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No Joke: Laugh Your Way to Better Health

This Sunday is National Let’s Laugh Day, a celebration of the unique gifts and healing powers of laughter.

Truly, laughter is the best medicine, one with no negative side effects—although it is contagious. Studies have shown laughter relieves tension, aids relaxation, and boosts the immune system. It can lower blood pressure and even work your abs!

We all could stand to laugh more…so with whimsy in mind, we have some unique gift ideas designed to elicit laughter from anyone who sees or uses them.

These unusual wine glasses sport bent stems to set a relaxed, lighthearted mood at the beginning of a gathering or as a surreptitious stemware switch after guests are about to start on their second Syrah. Each glass sits atop a wide, sturdy base that holds wine securely, despite an impaired appearance. The glasses are hand-blown into vessels with some stems that bend a bit more than others or bowls that tilt at a different angle, supporting the adage that wine affects everyone—and every glass—differently.

This Whac-A-Mole game can be personalized to replace the standard mole heads with molded caricatures using pictures of members of your family, past managers, boyfriends/girlfriends, or any desired combination of personalities. The game operates exactly like those found in amusement parks and carnivals—five mole heads pop up randomly while you attempt to bash each with a mallet for points. The game sits within a walnut veneer cabinet that assumes the form of a bookshelf. 

Here’s another arcade game-inspired source of mirth. This remote-controlled vehicle brings to life the Mario Kart game by racing Donkey Kong against his nemesis Mario. Reenacting their competitions in the Mushroom Kingdom, this beloved monster can reach speeds of more than 13 mph in his detailed cart that you control with a joystick. This armored turtle leans into turns to conserve speed while real pneumatic tires and front and rear suspension ensure precise handling. Fun and laughs for all!

Laughter increases your general sense of well-being. Research has found people with a positive outlook fight diseases better and experience less chronic pain. So, on National Let’s Laugh Day—and every day—strive to smile, laugh and live a better life. We can’t think of a better unique gift than that.

Who Will Be Cinderella at the Dance?

It’s mid-March…and time for the biggest hoop dreams of the year: the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship Tournament. The first games begin today in Dayton, OH. This morning, every bracket is perfect and every team, like Cinderella, has hopes and dreams of dancing till the end.

How will you cope with the madness till the final game on April 3? We suggest you indulge your basketball jones with a few unique gifts.

Keep beverages for watching the game close to your favorite chair while supporting your favorite team. This portable and foldable cooler is emblazoned with the NCAA team logo of your choice. The sturdy hexagonally shaped cooler holds one and a half dozen 12 oz. cans, while a waterproof liner secures melting ice. A padded lid fits over the top to serve as a comfortable seat or a place to rest your feet.

Work off tension between halves with this indoor basketball net that returns made baskets to the shooter during a timed, rapid-fire shoot-out. A motorized chute under the netting automatically passes made baskets back to the shooter who can reload and take another shot. The chute swivels 180°, so you can set the direction of the ball return to a sweet spot or to an area of the room you need to work on.

When you’re ready to get outdoors and jam the ball, here’s a hoop that withstands 1,000 pounds of force. Unlike other adjustable basketball hoops that put excessive force on the backboard, this superior model has a steel beam that absorbs the force from tomahawk dunks and two-handed alley-oops. The regulation-sized backboard is made from thick tempered glass for true bank shots and rebounds, while torsion bars on the bottom of the backboard prevent sway. If there are young athletes in your house who fancy themselves to be the next Michael Jordan or LeBron James, this is a great unique gift for them.

But if all these unique gifts for basketball are not your thing, hang in there…baseball season is right around the corner.

Does Anyone Know What Time It Is?

You might hear that phrase uttered this weekend as most of the U.S. turns our clocks ahead for Daylight Saving Time. While some folks may lament the loss of an hour of sleep, we welcome the unique gifts that come from an extra hour of evening light.

Admittedly, there will be several minutes spent adjusting the time on the microwave, the automatic coffee maker, and other household clocks that don’t adjust on their own. This oversized wall clock maintains its own unerring accuracy from the radio atomic clock transmitter in Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s even weather-resistant for use outdoors and lighted to help its visibility in low-light conditions.

As we age, it can become more difficult to see the time on a watch in any lighting. This talking analog watch ranked highest in evaluations by the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute. Unlike lesser models that were inaudible or malfunctioned, this model announces the time distinctly in a clear male voice, ideal for those who find it difficult or inconvenient (such as when driving) to look at a watch. To ensure accuracy, the watch automatically synchronizes nightly with the atomic clock in Ft. Collins. It makes a great unique gift for anyone with decreased vision from macular degeneration or other eye problems.

For a timepiece that is also a conversation piece, this perpetual motion clock is expertly crafted with 16 hours of painstaking detail from rhodium- and 14k gold-plated brass, stainless steel, and anodized aluminum components. It replaces a clock’s hands with 27 balls that mark the hour, every 10th minute, and each minute. A complex network of gears are set into seeming perpetual motion by a brass drive wheel that appears to rotate in defiance of the laws of physics. It’s a beautiful unique gift worthy of the centerpiece position on a mantle or side table.

Although Daylight Saving Time was first conceived by Ben Franklin in 1784, the practice had some stops and starts until 1966 when the Uniform Time Act established a consistent system. As the days grow long and bright this spring, make the most of this unique gift and enjoy your lighter evenings.

Caffeine Aside, Coffee Has Many Perks

March is National Caffeine Awareness Month. For certain, if we don’t get our daily dose of caffeine, we’re VERY aware of that.

The month was created by a non-profit organization to generate interest in caffeine-free alternatives to get the blood moving, such as exercise, fruit smoothies, and herbal tea, but to us it seems appropriate to embrace the unique gifts of caffeine and celebrate the beneficial effects some research has found. Coffee is loaded with anti-oxidants and studies have shown moderate coffee consumption can help lower the risk of Type II Diabetes, certain types of cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. It may even speed up metabolism enough to help burn fat.

And caffeine can certainly help elevate one’s mood, particularly when you make it with a machine as beautiful as this commercial-grade dual espresso maker from Italy. The internal brewing mechanism has an advanced microprocessor, while a built-in water softener ensures the best cup of espresso possible. Touchpad controls allow four different coffee dosage selections for different brew strengths, giving you complete control over the level of your caffeine intake.

Another great unique gift for coffee drinkers is this coffee brewer which can be entirely controlled via a smartphone. Coffee connoisseurs can make java remotely from Java (or anywhere else in the world) using WiFi and a free app to program its start time and create custom profiles for brews with consistent richness, temperature, and volume. Its pulse-brewing system releases water in intermittent waves to thoroughly extract flavor from the grounds and produce a robust coffee without unpleasant bitterness.

Finally, you’ll need a superior way to take that superior cup of joe along with you. After comparison tests by the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute, this commuter cup proved to be The Best for the fifth consecutive year because it is easy to drink from and does not leak, even when inverted. The spill-proof lid springs open with the touch of a button and a safety lock prevents spills when the cup is carried in a briefcase or purse.

Celebrating a Pioneer in the Business of Unique Gifts

This week, we mark the 178th birthday of a man who came to New York as a young German immigrant.

That young German was Albert Hammacher, born February 16, 1839, in Leichlingen, a farming community in the North Rhine-Westphalia region.

At the tender age of 20, Mr. Hammacher invested $5,000 (equal to about $150,000 today – records do not show how he came into this money) in a thriving hardware store owned by Charles Tollner. The store was known as a source for hard-to-find tools, paving the way for a policy we have today of providing The Only, unique gifts exclusive to Hammacher Schlemmer.

Hammacher’s investment allowed the store to continue to grow, expanding into a larger location and honing its reputation for high quality. Today, the independent Hammacher Schlemmer Institute continues this quality reputation, objectively testing to determine items that are The Best, truly superior in their product category.

By 1867, Tollner had left the business and Mr. Hammacher took on as a partner a long-time employee of the store: William Schlemmer. Together, they continued to grow the business and embrace innovation. Taking advantage of new technology of the time, the Hammacher Schlemmer showroom was among the first businesses to install electric lights. Back in the day, lighting may have been unexpected by many customers. Today’s Hammacher Schlemmer customers delight in finding The Unexpected unique gift items, a selection that is continuously updated.

In 1899, Mr. Hammacher left the business and returned to Germany to live for the remainder of his life, passing away on January 12, 1912. But his name and the legacy he created of The Best, The Only and The Unexpected live on.

Here’s the Cure for Going B-R-R-R-Foot

If there’s someone in your house complaining about cold feet all winter long, odds are good that person is female.

That’s no coincidence. Scientific studies have shown that women’s hands and feet average 3 degrees colder than men’s. Women’s blood vessels constrict more drastically, resulting in reduced blood flow and cold extremities.

We’re here to help cure popsicle toes. This cozy foot muff provides heat therapy to warm and soothe chilly feet. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, the quilted muff has imperceptible electric heating elements that surround the feet with the unique gift of gentle warmth to shake off the chill and baby tired tootsies.

Of course, men are not completely immune to the problem of cold feet. These comfortably soft gentlemen’s slippers have adjustable uppers made from Mongolian sheepskin that provide a custom fit. The sheepskin interiors’ dense, hollow fibers allow air to circulate, keeping feet toasty warm. Another Hammacher Schlemmer exclusive, these slippers have double-walled uppers made from durable chestnut-napped suede, and a grippy indoor/outdoor rubber outsole.

This electric bed warmer is designed for the foot of the bed, delivering the perfect amount of heat to keep toes toasty without overheating the rest of the body. Rather than heating the entire bed with a conventional electric blanket when only your feet are cold, this machine-washable warmer confines its heat to the lower part of the mattress, resting on top or under the covers. This makes an ideal and unique gift as a wedding present, too.

Other factors, such as hormones and fat-to-muscle ratios, also enter in to how cold your hands and feet get. Taking measures to add warmth as well as adding circulation-boosting light exercise to your routine can help. And if all else fails, just remember: cold hands, warm heart.

Did You Get One of These? It’s Up in the Air

If there was one unique gift you didn’t receive for the holidays you’re tempted to buy now for yourself, odds are good it’s a drone. And you’d be in good company: a report released earlier this year by the Federal Aviation Administration showed drone sales increased by 445 percent this year over 2015.

We’re proud to feature a selection of high-flying fun for every level of use, from the beginner to the professional…and even one designed for children.

For camera and video buffs: This ultra-high definition drone is equipped with the same Micro Four Thirds camera used by professional aerial cinematographers for capturing 4K RAW images and video. Two radio remotes—one for flight and one for camera—enable two operators to partner for optimal content capture from up to three miles away. A three-axis gimbal system stabilizes the camera while multiple flight modes manage the drone’s four propellers simultaneously, for hovering, circling, or flying over a point of interest.

For kids and beginners: Part game and part educational toy, this children’s drone dances to music, lets pilots program the flight path, and teaches a variety of other skills. Controlled by a free app, the quadcopter’s self-stabilizing mechanism keeps it aloft above the included wireless beacon, so users can focus less on steering and more on fun. This truly unique gift is safe for indoor use, with built-in sensors that help detect and avoid obstacles.

For spontaneous use and travel: this compact video drone folds up to the size of smartphone, small enough to slip into a shirt pocket. Its four micro-electric propellers deploy from each corner, forming a craft that quickly ascends, descends, and nimbly turns in any direction, remotely controlled from up to 100′ away. Pictures and video are captured on its built-in HD camera that includes a 4GB microSD card. Three speed settings enable beginners, advanced fliers, and expert aerial acrobats alike to perform maneuvers.

We have more UFOs (Unique Flying Objects) online for your high-flying enjoyment…ideal unique gifts for yourself or a friend!

Holiday Wishes from Us to You

At this time of the year that is special to so many people, we’d like to express thanks for that which is special to us: You.

Thanks to you, Hammacher Schlemmer is the premier source for unique gifts that are The Best, The Only and The Unexpected. We started in 1848 as a hardware store providing hard-to-find and high-quality tools. While the types of goods in our catalogs and online have changed, we continue the tradition of offering quality products that can’t be found anywhere else, all backed by a lifetime guarantee. Your continued patronage and loyalty make it all possible.

From everyone at Hammacher Schlemmer, here’s hoping your holidays are merry and bright and may 2017 brings the most precious unique gift of all: health and happiness for you, your family, and all those you hold dear.

Unique Gifts for the Star Wars Aficionado

Next week, the latest Star Wars film, Rogue One, opens in theaters nationwide. Set as a prequel to the original film, Rogue One follows a group of Rebel spies out to steal design plans for the Empire’s superweapon, the Death Star.

With Christmas right around the corner, 88159_1000x1000it’s easier than ever to find the perfect unique gifts for any fans of the franchise on your shopping list. Here are just a few of the Star Wars items we’re now featuring in our online catalog. These hooded fleece robes transport common Earthlings to a galaxy far, far away to assume the persona of an iconic Star Wars character. Each robe bears its namesake’s signature hallmarks from the beloved movies, whether you favor cuddly-but-fierce Chewbacca, Sith Lord Darth Vader, favorite droid R2-D2, wise Yoda, or a rebel Jedi Knight. Thirsty polyester fleece keeps the wearer as dry as Tatooine87814a_1000x1000.

This remote-controlled quadcopter drone comes in the guise of the infamous smuggler’s craft, the Millennium Falcon. This iteration of the Falcon mimics its namesake’s nimble control by hovering in place, rising and lowering in a strictly vertical column before attempting to outrace incoming TIE fighters. With a subspace hyperdrive and bow C-beam lamps that glow during flight, its built-in gyro stabilization keeps the drone level and easy to fly.

Innocent slices of bread become sinister breakfast tokens of evil in this toaster made in the likeness of Darth Vader or in this toaster in the form of a Stormtrooper helmet. The Sith Lord’s toaster imprints “Star Wars” onto one side of a piece of bread and browns the crust as a frame. As a literal example and metaphorical icon of Imperial imprinting, the Stormtrooper toaster indelibly browns bread products with the Imperial Crest.

This is just the beginning – we have many more unique gifts and collectible merchandise that will delight any Star Wars fan. See our full collection online today.

Award-Winning Unique Gifts for Kids

Some kids’ letters to Santa include three or four pages of wish-list items. And yet, there’s a lot of pressure on a loving aunt, uncle, or grandparent to find unique gifts for the little ones that will be both memorable to the parents and loved by the children themselves.

We have suggestions for award-winning unique gifts recognized by publications or institutions for their creativity and contribution to child development. 86177a_1000x1000Each of these goes far beyond the average toy – just as you would expect from Hammacher Schlemmer.

Winner of a Creative Mind Magazine Preferred Choice Award for Creative Toys, this plush and cuddy lamb generates eight different tranquil sounds to lull an infant to sleep. It re-creates the sound of a mother’s heartbeat heard within the womb, a gentle rain shower, the calming sounds of ocean surf, the harmonic sounds of whale song, and four soothing melodies.88838a_1000x1000

These award-winning Symphony Blocks can be rearranged to play a million different melodies, teaching children about music, shapes, and colors. A recipient of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Blue Chip Classic Award, the five blocks can be placed into the sturdy base in any order. Each side of each block plays a different phrase of music when pressed. Hitting the big red button on the front runs through all five phrases in sequence, while a flip of a switch changes the music from classical to swinging jazz to drum-filled African rhythms.86450_1000x1000

With all the action worthy of its onomatopoeic name, the Schmeckenbecker Kinetic Contraptions Kit is a 6′-tall tower that puts a marble through a labyrinth of contraptions. Winner of an Oppenheim Toy of the Year Award, the kit provides young designers with hands-on lessons in physics with over 600 pieces that assemble into as many configurations a mind can envision. Young engineers are challenged to place obstacles at precise angles to ensure a non-stop journey with each run.

Our online selection is abundant with unique gifts for youngsters. Use our online gift guide to find the perfect presents for children of all ages, in all price ranges.