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11 Brilliant Gifts Everyone Is Going to Want

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In an age where pretty much anything someone could want is just a couple of mouse clicks away, it’s the rare object of desire that makes you work for it. Here are 11 gifts that you’d better buy while you can, as they’re guaranteed to be some of the year’s hardest-to-find items.

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. NINTENDO NES CLASSIC; $60

Walmart

In what feels like a flashback to the mid-1980s, Nintendo’s newest device is a miniaturized version of the original NES, and comes pre-loaded with 30 of your favorite old-school games—Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and Punch-Out!! among them. The original controllers, complete with super-short cords that force the player to sit directly in front of the television, are there, too. Another blast from the past: Demand currently far exceeds supply.

Find It: Walmart

2. IPHONE 7/7S; PRICE VARIES

Apple

If it seems as if each holiday season brings a new and improved version of Apple’s iPhone, well, that’s because it almost always does. This year, it’s the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. While they may not look much different from their predecessor at first glance, the upgrades are pretty monumental: The phone itself is both dust- and water-resistant, the camera is much improved—and there are two of them. There are also two speaker grills on the bottom of the phone.

Find It: Apple

3. PEBBLE 2; $131

Given the sheer enormity of choices alone, deciding which smartwatch would best suit the step-counting loved one in your life can be a daunting task. The Pebble 2 makes that decision a no-brainer. Unlike the tech giants who seem to be in constant competition to see who can cram the most new features into a tiny device, Pebble’s approach is much more straightforward, with a user-friendly design and, in the case of its updated version, a state-of-the-art heart monitor that allows you to track your heart rate throughout the day. Offering the functionality of the best smartwatches and fitness trackers, this device is more like a two-in-one.

Find It: Amazon

4. GOOGLE HOME; $129

Walmart

We all love music. But not all of us enjoy the process of getting up and playing DJ when we just want to sit on the couch and shout out our musical requests. This is where Google Home comes in. Like the Amazon Echo, this voice-activated, know-it-all smart speaker is often used for playing music on cue ("OK Google, play 'Ice Ice Baby'"), but its functionality goes far beyond that. Much like Siri, you can use it to issue a whole lot of commands; because the product can be synched with a variety of other services, including YouTube Music, Pandora, and Google Chromecast, you can also make it play your favorite movie on your TV (on a loop if you’d like) and even tap into most smart home technologies—because that thermostat isn’t going to set itself.

Find It: Walmart

5. HATCHIMALS; $50

Whether you know it or not, the favorite kid in your life wants a Hatchimal. Having already been deemed the hottest toy of the 2016 holiday season, there’s a lot of fervor surrounding getting your hands on one—and it’s easy to see why. While the end result is a cute little interactive toy that looks a bit like a penguin, actually getting to see the creature is the payoff: The toy begins its life as an egg that, with encouragement and nurturing from its owner, will hatch. And then will begin to do engage in all sorts of adorable, and increasingly sophisticated behaviors, which replicate the development process. The trick, of course, is finding one.

Find It: Toys “R” Us

6. CONVERSE CHUCK II WATERPROOF MESH BACK; $120

Over the years, Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Stars have found themselves in an array of places, from the professional basketball courts of yesteryear to that organic coffee bar down the street. One area you wanted to be careful with them though: near water… until now. The classic sneaker company’s latest kicks—which feature a mesh-backed upper liner, rubber outsoles to help with traction, and a bit of Neoprene on the inside for both warmth and comfort—are truly an all-weather shoe.

Find It: Converse

7. GOOGLE'S PIXEL AND PIXEL XL; PRICE VARIES

Best Buy

Google’s entrée into the cell phone world couldn’t have come at a better time. For gadget lovers who want to try something other than an iPhone, the Google Pixel offers many similar features, but with the power of Google (and all your info that’s linked to it) at the touch of a button.

Find It: Best Buy

8. SELFIE MIC MUSIC SET; $18

For karaoke enthusiasts who would like to be both heard and seen, the Selfie Mic puts music video stardom just an arm’s length away. All the lucky recipient needs to do is attach his or her camera-ready cell phone to the adjustable selfie stick, grab the microphone, stick in the earpiece, synch the toy up to free app, choose from one (or 100) of the thousands of songs in the catalog, and stat crooning. The app comes equipped with a number of unique filters and effects, so that you can customize the video to the song. Eat your heart out, Taylor Swift.

Find It: Amazon

9. ANKI COZMO; $180

Amazon

Kids don’t need to have watched The Jetsons to know that personal robots are pretty cool. And in the case of Cozmo, really cool. Like something out of a movie or TV series, the toy gets smarter—and more human-like—the more its owner chills out with it. He’s also designed to act emotionally, which means he can get a little cranky if forgotten about. Consider yourself warned.

Find It: Amazon

10. SONY PLAYSTATION VR; $400

Amazon

While Nintendo is going the retro route with its newest console, Sony is hurtling headfirst into the future with its contribution to the growing marketplace for virtual reality devices. For gamers who’ve long wanted to step through the screen that stands between them and their favorite video games, here’s that chance. As long as you don't mind wearing that VR headset, of course.

Find It: Amazon

11. FISHER-PRICE THINK & LEARN CODE-A-PILLAR; $39

Amazon

Wayback in the wayback, kids could entertain themselves for hours by simply pulling a wooden caterpillar along by a string. These days, a similar-looking caterpillar can offer your favorite kids a much more impressive skill set: computer programming. Using colors, sounds, and symbols, the interactive toy encourages little kids to think in big ideas.

Find It: Amazon

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10 Brilliant Gifts for the College Kid in Your Life
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If anyone needs a great holiday gift, it’s a broke college student. Give them something they’ll love (and use). May we suggest one of these?

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. KEURIG® K55 COFFEE MAKER; $90

College kids may not have time between classes to make—or drink—a full pot of coffee, making them perfect candidates for single-serve pod machines. This Keurig machine makes anywhere from 6 to 10 ounces. Plus, it’s compact for easy dorm storage, and comes in several different colors.

Find It: Amazon

2. BANDO "AFTER THIS WE'RE GETTING PIZZA" WORKOUT BAG; $35

Just because exercise is healthy doesn’t mean it’s always fun. Help your reluctant student get to the gym with this cheeky bag, which is sure to help him or her make like-minded friends—who might know where a student group will be giving out free pizza that night.

Find It: Amazon

3. MOLESKINE SMART WRITING SET; $199

Reviewing has never been easier with Moleskine’s smart pen set, a super portable digital tool that converts hand-written notes into digital files in real-time, allowing drafts to be emailed or uploaded to a LiveScribe account with the push of a button. The smartphone app will even convert handwriting into digital text, though it doesn’t always recognize messier script.

Find It: Moleskine

4. UBER GIFT CARD; $25 AND UP

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Joy ride: Most students can get from place to place on campus just fine, but they could probably use extra help hitting the town. Make sure they get on route safely with Uber gift cards. 

Find It: Amazon

5. BEYONCILS; $18

It’s hard not to be inspired by the wisdom of Beyoncé, and these nine handmade pencils are sure to remind the writer to be as confident as Queen Bey. They’re handmade and feature lyrics like “fresher than you,” “flawless,” and “I woke up like this.” For every set sold, LZPENCILS donates nine pencils—minus the lyrics—to a school in need.

Find It: Etsy

6. ROKU STREAMING STICK+; $70

It's rare to find a college student these days who has a cable subscription, so you might as well give them the gift of streaming. This Roku streams smoothly in high definition and supports most major services like Netflix and Hulu. 

Find It: Amazon

7. MOPHIE POWERSTATION MINI; $14

Help your favorite student keep smartphones charged during a full day of classes with Mophie’s ultra-fast portable charger. The gadget has the capacity to charge a cell phone about twice. Perhaps they’ll even use that extra battery power to call home.

Find It: Amazon

8. STATE BAGS BEDFORD BACKPACK; $59

Students can carry their books in style and feel good about it. For every backpack sold, STATE Bags gives one to a child in need. And it’s machine washable, just in case it ever ends up at a frat party.

Find It: Amazon

9. BRIK BOOKS BUILD-ON MACBOOK COVER; $60

Let your student stand out in the lecture hall—and display their 8-bit fandom—with these customizable laptop covers. They’re compatible with brick-based systems like LEGO and Mega Bloks, making them perfect to build tributes to any pixelated character. There are choices that fit a variety of Macbook Pro models, but sadly, it doesn’t come with any of the LEGOs they’ll need to customize, so you might want to throw those in the gift box, too.

Find It: Think Geek

10. KODAK PRINTOMATIC INSTANT PRINT CAMERA; $70

Help them make college memories that won't just sit in a forgotten album on a smartphone. The Kodak Printomatic automatically creates high-resolution photos as soon as you capture them. The printed photos make for perfect dorm room decoration.

Find It: Amazon

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11 Brilliant Gifts for the Hostess
Uncommon Goods / Amazon
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

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; $6

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; $14

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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