Eleventh-hour shopping

The Guardian's last-minute gift guide

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Some years, you've got it all together. You finished your holiday shopping by Thanksgiving, decorated your tree before most people got around to buying one, and finished the prep for your Christmas Eve dinner a full 12 hours before you needed to start cooking. But this is not that year. Whatever the reason — extra-long hours at work (or perhaps extra-tall glasses of nog) — the holidays seem to have crept up on you this season. Now you're only days away from the big gift-exchange bonanza and you have yet to acquire anything to give. Don't fret! You don't have to show up empty-handed or, worse, with a haphazard assortment of "gifts" pulled from the aisles of the 24-hour grocery store on the way to your mom's house. We've compiled a list of shopping destinations that are open Christmas Eve (and, in rare cases, on Christmas Day) with offerings that don't scream "last resort." As for not getting so drunk at dinner that you tell your brother what you really think of his wife? For that, you're on your own.

BEAT MUSEUM

Nothing says "San Francisco" like a classic beat-era beret, Charles Bukowski poster, or limited-edition Grateful Dead autograph. Get 'em all at this North Beach locale.

540 Broadway, SF. Christmas Eve, 10 am.–7 p.m.; (415) 399-9626, www.kerouac.com

CLIFF'S VARIETY

At this Castro District hardware store, you'll find everything from nuts and bolts to napkin rings and boas.

479 Castro, SF. Christmas Eve, 8:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m.; (415) 431-5365; www.cliffsvariety.com

COLLAGE GALLERY

Delisa Sage is owner and curator of this charming Potrero Hill shop, which features a mix of vintage and locally-made items with a focus on female designers and handmade objects.

1345 18th St., SF. Christmas Eve, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. (415) 282-4401, www.collage-gallery.com

COMMUNITY THRIFT

Known for reasonable prices, good organization, and a diverse selection of used and vintage items, this Mission District second-hand store also is beloved for donating proceeds to a roster of more than 200 local nonprofits. Also? The $1 rack. 'Nuff said. (Rather than regifting, why not donate your castoffs here?)

623 Valencia, SF. Christmas Eve, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.; (415) 861-4910, www.communitythriftsf.org

CURRENTS

The perfect spot for soaps, aromatherapy products, and adorable bath-time accessories for adults (novelty hot water bottles shaped like fish!) and kids (terry-cloth slippers shaped like little pigs!), this Valencia boutique also stocks a variety of packaged options for fast, easy selection.

911 Valencia, SF. Christmas Eve, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; (415) 648-2015, www.currentssf.com

EMBARCADERO CENTER

Though we usually try to stay away from anything resembling a mall this time of year, we can't help but want to support the local businesses that have outposts at Embarcadero Center, especially Ambassador Toys, the SF institution famous for its creative and well-made toys, and On the Fly, where you can spoil the man in your life with T-shirts, shaving sets, and cufflinks.

FABRIC8

Possibly the coolest shop in the Mission District, Fabric8 specializes in unusual gifts made and designed by local artists.

3318 22nd St., SF. Christmas Eve, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; (415) 647-5888, www.fabric8.com

HEARTFELT

You'll find just about anything under the exposed beams of this Bernal Heights store: picture frames, stationery, organic cotton baby jumpers, candles, and much more.

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