2016 Holiday Gift Guide

Oh, Christmas, that ode to a gross commercialization of pagan and Christian holidays that everyone finds absolutely disgusting. All the fighting for the latest fad toy that no one will remember in a year. All the worry of whether or not your niece already has a copy of Harry Potter or not. Who are we kidding, even if you are a Grinch with a heart of coal, Christmas rules. Holiday parties rule. Hot chocolate rules. The absolute lack of sub-zero temperatures in Southern California rules. Getting presents rules. And finally, giving presents rules. What doesn’t rule? Trying to pick stuff out. Don’t worry, we have fun (and often times tasty) options for you!


Caffeine is always a solid choice. A giant bag of whole beam coffee says “I know your schedule rarely allows for sleep, but I want you to stay up and hang out with me.” And, like craft breweries, coffee roasters seem to be popping up all over the place. As such, I recommend grabbing as locally as you can. For me, that’s the bad boys over at Wild Goose Coffee here in Redlands, CA. They even have a Christmas blend ($17.50), offering subtle flavors that I will promptly be overpowering with some coconut-flavored almond milk.

Smells like “Cactus, Oranges, and Ocean.” That works for me.

I used to think that candles were my family’s way of saying “your room stinks, please refrain from offending my nostrils any further.” Now, I just looked around and see nine candles in my living room alone. I admit that I am generally pretty set in my candle-scent ways. I like both pine-scented and orange-scented wads of wax, mostly because they remind me of the smells of Southern California. Would you look at that? Homesick Candles ($30) makes candles playing to that exact sort of nostalgia. Their geographically themed candles base their scents on various states (and half states, as is the case with Northern/Southern California), offering an ability to reminisce through aromatherapy.

Another gift that screams, “Here you go, stinky, have something to hide your stinky” is cologne. Now, I know, I know, these kinds of things are generally subjective, but if you are reading this fine website, you may well be on board with Juniper Ridge‘s line of nature-inspired scents. I have had a bottle of their Sierra Granite Backpacker Cologne ($60) for a while, and I love using that ish. I get to stink to high heavens of pine trees while sitting in my little office in the corner of a window-less room. Awesome.


I think gifting particularly useful items is a GREAT idea. But then again, I think most of my ideas are great. Another great idea? California recently banned plastic bags in our grocery stores, which truly is amazing. But, even as wholly on-board as I am, I found myself consistently forgetting my reusable bags. Until I started actually keeping a couple Chico Bags ($6+) in my car. They hold a whole bunch more than disposable bags and fold up into their own little stuff sack. HOW CUTE! Now I am a glowing icon of environmentalism. Captain Planet ain’t got nothing on me. I’m particularly partial to my Stone Brewing Chico Bag. Now people can know that I drink amazing beer while caressing Mother Nature’s bosom.

Give your feet hugs with each step!

I don’t know when it happened, but it has definitely happened: I love getting socks as gifts. From crazy socks with flying pizza slices to plain wool socks that keep my little feetsies nice and toasty. And I recently found out about Feetures. ($15-$17) I’ll admit, “Merino Wool” didn’t really mean anything to me. What should be on the tag is “these socks are made of warm pillows,” because that’s what it feels like. My wife got a pair for some trail hikes and immediately wanted a wide array to keep her toes blister-free. Get these for people you like, even if (especially) if that person is yourself.

I’m on a boat.

I’ve been a proud owner of a variety Chucks, low-tops, hi-tops, black, teal, green, different black, and blue. But now, I have water-resistant ones! These Counter-Climate bad boys have a protective coating on the outside coupled with some kind of awesome neoprene booties on the inside. At first I thought, “Well, these look great, but it’s not like we get a lot of weather in SoCal,” but then I remembered that the ocean was an hour away and decided to take them on a boat. Not only did I not go overboard, but they were simultaneously comfortable and stylish. I can tell you first hand that you should get these. I mean, gift these. Or both.

Scotchy Scotch Scotch

“It’s amazing. Like drinking smoked leather.” While my wife was showed a true revulsion to this statement, you Scotch lovers will know what I’m talking about. From the Isle of Islay, Ardbeg’s 10 year is the top of the line when it comes to entry-level Scotch. But the Uigeadail ($80), this is the good stuff. When Ron Burgandy proclaimed his love of Scotch, he was probably drinking this. If your friend of family likes smokey, peaty goodness, get them this. If they don’t, get yourself a bottle instead.

Liquid gold.

If you want to keep your whiskey dollars in America, let’s do it right with the Bulleit Cask Strength Bourbon ($50). See, when whiskey distillers age their amber ambrosia, that stuff comes out of the barrel all kinds of inconsistent. Usually, the production team will water it back down to 80 proof (40%), but in cask strength, they give you the full dose, with each batch being a different ABV. If you think Bourbon is stiff at a standard proof, wait until you get yourself a bottle of straight hooch that is cask strength.

If your friends are going to try to hike away the calories of the fine whiskies you just bought them online, they may also need to keep warm this winter. Enter the Cotopaxi Kusa Bomber ($150). I mean, LOOK AT THIS THING. You can do some kind of ninja moves (according to this picture), chop some wood (probably, I haven’t tried it), but definitely sip some more whiskey after your exceptionally active adventures. PLUS, this bad boy is made with llama fleece, which keeps you, I mean, the gift’s recipient, warm while being lightweight. Which comes in handy when you’re a freaking dock ninja.

©Earl Harper

If you know of someone that regularly runs headlong into wilderness escapes, but comes back exhausted from the weight of an entire kitchen in their pack, try getting them the MSR PocketRocket™ Stove Kit ($100). The entire thing weighs just under 25 oz., but contains a stove, a pot, 2 bowls, 2 mugs, a strainer lid, and even 2 freaking sporks. That’s awesome. In case anyone I know is reading this, this would be an acceptable gift for me. For real.

Cal models the Buff in Yosemite.

If you know of, or are a person who would head off into a multi-day camping adventure, then you, or they, may also want a Buff headwear. It’s basically a tube of comfort and protection for your delicate noggin. Offering UV protection at the same time it keeps sweat out of your eyes, the Buff can be worn in a variety of ways. Yes, including “cover your whole face and try to freak out the dogs,” which, by the way, usually ends with some claw marks upon your person. Dogs don’t like the game of “cover your whole face and try to freak out the dogs.” There’s a cool series of National Parks Buffs ($25), which are awesome.

I model The New Primal Beef Jerky

Of course, there are stocking stuffers to consider. Just kidding, you don’t have to think about it, because I’m here to tell you: preserved meats make a helluva gift. Unless the giftee is a vegetarian. Then they are terrible gifts. But for everyone else, they are a great gift. Recently, my doctor told me “HEY, CHUNKY MONKEY, TIME TO LAY OFF THE BEEF.” That’s EXACTLY how he said it, too. At the time, I was bummed about the recent removal of beef jerky as my favorite snack, until the wonderful people of The New Primal Beef Jerky ($2/stick) sent me a wonderful gift pack that included TURKEY JERKY. Admittedly, I was super concerned about the idea. Is this going to be cooked? I’m I going to get tummy troubles? My worries were not warranted, as this stuff was fantastic. Now, if you want beef jerky, or even maple bacon pork jerky sticks, they have those, too. No sodium, nitrates, or preservatives are added, so even if I went behind my doctor’s back and grabbed some beef jerky, I wouldn’t feel THAT bad.


You Might Also Like