For this week’s Help Squad, I thought I would keep it light and help all of you celebrating that most sacred of holiday traditions: exchanging unwanted presents and spending gift cards and holiday cash.
Some might argue this is the most wonderful time of the year: You select what you want, and often it’s discounted at a post-holiday price!
As a result of many hours spent by me and my children researching the perfect gift for friends and family members (we viewed many “best of” and “top 10” lists for inspiration), I now consider myself a bit of an authority on the subject of unique, inexpensive gadgets and games. For those still looking for something fun, here are my recommendations.
Clocky alarm clock on wheels (aka, the runaway alarm clock): The very description of this product cracked me up – and of course immediately prompted me to seek out a YouTube video demonstration. My kids and I couldn’t stop laughing as we watched. Here’s the write-up from the manufacturer, Nanda Home: “Clocky runs away to get you up. Durable! Jumps from three feet high. Runs away beeping on carpet or wood. Loud R2D2-like robotic sound. Never oversleep again!” We weren’t able to get our hands on Clocky in time for Christmas, as it was out of stock (others obviously were as intrigued as us), so instead we settled for the below equally annoying and entertaining clock.
Northwest flying alarm clock: The Flying Alarm Clock served as an exchange gift from my son to a poor, unsuspecting extended family member. It was humorously — and accurately — described thus by the manufacturer: “When the alarm sounds, the propeller launches into the air, releasing the key to snooze. The alarm continues to go off until you catch and place the propeller back in the return station. Get your day started with a flying leap out of bed!”
Amco Rub-A-Way Bar: Less comical and more magical, this gadget hit my culinary clean-up sweet spot. If you are an avid cook, you will know how hard it can be to get the smell of onions and garlic off your hands. By simply rubbing this piece of soap-bar-shaped stainless steel over your hands — with or without water — these odors disappear. The Amco write-up explains, “The molecules in the steel bind with the sulfur molecules on your hands, thus transferring the molecules, along with the smell, to the metal and off your hands. The Rub-A-Way Bar can also remove other strong odors, like fish and seafood.” I was sold.
Polaroid Snap instant digital camera: The Polaroid instant camera is back, compact and designed for the modern user. This pocket-sized device incorporates the resolution and memory of a digital camera with the (new and improved) printing capability of a classic Polaroid. The digital SD card holds 32GB worth of images, and the patented ZINK (zero ink) instant printer produces 2″ x 3″ color photos in less than a minute. ZINK paper is sold separately. “That’s sick, Mom!” exclaimed my tween daughter when she saw the photo emerge from the side of the camera. (By the way, that means she was impressed.)
Spikeball (as seen on Shark Tank): This is a game touted as “a fun, active, and competitive (if you want it to be) two-on-two game played with rules kind of like volleyball. Enjoy outdoors, indoors, yard, beach, gym … virtually anywhere and for any event.” Easy to transport and store, Spikeball is a minimalist game consisting of a round, trampoline-like net off which players bounce a softball-sized, inflated ball. Each team has up to three touches to bounce the ball against the net in a way that is un-returnable by the opponent. First team to 21 wins. After watching the video, it was on the kids’ Christmas lists.
VINENCO 3-in-1 stainless steel bottle cooler stick, aerator and pourer: This one was for Mom. Rather than sticking your white wine bottle in a bucket of ice to get wet, you can instead just pull the VINENCO chill rod from the freezer, insert it in the bottle and voila: cold wine. “The VINENCO 3-in-1 wine chiller with drip-free, aerating pourer will chill your wine from the inside out, keeping your pre-cooled wine at optimum drinking temperature or refreshing red wine to ideal cellar temperature.” Cheers!
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Cathy Cunningham is a freelance columnist.