Show SF State pride with a Gator-themed gift
Gator pride is always in season, so why not show some school spirit by giving a holiday gift with an SF State connection? SF State faculty and alums are a multi-talented bunch -- options for Gator-related presents run the gamut from books to music to accessories and more.
With a celebrated creative writing program, it's no surprise that SF State has produced some stellar authors whose work, both fiction and non-, offers something to please every Gator. Anne Rice, renowned for her vampire tales, recently released the mystery thriller "Prince Lestat," deepening the story of one of her most popular characters. And it doesn't get much more "San Francisco" than the Beat Generation -- alum Don Carpenter's "Fridays at Enrico's" provides a glimpse into the era from someone who was a fixture in the movement himself. For Gators who are into verse, SB Stokes' first book of poetry, "A History of Broken Love Things," evokes themes of hope, desire and lost love.
Shopping for a high school student? Alum Stephanie Perkins is a wildly successful teen romance writer. "Lola and the Boy Next Door," set in San Francisco, vividly evokes the city's spirit.
Know someone who fantasizes about taking his homemade jam to the big time? In "Good Food, Great Business: How to Take Your Artisan Food Idea from Concept to Marketplace," alumna Susie Wyshak offers tips and tools for following foodie dreams, highlighting real-life examples from more than 75 successful purveyors.
If you have a classical-music lover on your list, you might consider the Alexander String Quartet's new release of a classic repertoire: "Brahms & Schumann: The Piano Quintets." SF State's resident chamber group for more than 30 years, the Quartet has performed around the world while remaining a fixture in the Bay Area music scene.
If you're looking to instill SF State pride from a young age, look no further than alumna Ella Jenkins' newest CD, "More Multicultural Children's Songs" -- released this August in honor of her 90th birthday. Jenkins, known as "The First Lady of Children's Music," revisits 20 of her classic songs, which celebrate multicultural sounds and invite participation.
For a classic holiday gift, alum Johnny Mathis' "The Christmas Music of Johnny Mathis: A Personal Collection" includes the smooth-voiced singer's take on perennial favorites like "Silver Bells" and "Winter Wonderland."
Gators on screen
DVDs of recent Gator films would make a great gift for a film buff. Alum and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas' "Documented" chronicles his realization that he was brought into the United States illegally as a child and his decision to reveal his status, despite the resulting legal implications. Cinema professor Britta Sjogren's film "Redemption Trail" tells the story of two powerful but troubled women who form an unlikely alliance.
Prefer television to movies? Your special Gator might enjoy watching alumnus Jeffrey Tambor reprise his iconic role in the most recent season of the Netflix-resurrected series "Arrested Development," which will be released on DVD this month. Alumna and comedian Alex Borstein stars in "Family Guy," available in box sets, and in the HBO series "Getting On."
Designer and alum Lisa Anderson Shaffer creates hand-stitched jewelry, bow ties, pocket squares and more under her personal label "Zelma Rose"; her patterned bowties and personalized necklaces have garnered local and national press.
Research (done by SF State faculty) shows that spending money on life experiences brings greater happiness than purchasing material goods, so why not give the gift of fun? In lieu of a physical present, you could treat someone to an afternoon of sight-seeing, snacking and even a merry-go-round ride at Pier 39, run by alum Taylor Safford. Or give the gift of laughter with tickets to the 14th Annual SF Sketchfest (Jan. 22 - Feb. 8, 2015), a legendary comedy festival founded by a group of talented performers who met at SF State.
Your Gator might also enjoy tickets to Disney's California Adventure Park. Alum Barry Braverman spearheaded the park's design, with the aim of celebrating what makes the state extraordinary.
Through the Great Sunflower Project, SF State researchers, with the help of citizen scientists around the country, collect data to monitor bee populations, which are in decline. Products like a perpetual calendar and notecards (both with colorful bee motifs) and the "Field Guide to the Common Bees of California" support the project's work and would make a great gift for any gardener.
From classics, such as the soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas," to the more extreme (inflatable kayaks, anyone?), previous years' Gator gift ideas may be just what you're looking for: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005