Finishing Touches Make Your Holiday Display the Best on the Block

In some neighborhoods, friendly competitions wage during the holiday season. Which house is the most brightly lit? Who has the best choreographed display of lights and music? What family’s decorations are the most unique?

As you put the finishing touches on your prize-worthy holiday display, we have some ideas for unique gifts that will allow your house to stand out from the crowd.86290_300x300

This Candy Cane Archway, illuminated with 350 built-in incandescent mini-lights, will transform your home’s entrance into a candy cane-themed spectacle. With sparkling tinsel that covers sturdy metal frames, two 7′-high candy canes flank a walkway while their connecting arch invites guests to pass beneath an illuminated red tinsel bow.86209_300x300

Add Yuletide mirth to an indoor or protected outdoor display with this pre-lit Darth Vadar Santa. Decked out with a crimson stocking cap that transforms the Sith Lord into an impressive—most impressive—likeness of Saint Nick, he is lit with a small galaxy of 50 incandescent mini-bulbs. An activated lightsaber reminds visitors his seasonal holiday bearing should not be mistaken for permanent affability.

For a more traditional look, The Lighted Holiday Horse Drawn Sleigh84050_300x300 evokes the “one-horse open sleigh” dashing famously through the snow. The 6-ft. long trotting horse and its trailing sleigh are strung with 270 long-lasting bulbs and sculpted with lifelike details, including the horse’s silky tinsel mane, perked ears, and raised hoof.

Plan your display now and maximize your enjoyment of the holiday season’s unique gifts of fun, fellowship and friendly competition.

Unique Gifts to Inspire the Inner Mixologist

Among the many holiday traditions, enjoying a celebratory libation with family and friends ranks high on most people’s list. We especially appreciate (and secretly envy) the mixologist whose spirits are always precisely measured, artfully displayed in the proper glass, and served with diamond-clear ice. In this “spirit” of the holidays, Hammacher Schlemmer offers unique gifts to toast a favorite barkeep or to perhaps inspire your own inner mixologist.

Recalling the covert cocktail shakers developed during prohibition, this Art-Dec86799A_300x300o airplane shaker surreptitiously serves up chilled libations. The fuselage-shaped shaker rests horizontally on the winged stand with two propellers, evoking an executive’s desk ornament. At the launch of happy hour, the fuselage removes from the stand, and its rounded Art Deco lid opens for adding your favored cocktail’s ingredients.

For imbibers who prefer to enjoy their spirits neat, The Spirits Aerator instantly enhances the aroma and flavor of scotch, cognac, brandy, and other fine libations. Along these same lines, The Non-Diluting Whisky Cold Stones keep distilled spirits chilled without watering down the flavor as melting ice does. Two stones can lower the temperature of a 3-oz. pour by as much as 25 degrees, and keep the liquid cool for a half hour.

12540_300x300On occasion, the home bartender may want to relax and just enjoy his own cocktail party. Enter The Robotic Bartender. This is the computerized mixologist like those found at country clubs, stadium luxury suites, and fine hotels that automatically makes perfect cocktails at the touch of a button. The touchscreen interface allows users to select drink categories or start by choosing a spirit, and it searches its 600-drink database for matching cocktails. The unit holds spirits and mixers, ice, and even a built-in garnish tray that keeps blue cheese olives and lemon twists close at hand.

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.

Choosing The Perfect Christmas Tree

When leaves fall, temperatures drop, and daylight hours diminish, you know the holiday season won’t be far behind. That means it’s time to start thinking about your Christmas tree.

The first factor to consider 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:

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It’s economical—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 green—natural resources go into the growing of trees, not to mention pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Fossil fuels are burned shipping trees around the country and again after the holiday when they need to be hauled away and processed into mulch. And many people simply prefer not to cut down a living tree every year for the short holiday season.

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.

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

Once you’ve decided which type of tree you want, there are several other factors to consider:

Size—Decide where you’re going to place your tree. The space you have will dictate the tree height and width you need to choose. When measuring the height you need, be sure to factor in the height of your tree stand and the decoration that will be placed atop the tree. Allow approximately a foot between the top of the decoration and the ceiling for a height that is most pleasing to the eye. Different widths are also available in many styles to suit your living space or your preference.

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Type—Even artificial trees come in many different varieties. Hammacher offers meticulous reproductions of Fraser, Noble, Balsam, and Douglas firs, as well as Spruces and Scots Pines. Trees with shorter needles, such as Fraser and Douglas firs, can be easier to decorate, especially if you want to hang a lot of ornaments.

Pre-lit—Choosing a tree pre-strung with LED or incandescent lights means no struggling with tangled wires. LEDs are the most energy-efficient, while incandescent bulbs provide a more traditional glow. Either way, 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.

You can view our complete Christmas tree selection online and find your perfect tree easily by sorting the results by branch and bulb type, tree height and width, and price.

Celebrating Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Exchange

The discovery and conquest of new worlds has always been a two-sided doubloon. Whether one’s culture views Columbus as a daring, intrepid explorer pioneering new voyages of commerce and trade, or a destroyer of worlds, one thing is clear: he was the first to establish permanent contact between old-world nations and the new world’s native, first peoples. Today, with the Columbus Day holiday, we commemorate Columbus’ expedition to the new world and the Columbian exchange that changed the world forever.

Imagine all of the drama if we discovered aliens in outer space or they discovered us. Spinning Spaghetti ForkA possible positive outcome would be the exchange of ideas, tools, foods, plants, animals, and means of transportation, energy and building materials.  This and more were the outcome of the great Columbian exchange.

Today, it’s difficult to imagine life without the items Columbus brought back in his four historic voyages. First was corn, a super grain to feed cattle and the world. Imagine food without chili peppers and hot curries. No tomatoes for pasta, pizza or ketchup. No beans for chili, no turkey for Thanksgiving and no pumpkin pie, either. We would be without potatoes and have no vanilla for ice cream and no popcorn for the movies. All transportation and manufacturing would cease because tires, tubes, gaskets wouldn’t exist without rubber. No peanuts, no bourbon whiskey, no pineapple and perhaps worst of all, no chocolate.

Even today, the discoveries continue with tropical fruits and medicinal plants from the rainforest, still being encountered 521 years after voyage.

Thanks to Don Cristobal Colón and the intrepid explorers who followed, today little of Earth’s surface outside of Antartica remains undiscovered.Ice Cream Maker Whether you’re an ambitious bushwhacker or one who prefers to stay on the sidewalk, you can track your travel adventures using personalized maps. These maps come with color-coded pins and flags that let you chart your domestic trips, excursions to foreign countries, or even pilgrimages to historic baseball stadiums and golf courses.

And thanks to modern technology, navigating in a foreign land is simpler than ever with devices such as The GPS Homing Device