If you haven’t yet picked out some gifts for your loved ones, I’ve compiled a list of 10 things that have caught my eye recently. From robots to bras to pens, there’s likely something on my list for everyone on yours:
1. Toys that Teach Kids to Code
Knowing how to code is going to be as much of a basic literacy to preschoolers today as reading and math, and play is the best way to get them started. Out in front is new entrant Goldie Blox, engaging young girls in building story-driven worlds.
Similar toys and games are popping up all over the place and provide kids with the experience necessary to learn how to computer program in a fun, experiential way. Here’s a list of four robot ideas for the young ones in your life.
Or give a kid in your life tools to make his/her own Rock-em-Sock-em Robot with the LEGO Mindstorm. This DIY robot kit includes standard LEGO blocks to build your own masterpiece, add electronic microcontrollers and, after downloading software, you can command it to move as you wish.
2. Kindle Paperwhite
Here’s why the new Kindle Paperwhite is my favorite toy: I’m reading more. The super-light reader is easy on the eyes and easy to hold, making it easy to read without a lamp--or out in the sun, in any position.
The very first book I read on my new Kindle, The Orphan Master’s Son, is the best book I’ve read in years. Set in the stark and punishing environment of North Korea, The Orphan Master’s Son is an epic tale of love and identity in a country that tries to strip you of both. The writing is masterful (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2012).
My non-fiction pick is Bill Bryson’s latest work, One Summer: America, 1927, a panoramic view of scientific and cultural events that emerged in the summer of 1927 that, collectively, allowed America to take its first steps as a world leader. Big characters and great story-telling make this a super engaging read.
Of course, my book, Think Like a Futurist, is perfect for anyone interested in understanding how and why our world is changing. In it you’ll find a practical and disciplined approach to creativity and future thinking that matches the fast pace of the 21st century.
For the Instagram fiend in your life (we all have them) there are plenty of cute little printers that print in all shapes and sizes. This article lists 13 options.
3-D printing is an incredible technology that can now be done at home with this sleek, sexy printer from FormLabs. For the tinkerer in your life, it’s the newest tool for the workbench.
4. Send Handwritten, Wax-Sealed Notes -- from your computer or iPhone
Check this out: this cool app writes hand-written letters, wax seals and delivers them on your behalf. Eventually the technology will be able to approximate your own handwriting style, but for now it writes them in a clean, lovely script. The app is by a company called Bond, which has a catalog of gifts to send with your note.
5. Buy a Piece of Art
One-of-a-kind pieces of art are lovely gifts to give. Many schools have art sales and coffee shops all around the country showcase unique art on their walls. Then there’s always Etsy, where you can find a craft for anybody on your list.
6. Scratch-Off Map
Travel memories are among my most treasured and impactful. What better gift to give than a map that will remind someone of places he or she has been? This scratch-off map is stunning, but more importantly, memory-inducing.
7. Google Glass
The biggest advance in wearable computing to date, Google Glass is a small (transparent) screen that’s positioned in the upper corner of one eye (on an eyeglass frame). Its capabilities are very similar to a smart phone: you can layer navigation as you’re walking about town, pull up the architectural history of a building you admire, take video, check travel time to your next meeting, and more. Many of the actions are voice-commands, though taps and swipes on the eyeglass temple offer an alternative means of input.
8. Tools for Productivity
Lots of people carry around the coveted Moleskine notebooks, but now there’s a pen to go with it. It’s designed to clip perfectly to the cover of your notebook, and of course it looks great, too.
Another productivity enhancer is a good cup of coffee. This Aerobie machine is a small, transportable French press for a single cup of coffee. An adorable pick for anyone who appreciates a single serving pick-me-up.
10. Just-for-You Gifts
Forget Victoria’s Secret, Third Love bras are the future of undergarments. This patented technology calculates your precise measurements (there's an app for that) and fills up a virtual shop with a personalized collection of bras that will fit you like a glove (or like a perfectly-fitting bra).
Another great customizable fit is the Pebble smart watch. They come in all different faces, colors and accessories. Smart watches are a big trend for 2014; the sleek, modern look of the Pebble watch puts your 'cool' ahead of time.