The 2014 Friends Holiday Sale

Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks holds its annual ParkStore Holiday Sale—complete with Ugly Sweater Contest—Dec. 5-7, 2014.

by Traci Hukill

Dec. 3, 2014—Frankly, they had me at "Ugly Sweater Contest." But there are a lot of reasons to get yourself to the Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks Holiday Sale Preview this Friday night, Dec. 5, 5-8pm at the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park. If you can't make Friday, the Mission Adobe's ParkStore will be open 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday with discounts of up to 30 percent. (!) Here are some of those reasons.

1. The Mission Adobe All Dressed Up in Luminarias and Twinkly Lights.
If you've ever been to the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, you can imagine how charming this will be. If you haven't, then it's about time. The Mission Adobe overlooks downtown Santa Cruz and is easy to get to. For Friday night's festivities it will be all bedecked for the holidays, Californio-style: with luminarias, Mexican hot chocolate and live acoustic music by Paul Rangell and Emily Abbink, who, if we're lucky, will play some New Mexican folk music.

2. Ugly Sweater Contest!
With several categories, including Straight off The Rack for that beautiful garment Aunt Ruth bequeathed to you. Fabric artist Denise Kaiser Shaw will be on hand with spangly items for contestants hoping to score in the Embellished on The Spot category.

3. Discounts of 20 to 30 Percent.
Save 20 percent on everything just for walking in the door. Flash your Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks membership card and save an additional 10 percent for a grand total of 30 percent off everything your heart desires. That's what we call happy math. You can join Friends on the spot, too; memberships start at $50.

4. My Mom's Mole.
Cesario Ruiz's mole was one of the highlights of the Mole and Mariachis Festival held at the Mission Adobe in fall 2013 and 2014. The ParkStore will be selling this local gourmet treat, which is pretty much the perfect building block for a festive holiday meal. $9.

5. Crane Creek Holiday Cards.
Lovely greeting cards with a seasonal but not overtly Christmasey vibe. You'll find themes appropriate to our area parks in these 10-packs that sell for $14.99: orcas, dolphins, foxes, otters, shorebirds, even horses for the Wilder Ranch crowd.

6. Mushroom-Themed Stuff!
Mushrooms are big this year, trust us. Give the fungiphile in your life a reason to smile with a Gift Republic mushroom cup in ceramic ($16.99) or camp-style enamel ($10.99). Or keep the joy flowing through the dry season with Sylvie-Marie Drescher's beautiful Mushrooms of Bonny Doon calendar ($22). Fish and butterfly mugs are also available.

7. Taza Mexican Chocolate Discs.
In flavors like Chipotle, Guajillo Chile, Salted Almond and Coffee, these are not your abuela's fair-trade organic chocolate discs. Perfect stocking stuffers for a paltry $5. Or try the Taza Amazebar with cocoanut and dark chocolate (also $5).

8. Pashmina Butterfly Scarves.
Stunning and elegant color block combinations (think turquoise/teal and slate/wheat/olive) make these 70/30 pashmina/silk blend scarves a real find at $24.95. For something less muted, see the jewel-toned Monarch Scarves in polyester ($17.95).

9. Books.
ParkStore manager Kat Bailey hails from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and the book selection on hand at ParkStores reflects a bibliophile's touch. You'll find the National Audubon Field Guide to California (an incredible resource, well priced at $22), The Nature of California (another great guide with excellent illustrations, $14.95), The Ardent Birder by local birder and founding UCSC faculty member Todd Newberry ($14.95) and Kathleen D. Moore's book of essays on wild places, Wild Comfort ($15.95).

10. Adobe Series Schwabwear.
Graphic artist Michael Schwab's iconic images of Nisene Marks, Seacliff, Wilder Ranch and Natural Bridges have festooned mugs, sweatshirts, T-shirts, posters and notecards for years. Add to these the Adobe Series—Mission Adobe and Castro Adobe—and you've got a hoodie for almost every day of the week!

The Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks Holiday Sale and Preview Night

Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, 144 School St, Santa Cruz. Fri 5-8pm; Sat-Sun 10am-4pm. Free.

Directions: From Lighthouse Bank at the intersection of Mission and Cedar, cross Mission and turn left to start up the hill. Gate to stairway will be on your right as you head toward intersection of Mission and Chestnut/Hwy 1. If gate is closed, continue up hill, turn right at Emmett Street (on Mission Plaza) and right again at School Street and continue to the end of School Street.