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Where's a unique place to shop for holiday gifts in South Orange County?

Christopher Radko ornament
Christopher Radko ornament

Tired of hitting the mall for the holidaze? Me too. Personally, I find online shopping is the way to go for most of my holiday gift buying--no crowds, zero parking hassles, and no lines. Always a plus.

However, given that weather-related problems are not an issue for us Southern Californians, there's really no excuse not to check out at least a few really exceptional stores for their amazing merch and just general holiday ambiance and spirit. Both of the following stores offer enormous selection for any budget, creative decorating ideas, or even just a little window shopping to get you into the holiday spirit.

The first needs little introduction to many of you, especially if you're a local:

Roger's Gardens, Newport Beach. Sitting on over seven acres across from Newport's beautiful outdoor upscale (of course) mall Fashion Island, Roger's Garden's has come to be known as "America's Most Beautiful Home and Garden Center" and for good reason. Winner of many awards (including the AmeriChristmas award and the Los Angeles Arboretum award) there really isn't anything you cannot find at this amazing winter wonderland. Take a tour here.

Christopher Radkos? Check. Vaillancourts? Check.The list goes on. And not just ornaments. Nooo. With the help of their friendly and plentiful staff, you'll find gourmet foods, pottery, china, candles, fine arts, furniture, tons of other gorgeous collectibles, books galore, and of course, plants, flowers, and yes, even christmas trees. Worth a visit if you're in the area. Click here for directions and contact info. Be prepared to wander. (And if you have small children, do as I recommend: hands in your pockets. There is a cool miniature  train outside to keep them entertained--at least for awhile. Good luck.)

A second insider find that is lesser known, smaller, but truly a gem for its spectacularly original gifts and multitude of original merchandise is Generations in Laguna Niguel. So small (they don't even have a website!) this store could be your one-stop store for all your presents this year. Located in the parking lot behind Trader Joe's on Golden Lantern at Del Avion, Generations has gifts that run the gamut from "for her" to newborn, from truly original holiday decorations to bath products, clothing and jewelry. Check out their selection of hand-etched and painted martini glasses--gorgeous! All beautifully displayed to get you into the holiday spirit. Call the friendly helpful staff at (949) 496-6566 for product specific information. Click here for their address.

So shake off your bah-humbug and try these two stores for a different twist on that same old mall shopping you always do every year. See if this doesn't help you enjoy your holiday shopping a little more this year!