Franks Fisherman, 366 Jefferson St (between Jones and Leavenworth), 775-1165.
There are plenty of shops in the Wharf to buy knock-off Gucci sunglasses or squash a penny and imprint it with the image of the Golden Gate Bridge, but one tchotchke shop stands out among the mountains of fleece and plastic cable cars. Route 66 specializes in nostalgia memorabilia, including a vast selection of Coca-Cola collectibles and metal advertising posters. Metal signs ($14.99) run the gamut from classic cars and vintage war-propaganda posters, to an illustration of Lucille Ball promoting "vitametavegamin." Betty Boop and Elvis are well represented here, as are 50s matinee idols and vintage aviation miniatures ($1.99-$5.99).
Route 66, 2653 Taylor (between North Point and Beach), 749-0781.
Give a gift that keeps on living. Exquisite orchids, succulents, and bamboo vie for space in this harmonious shop with impeccable feng shui. Select raw materials--plants, flowers, vases, terrariums, urns, tiny ceramic Buddha statues, pagodas, or glass turtles and create your own designs, or better yet, leave the job to the expert. Artist/floral designer Kevin Kim's delicate bonsai sculptures balance water, greenery, and tiny glass and ceramic pieces subtly and organically. Kim's custom designs are one-of-a-kind, and he'll work in any price range. At any given time, 30-40 different species of orchid are available. With strains of classical music in the background, this oasis of calm is a welcome respite from the holiday shuffle.
Plants on Polk, 1475 Polk (at California), 921-1072.
A Parisian perfumerie on Polk Street? Mais oui! Denis Dumont's elegant shop is a slice of the 8th arrondissement in San Francisco. Dumont, a trained perfumer, creates his signature scents for both men and women from more than 2,000 essences and aromatics. He uses no synthetics in his formulas. Custom fragrances are unique and personal, handcrafted from botanical plants ($76 per 1/3 oz). From violet to verbena, you'll find scented soaps, lotions, sachets, foaming gelee, exfoliating scrubs, masks, perfumes and aftershave. Dumont also stocks French Limoges porcelain boxes, glass perfume bottles with bulb sprays and tassels, pill boxes, men's Italian shaving kits, wild-boar-bristle hair brushes, sea sponges, and brushed gold candles. Gift wrapping is available for a nominal charge.
Denis Dumont Parfumerie, 1741 Polk, 441-0341.
A new addition to the neighborhood (in the former Brownie's Hardware space) is Sugar Poppy, a girly boutique, as the name suggests. Here you'll find lots of fun fashions for teenage girls and Sex and the City types. Urchin's fur-trimmed sweaters are hot this season and come in tangerine, beige, and black ($176). A similar Betsy Johnson comes in a deep, rich burgundy ($162). A great selection of funky, very original Mona Milkface handbags includes one with a pink plastic handle shaped like a tulip. The bag itself is black velvet with a green stem and leaf ($252). In the jewelry case are sassy, 70s inspired necklaces, like the ones that spell out "foxy" or "Scorpio" in rhinestones. For $8 you can pick up the wallet-size Vinnie's Tampon Case ("I break for cycles"), but you'll want to be aware of the timing of this gift.
Sugar Poppy, 1552 Polk (at Sacramento), 775-4979.
You can shop for your New Age-y niece, your Pagan pal, and your sister the seeker while having your astrology chart done at this metaphysical mecca. You'll find candleabras that would do any Goth proud, a bust of Nefertiti for the Egyptophile, plus crystal balls, cauldrons, and crop circle cards. No matter what deity they dig, there's a gift here that pleases. In the $50 range you'll find a Dracula crest as well as chakra balancers, but if you really feel like splurging, a 4-foot-tall sarcophagus goes for $440. Also, gems, jewelry, CDs, musical instruments, incense, herbs and lots and lots of books.
Psychic Eye Book Shop, 301 Fell (at Gough), 863-9997.
Timepieces make great gifts, but you needn't limit your choices to the Swatch counter at Macy's. Rather, transport yourself to another era at Zeitgeist, where you can pick up a pocket watch circa 1700 or a wristwatch from the 70s. Vintage jewelry includes stylish 20s-era diamond rings with lacy white-gold filigree. Though it's primarily a repair shop, you'll find classic watches made by Longines, Waltham, Hamilton, and Gruen as well as bold, chunky, contemporary stainless-steel pieces by Teno ("lugnuts for the enlightened"). While you're there be sure to admire the old German tower clock on the wall by the door. Modern watches range from $79 to $200; antiques are in the $300 range.
Zeitgeist Timepieces & Jewelry, 437 Hayes, 864-0185.
If you can't get a chunk of your shopping done at Panetti's, you haven't spent enough time poking around the place. For starters, there's a "box of very silly things" in which you might come across eyeglasses fashioned from household items--two forks cover eyes, a spoon over the nose. ... ($22). Beautiful dioramas depicting vibrant Mexican storefronts dress up any wall. Equally colorful are Lori Sandstedt's cigar-box purses with vintage postcard images and handles made from beads and dice ($138). For the cocktail culture set, there are plenty accoutrements to choose from, including martini glasses with the San Francisco skyline etched along the rim ($28 each), champagne flutes, fancy picks, and stem rings and charms to decorate glasses. Wood- block prints of vividly colored fruits and vegetables liven up a bachelor's kitchen.