Starting to get the feeling that you need less noise in your life, not more? This year, our Holiday Gift Guide is taking it easy on the gadgets. We’re unplugging (mostly) to focus on games, guides, tools, treats, and other goods that we’d love to either give or receive.
So, time to tune out, turn off, write something down, raise a glass, go outside, and light up (the candles). What shall we start with? Ah yes, a game about desperate survival and descending into madness …
You and your friends survived the plane crash, but will you survive the night? Our friends just created a strategic and cooperative survival card game called Ravine, which poses that very question. Estimated delivery is April 2018, but you can help their Kickstarter now. Pro tip: prepare yourself now for the “madness” cards.
Designer Britt Cobb’s tote is a masterwork in both kerning and leading. It’s the perfect gift for the type-obsessed in your life (in Brooklyn that’s about two out of every three friends). Available from our favorite store Standards Manual, but act fast as quantities really are limited.
We love Duralex glasses because they’re really hard to break (and French!), but these colorful ones on sale at MoMA’s Design Store are extra fun and have a little retro charm. Set of six is microwave safe, freezer safe, dishwasher safe.
Brooklyn-based M.N.Davis & Son produces exceptional products for dogs and humans, and we give away some of their amazing totes and pouches all the time to office visitors. If you’re in more of a canine state of mind, check out their well-crafted travel water bowls, bandanas, hoodies, waste bag dispensers, and treat pouches.
You’ve got the tools, now you need the treats. Barkbox monthly boxes start at $21 per box, and they’re a great way for your dog (and you) to survey all the toys, chews, and treats out there. The curated items included as part of BarkBox’s monthly themes — Chewrassic Bark, Bento & Blossoms, Sniffin Safari, to name a few — are extremely cute. Banana Bacon Safari Snacks anyone?
No, the other one. In the early 1950s Charles and Ray Eames designed a picture deck of cards, each with a different photo and 6 slots cut in so you can build an endless number of structures. Perfect for responsible children and adults. Available in small and medium.
Wildsam’s expanding galaxy of pocket travel guides are so well done, mixing stories, unique points of interest, interviews, day trip recommendations, maps, and recipes into a compact 140-180 pages (depending on the city). Rather than load you down with all options, the guides present a curated adventure that’s a pleasure to read before, during, and after your trip.
Tent’s legendary design prowess takes on a common problem — holding a book open while you’re doing other things. The Book on Book paperweight is their solution. Transparent acrylic is molded into the form of an open book, which you then place on top of the pages in question. No book-flattening, no spine-creasing, and all for the low, low price of 5880 Yen.
Are candles a pretty basic thing to put on a holiday gift list? Sure. But Paddywax’s Alpine collection offers you a lot of burn time for the money, inspired scent combinations (Pomegranate Spruce anyone?) and afterwards you can clean out the durable, attractive enamelware cups to use for outdoor excursions.
“Your destination for the crème de la cruelty-free.” Petit Vour offers a monthly beauty box full of selected vegan beauty products. Skincare, makeup, fragrances, and more … you get five or so small sizes in each box, and the packaging makes it feel like a real treat.
We DARE you to find a more effective hand cream. Kiehl’s salve makes for an excellent and slightly fancy stocking stuffer. Does the scent carry a light, yet reassuring, whiff of the medicinal? Yes, but that’s a small price to pay for preventing scaly winter hands.
The war on scaliness doesn’t end with hand cream. Stewart & Claire’s set of cocktail-inspired lip balms (Negroni, Old Fashioned and Tiki) include all kinds of ingredients that sound wonderful, like juniper, clove and peru balsam. Then others that also sound wonderful, but you have only a sketchily pleasant idea of what they are, like vanilla-infused organic jojoba oil, gentian root, organic safflower oil.
First off, this is an “Oprah Favorite.” That should be enough evidence for you to purchase one right now. The CPK-17 has a classic, stainless steel design punched up with modern one-touch controls on the handle. It’ll look great in your kitchen, you’ll look great pouring tea or coffee out of it. Also, good job on naming the preset temperatures: delicate, green, white, oolong, herbal, black, and French press.
Who better to help you defeat creative block than musician, composer, record producer, and visual artist Brian Eno? Now in it’s 5th edition, Eno and collaborator Peter Schmidt’s card deck was endlessly imitated by self-help publishers after it’s mid-70s release. However, it still holds up as one of the best, and most thoughtful, “pick a card, get some inspiration” tools out there.
Everybody needs a favorite thing to get when they’re not sure what to get. Public Supply notebooks are beautiful, well-made, and the company collaborates with a lot of really interesting artists for the cover designs. Plus, a portion of the proceeds goes to a school that needs funding for the arts.
This is definitely a gadget, but we couldn’t resist. Let’s say you’re Motorola. Sales of the Moto Z phone are ok, so you’re trying to get some of the old magic back. One way to do it is partner up with Polaroid to make a new “Moto Mod” that will capture attention. The Polaroid Insta-Share Printer snaps onto the back of the Moto Z and allows you to immediately print your own photos, or pictures from Facebook, Instagram, and Google Photos.
The 10th anniversary of Verlag Hermann Schmidt’s Typodarium calendar has arrived, and it is glorious. The 365 day desktop calendar is a celebration of international type — each day features the work of a completely different, completely brilliant designer. Part desk art, part inspiration deck, Typodarium promises you (in the words of its creators) a FONTastic 2018. How did they know the way to our hearts was through puns and typefaces?
There are about a million design tributes to the U.S. National Park System (as there should be!) but Type Hike’s recent work stands out. The collaborative, non-profit design group created some real works of art, available in large-format poster sizes and in more bite-sized postcard versions. Of particular note are the inspired takes on Everglades, Mammoth Cave, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Parks.
No more fooling around, DIY people, it’s high time you had your own personal cutting machine. The Cricut Explore Air 2 is an affordable, portable, elegant gift option for you or the designer in your life. Want to make custom vinyl stickers? No problem. Custom greeting cards? Yes. Experiments in adhesive foil and faux leather? Get outta here. Plus, you can upload your own images from an iOS or Android device.
Do saltwater gamefish have enough visual representation in your home? We didn’t think so. The perfect gift for dads and fishermen in your life, and we’re guessing that Venn diagram overlap is pretty large. Legendary illustrator Sherman F. Denton was a true Renaissance man. He worked as an artist for the Smithsonian, traveled the world with his brothers and geologist father, was an entrepreneur and inventor, and had a massive collection of freshwater pearls. The more you know.
MPOWERD’s Luci lights are perfect for outdoor, nighttime excursions. These inflatable, portable lights travel flat, weight almost nothing, cost about $20, and charge off solar energy. All you have to do is blow air into the Luci Outdoor Solar Lamp up and presto — it provides light for your tent/campsite for up to 24 hours. Great mission, great company, great products.