Use an Apple ad to carry home your Macintoshes! How about a Pepsi ad that holds your six-pack of Diet Coke? Sound too good to be true? A clever die-cut is the secret behind this collapsible, no-stitch bag made from large-format billboards that were once part of Chiat/Day's media buy. It kind of closes the loop for advertising, too: You see an ad for something, you buy it, you curse yourself for being seduced into buying it, but the ad eventually helps you carry it home. Buy through Charles and Marie
Your closet is probably full of perfectly good stuff you're bored with. This online exchange offers a place to swap it for the stuff in someone else's closet that's similarly boring to them...but new to you. Is trading your old clothes for someone else's an inappropriate way to round up holiday presents? Well, maybe. Or maybe it's just a righteous form of regifting. Swap clothes at Thredup
Damn. Manufacturing isn't done yet, but Piggy offers a re-imaginative shift in the form, function, and meaning of the archetypal piggy bank, introducing the notion of charity through an object that is customarily used to save for oneself. This bank comes in two parts—a large bank for personal savings and a smaller one for charitable giving. If you're interested, email piggy [at] materious [dot] com with you name and contact email address and you'll be notified when it's ready.
You may say you "don't read magazines," but how about supporting the journalists, photographers and graphic designers who are slaving away under ever-deteriorating conditions to bring you all the news and information you require to function every day? You can click on the online ads all you like, but the best way to keep the publishing industry afloat is by bulking up its subscription base. So buy a magazine subscription for someone. Better yet, support your own industry and buy a design magazine subscription for someone in your posse.
Instead of giving objects of high design this holiday season, why not enable your loved ones to reproduce them with Autoprogettazione, Enzo Mari's famous handbook of "self design." This book gives instructions for making furniture using standard lumber and a hammer. In addition to being a design classic, it resonates with values that are resurfacing now: sustainability, local production, small-scale living, and making by hand. Buy through Unica Home
If you're going off the grid, our expert tells us this model is great on a number of animals—from deer to elk to musk ox. Comfortable, with a good blade shape and easy to carry, the alligator skin patterned thermoplastic helps the knife "perform to its fullest whether the conditions are wet or dry."
This construction play toy is showing up everywhere, but we know that designers have a special relationship to the thing. Watching the video demo is positively hypnotic, plus, dudes don't get any more righteous than R. Buckminster Fuller.
As if we weren't sufficiently emphatic about this book since it debuted (what with our interview and incessant in-person plugging), this is yet another plea to buy it, read it, and follow it. Honest, it's absolute lexicon. Buy through Amazon
It's nice to support a cause, but getting a one-of-a-kind drawing of a robot or monster along the way is even better. Illustrator Joe Alterio has rounded up an all-star cast of artists who will trade original work in exchange for a donation that supports water.org (or, in the future, other causes). You submit a few words to inspire the creators, they make an awesome picture of a robot or a monster just for you (or your lucky giftee), and a good cause reaps financial benefits. Buy through Robots and Monsters
Nothing beats a be-ribboned jar full of homemade preserves, so take the plunge (with a jar lifter, natch) and get yourself canning over the holidays. Keep some for yourself, and gift the others to your friends and family. Yum. Buy through Amazon
Design Revolution collects over 100 products to inspirefrom the no-tech to the high-techeach with a brief write up, links, and some great photography. If you're a teacher, this will work wonders; if you're a coffee table, you'll wanna support it. (Read Core77's interview with Emily here.) Buy through Amazon
Thinking about getting a haircut? Put your clippings to good use by donating them to Locks of Love. If you don't have the required 10 inches of hair (it can even have been colored!), you can donate some cash instead.
This is perhaps the best moisturizer on the planet, and profits from this limited edition bottle will benefit RxArt. By stocking up for your family and friends, you'll help produce installations in hospital settings that relieve stress and anxiety through contemporary art. Buy through Kiehl's
When you're done proving your hipster cred on that fixie, turn it into something you can fetch the groceries with. Detaches for use as a shopping basket, side-stepping "Paper or Plastic?" once and for all. Buy through REI
This book explores a huge range of local food initiatives for rebuilding a diverse, resilient local food with community gardens, farmers' markets, Community Supported Agriculture schemes and projects in schools. Drawing on the practical experience of Transition Initiatives and other community projects around the world, Local Food demonstrates the power of working collaboratively. In today's culture of supermarkets and food miles, an explosion of activity at the community level is urgently needed. This book is the ideal place to start. Buy through Amazon
Know someone with cute little Miniature Pinschers (Minpins) or other small dogs with pinky-sized poops? Then make them a Minpin Poop Compost Bin using this illustrated guide. Don't let dog poop go to the landfill, when their poop can help your garden grow. Or better yet, gift wrap your compost end-product for holiday celebrations: it's a gift that makes more gifts. Instructions on Boing Boing
Dentists recommend that you change your toothbrush every three months, and with Preserve's yearly subscription, they've got you covered by sending you a fresh unit four times a year. Plus, you gotta love the tagline "Powered by yogurt cups™". Subscribe through Preserve
Catch more than good cheer at the holiday party? If so, your doctor's first piece of advice was probably "notify all your partners." Do it the Web 2.0 way with an InSPOT partner notification e-card. You'll dodge an awkward phone call, and InSPOT cards provide resources for your previous partners to find local clinics. Send your e-card
Want to ditch that guzzler? Even vaguely considering it? This pair of beautifully written texts covers all the angles. In addition to revolutionizing pop music in the early 80s, David Byrne has spent the last 20+ years riding his bike through New York City and dozens of other cities, and Bicycle Diaries, his recently published book, is crammed with graceful odes to the joy and sensibility of urban cycling.
Once inspired, move on to Chris Balish's step-by-step instruction manual for living a car-free life, How to Live Well Without Owning a Car. The book includes some convincing statistics about the true costs of auto ownership and tips on getting just about everything done sans combustion engine...from commuting to shopping to dating.
Adopting a highway is like hiring a cleaning lady for our shared thoroughfares. For not that much money, you can give your friend, family member, organization or company all the credit for funding the maintenance of a stretch of highway, to be announced by road sign.
Woodworkers often have a Shop-Vac hose connected to the tool, but it's laborious to turn the vac on and off for each cut. (It's also noisily impracticaland electricity wastingto leave the vac on the whole time.) With the iVac Switch, you plug your vacuum into the device along with the power tool you're using (circ saw, router, jigsaw, etc), and as soon as you turn the tool on, the switch automatically triggers the vac, then turns it off when you stop cutting. Such a time- and energy-saver, you'll wonder how you got along without it. Buy through iVac
We know the reusable fold-up bag category is pretty tired by now, but our all-time favorite has always been Flip & Tumble's 24-7 Reusable Shopping bag, beautifully tucking into itself to make a ball with no extra envelopes or pouches. Now the company has just released their Produce Bags, a set of 5 cold-washable polyester bags that'll help you avoid those endless polybags used in the produce department. They have color-coded tags on them (if you're fussy about keeping vegetables in one color, fruits in another!), and they're transparent enough for the check-out clerk to read through to the produce label number. Buy from Branch
Handmade in Thailand, these eco-friendly paper products are 100% recycled, odorless and, dare we say, quite lovely for a piece of a poo. Choose from a reusable note box filled with 70 slips of paper, or a 20-page journal. Buy through Uncommon Goods
We love Debbie Millman's musings on her radio program "Design Matters," and soon it will reappear as a TV show. Until then, we'll be passing along these gorgeous illustrated essays on Millman's designed life. Each story is rendered in a different medium and features (hilarious) insights into Millman's brand-obsessive personality, from loving her Levi's to the packaging of Goody barrettes, all illustrated by Debbie herself. A truly life-affirming gift. Buy through Amazon
Made from 100% curbside-collected recycled milk jugs (fair bit of irony, or poetry, in there), this toy truck has no metal axles and comes in 100% recyclable packaging. No phthalates or BPA either, but you probably figured that. And there's a recycle truck too!
Alissa Walker, Rob Walker, John Thackara, Glen Jackson Taylor, Lisa Smith, Bethany Shorb, Emily Pilloton, Rain Noe, Jen van der Meer, Lunchbreath, Eric Ludlum, Jessica Helfand, Bill Hanff, FueledByCoffee, Allan Chochinov, Valerie Casey, Victoria Brown, Emilie Baltz, and Carl Alviani. Midi files courtesy of 'home musician', snow courtesy of 'artie'.