Winning: FYI’s Eclectic Gift Guide
Each year we strive to find unique gift ideas for your holiday shopping but this year, the selection is really “out there” exciting. Practical, energy efficient, unique, or all three, these gifts will even elicit a "Wow!" from Uncle Fred, who thinks he's seen it all!
Everyone's into energy conservation − here's a gift that saves energy for the planet and your giftee. Robomow, a battery-powered robot, cuts the grass all by itself and does it quietly, without producing any emissions (think Roomba on the lawn). It not only mows the lawn for you − really, no energy required beyond button pushing − but this ingenious mower cuts the grass finely, dispersing the cuttings over the ground where they readily decompose into the soil − so no raking required. Robomow uses less energy and emits less air pollution than traditional mowers and it's able to avoid objects, pets and people that may enter its path. These mowers start at $1,099 (depending on the size of lawn) and are available through Sears, Ebay, Probotics.com and direct from Robomow. For more information, visit www.robomow.com.
Champ emergency kit
Emergencies can happen to anyone. This is a practical gift for everyone with a car. The Champ Survival Sidekick 8-in-1 Multitool is a practical gift which combines eight simple-to-use emergency tools into one device so they’re ready when you need them. Glass breaker to break windshield; seatbelt cutter to escape; mobile device charger via USB (cables included); 3-LED flashlight; compass; hand-crank dynamo so you never run out of power; and a distress light with magnetic base to attach to the car. The 10-in-1 version also includes a siren and AM/ FM /OAA Weather Radio. Practical and it comes in chic red and black. $24.99 and $49.99 at: Amazon, www.shopvoxx.com and on the website: www.champprepared.com.
All about spices, herbs
For the foodie on your list, this is the ultimate kitchen book. The Spice and Herb Bible by Ian Hemphill, (Robert Rose, $34.95) now in its third edition with recipes from Kate Hemphill, is aptly titled. It really contains all you will ever need to know about more than 100 culinary herbs and spices − their history, how they are processed, how to buy them, how to store them, and what to do with them, including recipes. If it all sounds a bit overwhelming, it isn't. Hemphill's engaging style makes it a good read. Coloured sections labelled”Travels in the Spice Trade” or “Spice Notes” offer fascinating insights or interesting little anecdotes about your favourite spice. For example, I found a fascinating description of how cinnamon bark is stripped and held between the toes of a Sri Lankan cinnamon farmer, and another about saffron sellers in an Istanbul market. And then there are the wonderful recipes. Your foodie friend will love it!
Everyone has a fitness fanatic on their list, and most runners and cyclists are plugged into music. It was only a matter of time before those ear-buds took on a whole new role. Combining an in-ear biometric heart-rate monitor, immersive Dolby Digital sound and real-time voice coaching, Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless will inspire runners, cyclists, and exercisers of all types to beat their best performance. With a built-in intelligent app − Jabra Sport Life − exercisers can plan, track and evaluate each workout. And they can test fitness levels and aerobic capacity, adjust heart rate zone levels to optimize training, and set goals based on distance, time or calories burned. And because music is a big part of many people's workouts, this device offers a customizable sound experience and powerful speakers that deliver great wireless music performance. $199 at Future Shop or Best Buy.
F1 driving experience
Give the gift of speed to the adrenalin junkie on your list. Formula 101 brings racing cars, gear, and four hours of Formula One style driving to Molson Park in Barrie this June and July, their 18th year offering this program. Your giftee gets to be Gilles Villeneuve, racing 10 laps against the clock, around one of two tracks. Training, equipment and even safety gear are all provided. Two packages available − $279 buys one lapping session of 10 laps; $399 gets three, along with a trophy for the fastest driver. Driving a few inches off the ground at 90 mph is an unforgettable experience and we guarantee this will be the most unique gift under the tree this year. Information at formula101.com. To book, call 1-888-FORMULA.
Deluxe wine gifting
Take the traditional hostess gift to a whole new level. Give a bottle of wine − or four − or 24! Unlike traditional wine clubs where your selections all come from the same winery, MyNiagaraWineClub.ca offers members four bottles of wine from four different wineries — Pondview Estate Winery, Hinterbrook Winery, Sue Ann Staff Estate Winery and Rancourt Winery — arriving on their doorstep every two months. Each of the six shipments is themed, based on the time of the year, and will include food pairing suggestions and recipes so your giftee can get the most out of their wine experience. Even better, it's a direct connection to a small group of award-winning, family-owned Niagara wineries. This is a gift that just keeps giving all year long. The cost is $106 per shipment which can be billed to your credit card every two months. Visit MyNiagaraWineClub.ca.