Even in lean financial times, when some of us are iffy about our jobs, our homes, and our savings... the holidays are still pressing. What small but meaningful gift can you buy for your best friend, your brother, the baby-sitter...?
Several years ago, a friend gave me a 3M tape dispenser with a detachable wrist band. I use it all the time, but I would not have bought it! My most memorable gifts are like that; they're useful, they distinguish themselves in some way from the pack, and I would not buy them for myself.
With those criteria in mind, as well as the cost factor, I went shopping in my favorite web stores and found some small gifts that may meet those requirements for your gift recipients!
Fun Holiday Gift Idea #1. Clothespin Chopsticks: $4.00 Each
The best thing since... well, chop sticks! The Made By Humans Clothespin Chopsticks are for the not-so-coordinated westerners who, nevertheless, have a wild love of oriental foods and don't want to look dumb eating them with a fork. The Clothespin Chopsticks can be used at home or be transported to Chinatown for your recipients favorite dishes. There are other clothespin sets on the market, but I prefer these because they are sold individually and you can choose your colors instead of getting a rainbow set! Available on Amazon. Reusable and dishwasher safe. Plastic, 10" L.
Also neat are the Chopstick Kids by Fred at for around $10 a pair on Amazon.
Holiday Gift Idea #2. Eco-Stapler, Staple Free Stapler: $5.99
You can't beat the price and you must save the environment. This modernistic design in silver will make a smooth statement on any desk or work table. This product is also a Made By Humans product and is available at Amazon in matte silvertone.
Don't waste a drop with a Utensil Pot Clip, and don't make a mess on the stove either! A great idea when you're cooking "topless." The Pot Clip is stainless steel and silicone, heat resistant to 600°F, and dishwasher safe. Just clip and let drip! Available from Amazon.
Holiday Gift Idea #4. Moustaches, The Famous Mustache Pencils: $12
Now, how many people that you know have 5 famous mustache pencils? Here they are, nice and sharp, the Salvador, the Zorro, the Burt, the Django, and the Clark. Your recipient will never forget you! At Atypyk , of course.
Fun Holiday Gift Idea #5. Alphabet Paper Clips: $15 per set
Everyone has stuff to file, and there's no more elegant a way than this precious stainless steel set, designed by Stephen Reed. Paper clips that are certain to be memorable for a long time. Purchase at Stephen Reed Design.
James puts the brakes on in black or red and he's strong. Everyone needs a doorman, especially a rubber one who will hold the door without damaging the floor! Approximately 7.5" by 8.25", from Amazon.
Fun Holiday Gift Idea #7. The Morph Pad: $19
Paper blocks have come a long way. Oh, you can stack these morphers straight up like the old guys, but why, when they're capable of so much expression? The Morph Pad has 1,000 sheets, but before they're used up, their recipient will have a lot of play time creating architectural sculptures with them. The Morphs twist and turn any way they're directed. How fun! Multi-color green, blue, and orange, 2" x 3" x 5", at Charles & Marie.
Also from Charles & Marie , the Mighty Morph Pad, $25, 3" x 5" x 5", in shades of purple and shades of green.
Fun Holiday Gift Idea #8. Alessi Serpentine Bottle Opener: $22.50
The Serpentine Bottle Opener was designed by architect Tom Kovac. It is a miniature of Kovac's sculpture for the Serpentine Gallery in London. Made from hand-polished stainless steel, this designer bottle opener is sure to please even those who are impossible to please. About .5" thick, the Serpentine Bottle Opener is roughly 3 inches in diameter. At Utility Design and at Amazon. Slick, huh?
This beautiful glass cutting board, created by designer Antony Joseph, is made of tempered glass, so you get double action from it -- cutting board and hot plate. Glass has many advantages over wood and plastic cutting boards; it doesn't stain, doesn't hold odors, and is non-porous.Tempered glass is pretty hardy, but you still have to be careful with it. Selling at the MoMA gift shop as well as Amazon.
Fun Holiday Gift Idea #10. Wine Tote by Sagaform: $29.95!
A perfect gift for any couple you know who may want to scoot out for a picnic or an overnight guest house. Designed by Linda Sjunnesson, the wine tote is made from durable cotton canvas and comes with two plastic wine glasses, a corkscrew, and two napkins. The bag, available in black or khaki, is so well-priced, you can supply the a bottle of wine and still keep your gift under $40. (Update: This tote is no longer available. A similar wine tote on Amazon is here.
It doesn't hump or heat your coffee; the Hub Man Adaptor just gives good output to your computer accessories. Shucks... What's a Hub Man for if he can't do that? He's a high-speed USB 2.0 enabler for four USB accessories. He's a cool 5"H x 4"W x 0.5"D and doesn't eat much. Available at Amazon.
Fun Holiday Gift Idea #12. Ciseau Letter Opener by Atypik $36.
As you can see, Atypyk, our droll French friends have done it again, but in style as always. The Ciseau is one half of the ciseaux In French, as scissor might be the English of half of a scissors. Oh, enough of this play on words. Anyway, the Ciseau is quite elegant and a conversation piece with no explanation needed. Available in beautiful gift box from Atypyk.
Note: Prices are approximate. The Euro/Dollar was calculated at 1.25. The British Pound/Dollar was calculated at $1.50.