Category Archives: Culture

A Cornucopia of Thanksgiving Ideas

You might say hosting Thanksgiving is the pinnacle of entertaining. Little else distracts from the focus on gathering ‘round for the big meal…there are no unique gifts to shop for, no one is excluded because of their beliefs, and after the meal guests can simply relax over a football game or two.

However, if you’re hosting, it’s worth looking at a few unique gift items for yourself to ensure a memorable feast. We have a few suggestions to help the day go smoothly and wow your family and friends.84960_1000x1000

Make sure there’s plenty of ice for thirsty guests with this portable tabletop ice maker that produces ample cubes more efficiently than lesser models. Yielding conical-shaped cubes in batches of 12, the ice maker creates nearly 2 lbs. of ice per hour. Analysts from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute praise this unit for its ability to produce, “a batch of clear, well-formed cubes in just under 10 minutes.”12857_1000x1000

Whether you’re laying out hors d’oeuvres, displaying desserts or setting a more intimate-feeling dining table, this wooden lazy Susan will complement your beautiful décor while making it easier for guests to grab the goodies. It features a wooden top supported by a repurposed wine barrel metal hoop. The 23″-diameter tray rests flat on a table and smoothly spins 360° on steel ball bearings. And as you’re writing up your holiday shopping list, keep this lazy Susan in mind as a unique gift for any oenophiles you know. 12482_1000x1000

After the feast, coffee is in order to combat the effects of turkey and loads of carbs. Bring your favorite barista to your kitchen in the guise of this fully automatic, exactingly designed Swiss coffee maker. Built to standards coffee connoisseurs expect, this barista makes drinks from Espresso to Cappuccino and beyond. A simple turn of the dial selects one of 29 different drinks, all in perfect proportions. Two hoppers hold different flavors or brands of beans for customized blends.

Finally, as Thanksgiving approaches, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you sincerely for your readership and your loyalty to our commitment to always bring you The Best, The Only and The Unexpected.

I Think that I Shall Never See A Lovelier Pre-lit Christmas Tree

November has arrived with its chilly air and early darkness. That can only mean it’s time to start thinking about unique gifts for the holidays…and the Christmas tree under which you’ll pile them.17161_1000x1000

The first factor to consider for your holiday tree is live or artificial. While some purists insist on a live tree, there are several reasons you’ll want to consider our World’s Best Christmas Trees, besides their lifelike realism:

Lower cost over time—the investment in a well-made artificial tree means you will have your decoration for many years to come, saving the costs of buying live trees year after year.

It’s ecologically smart—natural resources go into the growing of trees, along with pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Fossil fuels are consumed shipping trees around the country and again after the holiday when they need to be hauled away and processed into mulch. Keep your artificial tree for many holiday seasons and you’ll save resources year after year, a unique gift to the environment.

Lower maintenance—an artificial tree doesn’t need to be watered and it doesn’t leave behind a mess of dry needles when it’s taken down.78446_1000x1000

87494_1000x1000Time savings—choosing a tree pre-strung with LED or incandescent lights means no struggling with tangled wires. The pre-lit trees we offer will always shine on, even if one bulb breaks or burns out, backed by our Lifetime Guarantee of Complete Satisfaction.

Fewer Allergens—an artificial tree is less likely to bother allergies, while a live tree can release pollen and mold into the home.

Hammacher Schlemmer offers a large selection of artificial trees, including meticulous reproductions of Fraser, Noble, Balsam, Concolor, and Douglas firs. Our trees are available in a range of heights and come in full or slim widths to suit urban lofts as well as country estates.

We feature trees that are fashion forward, trees that are pure novelty and even a tree that Charlie Brown would love. You can view our complete Christmas tree selection online and find your perfect tree easily by filtering the results by branch and bulb type, tree height and width, and price.

Unique Gifts Bring the Farm to Your Table

You wandered the farmers’ market to find the freshest, tastiest heirloom tomatoes. You battled to grab the last bunches of brilliant green broccoli rabe. You waited in long lines at the heritage beef butcher’s kiosk to get the finest grass-fed, free-range beef brisket—the one your friend told you was “to die for” after five hours of smoking and slow roasting.

Except now it’s noon and your guests are coming at 3:00.84974_1000x1000

Solve this culinary conundrum with the One Hour Indoor Pressure Smoker. It will cook that brisket in only one hour—five times faster than traditional methods. Combining a pressure cooker and smoker in one appliance, this 6½-quart device increases internal pressure by 15 psi, cooking food faster while still allowing wood chips to release their unique gift of fragrant, flavor-enhancing smoke. The cooker can also be employed as a cold smoker, steamer, or even just a traditional low- or-high-pressure cooker.84871_1000x1000

As for those heirloom tomatoes, a salubriously delicious sauce can be made with the Genuine Italian Tomato Press. Imported from Italy, it peels, seeds, and strains fresh tomatoes to create a smooth puree. Capturing the flavor of seasonal produce without the laborious process of manually blanching, skinning, and coring the fruit, this efficient Old World tool processes up to three quarts of raw tomatoes at a time by simply turning a crank.88905_1000x1000

The fresh broccoli rabe can be cooked without butter or oil—reducing calories and fat—in a nonstick pan. This set of Scratchproof Nonstick Pans feature a ceramic-titanium coating that makes for easy cooking and cleanup. In tests by the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute, fried eggs slid off the ungreased pan as if cooked on air, and the impervious non-stick surface suffered no damage when scrubbed with an abrasive pad and scratched with a metal fork. By the way, this pan set also make an ideal unique gift for a new graduate heading off to their first apartment.

The season for farmers’ markets is in full swing…make eating locally and eating well a fresh summer afternoon delight!

Pack Rats: Unleash Your Inner Neatnik!

Over a lifetime, it’s too easy to accumulate “stuff”. Favorite books, knick-knacks, old letters, financial statements…it all needs to go somewhere.

There’s even a day to recognize the human tendency to hang on to our things, whether they be sentimental souvenirs or important documents. This Sunday is National Pack Rat Day. For one day, you can embrace your inner hoarder. Come Monday, it’s time to get organized and clean out the excess. And we have some suggestions that can help.

86833_300x300Shelving is a convenient way to store books, objets d’art and all those unique gifts you’ve received through the years. Many bookshelves occupy substantial floor and wall space. But this space-saving vertical bookshelf stacks books flat on their covers, rather than upright on their pages, so it needs only 1.5 square feet of floor space to hold a four foot tower of texts.

12487_300x300Bills, forms, and other paperwork are less daunting when you have a dedicated space to work on and then dispatch all of it. This fold-away desk gives you a 30×20″ work surface, as well as shelves, file-holding compartments and a cork board to keep statements, notes and paperwork organized. When you’re done working, the desk folds to only 6″ and stores in an unobtrusive wall-hung cabinet. Thanks to its low profile, it makes an ideal and unique gift for a student or a city dweller in a small apartment.

84700_300x300Speaking of paperwork, financial records really have a way of piling up. The government has issued guidelines on how long various types of records should be kept and when they can be disposed. Of course, outdated documents should be shredded prior to disposal. This commercial-quality shredder was selected as The Best by the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute for its superior security and quiet operation. This shredder chews through 14 sheets of paper at one time, grinding it all into 1/4″ x 1/4″ unrecognizable confetti.

By focusing on the present and identifying the unique gifts of what is really important in your life, you can start to pare down your piles and embrace the joys of simplicity. You won’t be losing things, you’ll be gaining a cleaner, simpler life.

Celebrating a Century of Flying High

Exactly 100 years ago today, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was established as a federal agency. An important predecessor to NASA, the purpose of NACA was to undertake, promote and institutionalize aeronautical research. The agency began just over a decade after the Wright brothers gave the world the unique gift of controlled human flight.

The agency was first created during World War I to coordinate war-related projects. The UK, France, Germany and Russia already had aeronautic committees and it was these agencies that served as models for the American agency. Through its years of research, NACA pioneered aeronautic innovations such as a series of airfoils that are still in use today.

NACA was dissolved on October 1, 1958, when NASA was launched to accelerate the U.S.’s progress in the space race with the Soviet Union.12629_300x300

Delve into all the historic moments of the U.S space program with this personalized book of New York Time articles. Procured from the archives of The Times, the book presents momentous highlights that span the beginnings of the “Space Race” from the first satellite to the potential of commercial space travel. The bound book is personalized with the recipient’s name, making it an ideal unique gift for any aficionado of space flight and exploration.

86424_300x300You can share your love of space with the kids or grandkids with this Pop-up Space Station. This pop-up tent serves as the interplanetary command post for young space explorers. The tent’s four tunnels evoke the sprawling modules of a space station and “dock” with openings in the tent’s walls.

86802_300x300And your small astronauts will marvel at this little remote-controlled astronaut, seemingly out for a spacewalk around the International Space Station. Twin rotors propel him for safe indoor flight. A pair of diode lights in the rocket backpack give the illusion this spaceman is controlling his weightless wandering himself, ideal for a moment of astral wanderlust.

Today, space exploration has moved beyond the efforts of government entities to the private sector. Only time will tell what successes will be met by SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and other aeronautic entrepreneurs.

Enjoy a Cold One with These Unique Gifts for Beer Lovers

With new microbreweries popping up around the country and a selection of craft beers blanketing beverage store shelves, this is a great time to consider some unique gifts for lager lovers and ale aficionados.84035_300x30086570_300x300

These chill-maintaining pilsner glasses keep beer chilled just above freezing for 30 minutes. The double-walled glasses have a viscous cooling liquid between both layers that freezes after one hour in a freezer. Forgot to chill down your six-pack? No problem, these the glasses can chill a room-temperature libation to 36° F in just 21/2 minutes.

A unique gift that’s ideal for the gentleman who believes form should always follow function, these cufflinks open bottles as easily as they secure French button cuffs. Made from polished stainless steel, they have rigid teeth for quickly lifting the cap from a bottle-conditioned Imperial Pale Ale.

This remote-controlled cooler can roll across a patio, rug, or kitchen floor to deliver a well-timed beverage to parched party guests. With room for six cans or bottles and ice, the 84433_300x300compact cooler rolls on four sturdy underside wheels up to 60′ from the host at the controls. This is an amusing and unique gift for the beer lover who thought he had everything.

This is truly a golden age for fans of fermented malt beverages. There’s a style of beer for every taste, and if ale’s what cures you, to that we deliver a hearty “Cheers!”

Finding the Keys to Musical Enjoyment

It’s time to tickle the ivories…September is National Piano Month! Hammacher Schlemmer has a long association with this ever-popular parlor instrument, harking back to our days as a hardware emporium.

In the early years of the 20th century, we were one of the country’s largest suppliers of piano parts, stocking almost everything that went into a piano except for the case. At one point, 20 boxcar loads a year went to one customer, Kimball Brothers—enough for 12,000 pianos.

In 1991, the National Piano Foundation appointed Schroeder from the comic strip Peanuts as the official spokesperson for National Piano Month. Schroeder’s mission is to encourage people of all ages to study and appreciate piano music. His unique gifts for playing a toy piano can be inspiration for all of us.

It’s never too late to learn, and if mastering piano is on your bucket list, The LearnThe Learn To Play Piano DVDs to Play Piano DVDs are a great way to get started. This 12-DVD collection of piano-playing tips and techniques is led by Scott Houston, the Emmy Award-winning host of the public television series The Piano Guy. Geared toward beginners (but with a wealth of insight for more experienced players), the series offers 22 hours of the “tips, cheap tricks, and professional secrets” Houston is famous for.

Another instructional tool is The Learn To Play Keyboard. This keyboard includes comprehensive instructional software lauded by The Wall Street Journal as “well-planned and effective.” Exclusive to Hammacher Schlemmer, the software contains over 400 lessons and more than 70 video demonstrations. The keyboard plugs into a computer, allowing the software to “listen” as you play, providing instant feedback. There’s a version for children, too.

For simply a toe-tapping good time, the world’s largest dance-on piano features a 28 sq. The World's Largest Toe Tap Pianoft. piano mat. A unique gift for would-be musicians, it allows budding virtuosos to compose their own music as they dance, jump, or run on the keys. Fourteen white and 10 black keys, almost two full octaves, produce individual tones or melodic harmonies. Musicians can record and instantly listen to their compositions through an integrated speaker.

In Peanuts, Schroeder had a unique gift that made him a virtuoso on a toy piano. But with a bit of practice, any of us can turn 88 keys into the key to musical enjoyment.

Hope Springs Eternal on Opening Day

11876_1000x1000Few other annual events are filled with as much fresh hope and promise as the start of a new baseball season. On Opening Day, every team has a clean slate and its fans have heady aspirations that this will be the year their boys go all the way.

Opening Day is a state of mind, and indeed retired shortstop Ozzie Smith this year started an online petition on wethepeople.com to urge the U.S. Government to declare the day a national holiday. If Opening Day does become a holiday, it may create another opportunity to shower friends and family with unique gifts.

For the New York Yankees fan, the ultimate unique gift may be a genuine piece of the House that Ruth Built. The Authentic Yankee Stadium Seats were removed from the stadium before it was razed, the very stadium where fans watched Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Derek Jeter and other iconic Bronx Bombers capture six World Series titles. The seats are available as pairs mounted to stand upright or as barstools, including a stool with 39 certified autographs.

The hardcore Yankee fan may also appreciate The Museum Quality 1/8 Scale 1961 Yankee Stadium. Meticulously researched, hand-built and hand-painted by artist Steve Wolf, whose stadium models are displayed in the Los Angeles Sports Museum, this amazing replica took nearly 3,000 hours to complete. This model faithfully replicates the stadium from more than 50 years ago, including period advertisements, six working light banks, and ticket windows.

Many a baseball fan has a bucket-list item to visit all the Major League ballparks. The Personalized Baseball Ballpark Map charts the stadiums you’ve visited and those you plan on seeing. The map lists all 59 ballparks that have hosted Major League Baseball teams since 1912. Color-coded pins and flags mark stadiums you’ve visited, your most recent conquest, your next destination, and your favorite stadium.

As the storied Joe DiMaggio said about the start of the season, “You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.” And for those fans who know better, just wait till next year.

The Web at 25: an Invention with World-wide Impact

On this day 25 years ago, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, wrote a paper proposing a system of information management that eventually became the concept and architecture of the World Wide Web. Lee’s system was originally designed to help run a particle accelerator at the CERN facility in Switzerland.

Less than two years later, Lee made a unique gift to the world on Christmas Day 1990 by releasing the code to his system for free.

Although Lee’s system was not technically the same as the Internet – which is a series of rules and protocols—the Web as envisioned by Lee today allows ordinary users to access files hosted on other computers around the globe so that all of us can enjoy a virtually infinite amount of data. It is arguably the most important invention of the 20th Century.

A project by Pew Research shows that 87 percent of adults are regular users of the Internet. It has transformed the way we work, how we get our news, how and how frequently we communicate with other people, the way we care for our health, and of course, the way we shop for and purchase goods.

In keeping with our track record for innovation, in 1986 Hammacher Schlemmer became one of the first retailers to sell its products on the Internet, teaming up with CompuServe. The Internet certainly has transformed Hammacher Schlemmer, taking us from our one store in New York City to being at the fingertips of users everywhere. It makes available our selection of unique gifts—the Best, the Only and the Unexpected83791_1000x1000—to computer users at any time and any place.

The recent evolution of the Internet is mobile use, with Pew’s research reporting that 68 percent of American adults say they access the Internet at least occasionally on a cell phone or tablet. As the Internet continues to evolve, many experts think the next step is the “Internet of Things” connecting our appliances, vehicles, data and more, allowing devices to connect to and “talk” to each other.

And the Award Goes To…

82nd Annual Academy Awards - "Meet The Oscars" New YorkWhether you get your movies from a big screen, an Internet stream, or a red box, the Academy Awards remains the premiere event for fans and celebrity watchers alike. Over the years, Hammacher Schlemmer has been delighted to collaborate with a number of Academy Award winners in the making of their films.

For his 1972 movie Frenzy, legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, a stickler for details, required a knife as a prop in a key scene. Naturally, he sent for a set of Hammacher Schlemmer German stainless steel knives, for which we received a personal letter of thanks.

On another occasion, Hammacher Schlemmer’s New York store played a supporting role in the film of an Oscar-winning actor, albeit early in his career. In a scene from the 1990 movie Joe Versus the Volcano, the title character played by Tom Hanks is outfitted at our landmark Manhattan store before embarking on an exotic, life-altering trip. Despite a big budget and a star-laden cast, Joe was a box-office dud that received mixed reviews and not a single Academy Award nomination. Such are the vagaries of show business.