No time like the present for last-minute gift purchases

Courtesy photoPlaymobil toys are available at Ambassador Toys

Courtesy photoPlaymobil toys are available at Ambassador Toys

Here are some easy-to-purchase gift ideas for procrastinators’ holiday shopping lists.

Playmobil toys

$7.50 and up

Playmobil makes great toys for stimulating children’s imaginations. Sets such as Ghost Pirates, Dragon Land, Pony Ranch, African Wild Life, Construction and Knights are fun, but so are individual figurines, including a Roman and his horse for $7.50. [Ambassador Toys, 186 West Portal Ave., S.F.,]

Amoeba Music gift certificate

Can’t decide what to buy for the music and movie nerd friends on your list? Let them choose from one of the few remaining independent music stores in the world (and the largest) — Ameoba Music. With online offerings and shops in Berkeley and San Francisco, there are plenty of purchasing options. []

Playing cards


Playing cards — replicas of a deck from the 16th century — make a fantastic stocking stuffer and provide entertainment for all ages during the long winter months. [The Pirate Store, 826 Valencia St., S.F.,]

Knock Knock stationery

$3.50 and up

Knock Knock is a company with a mischievous sense of humor. Office stamps and sticky notes that say “Deal With This” and “WTF” will brighten up anyone’s cubicle. [Cliff’s Variety, 479 Castro St., S.F., or]

Variegated thread


Bell’occhio, a boutique known for its exquisite assortment of European ribbon, thread and boxes, also sells stationery and calligraphy goodies, often hand-plucked from Paris flea markets. These spools of French variegated thread are as beautiful to look at as they are to use. One visit to the shop will provide items to fill many stockings. [Bell’occhio, 10 Brady St., S.F.,]

‘Vivian Maier: Street Photographer’


A Chicago nanny named Vivian Maier died in 2009, leaving behind buckets of undeveloped negatives, which were purchased and developed on a whim by John Maloof. Her oeuvre is the subject of a photography exhibit, and its catalog, which has become the coffee table book of the season. [The Booksmith, 1644  Haight St., S.F.,]

Peet’s Coffee


Peet’s Coffee just released two new medium roast blends: Café Domingo, mixing three Latin American coffees with toffee notes; and the fruity-floral Café Solano, which incorporates beans from Africa, the Indo-Pacific and Latin America. Peet’s also offers its 26th annual Holiday Blend, a mix of the best beans of the year. Gift packages and gift cards are available online or in-store. []

Melvita organic cosmetics

$8 and up

Beekeeper and biologist Bernard Chevilliat founded Melvita, an organic beauty and skin care line, in France in 1983. Among the high-quality, all-natural products offered are dry-skin treatments, shea butter, facial cleansers, bath and body lotions, essential oils, fragrances, soaps and grooming care for men and children. []

Anne Taintor line


Anne Taintor’s subversive wit — lines such as “Why yes, I am that kind of girl” juxtaposed with vintage images of cheerful, smiling, idealized women — is on display on items including emery boards, mirrors, flasks, calendars, magnets, tote and cosmetic bags, luggage tags, cards and books. The funny remark runs the gamut.

Help Remedies


Offering sleeping pills, pain relievers and bandages, Help Remedies has got the holiday stress load covered. Packaged in snappy pocket-friendly squares with labels like “Help I have a blister” and “Help I have an aching body,” the line — available at Walgreens and Target — provides a healthy dose of humor with viable relief.




Got invited to a last-minute holiday potluck? Not to fear: SusieCakes, the popular Marina bakery, makes classic, all-American desserts in-house from scratch and offers seasonal pumpkin, Southern pecan and apple crumble pies and pumpkin cheesecake for pick-up in the shop or for local delivery. [2109 Chestnut St., S.F., (415) 474-2253,]


Mother of pearl cuff links


Snappy cuff links add a touch of class to the gentleman’s wardrobe. Made of black onyx and mother of pearl with snazzy contrast striping, the links are perfect for black-tie events. [Cable Car Clothiers, 200 Bush St., S.F., (415) 397-4740,]


‘The Ecstasy of Influence’


Jonathan Lethem’s book will appeal to many readers. The novelist known for “Motherless Brooklyn” and “Fortress of Solitude” expounds on pop culture, sex in film, Marlon Brando and more in the entertaining and thought-provoking nonfiction essay collection. [Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building, S.F.,]


Push Button Corkscrew


This foolproof wine opener from the Wine Enthusiast has a see-through chamber, allowing the user to watch the cork be released with the simple press of a button. It comes with a foil cutter that also serves as a stand. []

Deluxe Mini-Hamburger Slider Set


Grill masters can serve up yummy, bite-sized burgers with this kit, which includes a mini-burger press, grilling basket and bun cutter. [Sur La Table, 1 Ferry Building, Suite 37, S.F., or]

Toysmith Brush Robot



Toysmith’s Brush Robots — with the help of AAA batteries, not included — easily cleans away debris, and are easily assembled by children ages 8 and older. They come with a wooden brush, paintbrush, googly eyes, motor and instructions. [Flax Art & Design, 1699 Market St., S.F.,]

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