With a new baby (she’s 12 days old as I write this) this year, I needed – more than in previous years – a number of quick, easy gifts that didn’t require me to leave the house. Sure, I stocked up on Amazon.com gift cards from the grocery store display and did my fair share of online and offline shopping before the little lady arrived, but there were holes in the list. To the rescue came e-gifts to several local venues and services that make me oh-so-glad for the millionth time that I live in San Francisco. I’m sure you’re aware of many of them (if not all).
So I decided to put together a list of my current favorite fashion and just plain stylish startups that will allow you to buy gifts for others online this year. Note that this list is in no way meant to be exhaustive. It’s really, truly the few sites that I personally used this year and a few others that I am currently bullish about. Any and all will make great last-minute gifts for Bay Area-ites and some extend to folks outside the area. And yup, there are some referral links in there. Hope you don’t mind.
Uber: I love Uber. I don’t always love knowing I’m paying more than a cab fare to use it. But if someone gave me a bunch of Uber credit as a gift? I’d love them forever. So I decided to give Uber credits to a family member who is known for jetting around town to meeting after meeting.
Cardio-Tone: This one is strictly for the San Franciscans. I’m one of those people who likes exercises classes. I tend to get more out of them than I do working out alone, and I love this studio in Noe Valley where classes are pretty much all you’ll find (they also do personal training). I’m partial to their TRX and Spin + TRX classes. Another bonus: they have childcare several mornings a week, and I really credit being able to go here and let my son play in the back playroom with enabling me to get into better shape post-baby (the first one) than I’d ever been in in my life. Anyway, a gift pack of classes or childcare credits good for use at this spot is something you can easily buy online to treat a new mom or a Noe Valley resident to a great workout. Last but not least, signing up for classes and childcare is all handled using the web site’s online booking system.
Tog + Porter: Here’s one that will work no matter where you live. This personal styling service uses Skype consultations to get a read on your fashion proclivities, then sends you a box of clothes tailored to your tastes. You keep what you want, send the rest back and can follow up with your stylist via Skype as much as you like. Full disclosure: I’ve covered this company for the Chronicle and later did some consulting work for them. That enabled me to get to know how this company works, and both experiences made me a pretty big fan. While I’ve never been a client (I was pregnant and on shopping hiatus when I met the co-founder Ellie), I’ve been watching the company grow and have talked to those who’ve used it. I think it’s a great option for busy women who want to look good, but don’t necessarily have the time to troll boutiques and assemble outfits. Through Dec. 24, you can still order up an e-gift card to be sent to the recipient by PDF.
Munchery: Another Bay Area-only one. This meal delivery service is an ace gift for anyone new in town, new parents, people trying to eat more healthfully in the New Year or those who are just sick of takeout. I’m borderline obsessed and have started giving gift credits to this San Francisco-based service to lots of people in my life. They offer a new menu made by a variety of local chefs each day. You can view it on your iPhone, order what you want and choose a delivery time slot. It shows up on your doorstep, and payment and tip are taken care of through the app, so there’s no dashing for cash when the driver arrives (a godsend if you’re dog goes crazy when the doorbell sounds and you’ve got a kid in the bathtub and your husband’s on the phone). Meals are priced pretty much along the lines of what you’d pay for dinner from Whole Foods. So not cheap, but healthy and worth it for the convenience factor.
Task Rabbit: I was so late to the party on this one, and I have been wondering what the hell was wrong with me ever since I tried this service. My husband and I are semi-intelligent people most of the time (he would correct that to blindingly brilliant), but we cannot hang a curtain rod to save our lives. The only thing that might lead to our divorce is an especially hairy home improvement project. So I’ve spent the last few years with mostly bare walls and dreams of future handymen that could swoop in and, for a reasonable price, do things around our condo and, more recently, our house that most people can probably do in their sleep. But this fall, being seriously pregnant, I basically couldn’t go up and down the stairs without panting, but I had an endless array of household tasks I wanted done (that whole nesting thing they talk about is real). Enter Task Rabbit. I had FLOR tiles assembled, curtains hung, a heat lamp assembled, mirrors and frames hung on the walls and various other tasks. It ruled, and I would bet that anyone could find a good use for credit on this site. Note that you can only send gift cards by email at this point.
Giftly: Here’s one that I’ve only bought one time (I think) in the past for someone else, but others have given me gifts this way, and I’ve been pretty pleased. It’s a great way to give someone a restaurant, spa or bar gift certificate without having to tie them down to one place. You can choose several places for them to use the credit, and they can redeem the gift using a mobile phone.
So that’s my little list-y list. Hope it helps if you’re looking for last-minute gift inspiration.
More digital style….