When you give the gift of Hyphen, you give them insight into the Asian American community, quirky fun that explodes stereotypes, a compilation of journalism, design, literature and art that makes everyone who reads it just a bit more hip and a lot more informed.
* Chocolate sushi.
Started by two San Jose-based JA sisters, Suedy's Kooki Sushi hand makes chocolate confections that look exactly like the nigiri and maki you'd order up at a sushi bar. It's pricey, but it's pretty amazing looking.
* Handmade, custom clothing
There's a lot of young upstarts out there, designing clothes. Like Marilyn Yu-Lin, Sunhee Moon, and Nisa. You can buy off the rack from Sunhee and Nisa, or you can get something custom fitted by Marilyn. Don't ever say you don't know what to get her again. (Her, meaning me.)
* The Iris Chang Collection
Why not honor her life and support your locally owned bookstore at the same time? The Rape of Nanking is not an easy read, but it's an important one. The Chinese in America and Thread of the Silkworm got critical raves.
* Season tickets!
Asian American theater is probably in a city near you, with long-running companies in places like San Francisco, Seattle, and DC. (Here's a list of companies.) SF's offers a "pay-what-you-can" season package, so theater is no longer merely for the financially elite. See plays from Phillip Kan Gotanda, David Henry Hwang and a film from Adam Chin --support the movement to get more Asian faces on stage and on screen.
* A "Racially Profiled" t-shirt
from Blacklava. You can also choose from "I am not a terrorist," "I suck at math" and "SWM seeking SAF." Help your cousins or grandma raise the political consciousness of any room they enter.
* Handwoven silk scarves from Laos
I love fair trade stores --unique handmade stuff that's give women a livelihood through regional arts and crafts. World of Good is selling scarves made by Laotian women; more elaborate and expensive designs are available at Beyond the Banyan Tree. Women in Laos raise the worm, spin the thread, dye it, and then weave the scarves, start to finish. Pretty badass if you ask me.
For people on your list who have too much of everything, give to a cause they'd appreciate in their name. One I like: making the capital investment for low-income families in the developing world (and in the US) --through heifers! Or bees, trees, rabbits, chicks, or even llamas. Heifer International will deliver your gift to a needy family and provide technical support and training. Families can supplement their income selling milk or honey, or even start a full-fledged business with the livestock. A gift that will likely outlast the latest electronic gizmo.
Who doesn't want to own Better Luck Tomorrow, Charlotte Sometimes, or Harold and Kumar? Or jump off the beaten path with great, undersung titles like The Monkey Kid made by Beijing-San Francisco Film Group, Revolution by Margaret Cho, or the remastered box set of Arthur Dong's DVDs called Stories from the War on Homosexuality.
* Make a gift!
The best gifts of all are made handmade by you. Unless you're still making macaroni necklaces --in that case, why not check out ReadyMade, chock full of clever ideas for the hip DIYer, and another Bay Area, independently produced magazine.
After you've got gift in hand, head over to the Bay Street Emeryville Mall to get your gift wrapped by Hyphen! We're raising money for our next issue, the Boys and Girls Club, and the YMCA. There's a very cool train, and we've got great paper, great prices, and very artistic, highly skilled wrappers.
Any other great ideas out there? Please share (I need them!) Be careful out there, and remember, you cast a ballot every (2 or) 4 years, but you cast your dollars almost every day. Make those votes count!