Tis the season to love thy neighbor and buy loads of presents for said neighbor and sister and mom and dad and cousin and grandma and, shit, I forgot my work was doing a white elephant this year. Bottom line is, as a person who loves the holiday season as much as Santa loves cookies, I, too, get overwhelmed by gift giving.
Sure, you can get a candle from Target that says “I don’t know you at all,” but what’s the fun in that? Good thing Eugene Weekly has you covered with unique present ideas for your equally quirky friends and family. For your dad who keeps reminiscing about when EW published comics, go to Tsunami Books and get him a copy of Emerald City by Jesse Springer filled with ’90s comics that used to run in the Weekly. And if you’re still scratching your head wondering what locally made, ethically sourced gift you can get for that special someone in your life, try a subscription to Eugene Weekly — it’s truly the gift that keeps on giving. Just drop us a note at Office@EugeneWeekly.com, or call 541-484-0519.
What to get your friend in an indie rock band (they’re gonna blow up any day now)
Let’s face it. Your friend who is in that indie rock band is probably still using a cheap Roland Cube amp that sounds like a washing machine on a good day. Is it loud enough? No. Does it sound good? Of course not. Maybe the nostalgia from 2012 is what is keeping them from replacing this amp. The good news is that McKenzie River Music has your friend covered.
Ask your friend’s bass player to pitch in from their house show money and get them a Fender “Tone Master” Twin Reverb (more than $1,000 new, but a couple hundred dollars cheaper used at McKenzie). The Twin Reverb combines classic tones with modern functions such as a USB cable for firmware updates, onboard tremolo and reverb, and a custom Jensen N-12K Neo speaker. To top it all off, the Tone Master is made of solid pine, making it light and easy to move around between shows and your friend’s Camry’s trunk. With 85 watts of power your friend will actually have some powerful and beautiful tone, and they will hopefully get you back with some free beer and a ticket to their next show. — Josiah Pensado
McKenzie River Music is located at 455 W. 11th Ave. For more information go to McKenzieRiverMusic.com or call 541-343-9482.
A gift for your neighbor’s white elephant party
No one actually wants to receive a candle or a throw blanket at a white elephant gift exchange. No, people want something unique, like a robotic cat. The Joy for All Companion Pet Cat is suitable for all ages, 5 to 105, so whether it’s the child who’s always playing in the street or the elderly couple living on the corner, this gift could truly be given to any neighbor.
I’ll admit, my introduction to Tumble Dry Low, Eugene Weekly’s new robotic orange tabby, was a bit rocky. Having grown up around cats throughout my childhood, I was initially disturbed by what I call the robotic structure’s “rigor mortis vibe.” However, after a good laugh and the knowledge that I am not the cat’s original target audience — seniors with dementia — Tumble Dry Low, what we are calling our new robotic friend, became a welcome addition to the team. After a slow introductory period, living cats, too, will get over the uncanny valley effect that these robotic felines have.
If you know your neighbors aren’t one for the sounds of robotic blinking, uncomfortably human-esque “meows” and genuinely comforting cat purrs, you can always stop by Eugene Toy & Hobby to pick up a 10-inch Cozy Cat for $23.95. However, if your neighbors love that odd mixture of noises, but you’d rather not spend the $124.99 that these robotic companions cost, you can gift your neighbor a free Eugene Public Library card and direct them towards the Library of Things collection to check out one of the library’s three available felines. — Emma J Nelson
Eugene Toy & Hobby is located at 32 E. 11th Ave., or order online at EugeneToyandHobby.com Call 541-682-5450 or visit the Eugene Public Library in person to get a library card.
Buying for your mom who got into baking bread during the 2020 lockdown and hasn’t stopped since
History books won’t be able to tell you who tossed the first loaf of sourdough bread in the oven in March 2020. When many of us went back to our usual coping mechanisms of going to the bar and the gym after COVID lockdowns, real bread bakers stayed home. For those bakers or just people in your life who genuinely love hosting dinner parties (they are real), I suggest you wander through the aisles of Provisions Market Hall for the perfect food related present.
Provisions is a speciality food store lover’s safe haven. Truffle oils, bags of hand-cut pasta, mason jars of vegetables you didn’t realize could be pickled, tinned fish cookbooks; just to paint a picture. My mother may not have been bitten by the bread-making bug in 2020, but she is an adventurous home-cook who would find the Oregon-made Sugarpine Honey Hot Fudge irresistible. From Ferrum Reserve knife sets to speciality Italian flour; that person in your life who thinks they’re Jeremy Allen White in The Bear will eat it up. — Emerson Brady
You can visit Provisions Market Hall at 296 E. 5th Ave. or Provisions South at 747 E. 32nd Ave. For more information go to ProvisionsMarketHall.com or call 541-606-4563.
What to get your uncle who just got back from another backpacking trip
Your retired uncle won’t stop talking about his backpacking trips: Sisters, Smith Rock, Mount Hood. It seems like he goes backpacking every weekend. Whenever he comes back, he talks about all the animals he sees, the characters he meets and the sunsets that not even Michelangelo could do justice to.
Every Christmas he always asks for new backpacks, socks and stoves, but now it seems like he has more than enough to do with. Why not get him a poster ($28) and coaster ($14) made by Ian Petersen with the map of his last trip? Throw in a Reusegear beer koozie ($18) and you’re set. Petersen is a cartographer who makes maps of your trips and adventures and local small business Reusegear makes bags from worn out clothing and camping gear. Your uncle can show off his 60-mile hike on his poster and coaster while his beer koozie keeps his Ninkasi beer ice cold. — Josiah Pensado
You can find these items at Eugene Gear Traders at 505 Willamette St., Suite 110. For more information go to EugeneGearTraders.com or call 541-515-6764.
Shopping for a niece or nephew who is too old for ‘baby toys’ but still plays with Legos
It’s not easy finding a gift for a kiddo who’s on the threshold of moving from a childlike to an adolescent individual. Toys at this point seem arbitrary, another object to grab that they’ll ignore in a few months. But what if you don’t get them a toy and focus their attention on something more substantial, like a fish? Now hear me out. As weird as this sounds, a pet like this can bring different qualities to a young person’s life. It teaches them responsibility knowing that they have to feed “Jaws” (just a suggested name for the fish), clean its bowl and maintain a safe environment. It also brings companionship, a way for your kid to connect with something that’s alive and that they’re keeping alive.
My suggestion is to go with a Siamese fighting fish, or a Betta fish. They have a unique appearance, coming in all different colors, from black to red coppers, royal lavender to turquoise; all vibrant with long fins. They require the perfect amount of upkeep for a kid on the brink of letting go of their toys, and these fish have a life expectancy of 2 to 5 years that they’ll remember for a long time. So long as you feed it twice a day, clean its bowl regularly and give it some TLC, you’ll have a gift worth with its value.
These fish can be found in most locations throughout Eugene, but I recommend Pisces Aquaria in the Whiteaker. Prices range from $8 to $40, depending on the colors and type of Betta fish. — Melvin Bravo
You can visit Pisces Aquaria at 980 W. 5th Ave. For more information go to PiscesAquaria.square.site or call 541-600-4124.
Find your grandma the perfect gift from a jewelry creator in town
As the holiday season approaches, if the question on all of our minds is, “What are we going to get grandma for Christmas because she only wants locally made jewelry?” then you’re in luck. Christine L. Sundt has you covered. She has been crafting since before her first show in 1996. After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago and her master’s at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Sundt moved to Eugene in 1985 with her husband. In Eugene, she took classes at the University of Oregon’s craft center and worked with Max Nixon, one of the founders of the jewelry program at UO. Fast forward to the present, she gets into the creative spirit in the night, when she turns “on a different part of her brain,” goes into her home studio and creates different pieces of jewelry, she says. She sifts through various items to find unique compositions. “My idea of working with material is to look for pieces that are different to look for,” Sundt says. “A piece of turquoise that has its own kind of DNA in it. And I like to work with pearls that maybe are not the finest, most expensive, roundest or purest, but have some kind of feature on it, like maybe a spot or flange or something that identifies it as unique.”
Her pieces come together on their own without preconceived ideas and recalls advice she heard on Julia Child’s cooking show where Child’s said “never tell your guests your intentions.” From brooches, earrings and neckpieces to several other options, there’s something for everyone. So if you’re seeking gift ideas for your loved ones who treasure local jewelry pieces, shop Sundt’s collection. — Brianna Murschel
Shop Christine L. Sundt’s jewelry at CLSJewelry.com.
What to get your animal-loving aunt who is obsessed with her pet lizard and hamster and that ugly field mouse she rescued
Many people give their hearts and open their homes to dogs, cats and horses; some of us, though, don’t have room in their lives for enormous quadrupeds. Decades ago, when our son was young, I followed through on a longtime wish and bought him (and me) an Uncle Milton Ant Farm, which was sold in those days at Eugene Toy & Hobby. The classic kitschy toy was created by entrepreneur Milton Martin Levine in 1956, marketed in the back of comic books, and has been in continuous production ever since. Ours came with a coupon for 25 live ants, shipped from Uncle Milton himself; they arrived in the mail in a few days.
The “farm” is a small, thin terrarium, which you load with sand — which is supplied — before gently sprinkling in the ants and sealing the hatch. You then spend the next days and weeks observing these industrious critters build an intricate network of tunnels, each ant carrying grains of sand like boulders to the surface. Watching them can be as hypnotic as sitting in front of an aquarium full of fish, but much less expensive.
Alas, with no queen to replenish the population, the colony gradually dies off, the live ants carrying their dead comrades one by one to the surface. Levine himself died in 2001 at the age of 97, having sold 20 million ant farms.
You can buy Uncle Milton Ant Farms online from a variety of sellers, including eBay, for around $10 to $20. Eugene Toy & Hobby no longer stocks it, as live ants can no longer legally be shipped to Oregon. That means you’ll have to find your own ant hill and seek volunteers for what, to an ant, amounts to a one-way Mars mission. — Bob Keefer