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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Worsening the pressure of the holiday shopping season is the nonstop guilt trip of public television subscription drives. One way to make up for the nature shows you watched without subscribing is to join our local PBS affiliate's wine club.
Be a tourist in your hometown
You can kill two birds with one stone by doing your Christmas shopping while showing your relatives around town. Tourist areas always have lots of places open on holidays.
Chinatown is your one-stop shop for everything, especially for those most quintessential of Christmas gifts: robes and slippers. And many shops there will be open until as late as 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, just as they always are. On Pier 39, where Moms and Dads can't resist going, no matter how much of a trap it is, there are a few shops that sell something more than shot glasses with the Golden Gate Bridge painted on them.
You'll find three full floors of those good-luck cats with raised paws, Buddhas for your spiritually Eastern friends, kimonos and house slippers, and sake sets for your ample heavy-drinking associates at this classic Chinatown store.
616 Grant, SF. (415) 362-5750. Call for hours.
Give the classic Scrooge gift of socks. The huge selection means you can cover the feet of everyone in your life with something they'll actually like.
Pier 39, bldg. G, level 1. (415) 392-7625. Open Christmas Eve, 106 p.m. Closed Christmas Day.
Lighten up, for Christ's (oops, I mean Pete's) sake:
Maybe you just need a few laughs to get into the spirit of things. Head to one of these comic shops, get lost in the escapist pleasures they offer, then grab some gifts for your friends.
Now that Al's has moved from his cramped Mission spot to roomier digs in the Castro, he's turned his store into a one-stop gift shop. In addition to comics in all genres, the store sells greeting cards and a few toys.
1803 Market, SF. (415) 861-1220, www.alscomicssf.com . Open Christmas Eve until 5 p.m. Closed Christmas Day.
From the huge selection of back issues and superhero figurines at this Sunset District shop, you should be able to find something that will bring a smile to the faces of many in a matter of minutes.
23812387 Ocean, SF. (415) 239-2669, www.comicoutpost.net . Open Christmas Eve, noon5 p.m. Closed Christmas Day.