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2023 Triton Holiday Gift Guide

Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier.
Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier. Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego.

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'Tis the season to spread the Triton spirit! In this annual holiday gift guide, we have curated a mix of products and experiences brought to you by UC San Diego’s talented community of alumni, faculty, innovators, scholars and more.

Celebrate the joy of giving and explore this unique assortment of ideas tailored for every age and interest, ranging from items that have gone viral on TikTok to tickets for exciting performances hosted right on campus.

'Tis the Season to Sparkle

Created by UC San Diego alumna Amy Liu, Tower 28 is a clean makeup brand designed for sensitive skin. Products such as their ShineOn Milky Lip Jelly and SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray have gone viral on TikTok, becoming fast favorites in the beauty community. Tower 28 is also the first and only makeup brand to meet National Eczema Association's Ingredient Guidelines. 

Featured on Good Morning America and ABC News, Maharlika is an alumna-founded line of modern Philippine accessories from designer Mar Velicaria. While Velicaria was an undergraduate, one of her intricate headpieces featuring the Philippine sun went viral on TikTok, skyrocketing her business centered around inspiring other Filipino-Americans to embrace their heritage. 

Image of cosmetics from Tower 28; image of golden accessories.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Symbiosis Wines—established in 2007 by Scripps Institution of Oceanography alumna Glenna Thompson—crafts its product using grapes harvested from sustainably farmed vineyards. Thompson's career journey, from upholsterer to ballet dancer to marine biologist, pivoted toward winemaking after a trip to Paso Robles ignited her passion for making wine. 

Give those with a sweet tooth a donut bouquet from Donut Princess LA, a delivery only concept established in 2017 by Department of Communication alumni Mayly Tao, the daughter of two Khmer refugees. Donut Bouquets can be ordered 24 hours in advance and delivered around Los Angeles and Orange County as well as shipped nationwide. 

Craft beer enthusiasts will delight in award-winning offerings from Protector Brewery founded by Sean Haggerty, a Rady School alumni and a former American veteran who served for nearly a decade as a Navy SEAL. The brewery is recognized as San Diego’s first and only organic beer company. 

wine bottles. donuts, brewer in front of bar

Give the Gift of Arts & Culture 

Tickets for ArtPower at UC San Diego's 2023-2024 season are now on sale, showcasing a vibrant lineup of concerts, dance performances and family-friendly programs. Among the highlighted events is a tribute show honoring the musical legacy of Whitney Houston, set to take place at the Epstein Family Amphitheater on Feb. 22. 

Beloved by musical artists such as Taylor Swift and Zac Brown, a Taylor Guitars instrument would make a cherished addition to any musician’s collection. UC San Diego alumni Andy Powers serves as the chief guitar designer, president and CEO at this San Diego-based company, which is also the largest manufacturer of acoustic guitars in the country.

Movie enthusiasts will delight in receiving a gift card for the Digital Gym Cinema which is located at UC San Diego Park & Market. This 58-seat cinema showcases daily screenings of independent and foreign films, as well as hosts film festivals and showings of nostalgic cult classic movies.

Epstein Family Amphitheater; Taylor guitar; movie concession stand at UC San Diego Park & Market

Books that Inspire and Delight 

Readers who relish comedic historical novels will enjoy "Empty Theatre: A Novel," the latest work by creative writing professor Jac Jemc. Released in 2023, this book has been praised as a "wildly over-the-top social satire that reimagines the mad misadventures of the iconic royal cousins King Ludwig and Empress Sisi."

"Tripas" is a collection of poems authored by Brandon Som, associate professor of literature and creative writing. The collection celebrates diverse heritages, paying homage to his Chicana grandmother who worked at Motorola's assembly line and honoring the legacy of his Chinese American father and grandparents who operated the family corner store. 

From thrilling mysteries to epic adventures, make a stop at the UC San Diego Bookstore to browse books of all genres. The campus shop is currently celebrating its annual holiday sale, presenting shoppers with great deals on books, apparel and even presents for pets. The sale runs in-store and online through Dec. 22. While supplies last, spend $100 or more on UC San Diego branded gear in a single purchase and receive a complimentary Triton bear. 

book covers and items from bookstore

Experiences to Remember

Artists can spin their own ceramics, craft a unique piece of jewelry and even shape their own surfboards at the UC San Diego Craft Center. The 11,000-square-foot facility offers courses and workshops for all skill levels to hone their craft. You can also give the gift of a unique experience led by professional artists for colleagues, friends or family to enjoy the creative process and have the opportunity to make an artifact or art object by hand. Visit the Craft Center website to view course schedules, purchase open studio vouchers and more. 

Founded by alum Patrick Border and his wife Victoria, Vinya: vino + vinyasa is the first ever yoga studio and wine bar with a full kitchen and retail boutique all in one community space. Located in Clairemont Mesa, Vinya offers a variety of classes for all levels, spanning from rejuvenating restorative yoga sessions to vibrant vinyasa flow experiences. Join them for fun events, such as a Holiday Sip-n-Shop on Dec. 7 and a live music Christmas Sing-Along on Dec. 15. Plus, shoppers who purchase a $100 gift certificate will receive a free week of yoga by mentioning UC San Diego.

Surf Diva is a popular La Jolla surf shop and school founded by UC San Diego alums Isabelle “Izzy” and Caroline “Coco” Tihanyi. Alongside offering surf camps and private lessons, stop by Surf Diva to browse swimsuits, boards, accessories and more. Giftcards for both retail and lessons are also available online.

pottery making, yoga, girl in hat facing the water

For those looking to give back directly to the Triton community, a gift of any size makes a difference at UC San Diego. To learn more about how to support the student experience, innovative research endeavors or campus priorities, visit

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