Gift Guide: Off the Beaten Path
“One of the most glorious messes in the world,” Andy Rooney once said, “is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”
Andy Rooney, or course, said it better than I can. The pillowy, warm spirit of the holidays stays in our hearts, like that sweet nip of a mimosa, sipped fireside, which tastes like the sun dawning on Christmas morning. We are in the season of crinkly wrapping paper and sugared gingerbread cookies, floating in the transition between fall and winter, where a hush descends upon the skies and our workloads bow with the weight of a thousand last-minute details to tie up before the holidays arrive.
But, above all, we are in the season of giving. And there is no equal to the feeling you get when your loved one lights up at the sight of that perfect something you found just for them.
But finding that perfect something is no small task. With an increasing array of options in our ever-eclectic city, shopping has become a downright treasure hunt that would test even the prowess of Captain Jack Sparrow. But we’ve been decoding the holiday shopping treasure map here at The Downtowner, weeding out the decoys and misleading detours and pinpointing exactly where the “X-mas” marks the spot.
Here are some of the hottest hidden gems in the retail world, from gadgets and unique cooking accoutrements, to a disguise for your MacBook Pro and - believe it - a fire you’ll actually want in your house:
HAUSFIRE Is it a portal? An R2D2-style android? Does it predict the future? None of the above. But it can simultaneously warm your home and make any space chic at warp speed. This indoor-outdoor Hausfire fireplace by Modfire combines the warmth and coziness of a hearth with the sleek, sophisticated design of modern sculpture. The eco-smart burner is safe for use inside and runs on clean-burning ethanol. Each Hausfire is unique and comes in a variety of colors, but all can efficiently heat and light a room. Price: $2,250 Modfire.com
APOSTROPHE ORANGE PEELER Oranges are a great food to eat during the winter – their high Vitamin C content keeps you healthy and their sunny citrus flavor keeps you happy and in a summery state of mind. What’s not so happy is those sticky little orange pieces that are impossible to get out from under your nails. The Apostrophe Orange Peeler from Alessi is a sleek, palm-sized device that can easily fit in your lunch box. Price: $27 Alessi-Shop.com
BOOKBOOK BY TWELVE SOUTH The BookBook, which transforms your MacBook Pro into an antique novel, is the perfect gift for literature fanatics who also happen to be technology junkies. The ridged leather case and stiff spine of the BookBook provide shock absorption and the distressing on the cover ensures that no two are exactly the same. Twelve South also makes BookBooks for iPhones, iPads and MacBook Airs. Price: $79.99 – $99.99 TwelveSouth.com
TEA INFUSER SPOON There’s no question about it: tea is in vogue. And since tea is in vogue, so is the ancient ritual of brewing, steeping and pouring this delightfully warming and healthy beverage. Bring your tea into the 21st century with this Tea Infuser Spoon, which eliminates those annoying little bags, turning brewing a cup of tea into an elegant, simple process. Price: $3 Pier 1 in D.C.,
MICROVISION - SHOWWX PICO WVGA LASER PROJECTOR Is that a projector in your pocket? Why, yes, it is! This Pico Projector (so called because they are the smallest projectors to date, roughly the size of an iPhone) can hook up to any Apple device, including iPhones and iPods, to project an image up to 200 inches wide on any surface. And because it’s a laser projector, that means no wasted time fiddling with the focus. Weighing just 4.3 ounces, it can easily fit in a pocket or purse and is a dream machine for movie buffs and techies on the go. Price: Currently on sale for $124.99 (from $299.99) BestBuy.com