Photo: Flickr via bjcarter
With less than a month of holiday shopping left, shoppers will be in a mad rush to snatch up last-minute gifts for friends and family.If you decided to cut your losses and skip the Black Friday/Cyber Monday frenzy this year, there’s some good news: There are plenty of great gifts out there to choose from.
In fact, you’d be amazed at what $50 can buy.
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Kick back and enjoy photos like it's 1989. Image 3-D is making customisable View-Masters online.
Each set costs $24.95 and comes with a reel of your photos, a viewer (in red, black, blue or white), and a gift box.
It's disturbing to think how simple it is for thieves to walk off with our credit and debit card information without them ever leaving our wallets.
They use tools called RFID scanners, which anyone can pick up on Ebay, that scan credit cards through purses, wallets, etc. and store them without the card's owner ever realising it.
Unless your credit card is equipped with an encrypted EMV chip (they can't be scanned by these tools), then a specialty wallet made to block RFID scanners is an excellent idea.
Anyone who's tried chasing down a pooch to clip on their leash will love the Supercollar.
It's a collar with a built-in retractable leash.
Not only is it made in the USA, it was named the 2010 Best New Pet Product of the Year and a cut of profits goes toward animal-friendly organisations.
Price: $39.95 - $49.95
Anyone who loves to dance will get a kick out of Dance Central 3 for the XBox 360.
It'll be a great way to break the ice at holiday parties this year, and an excellent way to shed those holiday pounds in the new year.
Internet radio has revolutionised the way consumers listen to music, but even with limited advertising, those mid-music breaks for commercials can be a pain.
Give someone the gift of ad-free, high-quality radio with a Pandora One subscription.
Gardening is no longer just for grannies and retirees.
A membership to Seeds Club is a great gift for anyone with a green thumb. When you sign up, you get eight packs of vegetable and herb seeds, and then four packs of seeds every other month for a year.
You'll get whatever seeds are in season.
20 bucks may seem a little steep for a scented candle, but Unwined Candles are more than just a ball of wax stuffed in a glass jar.
Beginning with all-natural soy wax, the makers partner with recyclers to repurpose wine bottles for earth-friendly final products. They come in 16 unique scents and a no-gift-wrap-necessary package.
Why not give people what they really want ---- a bowl that solves one of life's most serious conundrums.
The Obol is specially designed to keep milk and cereal in separate compartments, which lets you douse your Fruity Pebbles as much or as little as you'd like.
Tasterie is like Fresh Direct for anyone with a food allergy.
It's a monthly subscription service that ships eight to 10 safe-to-eat foods, snacks and recipes to sensitive eaters each month.
Here's a list of food categories offered:
- gluten, dairy & casein-free
- dairy & egg-free
- dairy & soy-free
- peanut & treenut-free
Wine-lovers who need a safe way to cart their precious cargo home from trips will love these wine bottle bags.
Simply insert a bottle of wine -- or olive oil, spices, or any other fragile good -- into the VinniBag and inflate it. These bags are designed to withstand pressure and temperature changes and will protect your bottles.
Gym memberships can be pricey and it can be a hassle to make time for workouts at the gym. Instead, make a gym for yourself at home with a few basic tools.
FitKit is a completely portable at-home gym kit. For less than $35, the basic kit includes an exercise band, a resistance tube, a jump rope and a stability attachment. But you can customise your kit online.
Instagram photos are incredibly simple to share on social media, but they're not exactly easy to get developed.
That's what makes sites like Kanvess.com and CanvasPop.com so great. On Kanvess, you can print pics for just $0.25 a pop (free shipping for orders over 100). They'll arrive in 3' x 3' squares and make great gifts.
CanvasPop specialises in turning photos from Instagram, smartphones, and Facebook into real works of art on canvas (from $30).
Whether you're a green energy aficionado or not, no one can argue with the money-saving power of the right shower head.
There are tons to choose from, but we like this one sold by Target.com. It features an easy-to-use tab that lessens water flow to a trickle while you lather or wash your hair. It also has five functions, including jet massage, full spray and aeration.
We've come to rely on our smartphones so much for directions these days, but there's nothing quite like hitting the road with a map and nothing else.
The Road Atlas is still being published each year and could be a great way to encourage a family member or friend to break free of their gadget addiction and have an adventure the old-fashioned way.
It also comes with coupons for discounts at hotels, restaurants and family attractions.
Americans waste billions of dollars on unused gift cards every year, and it's about time we stopped the cycle.
Tango Cards are great because they're entirely digital. Once gifted, the user can use the 'card' at any participating partners, redeem for cash, or donate the balance to charity.
Tango's partners include Amazon, Nike, REI, Gap, Pottery Barn, Fandango, iTunes, Groupon, Rixty, Target, Home Depot, Zappos, SpaFinder, and Starbucks.
Price: Starting from $5 increments.
$50 would barely put a dent in the cost of college degrees today, but it's a start.
Anyone in the country can open a 529 plan in another's name -- from your niece or nephew to your best friend's kid. There's no limit to how many plans you can open, and you can change the beneficiary whenever you want.
It doesn't take a mathematical genius to figure out how wildly overpriced restaurant cocktails have become.
Mixing drinks at home is a cinch with the right cocktail mixer. We love this one from Epicureanist, which mixes and dispenses drinks with a touch of a button, and marks exact measurements for perfect pours.
The Corkcicle is great because it does away with the need for leaky tubs of ice at holiday parties.
It looks like a regular cork stopper, but when inserted in bottles, the frozen icicle-shaped wand keeps wine chilled for hours.
College students have enough financial hurdles to overcome without having to worry about affording vittles outside of the dining hall.
A company called Co-Ed Supply has come up with a brilliant subscription service that delivers students a box filled with snacks, toiletries, and other miscellaneous college supplies for $20 a month, including shipping.
The goods switch up each month and if you're not satisfied or have an allergy, there's a simple form to send in on the site.
Dining out can be expensive, so the obvious solution is to cook at home more often.
But if you don't have time to hit the grocery store after work, the do-it-yourself recipe kits from e-commerce site GrubKit are a simple way to make dinner.
Each kit has everything you'll need to make hearty meals (minus the pots and pans). It'd be a great gift for a cash-strapped college student or anyone who finds it hard to cook during the busy work week.
As a means of preserving drastically reduced forest land in Scotland, Highland Titles came up with a pretty brilliant idea: Let consumers purchase their own plots of land.
Plots start at $49.99 and go up depending on size. But every purchase comes with the coolest perk of all: The legal title of 'Lord' or 'Lady' in the country.
Sales help fund woodland rescue, maintenance, and new land acquisition to save it from development.
Price: $49 and up
KIND bars are already giving sugary candy bars a run for their money in supermarket grocery aisles, but the brand is teaming up with some major star power this holiday season to give back.
For the first time, celebs like cosmetics guru Bobbi Brown, rock star Grace Potter and media titan Arianna Huffington have designed custom KIND bar gift boxes. Each comes packed with 20 bars in four of their favourite flavours ---- that's just about $2 per bar.
In exchange, KIND has agreed to donate $10,000 to the charity of choice for each woman.
At-home water filters are great bargains in and of themselves, but they're not exactly portable.
AquaGear water filtration bottles remove 99.99% of tap water contaminants and can save up to 600 plastic bottles over their lifetime.
Cool fact: They were originally designed by aerospace engineers looking for a way to protect people from waterborne illnesses. The filters are also 100% made in the U.S.
If you like chilled whiskey but are tired of watering it down with ice, whiskey stones are a great alternative.
The stones essentially function as ice cubes to chill your drink to 59°F without adding water impurity or diluting it. Just put them in the freezer to chill and then pop in your glass when it's ready to serve.
This package from Cool Materials comes with six granite stones (enough for two drinks), a wooden display/holder, and two glasses.
For anyone who can't afford a professional shave each week, a simple kit like this one from the Art of Shaving is a great start.
At $25, it comes with Pre-Shave Oil (.5 fl. oz), Shaving Cream (1 oz), After-Shave Balm (.5 fl. oz), and a Badger Shaving Brush.
If not for travel, the kit's a great way to start on a road to a cleaner shave.
San Francisco-based argyle sock brand Argoz is putting a whole new twist on old Argyle socks.
The socks come in colours like Panache, Tomato Bisque, Happy Hour and FiDi (as in New York's famed Financial District). Ladies will get a kick out of the knee-high version.
The holiday cocktail list usually includes a lot of eggnog and brandy, but there's something to be said for shaking up tradition.
Avión Añejo is the kind of tequila made to warm chilled bones on wintry nights. It won three gold medals at the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, including Best Tequila.
flavour profile: vanilla, caramel, coconut and maple.
Price: $40 and up
The eKo SuperLite Travel mat is excellent for anyone who's constantly zipping back and forth for work.
It clocks in at 2 pounds and is super thin so it easily fits inside a packed suitcase.
Hey, we get it. Not everyone's a knitter out there. That's what makes handmade craft sites like Etsy such great places to find unique knits for anyone in your life.
This deep red infinity scarf by Etsy seller ZuZu also doubles as a cowl, for about half what you might pay in a department store.
Etsy sellers are also known to feature sales just like brick-and-mortar shops, so keep an eye out for discount codes on the site.
Here's a candle men can enjoy, too.
Objects With A Purpose scented candles are completely organic, vegan, made in the U.S.A., and you can WEAR them, too.
The candles work triple duty as a solid perfume and massage oil, including masculine scents like tea, fig, and tobacco.
Price: $6 to $42
There are few things more annoying than trying to pump the last bit of shampoo out of the bottle. In dollars and cents, it all adds up to a lot of waste over time.
Thankfully, there are a slew of new products on the market designed to solve that problem. Bonus: They make great stocking stuffers. Here are a few we like.
Without going into too much detail, every woman knows how uncomfortable it can be to wear tights alone with boots during the winter.
Bootights come with a sock attached to the feet of regular tights to keep things fresh and cool all day.
There's nothing quite as rattling as the first time your smartphone slips out of your hand, purse or bed, and shatters to pieces.
That's what makes products like HandAble so cool. For about $13, HandAble clips attach to your phone and easily slip between your fingers to keep the device secure in your palm. They're the brain child of a 78-year-old inventor named Aaron Block.
For any frequent traveller, a laptop lock is another great way to keep your valuables safe.
The Kensington ClickSafe Keyed Laptop Lock works with 99 per cent of laptops with a single click.
For anyone with a DSLR camera looking for a simple way to get rid of the red eyes, uneven lighting, and the 'washed out' effect of regular flashes, Lightscoop is a great gift.
By redirecting the light from the pop-up flash to a ceiling or wall, Lightscoop creates a broad, natural light that lights subjects evenly. It's a much more affordable alternative to investing in professional lighting equipment. See a demo here.
Discount codes to use:
HOLIDAY15 - 15% off when you spend over $50
HOLIDAY20 - 20% off when you spend over $100
HOLIDAY25 - 25% off when you spend over $150
The Belkin iPad chef stand is a great idea for any budding foodie.
It allows you to scroll through recipes using a special pen, which means you keep your sticky fingers off your precious screen.
We're already huge fans of Evernote, an app that lets users sync all of their notes, web clips, files and images across their devices.
Now Evernote has teamed up with Moleskine to create the Evernote Smart Notebook. It's designed to work with any iPad or iPhone to instantly save written notes digitally by snapping a photo.
The hardbound notebook comes in ruled or squared page designs, and pocket-size ($24.94) or large ($29.95).
Price: $24.94 - $29.95
Smartphones are just as slippery as they are sleek, and no one wants to foot the bill for a shattered screen.
There are loads of great protective cases on the market, but we love the Otterbox for both affordability and efficiency.
In addition to smartphone gear, they carry a ton of cases for just about every gadget out there ---- tablets, e-readers, laptops, and more.
Price: $24.95 and up
Here's the perfect gift for road warriors in your family ---- a guaranteed way to breeze through airport security.
CLEAR is an identity verification service that lets members present a special ID card at airports to bypass security. You can give a six-month membership as a gift (about $13/month). There's no charge for children flying with you or anyone under the age of 18.
The service is only available in a handful of major airports, but we're told it's continuing to expand.
Anyone who has more than a handful of different electronics knows what a pain it is to keep all the cords organised.
CableKeeps secures Apple power adapters to keep them cleanly packed and untangled. They come in a bunch of different colours ---- a great stocking stuffer.
No iPad or laptop is complete with a case, but here's one that makes ho-hum hard shell cases look stiff.
The Hoodie laptop/iPad sleeve was inspired by none other than Mark Zuckerburg himself. The exterior is made from an actual hoodie, but the padding is plenty thick enough to keep all gadgets safe and sound.
Price: $39.99 - $49.99
Not that you should believe every tagline you read, but the Eye-Fi Pro memory card might actually be the smartest card on the planet.
The memory card is equipped to tap into Wi-Fi wherever you are and transmit photos straight to your smartphone, tablet, or home computer automatically. You can share instantly on social media and clear your camera as you go.
iPhone cameras get better with each upgrade, but it's human error that's sometimes impossible to correct.
The Anycase iPhone tripod is a great tool for anyone with shaky hands who wants to take a clearer, cleaner photo with their phone
It's called the Anycase for a reason ---- it adjusts to fit every iPhone model out there.