Made in Pasadena Gift Guide
'Tis the season for gratitude and gifting. Pasadena is an ideal holiday shopping spot, between the region's mix of major brand retailers, local artisans and independent boutiques and the hassle-free browsing and buying environment with ample, easily accessible public parking and sun-drenched, walkable shopping districts.
Here are 12 Pasadena-centric holiday gift ideas to get you started planning for everyone on your list, from hostess gifts and Hanukkah presents to Christmas stocking stuffers and Winter Solstice treats.
Amara's Venezuelan Hot Chocolate
Amara's is one of Old Pasadena's unique Venezuelan restaurants that serves the best arepas around. While you can't purchase their savory plates, their signature hot cocoa - the "Gran Criollo" dark chocolate blend - is available online. An ode to Spanish style drinking chocolate traditions that flourished in Venezuela during the 18th century. The rich texture, dark-red full body, delicate bitterness, and fruity aroma, will awaken the senses of any chocolate lover. Choose from 1 lb. or 2 lb. options.
Global Teas and Drinks
Have a tea fanatic in your life? Get them a global taste of some of the finest flavors around. Pasadena's Chado Tea Room and Cha Redefine both offer leaves from around the world. Try flavors from floral herbal blends, traditional Chinese teas, Los Angeles blends, black teas, classic English-style breakfast teas, and more. Plus, there are decaffeinated tea options for those who want to watch their intake but still enjoy the experience of tea tasting. Loose leaf and leaf pearls are also available.
Do you have someone in your life that has a sweet tooth? Then Mignon Chocolate is the perfect place to get their holiday gift. They've been crafting artisan chocolate since 1935 that delivers a spectrum of flavor for every discriminating palate. Choose from pre-selected dark chocolate, nutty, white chocolate, fruity, and milk chocolate combinations or build your own box to fully customize it for someone you love. Even down to the placement of eat chocolate piece!
Chefs and pasta lovers in your life will simply fall in love with the artisan crafted pastas from Semolina. Their dried or fresh pasta is handmade right in Pasadena. It is the most flavorful dried pastas you'll ever eat, with the dense chew of the best pastas from Italy. All of Semolina's pastas are extruded through bronze dies, and then slow dried to perfection. Certified organic, and 100% egg and nut free.
Neon Retro Arcade
The Neon Retro Arcade online shop is perfect for gamers and brings back the deepest feelings of 80s childhood nostalgia. Get the classic arcade feel with 8-bit pixelated designs, retro pins, glassware sets, patches, miniature figures, and more. This store is a reminder that it's cool to be a "nerd."
Impress cocktail connoisseurs with a bottle of Stark Spirits, hand-crafted premium spirits made right here in Pasadena. The micro-distillery makes a traditional Aquavit, three types of rum (including California Gold and Silver), Single Malt Whiskeys, Skyline Gin and Sunshine Orange Brandy. Stark Spirits are available at Mission Wine & Spirits (1785 East Washington Boulevard, Pasadena). Bottles start at $4.99 for minis and go up to $60 for the Peated Whiskey.
Grist & Toll Bread Baking Kit
Grist & Toll makes the freshest small-batch, whole grain milled local flour you can get your hands on in the Greater Los Angeles region. Buy individual bags of flours, rye and cornmeal, or go for a gift kit like the Millers' Selections. Their Ultimate Bread Baker box is the perfect starter tool kit with three seasonal flours and recipes, plus a flour sack, a Danish dough whisk, eight-inch banneton and lame for scoring. Prices range from $7 for individual bags, $60 for the Millers' Selection and $100 for the Ultimate kit
The hit natural beauty brand LATHER was born in Pasadena, and you can shop their skin and haircare goods in the Old Pasadena flagship store. Individual products like candles and lavender-scented eye pillows make great stocking stuffers, and the wide array of pampering gift sets include bath bombs, travel essentials and a shaving kit for men. Prices start at $6 for balms and go up to $70 for premium gift sets.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory Swag
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is part of the California Institute of Technology, a Pasadena institution. The JPL online store is full of space-centric swag like t-shirts, hoodies and flight jackets. Aspiring astronauts and rocket scientists will appreciate the collectibles like stuffed animals, commemorative posters, mugs and hats. Prices start at $3.50 for pins and go up to $185 for jackets.
Vroman's Bookstore has everything you could want from a bookstore: a sprawling art, design and architecture section; a well-curated employee-picks wall; large stationery, card & gift sections; a newsstand stocked with even the most obscure of periodicals; and a café run by Pasadena-based coffee roaster Jones Coffee. It's the perfect spot to browse for gifts and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the rest of your holiday shopping.
Duff's Cake Mix Decorating Experience
For the aspiring "Ace of Cakes" maker in your life, look to Food Network star Duff Goldman's DIY dessert design studio, Duff's Cake Mix, in Pasadena. Buy a gift card for a cupcake or cake decorating experience or purchase a kit to-go. Gift certificates start at $40.
Jones Coffee Roasters roasts their Guatemala-sourced beans locally. Buy a bag of beans to perk up any coffee fanatics. Or, even better, get them a six-month or 12-month coffee club subscription for a gift that will keep on giving—subscriptions include two one pound bags of Jones Coffee beans delivered monthly. Bags of freshly roasted coffee beans start at $18 and subscriptions start at $35.
Museum Gift Shop Hop
Museums are known for having eclectic gift shops with wares appealing to artistic and creative types of every age. Whether you have a youngster who would love an enrichment education activity from Kidspace Children's Museum or a culture-loving traveler whose bucket list would be inspired by a gift from USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena's museums offer a plethora of options. Maybe you'd rather shop at the Gamble House's gift shop to find something to inspire the craftsman (or craftswoman) in your life. If that's not what you're looking for, the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens' shop carries a robust assortment of garden themed items, holiday ornaments, elaborate jewelry, home décor, books and art prints based on the collections and exhibitions. Thoughtful gifts for kids and an entire women's rights collection round out the selection. The Norton Simon Museum's gift shop sells books and prints based on current and past exhibitions, along with other treasures including kids' art supplies.
URB-E Wheels Upgrade
If you're in the market for a big ticket item for someone who likes to have the latest technology, consider an URB-E. The Pasadena-based "micro-transit" company makes innovative lightweight, foldable scooter-like vehicles. Considered the world's most compact foldable vehicles, the carbon fiber and aircraft-grade aluminum inventions are the top-rated foldable electric personal transportation devices on the market. See what URB-E is all about at their Pasadena showroom (54 Green Street, Pasadena). Prices start at $1,099 and go upwards of $2,599.