Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Friday, November 23, 2012

How to shop for the holidays without losing your mind

The official Kattomic Energy gift guide will be published in the next few weeks but since today, Black Friday, is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, here is a preview. 


The truth is, if you're over 21, you probably have all the mugs you need. You've got the one emblazoned with your college logo and the one you got from your bank when you opened a savings account. You have the mug you received as a premium when you donated money to your local NPR station. And if you work in a large company, you have  a mug with your company's brand and corporate slogan plastered all over it.

In the unlikely event you know someone who could use a few more mugs, there are a lot of cool mugs out there.

For people who love words, there are scrabble letter mugs. These are nice and simple, graphically pleasing mugs that cost $13 each. You can find them in a lot of catalogues or here. For a dollar less, you can get the officially sanctioned by Scrabble "Scrabble Tile Mug." Find it here.
For the activist/reader, there's the Banned Books Mugs ($12.95). Inscribed with the names of banned books (from To Kill a Mockingbird to Ulysses, they're perfect for serving coffee after a book club meeting. Buy them here at the Unemployed Philosopher's Guild where the motto is, "The unexamined gift is not worth giving."
Unemployed Philosopher's Guild also carries a 12-ounce mug featuring the opening lines of some of the great works of English/American literature. Buy it here.
Zazzle shops feature a variety of Shakespeare-themed mugs from simple black quotes on white mug to more decorate designs. My brother, a criminal lawyer, has a whole set of "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" mugs in his office. You can buy one of your own for $16 each here. To look at Zazzle's full range of Shakespeare quote mugs, start here.
Cafe Press has a large selection of mugs featuring images of writers and famous quotes. check them out here. They also have silly mugs like the one that says, "Are you crying? There's no crying. There's no crying in English class."  Which I think is funny but I'm not sure I'd want a mug with that on it.
And that's the thing about mugs with funny sayings or quotes with profanity (even of teh S*it Happens variety). What seems funny as you click on the "go to shopping cart"  or hand over actual money to an actual perso in a card store, may not be hilarious on Christmas morning. 
So beware of impulse buys based on whimsy. Don't be the one to give your dad the Duct Tape mug ($14.95), which comes twith a duct tape tie. (Yes, although the mug just looks like it's made of duct tape, the tie reallly is made of actual duct tape.) 

Avoid the temptation to give someone a Christmas, Kwanzas or Hanukkah mug they'll only use one week out of the year and get mugs that are holiday themed but appropriate all year long like this set of three Day of the Dead mugs, bargain priced at $20 for the set. Available at What on Earth.

Other Day of the Dead mugs can be found on Zazzle, at Frenzy Art, at Cafe Press, and at Bespoke Barware, where the mugs are hand-crafted.
For the astronomy lovers in your life, consider one of the fantastic photographic print mugs offered by Astro Photography (Australia). For the science buff, consider a set of four mugs featuring physics formulae and geometrical forms. ($35 for the set) at Overstock.
One of the things you'll hear repeated often this holiday season is the plea to "buy locally." Outside of purchasing a gift directly from an artist at a crafts fair, you can't get much more intimate than buying from the artists who have set up shop on Etsy, Zazzle and Cafe Press. Not only can you find gifts that have unique designs, but your purchase benefits a person, not a faceless corporation. If you're looking for something unusual for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list, these outlets provide a place to start. After all, where else are you going to find a bloodstained mug like this one? ($15 and available on a variety of mugs and other merchandise.) Or maybe you want a Peace/Love/Forensics mug with a peace sign, a heart and a fingerprint? Get it here.
Want a "Guns don't kill zombies, people kill zombies" mug? Zazzle's got it. 
Find this mug on Etsy
And speaking of bfrains, you can get an Albert Einstein mug from Edmund Scientifics, cafe press (including a $40 zombie Einstein mug), Zazzle, and at Fictional Workshop on Etsy, (The same artist has mugs with William of Ockham, Freud, Shrodinger, and Heisenberg.
Zazzle has a bunch of Stephen Hawking mugs, with everything from quotes ("Science will win because it works") to an awesome "Hawking Radiation mug." ($15)
If you like your coffee with a little art, The Masters Collection of art-themed coffee mugs offers something for every taste. There are the expected images, Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night" for example, but you can also find works by Joan Miro, Giorgio de Chirico, Kees Van Dongen, Ettore Tito, and Emile Bernard.  Their mugs are generously sized (14-ounce capacity) and only $13 each.
Cafe Press has a full range of mugs that feature quotes from the most quotable physicist ever, Richard Feynman, including this one: "If I could explain it to the average person, I wouldn't have been worth the Nobel Prize.
Remember. not all mugs are created equal, but if you give the matter some thought, the mugs you give will actually get used and not "regifted" or taken to Goodwill after the holidays.

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