Used to be back in the day (which, depending on your perspective, could be 1743 or last Tuesday), people got their holiday cooking finished way in advance. No longer. What with jobs and socializing and school, the cookies are staying unbaked until the first of never. But there's still time. Here are some favorite whip-up-the-frosting shops around Los Angeles...
SURFAS: Eyes glaze, like beautiful hot donuts, when serious chefs talk about this Culver City cooking emporium. That's because it has everything for the home cook (whether you're making your first batch of gingerbread ladies this decade, or you're at the stove morning/noon/night), plus a cafe that sells luscious, quiche-y, ready-to-eat treats that aren't too expensive. Also, the industrial feel of it all feels so high-minded and serious. We practically feel like Nigella Lawson when we stride through the doors (though not nearly as sexy)... Surfas, corner of West Washington and National Boulevards, Culver City. 310-559-4770
SUR LA TABLE: It's a small, boutique-y chain out of Seattle, and it knows just where our sweet tooth lives. The staff is always helpful, the selection immensely browse-able, and help for our Christmasy needs? There's usually a huge rack of red-and-green-y goods (cookie cutters, dessert mixes, edible decorations) near the counter. We like the frou-frou, food-themed ornaments they sell this time of year, the sassy cocktail napkins and the glossy chutneys/mustards in the jar section -- all very gift-able. Locations? The Grove, Pasadena, The Americana at Brand, Third Street Promenade, plus a new one at Irvine Spectrum... 800-243-0852
THE COOK'S LIBRARY: Okay, there's nothing really edible, or potentially edible (unless you eat paper) at this Third Street bookstore, but, oh, the recipes, the chef biographies, the sheer volume of tasty ideas for the kitchen. Good stuff for you, good stuff for anyone on your list who spends more time at the mixer than mixing among his or her guests... 8373 W. Third Street, Los Angeles. 323-655-3141