The Best Unique Gifts for the Holidays

The holiday season is not far away…it’s time to consider ideas for The Best products for unique gifts that will make family and friends remember you with a smile all year long.

The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute is a non-profit consumer advocacy organization created in 1983 to research, test, and rate consumer products objectively, determining the items that are truly superior in each category. Each of the products below was vetted through rigorous testing, giving us confidence to designate them The Best of their type.83615_300x300

This emergency radio earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it had the longest playback time and clearest reception. In addition to being the only tested model that allowed users to set multiple weather alert types across multiple counties and states, the Best Emergency Radio ran for five hours after a full charge, far superior to other radios. The Best model also charges an iPhone from zero to 88% of its full capacity. This radio’s superior features include an integrated LED flashlight, water-resistant construction, USB port and a built-in solar panel for supplemental power.84417_300x300

These wireless TV headphones earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because they had unmatched sound quality and superior range. The Best model received clear, crisp stereo sound up to 165′ away from its radio-frequency transmitter. These headphones also automatically adjust the volume of dialogue to ensure words are heard over a film’s score or sound effects.

82643_300x300This electric wine opener earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because of its perfect worm insertion and rapid, effortless cork removal. A wine industry expert lauded The Best model for requiring “no effort at all.” The expert praised The Best model’s screw insertion as “flawless” on traditional and synthetic corks and its cork removal performance was “exemplary,” while other openers stuck to the lip of the bottle.

In coming days, we’ll tell you about more unique gift ideas identified as The Best by the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute.

Appease Zombie Souls with Unique Gifts for Halloween Decorating

October’s chill winds bring benevolent ghosts back to life for one last haunt before they pass on to the ethereal enchanted realm. We say heartfelt remembrances for their safe passage.

But it’s the malevolent spirits we need to scare away. Witches, sprites, and evil creatures envy us and want to stay alive with us, but they must depart. We have scary and unique gift ideas to keep the undead at bay and brighten your home for trick-or-treat visitors or All Hallows’ Eve festivities.83832_300x300

Our exclusive 12′ Inflatable Animated Spider will scare the possessed to other parts of the neighborhood with its frightful fun. Standing with an upright pose suggesting fiendish arthropodan intelligence, the spider’s head swivels side-to-side as if selecting its next victim. Both eyes are illuminated by integrated LEDs that change colors from a devilish red to a supernatural green, complementing its outthrust fangs.

The Inflatable Howling Haunted House is great for announcing a ghoulish party. This house howls, screams, and flashes its lights when unsuspecting visitors pass beneath its ominous arched doorway. When triggered, the house’s 60 LEDs flash from red to green while its plays a 15-second loop of scary sounds.84882_300x300

The 15′ Inflatable Apparition manifests its malevolent intent by changing colors throughout the night. Implying recent dissolution from a corporeal state, thin wisps of textured nylon drape ghoulishly from its ethereal outstretched limbs. LEDs inside the ghost’s body change colors every few seconds, reminding passersby that just because it is secured to the ground, its spirit remains untethered to this world.

Meanwhile, inside your home, The Halloween Fireplace Screen adds holiday whimsy to your hearth. Five skeletons with green acrylic eyes adorn the screen. “Happy Halloween” greets onlookers at the screen’s top while three bats and a ghost complete the display with a final skull and outstretched bony arms.

Startle friends and family with The Remote Controlled Tarantula. This oversized arachnid’s 74325B_300x300eight legs move independently and its eyes light up, allowing you to frighten unsuspecting arachnophobes day or night. But beware: if your friend tries to eat it, he might be a zombie!

New Life for a Groovy Collection

It wasn’t really that long ago since we awaited the release of every new song on vinyl, was it? Or hoped that a favorite cassette wouldn’t jam in the tape player?

There are many advantages to today’s digital formats, but sometimes we long to hear the songs that require a needle in a groove. If your collection of vinyl LP records is languishing on a shelf, or if you have a drawer full of old cassette tapes, we have some unique gift ideas to help you get your groove on once again.

The LP to MP384846_300x300 Turntable converts a classic vinyl record’s songs into MP3s. The turntable plugs into a computer using the included USB cable, while the software works to turn each track into an individual MP3. The turntable also can connect to a home stereo system for listening to your collection in its original format.

Here’s a device that restores a cassette tape’s audio quality before converting it to audio CD format. Made by TEAC, the company that pioneered magnetic tape recording in the 1950’s, it is the only stand-alone device that uses the Dolby noise reduction process. It can also convert content to CDs from any audio device plugged into its USB or auxiliary ports, and convert content into MP3s for direct storage onto any USB drive.

Finally, this converter can do it all. A unique gift exclusive to Hammacher Schlemmer, this is 81557_300x300the combination recorder and stereo system that preserves classic vinyl records and cassette tapes by recording them to audio CDs or converting the songs to MP3s. At any time during recording, you can pause to select only certain songs or change albums or cassettes to make compilation recordings. The system has an AM/FM digital tuner and can play through its own built-in speakers or connect to an external stereo system.

Unique Gifts Archive Your Treasured Memories

We spend a lifetime creating treasured memories…some of them held only in our minds, others captured in photos, on film, or in videos.

It’s not unusual for once-popular imaging formats to become dinosaurs, making it difficult to view and share your photos or home movies. That’s why we have ideas to help you archive films and photos on current formats to more easily share the unique gifts of memories gone by with friends and family.84473B_300x300

This device converts Super 8 film into digital video format, preserving the original color of cherished memories. Each frame is captured individually and converted to a high-definition AVI format video, viewable on a Mac or PC. Video editing software is included, too, so you can trim out the “bloopers”.

The VHS to DVD Converter preserves your memories by easily transferring VHS recordings to DVDs. It also functions as a player for both formats, ideal for those who have a library of both DVD and VHS home videos.

86729_300x300Decades of slides become modern JPEGs with The Only Rapid Feed Digital Slide Converter. Unlike devices that can only handle a single slide at a time, this converter’s removable tray holds up to 25 slides for smooth, fingertip feeding. The converter provides automatic exposure control and color balance, resulting in clear digital images without loss of quality.

Now you’ll be able to post pictures from the past and celebrate Throwback Thursday with style!

Celebrate Fall in the Great Outdoors

Every summer, outdoors lovers pledge to spend long hours enjoying the warm weather. That is, until mosquitoes, humidity, sweltering temperatures, and late afternoon storms conspire to drive us back inside.

But today is the first day of fall and this beautiful season offers mild, sunny weather perfect for getting outside to enjoy nature’s unique gifts of crisp temperatures and still-pleasant air. It’s the perfect time to enjoy outdoor games with your friends and family.86122_300x300

Of course, the downside of autumn is that darkness falls so much earlier. Yet, darkness is no problem with this lawn dart set that glows in the dark to enable nighttime matches. The dart wings and targets are embedded with phosphor that absorbs sunlight, making the components glow at night. The darts have soft rubber, rounded tips that are weighted to enable authentic throws and trajectories.

Change up the habit of your standing summer tee time with The PDGA Approved Disc Golf Set. Designed to meet the exacting standards determined by the Professional Disc Golf Association, the set includes six discs, a target with a deflecting bar and chains and a scoring basket.84557_300x300

This freestanding badminton set instantly creates a court on a lawn, driveway, beach, or any flat surface. Now you can play nearly anywhere and nearly everyone can participate, making a friendly badminton the ideal competition for sunny autumn weekends.

And if the crisp fall breezes are not enough to get the adrenaline flowing, try The Seated Backyard Zipline Kit. This is the backyard zipline with an integrated84065_300x300 seat that allows kids to swoop through the air while remaining close to the ground. Similar to ziplines found at luxury ski resorts and adventure camps, it provides a safe, fast ride.

Top 5 Unique Gifts to Complete a Man Cave

It started with the garage…the garage became a male sanctuary, a place for a guy to hang out with his friends, indulge in hobbies, smoke a cigar or just be alone for some quiet time away from the rest of the family.

Today, Man Caves often are lavishly outfitted with huge flat screen TVs, leather recliners, beer keg coolers and video game systems. We are happy to present our top 5 items for completing your own man cave, or as unique gifts for a father, husband, brother, or friend.

Number 5: This electric wine opener earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because of its perfect worm insertion and rapid, effortless cork removal. A wine industry expert opened 56 bottles with various electric wine openers and she lauded The Best model for requiring “no effort at all.”

In the number 4 position: The Automatic Return Indoor Basketball Net automatically returns made baskets to the shooter via a motorized chute. At the top of the backboard an electronic scoreboard counts made baskets and displays time remaining in the shoot-out.

Number 3: The Handicapping Foosball Table. This is the only foosball table that lets players handicap their scoring chances by widening or narrowing the goal. Motion-detecting LEDs at both ends celebrate each score by lig84833_300x300hting up whenever a ball hits home. As befits a man cave accessory, this sturdy table has integral cup holders.

Our number 2 man cave item: The Beer Glass Froster. This device converts a typical, room temperature glass into an ice-cold mug in seconds. The froster mounts to a bar or countertop and a blue LED light casts a festive glow onto the glass as it is frosted.

Finally, our number 1 item to round out a man cave: The 86805_300x300Personalized Bobblehead. This truly one-of-a-kind item features the unique facial features of a family member, friend, or perhaps yourself. Artisans sculpt a poly-clay model from a photograph of the subject. Clothing, talents, hobbies, or any other details that reflect the unique character of the subject may be specified. This is a unique gift that will delight the denizen of any man cave and brands it fully as his personal space.

Taking Tailgating to the Next Level

Tailgating as we know it began when Harvard boys and their cheering gals would wait near the train station to greet the opposing the team with picnics and flasks.

The train-weary rivals were amazed at the parking lots filled with sleek Gatsby roadsters and rumble-seated jalopies, lavishly appointed with gourmet picnic spreads. These “parking lot picnics” were served on blankets on the ground, or on card tables. The term tailgating wasn’t used.

It took the 1947 introduction of the Ford Country Squire station wagon to change up the festivities. With its iconic mahogany and maple “woodie” side panels, it was the SUV of its day. And its crowning feature: the flat-fold rear drop gate we now know as the tailgate.

This football season it’s time to take charge of the tailgate party with some unique gift ideas for your pigskin picnic.84433_300x300

This amusing remote-controlled cooler can roll across a tailgate parking spot, 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 compact cooler rolls on four sturdy underside wheels up to 60′ from the host at the controls.

No tailgate party is complete without music. These long-range wireless speakers provide robust stereo quality sound without the need for alkaline batteries or a power outlet. Offered exclusively by Hammacher Schlemmer, the system’s transmitter sends interference-free audio from any music device to the speakers up to 250′ away.

Before heading into the stadium, relax a while with The Tailgaters’ 12452_300x300Hammocks. These dual hammock set up on any 2″ trailer hitch for optimal comfort and convenience when tailgating. Less than 10 minutes of set-up time, and you’re reclining in a hammock chair with a hanging footrest. The chairs store in included cases for easy portability.

To maximize enjoyment of the game itself, these are the binoculars with the world’s widest field of view, for the best view of sideline passes. The patented optics in these binoculars capture a panoramic 900-foot field of view at 1,000 yards. The compact, lightweight design makes these lenses ideal for sporting events, as well as theater and long hikes.

Unique Gifts to Get Them Up and At ‘Em

There’s hardly a faster way to get on a teacher’s bad side than showing up late for class. Combine that with burning the midnight oil and an 8 a.m. section of biology, and there’s a student who needs a trusty – and stylish – alarm clock. We’d like to suggest a few that would make an ideal and unique gift for any student.

84917_300x300Even eager scholars have been known to hit the snooze button a time or two, and those using an iPhone as an alarm may find themselves fumbling to tap the phone’s small snooze icon. The iPhone Snoozer sports a huge button that quickly silences the alarm. The dock holds an iPhone in the landscape orientation and a free app converts the phone into an alarm clock with the time visible on the screen at all times.

The iPad and iPhone Charging Clock Radio plays audio from the phone or tablet while simultaneously charging up to three devices. Lightning connectors accommodate Apple devices and a third port connects any USB-compatible device. Dual wakeup settings let two users set their own alarm times.

84837_300x300The student with a number of devices—or perhaps a number of roommates—will appreciate The Four Device Charging Clock Radio. This clock radio features four USB ports to charge any smartphone, tablet or other USB-powered device. The dock plays music from any one of the connected devices or from the built-in FM radio.

Any of these clocks will help your favorite student start the day off right, and get them thinking about you and the unique gift you gave them.

Unique Gifts for Dorm Room Comfort

Summer is over and for millions of young people a new life has begun: life in a college dorm room.

For freshmen, dorm living can be an extreme adjustment. Learning to live in a small space with another person, often a total stranger, can be difficult, as can living without the familiar comforts of home. Fortunately, we have some unique gifts for dorm dwellers to help ease the transition.84977_300x300

A challenge of rooms in many older residence halls is too few and inconveniently placed electrical outlets. The Wall Mounted Outlet Extender can be mounted up to 6′ away from an existing outlet, providing more convenient access to AC and USB power without hardwiring and letting you power lamps or appliances and recharge smartphones or tablets from the same source.

For late-night studying, The Eyestrain Reducing Task Lamp provides LED light that mimics natural daylight to reduce glare and eyestrain. The high-powered LEDs generate lumens of full-spectrum white light that illuminates textbooks or computer screens with a distortion-free glow.

Decades ago, many a college student headed back to school with crates of LP records and huge stereo speakers…the bigger the better. Today’s students carry their entire music collections on their iPhones and connect wirelessly to comparatively tiny speakers. This portable Bluetooth speaker earned The Best designation from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it produced the richest, purest sound and had the longest transmission range. Delivering high-quality sound in every genre of music, the user-friendly device connects with any Bluetooth-enabled player.83227B_300x300

Finally, many a freshman has experienced the dreaded “freshman fifteen”—pounds packed on through high-carb dorm food and late-night snacks. The Multi Level Blade Blender makes it easy to substitute a high-fat meal with a healthful and delicious smoothie. This blender features six blades positioned at the bottom, middle, and top of the pitcher to create silky smooth concoctions. It also converts whole fruit into flavorful, vitamin-rich juice and grinds nuts into smooth, nutrition-packed butter.

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.