Plush and soft sculpture artist Heidi Kenney, best known for her Yummy series of stuffed donuts, hot dogs and ice cream cones for art-toy maker Kid Robot, has a new offering: the My Paper Crane Plush of the Month Club (MyPaperCrane.com; $30). Receive a surprise box each month filled with a toy lovingly crafted by Kenney: a sleeping bat, a crying tooth or even a toilet paper roll with big googly eyes.
The solar-powered Double Rainbow Maker (MOMAstore.org; $40), mounted by a suction cup to any window, uses two crystals that spin in opposite directions, producing dancing colors around a room.
I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils, and Doodle Dos (Amazon.com; $10), an intricate and beautiful coloring book by Andrea Pippins, teaches kids—and adults—to embrace the wonderment of natural curls. Every style and variety is represented here including mohawks, box braids and afro picks, and towering up-dos with streaming ribbons. It pairs nicely with Icicolor Crayons (JapanTrendShop.com; $22), crayon stones that come as a set of six different colors. Ici is a play on the Japanese word for stone and their shape fits comfortably in wee hands.
And although we wouldn’t normally advise giving a toddler a drum set, the Poketo Mini Percussion set (Poketo.com; $75) might be worth the headache. Remember to have Advil on hand as they build their concentration and hand-eye coordination skills with every beat on a rubberwood and nontoxic paint toy. Includes a large and small drum, drumsticks, cymbal and guiro.
For the turntable, give a subscription to Vinyl Me, Please (VinylMePlease.com; gift subscriptions begin at $99). “The best damn record-of-the-month club” provides curated monthly picks of the essential albums and new music that should be on every music geek’s radar. The best part? The records come straight to the mailbox.
For the actual table, give New Order (Rizzoli; $50), a stunning pictorial history of the post-punk greats—from the group’s formation in 1980 to its 1993 split—gathered by British photographer Kevin Cummins. New Order contains photos of setlists, live performances and singer Bernard Sumner in his short shorts, and who doesn’t want that?
Finally, for the hardcore live music fan, give Doppler Labs DUBS Acoustic Filters (GetDubs.com; $25). These smartly engineered earplugs reduce volume without sacrificing clarity, so your favorite weekend warrior can endure more ear-piercing guitar feedback and earth-shattering bass drops while protecting his discerning ears.
Gifts for Gearheads
Three words: affordable virtual reality. The viewers currently available for Google’s groundbreaking virtual reality app Google Cardboard (Google.com/Get/Cardboard) work with any cellular phone, come in a variety of styles and sell for as little as $18—and the app itself is free. If you want one with a bit of retro appeal, get the new View-Master VR (Amazon.com; $25), which looks like the View-Master viewers you grew up with and comes with its own, kid-friendly content.
Want to get in on the instant photography craze? The Polaroid Snap (Polaroid.com; $100) produces wallet-size (2×3) instant photos in addition to digital shots, comes in four colors, and is as cute as a basket of kittens.
And the UE BOOM 2 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (Amazon.com; $200), named the best of its kind by Gizmodo.com, comes in a variety of colors, has a 15-hour rechargeable battery, is waterproof (!!!) and delivers appropriately booming sound in a 360-degree spread. We’ve fallen in love for far less.
Los Angeles artist and animator Gary Baseman teams up with retail giant Coach to produce a limited-edition watch featuring his imaginary creature Buddy Boy (Coach in The Forum Shops at Caesars or Coach.com; $325), a slave to style and quality. While the timepiece is super cool by itself, the box it comes in is also snazzy: hand-painted in a Wild Beast print borrowed from another one of his creatures, Buster Le Fauve.
A dizzying blend of art, music, style and skateboarding, Be Street Magazine (Be-Street.com; one-year subscription $59), is a captivating read: think of it as the Grand Royal for Millennials. Each cover is an original work from artists such as Hajime Sorayama, Cyrcle and Tristan Eaton. Distributed in 15 countries since 2007, this is a must-grab publication. Subscription prices vary based on country.
Lifestyle boutique Amusespot’s gifting options include everything from local products and vintage items to upscale designer items such as British designer Tom Dixon’s barware (Amusespot, 2550 Anthem Village Dr. Suite 120, Henderson, 702-857-8212) made with mouth-blown glass and hand-painted copper detailing. The dramatic proportions create unique silhouettes that turn each glass and decanter into modern art … filled with wine! The Plum Cocktail Shaker is $135, the Tank Decanter $125.
San Francisco artist Jeremy Fish has designed everything from Nikes to picture disks to pinball machines. The Upper Playground Skull Bunny Shower Curtain (UpperPlayground.com; $70) is the embodiment of his “useful” style.
And if you’ve fallen in love with the work of Italian street artist Pixel Pancho from his “robots in love” Life Is Beautiful mural on the El Cortez parking garage, then Pancho’s Soho Design House Rug (SohoDH.com; prices vary) should be at the top of your “want” list this holiday season. Soho Design House is in the business of melding contemporary art and high-end design through its luxurious, hand-knotted art rugs. Other artists on their roster include David Flores, Ron English and Phil Frost.
Gifts for Movie Fanatics
Get your friends and loved ones caught up on all that’s come before with Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Amazon.com; $90), a nine-disc Blu-ray set featuring the first six films in the inescapable pop culture juggernaut, plus three additional discs of deleted scenes, documentaries and George Lucas making excuses for the prequels.
Every horror movie aficionado needs The Evil Dead Anthology (Amazon.com; $190), which houses Blu-ray discs of the four Evil Dead films in a replica of the Book of the Dead.
Disney fanatics would be thrilled with a gift membership to the Disney studio’s official fanclub, D23 (D23.com; $80); it comes with a subscription to a beautiful quarterly magazine and other cool bits of Disney swag.
And for lovers of cinema’s Golden Age, the TCL Chinese Theatres collection (Shop.TCM.com; prices vary) features barware, pillows and even journals inspired by the architecture of their namesake Hollywood landmark.
Gifts for Constant Readers
For the literary fiction friend, who’s read everything: Freeman’s Arrival: The Best New Writing on Arrival, edited by John Freeman (Grove; $16). For the music buff, with discerning taste: Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, by Elvis Costello (Blue Rider; $30). For the hardcore gamer who owns a coffee table: The Art of Fallout 4, from Bethesda Softworks (Dark Horse; $50). And for the child, who might actually be a grown-up: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition, by J.K. Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Kay (Arthur A. Levine; $40).
Get these books, and others, at the Writer’s Block (1020 Fremont St. Suite 100; TheWritersBlock.org.) They have a pretty extensive selection of literary-themed gifts, from fountain pens to fake birds you can “adopt” and imagine as the hero of their very own heroic aviary yarn.