You know all the familiar places for shopping — Old Pasadena, the Playhouse District, South Lake Avenue, South Pasadena’s Mission Street, Paseo Colorado, Americana at Brand, Glendale Galleria, Eagle Rock Plaza and Arcadia’s Westridge Shopping Mall — and you should visit them to find the special gifts you’re looking for before, during and after Christmas.
If you want to miss the crowds try late-night cruising into some local malls. A number of shops in the Glendale Galleria have extended hours for Thanksgiving (6 p.m. to midnight) and Black Friday (6 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Check the stores you’re interested in (glendalegalleria.com/en/visit/holiday-hours/) to be sure. Sometimes the last hour is the best time to find parking and to admire the special holiday decor. The Galleria has a special pet night on Mondays through Dec. 17 for people hoping to get pictures of their pets with Santa. Thursdays are ugly sweater days with Santa.
Take advantage of special events like South Lake Avenue’s Holidayfest (Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1), which includes live music performances (The Jacks, Maggie Szabo and La Santa Cecilia), a scavenger hunt, holiday crafts for kids, horse and carriage rides.
The Pasadena Playhouse District will have free holiday concerts on Fridays with complimentary coffee or hot chocolate (playhousedistrict.org). Vroman’s Bookstore hosts a few special holiday events, including the 13th annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party (Dec. 8), holiday story times and holiday glass etching (vromansbookstore.com).
Learn a little bit about Filipino culture when the Eagle Rock Plaza has a Holiday Paról Craft Workshop from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8. The paról is a star-shaped lantern that is displayed hanging outside the home during the holidays and is an iconic symbol of Filipino culture.
In Old Pasadena, you can have breakfast at Tiffany’s or pick up the latest iPhone or Mac accessory. You can also get a cup of tea. Chado Tea Room isn’t just a place to relax, but also to buy a variety of top-quality teas. Have a friend who smokes stogies? Try Cigars by Chivas.
Out on the Boulevard, you don’t have to be mad to love hats, and Goorin Bros. has everything from baseball caps and cloches to fedoras for men, women and kids.
Got a friend with a travel bug? Distant Lands Bookstore and Outfitter on South Raymond Avenue is the place for you. Have a steampunk friend? Gold Bug on Holly Street has just what you are looking for.
If you want to celebrate the old, go antiquing! Try the Pasadena Antique Mall in Paseo Colorado, or the Pasadena Antique Center at 480 S. Fair Oaks Ave, for fantastic retro or antique finds. From costume and fine jewelry to books, furniture and clothing, one never knows what they’ll find, but you’ll have to grab it before someone else does.
For more specialized needs, if you have a friend who loves dinosaurs, drop by The Dinosaur Farm in South Pasadena (1510 Mission St.). What room couldn’t use a dinosaur inflatable? There’s even a dinosaur train. And for kids, there are educational books and clothing to declare their dino love. Everyone has to drink, and if you’re off of liquor or want something more kiddy-friendly, then try Galco’s Soda Pop Stop (sodapopstop.com). Galco offers 45 brews and sarsaparillas, 65 classics, 41 ginger beers and ales and 106 imports. Some are even waitlisted. Galco’s also has alcohol and old-time candies, but where else can you create your own soda? The Creation Station offers traditional as well as unusual (lime, guava) and seasonal (pumpkin or cranberry) flavors.
Want to get away from the crowds? Try the gift shops of our local museums: Norton Simon, Huntington Library, Gamble House or the newly reopened USC Pacific Asia Museum. Norton Simon has great puzzles and coloring books and art-related games. The Huntington Library has its own signature line of items, especially for Blue Boy and Pinky. All have educational books.
On the smaller side are the gift shops at the Pasadena Museum of History (pasadenahistory.org) in Pasadena and the Creative Arts Group Gallery (creativeartsgroup.org) in Sierra Madre (108 N. Baldwin Ave., Sierra Madre). Both feature local artists and the proceeds go toward the nonprofit organizations.
Giving is better than receiving, with a certain joy involved in finding the right gift. Happy shopping.