It’s All Fun and Games at Your Next Family Gathering

Perhaps it’s a backlash against the high-tech, screen-oriented world in which we live, but “family game night” is making a comeback.

Particularly this time of the year, we’re less active, more apt to stay home and find ourselves looking for activities that promote togetherness. For parents, it’s a chance to enjoy their kids’ company, not to mention the unique gifts of having the kids sit still and be engaged. For kids, it’s an opportunity to learn good sportsmanship and a chance to see that life exists beyond texting and the latest iPhone apps. 87709_1000x1000

Looking for some fresh and fun ideas for your own family game night? Check out these games that bring the action right into your living room or rec room. 84057_1000x1000

This air hockey table folds for unobtrusive storage. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, the table has two legs that fold under the playing surface and the table tilts 90° until it is perpendicular with the floor, enabling out-of-the-way storage against a wall. Wheels on the base of the table allow you to roll it easily to another room. The table’s powerful fan ensures rapid puck movement and the PVC rails enable fast-action bank shots. 11258_1000x1000

Turn your dining table or kitchen island into a table tennis platform. This lightweight, yet sturdy set includes a 4″-high net that clips to the board at either end but won’t mar a dining surface’s finish. The table reverses to reveal separate chess/checkers and backgammon boards. When play is done, the folded table and all accessories store in the included canvas tote.

This Whac-A-Mole game can be personalized to replace the standard mole heads with molded caricatures of members of your family, past managers, your ex, or any combination of personalities. The game operates exactly like those found in amusement parks—five mole heads pop up randomly while you attempt to bash each with a mallet for points—but this one comes in a walnut veneer cabinet. When closed, the game assumes the form of a bookshelf. Inside, a storage shelf for your preferred beverages sits above the game, ensuring no family game night goes with thirsts unquenched.

Hosting a family game night is a great alternative to gathering at a restaurant. You can laugh as loudly as you like, play till the wee hours and enjoy the unique gifts of togetherness and fellowship with those you hold dear.

Give Flu Season the Cold Shoulder

Few scientific discoveries have had as much impact on public health and longevity as have vaccines against common illnesses. The now-ubiquitous flu shot, while not able to prevent 100% of respiratory ailments, is a unique gift for us all in that it prevents or reduces the severity of the flu for much of the population.

And yet, we still have not been able to cure the common cold. Layer on to that the host of stomach and intestinal viruses currently going around, and all the flu shots in the world can’t guarantee a season free of illness. The best defense is to wash your hands often and try to eliminate germs on frequently touched surfaces and in the air you breathe. 78660_1000x1000

This 10″-long Traveler’s Germ-Eliminating Wand stores unobtrusively in a purse or carryon, and in 30-60 seconds kills up to 99.9% of germs using safe UV-C light—the same technology trusted to sanitize hospital surfaces. Capable of killing even MRSA, H1N1, E-coli, mold, and dust mites, the light penetrates viral and bacterial membranes, rendering the microorganisms incapable of reproduction and survival. Its compact size makes this a unique gift idea for your favorite frequent flier. 81655_1000x1000

This Germ and Mold Destroying Air Purifier eliminates up to 99.9% of airborne bacteria, mold, viruses, pet dander, allergens and pollen without making a sound. The filter-free device uses natural convection to draw airborne impurities into its patented ceramic heating chamber that instantly destroys microorganisms with 400-degree heat. The sanitized air is cooled and recirculated into the room, providing a healthier breathing environment. This purifier is ideal for spaces up to 400 sq. ft. 83896_1000x1000

Perfect for kitchens and larger rooms up to 1000 sq. ft., the Air and Surface Sanitizer uses technology developed by NASA for purification aboard space shuttles: ultraviolet light inside the device combines with a nickel catalyst to emit safe molecules that destroy up to 99% of mold and bacteria on surfaces. A fan draws in airborne impurities and the UVC bulb instantly kills the nasties.

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but if by chance, you do get sick, drink plenty of fluids, take vitamin C and rest for a few days. No one wants a cold or the flu, but a sick day can be a unique gift of time to catch some shut-eye, binge-watch TV and escape from your ordinary routine.

Time to Focus on Matters of the Heart

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Throughout February, we celebrate American Heart Month—it’s a great time to start taking those small steps that can make big improvements in your risk factors.

While you’ve certainly been made aware of all the steps you can take to enjoy the unique gift of better health, these measures bear repeating. We love our readers and want them around for a long time! 81590_1000x1000

Get a pedometer to record your daily steps. Physicians recommend a minimum of 6,000 steps per day for health maintenance and 10,000 daily steps for weight loss. If you’re looking for an easy-to-read device that displays steps walked, distance traveled, calories burned, time elapsed and average pace, check out this Full Screen Pedometer87662_1000x1000

Speaking of weight loss, we have a tool to help. This behavior-influencing bathroom scale uses a color-coded digital readout to display weight lost or gained since the last time you weighed in. The LCD’s background illuminates red if you’ve gained weight and green if you’ve lost weight, allowing you to quickly track your progress. As many as eight users can store their profiles and results over up to 30 weigh-ins. This scale is a motivating and unique gift for your whole family when you’re in it together. 87991_1000x1000

Know your numbers, especially your blood pressure. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, this is the only home blood pressure monitor that can also assess the health of your arteries. Healthy results are clearly depicted in the green zone on the device’s large LCD screen, while numbers in the red zone indicate arterial stiffness. This healthy-heart tool also displays systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. 87759_1000x1000

You can keep tabs on your pulse rate and oxygen levels, too, with this Talking Fingertip Heart Rate Monitor. Eliminating the need to wear uncomfortable chest straps, visit a doctor or provide a blood sample, the pulse oximeter simply clips to a finger and automatically announces your blood’s oxygen saturation and pulse rate.

Finally, if you’re a smoker, we don’t have to tell you to quit. But if you do smoke, this is the one change you can make that will make the biggest difference to your health and longevity.

Singing the Praises of Low Tech Puzzles

Even in today’s technology-driven world, the old-fashioned puzzle maintains a certain allure. Today is National Puzzle Day and if you haven’t worked one in a while, it’s a great day to spend time with the family and enjoy the unique gifts of some low-tech togetherness.87690_1000x1000

A puzzle with a reward at the end is the best kind! This wooden puzzle secures a bottle of wine (or non-alcoholic cider, if you prefer). A wooden cage holds the bottle’s bottom while a mortise and tenon joint caps the bottle’s top and “locks” into place with a corkscrew “pin”. Testing one to the very brink of teetotalling temperance, only a patient application of friction and sequence—or careful study of the included instructions—solves the quandary. 74348_1000x1000

If you’re looking for a unique gift idea for a friend or loved one, this custom jigsaw puzzle can be personalized with a reproduction of a color or black and white photograph. Once you send a photograph or JPEG image to the manufacturer, a 408-piece jigsaw puzzle kit is created. It’s puzzle fun for today and a great keepsake for tomorrow. 78372_1000x1000

Here is, perhaps, the ultimate puzzle. This three-dimensional spherical labyrinth will challenge the limits of your manual dexterity and spatial understanding to maneuver a wooden marble through its course. The Superplexus is a complex network of chicanes, multi-planar hairpin turns, spirals and staircases – even a vortex. The entire track, if laid out on a straight line, is longer than a football field and requires a minimum of 425 turns of the sphere without letting the marble fall off the track. Completion will be your life’s work!

Scientific research has proven that working a puzzle uses both sides of the brain and improves memory, cognitive function and problem-solving skills. National Puzzle Day is a great time to pledge to work on a puzzle every day for better brain health, not to mention rewarding family time.

‘Sno Better Time to Get Ready for More White Stuff

After an early winter of unprecedented mild temperatures, nature dropped winter’s full fury all along the northeastern portion of the U.S. The path of this colossal storm affected 85 million people, with records for snowfall totals smashed in New York, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.87095_1000x1000

If you’re a snow plow operator, you may be appreciating this as a unique gift from the skies. Most of us, however, are suffering the aftermath, dealing with the mess a blizzard leaves behind. Fortunately, we have some suggestions to make coping with this and future storms sure to come. 84283_1000x1000

It’s no fun when your car gets stuck in a pile of the wet, white stuff. This is the roll-up snow escape tread that provides extra traction for your car when it’s immobilized on ice or snow (it works on mud or sand as well). Unlike common plastic models that crack in cold weather, this tread is made of a heavy-duty rubber to deliver superior traction in even the harshest conditions. Consider these easy-storage treads to use as unique gifts for anyone who drives in cold-weather climates. 11976_1000x1000

Clearing snow from a driveway is never fun. A conventional snow blower either has to be maintained with gas and oil, or has a power cord that gets tangled and in your way. This is the snow blower that runs on a rechargeable battery, completely eliminating those hassles. This emission-free, environmentally friendly blower can throw snow for up to 40 minutes before needing a recharge. Spare batteries are available if you want to handle a bigger job without taking a break. 12719_1000x1000

Inside your cozy house, you may be cursing the snow that gets tracked in, messing up your clean floors. This low-profile doormat holds 12 pints of water per square yard, keeping entryways free of slush and melting snow, even after storms like this one. A grid of channels ushers water away from shoes and holds it in the mat’s commercial-grade base.

Finally, you want to make sure walkways around your home stay clear of ice so your family and visitors stay safe. This is the same professional-quality preemptive treatment used by municipalities and state departments of transportation to thwart the accumulation of snow and ice. The included battery-operated sprayer holds a gallon of solution, the equivalent to a 50-lb. bag of ordinary snow melt. Used as a pre-treatment before a storm, the patented solution helps to keep snow and ice from sticking, making for easier removal and reduced total accumulation on treated surfaces.

Weaving a Plan for a Warm-Weather Weekend

We’re planning our escape. Preparing for security checks. Laying a plot around the Presidents. Slipping out a side door early on a quiet Friday. Stealing a little time for personal benefit.12620_1000x1000

This furtive plan isn’t a clandestine caper…it’s making use of Presidents Day weekend to escape to warmer weather. By mid-February, we will be more than ready to bask in the heat of the sun, feel soothed by gentle breezes and enjoy all the unique gifts of warmth, like being able to shed these bothersome layers of excess clothing. 84042_1000x1000

You may be plotting your own secret escape. A golf junket, perhaps? Stow all the accessories you need to hit the links with this Leather Golf Organizer. The bag’s vented main compartment holds your shoes. Two additional interior compartments and two exterior pockets hold balls, tees, gloves and any other essential accoutrements for a sunny day on the course. 84084_1000x1000

To maximize your time for enjoying the unique gifts of a long weekend away, plan to pack smart. The Gentleman’s Superior Toiletry Bag was rated “Best Overall” by The Wall Street Journal. Durable, yet compact, it’s cleverly designed to hold everything you need. An internal shelf accommodates even full-sized bottles of shampoo and cans. The bag hangs conveniently unfolded from a hook or towel rack to make all grooming items easily accessible. A Lady’s Superior Toiletry Bag is also available. 86716_1000x1000

When packing for a long weekend, nothing beats The Sightseer’s Argentinian Leather Carryall. A Hammacher Schlemmer exclusive, it neatly handles all the essentials you require for a day’s excursion, with better organization than a fanny pack or backpack. Its surprisingly spacious interior and ample pockets can hold a tablet, smartphone, power chargers, maps, books, binoculars, a wallet, keys, and perhaps a snack or two. If you’re traveling by plane, its design makes airport ID checks a breeze.

Winter’s not about to give up its grip, so get planning and you, too, can find your February spot in the sun.

The Sure Cure for Cabin Fever: Get Outdoors!

Remember winter when you were a kid? You prayed for snow days. Frigid temperatures were not something to be cursed.

These days, you may avoid the outdoors during cold weather. But the common affliction of cabin fever can lead to feelings of lethargy, sadness, sleeplessness, and even claustrophobia. Instead of suffering through another year of seasonal malaise, why not embrace the weather. Get out with your kids or grandchildren and actually enjoy the unique gifts winter brings.

Have you been cooped up indoors so long you’re not sure how to get started? We have some suggestions for outdoor winter play, so put on your snow pants and let’s go! 

This toy blaster makes softball-sized snowballs and launches them up to 80 feet, assuring victory in neighborhood snowball fights. Simply place snow in the forming chamber and close the lid; it instantly packs three perfectly spherical snowballs. To blast your target, place one ball in the muzzle, aim the launcher and pull back the slingshot. 86783_1000x1000

Even several weeks past the winter solstice, nightfall comes much too early. Don’t let darkness put an end to sledding fun. This Bavarian-style performance sled features LEDs that update the classic Alpine schlitten for evening enjoyment. Two stainless steel runners and an innovative, shock-absorbing steering system deliver responsive maneuverability in all snow conditions. Any sledder of any age will appreciate this unique gift. 12498_1000x1000

Perhaps you already enjoy snowmobiling or exploring snowy trails on an ATV. Use either vehicle to tow this two-person Snow Craft for an exciting winter trail ride. The craft will glide over snow, ice and slush on its two flexible steel skis. A gas-operated shock suspension system ensures a comfortable ride.

While much of the country has been basking in the unique gifts of a mild winter so far this year, we can be assured of more snow in our futures. Get out your mittens and get ready for enough fun to cure even the worst case of cabin fever!

Feel the Force of Cinematic History

Although just released a mere month ago, Star Wars: The Force Awakens already is one of the highest-grossing films of all time.

Considering nearly 40 years have passed since the original Star Wars film debuted, that translates into incredible staying power for the franchise, not to mention for the collectible merchandise and unique gifts that portray the movie’s iconic characters.87707A_1000x1000

The complete Star Wars collection at Hammacher Schlemmer ranges from books to robes and slippers to remote-controlled ‘droids. Here are some of our favorites, whimsical items not commonly found elsewhere. These are the perfect unique gift ideas for any collector of Star Wars memorabilia, or even just for yourself. 87799_1000x1000

These Star Wars steins impart intergalactic intrepidity to your imbibing. Made from high-quality ceramic with pewter lids, each 32-oz. stein is crafted in the likeness of R2-D2, Darth Vader, Chewbacca or Boba Fett. Each stein is available individually, so a collector can choose a favorite or get the whole set.

Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, this Darth Vader humidifier remedies room dryness with a mist that emanates from his helmeted head. Ultrasonic technology dispenses the gentle, soothing mist without using a loud fan that can be heard far, far away. The stoic Sith Lord can humidify a room for up to 12 hours. Darth also incorporates a night light to ensure a room doesn’t slip over to the Dark Side. 88079_1000x1000

Convert your car’s windshield into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon with this sunscreen. It depicts the classic “that’s no moon” scene from the original movie, proving that your car is indeed the “fastest hunk of junk” in the parking lot. The screen deflects the sun’s rays as effectively as a blast shield deflects the particles of exploding planets.

We have over two dozen unique gifts that will delight any Star Wars aficionado. Check out our entire collection today!

Make Space to Put Every Thing in Its Place

A better-organized home leads to the unique gift of a simpler, saner life. This may even be one of your New Year’s resolutions.

Today, we have three simple solutions to help you get you started on a new clutter-free lifestyle.83407_1000x1000
Organize Your Family Room or Den. Banish that pile of books, magazines and newspapers from the top of the coffee table. The Organized Reader’s End Table features four open shelves that keep reading material organized and easily accessible. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, the bookstand helps reduce clutter and holds enough printed matter to sate even the most voracious reader, in only 1.5 sq. ft. of floor space. 83456_1000x1000

Organize Your Closet. Save loads of closet space and make the right pair of pants easy to find. This trouser rack keeps 20 pairs of slacks neatly hung and readily accessible. Another Hammacher Schlemmer exclusive, it mounts on a closet wall or door and has a steel support bracket with 20 hardwood dowels so you can hang trousers flush against the wall, then swing them out individually. 81628_1000x1000

Organize Your Dresser. Get earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings off the dresser where they might get tangled or lost. This wall-mounted, illuminated cabinet – available nowhere else – keeps up to 104 pieces of jewelry organized and easily accessible. Plus, it has six LEDs inside to help you quickly locate your favorite pieces. The cabinet has a key lock, it is lined with microfiber that prevents tarnish, and the exterior of the door has a mirror. We think this is a unique gift that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day, too!

That old adage about “a place for everything, and everything in its place” is true. Once you conquer the clutter throughout your home, commit some time each evening to make sure everything gets put away. It’s a habit that needs to be cultivated, but once you do so, you will be rewarded with a home that provides the unique gift of a less stressful environment.

Cut Heating Costs to Amp up Your Savings

With bills from the holidays rolling in, you may have a resolution for 2016 to put household spending on a diet.

A great way to start replenishing your bank account is to reduce your home heating bill. Apropos, this Sunday is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day and we have several tips to help you stay warm, even as you dial down the thermostat.

Make sure your home is well-insulated. Easy DIY steps you can take are to add or replace weather stripping around doors, use caulk to seal cracks around windows and put piping insulation around both hot and cold water pipes. 87694_1000x1000

Turn your thermostat down to 62 degrees at night. You can stay warm and cozy in bed with a heated mattress pad. This heated pad earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it generated the most consistent warmth and was the most comfortable. Panelists lauded The Best model’s soft cushioning, virtually undetectable heating elements, and soft, smooth cotton/polyester 200-thread-count fabric.

Take advantage of sunlight. Open drapes on south- and west-facing windows on sunny days for the unique gift of warmth provided free by Mother Nature. Close drapes on cloudy days and at sunset to add extra insulation to your windows. 88051A_1000x1000

Heat the room you’re in and turn down the furnace by using a space heater. This portable radiator features a patented heat flow system that provides consistent, thorough heating of a room. Seven vertical tunnels enable radiant heat to rise faster than typical oil-filled radiators for faster, more even heat distribution in a room up to 144 sq. ft. A digital thermostat maintains your preferred ambient temperature. This heater also makes a thoughtful and unique gift for any handyman with a garage workshop. 87563_1000x1000

For the latest technology in space heaters, The Hammacher Schlemmer institute recommends this tower heater as The Best because it warms a cold room faster and warmer than any other competitor. Designed for both safety and style, The Best model has a quiet heater that oscillates for efficiency and a minimalist form with no exposed heating elements or whirring blades, plus it automatically shuts off if tipped over. It also can be focused to direct heat to a specific area or distribute it evenly around the room.

Keep your heat registers clear. If furniture is placed over a heating vent, the flow of warm air will be limited. Rearrange rooms so floor vents are completely unobstructed.

Have your furnace cleaned and serviced every year. A clean furnace runs more efficiently. The technician will also ensure your unit has no carbon monoxide leaks, so you and your family will stay safe, making this perhaps the most important tip of all.