.0, the next generation of backyard barbecue toy: a water-resistant, wireless box for streaming Vivaldi, The Verve, or that how-to-grill podcast. There’s a microphone built in, so you can even hop on a conference call, if you really have to. But only if you really have to. $130; outdoortechnology.com.
Lotusland, in Santa Barbara, which has a gorgeous pool filled with floating lotus, and Kauai’s lush Lawa‘i Kai garden are only two of the 250-plus gems profiled in this encyclopedia for garden geeks. Not all of them are in the West, but we’re allowed to find ideas elsewhere, right? $80; phaidon.com.
Oatmeal Honey may sound like breakfast, but it’s one of Bubble Farm Soap Co.'s silky-smooth, all-natural bars made with beeswax from hives in Alameda, CA. Other scents include Rosemary Honey and Vanilla Coffee. $8 for a 5 oz. bar; bubblefarmsoapco.com.
Best known for its peppery, Tuscan-style organic olive oils, McEvoy Ranch, just west of Petaluma, California, has also been making soaps, lotions, and shampoo from the fruit of those orchards. (Which do, as the name implies, occupy 80 acres of fog-swathed Marin hillside.) New this year: cedar-scented body balm ($14), bar soap ($9), and salt scrub ($28). mcevoyranch.com.
Not that we really have any idea what the ownership structure of these ceramic birdhouses might be, but we do know that L.A.’s Heather Rosenman designed them specifically to fit a petite clientele: finches and chickadees and wrens. Think of these houses as the anti-McMansions of the avian world. From $125; pottedstore.com.
In Washington’s Skagit Valley, budding flower farmers learn how to arrange fresh cuts and pursue a floral design business, from start to finish. Students make exquisite blooms from harvested ranunculus, anemones, and Icelandic poppies. Floret Florist Intensive: Spring, $2,150; April 24-26, 9 am-5 pm; breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages provided; hotel accommodations not included; floretflowers.com/workshops/