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Gift Guides

Gifts for Teens: 20 Cool Gifts for People Under 20

October 21, 2016

Gifts for Teens | UncommonGoods

More than any other age group, teenagers go through a crazy roller coaster of changes. Once they bid farewell to the “little kid” years, they really start to explore who they are, who they’re not, and who they want to become. They are on a constant quest to find a voice (and, perhaps, the #perfecthashtag). We think this period of self-discovery is really awesome. Here at UncommonGoods, we’re all about encouraging individuality. So we hand-selected 20 of our coolest items for the savvy, curious, flourishing and fun-loving teens in your life. These gifts will not only be Instagram worthy keepsakes, but also little stamps of uniqueness during this holiday season and beyond.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Will Using an Updated Instant Camera Be a Snap?

October 14, 2016
Instant Camera Gift Lab

As a photographer I’ve played with all kinds of cameras, from high-end digital cameras to dollar store 35mm, and Polaroids are no exception. So when I saw that the classic Polaroid camera has been re-imagined for the digital age with the I-1 Analog Instant Camera, I knew I had to test it out. With a trip to London and Paris coming up, I had the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

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Gift Guides

Hygge: a Hug’s Danish Cousin

October 13, 2016

Hygge Collection | UncommonGoods

A hot bowl of homemade porridge for breakfast; a leisurely bike ride past warm, welcoming shops; a fresh pot of tea shared with an old friend; the comforting glow of candles—lots of candles. All of these things are hallmarks of hygge, an essential ingredient of life in Denmark. Though it has no tidy translation in English, some etymologists think it’s a distant Danish cousin of the word hug, an association encouraged by the cozy, comforting essence of both words. It may be hard for English speakers to pronounce (try “hyoo-gah”), but it’s not so hard to attain. The new Little Book of Hygge offers pointers on the Danish way to live well, while Morley College in London has started teaching hygge along with their Danish language instruction. But hygge isn’t just about warm, fuzzy feelings—it’s central to Denmark’s status as the happiest country in the world. That’s right, Denmark is consistently crowned the #1 country for happiness, according to the UN’s official World Happiness Report. And if it’s not too much of an oxymoron, the Danes are serious about their happiness. Just ask the staff of the Happiness Research Institute of Copenhagen. With chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire season just around the corner, we offer this cozy collection of uncommon goods that can help you mix more hygge into your home and lifestyle, whether you live in Copenhagen or Corpus Christi.


You might say that hygge is part of the Scandinavian landscape: serene stands of fir and birch, mossy forest floors dotted with red-capped mushrooms that might just be gnomes out of the corner of your eye…Our Nordic Tea Light Trough lends a soothing alpine glow to your decor. 

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Does Beer Make Everything Better? (Even Pretzels and Mustard?)

October 5, 2016
Emily Gift Lab Pretzels and MustardResearch

I’ve always been a fan of pretzels. From your standard UTZ variety, which were often packed away in ZipLocs in my elementary school lunches, to the inimitable Auntie Anne’s (cinnamon, obviously) which have suckered me in at shopping malls and train stations alike, I’ve loved ‘em all. Something about fall makes pretzels seem like especially appropriate snacks, and I’ve been craving them as the air has gotten chillier. Maybe my small sliver of German ancestry has me feeling some lingering Oktoberfest vibes all the way on Long Island – in which case, this experiment is all the better, since it involves a fair amount of beer. I’ll be using the Craft Beer Pretzel Mix as well as the Make Your Own Mustard Kit, which also calls for beer as an ingredient, because what goes better with beer pretzels than beer mustard? I’m hungry. Let’s try it.


Beer will make everything better, including homemade pretzels and mustard.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Can This Filter Bottle Provide Hydrated Hiking without a Heavy Pack?

September 28, 2016

Laura Gift Lab Water Bottle


Anytime I go hiking, I make sure to bring plenty of water. This usually means hauling around a 2-liter water bottle that’s too big for my hip-pack. (I know, it’s really a fanny pack, but “hip-pack” sounds so much cooler than a bad fashion choice circa 1989.) A big water bottle means hiking with an even bigger backpack to hold it in. So, how can I use my lighter pack and still carry enough water? Perhaps I should give the Adventure Filter Water Bottle a try.

I haven’t gone on hikes any longer than 10 miles, so I’ve never purchased any kind of trail-side water filtration system. My guy and I planned to do a 4+ mile trip where we were camping at Mongaup Pond Campground, so I figured this would be a good time to test out something in that category. I wanted to fill up my bottle from one of the spouts with drinkable water before we headed out.


The Adventure Filter Water Bottle will be easy to use on the trail, and it’ll filter water so it’s clean and tasty.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Can You Do Cold Brew Coffee at Home?

September 22, 2016

Randy and Cold Brew


Coffee is good. Hot coffee when it’s still hot out is not so good. Will the Cold Brew Coffee Maker save me?


I am one of about 2/3 of adult Americans who will have a cup of coffee today at work. But in the dog days of summer, hot drinks aren’t really what I’m thirsting for. Unfortunately, every time I’ve tried to make iced coffee it came out bitter. It usually just sits in my fridge as a testament to my failure for a few days before I toss it.

Maybe I’ve just found 1,000 ways not to make iced coffee.

With that in mind, I set off with the Cold Brew Coffee Maker to try one more time.

Before I picked up this coffee maker I had no idea what “cold brew” meant. As I learned from the instructions, it’s a method of brewing where cold water is slowly percolated over ground coffee. The cold water prevents the bitterness of the beans from flowing into the retaining jar, and the slow pace allows plenty of flavor to end up in the final product. It takes a while, and the longer you allow it to take, the more flavor will end up in your cup.


My null hypothesis: I can’t make a decent cup of iced coffee.

My alternative hypothesis: I can (if I use the right tools).

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Gift Guides

Gift Guide: Care Packages for Every College Student

September 7, 2016

They passed their SATs and they wrote their college essays. They packed their bags, picked their majors, and they even chose their dorms! Moving away to college is an exciting time in anybody’s life—and this fall’s batch of college-bound kids are in for four of the best years of theirs. So, what should you include in care packages to your star student to help ensure they get the most from their experience?

Here’s the thing: Starting college can be stressful. Not only do new students need to learn the way around campus, memorize their course schedules, and make new friends, they also need to buy a lot of stuff. They need textbooks and bed sheets, pencils, notebooks, closet organizers, shower caddies, alarm clocks, travel mugs, dorm room slippers—and more. That’s a lot of gear for one person’s first year at school! Even the most overachieving scholar is bound to forget something.

Any student will appreciate a care package in their first semester or two away from home. That’s why we’ve compiled some college care package ideas for every kind of college kid. Your competitive athlete, class president, young doctor-in-the-making, or little Steve Jobs might be scrambling to hit the ground running, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them ring in the new school year with some fun gift items too.

Here are a few ideas to send that special champion in your life out into the world with a bang.

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Roll Out Ravioli Like a Pro

September 1, 2016

Marisa | UncommonGoods


Ravioli Rolling Pin

Ravioli Rolling Pin | UncommonGoods


Dumpling statue

Me, next to a statue honoring the dumplings of the world, in the Fine Arts Center at the Minnesota State Fair

I’m a known dumpling lover. I’ve always wanted to make ravioli, because 1) it’s a form of dumplings, 1a) dumplings are the best, 2) it’s delicious, and 3) pre-made ravioli seems too expensive for what it is, and 4) the one time I did I buy store-bought ravioli, it was suuuuper suboptimally subpar. As my mom says, “The dough gets leather-y.”

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