Visit Oakland asked community leaders and partners in The Town to share their holiday gift recommendations. Since we always Think Oakland First – this wonderful group was more than happy to offer suggestions to support The Town’s entrepreneurial spirit and celebrate our Oakland businesses. Their unique mix of ideas are truly representative of Oakland’s diverse offerings and celebrated culture. One thing is for certain – they all love Oakland and are proud to keep it local!
Enjoy these holiday shopping tips and gift suggestions direct from some of the amazing people who make The Town great! Happy holidays!
- Aliza Gallo, Oakland Business Owner, Gallo Advantage Consulting
- Barbara Leslie, President and CEO, Oakland Chamber of Commerce
- Carl Chan, President, Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce
- Carole Manning-Kim, Director of Sales, Visit Oakland
- Carolyn Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, Black Cultural Zone CDC
- Cathy D. Adams, President and CEO, Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce
- Dhruv Patel, President, Ridgemont Hospitality Inc
- Jobina Fortson-Evans, News Anchor at ABC7 News
- Sean Sullivan, Owner, The Port Bar and Founder & Co-Chair, Pridefest Oakland
- Thomas Cavanagh, Executive Director / Producer for BANDALOOP
Aliza Gallo, Oakland Business Owner, Gallo Advantage Consulting
I’ve been a proud resident of Oakland for the past 42 years, raised family of four outstanding individuals with my husband of 40 years, Noel Gallo. I have served the Oakland community for 28 years with the City of Oakland Office of Economic Development and formed my consulting business three years ago. During the holidays I enjoy spending time with family and friends, making tamales, all ingredients purchased at Oakland Fruitvale grocery markets. I enjoy shopping and walking in Oakland’s neighborhood districts and experiencing the cultural market events.
You asked me to name my top three gifts - I cannot just name three! Here are a few of my favorite Oakland gift suggestions:
Oaklandish and Beast Oakland for Oakland clothing. Each store has a unique style, and I am very proud to wear their Oakland gear everywhere and give their wear as presents. They are always a hit! Their stores carry many Oakland-inspired gifts.
Oakland Restaurant Gift Certificates are fun to give for gifts! Where but in Oakland can I give my friends and family – enjoyable, savory Oakland cuisine from Wahpepah’s Kitchen Native American restaurant, La Perla Puerto Rican Restaurant, Agave Uptown Restaurant, or the Korner Kitchen & Bar for garlic noodles and Asian/Latinx inspired cocktails.
e14Gallery in Old Oakland. They always have a variety of quality and unique Oakland- made artisan gifts, clothing, jewelry, creams, and books - all by Oakland artisans, many of whom are Oakland indigenous or people of color.
Barbara Leslie, President and CEO, Oakland Chamber of Commerce
I’ve been in Oakland for 30 years. My favorite holiday experiences include Glowfari at the Oakland Zoo, the lights at the Mormon Temple and Picardy Lane, and the Oakland Symphony Holiday performance - Let Us Break Bread Together. My favorite Oakland gifts to give are:
Oakland Tree Necklace sold by Oaklandish and Phillipa Roberts Jewelry. All proceeds go to Community Kitchens Oakland, the Alameda County Food Bank, and The East Oakland Collective.
Anything from Oaktown Spice Company. They offer quality, organically-sourced spices – that even make my cooking delicious!
Shane Donahue Art. His work is all through our home, a reminder of our beautiful city and its iconic locations.
Carl Chan, President, Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce
I have been working and involved with our Oakland community for more than 45 years. I love the holidays in The Town – especially the celebration of Lunar New Year in Chinatown and the Lunar New Year Bazaar hosted by the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce that takes place in January. This year the event happens on January 7 & 8, 2023. My favorite Oakland gifts are:
Items from Oaklandish - I love the stylish clothing and the unique gift items at Oaklandish which is the brand for City of Oakland.
Barbecue Sauce from Everett & Jones. You have to try the barbecue ribs by Everett & Jones. I love the hot sauce—try it if you can handle the heat! It makes a great gift, and you can always add a gift card to the restaurant too!
Chinatown Market Gifts - I always enjoy getting a boba tea while doing some sidewalk grocery shopping in Chinatown. There are all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables you may not find anywhere else. Put them together in a basket with a few other amazing Chinatown finds and you have a very special gift that celebrates the wonderful Chinatown culture of Oakland. I also like to give gift cards to Sakura Bistro which serves both Japanese sushi and spicy Szechuan food in Chinatown.
Carole Manning-Kim, Director of Sales, Visit Oakland
I have been working in the Oakland community for 8 years. My favorite holiday experience is shopping in our neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has it’s own unique personality and décor. The individuality of our neighborhoods is one of the many things that makes Oakland so special. Some of my favorite Oakland holiday gifts are:
Sweet July – The signature candles from Sweet July are amazing! Made of soy and poured in cement vessels, they come in many wonderful scents and make a perfect holiday gift.
Nathan & Company – Located on Piedmont Avenue, the store features all sorts of fabulous gifts, trinkets, bath and body items. I love everything in the store but one of my favorite gifts is the Amanda with Sunflower paint-by-numbers kit. It is a really fun, unexpected gift that everyone will enjoy.
Bella Vita – Shopping in Rockridge is always a great experience – particularly during the holidays and Bella Vita is. I love to give the gift of a book – and the ABC Oakland Book by Michael Wertz is fun, educational and signature Oakland!I
If you're looking for an extra special gift for someone - Dorian Webb makes gorgeous jewelry. She has pieces already created or you can work with her on a custom design. Anything from Dorian Webb is a gift one will treasure forever.
Carolyn Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, Black Cultural Zone CDC
I was born and raised in Oakland, California. My favorite holiday traditions in Oakland are attending the Tree Lighting Ceremonies at Jack London Square and Liberation Park. My top three Oakland-made, or found only-in-Oakland, gifts are:
Best of AKOMA Market Quarterly Subscription Boxes. They are now available for those who want all of the AKOMA goodies - jewelry, candles, and personal care products that you have come to love from our AKOMA Market Vendors. I like this because you can now receive these products conveniently at home while supporting our vendors as they grow.
Items from Queen Hippie Gypsy. This is the first Black-Owned Crystal Botanica with prayer candles, bath salts, herbs, jewelry, AND an event space where workshops and classes take place.
Clothes from the Taylor Jay Collection. Her clothes are stylish, and beautiful, and fit a range of body types. They are very versatile.
Cathy D. Adams, President and CEO, Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce
I have lived in Oakland for nearly 39 years. I start the holidays by going to Jack London Square for the official Tree Lighting. I also love going to see the Oakland Nutcracker, it puts me in the holiday mood. My top three Oakland gifts are:
Clothes from Taylor Jay Collection. The clothes work for any special occasion. I still wear my red jumpsuit every holiday!
Anything from Love Iquehi. They have wonderful African attire and nice gifts, purses, head wraps and other clothing items that are beautiful and very comfortable.
Items from Proper Fashions. They have great clothes and small gifts good for any holiday - including candles, jewelry, hats, coats, t-shirts, shoes and more. They now carry men’s clothing so it really can be one-stop-shopping. It is easy to find something for everyone!
Dhruv Patel, President, Ridgemont Hospitality Inc
I have lived/worked in Oakland for 36 years. During the holidays, I love getting together with good friends from Bishop O Dowd High School the night before Thanksgiving at McNally’s Irish Pub on College Avenue. It is our official start to the holiday season. My top three Oakland gifts are:
Blue Bottle Coffee. They started in Oakland, so I love giving gift certificates or coffee gift items from Blue Bottle Coffee to my friends and family.
Numi Tea. The company was founded in 1999 in Oakland, by brother and sister Ahmed Rahim and Reem Hassani. Numi Tea's vision is to share the transformative, healing power of tea with the world. It is great to share a gift with purpose – it is always appreciated by the person receiving the gift and the person giving it.
Anything from the Mischief. They are a family-owned business in the Oakland Laurel District that carries unique gifts from 125+ Bay Area makers. They also offer a variety of creative workshops for people who love to make things on their own.
Jobina Fortson-Evans, News Anchor at ABC7 News
I’ve lived in Oakland for 4 years and love it. The holidays would not be complete without getting pies and sweet treats from Gregory’s Gourmet Desserts. If you like apples, you’ve got to try the Uptown! Your taste buds will sing! Some of my favorite Oakland gifts include:
Items from Oaklandish. I’ve purchased really unique shirts, artwork, socks and even fancy water bottles from Oaklandish. The staff is always so nice! An Oaklandish graphic t-shirt is always a good go-to gift. The Oaklandish mission is to spread “local love.” You can tell the moment you walk into the shop.
Bay-Made has some of the best holiday cards and more. The store is located on Lakeshore and is woman- and artist-owned. They exclusively sell local products and artwork. They also ship gift boxes anywhere in the country! I’ve purchased earrings, paper goods, and all sorts of gifts from Bay-Made.
Treasures found at our monthly Oakland First Fridays. It is the perfect place to pick up holiday gifts. One of my favorite local brands, Madow Futur, has a great booth. Their Oakland 1966 bomber is my favorite and I love the mission of the company. On the website it reads, “Each garment is a wearable demand for freedom and equality for all oppressed people. Madow Futur is Black owned and operated from Oakland to the world.”
Sean Sullivan, Owner, The Port Bar and Founder & Co-Chair, Pridefest Oakland
I have been in Oakland for exactly 20 years! My favorite holiday tradition in Oakland is the lighting of the Jack London Holiday Tree. My favorite Oakland gifts to give are:
Gift Certificates to Home of Chicken & Waffles. It is a wonderful Oakland-grown restaurant that represents so much of Oakland & the families that drive it. It also brings people to Jack London Square which more people should take advantage of so I am happy to gift people with gift certificates so they can enjoy mac & cheese, sweet potatoes, as well as food dishes named after family members like Kamala's Collard Greens Chicken Lasagne named after our born in Oakland Vice President.
Gifts from Oakland City Trade at EBALDC's Asian Resource Center. They sell hand-made gifts and accessories (also accessories for pets) with reusable material. Oakland City Trade pivoted from a store that sold lottery tickets, DVDs, and in-language newspapers, to include making their own handmade crafts from recycled materials. Their crafts were so popular they were invited to participate in the Golden State Warrior’s Women-Owned Business Marketplace in San Francisco.
Items from Veranda. This is a newer store on 12th street featuring indoor and outdoor home goods that are perfect gifts for the holidays. They also offer unique classes like Wreath Making that make this new store a great addition to downtown as it pops with new residential towers and new tenants in need of the perfect home accents.
Thomas Cavanagh, Executive Director / Producer for BANDALOOP
I have worked in Oakland for BANDALOOP since 1998 and living exclusively in Oakland since 2011 in all parts from West Oakland to Jack London to Rockridge. A few of my favorite seasonal experiences include; Winter Solstice sunrise calm water paddling, launching out into the bay from Oakland's inner harbor; Oakland Zoo’s Glowfari; Oakland Symphony’s Let Us Break Bread Together Holiday Concert and not least of all, signature cocktails and hi-fidelity at Bar Shiru, although that is a quality share in any season. My top three Hecho en Oakland gift ideas are:
Something from Umami Mart on Broadway. Go inside, taste some Sake and shop for artesian gifts in style.
Anything from Oaklandish. Everyone wants some Oakland threads and this is the way to bring attention to The Town.
A living gift from the Oakland Flower Market. I am not so into stuff, so giving the gift of flowers, ideally the Orchids that the flower market carries…is a great way to go.