Shop like a Scrooge

Last-minute shopping strategies for humbugs experiencing a change of heart
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deborah@sfbg.com

As soon as Black Friday came, you reflexively started rocking back and forth, chanting, "No, no, no," in order to drown out the concert of ho, ho, hos blaring from malls and gift shops across town. The shopping frenzy that occurs between Thanksgiving and Christmas brings you down faster than a kid-wet Santa. Until, in a moment of weakness, at the 11th hour, you decide it's a wonderful life after all and you want to partake in the joy of giving. So how are you going to round up a sack of gifts before it's too late to avoid the bitter loneliness of being a Scrooge? Don't worry — lots of places are open on Christmas Eve, and a few on Christmas Day. Follow one of these strategies and you won't even feel like you're Christmas shopping, or trying to cram it all in last minute.

Hit the corner store

I'm not suggesting you get your loved ones cancer sticks and a bottle of Night Train for the yuletide, though for some, booze and smokes might be at the top of the list. Still, if you're in a bind, you can always buy a bottle of top-shelf liquor. Personally, I'm a Jameson's girl. Less embittered individuals might prefer Yellowtail's celebrated Shiraz, while sober friends might appreciate a handful of Lotto tickets. Any of these are available at your convenience store just around the corner. But when seeking out the finer things in life, try these gourmet mini-marts:

26TH AND GUERRERO MARKET

Organic fruits, fresh flowers, imported sparkling wines like Prasecco, and fancy chocolates will help you throw together an assortment of decadent gift baskets for all of your peeps.

1400 Guerrero, SF. (415) 282-6247, 26thandguerreromarket.com. Open Christmas Eve, 8 a.m.–9 p.m. Closed Christmas Day.

HEALTHY SPIRITS

Your gift recipient will think you special-ordered the rare Belgian beer from Europe, but all you had to do was grab it on the go at this top-shelf Castro District liquor dispensary.

2299 15th St., SF. (415) 255-0610. Open Christmas Eve until 6 p.m. and Christmas Day, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

ARLEQUIN WINE MERCHANT

The first step is admitting it: all of your friends are winos. The next step is popping over to this classy Hayes Valley cellar for vintages in all varieties and prices.

384 Hayes, SF. (415) 863-1104, www.arlequinwine.com. Open Christmas Eve, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.

Resort to the Internet

The road to Scroogeland is often paved with the best of intentions: last year you vowed not to fill your shopping cart at the megachain stores. Of course, they're the only ones that will ship your product overnight if you buy online, but you can PayPal these purchases on Christmas Day and still make it look like you thought of them months ago.

SF BALLET

It doesn't matter if you give tickets to a ballet fan or someone who has never been. The 2008 season has many exciting things in store, such as a new-works series that will debut pieces by Mark Morris and Paul Taylor.

www.sfballet.org

GLOBAL EXCHANGE FAIR TRADE STORE

Buy a 2008 Peace Calendar from this international human rights organization. No one needs one for another week anyway. Or make a donation in the name of your loved one for any amount. They get the tax deduction, you get the easy way out, and the world gets a little better.
www.globalexchange.org

KQED WINE CLUB

Worsening the pressure of the holiday shopping season is the nonstop guilt trip of public television subscription drives.

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