Rock and Christmas aren’t diametrically opposed (“Jingle Bell Rock” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” are, after all, holiday mainstays). But they aren’t a perfect match, either. One is about leather pants, partying and sticking it to the Man; the other is about cookies, snow men and diminutive arctic toymakers.
There is one way, however, that you can ensure your Christmas (or Chanukah, or Kwanzaa, or Festivus) will rock—by purchasing gifts at locally owned stores. As we remind you every year, injecting dollars into the Maui economy has a big impact. And you can take pride, knowing your stocking stuffers aren’t merely cool and unique, but supporting island-based small businesses rather than Mainland corporate behemoths.
Hey—maybe Christmas can be about sticking it to the Man after all.
Pets are great to shop for because they love you no matter what you get them. Instead of wrapping that bag of dog food and putting a bow on it, take your four-legged friend down to Birken and Bailey’s Too in Kihei and get a photo with Santa and their favorite treat, or choose from a terrific selection of stylish doggie (and kitty) duds. If you’re on the Lahaina side, hit up West Side Pets for a crazy selection of squeaky toys. And if you’re hunting for a holiday pet, please stop by the Maui Humane Society and rescue an animal; they always have plenty of beautiful creatures ready to melt your Grinchly heart.
We can be thankful that we live in a land of plenty with myriad local alternatives to the pesticide-laden, processed foods have become so much a part of our food culture. Start with gift boxes of Maui-grown veggies and specialty items from Kula Fields. You can go online, choose your box size and products and have it delivered. Even better: an annual membership for your family ensures fresh Maui veggies will arrive at your door. If you can’t pull that off, head to a local farmers’ market and make your own veggie baskets to give away; it won’t pack the sugary punch of the usual cookie basket, but it will make your gift unique.
Maui Culinary Academy’s food court in the Paina building on the UH Maui campus has a product line of seasoned salts, jams, coffee, scone mixes and spice rubs made using Maui ingredients. The Patisserie and the Academy bakery also produce beautiful cookies, brownies and loaves of bread.
Homemaid Bakery, a mom and pop operation open since 1960 on Lower Main, has adorable pre-made gift baskets for $24.99, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays this month you can buy one dozen malasadas and get one free. If you’d like to customize your gift basket with, say, their famous manju or mochi, give them a few days lead time.
Chocolates make a fantastic Christmas gift, especially with the ladies. Sweet Paradise Chocolate in Lahaina is the newest chocolatier to hit Maui, and their artistic designs are to die for. For the best truffles on the island, head to Maui Bake Shop in Wailuku; Jose and Clair Krall hand-make these decadent and irresistible chocolate balls. Also sweet, a gift certificate at Tutti Frutti.
Give the gift of a dining experience with gift cards for a night out. Rather than taking up space in a closet or drawer, these presents offer rich memories, good food and drink and, perhaps most importantly, no cleanup. At the top of the list is Stella Blues’ amazing line-up of Supper Club shows, a production done nowhere else on Maui. Live music is paired with four courses and wine. Reserve seats early for the seven-course extravaganza on New Year’s Eve with Jon Cruz.
At Mulligan’s on the Blue you can ring in the holidays with Willie K and a prime rib and seafood buffet. Meanwhile, at Pita Paradise Wailea, every $100 purchased in gift certificates nets you a $20 gift card.
For the wine geeks, on December 21 Merriman’s Kapalua will offer a special three-course pairing and advanced sommelier challenge between Jason “Cass” Castle and Charles Fredy. Also on the West side, you can get dinner and show packages for Ulalena at the Maui Myth and Magic Theatre with Lahaina Prime Rib and Fish Company, David Paul’s Island Grill, Lahaina Grill and Ruths Chris.
A hot ticket right now in the foodie world is to hire a private chef to do the dinner duties. You get to designate your dishes, but the chef does all the work. If you’re having a hard time finding someone, the folks at Sneak Peek Eats have already done the homework for you; log on to their Website and see a list of available Maui chefs, including John Galvan, Rodger “Raja” Shortell, Jana McMahon and Susan Teton. Take the stress out of your Christmas dinner party and let them do the shopping and cooking for you.
SAFE AS MILK
Distilling your own beer and hooch sounds like a pain in the neck. Luckily there are plenty of local distillers, spirits producers and craft beer makers on-island to keep your holiday booze shopping local. Maui Brewing Company has begun canning two new flavors you didn’t get in your holiday basket last year: Mana Wheat and Island Root beer. Haleakala Distillers’ Okolehau Liqueur is exotic, as is their collection of Maui-distilled rums. Ocean Vodka is blended with desalinated deep-sea ocean water and makes mean holiday martinis.
Exploring Tedeschi Vineyards, our local winery, is a quintessential Maui outing. If you can’t get up to their charming Ulupalakua tasting room, pick up their concoctions at the Wine Corner, located in both Lahaina and Paia. Maui Prime has a monthly wine club that makes a great gift for vino-philes—you get a red and a white wine monthly with recipes and tasting profiles. Another great gift idea for the spirits enthusiast? Head over to your local liquor store, like the Liquor Shack in Makawao or Aloha Discount Liquor and Valley Isle Liquor in Kihei, pick up a selection of fine small bottles and create a gift basket of booze.
Maui is getting more recognition for its fine coffee grown here on island. There are two ways you can go: buy gift cards for latte lovers at local shops like Big Wave Espresso, Akamai Coffee and Wailuku Coffee Company in Central, Anthony’s Coffee Company on the North Shore, S&Q Coffee & Shave Ice Shack down South and Sir Wilfred’s out West. Otherwise, the home brewer will love a bag of Maui beans; you can find them at Maui Grown Coffee in Lahaina and Maui Coffee Roasters in Kahului.
You love tobacco, but you don’t want to smoke it out of some boring cigarette, right? No, you want to smoke it out of a massive water pipe taller than a pre-pubescent power forward. And you want to stash it in a container that looks like a soda or a can of soup. And you also want T-shirts and incense and lighters and rolling papers. Because you love tobacco. And chances are you’ve got another tobacco lover on your list. You’re in luck: from West Side Vibes in Lahaina to Hawaiian Holy Smokes and Maui Mana on the South side, Maui is blessed with a large crop of local smoke purveyors. Fire it up.
As a parent, you want your kids’ toys to be engaging, safe, well-made and age-appropriate. As a kid, you want your toys to be cool. Fortunately, Maui’s local toy shops understand this, and cater to children and the Santa Clauses responsible for their social and mental development. For more than 25 years, Maui Toy Works at the Lahaina Cannery Mall has been supplying gifts for good little girls and boys. In Central Maui, Wild Creatures is a small but packed-to-the-gills outlet for quality wooden playthings, plus books, puzzles and more. And Makawao’s Maui Child Toys & Books keeps the Upcountry keiki supplied. Because you’re never too old to play, and you’re never too young to play with good stuff.
Spa packages are a fabulous service—for men and women. It’s not your usual dude gift, but they may surprise you—even if they aren’t metro sexual. For hands and toes, head to Van Beauty Salon in Kahului; their deluxe pedicure-manicure combos are the bomb. The facial and massage package at Green Ti in Wailuku is an amazing deal, and their convenient location features a menagerie of great gifts for body and home.
For full-body indulgence try a coffee, chocolate, mango or pineapple-lime body treatment at Spa Helani at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort in Lahaina, where you can also enjoy the steam room and rain showers. Need more in-depth body care? Try a treatment gift certificate at Iao Acupuncture, where they can pinpoint and treat ailments with ancient Chinese know-how.
If it’s beauty she wants, gift certificates for cuts, color, blowouts and more are going to light her up under the tree. Paragon Salon in Makawao is full-service from your feet to your head. In Central Maui, Maui Hair and Body, Colours Salon and Beauty Bar feature fab products and professional service. For West Maui beauty seekers, Soleil Luna Salon and Plush Beauty are the hot spots for waxing, hair care and cuts.
Looking for something a little more permanent? Get your ink junkie gift certificates for his or her favorite Maui artists. In Kihei, try Maui Tattoo Company and Pacific Rootz Tattoo. Nancy at the Paia Tattoo Parlor has been putting needle to skin on Maui for over 15 years, and the crew there has amazing talents, and great art for sale to boot. On the West side, Spike’s West Side Ink and Tony Mucci’s crew at Skin Deep Lahaina have (literally) got you covered.
With great locally made bath and body goods—like the full line of Alii Kula Lavender Farm’s soaps, lotions and hair care products—your stockings should be stuffed appropriately. At Lilikoi Beauty in Paia you can find natural-made lines of cosmetics and many locally sourced items. For more natural cosmetics and body shop potions, check out health food stores like Hawaiian Moons in Kihei, or Down to Earth and Alive and Well in Central Maui.
LADY (AND GENTLEMAN) IN SATIN
What to get a girl on Maui? Can be as simple and small as a bikini. Maui Girl in Paia has locally designed suits, in classic and new styles, that have been featured in the famous Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. In Lahaina, the Pakaloha swimsuits are Brazilian made. In South Maui, Rainbow Attic has a great selection of swimwear and cover ups at consignment prices.
There are a lot of fine places on-island to get a girl clothes while keeping it local. Designers like Tamara Katz and Wings Hawaii have shops in Paia and offer great-looking and unique island gear. Meanwhile, Maui Thing in Wailuku is the spot for essential pieces like screen-printed tees and knits.
There aren’t a whole lot of indie shoe stores on-island, but staying out of the corporate footwear emporiums is easier than you think. At If the Shoe Fits in Wailuku, owner and proprietor Teri Edmunds is now consigning shoes and repairing, and she carries her own lines as well. Mahina boasts a number of fashion-forward styles, and Collections in Makawao has fabulous hand-made-yet-high-end shoes.
So what to get a male fashionista? Head to Him in Kahana for some of the mainstays in men’s fashion. Owner Jefferson Wery keeps his store stocked with hard-to-find and rare items, plus hats, glasses and footwear. For the skateboard/surfwear enthusiast, head to One Eighty Boardshop in the Queen Kaahumanu Center for a wide selection of clothing and gear.
DIAMONDS FROM SIERRA LEONE
Since there’s loads of local places that offer beaded and wire-wrapped jewelry creations, let’s instead highlight some of those with smithery skills enough for Santa’s stamp of approval. The venerable J.B. Rea has taught many a Mauian how to bezel stones and turn springs into jump rings, and we’ll bet that when he nicks himself, he oozes liquid metal like a Terminator. Made with inspiration and incomparable adroitness, Rea’s pieces are truly wearable art—evidenced by the fact that you can find his work in gallery shops like the Hui No‘eau or Viewpoints.
Hailing from Honolulu, mother and daughter design team Linda and Akemi Ueda present their Paradisus brand, available at Sargent’s Fine Jewelry. Distinctly Hawaiian motifs include the newly introduced Ulu and Kalo lines and the androgynous Kapa line, perfect whether you need jewelry for wahine or kane. Of course there are the lovely ladies of Wings Hawaii (now on Baldwin Ave.), whose hand-wrought jewelry is as covetable as their threads. And, Makawao’s Nina Kuna says it best when she describes her sea-inspired bling as “paying homage to a wild perfection found in organic elements.”
Great costume jewelry and handmade jewelry can pull together an outfit and make you look polished. You’ll find it under Lahaina’s banyan tree on weekends, hand-made by artisans, or in shops all over the island. A recent search on Etsy.com found 253 artists from Maui selling pieces of jewelry—meaning you can shop local even while online.
From clothing and accessories to curios and household goods, antique and consignment shops—like Bohemia Boutique, Elise Clothing Co., Paia Trading Co. and Rainbow Attic, or the antiques alley that is Wailuku’s Market Street—all have offerings that apply to nearly any of our guide’s categories. No longer just for bailiwick collectors who love good patina, vintage items are hot on everyone’s list—and you just might spock the perfect quirky accoutrement for that perfectly quirky someone on your list. But since offerings are innumerably varied and subject to luck, it’s impossible to describe exactly what you might find.
Instead, here are a few tips on how to shop second hand. First of all, be certain of your gift-receiver’s aesthetic as most shops have an all-sales-final policy. When buying any textile (i.e. clothing, linens, upholstery) spot check for stains and wear—some flaws are fixable and others are not. New or used, it’s always a good idea to flip a garment inside-out and assess the quality of construction and if serged stitches are intact. For ceramics and glassware, check for fissures that might lead to a breakage in the imminent future and always carefully run your finger along an item’s lip to feel for hidden chips. Sets of dishes should come in increments of 4, 6, 8 or 12 (barring serving pieces, of course), so odd-numbered collections mean you have pieces missing. If you’re at a loss for theme, think practical items like vases or platters in favorite colors/motifs (for an added personal touch, fill with fresh flowers or a homemade holiday dish), or industry-related items (e.g. vintage utensils for foodies, antique tools for handymen, etc.). Ask the salesperson if they know the history of the piece. You might get lucky—provenance adds value, and good stories ought not be lost. Also, remember a quick online search from your smart phone can help you tell whether you’re paying over or under market value.
HEAD LIKE A HOLE
Did you know that tuque is the technical term for beanie, or that fedoras were at first a feminine fashion and that the name comes from a 19th century play about heroine Princess Fedora? Hats of any style have history, and whatever groovy noggin-topper you’re in search of, Alice in Hulaland probably has it. Or check out the ultra-chic and ultra-intricate lauhala masterpieces at Native Intelligence. They’ll run you a pretty penny, but once you’ve learned a little about the arduous preparation of just the raw materials—let alone the tedious geometry of its weaving—you’ll soon see it’s a steal of a deal.
ON AN ISLAND
You’re automatically on the Naughty list if you sink so low as to gift any faux-waiiana crap from Walmart et alia. Yes, even to Mainland peeps. Yes, even as a joke. So where do you find good Hawaiiana goods? Look no further than Native Intelligence. Forget eggnog, they’ve got ‘awa! Beyond clothes and books, why not a leiomano (shark’s tooth weapon) for Dad’s mantel, or Ni‘ihau shells to show mom you (really, really) care? Also, their feather-art accessories are more cosmopolitan than you might imagine, with blooming headbands and hair clips that are cross-culturally runway worthy. While their design sensibility might be a little cliché, Martin & MacArthur is still king of koa. Or visit similarly themed Totally Hawaiian and score a carved stone wall hanging—plus matching greeting cards—by artist Guy Junker, among others.
SPEAKERBOXX/THE LOVE BELOW
Walking into Requests Music’s bizarre realm of beats may be a time warp, but it doesn’t have to be a time suck. See, Requests’s staffers’ synapses sync up a web of media knowledge that’s comprehensive yet curated—better and quicker than any Internet search might. If the bassist from your loved one’s favorite band lays killer bottoms elsewhere, they’ll know. Or if said favorite band contributed otherwise unreleased work to a cinema soundtrack (and never underestimate the pleasures of a concert DVD), they’ll recommend that, too. Suddenly, you’re stuffing stockings with obscure awesomeness—and looking like quite the savvy aficionado.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to spend the time, picking through their thousands of used vinyl discs can yield everything from treasures for the audiophile in your life to gag gifts or unique wall art (look for out-of-left-field covers and titles; we recently scored Spectacular Sounds of the Incomparable Robin Hood Band, with the cover featuring a 57-piece orchestra dressed in tights and tiny red hats). Speaking of wall art, their vintage neon concert posters make great gifts, too (beyond band names, keep an eye out for concert dates that might align with a friend’s birthday).
For the ear-candy confectioner on your list, Bounty Music—or the more niche Mele Ukulele and Lahaina Music stores—are best bets. Whether or not you can spring for a new axe, accessories like packs of strings aren’t just practical, they’re easy to wrap. For budding virtuosos, buy some baby drums or maracas—and maybe ear plugs for the poor souls who have to suffer ‘til stardom is attained.
CHALK MARK IN A RAINSTORM
Maui Hands has three locations and represents over 300 artists. So if handmade is what you’re after and you can’t find it there, visit your optometrist. If your rods and cones are in working order, how about a colorful glass squid by Kauai-born Christopher Upp? Or go big-ticket with one of Gordon Sherman’s Alexander Calder-esque wooden mobiles.
If you want to give the gift of making art, a membership to Hui No‘eau will earn your special someone discounts on classes. The Hui is famous for its holiday craft fair, and milling around the historic Upcountry estate will make you feel happily hoity-toity anytime of year.
The Lahaina Art Society boasts both the Old Jail Gallery and Banyan Tree Gallery, plus every weekend hosts a sprawling art fair. Speaking of which, various seasonal bazaars abound, and swap meets and farmers’ markets see decided boosts in inventory—great for constructing hand-picked gift baskets.
THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST…
If crystal healing isn’t in your alternative medicine cabinet, you may wonder how the mystical crystal market hasn’t become saturated (we’re guessing it must be a hippie food source). But however the demand for esoteric stones is kept up, rock collecting has hard science (ba dum ching!) joys, too.
Hawaii is already Mecca for marine biologists—and we’ve got volcanos. Why not inspire a future geologist by hooking up your keiki with some mind-blowing geodes and a good book. For the former, check out Green Lotus and Crystal Dreams; for the latter, visit Friends of the Library and Old Lahaina Book Emporium. Oh, and for more local lit (and other cool stuff like bath products), hit up the gift shops at the Bailey House Museum and Wo Hing Temple (memberships make good gifts, too).
BEYOND THE SEA
If you live on Maui and don’t participate in any water sports, you’re missing out on more than half the fun. But even if you’re an ocean-phobe, you’ve assuredly got someone on your list who isn’t.
Head to Kahului, where Hi Tech Surf and Sports, Second Wind, Naish Maui Pro Center and The Foam Company are all conveniently located. Each spot offers an expansive selection and, more essentially, expertise, along with surf boards, body boards, paddle boards, wind surfing gear and all the accessories needed to tackle Maui’s monster (and beginner) waves. Because nothing says Christmas in paradise like suiting up and paddling out.