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Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods

11 Brilliant Gifts for the Men in Your Life

Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods

Whether it's your brother, father, boyfriend, or friend, chances are there’s at least one guy on your gift list this year. Here are 11 clever gift ideas for the men in your life.

1. BEER CADDY WITH BOTTLE OPENER; $45

This handcrafted beer caddy is perfect for the guy who just can’t choose between his favorite brews. Made from reclaimed redwood beams found in San Francisco, this caddy is the perfect vehicle for a trendy assortment of craft IPAs. The attached bottle opener ensures that he’ll always be prepared to party.

Find it: Uncommon Goods

2. BOOK T-SHIRT; $34

These literary lithograph t-shirts are created entirely from the text of a classic book and hand-pressed to order in the color of your choice. The shirts display an average of 40,000 words—about the same length as a short novel. Whether your guy is a Hemingway devotee or a Vonnegut fan, you should have no problem finding a shirt that suits his intellectual fancy.

Find it: Lithographs

3. PRO-JECT TURNTABLE; $300

There are thousands of music gadgets and services on the market today, but sometimes it’s best to stick with the classics. This sleek turntable consists of a frame of sturdy and lightweight particle board with a 8.6-inch tone arm made from aluminum with sapphire bearings. Its motor control reduces unwanted vibration, and the platter bearing’s stainless steel spindle and bronze bushing ensure low friction. Both newbies and seasoned vinyl collectors will be able to appreciate a sound that smooth.

Find it: Amazon

4. HOMIDO VIRTUAL REALITY HEADSET; $100

What do you get for the guy who owns every game and console in existence? Help him get ahead of the curve with this virtual reality headset from Homido. Users can insert their smartphones and strap on the wireless goggles for an immersive, 360-degree entertainment experience.

Find it: Amazon

5. KEYBOARD WAFFLE IRON; $85

This keyboard waffle iron raises the breakfast bar to new levels of nerdy deliciousness. It even comes with a booklet of 20 waffle batter recipes you can press into a computer-inspired package.

Find it: The Keyboard Waffle Iron

6. SNEAKER CUSTOMIZATION KIT; $45

Encourage the man in your life to explore his artistic side with this sneaker customization paint kit. Each set comes with sneaker wipes, a customization guide, a paintbrush, and five containers of white, black, red, yellow, and blue paint. The paint works perfectly on your guy’s leather Nikes or his canvas Chuck Taylors, and has been proven to resist water as well as wear and tear.

Find it: Uncommon Goods

7. USB FLASH DRIVE CUFFLINKS; $80

Guarantee that your guy shows up to the office both stylish and prepared. The cufflinks, made of rhodium-plated base metal with a gunmetal finish, double as USB drives that store up to 4GB of data.

Find it: Cufflinks

8. PORTABLE TABLE TENNIS SET; $45

The party goes wherever he goes. This portable table tennis set includes a net that collapses into a compact package and paddles that feature retractable handles for easy storage. In addition to the net, two paddles, and two balls, the set comes with a drawstring pouch so everything can fit into a backpack with room to spare.

Find it: Amazon

9. BALLPARK BLUEPRINTS; $185

Baseball season won’t be back in full swing for another few months, but until then you can satisfy your man’s sports craving with one of these framed ballpark blueprints. The 12 by 18.5-inch digital prints feature the gorgeous designs of America’s best ballparks, like Fenway, Citi Field, and Camden Yards. Each illustration is accompanied by design specs and highlights from that stadium’s history.

Find it: Uncommon Goods

10. NARRATIVE CLIP WEARABLE CAMERA; $133


The pressure to capture life’s best moments on film is a feeling everyone can relate to. With this wearable camera from Narrative, all users need to do is clip it on and let the device do the rest. The camera automatically snaps candid photos every minute and is capable of storing up to 6000 pictures at a time. Weighing in at less than an ounce, it will be easy for the man in your life to forget he’s even wearing one.

Find it: Amazon

11.1800 EA7 X KEITH HARING; $30

Satisfy his need for great taste and style with these special edition 1800 tequila bottles, decorated by the late street artist Keith Haring. A limited amount of the bottles are adorned with six of his original designs, part of the company's Essential Artist series.

Find it: Reserve Bar

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Animals
Want to Recycle Your Christmas Tree? Feed It to an Elephant
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

When the holiday season finally comes to a close, people get creative with the surplus of dead Christmas trees. One San Francisco-based artist transformed brittle shrubs into hanging installation pieces. Others use pine needles for mulch, or repurpose trees into bird sanctuaries. For the average person, sticking it into a wood chipper or "treecycling" it as part of a community program are all eco-friendly ways to say goodbye to this year's Douglas fir. None of these solutions, however, are as cute as the waste-cutting strategy employed by some zoos around the world: giving them to elephants.

Each year, zookeepers at Tierpark Berlin—a facility that bills itself as “Europe’s largest adventure animal park”—feed the elephants unsold pine trees. The plants are reportedly pesticide-free, and they serve as a good (albeit prickly) supplement to the pachyderms' usual winter diets.

A bit closer to home, the residents of The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee rely on local residents to take part in their annual Christmas Tree Drive. In addition to being nutrient-rich, the tree's needles are said to help aid in an elephant's digestion. But beyond all that, it's pretty adorable to watch.

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Live Smarter
5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree
iStock
iStock

What’s the environmentally safest way to dispose of your Christmas tree? It’s hard to say. Grown, managed, transported, and recycled efficiently, a real Christmas tree’s environmental impact should be near neutral. Unfortunately, not all Christmas tree plantations are equal in their environmental impact.

The most eco-friendly way is to leave the tree in the ground, where it belongs, so you never have to dispose of it. But then you don't have a Christmas tree in your house to bring festive cheer. One thing you can do is be environmentally smart when it comes to the tree's disposal. After this festive season, why not try one of these eco-friendly methods.

1. CHIP IT.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a big wood-chipper, you may be able to chip the entire tree. Wood-chip is great as a decorative landscaping material. But if you really want to do great things for the environment (and if you have access to a lot of Christmas trees), you could make a bioreactor to denitrify water. Nitrates are put on farms across the world to help increase crop output, but a considerable amount is washed away into lakes and rivers where it’s disastrous for fish and potentially toxic for people. A wood chip bioreactor encourages the growth of bacteria that break down the nitrates in the drainage water, reducing the amount that gets into the water supply. It's not a simple project, however. To make one, you have to dig a big trench, get the water to flow through said trench, and fill it with wood chips. More info can be found here [PDF].

2. CRAFT IT.


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If your tree hasn’t yet let go of its needles—and you haven’t yet let go of Christmas, get crafty with it. Cut off small branches and bind them around a circle of wire to make an attractive wreath. This looks even better if some of the cones are still attached. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could set up an essential oil extractor to get a supercharged Christmas scent. If you are already distilling alcohol, you have everything you need (here's how to do it). With a little less effort and equipment, you can make a weaker liquid called hydrosol, which is a fragrant condensate water containing water-soluble parts of the needles.

3. STICK IT.

Many legumes, such as garden peas, are thigmotropic, meaning that they respond to objects they touch, growing in coils along or up them. Needle-free Christmas tree branches have lots of twigs, texture, and knobby protrusions for peas and beans to get a grip on. This allows them to grow upwards strongly toward light. Simply stick a small tree branch in the soil next to each new shoot for a free, effective legume-climbing frame. Another advantage of this technique is that it makes grazing animals less likely to munch those tender green shoots, as they tend to avoid getting Christmas tree twigs spiked up their noses.

4. TREECYCLE IT.


Getty Images

Come January, it’s cold, the festivities are over, work looms, and you’ve got too much on your mind to be thinking about dead Christmas tree horticulture or crafts. Fortunately, a simple solution is at hand: Most counties and municipalities now provide Christmas tree recycling points where you can take your tree for chipping. Some “TreeCycle” points will even exchange your tree for a bag of wood-chip or chip mulch. OK, this probably means that you’ll have to jam that Christmas tree into your car once more, but as long as you don’t have to drive too many miles out of your way, Christmas tree recycling is a quick and easy environmentally-friendly option.

5. DONATE IT.

After you’ve had your Christmas cheer, why shouldn’t fish have some fun? Several communities have programs in place where they’ll take your old Christmas tree, drill a hole in the base, tie a brick to it, and throw it in a lake. When humans create artificial lakes, they tend to be relatively featureless on the bottom for easy dredging. That’s great for us, but it means baby fish have nowhere to escape predators. Christmas trees provide a nice, temporary place for the fish to hide out and explore.

If, on the other hand, you’d like to see your Christmas tree mauled by a pride of lions, that’s OK too! Some zoos around the world take Christmas tree donations (but please remove all the tinsel first) and allow the animals to play with them.

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