Life and Arts holiday gift guide


Name: Jasmin Carina Castanon
Gift: bucket of gourmet popcorn from Cornucopia
For: friends or family who like to snack and don’t have braces
Price: $20-90
Where: Cornucopia, 1914 Guadalupe St. B next to Veggie Heaven
Why: Cornucopia offers more than 30 different flavors of popcorn to choose from and 3-4 flavors per tin so you can accommodate everyone’s popcorn preferences. Whether you enjoy classic flavors or have a sweet tooth and want to try birthday cake or Christmas bark, there’s a popcorn flavor for everyone — it’s a popcorn connoisseur’s paradise.

Name: Robert Starr
Gift: blood
For: people in need
Price: free
Where: The Blood Center of Central Texas, 4300 North Lamar Blvd.
Why: Want to give a gift that costs nothing more than a few minutes of your time but will mean the world to the recipient? Why not blood? The Blood Center of Central Texas won’t let you bag up and wrap your blood to put under the tree of a close friend or family member (yet), but they will make sure that it goes to somebody in need.

Name: Kelly Eisenbarger
Gift:  mushroom kit 
For: wannabe farmer friends
Price: $20
Where: the Sustainable Food Center Farmers Marketat 400 W. Guadalupe St. on Saturdays and at 5315 Ed Bluestein Blvd. on Tuesdays
Why: 100th Monkey Mushroom Farm offers a grow-your-own gourmet mushroom kit that can be used right on the kitchen counter. Options include shiitake, elm oyster, pink oyster and pioppino mushrooms. The mushrooms are easy to grow, local and sustainable. A personal supply of mushrooms could be great for anyone who loves to cook or wants extremely local food.

Name: Shane Arthur Miller
Gift: Epoch Coffee gift card
For: the caffeine addict in your life
Price: any denomination
Where: Epoch Coffee, 221 W North Loop Blvd.
Why: Everyone has to endure a dreaded all-nighter once in a while and caffeine is sometimes the only way to get through it. Epoch is open 24 hours with free Wi-Fi and has some of the best coffee in town imported from all over the world. They also offer delicious pizza from East Side Pies.

Name: Ricky Stein
Gift: Crosley portable turntable
For: music lovers
Price: $149.95
Where: Breakaway Records, 211 W. North Loop Blvd.
Why: The gift of vinyl is the gift that keeps on giving. With this briefcase-sized record player, you can start a record collection and be spinning them at the party later that night.

Name: Olivia Arena
Gift: box of multiflavored macaroons from Walton’s Fancy and Staple
For: friends or family with a serious sweet tooth
Price: $1.50 per macaroon
Where: Walton’s Fancy and Staple, 609 W. 6th St.
Why: Walton’s Fancy and Staple is an eccentric French-style cafe that makes vibrantly colored macaroons. They are the perfect combination of sweet and crispy. The buttery outside of the cookies melts in your mouth, while the creamy fillings contain just enough punch to flavor the little pastry without overpowering the subtlety of the cookie exterior.

Name: Kelsey McKinney
Gift: classy beer
For: your over 21 compadre
Price: ranges
Where: Austin Independence Brewery, 3913 Todd Lane
Description: Austin’s Independence Brewery has a wealth of great things going for it — taste-testing days, an “Oklahoma Suks” label, as well as being local — but their Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout might be the best gift. Perfect paired with chocolate or vanilla ice cream, this dark stout with robust barley flavors would make a great gift in a wooden six-pack carrier.

Name: Faith Ann Ruszkowski
Gift: Neff cupcake beanie
For: younger siblings or goofy friends
Price: $27.99
Where: Tyler’s
Why: A cupcake beanie is great for anyone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously and gets tired of the drab grays, dark blues and blacks of winter clothing. While not necessary for Texas’s 80 degree winters, this warm, knit hat would be a colorful and sweet mood brightener for a cold weather winter vacation.

Name: Helen Fernandez
Gift: gift card for Rowing Dock rentals
For: outdoorsy and active friends
Price: $15-$200
Where: Rowing Dock, 2418 Stratford Drive
Why: Kayaking on Lady Bird Lake is a great way to get outdoors and experience Austin in a different way. Rowing Dock offers gift cards which gives you access to kayaks, canoes and paddle-boards.

Name: Stuart Railey
Gift: Ariat boots
For: your favorite Texan (or Texas transplant)
Price: $150-$300
Where: Allens, 1522 S. Congress Ave.
Why: Boots are not a fashion bandwagon; they are a lifestyle. This holiday season presents the perfect opportunity to win over someone special with 10 pounds of cowhide. Allens Boots, a local Austin store on South Congress, boasts an expansive collection of name-brand boots to choose from.

Name: Laura Wright
Gift: pre-assembled Gingerbread House
For: anyone and everyone whose heart isn’t three sizes too small
Price: $18.99
Where: Central Market, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd.
Why: Is $19 too much to pay for a pre-assembled gingerbread house? That depends, are you the Grinch?  Assembled in-house at the Central Market bakery and ready to be adorned with candy, these gingerbread houses provide you with an excuse to both buy bulk amounts of seasonal candy and wield an icing gun while drunk on eggnog.

Name: Elizabeth Williams
Gift: Vinca jewelry
For: ladies young and old
Price: $8-$106
Where: or these following Austin locations: Atown, Luxe Apothetique, Creatures Boutique, Leighelana, The Burlap Bag or Solid Gold
Why: Vinca jewelry is an awesome combination of quirky designs like unicorns, mustaches, bears and teeth with precise laser-cut materials like acrylic, wood and leather. This jewelry is both edgy and girly but won’t break the bank.

Name: Bobby Blanchard
Gift: Moleskines
For: students and the aspiring writers in your life
Price: $12-$19
Where: Toy Joy, Book People or
Why: The Moleskine is the way to take notes and be classy and the notebook fits easily in any bag or hand. It is perfect for the college student who is always running late, or the creative type who wants maximum street cred.

Name: Lindsey Cherner
Gift: adopt a pet from the Austin Animal Center
For: anyone who isn’t allergic to pets
Price: $75 adoption fee; this includes the pet being spayed or neutered, vaccinated and it will go home with a collar, tag and microchip.
Where: Austin Animal Center, 7201 Levander Loop
Why: What better gift can any of us give during the holiday season than to give a home to an orphaned pet?

Name: Sarah-Grace Sweeney
Gift: vintage art or photography book
For:  your kind of pretentious friend who likes old things and pretty pictures
Price: $30-$200
Where: South Congress Books
Why: South Congress Books specializes in used books a cut above the others — this is no Half Price Books. There are a plethora of rare, collectible and even out of print books to choose from, but the coffee table art and photography books are extra beautiful. Who doesn’t love a giant picture book?

Name: Hannah Smothers
Gift: all natural, handmade olive oil soap
For: all ages, anyone who enjoys being clean
Price: $5 per bar
Where: or at Lori Strong’s Austin Essentials booth on South Congress every first Thursday
Why: Lori Strong’s handmade olive oil soaps come in a wide array of scents, including manly scents for more masculine gift recipients. The soap is locally made without any artificial additives and is great for helping to combat dry winter skin.

Name: Jorge Corona
Gift: a MoviePass subscription
For: the movie fanatic, an Oscar worthy gift
Price: $49-$359
Why: MoviePass is a national movie theater membership offered in monthly, tri-monthly and yearly installments; it offers unlimited theater access for the term of its purchase. The pass is accepted for regular 2D showings at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar and Ritz, Regal Westgate and Metropolitan, and Tinseltown South, as well as many other theaters around the U.S.

Name: Alexandra Hart
Gift: tickets to Austin Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
For: significant others, parents, me
Price: $12-$72. Student discount tickets for $10 available an hour before the show
Where to buy:
Why: Nothing says Christmastime quite like Tchaikovsky’s classic. Nothing says “I should have stuck with those toddler ballet classes my mom made me go to” quite like seeing pretty ballerinas in whimsical costumes be more talented than you.

Name: Alex Williams
Gift: Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches
for: anyone with taste buds
Price: $5 per sandwich
Where: food truck located at 6th & Waller
Why: It may be December, but until it dips below 80 degrees, it’s still ice cream weather, and Coolhaus is bound to impress with its tailor-made ice cream sandwiches, made from eclectically-flavored cookies and ice cream. Cookie flavors include the traditional snickerdoodle and chocolate chip, not to mention the delicious potato chip & butterscotch, while ice cream flavors ranging from vanilla to chicken and waffles and Maker’s Mark pecan pie make for a wide variety of combinations.

Name: Aleksander Chan
Gift: a premium iPhone case from Kate or Jack Spade
For: your brother or sister in need of a style upgrade
Price: $40
Where: or
Why: Your phone is as much an accessory as a belt or a purse — these luxe cases provide that extra little flair.