2023 Anteater Gift Guide

By Chrissy Park

With the 2023 holiday season upon us, look no further than the Anteater community for your shopping needs. Browse our holiday guide to discover the perfect gifts for all the bookworms, theatergoers, adventurers, foodies and fashionistas in your life – all while supporting UCI and alumni-owned businesses. From cruelty-free makeup products to tickets for live music, our list has something for everyone. Inclusion in the gift guide is not meant to be an endorsement or guarantee of the quality or performance of any of the products listed.

Curl up with a good book

Top row: Book covers of Kismet Connection, Bark On, The Liberators, An Archive of Skin, An Archive of Kin, Fierce and Fearless. Bottom row: The Bars Are Ours, Our Migrant Souls, Somewhere Sisters, The Last Animal, Writing & Desire, and Asian Americans in an Anti-Black World
Top row: Book covers of Kismet Connection, Bark On, The Liberators, An Archive of Skin, An Archive of Kin, Fierce and Fearless.
Bottom row: The Bars Are Ours, Our Migrant Souls, Somewhere Sisters, The Last Animal, Writing & Desire, and Asian Americans in an Anti-Black World.

From captivating stories to critical analyses, recent publications from School of Humanities faculty and alumni could help you start the new year with a fresh perspective.

Writing and Desire, by Jonathan Alexander, Chancellor’s Professor of English and director of Humanities Core, is a personal and analytical exploration of the role of desire in queer writing and composition.

Somewhere Sisters, by Erika Hayasaki, associate professor of literary journalism, follows identical twins who were born in Vietnam, came of age on different sides of the world, and are redefining the meaning of family. It was named an NPR Best Book of 2022.

The Bars Are Ours, by Lucas Hilderbrand, professor of film and media studies, traces the history of gay bars and the central role they play in LGBTQ+ communities, politics and culture.

Asian Americans in an Anti-Black World, by Claire Jean Kim, professor of Asian American studies and political science, provides an in-depth look at anti-Blackness and white supremacy in the racial order – and where Asian Americans might fit in.

An Archive of Skin, An Archive of Kin, by Adria L. Imada, professor of history, examines how intimacy and care among people exiled for leprosy, beginning in 1866, helped them to survive medical incarceration.

Our Migrant Souls, by Héctor Tobar, professor of literary journalism and Chicano/Latino studies, analyzes the classification of “Latino” and follows Tobar’s own journey to discover its meaning. The publication won the Kirkus Prize for nonfiction and was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2023 by The New York Times.

Fierce and Fearless, co-written by Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, professor of Asian American studies and director of the Humanities Center, is the first biography of trailblazer Patsy Takemoto Mink, a legislative champion of Title IX and the first woman of color elected to Congress.

The Last Animal, by Ramona Ausubel ’08, follows a single mother and her two teenage daughters as they embark on a wild scientific journey and find themselves along the way.

Bark On, by Mason Boyles ’20, revolves around a triathlete and a disgraced Olympic coach on a coyote-infested barrier island – and what happens when a teenage orphan joins them.

Kismat Connection, by Ananya Devarajan ’23, is about a girl who devises an experimental relationship with her childhood best friend, complicated by his feelings for her and, eventually, hers for him.

The Liberators, by E.J. Koh ’10, spans two continents and four generations as choices made in love and war impact the lives of two Korean families forever.

Experience the arts

Running from Feb. 22 to 24, Dance Visions is the UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts’ annual premier dance production. Faculty-choregraphed performances blend dance, music and theater while showcasing the talent of undergraduate and graduate students.

On March 7, the UCI Symphony Orchestra will hold its winter concert. Listen to an evening of orchestral classics performed by a group that’s been around since 1966.

On May 11 and 12, the UCI Opera and UCI Symphony will present “The Turn of the Screw,” an unforgettable two-act opera based on Henry James’ classic novella. Follow an enigmatic governess as she confronts malevolent spirits – and enter a world where reality and the supernatural intertwine.

Dance Visions 2024 poster

UCI Athletics

Tickets are available for a host of upcoming games in men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, baseball and soccer. Young UCI fans (13 and under) can join the Jr. Anteater Club to receive exclusive membership benefits, such as complimentary admission to home games, meetings with coaches and student-athletes, and special on-court opportunities.

Jr. Anteaters

The Hill

Find your favorite UCI-themed gear at the bookstore. Whether you adorn your tree with ornaments, gift an Anteater plushie to a friend or family member, or pick up a colorful beanie to stay warm this winter, The Hill has you covered.

UCI beanie
Anteater Plush
UCI branded ornaments featuring Peter the Anteater and UC Irvine logo

The gift of giving

UCI’s Basic Needs Center welcomes donations to ensure that every student can eat properly. In addition to its FRESH Pantry, the center recently launched a mobile food pantry to expand access to key provisions. Contributions can be made via UCI Giving.

Baked goods

With locations in Costa Mesa and San Diego, Blackmarket Bakery, owned by anthropology alumna Rachel Klemek ’91, is a local favorite. Make this season even sweeter with the bakery’s special holiday treats, ranging from chocolate hazelnut babka to pumpkin chai cheesecake. Know anyone with a sweet tooth?

Yule log from Blackmarket Bakery
Image from Blackmarket Bakery

Clean cosmetics

Sheena Zadeh-Daly ’05, who merged her love of artistic expression with her academic studies of chemistry and biological sciences at UCI, created Kosas. The cosmetics company is at the forefront of a revolution in the beauty industry, emphasizing simplicity and comfort. The lipsticks, blushes, foundations and more flatter all skin types, can be applied effortlessly and are made with cruelty-free, clean ingredients.

Image from Kosas

Comfortable style

International studies alumna Bianca Gates ’00 co-founded Birdies, a shoe company that makes stylish flats with the comfort of slippers. The casual footwear is crafted with lush fabrics designed to make you feel as good as you look.

Birdies flats
Image from Birdies

Sustainable fashion

Launched by philosophy alumnus Aras Baskauskas ’02 and his wife, Christy Baskauskas, Christy Dawn sells vintage-inspired women’s clothing. The garments are handcrafted in Los Angeles using repurposed excess fabric from larger fashion factories. With a commitment to “honor Mother Earth,” the label has also begun to grow its own cotton by supporting farmers in India employing regenerative practices.

Christy Dawn apparel hanging on clothing rack
Image from Christy Dawn

Think outside the bag

Tea Drops, established by economics alumna Sashee Chandran ’07, makes it possible to enjoy the richness of actual tea leaves without the waste of a tea bag or the messiness of loose leaf. Made with pressed tea leaves, spices and a light amount of organic cane sugar, the “drops” dissolve in hot water like bath bombs. Options range from decaf teas such as citrus ginger and sweet peppermint to caffeinated teas like rose Earl Grey, matcha and vanilla white. The company also partners with the nonprofit Thirst Project to provide clean water to communities across the globe.

Tea Drops
Image from Tea Drops

Foldable kayaks

Inspired by the Japanese art of origami and the lightweight frames of Greenland kayaks, Oru makes kayaks that fold up neatly and travel easily. Co-founded by economics alumnus Ardy Sobhani ’04, who now serves as CEO, the company encourages spontaneous water adventures and connection with nature.

Oru kayak
Image from Oru

Land surfing

When bolted to the front wheels of any skateboard, the Waterborne adapter creates the sensation of surfing on land. Business information management alumnus Patrick Dumas ’19 developed the gadget after experimenting with couch springs, shopping cart casters, scrap metal and other “Frankenstein parts.” Modified skateboards are now ridden in more than 30 countries.

Waterborne skateboard
Image from Waterborne

The perfect fit

Criminology, law & society alumnus Jon Batarse ’05, along with his son and daughter, created Glove Wrap. The latex-free, thermoplastic elastomer band, which got a deal on “Shark Tank,” breaks in and molds baseball, softball and hockey goalie gloves. A Glove Wrap could make the holidays extra special for the sports lovers in your life.

Glove wrap
Image from Glove Wrap

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