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.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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43 Replies to “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. Have to say, not a big fan of that stupid monkey. I’ve already been spammed about 6 times by that dang company. I think I might share #10 with a few others for xmas though. =)

  5. 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!


  6. Great picks, Tim. We actually shot one of those monkeys around the office for a few days while reviewing holiday gift guide merch.

  7. 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!!!!!!! : )

  8. 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.

  9. Nice list – I’m pointing my family to it 🙂

    BTW, Audacity (free) has a ‘change speed’ function that speeds up the audio without the chipmunk effect.

  10. 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…

  11. 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.

  12. 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!


  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. I agree, the 4HWW books makes a great gift. We were just talking about it on my forum and reminded me that I needed to order a few as gifts.

  16. 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!


  17. 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.

  18. 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 🙂


  19. Hey Tim,

    Great fun post. I know your site is devoted to experiments in lifestyle design…and its great. You mention that you love traveling…especially to Buenos Aires. Do you ever invest in real estate into your investment mix? Like a cool pad in BA or in Bangkok? I was just curious to see if you still do the short term rental thing while there or if you may have an apartment of your own. Maybe too personal…just that I would try anyway! Thanks for doing what you are doing 🙂


    Hi Scott,

    I’ve been tempted many times, but I have not bought anything overseas. When I run the numbers, it just makes more financial sense to rent, and — as much as people think I’m a risk-taker — I don’t like investing on speculation. Unless I have an information advantage, I believe in efficient markets. Soooo… I do have real estate in CA and NY, but not overseas.

    Good question!


  20. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for the Christmas gift ideas, I just bought some items from amazon and am getting some of your books as gifts. I am in the middle of deciding whether to move to NYC or California, in your experience which do you think would make the most sense for an entrepreneur?



  21. Hey Tim,

    You never cease to amuse… nice list!

    #4 – I looked on Amazon for Michael Thomas course in Japanese, but I guess his method has not expanded to that yet. I currently have Pimsleur’s Japanese course for beginners, but always looking for the best way.


  22. I gotta add my praise for the Bumble Bars #2 – I’ve loved them since they first came on the market. My son loves them too (he’s just past 1.5 years old, so getting him hooked on “healthy” candy bars is wonderful). Though, for those with nut allergies, this wouldn’t suffice.

    As for the Lara Bars – I agree, they get sticky, the only cure so far is to drink water after consuming.



  23. Tim,

    #10 may be a shameless plug, but it really is a great gift–one of the best gifts I bought myself this year. Your focus on the 80/20 principle and only working on what matters from start to stop without distraction have been among the ideas that most impacted me this year.

    I read the 4-Hour Workweek at least twice, and often skim it when I feel I’m losing direction in my goals or wasting too much time. It’s a good refresher to focus on what really achieves results with intense focus and let the rest slide–I constantly need that reminder. Great book.

    Merry Christmas,


  24. Hi Tim,

    Your geek present from popular science made me laugh! But It sounds really good actually, I hope Santa brings me one too.


  25. Hi Jose,

    My quick answer (See my next blog post as well)? I like CA more than NY, but I still LOVE NYC in small doses. Otherwise it turns me into Woody Allen, which isn’t my idea of fun 😉


  26. I played with a slingshot cow last weekend, I loved it! Your book was the best ones I have read all year. Read it twice, in fact. Thanks for writing it.

  27. Hey, has anyone used the Victorinox bag as a carry-on? I assume Tim doesn’t check luggage, but 24″ seems bigger than the max carry-on size for some airlines.


    – Karl

  28. Everyone loved the gifts,

    Including myself, I got myself like 3 or 4 items.

    Looking forward to Christmas List 2008.

    Pura Vida,

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

  29. Hi Tim

    I read your book.It was great.I was already having that lifestyle 🙂 (working a few hrs a week and travelling all around the world)

    Now I have to do something major in my life.I have a new project that has the potential to carry me whereever I want.The problem is it has to start webbased and I am a total dummy in webmarketing etc but I looked through http://www.marketingexperiments.com to get a starting help ..Oh boy, they /you(I dont know who is in there) charge a lot of money and I am absolutely no new york times or reuters.I am just a beginner who likes to use adwords or create great traffic etc without being screwed by costs.

    Now I am not even sure if you d ever reply to this when you re playing with spiders in Uruguay but I need your help.I hardly have anything to offer in return in traditional money wise .I meanI assume what I can pay would be trivial for you …

    I am a turkish female, 33, living in LA at the moment and has to work out this medical tourism business for Turkey. It’s my passion to help these uninsured americans suffering from joint pains and cant afford to have surgery here(I personally suffer a bit from aching knees )So I have a great niche marketing project .All the others try to do all operations in a lot of different countries.Anyway this is a very rewarding but hard work .I just need to optimize web skills (which I currently have none )which would help me to make a good start.

    What can you suggest me to do ?Like I said my budget is pretty limited for the time being but if my website starts off well the budget will not be a problem in the coming 12 months.

    I d be extremely grateful if you can refer me to people that can help me to start marketing my website(someone is already making the actual site now ) or if you are interested in the subject yourself (that d be the big thing in the coming ten years outsourcing medical care globally)you can join in too.

    Anyhow I already wrote too much….with the hope that you will actually read this mail and respond …have safe travels back home …..fazilet

  30. Hey Tim, LOVED the book, it’s my new bible. From the few tidbits of the PX method included in the 4HWW, my reading has vastly improved. How can I get my hands on a copy of the program?

  31. When I was still in the military and deployed in Iraq, we got one of those monkey things in a care package and had so much fun flicking it at each other in the shop. It fell in nasty spills and sand, it went missing for a while and showed up disgusting and stinky. It got sooo nasty and smelly, it was that much better to see someone slammed with it, (unless it was you!). And the eee eee monkey sound followed by an Ahhhh F****. hehe Gooood times. Makes me want to buy another one!!

  32. Having used Victorinox knives over the years, the bag didnt surprise me in the least. I’ve never seen a bad product from them, strange maybe, but never bad.

    And that book you mentioned, yeah it’s alright…….jk

  33. Can’t wait to try the Bumble Bars, I also like Lara. Planet Earth is hard to beat, I received it as a present and loved it!!!. Your lifestyle sounds intriguing, might have to check it out. Sound like it will keep you young as an added bonus. A fun list, thanks.

  34. Thoughts?

    Here’s Another one: Get them a LoveAlbum: Crowd-source heartfelt letters & photos from someone you love’s family and friends via YouSpreadLove.com and give that special someone “A Beautiful Book of Love & Appreciation” that they’ll treasure forever.

  35. I gotta admit that this is a pretty sweet list of gift ideas. My favorite would have to be a subscription to Audible.com. My friend that I’m searching for prefers things like rubber band guns. I’m still not sure what to get him but this has given me an idea.