A Few of Our Favorite Things

Holiday shopping gets a lot easier with our gift ideas for everyone on your "nice" list.


Hark! Your holiday shopping is about to get a whole lot easier—Alta has taken over the reins of Santa’s sleigh. Our 2019 Gift Guide is sure to have something for everyone on your “nice” list, including actual reins. 

For the reader: Books make the perfect gift (and they’re easy to wrap). We asked eight Alta contributors to select their three favorite books from 2019. Their diverse picks include everything from photography collections to poetry; one science fiction book was even selected twice. See their expert choices here. If you’re still in search of more print lit, our Fall 2019 Book Guide offers 28 titles worthy of consideration. Might we direct you to Alta books editor David L. Ulin’s just-released anthology, Joan Didion: The 1960s & 70s? Read an excerpt here

For the foodie: Hook up an adventurous home chef with ají amarillo, a prized Peruvian chile pepper that’s nearly impossible to obtain fresh. (Alta contributor Gustavo Arellano found some in an Orange County backyard.) We also coveted Instagram-favorite Wilburn Forge culinary knives this year. Be warned: these one-of-a-kind pieces start at $500. 

For the one who likes to stay prepared: Earthquakes and wildfires are a fact of California living. Help your loved ones stay safe with a lifesaving “go bag.” We rated a collection of preassembled emergency kits and offered tips on how to prepare and customize a DIY version. 

For the cowboy and cowgirl: Stuff the stocking of your favorite farmhand with custom romal reins by master braider Modesto Medina. These handcrafted beauties, which can take several days to make, were treasured by Central American and Mexican vaqueros in centuries past and are still used by serious riders today. 

For that person who has “everything”: Nothing says “I think you’re a smart person” like the gift of an Alta membership. It includes our award-winning quarterly and exclusive invitations to private events, author discussions, film screenings, and more. Already Alta-fied? The Believer, Adventure Journal, and (Alta partner) California Sun have all secured a spot on our editors’ list of quarterly picks—and they also make great gift subscriptions.

Beth Spotswood is Alta's digital editor, events manager, and a contributing writer.
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