Last year at this time, I released my 15 products that save you time, money, and space. It became one of my most popular posts, ever. I figured I'd take another shot at rounding up some of the best value items I have found. If you came here looking for the laziest, most useful gift, I have to recommend the Amazon Gift Card. Someone almost always needs something and Amazon almost always has it. However, if you want to hand someone a real physical gift, look at some of these...
- Thin Wallet - This is one of the best gifts I've ever gotten. My wallet went to less than one-half the size it was before. I know often carry it in my front pocket potentially saving me a lot of back pain in the future. Thin is definitely in.
- Miche Handbag and Shells - I'm probably going to catch some flack from the fashionistas on this one. I'm asking for it being a guy recommending a purse. There's no Coach or Kate Spade here ladies. The idea behind this bag is that it's got a customizable look to it. You buy the base bag and then snap on fashionable shells to fit the occasion. If you are feeling leopard spots today, just put that shell on. Tomorrow you may be into the vertical stripes shell. Style-wise it's like having 10 purses without taking up all the space. Unfortunately it's not that cheap at $100 for the bag and three shells.
For the Chef:
- KitchenArt MeasureMax Spoon - We had a Williams-Sonoma gift certificate and found this item for a relatively bargain price of $8. Instead of having a set of measuring spoons that get tangled in our drawer, we have this one spoon. Sometimes it's the simple things in life like just being impressed by a better measuring spoon.
- T-Fal Ingenio Pots and Pans - I don't like to bring up products that are so hard to find in the US, but blame the people at T-Fal. While in Australia, my wife and I saw a set of pots and pans with easily removable handles. This means that they actually nest inside each other and save a ton of storage space. If it sounds like the best invention ever, it is. Unfortunately, the people at T-Fal made a business decision not to bring it to the US. Still you can occasional find a few pieces at the Ebay link I provided or look at Amazon's UK and France sites. It seemed to me that the France site had more, but since I don't speak French, I don't know if they ship to the US. I can't help you with the Amazon UK either since my US login didn't seem to be recognized there.
For the Traveller:
- Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 QuietPoint Active Noise-Canceling Headphones - I wasn't sure about these until I tried a demonstration at a Bose booth a couple of weeks ago. It was an amazing difference. I realized that my wife, who does some traveling would likely appreciate them. It will take some convincing. Three years ago, she didn't believe in the concept of GPS navigation - now it's her favorite thing. I'm hoping to capitalize on that success. While the Bose demonstration was for their brand, some 500 Amazon reviews say that these are every bit as good for 1/3 the price. Update: My wife has gotten them and approves wholeheartedly that this headset is worth the money. I tried it on a short plane ride and concur.
For the Wine Enthusiast:
- Oster Electric Wine Opener - I know there are Metrokane Rabbits and Screwpulls - these work great. I had one Metrokane for about 4 years before it broke to the point where I couldn't fix it. I loved it and looked for a new one. Unfortunately they were all $50+. That's simply too much for me to open wine. Enter the Oster Electric Wine Opener. I've seen electric wine openers for over $100 at Williams-Sonoma, but 214 of 268 people on Amazon give this $20 gadget a perfect 5 star rating. The next highest group give it four stars. It was enough to convince me that I can frugally be Lazy when it comes to opening wine. I usually look for items that save me money, save me time, or save the environment - this does none of these. Instead of looking like an idiot when it comes to opening wine, I look almost like I could be cool (who am I kidding) and have a conversation piece to boot.
For the Geek:
- Acer Aspire One Linux Laptop - I like to think I'm somewhat of a geek. It wasn't two days ago that I was talking Linux Desktops like Gnome and KDE. I'm not a L33T HacK0r or anything like that, but I do like my gadgets. This is bigger than some of the first EEE PCs that loved, which means you might be able to actually type on it. It also has a faster processor than what I had with 2GB surf. I like the solid state drive (leads to quick boot time). However, the 512MB of ram and battery life is weak. They make more beefed up versions that run Windows XP, but I wonder if you just lose the "beefing up" to the overhead of the Windows OS.
- EyeClops Night Vision Infrared Stealth Goggles - Yes, Laser Tag was the big toy when I was little, but this might be the biggest "WOW" product in since then. Infrared Stealth Goggles are now a child's toy? You have to be kidding me! I'm still going to wait for version 2.0 that comes with bat sonar. Be careful with giving this gift. It may come back to haunt you.
For the Videophile:
- Blu-ray Player - The format wars between Blu-ray and HD-DVD are over - and Blu-ray won. This means that you don't have to worry about your Blu-ray player going obsolete. This is a great thing for consumers and it has lead to a drop in prices in players. I've seen them for around $200 new, which is a key price point for many consumers. I think it's going to hit an inflection point where they are cheap enough that most homes will have one in 1-2 years time. We've seen it before when DVD players and cell phones became commonplace.
For the Environmentalist:
- La Crosse Technology BC-900 AlphaPower Battery Charger - Last year, I mentioned the value of rechargeable batteries. I should have gone the extra step and told you about this top of the line recharger. It seems that all battery chargers are not the same and this will not only make your rechargeable last longer, they can bring older ones that you thought were dead back to life. The Amazon reviews speak for themselves, and this is one product that's on my personal wish list.
- Thinksport Stainless Steel Thermal Water Bottle - Last year I recommended you use a filtered water pitcher instead of buying bottled water. It saves money and the environment. Well I made the mistake of saying that you should refill your old bottles. It seems that some say those bottles can leech chemicals into your water. I don't know if it's a scare tactic from the bottled water companies to make you want to just buy fresh ones and I'm not a scientist. However, my research shows that these stainless steel bottles get high marks from environmentalists everywhere. I linked you to one of the few that I found that is in double-walled to keep the beverages the temperature you want them to be. That means that you can fill up your water bottle for your night-time gym workout before you even leave the house in the morning.
There's still a couple of days left for me to update my personal Amazon wish list. I would love suggestions from the readers what their favorite gift is this holiday season. Maybe I can get Energi Gal to put it in her cart next time she's on the site.
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