Better To Give

Your guide to finding unique gifts this holiday season

Pop Cycle. 422 N. Fourth Ave. Pop-Cycle has all the unique hand-made goodies any Tucsonan's little heart could want. And it's almost all locally made and affordable. Pick up a "Don't be a prick" onesie for your friend's fussy, cactus-loving newborn or a mounted (toy) deer head for your vegetarian friend. Pop-Cycle's trademark felt monsters make bracelets, cards, checkered shirts and baseball hats simultaneously adorable and inexplicably hip. And they have so much more than cute monster regalia and honest baby clothes. They also have framed art, handmade copper jewelry, cocktail trays, mugs, candles and a smorgasbord of eye-candy that will make anybody's holiday season all the more aesthetically pleasing.

Kid's Center. 1725 N. Swan Road. Nobody appreciates the magic of Christmas more than kids do—so why not put a smile on their faces with a gift from Kid's Center, which carries more toys than Santa's workshop? Whether you're looking for stuffed animals, mermaids, unicorns, books, dolls or puppets, you'll find it here—unless you are looking for coal for your kid's stocking, which is so not cool.

Plaza Liquors. 2642 N. Campbell Ave. When it's time to experience the spirits of the season, Plaza Liquors is undoubtedly the place to go. With a mix of quality liquors that range from local distillers to well-established brands, Plaza has what you need to give your holiday season a lift.

Lucky Cat Social Art. 7872 N. Oracle Road. Do you love art? How about hanging out with a group of your friends? What about a nice bottle of wine? Find it all, and more, at Oro Valley's favorite art club: Lucky Cat Social Art. At Lucky Cat, a skilled artist instructor takes you step-by-step in creating a pre-determined work of art that will leave you impressed with your own artistic skills. Don't want to buy someone something materialistic? Take them painting instead!

Rosie's Barkét. 327 E. Seventh St. At Rosie's Barkét, you can buy gifts for your best friend's real best friend: the family dog (and yes, Rosie is a dog). Owner Nicole Carrillo (Rosie's person) opened her doggie-heaven just a month and a half ago, and she's got everything from Donald Trump chew toys to turkey feet to gourmet dog cookies (so gourmet, an eager customer ate one before Carrillo could tell her it was a dog treat). With its garage-door storefront (animal friends welcome), there's a play area with artificial turf and an '80s TV set playing purely dog-themed movies. Carrillo says people meet up for doggie dates and to celebrate "adopt-aversaries." And with the "show love campaign," Carillo donates to a local nonprofit that helps animals every month. Customers can buy "show love" dog tags for $10, with proceeds going to the charity fund and entitling the customer to 10 percent off everything in the store "fur-ever and ever," Carrillo says. Last month, she gave $1,550 to Gabriel's Angels. Great gifts for any friend with a dog, especially if that's all you know about them. And really, it's worth a visit just to talk with the lively, dog-loving, community-minded Carrillo.

Saguaro Market. 657 W. St. Mary's Road. A treat that is usually open once a month, Saguaro Market has all things cactus. This is a great place to find unique gifts as well as the paper to wrap them in. Saguaro Market has jewelry, mugs, art, cards and all of your saguaro-filled dreams that would make for perfect desert-themed gifts. The market does not have set dates for December, but hopes to be open multiple times to accommodate holiday shopping. The next market will be Nov. 9-12.

Rustic Candle Company. 324 N. Fourth Ave. Who doesn't love candles? OK, your step dad could take them or leave them, but really, there's no pleasing him! Rustic Candle Company has the right colors and smells to take your lucky gift-receiver on a sensory journey, evoking the nostalgia of remembering their youth, awakening their third-eye chakra, relaxing in a bath or just to find a flashlight during a blackout while simultaneously calming their fear of the dark with the candles' aromatherapy goodness. One favorite over the holiday season is the peppermint-and-cypress candle, which smells like "you're eating candy canes under the Christmas tree," said Rustic Candle owner Monica Cota. Cota and her four employees make all the candles themselves, in the back of the store. Small candles make great stocking stuffers, and for just a few bucks, you can fill those stockings with the scent of clove, apple, peppermint bark, dirt and boyfriend's jacket. (The last two are Rustic Candle originals, and just to smell them is worth a visit.)

Creative Ventures Craft Mall. 522 N. Fourth Ave. Get in touch with Tucson's ties to Mexico at Creative Ventures Craft Mall. Perfect for out-of-town family members! Share a taste of the Southwest with a painted perrito or salsa bowl. The warehouse-style store also has a large array of jewelry and gifts in every price range. Buy a bangle for your niece or splurge on some turquoise for mom. Gifts for everyone can be found at this store overwhelming with colors and corners filled with fabulous finds, located at 522 N 4th Ave.

Mabel's on 4th. 419 N. Fourth Ave. Find the perfect gift for the baker in your family at Mabel's on 4th. The holidays are a time for yummy home-baked cookies, cakes and pies, but what about the tools that make these delicacies possible? Surprise your favorite baker or chef with a painted rolling pin or fun shaped cookie cutters from this eclectically retro kitchen-dweller's paradise. You can find everything from cacti-shaped salt shakers to ravioli presses at Mabel's on 4th.

Lush La Encantada. 2905 E. Skyline Drive, Suite 169. Handmade, hand-wrapped, preservative-free bath, body and hair products from Lush La Encantada will make any boy or girl smell like a field of jasmine, Patchouli musk or—here for the holidays—cinnamon, clove and candy canes. Lush has wrapped gift packages ready with products for men and women, and this year they're offering everything as naked products—unpackaged, from bath gels to bath bombs. Even your grandma, who's been using nothing but Neutrogena night cream for the past 60 years, will not be disappointed with a Christmas Sweater bath bomb or The Snowman bubble bar.

Old Town Artisans at El Presidio. 201 N. Court Ave. Get lost in the magic at Old Town Artisans and then grab lunch at La Cocina for a fun day of holiday shopping. Entering on one side of the block, shoppers can wind their way through many different stores selling everything from vintage snakeskin cowboy boots to locally made jam. Eventually pop out on the other side of the courtyard with a collection of eclectic gifts for the whole family.

The Happy Saguaro. 7974 N. Oracle Road. Nothing says the southwest like tile art, metalwork and pottery. If you’re looking for a hand-picked selection of all of the above, look no further than The Happy Saguaro. Located in Plaza Escondido, this artistic curio shop has plenty to help you inspire and express your inner southwest.

Woops! BakeShop. 845 E. University Blvd. A taste of Paris right here in Tucson! Woops! Bakeshop sells pastries and macaroons, a perfect gift for someone with a little sweet tooth. Gift boxes of macarons are available to purchase online and in store to gift to someone sweet in your life.

Bookmans Entertainment Exchange. 3733 W. Ina Road. Just because it’s gently used, doesn’t mean it’s not worth owning. This well-known second hand hotspot is the top purveyor in used books, music, movies, video games, musical instruments and more. Need to find a videogame from your childhood? Bookman’s has it. How about a book you read in college that would illuminate the life of a loved one? Bookman’s has it. A wise person once said something about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure, Bookman’s takes that concept to a whole new level.

Tap & Bottle. 403 N. Sixth Ave. and 7254 N. Oracle Road. What’s a holiday season without wine and beer? A very dry holiday season. And while we might take solace in the dry heat of an Arizona summer, we certainly don’t want a dry winter season. Find the antidote by picking up a bottle of wine or a six-pack of craft brew at Tap & Bottle for the thirsty friend on your shopping list. And as long as your popping in to buy a little booze, why not take a seat at the bar and have a glass or two? We guarantee it will improve your mood as you continue your holiday shopping.

Mildred and Dildred. 2905 E. Skyline Drive, suite 186. This 10-year-old Tucson toy treasure is the place to get smart presents for curious kids (so basically all kids). Relive a glimpse of your childhood by gifting the "Mrs. Nelson is Missing" books or the "Jolly Postman." And for those little girls (and boys) discovering how powerful they are, Mildred and Dildred has a stack of girl-power books like "Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls," about 100 women who've changed the world in the areas of science, art, social justice and more. And of course they have everything unicorn that no child (or adult) can resist. Gift the babies you know cactus-themed bibs and T-shirts, so they can rock their desert-love in style. And lego-go education with lego sets that light up when connected, teaching kids about connectivity. And don't worry, they've got your Pusheen the cat stuffies and squishable food items, with big, soft, huggable avocados, bananas and more.

Good Ole Toms. 6781 N. Thornydale Road, Ste. 239. For more than 50 years, Good Ole Toms has been a top dealer in estate jewelry, rare coins, antiques and more. Up to date on the current prices on gold and silver, this shop prides itself on being an honest gold buyer. Looking for a rolex, a war medal, charms or any other small curio for a loved one? Roll on into Good Ole Toms.

Creations. 444 N. Fourth Ave. Looking for a gift that's trendy with a touch of boho? Creations sells women's clothing and accessories. Whether you're looking for a on-trend piece of clothing, or a dainty piece of jewelry, Creations has something for the fashionista in your life. Give a gift of style this holiday season.

Seventh Annual Shop OV Campaign. Shopping in Oro Valley during the holiday season isn't just about finding goodies at the store—you can also win prizes! Every year, the town hosts the Shop Oro Valley campaign, a program designed to highlight the best in local businesses. Through Dec. 29, anyone who shops at an Oro Valley business and spends at least $25 is eligible to participate in a weekly prize drawing sponsored by local businesses and the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce. Winners will be announced every Friday at 5 p.m., and the final prize is a gift basket filled with gift cards valued at $500 from stores in the Oro Valley Marketplace. There is no limit on entries, so shop 'til you drop!

Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oil & Balsamics. 7854 N. Oracle Road, 4320 N. Campbell Ave. Send your taste buds on a journey through a world of rich flavors. Specializing in the freshest, ultra-premium, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oils and flavored olive oils from around the world, this locally owned oil and balsamics shop is a hotspot for local foodies. Find the perfect holiday gift for any kitchen.

Posner’s Art Store. 944 E. University Blvd. Posner’s offers a large range of art supplies from fine art supplies, to sculpting tools, to dyes and screen-printing materials. It’s a one-stop shop for art supplies. it has something for artists of all areas and levels of expertise.

Cracker Barrel Country Store. 8400 N. Cracker Barrel Road. Cracker Barrel excels at everything county: You come in for the delicious pancakes (or whatever it is you eat for breakfast), and you leave with an armful of fun toys, knick-knacks and sugary treats. Check out the other half of this restaurant for the perfect slew of stocking stuffers and more.

By Logan Burtch-Buus, Leah Gilchrist, Danyelle Khmara and Tirion Morris

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