11 Brilliant Gifts for the Hostess

Uncommon Goods
Uncommon Goods

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

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 at Uncommon Goods for $36.

2. BARREL AGED VERMONT MAPLE SYRUP

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 at Uncommon Goods for $17.

3. SUGARFINA 3-PIECE BENTO BOX

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 at Sugarfina for $26 and at these other retailers:

4. Poetry Match Striker

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 at Uncommon Goods for $25.

5. ALTER ECO SEA SALT TRUFFLES

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 at Thrive Market for $6.

6. JANE BAKES COOKIE JARS

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 at Jane Bakes for $11.

7. EVERY PERSON IN NEW YORK

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 at Amazon for $17.

8. HOMESICK CANDLES

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 at Amazon for $30 and at these other retailers:

9. VEGA COFFEE ROASTER SAMPLER BOX

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 at Vega Coffee for $30.

10. State Slate Cheese Boards

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 at Uncommon Goods for $20.

11. VINTAGE BOOKSHELF SCRABBLE

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 for $35 and at these other retailers:

11 Thoughtful Gifts For Curious Kids

Indulge inquisitive minds this year by giving the kids in your life gifts that will reward their curiosity well beyond playtime. These 11 options will keep them entertained, stimulated, and might even help them answer a few of their "why" questions on their own.

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. The Great Treehouse Engineering Adventure Science Experiment Kit

This narrative STEM set lets kids build Pepper Mint's treehouse in the rainforest of Borneo so that she can help on a research expedition. Made for ages 8 and up, the various experiments that kids need to learn to help Pepper make the most of her trip. The projects include making a rotating rain shield, wiring LED lanterns for nighttime, and learning how gears and pulleys can help shift heavy things around the treehouse with minimal effort. And if land-based adventures aren't quite their thing, another Pepper Mint set about an underwater voyage will take them out on the open seas.

Find It at Amazon for $40 and also at these other retailers:

2. TinkerToy Super Building Set

When your preschool-aged cousin has outgrown basic blocks, the next step is building anything with wheels. This giant set of 200 rods, spools, washers, and connectors lets kids engineer cars, buses, bikes … or swords with which to stab you in appreciation. But, even then, imaginative STEM play! The pieces are durable, flexible, and made in a zero-waste green facility in Pennsylvania, so you'll feel less bad when you step on a missing spoke.

Find It at Amazon for $50 and also at these other retailers:

3. Worldwide Buddies Mexico Story Box

This culture-in-a-box set will teach kids all about the customs and traditions that make various countries unique and special. The first Worldwide Buddies kit is full of Mexican treats—it includes a book, bilingual playing cards, a stuffed axolotl toy (the critically endangered underwater Mexican salamander), and various other games and activities that will keep los niños engaged and occupied for weeks. And in January, the Chinese culture package will be debuting, just in time to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Find It at Worldwide Buddies for $39.

4. Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit

When we first learned about this coding wand, we couldn't wait to get it for the little Hermiones and Harrys we know. Kids ages 6 and up can create their own Wizarding World with a few flicks of the wrist while reciting a spell (err, programming the code). It's compatible with Mac, PC, Android, and iOS, so no matter which house they get sorted into, their spells should work flawlessly once they've completed their lessons.

Find It at Amazon for $80 and also at these other retailers:

5. Kidvelope

For adults who want to spend more time bonding with distant kid relatives (and not have to resort to Fortnite or some other video game), try some classic snail mail and silly selfies. Kidvelope is a new activity kit that emphasizes intergenerational communication through mission-based play. Kids and adults will work together, sending messages back and forth through the Kidvelope site and the good ol' USPS to solve puzzles, create secret messages, break codes, and, in this first kit iteration, attempt a rescue mission in outer space. As an older generation might say: Far out!

Find It at Kidvelope for $22.

6. LittleBits Avengers Hero Inventor Kit

They want to be a superhero? Let them build their own gear! Kids 8 and up can design, code, and customize smart-gloves with their own sounds and powers. Voice command? Check! Matrix light design? Obviously. Save the world? One kid at a time.

Find It at Amazon for $84 and also at these other retailers:

7. Nintendo Labo Variety Kit

Created around the concept of "Make, Play, Discover," the Nintendo Labo kits let kids build and customize pre-cut cardboard sheets into items they can then code with the included software for interactive, experimental play. The variety kit comes with cars, a house, a piano, a motorbike, and a fishing rod—so even if your intended recipient doesn't like getting their feet muddy, they can still tell outlandish fish stories with the best of them.

Find It at Amazon for $70 and also at these other retailers:

8. Fishing Boat Model Kit

Speaking of fishing, encourage teens to make model boats the new model cars. This wooden cut-out craft kit from HouhaDesigns would pair nicely with a copy of Moby-Dick. (Just don't let any play-acting destroy the sweet rowboat!)

Find It at Etsy for $15

9. Brio Builder Activity Playset

Let toddlers and preschoolers put their penchant for hitting things to good use by working on their fine-motor skills in the process. Kids can hammer away on these durable nuts, bolts, and wheels as well as practice using a wrench. They'll be ready to help you put together your IKEA purchases in no time!

Find It at Amazon for $70 and also at these other retailers:

10. DIY Fermentation Kit

Kids love helping out in the kitchen, but if they're hanging around too much while you're home-brewing, let them try fermenting something that they can actually sample—like pickles. This kit comes with plenty of recipes for when they're ready to branch out into other condiments (like sauerkraut or kimchi), plus it'll teach them patience. Cukes don't pickle overnight!

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $42.

11. MindWare Pattern Play

Need a quiet-time activity that won't leave crayon marks all over the walls? This rainbow-bright wooden puzzle set comes with 40 distinct pattern cards to master again and again. Kids will be so distracted by the vivid colors and pretty patterns that they won't even realize they're getting a solid introduction to math and geometry concepts like symmetry, congruence, and spatial judgment.

Find It at Amazon for $30 and also at these other retailers:

11 Brilliant Gifts for the Doctor Who Fan in Your Life

Ben Blackall, BBC America
Ben Blackall, BBC America

For Doctor Who fans, December 25 has always a big day because of the legendary sci-fi series’ annual Christmas specials (though this year's will be a New Year's Day affair). It’s during that annual holiday to-do that viewers have gotten their first glimpses of incoming Time Lords, as was the case with 2017's "Twice Upon a Time," the special that gave us a first look at Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor (and the first female Doctor).

A lot has happened in the 12 months since then. In addition to making her debut to record-shattering ratings, it's already been announced that Whittaker and her trusty team of companions will return for another whole new season ... though it won't air until 2020.

To help the Whovian in your life pass the time until then—and scratch yet another gift off your ever-growing holiday list—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. Thirteenth Doctor Barbie doll

Doctor Who Barbie doll
BBC and Mattel

In addition to being the first woman Doctor, Jodie Whittaker managed to become the first Doctor to get the Barbie treatment. The iconic doll brand, which is beloved by kids and adults alike, teamed up with the BBC to release this limited-edition doll. It bears an impressive resemblance to Whittaker, too—and sports her now-standard rainbow-striped T-shirt, suspenders, cropped trousers, trench coat, and lace-up boots. She’s even carrying her new take on the sonic screwdriver, a.k.a. a Swiss army sonic.

Find It at Hot Topic for $50

2. Thirteenth Doctor Funko Pop!

Thirteenth Doctor Funko Pop! toy
Funko

If your toy aesthetic is more square-headed and whimsical, then Funko's Thirteenth Doctor Pop! will make a fun addition to your cult toy collection.

Find It at Amazon for $11

3. Tardis Teapot

Jumping from one century and planet to the next can be a tiring business, so it’s always prudent to make time for tea. This ceramic teapot, which is a detailed recreation of the Doctor’s iconic time-traveling call box, holds up to 25 ounces per serving—enough for your giftee and any companion they might have tagging along.

Find It at Walmart for $28.

4. Eleventh Doctor Green Coat

Doctor Who: Eleventh Doctor Green Coat
BBC Shop

Regardless of who your favorite Doctor is, there’s no denying that Matt Smith’s double-breasted green coat is one stylish frock. The lined, moleskin coat gets it right down to the very last detail, and also comes with plenty of pockets.

Find It at The BBC Shop for $330.

5. The Doctors: Time And Space Collection

Even if you didn’t know his name, you probably spent part of your childhood with Roger Hargreaves, the author behind the Mr. Men book series. Now your giftee can relive those days with this eight-book collection of Doctor Who-inspired Mr. Men titles, created by Hargreaves’s son Adam. The books’ bold illustrations are accompanied by fun little stories and jokes from the series, which makes them fun for the whole family. (Though the Thirteenth Doctor isn't included in this series, she does have her own standalone title, which is available for $6 (paperback) or $14 (hardcover) on Amazon.)

Find It at Amazon for $31

6. Monopoly: Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition

Everyone’s favorite ode to capitalism gets a Whovian makeover with this special edition of Monopoly, where properties like Park Place take on the name of classic Doctor Who episodes like "The Poison Sky" instead, and old-school tokens like the race car and thimble have been replaced by iconic trinkets including the Fourth Doctor’s scarf and the Eleventh Doctor’s bow tie.

Find It at Amazon for $50 and also at these other retailers:

7. Tardis Watercolor Throw Blanket

Help your giftee show off both their fandom and their creative side with this cuddly throw blanket, featuring a watercolor-like rendering of the Doctor’s TARDIS. Measuring 4-by-5 feet, the blanket is perfect for cuddling up with a Doctor Who binge-watch.

Find It Hot Topic for $20 and also at these other retailers:

8. LEGO Ideas Doctor Who Building Kit

Doctor Who fan Andrew Clark designed this detailed LEGO set via the company’s LEGO Ideas site. The 625-piece building kit replicates the TARDIS’s iconic trans-dimensional engineering quirk, with its small-on-the-outside and enormous-on-the-inside look. The collection's four minifigures, including both the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, mean that you can even role-play a Time Lord regeneration, LEGO-style.

Find It at Amazon for $115.

9. Fourth Doctor Scarfs

Does your favorite Whovian want to go old school with their Doctor Who style? This recreation of the Fourth Doctor’s oversized scarf—available in lengths of either six or 12 feet—makes a great winter accessory.

Find It at Amazon for $25 and up.

10. Sonic Screwdriver BBQ Tongs

With these tongs, your giftee will want to drag the grill out of storage and cook up a fresh batch of fish fingers (and custard) with these sonic screwdriver-style tongs. Yes, they even have sound effects.

Find It at Amazon for $20 and also at these other retailers:

11. Doctor Who: The Official Cookbook

Fish fingers and custard may not be a traditional dish in most parts of the world, but if you’ve ever wondered what the Doctor’s favorite foods taste like, this book is chock full of 40 “Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey Recipes.” Fandom never tasted so delicious.

Find It at Amazon for $14 and also at these other retailers:

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