inside-the-box gift idea: playing with cardboard

cardboardcooker
colormehouse

Bring home anything and kids always seem to think that the cardboard box it comes in is the coolest part. (Growing up, I remember when my best friend’s parents bought a new refrigerator and we got a new fort out of it. Score!) But, in this case, the cardboard really is the best part — because it’s designed to be a tree, a cooker, a playhouse, a rocket or a dollhouse. Unlike cardboard nursery gear, which raised some safety concerns when we posted about it earlier this year, these imagination-boosting cardboard products for toddlers and school-aged kids are getting positive buzz on design sites and making appearances in interior design magazines. The concept and price tag won me over … we’ll have the Color Me House playhouse under our tree this year — the moon and star cutouts in the roof are definite upgrades from my fort days! –Ginny F.

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another bright idea from google: tech support care packages

tech support
Well, the geniuses at Google have done it again. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better than the commemorative Pac-Man doodle, they’ve developed www.teachparentstech.org, a website that allows users to send “tech care packages” to their parents (or anyone, presumably) containing video tutorials detailing processes in categories ranging from The Basics (copy & paste) to Media and Communications (making calls from your computer). The site encloses the chosen videos with campy care package text to seal the deal. Snarky? Absolutely, but also a very useful idea. There are a few items on here I’ll be sharing with my parents, and admittedly, a few I’m pretty jazzed to be learning myself. Is there a BCC option? –Sarah C

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want it now: penguin classics

paperback

There has been much ado about Penguin’s cloth bound, admittedly beautiful classic hardcover tomes in the blogosphere, but I’m much more interested in their re-released paperbacks . The new covers are colorful, bold and capture the loud spirits housed within the black-and-white text of their pages. All are gorgeous and reminiscent of comic books, graphic novels and fantastic pulp magazines (check out the scandalous cover of Ethan Frome). Pick up a stack for your favorite bookworm’s library. –Katie D.

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post-off: what do you bring the in-laws-to-be?

JA Ornament

As a group, in-laws are famously difficult to shop for. It seems all I read in these days of holiday gift guides are anecdotes highlighting their fussiness as a demographic and uncanny ability to dislike items purchased for them. Without in-laws of my own, I can’t speak from personal experience, but I have enjoyed offering my services as a consult to friends and those who may or may not be dating my twin sister, and choosing the perfect thing can be a high-stakes maneuver. Glamour offers this list of 10 gifts for in-laws that highlights items that each ring in at less than $100 (and prominently features socks, scarves, slippers and a little Jonathan Adler) but I want to hear from you. What do you bring your in-laws? What has worked, and (eek!) hasn’t? –Sarah C.

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under the tree treat: mythical irish hobby horses

irishhobby

Who wouldn’t want to find one of these Celtic art-inspired hobby horses under the tree? Each one is handcrafted from start to finish by Dan Hillman in County Roscommon, Ireland. Small hobby horses, for decorative uses, start at 70 euros (about $100). Medium hobby horses, for kids ages 2-4, are about $105. Horses go all the way up to extra large to fit a seven- to eight-year-old. You’ll also find dragon toys on the site, too. — Sarah L.

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