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Pajiba's Guide to Cool Sh*t to Buy For Your Friends and Family This Holiday Season

By The Pajiba Staff | Miscellaneous | December 5, 2017 |

By The Pajiba Staff | Miscellaneous | December 5, 2017 |

DropMix — My brother-in-law is a big shot over at Harmonix (the folks behind Rock Band) and a while back, he sent me a DropMix set. It is genuinely one of the coolest games I’ve ever seen. The tech on it is insane. It’s like this Uno-style game, only each of the cards is coded with a track of music, so you’re building songs as you play along. You might have the guitar track from a Jackson Five song paired with the voice track from a Carly Rae Jepson song paired with the drum track from an Ed Sheeran song, etc. The game is fun, but you also end up making these cool songs that you can save and play when you’re at the gym. The game play is not that complicated, so it’s perfect for either drunken friends or game night with the family. If you don’t want to play the game, you can also just build tracks and save them (this is what my five-year-old twins do). There’s some really cool cards, too, for metalheads, geeks, pop music fans, or all three. Like, here’s a DropMix using the “Doctor Who Theme.” — Dustin Rowles

The Book Of The Year — I’m borderline obsessed with the podcast No Such Thing As A Fish. For those not already listening to it weekly, it’s by the “QI Elves”… which, come to think of it, may not explain things either. Ok. So, QI stands for “Quite Interesting” and it’s the name of a BBC comedy panel show involving interesting facts. The Elves are the people behind the scenes, researching those amazing facts. And each week they sit down in front of a microphone and present the strangest and most hilarious facts that, for whatever reason, didn’t make it onto that week’s show.

That’s not my recommendation.

My recommendation is the new book, The Book Of The Year, written by the QI Elves (they have names, which you’d know if you listened to the podcast). From the blurb on Amazon: “From strange inventions to baffling elections, via a surprising amount of sausage news, The Book of the Year is an eye-opening tour of the incredible year you didn’t know you’d lived through.” So if you know someone who is a news junkie or who is prepping for the world’s weirdest bar trivia tournament, this is probably the perfect gift. To be fair, I haven’t read it yet, but I definitely very much want to — I’m just waiting to see if the audiobook version makes it to the states first (the Elves read it themselves, so I’d imagine it’ll just be a super long version of the podcast with slightly less interrupting each other with snide remarks). — Tori Preston

Le Creuset Teapot with Infuser — Personally, I don’t think there is anything better than books and tea. Earlier this year I went to a tea service whilst on holiday and they used this Le Creuset Teapot with Infuser. It would make a terrific gift (along with a Kindle gift card and tea leaves.) Cheers and happy holidays to my fellow bookworms. — Ursula Scully

Personalized Calendar — I can recommend making a personalised wall calendar as a gift; I use Snapfish, though there are other sites that can do this for you. The designs are easy to use, and you can even personalise specific dates if you want to pre-load it with birthdays or special occasions. It’s a present that lasts the whole year, it’s useful, the quality is always really good, and you can fill it with happy pictures and fun memories, which make you smile every time you see it. It takes a little time, but is well worth the effort. And once you have loaded pictures onto your account, they are saved for the following year, so you can re-use them and just add a few more if you want. You can make all sorts of other gifts too, like photo books and canvas prints. Plus, there’s a sale on until the 10th December! — Hannah Sole

Amazon Prime Membership — This has been a god damned year, ain’t it? If you know someone who doesn’t have Amazon Prime and you love them, give them a gift subscription. If they’ve got it but don’t have a way to watch it on their big, fancy TV, get ‘em a Roku. and then tell them to watch Patriot, Sneaky Pete and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, among other things. These three shows have been some of the best salves for my soul in this year of unending misery … And my obligatory personal/corporate shill is that if you like movies, and your friends and family like movies, treat people to the movies with Atom Tickets gifts cards (Fandango drools, Atom rules!). — Seth Freilich

ArtInsights — A few years ago, my boyfriend got me a painting of Treebeard the Ent from Lord of the Rings for a special occasion (yes, I am that nerdy), and it was one of the first pieces of art we framed and put up when we moved in together. I love art that focuses on pop culture, from alternative movie posters to original concept drawings, and for the latter, you must check out Virginia-based ArtInsights. Because of their partnership with the Walt Disney Company, the art gallery has a variety of contemporary and studio art pieces, ranging from Disney to Marvel to Star Wars, as well as original pieces, like portraits of Nikola Tesla and Divine and artwork inspired by Batman: The Animated Series, Blade Runner, and Harry Potter. They’re absolutely worth checking out if you’re looking for something particularly creative and unique for the pop culture aficionado and art lover in your life. — Roxana Hadadi

Newspaper Subscriptions — I come from a long line of bad gift-givers (one year, in what can only be described as the laziest Christmas, my sister, father, and I all exchanged Amazon gift cards IN THE EXACT SAME AMOUNTS, meaning we really could have ignored the whole charade and just bought ourselves a bunch of crap we wanted), but I’ve found that one thing people often don’t get for themselves is a subscription to the reputable news source of your choosing. In years past, I’ve given subscriptions to things I like to read* anyway, like The New Yorker or The Washington Post, and that was before what’s-his-face moved into the White House. A good subscription is almost always appreciated (no doubt, your friend or family member has totally been “meaning to subscribe” for years), and it also gets them in the habit of paying for good journalism, which we all really should be more willing to do.

*By read, I of course mean let pile up underneath my coffee table. — Dan Hamamura

Function of Beauty — I originally bought this last year for my hard-to-buy-for nieces at Christmas and then after they raved about how amazing it was, ended up buying it for myself and falling completely in love! When you have challenging hair, it’s like a constant quest to find that perfect shampoo/conditioner that addresses all of your issues, is paraben-, sulfate-, and cruelty-free *and* smells good.

Function of Beauty lets you design that personal shampoo/conditioner — how cool is that? You fill out a short quiz on their site, describing your hair type (wavy, straight, coarse, fine, etc.), the issues you’re having with it (e.g. dryness, dandruff, split ends, frizz), a few goals (strengthen, shine, volumize, color protection, etc.), and finally you even pick the color(s), the fragrance, and even how much scent (light, medium, strong). Their shampoo-ologists (probably not their technical titles) mix your individual, personalized shampoo and conditioner and mail beautifully packaged information cards, pumps, and bottles with your name on them!

Gift cards come in a nice envelope and are perfect for gift-giving, but if you’re running short on time and can’t wait for the card to come in the snail mail, they can also send the recipient of your gift an email link.

If you use this link you’ll get $5.00 off your order. Full disclosure: I will also receive a $5.00 credit toward a future purchase. HOWEVER, I would 100% recommend Function of Beauty regardless of whether I receive a credit or not. It’s the only shampoo/conditioner that a) I’ve finished the entire bottle and ordered it again (I’m on my 4th set! I never used the same shampoo/conditioner more than once.) and b) I don’t need any additional products on my hair since using this.

The quest is over. I found the grail. — Lainey Bobainey

European Board Games — Several of the Pajiba staff recently played Settlers of Catan for the first time. They weren’t at Ben Wyatt’s bachelor party, they just are very late comers to the fabulous world of Euro style board games. Note: Europeans have assured me that they do not shorthand complicated and deeply strategic board games “European” but simply call them “games”. Whatever. It’s not like they know what freedom tastes like, so let them have this final stab of pomposity. In any case, this means that I need to tell them what additional games to buy as gifts now that they’ve joined this dark shadow world. One, Carcassonne. It’s like Settlers of Catan except not really and significantly more complex and fun. You build a town, or a castle, or … well there are like six different versions of it, all variants of the same basic gameplay. Two, Puerto Rico. Especially fitting today since it allows you to build Puerto Rico up from a desolate wilderness. If you think about it too hard, it’s deeply imperialist, so it’s perfect for the American who has everything. Corn strategy for the win, my fellow game nerds know what I’m talking about. Three, Euro Rails. Or a half dozen other rails games. Basically, you’ve got a map, crayons, and capitalism tells you to build train lines. I like the Europe map best, but they’ve got them for India, China, America, Australia, Russia, a fantasy world with orcs, and even the goddamned moon. Your kids will have every city in Europe memorized in like three weeks along with the best geographic routes of travel between them. Which will be helpful when we flee from the collapse of American democracy. — Professor Wilson

Czech Beer — I, for the life of me, cannot think of any type of gift guide no matter how hard I try.

But that’s okay because buying things is a con and consumerism is a cult and you’re all stooges and cogs in the infernal machine.

Now if you excuse me I’ll be at the bar buying some dri-… Dammit!

Alright, fine. Here’s my (very brief) guide to the best of Czech beer. Should you be lucky enough to get your hands on any of these your liver may well curse me but your brain and taste buds will thank me. Ranked using a vastly complex algorithm that factors in both taste and availability — i.e. if it’s more likely that you can get it, its rank will be impacted negatively — you have to nevertheless bear in mind that this is just a list compiled by me, over the course of the last ten minutes or so. So of course it’s the holy gospel of beer truth and you should print it and stick it on your fridge and go forth on a righteous quest based on its teachings:

8. Krušovice
7. Radegast
6. Staropramen
5. Kozel
4. Pilsner Urquell
3. Budějovický Budvar
2. Svijany
1. Gambrinus — Petr Knava

Mustache Smash — This is going to sound kinky, but it’s actually a kids’ game: Mustache Smash. It’s high speed action and really stupid, and absolutely a blast when you’re drunk. Give it to anyone who loves a good game night. It’s always a big hit because it’s easy to learn, and mirthful mayhem to play. There’s just a special kind of joy to watching grown-ups wearing fake mustaches and throwing elbows over playing cards. — Kristy Puchko

Whiskey — I know, I know, just hear me out. I know this seems predictable, but people. Do not underestimate the wonderful powers of the Lord’s greatest drink. Whiskey makes you stronger. It makes you smarter. It gets you in better cardiovascular shape. It literally makes your life better. And for the whiskey drinker in your life, you will instantly be elevated to Best Person In Life status for whiskey gifts. And what’s more? There are so many wonderful whiskey-related options out there. I know it can be overwhelming to figure out what whiskey to get which friend or relative. So I always recommend a nice whiskey subscription — my personal favorite is Flaviar, which gives an interesting and diverse selection as well as an informative monthly e-newsletter with recommendations. Or if you’re feeling more festive, there’s always a nice whiskey Advent calendar — Masters of Malt can hook you up whether your preference is Bourbon, Scotch, or even brand-specific. If you’re in the UK, you can give this gorgeous (and admittedly pricey) Advent calendar from Drinks By The Dram a shot. Yes, these are somewhat expensive options. If you’re on a more limited budget, drinkware is always appreciated. How about these lovely night sky lowball glasses? Even more affordable is this glass with a set of whiskey stones, for the enthusiast who likes his drink chilled, but not watery (a co-worker gave me a set of these a few years ago and it remains one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received that didn’t come from family). So there you have it. Choose wisely, and choose generously. Get one for yourself. Hell, get any one of these things for me. And most of all, drink the fuck up and enjoy. — TK

It’s your last chance to get 10% off before Christmas at the Pajiba Store! Today and Tomorrow (December 5th and 6th) Use our shipping calculator to find your country and get your Christmas gifts on time.

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Why buy a generic gift when you can make a custom t-shirt for a friend or loved one? (The custom glow-in-the-dark ink, for example, is shockingly bright in the dark).

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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