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All things artisanal for the holidays

Conventional wisdom has it that you choose gifts with the recipient in mind. That’s what would define a good gift. But what defines a great gift? Something that reflects you as well. With that in mind, our holiday guide has been designed around you: who you are in your secret heart of hearts, who you’d like to be, or what you’d like to say. Are you the neat freak who wants to impose a little order on your chaotic family? We have you covered. Or maybe you’re the badass who’d like to shake things up a bit? Check. And if you’re ... you get the idea. Now, if what you really need is for someone else to pick for you, we’ve also invited a handful of our favorite curators to give you their top picks. Of course, we’d like to nudge you to consider the Handful of Salt quarterly for your nearest and dearest, but then we might be just a little biased (not to mention excited). Happy hunting, and happy holidays, from Regina, Nicole, and the team at Handful of Salt.

Happy Holidays!

From the

wife who is gently trying to improve your man-cave.

You’re a patient woman. You’ve tolerated his penchant for plaid shirts; you’ve smiled indulgently at the twenty year-old topsiders with the flapping soles. After all, he doesn’t understand your love of Vogue and Monocle. But you’ve finally admitted to yourself that it’s really not okay to give up a corner of your home to that dreck. And your therapist, coach, and three best girlfriends have all assured you that it’s time you speak your mind.

High stakes.

Matt Singer: Roll up Backgammon Now that he’s over his poker obsession the man clearly needs an outlet for his competitive spirit. Designer Matt Singer has created a sleek wonder and included witty wagering die that decide the loser’s punishment. Bonus: since this is a traveling backgammon set, you might tempt him out of his man cave and into your brave new world. Progress.

The new horticulture. NO. 009: GREY THUMB

The perfect thing for the person with black thumbs: Grey Thumb “plants”. Made out of concrete, these “cacti” will survive all sorts of loving (in)attention. And they just look damned cool. ($124.)

Weekend away. KillSpencer Duffel

That logo’d duffel from the 2005 TED conference makes you crazy. Time for a change. This hunk of gorgeous LA-made bag boasts Korean War-era coated canvas, waterproof and fire-retardant lining, plus the cleanest, sleekest lines you could want. Manly enough for him, but something you’ll be stealing, too.

From the

business associate who simply Must Get It Right Nothing less than your life is on the line here. She’s your ticket out of cubi-hell, your hand-me-down Tercel, and life with that roommate with the dodgy friends and the even dodgier hygiene. Of course, you’re not the only one in that situation. Here’s how to one-up those pretenders with wit, charm, and style.

Art and the olive.

Limited Edition Olive Oil Giftbox Connoisseurs are picky about where their wine comes from. True connoisseurs feel the same way about their olive oil. These beautifully illustrated gift boxes including three award-winning olive oils from Italy, Portugal, and Spain, just drip with regional terroir. tgtl-the-olive-oil-experience-limited-ed-10001000


Heath Ceramics Walnut Tray Set You cannot go wrong with Heath. Timeless, well-considered, and grounded, it says you’re the right one, and you’re here to stay. It’s classic enough to be professional, but remains firmly out of the realm of the expected.

From the

busy 20-something with expensive taste and a shoestring budget.

Good as gold.

Print from The Pairabirds Can’t afford to give them the jewels they deserve? Your best friends will love this faceted, bright print almost as much. And, it’s only $20 for a 8” by 10” print by illustrator Tabitha Bianca Brown. faveitems&atr_uid=16660008

Dream cream.

Sprout Skin Care: Sprout Cream Giving bath and body products is the oldest trick in the book for those low on cash. A little anti-climatic, right? That is, unless you’re giving this Sprout skin cream ($32). Sprout uses whole, organic ingredients, and this cream even uses “wild-harvested shea butter [they] get from an incredible Fair Trade women’s cooperative in Ghana.”

Pattern me mine.

Wheel Two Pendant Necklace This laser cut birch/cherry wood, superwax cotton, and oxidized silver necklace LOOKS like it’s a statement piece that’ll only work with a couple of outfits, but we think it’ll quickly become an everyday, go-to item for anyone from 16 to 80. At $64, it’s a steal.

Upcycle style.

Love Mert Trae Ring For the girl on your list who delights in making something out of nothing. Love Mert’s beautiful upcycled wooden rings start as wood scraps from the family wood workshop and end as gorgeous, crystal-shaped statement rings fit for any finger. Each ring is naturally dyed with vinegar and given a splash of vibrant color. Eco-chic never looked so good.

Ready at hand.

Turquoise Schrade Knife/Belt Loop The turquoise and pearl inlay on this pocket knife ($99) make it as beautiful as it is useful. Its elegant chain makes it an awesome piece of statement jewelry. Make sure your friends are never caught unprepared.

From the not-so-secret neat freak You. Have. Your. Standards. Things should be precise, clean, and highly, highly functional. There shall be no clutter. There shall only be order and refinement. And it is your mission in life to bring that into the lives of others.

Designed to inspire. Nambu Ironware Tape Dispenser

The most beautiful tape dispenser ever. There, we’ve said it. Better yet, it’s made out of traditional Japanese ironware, so you won’t worry about knocking it off your desk. $192.

Cool, cubed. Kuro Cube

Who would have thought that a little black cube of charcoal could purify your home? This raw material is crafted to powerfully absorb dirty air particles and odors. Refresh your closet, car, fridge and well-being in a natural way!

Simplicity of sound. Makore Mini Koo

Did you ever think you could amplify your ipod music with no electricity and no wires? We didn’t either! But these revolutionary wooden Koostik speakers ($75) allow you to amplify your music, conserve energy, and look sleek all at the same time.

Box it up.

Airedelsur: Rauch Square Box Can’t handle the clutter on your best friend’s end tables? Even if she doesn’t actually organize that junk or put it away, she might at least be inspired to hide it while you’re visiting with this gorgeous wooden storage box.

Stuff wrangler. Micklish: the butler

Finally, a place to corral all those bits you shed as you walk in the door: your phone, your wallet, keys, and sunnies. Handcrafted, sleek, lovely, simple, brilliant.

From the

cousin with the restaurant recommendations in any major metropolis

If they’re hungry and sitting in the perhaps questionable hotel they booked in the 10th arrondissement, you’re the one they call. When they’re trying to figure out where to take a hot date in Rome, you’re the one they waste their precious international minutes on. Let these gifts gently remind them not to take your expertise for granted.

Form and function. Paris Metro Cuff

For those times that you can’t be there to help, this stylish cuff is embossed with a handy map of the Paris Metro. Available for a variety of cities. $37

Hot toddy.

Vintage Teaworks Tea Your cousin has great taste in cheese, movies, and men, so why is she still drinking Lipton’s with non-dairy creamer? These wine-inspired teas ($16) can help you lure her away from the dull side by appealing to her love of finding the best varietal.

Lime aid.

Pasolivo Lime Olive Oil Bright, but still downto-earth. Exuberant, but not overpowering. We know you are, so say it proudly with this delicious olive oil ($25) distilled with lime peels from Paso Robles. (Pasolivo suggests using it in mango salsa. We’d be happy to do the taste test.)

Rare Device

My name is Giselle Gyalzen and I own and run the San Francisco design store Rare Device. I live in San Francisco with my husband, two year old daughter, and our beloved Chihuahua who sometimes doubles as the "store dog." The aesthetic of Rare Device is modern with a touch of whimsy — very approachable. We sell everything from paper goods, housewares, jewelry, prints, bags, and we also have a kid's section. We carry a lot of items by local and independent San Francisco artists, as well as artists and designers from all over the US and the world. I tried to pick items for everyone in the family. All the items are handmade by independent artists and designers, and I think they represent modern, good, thoughtful, approachable design, which is what Rare Device is all about!

Cross Stitched Necklaces Zelma Rose, San Francisco CA Price: $40-$65 Leather Camera Straps Unifroma by Little Paper Planes. Based in Oakland, made in LA Price: $100 Around SF Print Brent Couchman, San Francisco Price: $35 Ceramic Jars by Ben Fiess Ben Fiess Philadelphia, PA Price: $106 to $126 Kitty Egg Crayons Kitty Baby Love, Portland OR Price: $22

From the

friend who knows it would be mutually assured destruction Your friend can joke about telling that story at your wedding, because if she did, you’d be ready to retaliate with the toast of the century. You’ve seen the best worst decisions, the craziest moments, and a couple of things you would never tell her children (right?). Whether you’ve passed those days by, or the end is nowhere in sight, here’s a toast to your best friend. Your secret’s safe with us.

So good to be bad. Tomtom Jewelry: Punk Fleur Earrings

When did pearls ever look so dangerous? That’s the only way you like them. LA-based Elena Howell’s Punk Fleur earrings ($315) walks that line between good and bad (in 4 inch stilettos) quite perfectly.

Updated Mad Men. Hollow Book Flask

It’s frowned upon to stash a scotch bottle in your drawer à la Don Draper (damn) but you still can channel that vibe with this updated book flask safe. Designer-maker Kristin Pumphrey uses books that are at the end of their lives, usually reclaimed from book bins and library sales. hollow-book-flask-safe-the-fightfor


Studio H. Shakespeare tiles She might be spending more time renovating her kitchen these days than getting into trouble, but every time she catches a glimpse at that badass skull tile, she’ll remember that if she gets too boring or settled, you’ll tell all. We’ve never seen a cooler way to introduce that little necessary edginess to a kitchen or a bathroom.

Zinc Details

Plus Plus 300pcs kit $22 Plus-Plus is a new construction toy designed and manufactured in Denmark. Simple enough for a young child to do flat 2-D mosaics, and fun and addictive for adultst too.

Curator Vas Kiniris selects gifts that combine a modern soul with a touch of the handmade. In an effort to support independent designers, his selections include several up-and-comers such as Fort Standard and Kiel Mead.

Dinner-Party-In-a- Box $50.00 By The Bold Italic Whether you're looking to throw a top-notch dinner party or show up with an unexpected host(ess) gift, this box of fun is a recipe for a good time. Hakusan Horiyusai Container $49 Hakusan Porcelain Co, Ltd. was founded in Hasami, Nagasakiprefecture in 1779 and is lead by the designer Masahiro Mori. Rise and Shine, San Francisco $30 By Becky Hui Chan Rise and shine, San Francisco! Printed beautifully on bright white, Strathmore cover stock. 12”x18”. Natural Driftwood Bottle Opener $45.00 By Kiel Mead Made from reclaimed driftwood from Lake Eerie that’s been sanded, stained, and shellacked, every Driftwood Bottle Opener will be different.

Zinc Details is an independently owned store, gallery, modern design authority and essential resource for the San Francisco creative community.

Balancing Blocks for Areaware $54 Balance these ten faceted stone-size shapes, by Fort Standard, to create your own sculpture. Finished with non-toxic tints, and packaged in a cotton draw-string bag.

Founded by Vasilios “Vas� Kiniris and his wife Wendy Nishimura Kiniris, Zinc Details assembles an exuberant mix of art, design and craft that is expertly curated from sources around the globe. Presenting playful groupings of furnishings, accessories and art, Zinc Details encourages visitors to make modern design a part of their daily lives and lifestyles.

From The



Shwood Sunglasses Trying to convince a friend to spend more time with you in the park on those glorious sunny days? He’ll blow off work and stand in an epic line for ice cream with you just to show off these rad wood shades.

Get up and go.

Brooks Brick Lane Roll-Up Panniers Show your favorite bike messenger (or bike messenger wannabe) you really care. This gorgeous pannier from Brooks ($240) will only get better with age, and he can roll it up to save space when he’s off the clock.

Treat yo self.

MCMC: Dude No.1 Beard Oil Cold wintry months can leave even the most luscious beard lank and lifeless. Luckily, MCMC Fragrances has just the thing — The "Dude No. 1" ($65). This all-natural beard oil is 100% organic and blended with a combination of hemp seed and American jojoba oils, Virginia cedar wood, green coriander, and pink peppercorn to restore and revitalize your whole hirsute crew.

Racing stripes.

Wall Shelf for Bikes Do your friends treat their fixies with the same love and care as a precious piece of art? Micklish’s Pinstripe floating wall shelf will give their pair of wheels the attention it deserves. (There’s also room on top for anything you might pick up on your ride home.)

Of a Kind

Over at Of A Kind, we commission up-andcoming designers to create limited-edition pieces that they sell on their website, alongside a series of stories about the makers we feature. We’re all about unearthing the latest and greatest, and that’s what makes our site especially good for gifting: you won’t find the things we have anywhere else. No, really!

Modern Salt and Pepper Pots, by Alyson Brent Dinky $44, made in Britain

Sea + Cane Sweets “Meat” + Cheese Gift Set $25, made in Chicago Meat-Cheese-Gift-SetMC001.htm

Stingray Trillion Necklace by Collette Ishiyama, $130, made in NYC

Artemis Bracelet by Workhorse for Of a Kind, $240, made in L.A., available 11/13, editions/1036-ARTEMISBRACELET Curators: Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur, founders of Of a Kind One of our favorite things about the season: the holiday parties, with their eggnog, cheer, and “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” These are the things we’ll be hostess-gifting (or, ok, buying for ourselves to wear as we hop from apartment to apartment).

from the

Anthony Bourdain wannabee

You’re snarky and brash, but we all know this is because you care so much (don’t they understand?). You want the best. You want authentic. You want to showcase the gristle, the grit of things, oh hell — of life itself. Of course you love beauty. But it’s gotta be badass.

Worth its salt.

Pasolivo Ghost Pepper Infused Finishing Salt This ain’t no wimpy, soft fleur de sel (in fact, that phrase, “flower of salt” has really bothered you: it’s so... girly). This complex Ghost Pepper infused finishing salt from Pasolivo is more like the Muscle, or maybe the Sinew of Salt. Yeah, that’s it. Now it’s worthy of you. It’s $10 for a 2.7oz jar. m&p=307&cat=spices

Pick your battles.

Leather Picker’s Wallet OK maybe they don’t actually need a guitar pick available at a moment’s notice. But for that guy who’s never quite gotten over his days in the band (whether they were 5 or 25 years ago), this wallet says, “Yeah, bro. I know. I too feel the siren call of the open road. I too hear the roar of the crowd. We share the dream.” Yeah baby. And that dream only costs $31.

Have guitar, will travel. Blackbird Rider Steel String

Backpacking in Death Valley? Motorcycling across the country? Blackbird’s nearly indestructible Rider travel guitar has you devilmay-care musicians covered. Its one piece carbon fiber construction, hollow neck and head, and sexy silhouette mean this is one instrument you’ll never have to leave at home.

From the

grandma who is undoing all your hard work.

Oh, you know who you are. You’re the one who slips the sugar-deprived, organic-everything little blighters those Marshmallow Peeps at Easter. You’re the one who’s just twitching until little Justin is old enough for that backyard rocket set. You’re the one who’s got that perfect Barbie in that perfect pink outfit already wrapped and ready to go. Let the games begin.

Back in my day. Old Time Sling Shot

Kids’ toys these days are so boring, so certified... so safe. You were just fine growing up without foam bumpers on all the corners. Make sure these little ones have some real, old fashioned fun with this slingshot made from Minnesota buckthorn branches, $25. products/old-time-sling-shot

We all scream.

The Ice Cream Bowls Don’t miss a drop of sugar rush inducing goodness. On top of being gorgeous, the shape of these handmade and fired bowls solves one of the oldest design problems: how to get to the last little bit of melted ice cream. ice-cream-bowls

From the

DIY genius Your DIY brilliance isn’t just deep, it’s broad. From re-wiring that light you bought online, to knowing your way around bovine anatomy courtesy of that butchering class you took, you’re always on the lookout for that Next Big Skill to master. You want everyone to have their maker moment. Here’s where you start to share the love.

Body brush.

Abstract Painting Kit Having a hard time getting your sweetheart into the DIY spirit? Imagine getting down and painty on the specially prepared canvas, then sponging off your artistic fling with soap and water. Best of all, when your body-brushed canvas is dry, you can stretch it on a frame and gaze at it for eternity. From $60 -$110 in a variety of colors.


Book it.

Get glowing.

They’ve ground their own flour, taken Beef Butchering 101, and raise their own chickens. And you were thinking of getting them something from Williams Sonoma. Seriously? Get them using bandsaws, carving and shaping tools, and CNC routers to make their own wooden utensils, courtesy of the super-cool dudes at Knowhow Shop in LA. $125 for the experience, the utensils and endless gloating rights.

There’s something special about cracking open a spine and leafing through the pages of a good book. The San Francisco Center for the Book Arts opened in 1996 and was the first center of its kind on the West Coast. It offers over 300 workshops that vary in emphasis and price, ranging from letterpress to binding.

Give this to your friend who is always admiring how crafty you are, because this half day (4 hour) workshop is for any skill level. Want to keep all the fun for yourself? It’s an equally great way to make some beautiful gifts for the people on your own list. $125 dollars per person.

KnowHow Shop Spoon Classes

The San Francisco Center for the Book

Holiday Ornament Making Workshop

Quick fix.

Baladeo Multi-Tool ‘Pro’ In general, all-in-one tools are a bad idea. But this Multi-Tool Pro is one you'd be proud to give (or get). 43 functions gets things done around the house. Better yet, the "tool" comes in a wooden box that, when casually perched on a shelf or desk, telegraphs "Yes, dammit, I have hidden abilities that you might not ever dream of." Even if the only tool that ever gets used is the corkscrew. en&identifiant=TEM008&tri=gamme #titre

From the

son-in-law who cannot make a misstep They don’t call her the Dragon Lady for nothing. You’ve seen the raised eyebrow; you’ve seen the downward twitch of the mouth. A box of See’s Candy picked up from the airport just won’t work, because (miraculously) the Dragon Lady has produced Her, the light of your life. And while she is lovely, easy-going and forgiving, you’ve begun to suspect that there’s just a bit of Dragon Lady in her, too. Here’s how to show that you’re worthy of both of them.

Biscotti 2.0.

Boncora Biscotti Why give biscotti when there’s biscotti everywhere? Because these are light and crispy, and don’t resemble those other sticks that double as dog biscuits. The newest offering from the woman who started the biscotti craze back in the day, Bonnie Tempesta bakes these in a small kitchen in Sonoma County. 5% of proceeds go to Share our Strength and animal rescue.

Photobooth fun.

Ruche: Photobooth Dogs It’s time to stop trying to ignore the future mother-in-law’s obsession with her “charming” little “puppy.” Just give in, and let the fun begin.

Sweet tart.

Sassafras Foods: Strawberry Meyer Lemon Jam A kick of tartness in this strawberry jam keeps your mother-in-law from noticing you’re trying to get her to sweeten up a bit. Bonus: meyer lemons are so much classier than regular lemons. This woman will know that.

From the

person with superlative taste

the craft of modern design


The Handful of Salt Quarterly. Available in January 2013, we’ll be happy to send you or your lucky friend a special card in time for the holiday season, and then the journal, also gift-wrapped, in January. At $22, it’s a steal. In fact, we encourage you to give them to ALL your friends! Here’s where to buy.

Handful of Salt Holiday Guide 2012  

All things artisanal for a great holiday, from the team at Handful of Salt

Handful of Salt Holiday Guide 2012  

All things artisanal for a great holiday, from the team at Handful of Salt