Biz Beat

Tips for the (very) last-minute shopper; where to go for great valley gifts

Lots of local shops and businesses are still open for last-minute shoppers on Christmas Eve Day. A shopper checks out Rodin Ranch Farmers Market in downtown Modesto, which will be open for last-minute shoppers as will the Rodin Farms Fruit Stand on Oakdale Road.
Lots of local shops and businesses are still open for last-minute shoppers on Christmas Eve Day. A shopper checks out Rodin Ranch Farmers Market in downtown Modesto, which will be open for last-minute shoppers as will the Rodin Farms Fruit Stand on Oakdale Road. mrowland@modbee.com

Look, I get it. You’ve been busy. The holidays are crazy. Life, man.

But don’t despair if you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping. With one day to go before Santa’s big trip around the world/you have to have those presents wrapped under the tree, all hope is not lost. There are still plenty of last-minute local gifts to give to spread the seasonal cheer.

Independently owned retailers and local are businesses are still open and ready for you this Christmas Eve day. So hop in your car, bring your wallet and no one will need to know you waited until the very, very (very, very, very) last minute to get them something.

For the movie lover in your life, head on down to the State Theatre on J Street. The venerable downtown Modesto theater will be open Sunday and even Monday — for you uber procrastinators. You can purchase gift certificates or annual memberships, which only seems appropriate given that when the single-screen cinema opened on Christmas Day 1934 it was billed as “A Christmas Present to Modesto.”

The memberships start at $30 for youth under age 30, $50 general and $40 for seniors 65 and older. They include passes for free movies, popcorn and discounted admission to all Modesto Film Society screenings. Or, if you’re feeling particularly generous, upgraded membership packages range from $150 to $2,500 (the top tier includes Golden Tickets which lets you stroll into any regularly scheduled State movie for free).

If you want an immediate gift, the State will have a full slate of movies playing both days, including the holiday classics “White Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” running at 2 and 5 p.m. respectively Sunday.

Have a friend who loves wine and/or do you want drink it with this friend? The Stewart & Jasper Orchards store in the McHenry Village is a great stop for unique Central Valley gifts and wine, glorious wine.

The family-owned almond company near Newman has been in business since 1948 and opened the Modesto shop in 2011. Since then they’ve offered their products, gift baskets, wine and wine tastings. The pre-made baskets run from $20 to $200 and come with an assortment of nuts, dried fruit and other goodies. And then there are the wine tasting vouchers. A two-person wine and cheese flight costs $40, and if you’re really lucky your friend will take you as his or her plus-one.

Stewart & Jasper will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Plus, while you’re in the McHenry Village you can also start at an assortment of wonderful boutiques in the center that will also be open that day.

Another great place to check for local produce that will be open Christmas Eve is with the Rodin Family. Their Rodin Ranch Farmer’s Market in downtown Modesto will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the corner of J and 10th streets. Or, drive up Oakdale Road and stop at the Rodin Farms Fruit Stand across from Riverbank’s Crossroads shopping center. The outdoor stand has been lit up all season with festive lights.

Want for something more active? Give your bundles of energy a day of ice skating in the valley while they’re home for the holidays. Both Modesto on Ice and Fields of Ice at Turlock’s R.A.M. Farms will be open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for skating or pass purchases. The Modesto ice rink will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and its season runs through Jan. 21. The Turlock rink will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and 2 to 10 p.m. Monday, and will stay open through Jan. 15.

Of course, if you still can’t find the perfect present, for the truly battle ready there is always the Vintage Faire Mall, which will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

And remember, just because you’ve pushed your gift giving to the very last minute, doesn’t mean you don’t care. My late father, rest his forever procrastinating soul, was known to head out to do his shopping on Christmas Eve and returned tired, but with a big smile, many hours later. After all, it’s the thought that counts.

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