Dreading the battle for parking, long lines, and stress of shopping this season? The communities of the Monterey Peninsula have an abundance of shops and boutiques where you’ll find everything you need, from decorations for a holiday party to gifts for friends and family to a new outfit or accessory for seasonal socializing. Support local business owners and grab some unique finds without the hassle of the mall. These suggestions are just starting points; make sure to wander around and find more favorites of your own. 

Monterey

For elegant gifts and decor with a folksy touch, head to Lilify in Monterey. You’ll find ceramics, jewelry, candles, and more in this calming space adorned with driftwood. Lilify also offers styling services and has been featured in design publications including Dwell and Design Sponge.  If you need a pick-me-up before your next stop, grab a drink at Bright Coffee, an espresso bar inside the shop. 

(Photo courtesy of lilify.com)

Brand-new to Monterey, Grace Lifestyle Boutique is a fresh addition to the ever-changing Alvarado Street. Owner and Carmel native Brittani Bristol aims to bring her fashion retail experience from Elan, the high-end women’s clothing store in the Lodge at Pebble Beach, to her own shop, focusing on a more affordable mix of casual yet stylish wear. This is your spot for a feminine party find or something pretty to put under the tree. 

To really prep your kitchen for the holidays, head down Highway 68 to Stone Creek Kitchen. In addition to specialty spices, oils, and other grocery items, this is where you’ll find just the right cookie cutter or cake pan, a new knife, or that tiny melon baller you’ve been meaning to pick up. Glassware, candles, and table linens will complete your vision for the perfect party. If you’re exhausted from shopping, Stone Creek does have an actual kitchen where they whip up seriously-good ready-to-go meals made to take home to eat. Proprietors Linda Hanger and Kristina Scrivani have combined their food and business know-how to create a special shopping experience for anyone who loves food.

(Photo courtesy of kaboompics.com)

Pacific Grove

Happy Girl Kitchen is another must for anyone who loves food. Inspired by their love of and farming preserving what they grow, Todd and Jordan Champagne started Happy Girl as a pickle company. Now, along with their crew, they specialize in all kinds of preserved treats, from tomatoes and green beans to jams and marmalades. If you want to try some of these goodies while you’re here, a bite of anything from the cafe menu of from-scratch, locally sourced organic breakfast and lunch items will make you want to scoop up everything in sight. This is a truly community-oriented establishment, so if you want to do more than just grab a jar of something for your holiday spread or host gift, sign up for a workshop or grab a gift certificate for your favorite DIY-er. 

(Photo courtesy of insidescoopsf.com)

For the bookworms in your circle or for curling up by the fire, browse Bookworks in Pacific Grove. New releases, best sellers, local history, and children’s books are the focus, with many titles to choose from. 

(Photo courtesy of kaboompics.com)

Just down the street, stop in to Butterfly by the Sea, a shop celebrating Pacific Grove’s monarch sanctuary status. While you’ll find the expected butterfly-themed decorations, jewelry, and more, a variety of charming potted succulents could also be just the right touch for your home or a friend’s. 

Carmel

If you haven’t been to Lula’s before, you’ll soon be putting it on your list for every gift-giving occasion (or for no occasion at all). The story of this confectionery goes back to owner Scott Lund’s grandmother, who also owned a chocolate company and taught her grandson the tricks of the trade. While you’ve probably seen Lula’s available elsewhere on the peninsula, it’s a special treat to browse tables full of caramels, toffees, nut clusters, and more. If you’re here to buy gifts, make sure to treat yourself as well. Know someone truly obsessed with Chocolate? A tour of Lula’s factory in Monterey will score major points. 

(Photo courtesy of lulas.com)

Whether your purchases are kid-oriented or you want to freshen up your board game supply, Thinker Toys in Carmel-by-the-Sea will have something fun. The shop, a fixture here since 1969, takes pride in offering toys and games that are both smart and fun. Selling everything from chess to pokemon, it’s a great spot for kids and adults alike. 

(Photo courtesy of negativespace.co)

For those people in your life who are perennially difficult to buy for, try the Hat Shop in Carmel. A wide array of new and refurbished vintage hats ranging from the serious to the silly will have you smiling at the very least. And while the weather on the peninsula is almost always pleasant, a hat is often just the thing on a foggy night.