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15 Pop Culture-Inspired String Lights to Illuminate the Holidays

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Whether you’re decorating a tree or lining the walls of your dorm room, string lights are essential. Sure, your traditional bulb light set is classic, but sometimes it pays to branch out. Get creative this season with one (or a few) of these alternate string light sets.

1. TARDIS

Show off your love for Dr. Who with these TARDIS string lights. (We imagine the lights are much bigger on the inside.)

Buy on Amazon.

2. PONIES

Speaking of Dr. Who, you can also get the My Little Pony version of the time traveler, along with a pony named Muffin (known to some fans as “Derpy”).

Buy on Amazon.

3. LEG LAMPS

Instead of placing one lamp in the window, why not fill your home with multiple smaller versions? 

Buy on Amazon.

4. R2D2

With the Star Wars movie right on the horizon, there is no end to sweet merchandise to collect. These R2D2 string lights will look great next to your Darth Vader stocking and Yoda ornament

Buy on Amazon.

5. TURKEYS

Just in time for Thanksgiving: Turkey lights! These might not really count as pop culture-related, but hopefully you can pardon this exception—after all, the president pardons a turkey every year.

Buy on Ooga Lights.

6. SUPERMAN

Feel heroic putting up this Superman light set.

Buy on Amazon.

7. SNOOPY

These Snoopys in Santa garb will be perfect for your next viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas

Buy on Amazon.

8. DARTH VADER

If R2D2 is not the droid you’re looking for, how about these artistic Darth Vader heads? The LED lights can be used both indoors and out.

Buy on Amazon.

9. MINIONS

Not sick of these little yellow guys yet? Then, you might enjoy these lights inspired by the Despicable Me franchise.

Buy on Amazon.

10. YODA

This is the last Star Wars light set on the list, we promise. You can opt for regular Yodas, or Santa Yodas if you want to be extra festive. 

Buy on Amazon.

11. RED SOLO CUPS

Keep it classy with these red plastic cup string lights. They’re perfect to light up your next game of Flip Cup.

Buy on Amazon.

12. KISS

You can get KISS action figures, so it’s not surprising that you can also get band-branded string lights. They will look great in your van. 

Buy on Amazon.

13. WALKING DEAD

These might seem a little grizzly for a family holiday, but look: They’re red and green for Christmas. Grandma is sure to love them.

Buy on Amazon.

14. BATMAN

These string lights are perhaps more practical than fitting a real bat signal into your home.

Buy on Amazon.

15. MORE ZOMBIES

These Walking Dead lights are even more gruesome than the others. The string of decapitated zombie heads is sure to keep other zombies—and neighbors—away.

Buy on ThinkGeek.

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Amazon
15 Smart Gifts for Administrative Professionals’ Day
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Amazon

Without the tireless work of administrative professionals, offices would surely fall apart. This holiday, formerly known as Secretaries Day, is all about showing thanks for their great contributions. It falls on Wednesday, April 26 this year, so there's still time to pick out a thoughtful gift for the people in your office who make life easier for everyone.

1. NESSIE TEA INFUSER; $13

Steeping loose tea is a lot more fun when you can create a cryptid sighting right in your mug. This dishwasher-safe, silicone tea infuser looks just like a baby Loch Ness monster that stores tea leaves in its belly.

Find it: Amazon

2. KNIGHT PEN HOLDER; $30

With this regal display, a good pen will always be close at hand. The resin knight statuette comes with its own refillable black ink pen and works as a nice reminder that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Find it: ThinkGeek

3. MIRA WATER BOTTLE; $19

Give the gift of hydration: These 17-ounce bottles are perfect for carrying water, coffee, or tea. The insulation will keep drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours, and its leak-proof top makes it a mess-free travel companion.

Find it: Amazon

4. CAFFEINE SOAP; $7

Morning showers can be a lot more energized with bars of soap charged with caffeine. The peppermint-scented soap is infused with caffeine, which can be absorbed through the skin (at roughly 200 milligrams per washing) to give a little pre-latte jolt before work. 

Find it: ThinkGeek

5. HANDICORN; $8

Downtime at the office can now mean a visit from a friendly unicorn. The five piece set comes with four hoofed feet and a unicorn head that fit neatly over most fingers.

Find it: Amazon

6. SOLITAIRE CARDS; $18

It's just like the computer game, but in real life! This deck of cards from Areaware uses the original artwork of Susan Kare from the Windows 3.0 Solitaire game. Kare even designed joker cards just for the physical set of cards.

Find it: Amazon

7. RETRO PENS; $7

Note taking is about to go old school with these cute, retro-styled pens. The set of five click-top pens come in satisfying muted colors that would dazzle any '60s corporate employee.

Find it: Amazon

8. PICTURE HANGERS; $11

These paper clips are topped with the recognizable Facebook icon, letting owners give a thumbs up or thumbs down to pictures in real life. Each pack comes with seven clips and a string for hanging up all the best pictures, and perhaps the worst reminders on deadlines.

Find it: Amazon

9. SHEEP PUSH PIN HOLDER; $14

At first glance, this is just a sheep with a lovely wool coat. In reality, this sheep is covered in white push pins that can be easily removed and replaced. The clever pin holder is great for any animal lover with a constant need for thumbtacks.

Find it: Amazon

10. CAT POST-IT HOLDER; $6

Here's another helpful animal office product: A cat that dispenses sticky notes. The whiskered feline comes with one pack of Post-Its and can be refilled with any 3-by-3-inch notepads.

Find it: Amazon

11. 30 DAY CHALLENGE; $12

This charming little note dispenser spits out encouraging words and advice. Geared toward self-care, each note suggests one thing the reader can do to slow down and enjoy each day.

Find it: Urban Outfitters

12. SPACE NOTEBOOK; $4

Jot down notes that are out of this world! This astrological notebook has a nice matte cover and an elastic band to keep it shut. The notebook comes with 256 lined pages for plenty of thoughts on the cosmos, extraterrestrials, or conference call numbers.

Find it: ModCloth

13. CACTUS CANDLES; $12

For the coworker who just can't seem to keep a desktop plant alive, these cactus-shaped candles are almost too cute to light. Each box comes with six candles in three different styles.

Find it: Amazon

14. HEAT SENSITIVE PAC-MAN MUG; $11

Pouring hot liquid into this mug is a lot like turning on an arcade game. As the mug heats up, a Pac-Man game emerges—cherries, ghost, and all.

Find it: Amazon

15. SCRATCH OFF BOOK POSTER; $35

This helpful chart recommends 100 different classic books, dating back to 1605. Each book is illustrated and coated with a gold foil design, which proud readers can scratch off to keep track of—or show off—how many tomes they've tackled.

Find it: ThinkGeek

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Uncommon Goods / Amazon
11 Brilliant Gifts for the Hostess
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Uncommon Goods / Amazon

Sure, you could just buy another bottle of vino. But if you really want to impress that friend known for their Pinterest-worthy fetes, scan this list for a unique gift they’ll want to put on display.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. NEIGHBORWOODS MAP COASTER; $36

Help your pal raise a glass to their beloved hometown or adopted ‘hood! Representing 14 major cities across the U.S. (plus a few in Europe), each cedar coaster in the set of four is etched with a different section of town and serves as a great conversation starter.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

2. BARREL AGED VERMONT MAPLE SYRUP; $20

Consider it a head start on the morning after breakfast. The organic syrup is aged in barrels normally used for rum or bourbon. And while it likely won’t work in a hair-of-the-dog situation, it does make for a delicious pancake topper.

Find It: Uncommon Goods 

3. SUGARFINA 3-PIECE BENTO BOX; $25

A photo posted by Sugarfina (@sugarfina) on

Fill the three slots of this decorative box with a mix of your BFF’s preferred candies—anything from champagne-infused gummy bears to chocolate bacon toffee.

Find It: Sugarfina

4. POETRY MATCH STRIKER; $25

 

They’ll need a way to fire up all the gingerbread- and Christmas tree-scented candles they’re sure to receive. Help them find the light with this glass, apothecary-style jar filled with 120 four-inch matches (there’s a piece of flint on the side for striking) and printed with an inspiring phrase.

Find it: Uncommon Goods

5. ALTER ECO SEA SALT TRUFFLES; $7

Give ‘em a treat they won’t feel compelled to share with their guests. Made with Ecuadorian dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt, these truffles are the perfect salty-sweet combo.

Find It: Thrive Market

6. JANE BAKES COOKIE JARS; $10

Slaving over homemade Christmas cookies not your thing? Save yourself some time and snag a mason jar of these whole grain, high fiber confections. (Read: They’re slightly healthier.) Choose from flavors such as vanilla bean or coconut and caramel.

Find It: Jane Bakes

7. EVERY PERSON IN NEW YORK; $16

Your bestie will make room for this one on the coffee table. The 408-page tome is packed with thousands of artworks Jason Polan sketched during his mission to draw every person in New York. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Kristen Wiig provides the foreword.

Find It: Amazon

8. HOMESICK CANDLES; $30

Provide a scent-sational reminder of their hometown. These soy wax candles (burn time: 60-80 hours) are packed with fragrances reminiscent of each state. New York’s candle has hints of the Adirondack forest, apple orchards, and pumpkin, while Michigan’s has notes of cherries and chocolate.

Find It: Homesick Candles

9. VEGA COFFEE HOLIDAY GIFT BOX; $30

A great buzz: This java is roasted, packaged and shipped from Nicaragua, where climate conditions are ideal for coffee growing. The direct-from-the-farm-to-your-cup setup keeps costs down and helps farmers earn more.

Find It: Vega Coffee

10. STATE SLATE CHEESE BOARDS; $20

Let them serve up that triple crème brie with a side of state pride. You can buy these slate boards—naturally cool to keep the fromage fresh—in the shape of any state or Washington D.C. Or take a stab at unity and buy one shaped like the whole U.S.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

11. VINTAGE BOOKSHELF SCRABBLE; $35

Perfect for your book club host—or just your most verbose pal—this vintage Scrabble game board folds to be stored inside a linen-wrapped book.

Find It: Amazon

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