20 weird but practical gifts people will actually use
Because your Mom doesn't need another Instant Pot.
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Life gets better when it gets a little weird, and the same is true for the holidays. While everyone around you is busy snatching up Instant Pots and humming along to the tune of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" again, don't just blend in with the crowd. You can stand out—in a good way—and have a little fun along the way by gifting a few of these hilariously odd but also really useful products.
From skin cream made from snail goo to pillows that weigh approximately 700 pounds (but are surprisingly comfortable too), these strange but innovative creations not only kick the surprise factor up a notch this holiday season, but could also help solve problems that your friends and family didn't even know they had. Here are the 20 zaniest, most extraordinary products we love as gifts this holiday season.
1. For the beauty lover: This awesome but also kind of gross cream made from snail ooze
The new big beauty thing? It's snails. More specifically, it's snail slime. If the thought of putting icky snail goo all over your face makes your skin crawl (or in this case, since we're talking about snails, "glide"), then you ain't the only one. But even still, this K-beauty ingredient is all the rage right now because apparently, it works. There are hundreds of snail slime extract creams and masks out there, but our writer Izzy Kagan swears by this one from LadyKin. "I never thought I'd be moisturizing my face with snail slime but here I am in 2019, loving this cream by LadyKin," says Izzy. "Aside from the adorable packaging, it leaves your skin feeling smooth and hydrated, and a little goes a long way."
2. For the constant traveler: This innovative travel pillow
We're currently in the middle of testing travel pillows here at Reviewed, but if you ask me, the J-Pillow is the only one that matters. Designed by a flight attendant and named the British Invention of the Year in 2012, this pillow doesn't look anything like other travel pillows and that's part of why it's _so _good. It comes in a J-shape (hence the name), and the hook of J is used to support your chin and keep your head from falling forward, while the rest provides support for your head to lean against. Another perk to the J-Pillow? It's incredibly soft to the touch, too.
3. For the college student: This rapid ramen cooker
Everyone lives on ramen in college, and I don't mean the fancy restaurant kind either. I'm talking the cheap, salty, limp noodle kind that gives you mega heartburn after but you don't care because it's so dang delicious you just can't stop yourself (so basically, like that one bad ex). As easy as ramen is to procure when you're on a shoestring budget, actually making it in college is pretty annoying if you still live in the dorms, since you've gotta put clothes on and go all the way down to the kitchen, then wait around for your water to boil and your noodles to get soft. This little rapid cooker is a game-changer, since it takes the already basic method for cooking ramen and just speeds it up, meaning your giftee can prep ramen right in their dorm room and in a microwave, without ever having to venture downstairs or worse, spend money they don't really have on GrubHub.
4. For the fashionista: This fabric defuzzer that makes old sweaters cute again
I have a confession to make, and I'm not proud of it. Over the years, I've shipped scores of sweaters off to the island of misfit clothes because they got way too pilly way too fast and I thought there was no coming back from that. Turns out, a fabric defuzzer would have solved all those problems and restored those fuzzy, cozy tops to their former snuggly glory, if only I'd known better. Don't let the fashion lover in your life make my mistake—gift them this top-rated fabric defuzzer and I promise you, they'll be grateful if they don't already have one.
5. For the runner: These bizarre yet brilliant sneaker lights
Runners are notoriously hard to gift for, and unless it's a Fitbit Charge 3, it's really hard to find something that both supports their goals but also is unique enough that they don't already have it yet on their own. Here's your ace in the hole if you're shopping for a runner: these weird and wonderful shoe lights. It's not the sexiest gift, I'll give you that, but these wacky little guys are designed to fasten easily onto most any footwear and cast a big, bold light in that runner's direction. They're also convenient for other outdoor activities like hiking, camping, or even walking a dog, so they offer a lot of versatility too.
6. For the one who's always wearing baseball hats: This funky frame that makes them easy to wash
Does anyone reading this know if you can wash baseball hats? Spoiler alert: you can. It might seem hard, but there's a trick to doing it, and this specially-designed hat frame actually helps to make it possible. Originally seen on Shark Tank, this cap washer works on the top-rack of any dishwasher and keeps hats from losing their shape. It's also safe on flat and curved hats and completely reusable, which means those dirty old hats your husband's been hanging onto since high school and refuses to get rid of? They'll look brand new again thanks to this.
7. For the one with too many snarls: This super-useful detangling brush
With more than 5,000 reviews on Amazon, this top-rated detangling brush commands attention. Safe to use on wet or dry hair, this brush comes with weird, cone-shaped plastic bristles that actually work opposite from the way most other bristles do. Instead of separating strands by moving down, it works sideways (strange but true!) to gently unravel even the most stubborn snarls. Reviewers say it's gentle and good to use on kids—even the most fidgety ones who absolutely can't stand getting their hair brushed.
8. For the restless sleeper: An affordable sound machine
Know someone who struggles at bedtime to get a good night's sleep? We posit all kinds of solutions here at Reviewed: oil diffusers, weighted blankets, you name it. But the one everyone sort of forgets about—that is actually just as effective, if not more so—is a white noise machine. This one by Big Red Rooster has over 10,000 glowing reviews on Amazon and is one of our favorites. It offers six different sounds, including rain, ocean, thunder, and more, plus comes with an optional auto-off timer, which your giftee can set for 15, 30, or 60 minute intervals.
9. For the movie buff: A way to make theater-quality popcorn
One of the main reasons most people even go to the movies anymore is the popcorn. Try as they might at home, it's just not so easy to replicate the taste and perfect delectability of popcorn made right at the cinema. Well, this gift could change that. Our favorite popcorn popper is great to gift anyone who really wants to skip the stovetop method and still get savory kernels with each batch. At first glance, it might not be clear what this popcorn maker is actually meant for, but our testers say it's easy to use, collapses well, and looks hella cute in bright red.
10. For the one who hates laundry: These time-saving wool dryer balls
The bigger a family gets, the more laundry there is to do. Pro tip though: these wool dryer balls can help cut down on the drying time and save money, since they're good for up to a thousand loads. These chemical- and synthetic-free wool dryer balls are gentle on sensitive skin and made from filler-free premium New Zealand wool, plus they're incredible eco-friendly to boot.
11. For the one who's always dropping their phone: The best phone holder on the market
Some people are just waiting for true love to stroll through the door and change their lives. Me? Turns out I was just waiting for a PopSocket actually. I cannot begin to stress how much my life changed for the better once I started using one, and I don't even care if it sounds too effusive to be true, because I mean every word. Before PopSockets came into my life, I was dropping phones left and right, constantly running up huge screen repair bills in the process and trapped in an all-consuming cycle of smartphone-related self-loathing and despair, and then suddenly, there it was: the solution.
PopSockets are equal parts fidget spinner and phone holder, but they're also cute and easy to accessorize with your smartphone case or outfit. Whether you're shopping for stocking stuffers or just an extra gift to offer someone special, you can't go wrong with one, and if you shop PopSocket's site directly, you can discover some really funky ones, like this one that also comes with lip balm or this cute snowglobe-esque pick that would pair perfectly with a Case-Mate Waterfall case.
- Get the PopGrip Lips Strawberry Feels at PopSocket for $15
- Get the Tidepool Halo White at PopSocket for $20
12. For the one who works in a busy office: These comfortable earplugs
Earplugs aren't just for concerts. For anyone who does cycling or just works in a hectic office, they can be the difference between reaching your goals or completely losing all your focus. A pack comes with three different silicone ear tips, so you can adjust them to fit your ear. They also come with a handy carrying case that can fit right in your palm or pocket, so they're extremely portable too.
13. For the one who's very particular: This one-of-a-kind pillow that's ultra supportive
With its honeycomb-like polymer grid and heavy, almost cinderblock-like density, the Purple pillow is the last kind of thing you'd expect to generate a cult following—or frankly, even exist—but if you ask brand loyalists like our very own operations manager Dylan Prowse, its oddity is part of the appeal, too. "I normally don't use a pillow because A., the height of most pillows drive me crazy and B., I hate pillows that are 'too soft'," says Dylan, who owns a Gen. 1 Purple pillow. "The Purple is firm, but not too firm." In testing, our reviewers weren't personally so sold on the Purple pillow, with one complaining it was too heavy (and even Dylan concedes that it's a lot to carry), but they also noted that it's still pretty comfortable once you start to lay on it, and could be a solid option for anyone who needs a lot of support at night.
14. For the one who wants mermaid hair: This unique styler
It's the eternal struggle: folks with curly hair wish they could wear it straight and those with naturally straight hair wish they could rock it loose and wavy, like they just came home from the beach. The Deep Waver by Bed Head can help transform those super-sleek straight strands into flowy waves, and according to reviewers, does it very quickly. One reviewer calls it witchcraft. Another raves: "Do you want to look like the ‘90s grunge girl of your dreams who threw away her hair crimper that was all crusted from a decade’s use and decided to grow up but not too much?! Then boy howdy, is this the thing for you!"
15. For the one who just wants to do better: These paper towels that are actually reusable
Paper towels are extremely wasteful and bad for the environment, but they're so ever-present that it can be hard for some to break the addiction to them. These reusable paper towels, which were initially seen on Shark Tank, are made from bamboo and are completely washable and ultra-absorbent. If you're shopping for someone who really cares about sustainability, these paper towels might not be on their radar yet, but could make an amazing little surprise option for them this holiday season.
16. For the constant hostess: These adorable dip bowls
For anyone who loves to host a good shindig, dip is essential. However, dip bowls can present a bit of challenge, especially if a hostess has more dips than they do bowls. These unconventional little mini side bowls are a fun workaround, since they clip onto the rim of plates and can hold about 1/3 cup worth of salsa, guac, dressing, or any other tasty dip on offer. One thing's for sure, they're definitely a conversation starter.
17. For the bride-to-be: This wacky but useful underskirt
This might be the zaniest gift you ever give, but you know what? It might be one of the most thoughtful too. This wedding gown underskirt is designed to, well, you get the picture. Featured on Shark Tank, it can help preserve the dress on the big day, which is crucial, but also help the bride take care of business when needed, too. While it's a little off-kilter as a gift, chances are this product—which is still building a cult following—hasn't hit the bride's radar yet. You can give her a big surprise, in a good way, and low-key be the hero of her wedding day without even really doing much extra.
18. For the bacon lover: This quick-and-easy bacon cooker you can use in the microwave
Now before you immediately cringe over the thought of cooking bacon in a microwave, allow me make a case for it. Bacon, by default, is savory yet also greasy, which is what makes it so bad for you. Cooking it in a microwave—I know, okay, _I know _how it sounds—might seem sacrosanct, but reviewers say that the bacon that comes out of this cooker really is just as good. If you prep it with the right amount of time, you can actually get crispy bacon with up to 35% less fat than usual, and it only takes a minute in the microwave to cook each slice. It's weird, but more than 1,700 reviewers swear it really works.
19. For the one who hates going to a nail salon (but loves having soft feet): This dry foot file
Sandal season is long gone, and now most of us have the feet to show for it. From dry skin to toughened calluses, feet take a helluva beating over the summer months, but you can help your giftee get smooth, touchable feet easily with this electric foot file, which has over 10,000 reviews on Amazon and a dedicated fan base. "Wish I wouldn't have waited so long to buy this," wrote one reviewer. "I was just hoping to get the cracks reduced, but they are GONE and my heels are SOFT. Amazing!"
20. For the one who's obsessed with game night: This gag gift that's loads of fun
Sometimes a little toilet humor is a good thing. Case in point: Flushin' Frenzy, a game which is exactly what you think it is. Designed to be family friendly (even though it's totally freaking gross), it's perfect any time you want to mix things up a little during your next game night and get a few laughs. Izzy played it recently and says: "While I've played it as a drinking game with friends, I bet kids would love it just as much. For real, this is the one exception where you'll actually enjoy grabbing a turd."
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.