Looking for holiday gifts for family and friends? Get your cursor ready: This year, there’s a wealth of gift options you can only find online. Many are only available from a single, under-the-radar online source. Save yourself icy sidewalks and crushing crowds, and opt for something that’s not in every third store; something that’s really a surprise.
Need some online-shopping tips? Click here. (Note that some prices below include shipping while others don’t; check before hitting the Buy button.)
All of these gifts will arrive in time for Christmas if you shop soon!
Child’s Play Kitchen
You might prefer to avoid the kitchen, but in case you’ve forgotten, tots love real-life chores (as long as they’re optional). This detailed play kitchenis easy assemble using recycled cardboard, wire hangers from the dry cleaner, and odds and ends you or the kid’s parents may already have around the house. The downloadable kit comes with full instructions and once built is functional and remarkably sturdy. It’s been available for several years and has made many a child supremely happy. The kit is available on Etsy, the Internet’s marketplace for crafters and thrifters. Click here to buy. $12
High Line Tote Bags
$55 might seem like a lot for a humble tote – but these are no ordinary tote bags. Each is a one-of-a-kind creation assembled from a section of a decommissioned work in the High Line Billboard artist series. And we all know there’s nothing much cooler than the High Line. Artists available are Paola Pivi, Thomas Bayrle (pictured), John Baldessari, Allen Ruppersberg, and Mauriccio Catelan and Pierpaulo Ferrari. Click here to pick from the range on the High Line site. $55
Phoneography Starter Kit
Know someone with a smartphone or tablet? Then you know someone who uses their smartphone camera all the time. This phoneography kit contains everything they’ll need to turn ordinary pictures into artsy ones: macro and wide-angle lenses, a Dreamy Color Gradient phone filter for special effects, a full scholarship to Photojojo University – ie: a fun and effective course that arrives weekly by email – and a pouch to hold it all. The kit is compatible with iPad and iPhone, and Android phones and tablets. The kit is available on Photojojo, a site – an online store – for photographers who are more interested in having creative fun than owning fancy equipment. Click here to buy. $30
Tattly Temporary Tattoo Sets
Brooklyn-based designer Tina Roth, aka Swiss Miss, dreamed up Tattlys a few years ago: temporary tattoos made by up-and-coming illustrators and designers. Since then the range has exploded, with new Tattlys being added almost weekly and a global population of groovy kids and adults adorning themselves in the colorful creations. Roth added tattoo sets a while ago, making these perfect gifts. Click here to pick from the whole range of Tattlies, including rainbow-color sets, tough guy sets, circus sets and more. $15
Touchfire silicone iPad keyboard
iPads might be the best things since sliced bread (or something), but when you need to type an email, the touchpad can get pretty tiresome – especially for older fingers. Enter the Touchfire, a silicone keyboard just 1/10 of an inch thick and ⅜ of an ounce light that uses the iPad’s magnets to snap into place over the touch keys. The Touchfire was crowdfunded on Kickstarter and is available at Grand Street, a site that sells crowdfunded inventions, for people who love creative technology. Click here to buy. $39
Pulse Activity Tracker
Also from Grand Street, this Kickstarter-funded activity tracker is a wearable health tracker measures activity, monitors habits, and displays data in real-time, letting the wearer adjust habits in the moment. The device measures and displays steps taken, elevation climbed, distance traveled, calories burned, duration of runs, and compares your walking against the World Health Organization’s recommended 10,000 steps a day. It even tracks sleep patterns and lets you browse your activity history going back 10 days. The Pulse, which comes with a rubber clip and armband, syncs its information with iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Click here to buy on Grand Street. $99
Climate Revolution Knot Wrap
Grandmother of punk fashion Vivienne Westwood is still a force in the design world; she recently teamed up with Lush to create this limited-edition knot-wrap (how limited, we don’t know), which can be used as stylish gift wrap, worn as a scarf or framed as a piece of art. Woven from organic cotton in the U.K., it’s available in camel or light pink.
All profits go to the Climate Revolution fund that gives money to select projects to combat climate change. Click here to buy. $25
Holstee is a collective of young people dedicated to “living mindfully” who create print products in their own print shop to match their mission. A while ago they turned their manifesto (which they wrote sitting on the steps on New York’s Union Square) into a beautifully printed poster that has resonated across generations. The poster, one of several printed gift options at Holstee, is available in two sizes: 12″ x 16″ and 18″ x 24″ (it’s also available as a free download for iPad, iPhone and desktop). Click here to buy -and to read the whole thing. $28 or $36.
Scribbler the Drawing Robot
Makers Toolbox creates cardboard-and-electronic kits for kids that are “secretly educational,” among them the Scribbler. Like all of their creations, the Scribbler does something after you’ve made it – watch the video above! It’s geared to kids eight and up; children on the younger end will need some parental help with the soldering. Click here to buy. $25
This owl is just one of 93 supercute felt sleeves for a range of devices, including Kindle, Nexus, iPad and iPhone of various generations, Samsung… check the list! All cases are handmade to order in Philly. Some will appeal to tweens as well as to younger kids. Order soon for Christmas delivery! See the whole range and buy on Etsy. $18 – $38
“Fabulous Fashionistas” DVD
Sue Bourne’s compelling documentary “The Fabulous Fashionistas” was a huge hit on YouTube (and on this website: read our Q&A with Bourne); now the only way to see it is on DVD. It’s an inspirational gift for any woman in your life, younger or older. Click here to buy and select the NSTC version, which is compatible with US players. Order very soon for Christmas delivery. $25 approximately
Make Your Own Gift
Got digital camera skills? On the website Zazzle, you can upload photos from your computer, Instagram or Google Drive and add them to any item in a range of blank products, including mugs and totes, as well as T-shirts, baby onesies, playing cards, necklaces, hats, stickers…. You name it.
The process is fairly easy (if you know how to read simple instructions, you can handle it) – and it’s a truly personal gift. Click here to make your gift. Prices vary; mug $14.95, tote $19.95.