Unusual and fun items are sure to please picky gift recipients
Vicky Katz Whitaker
Creators News Service
From a t-shirt that detects Wi-Fi signals to personalized popcorn tins, there's no shortage of clever and unusual Christmas gifts for those tough-to-shop-for friends or relatives.
For a head start, check these out:
"I Am Not a Paper Cup": It may look like one of those ubiquitous paper cups from your local coffee shop. However, this dishwasher-safe double-walled porcelain cup with a matte finish and soft silicone lid will never be tossed in someone's office wastebasket. Uncommon Goods (uncommongoods.com) sells it online and through its catalog for $20, and features plenty of other fun goodies that are earth-friendly.
Toilet Tattoos: Gift-getters with an eye for design will love this product. The electrostatic vinyl film decoration for the toilet lid is removable, reusable and available in dozens of colors and designs. The $9.95 Toilet Tattoos can be ordered directly from the manufacturer online at toilet-tattoos.com or from Bed, Bath & Beyond's online store, bedbathandbeyond.com. A slightly smaller holiday version can be purchased at K-Mart for $5.99.
Alligetter: Perfect for recovering things dropped in hard-to-reach places like between car seats, under furniture, appliances or in garbage disposals, this ergonomic, trigger-activated grabber is attached to a foot-long handle and a directional LED light that shines into the area to help find and retrieve an object. Its combination flap spreader, serrated teeth and grabbing tip pinch any foreign object and pull it out easily and quickly. Priced at $19.99, it's available from alligetter.com and at retailers nationally.
Memory Box Calendar: You can gift yourself with one of these before Christmas and give a gift certificate for the 2009 edition of this personalized, 10- by 14-inch freestanding calendar. You supply the thoughts, memories, activities and events for each of 24 peel-back boxes and your own photo to create an Advent-style planner. Or you can choose from among all the photos and messages online to make your own at memoryboxcalendars.com. They can also be used to celebrate other events: Weddings, birthdays and even back to school are in the works for 2009. The holiday calendar is priced at $19.99.
Wi-Fi Detector Shirt: Computer geeks on your Christmas list will delight in this black cotton t-shirt emblazoned with glowing bars that display nearby Wi-Fi signal strength for 802.11b or 802.11g. It runs for hours off three AAA batteries (not included). The animated decal is easily removable for washing. The shirt is $29.99 from thinkgeek.com.
Dress The Drink: Skip the olives and the twist. The host or hostess who receives this "makeup kit" for drinks will appreciate what it can do to a martini and dozens of other drinks, alcoholic and otherwise. Packaged in an acrylic and stainless steel makeup kit, it includes edible silver flakes, crushed red hots, toffee, toasted coconut, rock candy and your choice of two flavors of rimming sugars, each with their own serving spoon. Order directly from dressthedrink.com, $39 to $49.
Personalized Popcorn Tin: For a tasty and special holiday gift, add a photo and/or your message to the lid of any of three sizes of the Popcorn Factory's natural butter, robust cheese and sweet, secret-recipe caramel corn tins in a festive gold stars and swirl design. Available in three sizes, from $24.99 to $34.99. Personalization runs an additional $5.99. Order from thepopcornfactory.com.
Temperature Controlled Faucet Light: Gadgeteers will embrace this device that replaces the aerator on the end of a kitchen or bathroom sink faucet. The device senses the water's temperature, sending a blue LED light down the stream when it's cold and, when the water heats up, turns red. When the water is off, the light goes out. The Faucet Light sells for $21.95 at select retailers or online at hogwildtoys.com/homeandcastle.html.
Wave of Light Animatronic Dolphin: It's very easy to be mesmerized by the bright blue LED lights and the graceful movement of the dolphin in this wireless work of art that combines light, sound and motion. Just eight inches wide and resting on a 10-inch base, its moving acrylic blue bars form a three-dimensional luminescent dolphin sculpture that's lit from below. With several modes to choose from, you can turn the movement and dolphin sounds on or off, have the entire unit shut off automatically or use the built-in sleep timer. Check out BaronBob.com, where it's priced at $24.95.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Until Oct. 1, the www.memoryboxcalendars.com site is a press site. The alligetter.com site is scheduled to be completed in September.