The Salon Gift Guide

Perfect presents for everyone on your holiday list, selected by our editors.

By Salon Staff
November 26, 2007 5:00PM (UTC)
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Salon's writers and editors have handpicked tasteful, sure-to-please holiday gifts for everyone from the pet lover to the book hound, the aesthete to the kiddies, the culture vulture to the outward bound, and they're all available online, just a click away. You'll find splurges, bargains and lots of things in between. And they are all gifts we feel good about recommending to you. We're also offering the service of our Holiday Coupon again this year, for those personal wishes or a big fat IOU. And when you've checked off each and every name, you can turn off your computer, kick back in your easy chair and reach for a festive sparkling holiday beverage. Ho ho ho!


Gifts for the gadget guru

Sonos digital music system
If your special someone likes to rock out -- and if you're loaded -- you'll really find no better trade for your cash than a Sonos music system. The device isn't new, but the concept is so totally alien to how most of us understand music that it's still mainly the domain of early adopters. The Sonos pipes digital music through your house wirelessly. You set up speakers and Sonos adapters in various rooms -- up to 32 zones around your McMansion -- and play the same song, or many different songs, across the whole pad. You control the tunes with a snazzy wireless remote control that, with its full-color screen and scroll wheel, looks and feels like an iPod. The Sonos grabs music from anywhere you've got it -- on your computers, your network drives, your iPods, free Internet radio stations and, best of all, subscription music services like Napster and Rhapsody. We included Sonos on our last gift guide, but in the past year the company has added a fantastic search feature to the device that renders the thing nearly magical: Now you can type in any song you want, anytime, and it's more than likely to be available for your immediate gratification. Have a sudden hankering for Hanson's "MMMBop" or 'Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry"? No longer will desires go unfulfilled.

You can buy a Sonos two-room bundle, with remote, for $999; $1,149 with an included set of two 75-watt speakers. Setting up additional rooms will set you back at least $349 each. Sonos comes with 30-day trials to many major music subscription services; they typically run about $10 a month, and you should get at least one to make the system sing. Check out the Sonos online store for more.


Roomba 500
If you think getting a robot to clean your floors is kind of lazy, I fully agree -- and by the way, could you please stop by my house with your broom? In the summer iRobot released substantially improved models of its popular Roomba robot cleaner, and they're so good they make being lazy OK. The new Roomba 500 vacuums work the same way as the old Roombas: You press start and watch it go, rolling around your pad in a curious zigzag dance in search of dirt. But the latest model packs more sucking power than previous versions, and it's more nimble -- it'll climb up on rigs, navigate speaker and TV wires, and manage never to get stuck under the bed.

The base model, the Roomba 530, costs $299; the Roomba 560, which includes a scheduler and "lighthouses" that guide the robot to other rooms (not very neccessary, I found in my review), is priced at $349; and the Roomba 570, which adds a wireless remote controller to the system, is $399. Get them at iRobot's online store.

iPod touch
Don't buy an iPhone this holiday season. As wonderful as it is, it still lacks fast 3G wireless Internet capabilities, and since the smart money says Apple will add that feature soon, you're best off waiting till you can get it (without 3G, the iPhone's mobile Web access is painfully slow). What you should take a look at instead is Apple's iPod touch. It's like the iPhone without the phone -- actually, it is the iPhone without the phone. The touch has many of the phone's best features -- Wi-Fi networking, the Safari Web browser, Apple's wireless music store, and of course a fantastic music and video player and a stunning wide screen with which to play them. At the same time, it does away with AT&T, the worst thing about its big brother the iPhone. You can't get the anywhere-Internet access on the iPod touch -- but you can access the Web anywhere there's a Wi-Fi network, which for many people is probably good enough. Then next year, get an iPhone.


The iPod touch is $299 for the 8 GB version and $399 for the 16 GB version, available at Apple's online store.

Boston Acoustics Receptor clock radio
A $100 clock radio? What does it do, brew coffee? Nope. But it does offer very good radio reception. Get this for the NPR fan in your life, the loved one whose trysts with "Morning Edition" are inevitably loused up by static. The radio (which actually costs $98.36 on Amazon) has 20 presets, very nice sound quality, a large digital display and a classic look. Your public radio-addled friends will thank you for it.


-- Farhad Manjoo

Gifts for the political junkie

Holiday Gift Coupon: Send a personalized IOU for something special.

Face time with Novak
Your conservative friends will know you care when you spend $595 to give them face time with the devil himself. Twice a year, political columnist Bob Novak, the legendary Prince of Darkness, holds an intimate gathering with 70 paying guests called the Evans-Novak Political Forum. The proceeds go to ... Bob Novak. ("Me," he once answered when asked whom the events were meant to benefit.) Special guests are promised; past cameos have included Harry Reid and Dick Cheney. Spring events are typically in April, the fall version in September. Check here or here for ticket information -- and in the meantime, you can use our handy Holiday Coupon to send an IOU.


LBJ's recordings
There are several famous photos of Lyndon Baines Johnson hovering over, crowding and otherwise violating the personal space of various senators, literally and figuratively bending them to his will. If you actually want to hear the erstwhile Master of the Senate browbeating his former congressional colleagues, it'll only cost you $127.75. LBJ started taping his presidential phone calls the day he became president. In Vol. 4 through 6 of "The Presidential Recordings: Lyndon B. Johnson," the political geek can pay rapt attention as LBJ launches the Great Society. Between Feb. 1, 1964, and May 31, 1964, he started pushing epochal civil rights legislation through Congress and declared a War on Poverty. You can also hear him beginning to express doubt about that other war, in Vietnam.

Sites of scandal
For gift-givers on a budget, consider a cut-rate peek at the dark underbelly of our nation's capital. Scandal Tours offers a guided excursion through the greatest hits of Washington scandals. (Tours run on Saturdays, April 1 through Labor Day; tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and $20 for students. Reservations are required.) Take a gander at '70s classics like the Watergate, or the Tidal Basin where stripper Fanne Foxe and Rep. Wilbur Mills once frolicked, but also check in on the sex scandals of the '80s and the new millennium, with stops at Gary Hart's townhouse and the Union Station restroom where Larry Craig allegedly liked to meet new friends. Washington locals may feel a rush of nostalgia, or something, on visiting the Vista Hotel, site of an infamous crack-smoking session by former Washington Mayor Marion Barry.

Stocking stuffers
Your loved ones will have to wait forever for the real things, but the sugar-coated versions of Impeachmints and Indictmints will arrive in plenty of time for Christmas. They also cost just $3, make your breath fresh and alleviate symptoms of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Impeachmint tins feature a picture of George, while Indictmints, already a golden oldie, sport the smiling mugs of Scooter Libby, Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. Also available: National Embarrassmints. You get a dollar off on an order of any four tins.


Other stocking stuffers include Bush's Last Day keychains, available here for $12.95, along with Bush countdown clocks and calendars.

-- Mark Schone

Gifts for the sports fan

Jim Russell Racing School
I know this is obscenely expensive. Um, $4,000. But whomever you send to Infineon Raceway for this three-day Indy car racing school will be in your debt forever. It's so much fun! Their Mario Andretti fantasy will quickly fade when they find out how difficult it is to steer and brake like the pros. But then it becomes a fantasy again, once they feel themselves floating with confidence around the turns. Go for the Techniques of Racing class. They will need the full three days. By the way, the women who took the class when I did loved it as much as the men.


XM satellite radio
So you're driving across the country, or at least out of Cleveland, and you want to listen to the Indians, but as you drift west, all you get on the trusty AM is the Cubs. And that's just sad. That's why satellite radio is pretty damn great: You can tune in to your home team, like, wherever. You also get college football and basketball games up and down the national playing field. Hockey, anyone? You can even listen to PGA tournaments, hear if Rory Sabbatini finally clobbered Tiger Woods. More than 5,000 live sports broadcasts in all. Plus, for $13 a month (you also have to get a satellite radio; they start at around $20), you get all that other music and news stuff.

Vintage baseball caps
The best thing about shopping on the Cooperstown Ballcap Web site is not just sorting through the hundreds of old major league hats but through those from such defunct leagues as the Japanese-American (Watsonville Apple Giants, 1927), Native American (the Chippewa Redskins, 1928) and Nite-Club (New York Stork Club, 1932). Who knew? The hats are made from wool athletic flannel with horsehide sweatbands and cost a pretty hefty $44 apiece, plus about $6 to ship. Still, you can't put a price on how only a vintage baseball cap can grant you that classic Ty Cobb look of sheer orneriness.

-- Kevin Berger


Gifts for the aesthete

Hand-pulled prints
There is an almost bottomless trove (or so it seems) of art for sale on the Internet, all of which you can get to with a few quick keystrokes. The field of hand-pulled prints is a boon for the collector on a budget, and if you're diligent you can pick up signed pieces that run the gamut from fun goccos and letterpress prints by emerging artists, to well-publicized editions from more established names like Patricia Curtan. Curtan works almost meditatively in the medium of linoleum block printing, producing limited editions that are exquisitely drawn, with layer upon layer of color hand-printed on a 100-year-old 10-by-15 Chandler & Price letterpress. Curtan's work can be seen in the Chez Panisse fruit and vegetable books, published by HarperCollins. Her Web site is a little confusing, making it difficult to link directly to my personal favorite, melons (roll over the word "melons" on that page), a paean to naturally occurring patterns, priced at $250. To order prints, e-mail Patricia Curtan or call the studio at 510-652-3062.

Sleek shakers
In the category of useful, good-looking, timeless design that wears well and is affordable, consider the Humpty Dumpty salt and pepper shakers ($30), winner of the Design Plus award from the German company Philippi. These curve nicely into the palm of your hand, and have a pleasant yet surprising (given the cost) heft to them. Beautifully constructed of brushed stainless steel, the curved bottoms are weighted so they roll almost continuously with a little help, but, unlike their namesake, aren't prone to break after a great fall (mine have not flown apart yet). Misnomer aside, these shakers will engage a table of children and grown-ups alike with their attractive antics.

-- Mignon Khargie


Gifts for the book lover

Holiday Gift Coupon: Send a personalized IOU for something special.

Conversational collections
The insightful interviews with authors both famous and unknown in the Paris Review provide a revealing look at each writer's process and ideas. Last year, the Review published "The Paris Review Interviews" ($10.88), an anthology of some of the magazine's most intriguing conversations, with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Rebecca West, Kurt Vonnegut and Joan Didion. The new Vol. II (also $10.88) boasts William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, among others. For a more contemporary slant, pick up "The World Within" ($13.22), a collection of interviews from literary journal Tin House featuring some inspired pairings: Rick Moody and Lydia Davis, Charles D'Ambrosio and Denis Johnson, and Todd Haynes with Gus Van Sant.

Help others write
Consider giving the gift of mentorship by supporting Girls Write Now, or helping a child in Nepal and Cambodia learn to read and write via Room to Read. PEN America defends writers in danger of being imprisoned for their work. Who knows? Someone helped by one of these organizations may go on to write the book you've been waiting your whole life to read.

-- Eryn Loeb

The scent of a book
As any true bibliophile will tell you, reading isn't just a hobby; it's a lifestyle. If, like Borges, your favorite bookworms imagine heaven to be a library, In the Library ($11-$55), from CB I Hate Perfume, will provide them an anticipatory whiff of Paradise. Blended to evoke old English novels, Russian and Moroccan leather bindings, and a soupçon of wood polish, this scent should appeal to those (male or female) fond of the smell of old books.

Literary napkins
Indulge the more sociable members of your circle with literary napkins ($20) from the New York Public Library. These sophisticated serviettes feature quotations from Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. (Highly recommended: "Work is the curse of the drinking classes.")

Book journals
And for the reader who is also a writer, why not give the gift of autobiography? These blank retro journals ($13) from Ex Libris Anonymous are covered in recycled vintage book covers.

-- Megan Doll

Gifts for the culture vulture

Peter Bjorn and John's "Writer's Block"
For lovers of wistful pop, the quintessential song of the year was "Young Folks" by Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John -- indelibly melodic, subtly clever, this "It" tune sounded as fresh as morning mist bouncing off the fjords. PB and J's "Writer's Block," $12.98, released earlier this year, sounds both charmingly retro and totally contemporary, perfect for both forward-looking and musically nostalgic figures in your life.

Rocking box sets
Not everyone wants to bother with the young folks or catch up with the new Swedish wave. Indulge that classic rock freak with "Oh By the Way," $257.49, the limited edition 16-CD (yes, I said 16-CD) Pink Floyd box set. Or try Led Zeppelin, which has gone all digital, literally -- "The Complete Led Zeppelin," a digital collection of their whole discography, goes on sale this month for $99. Not ready to make that full-on commitment to Zep? "Mothership" offers a more selective best-of with tracks chosen by the band members.

Mini books for music lovers
Everybody has their own little best-of lists in their heads -- sometimes a jarring mix of records beloved for the most intimate and inexplicable reasons. Each miniature book in the 33 1/3 series devotes itself to unraveling the allure of an album, from Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland" to Belle & Sebastian's "If You're Feeling Sinister" to Celine Dion's "Let's Talk About Love." The excerpts crammed into 33 1/3 Greatest Hits Vol. 2, $15.95 (which follows 33 1/3 Greatest Hits Vol. 1, $14.95), present a dizzying array of passions that should send music lovers poring through their own music collections.

-- Joy Press

Film noir classics
If the one you love can't get enough of hard-bitten men who drink their whiskey neat, beautiful molls with hearts of ice, and a general sense that something sinister lurks in the shadows beneath postwar American prosperity -- and, really, who can? -- I've got just the thing. Warner Home Video's "Film Noir Classic Collection" series, already a must-have for any connoisseur of American movies, has now reached its fourth volume ($42.99). I know that sounds like they must be scraping the dregs out of the vaults, but it just ain't so. None of the 10 films in this set, all released between 1948 and 1955, is anything like a recognized classic, which just makes the thrill of discovery more intense (and proves how deep and rich the classic noir period really was). I think my favorites here are "They Live by Night" and its sequel "Side Street," in which Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell play a young married couple swept up into criminal misadventures. But there's a lot more to choose from: Sterling Hayden spearheading an L.A. manhunt in "Crime Wave"; Edward G. Robinson as an ex-D.A. defending scumbags in "Illegal"; two different Robert Mitchum on-the-run flicks ("The Big Steal" and "Where Danger Lives") and much more.

Essential art house
Does your list include a jaded cinema lover who's seen everything? Or an aspiring young filmmaker who thinks history started with Tarantino? In both cases, you can blow their minds wide open with the spectacular box set "Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films" ($764.99). If this doesn't literally contain every important art film released between the 1920s and the 1970s in one package, it comes damn close. Janus released almost all the major touchstone films of Renoir, Bergman, Kurosawa, Fellini and Truffaut, and you'll find them here: "Grand Illusion," "The Seventh Seal," "Rashomon," "La Strada" and "The 400 Blows," to name a few. Those filmmakers only account for 11 of the 50 (that's right, 50!) pictures in this box, and the balance includes any number of less-celebrated delights, from Hitchcock's first take on "The 39 Steps" to Anthony Asquith's 1938 film "Pygmalion" to Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 1943 "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" to Alf Sjöberg's 1951 version of "Miss Julie" to Sergei Eisenstein's rarely seen "Ivan the Terrible: Part II" to "Knife in the Water," made in 1962 by a young Polish director named Roman Polanski. Mind you, at 800 clams or so, this set isn't exactly an impulse purchase on your way out of the Virgin Megastore. Compared to a film-school education or a life-changing love affair on three continents -- and it resembles those things more than it does a box o'discs -- it's a bargain.

-- Andrew O'Hehir

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Gifts for the tasteful child

Endangered animal "adoptions"
Want a way to give kids a gift they'll love and do some good for the world at the same time? The World Wildlife Fund offers "symbolic adoptions" of animals, including many endangered species, from African wild dogs and Amur leopards to white-cheeked gibbons, wild Mongolian horses and zebras. Gifts -- which support the WWF's efforts to prevent habitat loss, poaching and other threats to endangered animals and are (bonus) at least partially tax deductible -- can be selected at various levels: A $25 "adoption" gets you an adoption certificate for and a photo of your chosen animal, as well as free shipping. At a $50 level they'll also throw in a cute plush-toy version of your animal (we're partial to the red- and blue-footed boobies, though it's sweet and fitting that the highly social meerkats come as a pair) and bump you up to free priority-mail shipping. (Or you can get a $50 Gift Adoption Card and let them pick their own animal.) And at $100, you get all that plus a frame for your photo and adoption certificate, a poster-size endangered species world map, and a deluxe-looking WWF gift box. So why not teach the kids on your list the importance of giving -- without denying them the joy of getting?

Fisheye camera
Everyone -- even kids -- needs a change of perspective from time to time. That's where a gift like the Lomographic Society International's Fisheye No. 2 Camera (available for $75 at the MoMA store) comes in. The camera has a 170-degree wide-angle view, a fisheye barrel and a setting for long exposures. There's also a switch to allow for multiple exposures on the same frame, so kids can get creative. It takes regular 35mm film and its body is made of plastic. The lens, however, is glass, so this may not be the right choice for toy-chucking smaller kids. For them you may want to go with the hardier Fisher Price Kid Tough Digital Camera ($54.88 on Amazon). And if they really want a fisheye view of the world, well, you can always buy them an underwater camera ...

Handmade treasures
And if you're looking for something handmade and sweet, browse your way through the children's section on We've been ogling these crocheted cowboy/cowgirl baby booties ($10) and these green polka-dot baby booties ($15). And we love the stuffed toys ($44-$240) Lizette Greco and her family make based on their children's drawings -- and using thrifted and recycled materials. "Our aim is to create artwork that celebrates a child's perspective of the world and will hopefully be passed from generation to generation," Greco writes. You can even commision them to create a stuffed animal based on your child's drawing (prices vary with size and complexity, but start around $400). How's that for an original gift?

-- Amy Reiter

Gifts for the pet lover

SmartCat's Peek-a-Prize Toy Box
If you truly love your kitty, you don't coddle him with fishy treats or tease him with one of those popular toy laser-pointers, which may give him a workout but also fills him with frustration and a blinding rage. No, if you care for Fluffy, you worry about his mental well-being. Can he really be that happy lolling about all day without any mental stimulation or real physical challenge? You could try and re-create Richard Norton's monstrous "Cat Wheel," which teaches cats the virtues of hamsterlike manual labor. But for something less degrading, opt for SmartCat's elegant Peek-a-Prize Toy Box ($29.99). How this holey wooden box conjures its magic is somewhat unclear to me, but drop a favorite ball or treat inside, and my cat becomes mesmerized, alternately batting his paws wildly inside the thing and sitting perfectly still next to it, studying its angles in rapt attention. When he finally maneuvers his prize out of the box, he grabs it in his mouth and parades around the room, chest puffed out with pride. Now that's a happy cat.

-- Kerry Lauerman

Cute canine calendar
Meet Chuckles "SuperMutt" Chuck, fourth occupant of, the Web-famous blog for writer and stay-at-home mom Heather B. Armstrong's "stupid, boring" life. This year's calendar, "Chuckles, the Former Congressman 2008" ($16.99), is the third Armstrong has extracted from her daily record of Chuck as he suffers through random indignities, such as being outfitted in a babushka or having strands of spaghetti draped across his nose. Chuck is a monument to steadfast endurance, sitting for photo after photo in thrall to an off-camera Cheezit, his canine gravitas perfectly counterbalancing Armstrong's live-wire prose. This wryly funny calendar is great for the whimsical dog person in your life -- or for anyone with a good sense of silly.

-- Mignon Khargie

Gifts for the eco-warrior

Wooden clothes drying rack
Help your eco-friend break free from the tyranny of the clothes dryer and dry cleaner with a super-size drying rack. The Mt. Baker model, $38.95, from Abundant Earth, offers 24 feet of drying space, enough room for all your friend's warm sweaters, worn religiously this season to keep that thermostat low. Made from New England Eastern White Pine, much of the wood comes from leftovers from milling, which would otherwise be chipped or burned, generating still more greenhouse gas emissions. That wood comes from sustainably harvested second-growth forests, as certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Program. Your environmentally conscious friend will feel good every time she uses this gift, since the clothes dryer is second only to the refrigerator in home-appliance electricity consumption. If you're feeling really generous, you can offer to come over and help your friend hang laundry on the rack's maiden voyage, too.

Preserve toothbrush subscription
If there's an eco-warrior on your list, who treads oh so lightly on the earth, give the gift of dental hygiene that keeps teeth and the earth healthy. The Preserve toothbrush is made from plastic -- polypropylene, to be precise -- recycled from Stonyfield Farms yogurt cups. When the brush wears out, your eco-friend can send it back to the manufacturer, Recycline, in an included postage-paid envelope, where the plastic and nylon will be ground up and recycled into plastic lumber. Even the packaging is made from recyclable materials. Four Preserve toothbrushes, arriving to your friend's home at the rate of one every three months -- a whole year of healthy teeth! -- will set you back only $13. A deal like that should leave a gleaming smile on your face, too.

-- Katharine Mieszkowski

Gifts for the sensualist

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Sensual gift set
True pleasure-seekers will not be satisfied by a sensual moisturizer or aromatic, oiled massage -- they need choices to fit their ever-changing moods. That is why Kiki De Montparnasse, a high-end boutique of sensualist goods, has gathered together some of its best products for the Personal Beauty gift set. This collection of massage oil, dry and shimmery body oils, and "skindulgent" body crème comes in an elegant black box for $175. It's all the inspiration needed for partnered or solo sensualist pursuits.

Dining in the dark
A private dark dining party will deprive your sensualists of their sense of sight while sending their taste buds and olfactory organs to seventh heaven. Performance artist Dana Salisbury will arrive at their doorstep with blindfolds and a gourmet meal for two on hand, tailored for tame or adventurous palettes. The lucky pair will be blindfolded and fed a contrast of flavors and textures -- for instance, a savory bite of smoked salmon might be followed by the crunch of iceberg lettuce. This private "sensory voyage" can be arranged in New York City for $500 through the Dark Dining Projects Web site. But Salisbury says she's willing travel almost anywhere in the world so long as her expenses are covered. Restaurant-based -- and far more affordable -- dark dining experiences have emerged in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.

-- Tracy Clark-Flory

Gifts for the outdoor adventurer

French press mugs
Sure, it's great to make a gourmet foil-pack stew or assemble a perfect s'more -- but needs come first. This coffee press, which lets you brew coffee right in your mug, is a backpacking classic. Perfect for the camper who needs her caffeine, the solid spill-proof design makes this mug a great addition to any adventurer's kit. (It's available in several styles and colors, priced between $25 and $30.) And if you're feeling extra generous, add a pound of your favorite gourmet, free-trade (pre-ground) beans.

Toasty long underwear/hats
Made from Merino wool, this line of non-synthetic long underwear from Icebreaker (available online here) will keep your friends cozy on the mountain and in killer rapids. And Burton's line of hats and beanies (most around $25) are a hip addition to any winter enthusiast's wardrobe.

Adventure gadgets
Before the super-fit super-adventurer in your life takes off Helicopter skiing, drop the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS system ($219.99) in her stocking. Include an all-terrain POV.1 adventure cam ($849.95) to ensure that when she returns, there will be proof that jumping off that cornice really was beyond radical.

-- Caitlin Shamberg

Gifts for the foodie

Delicious fishes
For the people on your list who prefer their pleasure deferred and their salmon full of Omega-3's, look no further than SeaBear Wild Sockeye Salmon. For $74.99 (plus $9.99 for overnight shipping) the good people at SeaBear will wait patiently until the moment in early summer, 2008, when fat, muscle-bound salmon begin to swim up the ice-cold Copper River in Alaska. These succulent creatures are cut into fillets and delivered fresh overnight. The fish is a stunning, ruddy orange, and tastes ethereal, like crab or lobster, and is best served slow-cooked with a glass of wine, seven sweet months after the promise of it arrived under a Christmas tree or menorah.

-- Rebecca Traister

Fun and yummy popcorn
Amazing, isn't it, how the simplest pleasures are sometimes the hardest to find. Like good popcorn -- who makes it these days? Certainly not your local movie theater, and definitely not your microwave, even if you are using one of Paul Newman's brands. (His blue eyes sucker us in every time, but his popcorn always disappoints.) We're not going to tell you to head back to the 19th century in every respect, but we think you should at least consider going old-fashioned in buying for your favorite movie/food buff, with the Whirley-Pop Theater Gift Set with Stovetop Popcorn Popper ($29.98). It slices, it dices -- actually, it just pops corn. But in a really fun way: You just need to turn the attached crank to keep the popcorn moving as it pops, which will help it to pop evenly and keep from burning, plus work off a fraction of the calories added with the half-pound of butter you should be pouring over the finished product to make it worth the work.

Wrap it in ... bacon?
And why not give your gift a little extra sizzle by wrapping it in bacon-themed gift wrap ($7.95)? Now if only this stuff were scratch-and-sniff ...

-- Alex Koppelman

Salon Staff

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