Gift Guides

Best New Gifts of 2011

November 23, 2011

When people ask me, “What makes something an uncommon good?” I typically explain that it’s a product with a unique, unexpected or additional element of creative design. It’s an item that is remarkable in that, “We haven’t seen anything quite like this before” or, “Who would have thought of that?” or “I’m sure I haven’t seen this anyplace else.” Or, another way to explain this, as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart might say, “I know it when I see it.”

Here at UncommonGoods we also believe that gift giving is an art form in and of itself, and a singular way to express what you’re feeling in any relationship: love, friendship, happiness, hope, joy, gratitude, recognition or appreciation. That’s why we carry thousands of cool, hand-picked items from stunning jewelry and fun accessories to creative home decor and unique kitchen items. To help make your gift giving easier and more enjoyable, I’m happy to offer my personal uncommon picks for this holiday season. They’re all either new to our assortment this year or only available at UncommonGoods… and every one is sure to put a smile on your special someone’s face.

For Your Sister, Mom or Best Friend

The best way to express how truly special an important woman in your life is to give her something that is personal, unique and will become a treasured keepsake. Our handmade Birth Month Flower Necklace is the choice for the woman who loves jewelry; our handmade Sari Scarf, made from vintage saris is for the stylish woman who loves accessories.

For Him

When it comes to gift giving for guys, think about what is practical and functional– and then consider his interests, hobbies and habits. But if he is someone who already has everything, a little humor and a lot of creative design with one of these four gifts will easily solve that problem:
Man Coasters
Face Mug
7 Deadly Sins Glasses
F Bomb Paperweight

For Kids

What child doesn’t love candy or the amusement park? Try a Gummy Bear Light (ages 3+) or year long indoor fun with an Extreme Stunt Wall Coaster (ages 5+)

For Teens

The cool thing not to tell a teenager is that any adult will also love these five gifts:

Handmade Recycled Knit Arm Warmers
Dancing Lion Speaker
Travel Stub Diary
Fortune Keeper Key Chain
Handmade Glass Bacon and Egg Earrings

A Family Gift

Holidays are about families—which was also our inspiration for creating the Family Traditions Journal. And to help make your family gift shopping easier and this holiday especially memorable, you can start your own family tradition by giving one to each member of your family and all fill out together.

For Wine Lovers

When the Corksicle made its debut at the Atlanta Gift Show this past July, we immediately recognized that this simple and innovative design for keeping wine cool without creating dilution is a must have for any wine lover.

For Pet Lovers

According to the Humane Society, 39% of US households own at least 1 dog, and 33% own at least 1 cat. So chances are that someone on your gift list is either a dog or a cat owner. With more than 400 customer reviews, Bad Dog Tumblers are one of our top all-time best gifts for a dog lover. And, the cat companion is our Inconvenient Kitty Tumblers.

Green Gifts

We appreciate and value products created from materials that otherwise would be discarded and understand why this is important to many people. For over 12 years, we have been a leader in selling creatively designed products made from repurposed and recycled materials. Here are 5 of our most innovative and creative green products for this year:

With a set of Flip It! Wine Glasses you get 2 glasses in 1—both a wine and shot glass, made from repurposed old glass wine, beer and water bottles.
Moss Terrarium, a modern take on the terrarium, features an urbanized micro ecosystem housed within a recycled wine bottle.

“Potluck” Sweater Potholders feature a casing made from a bold, up-cycled sweater picked potluck-style from a charity store.

Recycled Cotton Animal Accessories are made in the USA from yarn spun from the leftover materials from apparel and upholstery factories that would have been discarded.
Upcycled Mail Sack Pouch & Tote are handmade from repurposed mail sacks.

For a Festive Holiday

Get in the spirit of the season this year with our Reclaimed Holiday Sweater Scarf a brand new twist on a seasonal icon. And wow your guests and spark some fun conversations when you entertain with a set of Wine Hourglasses and our Recycled Holiday Record Coasters.

A Gift That Gives Back

Throughout the year we hold a variety of different design challenges that reach a broad community of independent designers and support emerging talent. Graphic designer Michael White’s iconic design on this City Harvest Plate was chosen from over 90 entries from our Harvest Plate Design Challenge. $5 from the purchase of each plate directly benefits City Harvest, supporting food collection for New York’s hungry men, women and children.

At UncommonGoods, we believe in giving back. With our Better to Give Program, every time you order from UncommonGoods, you can choose to select a non-profit organization to receive a $1 donation from us.

About Carolyn
Carolyn grew up in Ardsley, NY, also home of the late great ice cream magnet Tom Carvel. She is a classically trained musician who loves sailing, Airedale terriers, Turner Classic Movies and Bruce Springsteen – not necessarily in that order. She lives in Shelter Island, New York and in Paulus Hook-downtown Jersey City’s historic district – with her husband Steve (a sailboat captain), Baxter (their Airedale terrier), and Marmaduke (their very large orange cat). Carolyn’s path to UncommonGoods was roundabout but understandable in a creative, business, retail sort of way. From Cornell University to Wall Street to high end fashion to starting her own business, Carolyn has always had a knack for spotting trends and knowing what people want to buy. For the past five years Carolyn has overseen the buying decisions and product selection for the UncommonGoods catalog and website. In October 2011 she took on a new role as the company’s Director of New Business and Product Development.

The Uncommon Life

An Uncommon Thanksgiving Recipe Round-up

November 22, 2011

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year or attending a potluck, consider taking inspiration for uncommon foods from a few of our favorite blogs. Who knows, you might end up creating a new tradition by cooking up one of the following dishes!

Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond’s unique city-to-country transformation and trademark style have landed her a book deal, Food Network show, and even a movie (to be released next year). Give your guests a taste of pioneer goodness with this unique pumpkin soup, and save yourself from dirty dish duty too!
 (Image courtesy of The Pioneer Woman)

For another stuffed squash dish (and potential main substitute for any vegetarians at the table), Honest Cooking presents a Winter Squash With Stuffing and Goat Cheese that’s just as flavorful as any typical turkey.
 (Image courtesy of Honest Cooking)

Finally, if you’re seeking an alternative to pumpkin or plain apple pie, Jenna of Eat, Live, Run suggests a Chocolate Angel Nut Pie that’s unique and uncommon, but still evokes all the flavors of fall.
(Image courtesy of Eat, Live, Run)

Whether you’re sticking to the classics or making something new, we wish you all an equally Happy Thanksgiving from UncommonGoods!

Gift Guides

Holiday Gifts Your Teen Will Love

November 22, 2011

The holiday season is is in full swing, and we’re pouring through our assortment selecting great gifts for everyone on your shopping list! Many of our picks are inspired by our Twitter contest winner, Jodie. She won a $500 UncommonGoods shopping spree earlier this year, and we’ve had a ton of fun helping her choose the perfect gifts for her favorite people.

After creating guides for babies and kids based on Jodies’ nephews, age 8 months to 6 years, we realized that although Jodie doesn’t have a teen on her shopping list, many parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents (to name just a few) do. With this in mind, we picked a few of our favorite gifts for teens.

Remote Control SUV Kit- It may not be time to hand over the keys to a new car, but you can hand over this cool kit. The Remote Control SUV kit starts out as a puzzle and snaps together to become a motorized vehicle.

Bike Bells- A great stocking stuffer, these hand-painted bike bells are functional, funny, and stylish.

Guitar String Bracelets- Whether the teen in your life is a musician, music-lover, or just likes to look good, these unisex accessories are chart toppers.

Sneaker Customization Kit- Designer shoes are expensive, but this kit, which includes sneaker wipes, paints, and a high-quality paint brush, makes it easy for your favorite teen to create their own.

Dancing Lion Speaker- Plug an iPod or another music device up to this lively lion and he dances and sings along. Check out our video to see the King of the Jungle boogy.

Recycled Cotton Animal Mittens- Trendy, but still uncommon, these cozy, cute mittens are made from yarn spun from leftover fabric from upholstery factories that would have otherwise been discarded. They’re also available in mink and skunk.

Black Cat Headphones- More comfortable than earbuds, these hand-crocheted headphones have a vintage feel that still appeals to modern teens.

Big Grips iPad Case- Available in blue or green, these grippy foam covers make your teen’s favorite electronic sidekick easier to hold on to.

From fashionable accessories and beautiful jewelry to techie gadgets and fun games, we’ve got all kinds of great gifts for teens. Stay tuned for more gift guides to find perfect presents for everyone in your life this season!

Need a gift recommendation for a hard-to-shop for teen? Leave a comment below.

Gift Guides

Quiz: What Does Your Favorite Ornament Say About You?

November 21, 2011

With Thanksgiving this week, it’s just about time to deck the halls and get jolly! That tree isn’t going to trim itself, but before you start stringing popcorn chains and throwing tinsel all over the place, take a moment to look through our ornament lineup for 2011. Pick the one that speaks to you, and read on to find out what that choice says about your personality. It might just help you plan a seasonal look as uncommon as you!

Have you got your favorite ornament in mind? Okay, read on to see what your ornament (listed clockwise from top) says about your personality:

Egg Ornament-
You appreciate the beauty in everyday objects; you always see the sunny side.

Penguin Knit Ornaments-
You like traditional décor with an uncommon twist. You aren’t afraid to take something iconic and make it your own!

Funky Fish Tagua Ornament-
You know that unusual can be beautiful! You love to express yourself and know there’s nothing fishy about being unique.

Felt Cat Finger Puppets/Ornaments-
You’re always looking for double-duty décor. When these cuddly kitties aren’t hanging from your tree, they’re fun finger puppets.

Porcelain Nail Ornament-
You like to keep things simple. Now that you’ve hammered out your own personal style, you stick to modern designs, sleek shapes, and bright whites.

Sheep Ornaments-
You’re not afraid to show your softer side—whether you’re decorating for a crowd of guests, or sprucing up a space to enjoy independently!

Candy Cane Scarf-
You think the holiday season is sweet, but you’d rather show off your style by decorating yourself instead of a tree.

Not seeing the your perfect ornament in the graphic above? Check out more uncommon ornaments and find something sure to fit your holiday decor style!

Gift Guides

Baby’s First Christmas Gifts

November 21, 2011

When our Twitter contest winner Jodie told us she’d be spending part of her $500 UncommonGoods shopping spree on her young nephews, we got excited to help her pick out some fun kids gifts!

Her youngest nephew, Mark Anthony III is 8 months old, so this will be his first Christmas. We know that parents often think baby clothes and booties are adorable, but we decided to skip the apparel and go right for the fun stuff! We thought Mark Anthony would have a better time playing with these cool toys than sitting around just looking handsome in a babysuit.

Stacrobats- These stackable acrobats are colorful, soft, and help your little one develop dexterity and coordination.

Pull Along Cowboy- A modern take on the classic pull along toy, the cowboy kicks up his boots as his trusty horse gallops along when pulled.

Lollacup- This little penguin looks like a fun toy, but it’s actually a special straw cup designed to help baby drink comfortably and minimize spills.

Organic Cotton Teethers Veggie Crate- Made of 100% hand-picked organic Egyptian cotton, these vibrant veggies help soothe baby’s gums as new teeth come in and aid in imaginative play as the little one grows!

Repurposed Sweater Animal Mittens- We know we said we were skipping the baby clothes, but these comfy mittens don’t really count. They’re pretty much stuffed animals for little hands, so even though they do keep fingers warm, we bet they’ll make baby’s list of favorite toys.

Giraffe Lovie/Blankie- Providing the security of a baby blanket and the fun of a stuffed toy, the Giraffe Lovie is made for close contact with sensitive skin. It’s made from certified organic cotton fabric and contains no chemical dyes, so you’ll feel comfortable letting baby get comfy!

Peek O Fabric Activity Box- Baby will be surprised when he opens this fun gift, and the surprises keep getting better! The interactive box includes a variety of panels featuring fun activities, and the best surprise, the stuffed dog who lives inside the box.

Indestructible Nursery Rhymes- Indestructibles ™ live up to their name! These illustrated books are tear-resistant, drool-proof, and dishwasher and washing machine safe.

Like these baby gift ideas? We have many more where these came from! And, if the kids in your life are a little older, don’t forget to check out our gift guide inspired by Jodie’s older nephews.

Need a personal recommendation for your favorite nephews? Leave a comment or tweet @uncommongoods !

The Uncommon Life

24 Hour Customer Service!

November 21, 2011

It’s official–the Holiday Season is here. For you, that means it’s time to stock up on Turkey Day side-dishes, make out a list for Santa, and spend some quality time with the family. For us, it means making the switch to 24 hour customer service.

Our customer service rep, Stapleton the Staple Wrangler, was up all night guzzling coffee and helping customers find great gifts. If you need assistance, even in the dead of night, give us a call at 1.888.365.0056, email help (at) uncommongoods (dot) com, or try the live chat feature on our website.

Stapleton has some long nights ahead of him, but luckily, he loves knowing that he’s helping provide a great customer service experience. Our reclaimed steel friend and the rest of the CS team will be available 24 hours now through Dec. 24!

Gift Guides

Top Gifts for Kids

November 19, 2011

Meet Jodie. Jodie has a great family and a lot of holiday shopping to do. Back in September, we asked our Twitter followers to tweet @UncommonGoods for a chance to win a $500 holiday shopping spree. We received almost 500 entries, but could only pick one lucky winner. Our winner, Jodie, tweeted at us loud and clear, and we had the wonderful opportunity to help her pick gifts for her family and friends.

Jodie’s Family

She told us all about the people she’ll be spending her $500 gift certificate on, and we had a blast helping her pick the perfect gifts for her loved ones. We had so much fun, we decided to create a few gift guides inspired by Jodie’s favorite people.

She told us about her nephews, Mark Anthony III, Simon, and Shamus. These playful picks were chosen with puzzle-loving 4-year-old Simon and 6-year-old Arts & Crafter Shamus in mind.

This Old Man- This cuddly puzzle helps kids learn to count through music. While youngsters are learning to count, they can use rhyming queues to match the removable pieces with the corresponding numbers and get them back into the right pockets. This Old Man also comes with a CD, so kids can sing along as they put a shoe in pocket number two and the door in pocket four.

Life Size Zoo Book- This big book (14.5″ L x 10.5″ W) is perfect for your favorite little animal. Featuring facts, games, and close-up photos, Life-Size Zoo is fun and educational. If the little one in question prefers underwater adventures, check out Life-Size Aquarium.

Make Your Own Family Set- A great gift for crafty kids, this set encourages creativity and celebrates families of all sorts. The kit includes seven dolls, three pieces of fabric, three pieces of felt, craft glue, four colors of yarn, and 12 colored pencils.

Putty Creatures- The great thing about these little blobs, is that they can take shape with the help of a little imagination and some clever molding. The set includes two putty puddles, which each comes in it’s own tin. Each pile of workable goo includes two eyeballs to give your creature creations just the right look!

Whatchamadrawit- This exciting game give “quick draw” a new meaning. Players choose a card, then race to see who can complete a drawing of the silly scenario first. When the game isn’t in play, the cards can also be used as fun prompts for doodling.

Stormy Seas Balancing Game- This balancing game encourages strategic thinking as players work to balance “cargo” on the deck without tipping the pirate ship. If a sailor spills the pieces, they’re out of the game; the player who lasts the longest without loosing their booty wins!

MultiBlocks- Designed by Brad Singley, these stackable wooden blocks are labeled with numbers and increments to encourage mathematical thinking.

Construction Plate and Utensils- It may be easier to get kids to eat their peas when they get to shovel them in with construction equipment! The construction plate features fun compartments for all of your child’s favorite foods, and special spaces for the bulldozer pusher, fork lift, and front loader spoon.

If the kids in your life are anything like Jodie’s nephews, we think they’ll love our uncommon picks! Need more ideas? Check out our other great gifts for toddlers and kids. Or tweet @UncommonGoods. We’re on call to help with any personal shopping requests!

Gift Guides

How To Wrap A Gift Box

November 18, 2011

With the holidays coming up, I wanted to show you a few ways to make your holiday gifts stand out in the crowd. Here are two easy tricks to wrap your presents so that anyone would think they’d been wrapped by professionals!

These gift wrapping techniques can be used for any occasion. I usually try to pick wrapping paper that goes with the theme of the gift, or something that suits my recipient’s personality.

I learned my gift wrapping techniques while working at Kate’s Paperie located in Soho in 2003. This is where I actually learned that I was good at arts and crafts. Along with gift wrapping, I would perform demonstrations on scrap booking, different ways to tie a ribbon around your gift, how to create your own greeting cards & envelopes, and much more.

If you have any questions, just leave me a comment!

Put your new wrapping skills to use. Find gifts for everyone on your list.

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