Shopping for gifts can be stressful no matter the occasion, as we all know. It can be difficult to pick something that suits the individual’s personality while also avoiding things they might already have. Striking the balance between buying gifts that are interesting to both give and receiving without driving yourself crazy is a challenge.
You also don’t want to veer wildly into completely wacky gifts, necessarily. (Or maybe you do — we have a list for those things, too.) You want to choose something that’s a little bit novel, but also instantly familiar and usable. There are millions of items created to draw your attention, and of course it’s our job to make life easier for you. While you’re at it, we recommend that you get a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime so you can take advantage of two-day shipping — just in case you’re coming down to the wire.
Here are the 50 best unique gifts to help you choose something a little different without having to search high and low.
1. AirJamz App-Enabled Bluetooth Music Toy
Great as a gift for a musician or just anybody, this Bluetooth-enabled device gives you over 100 sound options including guitar, synths, drums, and more. The app is available on either Android or iOS devices and up to four people can jam along together at once. We included this on our best instruments and musical toys for kids post, but pretty much anyone can get a kick out of it.
Price: $29.97 (25 percent off MSRP)
2. Ozobot 2.0 Bit, the Educational Toy Robot that Teaches STEM and Coding
Speaking of new and tiny tech, this is one of the world’s smallest robots, measuring just one inch in diameter. What makes this one extra special is that it’s programmable by a block-based programming language. While it’s aimed at kids, you could certainly give this to anyone who is looking to get into understanding how programming works. My initial programming language experience focused on making some works appear on a computer monitor, so this is an infinitely more entertaining way to learn. They also sell a starter box, which includes the markers you can use to draw maps to cause different reactions in the Ozobot, some examples, and blank sheets. In addition to the Bit, they also offer the Evo App-Connected Robot.
3. Wild and Wolf Night Folklore Enamel Coffee Mug
Mugs are an evergreen and excellent gift since just about everyone has a use for them. Help your stand out by going for this lovely nighttime themed mug by Nina Jarema. It holds 14 ounces of their favorite beverage, and because of its delicate design, should be hand washed and kept out of the microwave. You can expando on this gift by including the matching coffee pot, plates, and sugar pot available in the same listing.
4. Silent Mind Tibetan Singing Bowl
Sometimes unique means exploring new avenues. Tibetan singing bowls are played by rubbing the outside edge with a wooden mallet, which produces a resonant harmony, or the “singing” effect. It can be very relaxing and for some help to induce meditation. My wife has one and even if you never plan to meditate a day in your life as is the case with me, it can be very relaxing to pick it up from time to time. A unique gift for those who haven’t heard of them for sure.
5. Samsung SmartThings Hub
Getting a home hub will change the way anyone interacts with their space. Using the SmartThings hub, virtually anything in the home can become remote-controlled via the app. From lighting to music to temperature, wifi enabled living takes full advantage of all the recent developments in connected tech. Samsung makes a multipurpose sensor, GE makes lightbulbs, and Amazon, of course, has its Echo ready to make all of these functions voice-activated.
6. Two Tumbleweeds Mixology Dice
Is someone on your list trying to get into bartending? These mixology dice are a great way to get exposure to a wide variety of mixing techniques without having to go one at a time through a bartending recipe book. With a die each for spirit, sugar, liqueur, citrus, fruit, herb, spice, and bitters, this set covers the full spectrum of ingredient options. Fun for parties, whether during the holidays or a night of cocktails in the summer.
7. KeySmart Compact Key Holder
Even practical gifts can be unique. This key holder turns an entire key ring into a compact unit. Great for those with many keys, or for people who hate to have a large keyring jangling from the car ignition. There’s an included loop ring for bulky car remote keys, too. This one will hold two to ten keys, but you can buy expansion packs to hold even more.
8. Shavetech USB Rechargeable Travel Razor
Providing 30 minutes of shaving on a full charge, this travel razor makes it easy to shave on the go. Great for frequent travelers, but useful for even those that aren’t, this is an unusual combination of technology.
Price: $22.59 (22 percent off MSRP)
9. Plant Theatre Funky Veg Kit
Here’s something strange, even in its own category. This kit will let you grow purple carrots, red Brussels sprouts, stripy tomatoes, yellow zucchini, and multi-colored swiss chard. There are plenty of plant-growing kits out there, but few allow for the opportunity to pull something unusual out of the ground. This kit comes with the seeds, peat blocks, and pots. For even more out-there vegetable possibilities, consider the psychedelic salad kit.
Price: $18.99 (17 percent off MSRP)
10. Numi Organic Tea Flowering Gift Set in Handcrafted Mahogany Bamboo Chest
Packaged in a bamboo box, this tea collection features six flowering tea blossoms and a 16 ounce glass teapot to make tea time a magical experience. When the tea blossoms are dropped into hot water, they bloom into a beautiful bouquet, which is on full display in the teapot.
11. SterlingPro Double Wall Stainless Steel French Coffee Press
As I have mentioned before, I’m a coffee addict. I never go a day without at least three cups. In my opinion, the best cup of coffee comes from a French press. This lovely model uses double wall stainless steel construction that keeps coffee hot for a long time. If you’re giving this to someone just starting out on their coffee journey, don’t forget the grinder.
12. Fender Amp Tin Lunch Box
If you have a guitar-playing musician to buy for, this lunch box could make a fun gift. Designed to look like a Fender Deluxe Reverb, it’s a fun gift that reminds the guitarist in your life of what they love most each lunch hour.
13. Kikkerland Birch Log Micro Bead Head Cushion
Does the person in your life favor the woods? Do they live in a modern rustic tiny home, or perhaps a log cabin? Accessorize their woodsy lifestyle with a throw pillow that looks like a log. This 14 inch pillow is filled with micro beads and covered in a polyester-spandex blend. Perfect for a neck pillow while chilling on the sofa.
14. Mpow 3 in 1 Clip-On Lenses
Smartphone cameras have become so advanced, some professional photographers are able to make their entire living shooting with those alone. If you’ve got a a photographer in your life, consider extending the capabilities of their smartphone with this lens kit. This kit includes a fisheye lens, a wide angle lens, and a macro lens to capture any number of subjects. Phone cameras may be advanced, but the lenses could always use a little help.
15. Timbuk2 Commute Messenger Bag
Timbuk2 is a brand I was introduced to by my wife. She’d had a few of their bags in the past and they never failed her, so I got a few myself. I use an older version of this bag (which is notably not TSA-friendly) as my laptop bag, as well as a larger one for my overnight bag. I love them. They’re incredibly tough, stain resistant, and they look pretty good, too. I even have the Timbuk2 wallet, which I have used nonstop for 3 years now and love. There are separate laptop and iPad compartments so all your devices can travel safely. I recommend it.
Price: $48.74 – $171.00
16. Simon Pegg Autographed Shaun of the Dead Cricket Bat
If you want something really unique, go with a one-of-a-kind item like a movie prop. This cricket bat from Shaun of the Dead will make an excellent conversation piece. It’ll also be handy, you know, in the event of actual zombies, assuming you don’t just head down to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for this all to blow over.
17. La Siesta Organic Hammock Chair Lounger
If the someone you’re shopping for has been contemplating hammock or porch swing options, consider this lounger as a gift for them. This 100% cotton lounger is strong enough to support 1-2 people (up to 355lbs total), and features a bamboo spreader bar. It’s machine washable and is the perfect porch accessory. Some people even mount these indoors, if the structure of the house will support it.
18. Exploding Kittens
Everyone knows about Cards Against Humanity. It’s outrageous and taboo. If you want something similarly outrageous try The Oatmeal’s Exploding Kittens game. It’s zany and goofy and even comes in a not safe for work version. Don’t forget to grab the Imploding Kittens expansion, too.
If you want to pick up a new game that isn’t outrageous as those two, consider Hive. It’s easy to pick up and start playing right away. Kind of like a tiny version of chess, but with bugs.
19. Amazon Echo
Compatible with the Samsung SmartThings on this list, Amazon’s Echo will make your entire automated home voice-activated. The more you use it, the better it gets to know you and you voice, so performance will continue to improve over time. It would be a pretty cool gift if it was just that, but it’s also a room-filling speaker. A unique idea for anyone who wants to feel without a doubt that they are living in the future. If you don’t want to spend quite that much, consider picking up the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote. If you find that the Echo is out of stock ahead of Christmas, try either the Echo Dot or Amazon Tap, both of which have very similar functionality.
20. Victorinox 4-Piece Knife Set
Do you have someone who loves to cook on your list? Chances are, they are in need of a decent set of knives. Most of us are still getting by on the Kitchen Aid knives we bought from the supermarket, but there is a clear winner in the inexpensive knife category. Victorinox makes a very solid knife for the price, featuring a no-slip grip and a blade that can take and hold a very sharp edge. Excellent value for the money.
Price: $119.95 (16 percent off MSRP)
21. Electrohome Archer Vinyl Record Player Stereo System
For the last decade or so, vinyl has been on the rise. For some of those periods, vinyl purchases even outstripped digital downloads. For most people, streaming like Prime Music is good enough, while others prefer to own a copy of the songs at least in digital format. Vinyl is the ultimate in music ownership. If the music lover in your life has been considering getting back into it, grab them this handy little player. It won’t require rebuilding a component system of years past, but will still let them appreciate the continuing rise of records. The acoustic wood cabinet of this unit will deliver rich sound even from the small speakers. You can also hook MP3 players up via USB or AUX in. If you don’t love the sound of the built-in speakers, you can always connect this to something like the Bose SoundLink Color via an AUX cable for a tiny stereo solution with huge, detailed sound.
22. Mighty Marquee Desktop Lightbox
This is a fun lamp specifically for displaying a backlit graphic on your desk. Measuring 9 inches by 3 inches by 2 inches, you can outfit this USB-powered lamp with one of several pre-made marquee packs — including vintage video games! — or print your own on backlit film sheets.
23. Hense Smart Nightlight Alarm Clock
Is the person you’re shopping for a heavy sleeper? While most of us rely on our cell phones for our alarms these days, there’s just something charming about having one of these on the nightstand. Choose from eight colors, four of which feature the rainbow marks that really make this. The alarm is super loud for people who can sleep through anything. However, when the alarm isn’t going off, it’s completely silent with a smooth dial movement.
Price: $8.99 to $11.99
24. KitchenAid KSB5010SR Torrent Magnetic Drive Blender
The best blenders on the market — like the Ninja, Vitamix, and Blendtec — all suffer from the same basic issue: they’re huge. They’re very tall and take up a lot of counter space. Plus, in the case of the Ninja, at least, they’re heavy. This KitchenAid unit solves that by utilizing an ingenious design that utilizes magnets to hold the pitcher in place. It has a 1.8 HP motor (sure, less than Blendtec’s 3 HP, but enough to get the job done) and automatic blend settings, all in a relatively compact package.
Price: $399.95 (33 percent off MSRP)
25. Deluxe Hot Sauce Making Kit
This DIY kit features everything the hot sauce connoisseur needs to make six different hot sauces. Follow the included instructions or make it up as you go. Either way, this is a good method for exploring the craft of a good hot sauce. The kit includes a spice pack with cayenne, ancho, curry, and chili New Mexico powders, brown sugar, guajillo, chipotle, and arbol peppers, apple cider and white vinegar, six bottles with lid and dashers, six customizable labels, funnel, gloves, cleanser and instructions.
26. Land & Sea Terrarium Set
To add a little life to a desk of coffee table, try this adorable terrarium set. It includes a dormant Marimo moss ball which will grow at a rate of one quarter inch per year. After the easy assembly, the only necessary maintenance is to change the water once every three weeks — the enclosed ecosystem will take care of the rest. This set includes dormant moss, filter media (pebbles, carbon, filter moss, soil), decorative mushroom, decorative bark, planting chop sticks, and glass corked bottles.
27. Luxbon Nautical Themed Linen Cushion Covers
Is the decor at your friend’s house in need of an update? Throw pillows are a cheap and easy way to freshen up a room. Go for the nautical theme with this set of four sea creature pillow cases featuring a seahorse, coral, starfish, and seaweed. Made of linen, these have a vintage look that will fit in many bohemian beachside cottages. These are just the cases, though, so you’ll need to grab the cushion inserts, too.
28. British Cheese Assortment
Who doesn’t love cheese? It’s the best. It’s even better as a gift, when you can explore new cheeses without the guilt of having made the wrong decision. This is a British assortment and includes a total of 30 ounces of Sage Derby, Coombe Farm Cheddar, Crumbly Lancashire and Royal Blue Stilton. If British cheeses won’t cut it, there are others, such as French and Italian. Or go for the gold and get all three.
29. Suaoki Solar Rechargeable LED Light Lantern Flashlight
For those who love the outdoors, this handy lantern uses solar panels to recharge when away from reliable power sources. At a full charge, you’ll get five hours of high level lighting, ten hours low lighting, or six hours of flash level lighting. It’s also chargeable via a micro USB cord, which is included.
Price: $16.99 (58 percent off MSRP)
30. Click & Grow Smartpots
Having a little indoor garden is nice, especially in homes that offer no outside space. There are myriad ways to accomplish this, but the latest and greatest uses technology to make it easier than ever. This little unit includes an LED grow light to help germinate the seeded cartridges. Simply click them into place, add batteries and water, and within two weeks, the plant will begin to grow.
Price: $19.95 and up
31. MudWatt STEM Kit
Like the Ozobot above, this gift focuses on the STEM explorations of kids of all ages. This module allows kids to maintain their own “bio-energy pet” that is a fuel cell powered by soil. You can augment the power with other things from the fridge, soils, and other organic material to determine what generates the greatest power. The companion app will aid kids in tracking their experiments. This one kit teaches kids about energy, microbiology, and scientific observation all at once.
32. UniTerra Nomad Espresso Machine
If the espresso lover you’re shopping for has been dreaming of having a machine at home but can’t spare the counter space, consider this novel solution. This manual lever machine requires no power whatsoever but still produces professional-level espresso. Because it requires no power, it’s not just limited to home use, either. Espresso machines can go for a lot more than this, so even at this price, it’s worth considering.
33. WizGear™ Universal Air Vent Magnetic Car Mount Holder
There are many gadgets for affixing your phone to your car in some way, but this one has to be among the best. I’ve used this model extensively and am happy to attest to its genius. It’s a well-made item that works by attaching a magnet to your phone. The holder swivels to make reading easy. This will work on just about any car, and you can get additional magnets for other drivers. I continue to be very impressed by this inexpensive unit. It should be noted that these will only work with relatively thin cases or with no case at all.
Price: $6.99 (65 percent off MSRP)
34. Le Creuset Stoneware Tea Cup
If the teapot in the kit above doesn’t cut it or you opt for other Numi teas, this lovely two-in-one tea kettle and cup makes an excellent unique gift. Perfect for solo contemplative tea time, this set is made to endure temperatures from minus 65 to 500 degrees, meaning it can be microwaved, baked, and dishwashed. It’s color matched to the full line of Le Creuset items, so you can complete a set with this.
Price: $34.95 (30 percent off MSRP)
35. Duo Pinball for iPad
The greatest pinball machine ever made is Gottlieb’s Grand Slam from 1972. Unfortunately, you can’t really buy one of those for your house, given their rarity, though if you have the room, you can get a Game of Thrones machine. If all that is too rich for your blood, try this novel solution. Half the satisfaction of pinball is the buttons, and this little console will recreate the arcade at home. Download the companion app and you’ll have five tables to choose from.
36. YiaMia LED Cactus Light
Who doesn’t need an adorable little night light? This one happens to be in the shape of a cactus that is nearly a foot tall and glows with eight LED bulbs. It uses batteries, so you can put it anywhere you like and even hang it on the wall. If the cactus doesn’t cut it for you, there’s also a flamingo, Christmas tree, pineapple, and a star.
37. LampChamp – The USB Lamp Socket Charger
If you’ve often noticed that there’s never a plug available for your phone when you’re sitting at friend’s house, you could get this gift for them and you. The Lampchamp simply adds two USB outlets to any lamp without changing anything about the lamp’s operation. Great for areas of the home where a plug is behind a piece of furniture, or for staying in that charming bed and breakfast that hasn’t quite added additional outlets yet.
38. Silhouette Cameo Starter Bundle
Is the person on your list a creative or crafter? They almost assuredly need something like the Cameo. Capable of cutting a wide variety of materials like paper, vinyl, fabric and others, it comes with software that will let you plan your own designs. Once you’ve decided exactly what you want cut, just print it out as you would on a normal printer. No more scrounging around at the art store in hopes that they have just the perfect sticker or stencil. This will give anyone the ability to generate the designs they need down to the pixel.
39. Umbra Trigg Hanging Container
Succulents have been extremely popular of late. Their easy care and wide variety makes them perfect for virtually any house. If the person you’re shopping for has overwhelmed their flat surfaces by propagating a few too many plants, it’s time to take to the walls. These ceramic and metal hanging plant containers will make excellent homes for plants. Even if they’re not into plants, this will make attractive holders of just about anything. They make a matching set meant to sit on a desk or table.
40. Critical Cycles Fixie Urban Road Bike
When you live in the city, it’s handy to have an efficient bike for getting around. Fixed gear bikes are great for city commuters, but this bike also includes a reversible hub with a freewheel on the other side for normal single-speed operation. It’s available in a wide variety of sizes and colors, including the super-unique combo above. An excellent choice for the rider on your list.
Price: $179.09 and up
41. PopSockets: Expanding Stand and Grip for Smartphones and Tablets
While the ever-increasing size of phones and tablets is advantageous in some ways — better screens, touch response, and resolution — for people with small hands, it can also be a major drawback. With a phone so large, you can’t quite get the same grip on it, which makes it prone to falling and being destroyed. Popsockets stick to the back of your phone or tablet, giving you something to grip without having to cradle the phone in the palm of your hand. You can also use them as stands for watching videos. The adhesive is endlessly reusable, so you can reposition it at will.
42. LapGear Travel Tablet Pillow
Speaking of phones and tablets, this pillow-tablet stand combination comfortably props up your device at the proper viewing angle so you don’t have to hold it on planes, busses, trains, or even at home. It includes a snap-on handle that will attach to suitcases and backpacks, as well as mesh pockets for your phone or accessories. Colors available include black, aqua, gray linen, mocha linen, pink, and purple.
43. PuraFlame Galena 36 Inch Flat Panel Fireplace Heater
If you know someone who wishes they had a fire place, or whose office or living room could just a little warm ambiance, consider this wall-mounted, flat panel heater. The LED display has three brightness levels and can be used to provide a realistic fire effect with or without the heat element on. When heating, this unit will provide heat up to 400 square feet. Especially good in areas like the Northeastern U.S. where oil heat is still common (and expensive).
Price: $168.99 (23 percent off MSRP)
44. Lifepack Solar Powered and Anti-Theft Backpack
If the Timbuk2 bag above isn’t sufficiently modern enough to give as a gift, try this thoroughly complete solution. To begin with, you get a handsome, contemporary backpack in either black or the pictured grey above, which comes equipped with a combination cable lock so your bag stays where you put it. The bag is water resistant, but they also include a waterproof cover for inclement weather. The real kicker is the Solarbank, which is an integrated solar panel, Bluetooth speaker, and recharging station. When fully charged, you’ll get six phone charges or up to 96 hours of audio. For every four hours in the sun, the solar panel will recharge the Solarbank the equivalent of one phone charge. Handy gadgets combined into a single package.
45. Vilac Old Fashioned Sports Car Toy
For the discerning child or the nostalgic former-child, these high-quality toy cars harken back to an era of better toy craftsmanship. Whether actually used as intended or merely as a desktop display piece, this is a fine and unique item to give as a gift for anyone who likes cars, toys, or old-fashioned quality.
46. Dash Co. Premium Slim Wallet
The era of the bulky, leather trifold wallet is over. With cards ubiquitous and smartphone payment systems expanding, one only need the thinnest possible wallet to organize the few things necessary to navigate modern life. This Dash model weighs less than an ounce and is made of durable canvas. You can even opt for the RFID-blocking version for a few more dollars. It comes in black, espresso, and navy. It says for men, but this would make a good gift for anyone.
47. Maple + Mauve Skyline Necklace
These hand-etched bamboo pendants feature a city skyline and hang from a gunmetal plated brass chain. Cities available (at the time of this writing) are: Los Angeles, Seattle, St. Louis, Denver, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Nashville, Des Moines, New York, and Chicago.
48. Shark Punch Shower Curtain
Want a completely irreverent gift? Try this shower curtain emblazoned with a diver punching a shark, which is made of polyester so you can machine wash and dry it. If you don’t dig this design, there are about 40 others to choose from, including a few more featuring people fighting creatures, several octopus options, and at least ones sloths-meets-Hunter S. Thompson.
49. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Petersen
Perfect for all ages, this comic follows the adventures of the Guardsmice, soldiers and guides who protect their kingdom from treachery. In Fall 1152, three Guardsmice are sent to find a missing merchant mouse, which leads to a far more dangerous revelation. Clearly inspired by the Redwall series, but very much a story of its own with outstanding, lush illustrations. There’s also the sequel Winter 1152 and The Black Axe to keep you reading.
Price: $16.83 for hardcover and $11.68 for Kindle/comiXology
50. InnoGear Real Bamboo Essential Oil Diffuser
Essential oil diffusers fill your home with calming scents that can relieve stress while they cover normal household odors. This one is constructed of bamboo and offers four modes: continuous mist and interval mist, each in a two hour or one hour mist time. There are also color changing LEDs inside, which can be used on a fading pulse or set to a given color. While aromatherapy has been said to help alleviate allergies and cold symptoms, the benefits of the fragrance alone makes this worth considering. Don’t forget the essential oils.
Price: $36.78 (39 percent off MSRP)