10 Random Gifts That Please Almost Everyone


The Slingshot Monkey is guaranteed to make anyone a 6-year old. What could be better?

I love Christmas.

Bright colored lights, snow, butter cookies, multicolored socks, scarves, pine trees, garland, the warmth of flames in the fireplace and uplifting cheerful music that gets everyone tapping and smiling… ah, X-mas!

But… sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to ask Santa for or what to tell Santa to get for other people…

I was recently asked, along with some fun folks like Kevin Rose of Digg and futurist Ray Kurzweil, by Popular Science to name my ideal Christmas present and dream gift. Here are all of the answers.

But a lot of next-gen tech stuff is hit-or-miss. Here are 10 random gifts I love — from $3.45 to $379 — that have perfect batting averages thus far as crowd pleasers:

1) Slingshot Flying Monkey – $3.45

My little brother got one of these for X-mas last year. In between wanting to stomp on his head, I played with it so much that I had to buy my own. It’s really, really hard to stop… that is, until someone has a complete meltdown and threatens to rip your arms off.

2) Bumble Bars, Original Flavor With Almonds, 1.6-Ounce Bars (Pack of 15) – $22.90

Flax seed and “gluten-free” don’t usually set the taste buds off, but these Bumble Bars are AMAZING. I first had one when my mom was suffering from food allergies several years ago and they were one of the few permitted goodies. I decided they were my new diet-compatible addiction and bought a boatload of boxes. My favorite flavor is almonds. If you prefer fruit, I also like Lara Bars, though they tend to stick in your teeth, which makes me nuts (get it?).

3) Planet Earth DVD Set – $54.99

Shot over 5 years with 40 cameramen in 200 locations… all in HD. This is has been called “the best DVD you’ll ever see” and it’s by far my favorite DVD set of the last two years. It’s breathtaking, and I’m hoping to interview the producer on this blog soon. Want something more fictional? Try the white-knuckle Epitafios from HBO, filmed in my second home of Buenos Aires.

4) Michel Thomas language learning CDs – $50.37

Michel Thomas is one of the few language teachers I recommend, and he walks the talk. If you want to get to conversationally fluent in record time (1-3 weeks for basics), give these a shot. It’s hard to find better, and you learn in real-time. No written drills whatsoever.

5) Victorinox E-Motion Travel Bag– $239

The only all-purpose travel bag I’ve had survive my beatings through 15+ countries. Here are a few things I like: the handles revolve so you won’t break them or your wrists; the wheels are the best I’ve ever seen and won’t jam; the bag converts to an exceptionally good backpack — sufficient for hiking — in about 30 seconds; the damn thing is just near impossible to tear or break; and it just looks cool. This bag is 10x better than several bags I’ve owned at 3x the price. If you want a home-run bag that you might never need to replace, this is the one.

6) Subscription to Audible.com (also from Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari) – $7.49+

Have iPod will travel. Get your loved one something they can use — a subscription good for at least one audiobook per month. Want to listen to audiobooks faster? I saw a demo of FasterAudio, and it speeds up the rate without distorting it into Alvin and the Chipmunks.

7) Griffin Evolve Wireless iPod Dock – $300

iPod content is one thing, but what about the kickin’ home sound system? Hating wires like I do, you might consider getting a dock with wireless speakers that you can put anywhere in your house. One charge seems good for about 13-14 hours (!), which is plenty for any party or relaxed night of audiophile activities.

8) Lavazza Blue Pininfarina LB1010 Cappuccino Machine – $379

Lavazza is usually associated with $5,000 machines. This new personal- or office-use cappuccino maker brings world-class espresso, coffee, and cappuccino to your door. For book deadlines or just marathon sessions of Planet Earth, this is a must.

9) Garmin nüvi 350 3.5-inch portable GPS navigator (also from Mark Frauenfelder, co-editor of BoingBoing) – $300

Not much bigger than a deck of cards, this is a “personal GPS system,” meaning that it can help you whether you are on wheels or on foot. It is designed to fit in your pocket and also doubles as a player of music files and audiobooks. Just plug it into your computer via USB and you’ve got external storage. Very cool.

10) The 4-Hour Workweek – $11.97

It’s one of the Best Books of 2007 and a Top 10 (!) Customer Favorite on Amazon, and it’s now in its 26th printing after hitting #1 on the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and Businessweek bestseller lists. What type of marketer would I be if I didn’t suggest it as a good X-mas pre-New Year’s resolution gift for those who would enjoy more time? :) You could even be the 500th person to review it (at 496 now)!


Odds and Ends: Outsourcing Olympics results and more…

Outsourcing Olympics:
Who won the Outsourcing Olympics? Who did you vote as the best sites for personal outsourcing? Check out the results here.

Best Blog Designs of 2007:
This blog was voted one of the Top 53 Blog Designs of 2007 by Adii! Thanks to a few of you for letting me know. Who woulda’ thought? Congrats to everyone on the list, including the uber-cool-hat-wearing Ryan Carson and WebWorkerDaily, who just voted 4HWW one of its Top 10 Books of 2007 for Web Workers.

4HWW featured on The NY Times blog:
Marci Alboher writes about combining 4HWW, GTD, and 43Folders for time management here.

Posted on: December 16, 2007.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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42 comments on “10 Random Gifts That Please Almost Everyone

  1. I just bought my husband the Garmin Nuvi for x-mas… glad to hear more great things about it. We were just talking about Michel’s spanish CD’s today. We have very similar tastes.


  2. Tim, you’re a great guy and all, but that last recommendation is completely shameless :-)

    That Planet Earth DVD set sounds great. It’s going on my list.

    Have a fantastic holiday!!


  3. Great gifts Tim! As I posted at my site last week – I just want a regular old phone – the one tool that will help me get a lot of work done.

    Hey re your Kurt Vonnegut post a few weeks back – I was at a party tonight playing a game called the name game. Basically everyone chose a name, wrote it on a piece of paper, and everyone had to guess who wrote which name. I chose Kilgore Trout – no one thought it was fair because they didn’t know who Kilgore Trout was – and one graduated with a major in English!

    Keep up the great work here Tim.



  4. Hey Tim,

    Mark G from Australia. Have just finished your book and, boy man, loved it to bits. About time someone was able to lay out what I have had from various sources in one book. You seriously have teh right to state that we can cut down on reading too much – you have made that possible by putting a gazillion book concepts into “The 4-hour Work Week”!.

    I have a business proposition connected to the “4-Hour Work Week” I would like to discuss. I would have called you but your web site suggests contacting you via your blog. If you are up to hearing my pitch, please drop me an e-mail so I can contact you direct. Otherwise, mid-new year I will try calling your company office and see whether we can set up something that way. That said, I know you’d probably prefer to work via e-mail; at least initially!

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Cheers and Peace,

    Mark G


    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the kind words! The best thing you can do is to email any project proposal to Amy on the “contact” page on this blog. Happy holidays!



  5. KICK BLOG!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks again, you are a great role model and I would like to personally thank you for reaching out to so many people and making it a more fun place to live and learn. I am reading your book for the 4th time and have made a notebook with notes on it. I got this idea from your blog on notes. Like I said a while ago, i think it’s important to have your “daily dose” of the blog to best absorb the information.
    Have a great holiday and keep it safe!!!!!!!


    Jose Castro-Frenzel

    BTW, cool monkey, hey if it makes you laugh it’s gotta be good for your bloodpressure!!!!!!! : )


  6. Haha No. 10 sounds good. May pick one up for the holidays as a special Xmas present to myself.

    Am curious about the monkey though. I dont think we have that here in the Philippines yet.

    Oh and I loovvveee the victorinox bag. Definitely on anyone traveler’s must have list.


  7. Most of all (not mentioning 4HWW of course ;) ) another good idea is to give anything made by yourself – starting from a postcard ending on whatever you are good at…


  8. No 5: Looks like a great bag, but it’s hideously expensive compared with similar luggage. eBags do a similarly specced bag for a mere 69GBP (which gets an 8.9/10 score on durability) whereas the Victorinox one retails at between 260 & 299GBP in the UK.


  9. Start business in Russia
    (as you recomended in your book and at your site, I am writing to your blog)

    Dear Tim!

    Thank you for book and ideas.

    I want to translate all materials of PX Method in Russian and sell it in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other Russian speaking countries. If you are interested in this please send me your demands.

    I am an entrepreneur and businessman. I’ve been managing a branding company BrandAid ( http://blogbrandaid.com – sorry, in Russian) for 7 years. Two offices – Moscow and Kiev (Ukraine), 40 employees. I am author of two books (the last one – http://book.pertsiya.com/english/).

    I want to start my “escape” process and believe that “PX” can be one of the paths to new life :)

    Thank you in advance,
    Valentin Pertsiya


    Hi Valentin,

    I wish I could, but the PX Method is not shipping! The page you saw is just a mock-up for people to use as a model. I need to make that clearer, but I’m sure you’ll find another muse.

    Good luck and thanks for writing!



  10. The slingshot monkey makes the greatest dog toy in the history of the world. There’s just something pleasurable in seeing a little dog bite the little monkey and make it scream.


  11. The Victorinox bag is really cool. My business partner and I bought 2 before we went on our trip to europe. They really really sturdy and have all sorts of pockets and compartments. This is definitely a good investment.


    Jose Castro-Frenzel


  12. An intriguing gift list with something for every taste and every budget. I particularly like the idea of the Griffin Evolve Wireless iPod Dock. I am certainly going to have to be more creative with my gift lists in the future.

    Happy Holidays Everyone!



  13. We don’t celebrate X-mas in Morocco -since we are Muslims-, but there are signs of it everywhere in downtown.
    I found out about the flying monkey on the Internet a few weeks ago, and asked someone in the US to send me a few to gift to my nephews and nieces in our own celebrations, that are for soon as well.

    I wonder who won the weekend planning challenge.

    Merry Christmas and happy new year to everyone in advance.


  14. Thank tim. I went and got my little sister the flying monkey. I also got my dad the Planet Earth DVD set. According to amazon though they won’t be here until mid January so that kinda sucks but whatever.



    Hi James,

    Mid-Jan — yikes! I recently upgraded to Amazon Prime, and the 2-day delivery is well worth it, if you have a few extra dollars around. It might be possible to upgrade before your current order is slated to ship.

    Happy holidays :)