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North Bay residents give up the goods on gift giving



Last week, we gave you Jessie Janssen's well-chosen gift guide. This week we crowdsource gift ideas by leaning on a handful of North Bay locals. If you can't find a few gift ideas between these two issues, we can't help you. You're on your own. —the Bohemian elves

Carol Noack is the director of communications at the Raven, in charge of marketing for the theater in Healdsburg and the new space in Windsor. She is also the producer and director of the popular Mr. Healdsburg event. This weekend, the Raven Theater in Windsor debuts its family-friendly holiday musical 'The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,' running Dec. 5–21.

One of my favorite spots is the Healdsburg Center for the Arts (130 Plaza St., Healdsburg; 707.431.1970), especially at Christmastime. They feature smaller works perfect for the holidays, and there's high-end pottery and glass and such. The artists also make their own stationery, if you're interested.

For more unusual items, I go to Options Gallery (126 Matheson St.; 707.431.8861) in Healdsburg. They have exclusive contracts with their artists, meaning that what you find there cannot be found anywhere else for many miles. I also like to give food gift sets, and for all my local food I shop at Oakville Grocery (124 Matheson St., Healdsburg: 707.433.3200). They work with local farmers and producers and they have great gift packages that I get for family and friends.

Michael Houghton is a graphic designer, who just so happens to have designed this week's cover. His shirts and artwork can be found at On Dec. 20, Houghton hosts Nostalgia Fest, with several former favorite North Bay bands reuniting for one special show, at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma. Here are his picks for holiday shopping.

Criminal Baking Co. & Noshery (463 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa; 707.992.5661) makes ridiculously tasty treats. Nearly everything is made on-site, and there are all kinds of gluten-free items—great for taking to a party or bringing a little basket of yummies as a gift. And they do gift certificates. Plus, you can hang out and get yourself an excellent meal there while you're shopping.

Bee Kind (921 Gravenstein Hwy. S., Sebastopol; 707.824.2905) just smells amazing when you step through the door—all kinds of local honey, and shelves and shelves of beeswax candles in all sorts of super-fancy shapes. Beeswax candles are really good for cleaning out the air when you burn them, and they smell so comforting.

Little Luma (500 First St., Petaluma; 707.658.1940) is a children's clothes and toy store that stocks work from lots of local artist and craftspeople (full disclosure: they carry my shirts too), and their toys are beautiful and well-designed, and center around learning. There's a really bright and happy feel to the store, and you can tell they really love what they do.

We get our CSA box from Laguna Farms (1764 Cooper Road, Sebastopol; 707.823.0823), which basically means we get two overstuffed bags' worth of farmers market–quality veggies and fruits every week for $27. You could give someone a huge gift of health for the year, and buy them a subscription, or just get them hooked with the local produce from a gift basket. Or you could get yourself a special order for cooking holiday meals. There's quite a few other CSAs in Sonoma County too.

Bennett Valley Gardens (2780 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa; 707.569.8624) is a cute little garden center with all kinds of plants. In the springtime, they're the only place I can find some of the odd and rare plants I like to get, like Mexican oregano. They also have a weird and wonderful selection of succulents, which make great gifts for people who may not have the greenest of thumbs but who can appreciate having a Seussian plant-beast to sit on their windowsill.

I've got some relatives who love beer and are super-jealous of all of our local nationally known breweries. I think they'd love to get a selection of small brewery's beers, a Lagunitas T-shirt or jacket, or a package of Pliny from Russian River.


Made Local Marketplace (531 Fifth St, Santa Rosa; 707.583.7667) is a super-cute shop with a pretty wide variety of products, all made by local folks. Really homey and friendly on the inside—it's guaranteed that most of the things there are hand-made and not likely to be available anywhere else.

There's nothing like the smell of real books. No matter how convenient the Kindle is, it just doesn't replace the sensual experience. I'm always trying to push my favorite books on people, and especially with gift buying, I try to keep my money local, from Copperfield's ( and Treehorn Books (625 Fourth St., Santa Rosa; 707.525.1782).


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