If you’re reading this, chances are you decided to forego the measly 5 percent off you would have gotten at Target if you had braved the Americanized Running of the Bulls that is . . . wait for it . . . Black Friday *dun dun DUNNN*. Yes, what sounds like an old Bela Lugosi flick has nearly become a national holiday in and of itself, but if you let that fateful day come and go, we won’t judge you. I mean, let’s face it, we can’t always be expected to come up with our own ideas. JT and Andy Samberg may have raised the bar for gift-giving ideas a few years ago with “Dick in a Box,” but a couple of restraining orders later, and that gag has probably run its course (let’s just hope you didn’t take their advice on the second go-round for Mother’s Day). No need to fret, though; we’ve got you covered. From the latest and most stylish MMA accessories to some of the jerkingest beef jerky around, we’ve got some of the most unique gift ideas around right here in handy guide form, and you won’t even have to venture out of our beloved IE.
MMA CLOTHING, GEAR AND MORE
This place is awesome. Whether you are a fan or the Iceman himself, On The Mat Fight Shop in Corona is your holiday gift destination. Need a UFC hoodie? They’ve got it. Want some new sparring headgear? It’s there. How about the latest UFC action figure? Yup, that too. I mean seriously . . . what says “Merry Christmas” more than a Kimbo Slice T-shirt? (S.D. Plissken)
OTM Fight Shop, 2410 Wardlow Rd. #108, Corona, (951) 340-3311; www.otmfightshopcorona.blogspot.com.
HAIR STYLING AND HAIR COLORING
The holidays are upon us once again. Let Kaos Salon help you look your best for all your holiday festivities with the best colorwork and styling in the IE. The crew at Kaos puts the “fun” in “funky.” Who knows, while you’re here you may even get to enjoy a holiday spirit or two! (Art Marcel)
Kaos Salon, 345 Pearl Ave. #110, Redlands, (909) 798-2192; Facebook Kaos Salon.
LINGERIE, COSTUMES, SHOES AND CLUBWEAR
Just minutes off the 15 freeway, The House of Venus is the place to shop if you’re feeling more naughty than nice this holiday season. With everything from lingerie and lotions to costumes and “how to” DVDs, if passion is your preference you won’t be disappointed. Like they say here . . . love, play, romance. (S.D. Plissken)
House of Venus, 2743 Hamner Ave. Ste. 109, Norco, (951) 737-1325.
PAINTBALL GEAR AND SUPPLIES
For awesome holiday fun, set your sights on The Paintball Shop in Chino. Just south of the 60 on Mountain Avenue, this place has the firepower to get you up off the couch and literally into the game. Paintballs, guns, clothing and masks of course . . . just to make sure nobody shoots their eye out. Thanks Ralphie, good lookin‘ out. (Art Marcel)
The Paintball Shop, 12345 Mountain Ave., Chino, (909) 465-9757; www.thepaintballshop.net.
VINTAGE CLOTHING, FURNITURE, COLLECTABLES AND ELECTRONICS
The Blues Estate Store has been the place to shop for vintage clothing, furniture, electronics and collectables for almost 20 years. Specializing in the resale of estates, you never know what you might find every time you stop into The Blues. Along with their sister store, Redlands Thrift, you can be sure you’ll have an excellent selection of things that you just can’t find anywhere else! (S.D. Plissken)
The Blues Estate Store, 114 E. State St., Redlands, (909) 798-8055; www.bluesestatestore.com; Redlands Thrift, 614 Alabama St., Redlands, (909) 793-6470.
CUSTOM SWIMWEAR AND ACCESSORIES
Fresh Peaches Custom Swimwear is the only place in the Inland Empire where you’ll find custom-made swimsuits like these. The girls at Fresh Peaches do it better than anyone else when it comes to creating bikini masterpieces or making that perfect suit fit . . . well . . . perfect. Even if all you’ve got is a drawing or a crazy idea, stop by and they will make your beach dreams a breathtaking reality. (Art Marcel)
Fresh Peaches Swimwear, 12033 Jack Benny Dr. Ste. 101, Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 980-0172; http://fresh-peaches.com.
A DOWNTOWN UPLAND SHOPPING AND DINING SPREE
This cozy little downtown area offers the best affordable, upscale shopping experience in the IE. Start with a stop by CBO Boutique for beautiful custom organic clothing. Let the girls of Spoiled Rotten Salon do your ’do for that holiday party. Next, roll on over to F & C Creations to pick up some of the best custom jewelry that you’ll ever find anywhere. Grab some fine cigars and a bottle of your favorite wine to top off that holiday celebration at Pacific Wine Merchants. Finally, cap it all off with a martini and meal prepared by Chef Christophe himself at Christophe’s Restaurant & Lounge . . . the same Christophe’s Restaurant & Lounge Weekly readers voted Best French Restaurant of 2010! (S.D. Plissken)
Downtown Upland shopping and dining, www.cboboutique.com, www.fandccreations.com, www.pacific-wine.com, www.yelp.com/biz/spoiled-rotten-salon-upland; www.christophesrestaurant.com.
COMPLETE HYDROPONIC SYSTEM
Consider the C.A.P. DWC Single Pod 8 site Hydroponic System (24”x20”x8 1/2” – 8 plants) for any and all of your green-thumbed friends. It is very affordable and the perfect size to turn any space into a garden. This system features large 3 3/4” super fine net pots which give you 25% more room for your roots than a standard 3” net pot. Includes: Sunleaves Pulsar 250w or 400w switchable mini system, 250w or 400w H.P.S. bulb, Intermatic 15 min. grounded timer and quart-size starter nutrients. (George Donovan)
Discount Hydroponics, 4745 Hiers Ave., Riverside, (877) GROW IT-7; www.discount-hydro.com.
ADOPT A WILD CRITTER OR DOG
My fiancée long ago realized that my lifelong desire to have a raccoon as a pet was going to result in either, (a) never-ending unfulfillment or (b) a bloody, disillusioned mess. So, last Christmas she adopted one of these ring-tailed wonders at WildCare, a wildlife rehabilitation center, in my name. No, this doesn’t mean I brought a masked one home and raised it like my own, but rather that she had sponsored the animal’s welfare while it rehabbed at WildCare. For $25 I received a rather Chuck E. Cheese-ish personalized certificate, a big photo of said critter and an informative natural history. You can choose anything from a hummingbird to a coyote. Not quite my raccoon-snuggling fantasy, but sure beats a bout of rabies. (Paul Rogers)
www.wildcarebayarea.org, www.worldwildlife.org, www.gentlegiantsrescue.com.
TATTOO GIFT CERTIFICATE
We all have that a friend who’s been yappin‘ about getting a tattoo since high school and just needs that little push. Or maybe we want a loved one to have a gift they can literally never forget (like your name permanently etched into their skin). Either way, buying someone a tattoo for Christmas is an instant talking-point that the recipient will either forever thank you for or, if their choice of art is questionable, forever curse you over. The IE’s Empire Tattoo, with three local locations, actually offers gift certificates (available in-person from the stores, in various denominations). My first tat was a present 15 years ago, and I’ve never looked back. (Paul Rogers)
Empire Tattoo, 9354 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, (951) 785-8288;
#3 Colton Ave., Redlands, (909) 793-3616; 2850 W. Foothill Blvd., Rialto, (909) 875-2833; www.empiretattoostudios.com.
GET BOOTLICIOUS FOR THE NEW YEAR
Ask anybody what tops the list of New Year must-do’s and it’ll be exercise and weight loss, but as anybody knows, shedding that excess baggage from the jugs of egg nog, cookies and candies ain’t that easy to accomplish. Enter the Inland Empire Boot Camp, an extreme gut buster that’s a little less scarier than basic training and just as life-altering. Yes, you have to work your booty off by grunting and squatting your way through four weeks of living hell, but the results—one to three inches off the waistline—speak for themselves. Say goodbye to Jenny, and hello to Tony and Molli! (Nancy Powell)
Inland Empire Boot Camp at Victoria Gardens, 400 N. Mountain Ave., Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 556-9325; www.inlandempirebootcamp.com.
JERK OFF FOR DRIED MEAT
You don’t have to drive all the way to Barstow to get alien jerky when you can purchase illegal alien jerky right here in the IE. Okay, maybe not so illegal, but something just as toothsome and lick your fingers clean—Asian beef and pork jerky, in sweet and smoky flavors that range from the exotically sublime (Mandarin orange beef, chili lime, and kung pao beef jerky) to down-home friendly (honey chipotle beef and grilled barbecue pork jerky). No longer do you have to roam the neighborhood Costcos in search of this quick, freeze-dried Chinese restaurant rolled into a nice, neat, affordably compact package. Universal Food has opened its stock up for public consumption via an online store, and just in time for the holidays. (Nancy Powell)
Universal Food Company, 10646 Fulton Ct., Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 987-0470; www.goldenislandgourmet.com.