I have a close friend who already has all her Christmas presents picked out, purchased, wrapped, and sitting in neat stacks on her bedroom floor. Her chipper updates on Facebook include pictures of said presents, which make me guiltily remind myself to finalize my own list.
The problem, however, isn’t deciding who to buy presents for or where to buy presents. It’s what to buy. This past weekend, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning combing the web, looking for the perfect (or even just near-perfect) gift for everyone on my list.
With so many options, it’s easy to suffer from decision paralysis -- especially when you’re trying to balance the “perfect” gift factor, price, convenience of shopping in an online or brick and mortar store, navigating mall crowds, free shipping deadlines, and more.
I’ve put together a cheat sheet for almost everyone in your circle of friends and family. So go ahead, relax and have another cup of hot chocolate.
Sempli Cupa Rocks Gift Set, $50 -- These handblown crystal wine glasses are designed to spin and decant at the same time. Buy a set for the old man and include a nice bottle of Port so that he can sit back in style.
Anywhere Fireplace, $169.99 -- You are the apple of her eye. This holiday season, get her the fireplace that she’s always wanted. Smokeless, no ash, non-toxic, it burns eco-friendly bio-ethanol liquid fuel and is made of contemporary high gloss painted steel and tempered glass. It’ll be a great conversation piece and a warm addition to any entertaining room.
Spooner Board, $54.95 -- Have a little rascal that just won’t stay still? Get him this balance board; it’ll challenge him to stand, sit, rock, spin, slide, tilt, flip, or wobble on any surface, anywhere.
Lille Huset, $35 -- Legos are great, but painful for the unassuming foot. If your little sis loves arts and crafts, get her this collapsible DIY dollhouse instead so that she can let her imagination run free.
Before we continue, you may say wait! All your sibling gifts were for children. What about older siblings? Well, I am counting on them being just as cool as your friends, so keep reading for other gift options.FULL ENTRY
This past weekend, my mom and I were having dinner when she showed me the bracelet a co-worker had made for her. It was intricately weaved together, using strands of many different colors.
“Her wrists were full of them!” mused my mom. “It’s so popular to make things now.”
I chose this opportunity to tell her about the Maker Movement. Even though its roots stem from more tech and hardware, there is an overall interest in DIY, homemade, and homegrown. My mom should understand as she herself was the proud curator of a blooming summer garden this year.
This holiday season is the perfect time to dip your toe into DIY. Whether you’re a cheese aficionado, jewelry lover, or paper craft buff, here are six fun DIY Grommets that you can gift or share with a friend (or mom). Now wouldn't be a bad time to put your gin connoisseur friend to the test.
For the love of homemade food and drink
Urban Cheesecraft (Goat Cheese, Chevre) -- This delicious kit includes everything you need to make 10 batches of goat cheese, including easy-to-follow instructions. Just add pasteurized milk and enjoy homemade cheese in about one hour.
The HomeMade Gin Kit -- This is a great DIY project for grownups who like to imbibe. It comes with everything you need to make a small batch of high quality, subtly fragrant gin at home. And it's all ready in 36 hours.FULL ENTRY
If you’ve been out casually browsing the department stores as I did this past weekend, you’ll notice an old retail trick: lining the space around the checkout area with quick deals and impulse buys that you may pick up, adding another few dollars to your order.
This is because those items are high-margin products for the retailers. They make for great impulse purchases because they’re cheap, fun, deliver instant gratification, and may have an nostalgic element to them -- like with a classic game of pick up sticks or your favorite bubble gum.
But squandering a few dollars here and there for items that cease to amuse us past the first hour of our purchase creates waste. And when the items are used as gifts, such as stocking stuffers, they end up as meaningless gifts.
To put together some acclaimed stockings this year, limit the dollar floral notepads, soap, or key chains and check out this roundup of problem solvers that provide practical solutions in an ‘aha’ way.
Cuppow ($7.95) -- No more spilling hot coffee on the go. This is a lid for your mason jar, turning it into a portable travel mug.
Bubi Bottle (Starting at $14.95) -- Foldable, versatile, and durable, this water bottle can scrunch up in your pocket or double as a cold or hot compress.
Glove.ly ($29.95) -- These gloves let you use your whole hand on the touch screen if you want, and they’re extra warm and soft with an insulated layer of warmth.
Gleener ($19.95) -- Eliminate unsightly fuzz and lint with this nifty shaver on your favorite cardigan.
OnHand ($19.95) -- For college students rushing back and forth, store your files in this wrist-ready USB flashdrive.
PocketMonkey (Starting at $18.95, Set of 2) -- This tool packs twelve functions together into a one-millimeter piece of stainless steel that's the size of a credit card.
During a friend’s recent birthday, I noticed a mildly interesting pattern. Many of the gifts she received were of those ten-dollar teddy bears you can pick up at a CVS or supermarket.
It had only bothered me because I was contemplating minimalism later that weekend. I realized that if my friends were to give me such easy (read as lazy) gifts as the generic teddy bears, it’d be hard to keep my possessions at a meaningful minimum.
This holiday season, I challenge you to not give another hand lotion gift basket, teddy bear, or run-of-the-mill candle. Here are three ways you can select a meaningful gift for a friend or family member (or even a workmate).
Pick from a selection of Grommets that turns memorable landmarks, cities, towns, and even lakes into cherished keepsakes and works of art.FULL ENTRY
We’ve all been there. It’s the holidays, and your parents or in-laws have been expecting you for a get-together, but you just can’t get away at the moment. It makes you cringe to hear the disappointment in their voices. A “sorry” isn’t enough. What should you do?
Well, as sweet as you must be, send them something sweeter. Here is a roundup of six sweet gifts that anyone would be happy to get in the mail.
If you hold true to your Boston roots:
These sweet treats are made right here in Massachusetts.
Harbor Sweets ($19.50) are chocolates handmade in Salem. Their signature candy is the Sweet Sloop, a sailboat-shaped concoction of almond butter crunch, coated in white chocolate and dipped in dark chocolate and crushed pecans.
Chococoa ($28) are a delicious gourmet twist on the traditional whoopie pie, a staple of every childhood. The husband and wife creator team traveled to France and beyond in search of the best chocolate. When they returned to the U.S., they opened the Chococoa Bakery and Cafe in Newburyport with the updated Whoopie.FULL ENTRY
Every year, I put pen to paper and put together my shopping list. It's one of my favorite things to do. I like to project my best Santa while planning the perfect gifts for the different personalities in my family and circles of friends.
If you're in the midst of putting together your list this year, why look further than your own American backyard? For my picks of toys and games made with American heart and soul, I like to think this is what Santa would've put together:
1. Constructive Eating: Meal Set with Placemat, $37.95
Delight your little ones with a plate, utensil, and placemat set that will let them play while eating. The utensils include a forklift fork, front loader spoon and bulldozer pusher. They’ll have your kids shoveling food in their mouths in no time at all. All materials are FDA-approved, free of PVC, BPA and phthalates, and made in Illinois and Michigan.
In high school, most people tried to blend in. It’s not until college that we learn to stand out. But one of my close friends in high school shunned social “norms” and embraced her charming love of the color orange. For years during and after high school, our friends and I thought of Sandy anytime we spotted orange anywhere.
According to Sensational Color, orange is fun, flamboyant, dynamic, and radiates warmth. It uplifts, gives confidence, and always injects fun. This is the very definition of my friend, and I have come to appreciate this fun color.
In the spirit of the spooky season and fall, give your possessions or home a swap for this seasonally optimistic color. Check out this roundup of items and see if you can bring out your inner orange.FULL ENTRY
Every year, invitations to holiday bashes abound. Shake things up this year by holding a bash of your own, even if it’s just for your three closest friends.
Be careful of perfection paralysis, however, as you don’t want to take the fun out of it. You certainly do not have to be the hostess with the mostest. With a few signature pieces up your sleeve, you can guarantee a good time every time.
Plan a simple night in with all the fixings of a first-class soiree. Let’s walk through the steps.
1. Give your place a natural lift
Annabelle Noel Designs Flower Arranger ($12) -- The quickest and surest way of decorating your place is through fresh flowers. Use an Anabelle Noel Designs hand-woven and bendable flower arranger to create your best arrangements around the apartment or house. Your place will look and smell great.FULL ENTRY
It’s October, and it’s a great month to change up your home decor a bit. As the weather continues to drop like fall leaves, our attention will slowly creep indoors from apple picking to decorating our homes with some festive accents, seasonal mood lighting, and a sprinkle of spooky finds.
This time of the year usually brings me back to my days as a merchandising intern at Disney World. October was filled with parades and celebrations until the New Year. The Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parades were the highlight of the month, and many of my friends and I tried to attend at least two.
But what really caught my eye -- and everyone else’s -- was not just how well Disney knew how to throw a party, but the fantastic decorations that seemed to magically appear overnight.FULL ENTRY
The leaves are delightful shades of orange and brown. The apples are ripe. The air is cool and crisp. Fall is here.
Last week, I wrote about enjoying the last few outdoor days in Boston. It is now undeniably fall. While the temperatures are cooler and the air is crisp, fall is the perfect season for a host of activities.
New England is known for its harsh winters, but it’s also favored with beautiful fall seasons. Without even venturing far from the city, we can enjoy our main attractions -- the trees. While many of us living in the city may forget, our state is actually home to many wonderful farms and nature trails.
To celebrate the arrival of one of the best seasons, here is roundup of things and activities to help you get out and make the most of it:
The Geomate.jr Geocaching Device ($69.95) is splash-proof and covers all 50 states for geocaching, which has recently become a more popular pastime. It comes pre-loaded with 250,000 geocaches, but simply switching it on will display the 20 closest sites to you. It’ll also give you key details about each geocache, such as the size, difficulty, and terrain. With the Geomate.jr, you can enjoy the beautiful fall outdoors while searching for treasure.
The Aquapac Whanganui Electronics Case (Starting at $29.95) is a waterproof protective case made of UV-stabilized TPU material that won’t break down or discolor in sunlight. Not only does it protect a whole range of electronics, you can still use your devices while they’re in there. The next time you’re on some especially challenging terrain around water, be sure to pack them in an Aquapac for peace of mind.
A Sticky Note for Fall Fun:
If you’re going geocaching or hiking, use it as an opportunity to leaf-watch as well. You’ll most likely be among trees, which makes it the perfect opportunity to take in the multi-colored leaves. And you can take out your protected camera to snap a few photos, too.
If you’d rather stay close to the city for fall fun, consider packing a picnic for the nearest park and bringing a game of Snake Eyes ($49.95) along. This portable set of yard dice is handmade from solid, all-natural wood and perfect for games everyone can get into.
For a fun spin on the classic game of Frisbees, pack the Kan Jam ($39.95) with you. American-made, it has a growing fan base in the U.S. as well as Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. It’s basically a game of garbage can Frisbee, but with cleaner cans and a scoring system. The first team to reach 21 points wins.
A Sticky Note for Fall Fun:
To get yourself out of the city for a bit, apple-picking is a great fall activity that also leaves room for games like Snake Eyes and Kan Jam since there are usually open fields. After a good round of apples and games, the whole crew can go for apple cinnamon donuts and apple cider, which are usually produced fresh on apple farms. Take advantage of the chance to add delicious fall treats to your fun outing.
What do you usually do during fall? Share in the comments.
About The GrommetWe launch undiscovered products and help them succeed; we call them Grommets. Grommets aren't just things. Grommets are products with a purpose invented by people with stories. More »
Caroline hails from a tiny tropical island originally, but calls Boston home. A curious bird, she spent a spring trekking all over Ireland, has been an Air Force Junior ROTC cadet, and worked at Disney World as a merchandising intern. With a love for all things interesting, she found herself at The Grommet, where she gets to eat, sleep, and breathe innovative undiscovered products. Say hello to her on Twitter.