$50 Shopping Spree for MEEEE!
December 29, 2009 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Help me spend my Christmas money! I want to know what item or gadget has changed your life for the better. What am I missing that once I have I won't want to live without. For around $50.

Along the same lines as this question and this question. I have $70 in Christmas money and I want to get something for myself. I want something that once I have it I will wonder how I ever lived without it. I am thinking something around $50 so that I can afford shipping costs. I don't want a service I want an actual item, so please don't tell me to go get a massage.

I like to cook, but I have a lot of kitchen gadgets and I have Celiac Disease. I don't drink, so nothing alcohol related. Coffee stuff is out, but I do enjoy herbal teas. I am a self taught artist so art related stuff is helpful. I'm not into music, but I love watching movies. I don't get to travel much, so something I can enjoy at home is what I'm looking for. I live in Northern Utah, it is cold right now but we are pretty outdoorsy in the summertime. I am sensitive to smells, and I don't wear perfume so bath and body stuff won't be helpful either. Plus, I'd really rather not have something consumable since I probably won't be able to replace it.

I have depression and anxiety issues and three kids, so anything that can help me relax would be good too.

I love a lot of the stuff from Manufactum, but I can't order from them since I'm in the U.S. I also like Etsy, but I haven't found just the right thing.

I know there is a ton of really great things out there that I just don't know about. Please enlighten me!
posted by TooFewShoes to Shopping (32 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
The OXO Mandoline is available at cheaper-than-list in most places.
posted by rhizome at 5:49 PM on December 29, 2009

Do you have an electric toothbrush?
posted by hortense at 5:49 PM on December 29, 2009

Best answer: You'd be stunned by how awesome an awesome flashlight is. If you get the tiny micro one and a mini-leatherman and hook them to your keychain you'll be amazed how many times a day your life gets easier.

Finding crap in your handbag? Check.

Opening stuff from Amazon? Check.

Disabling flashing alert to fend off muggers? Check.

Trust me. Add those two things to your keychain, your life is suddenly easier. You have a pair of scissors on your at all times, fer Chrissake. A nail file. Tweezers for stray whatever.

I could go on, but trust me on this.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:53 PM on December 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: It's a bit out of your pricerange but I would highly recommend a Wikireader. It's a mobile Wikipedia. The money also supports a respectable independent company, if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by saxamo at 5:57 PM on December 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I have a mandoline and an electric toothbrush.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:59 PM on December 29, 2009

Best answer: Do you really have toofewshoes? Because I was going to recommend Superfeet. Innersoles are boring, I know, but they really make life easier.
posted by roger ackroyd at 5:59 PM on December 29, 2009

Thermapen instant read kitchen thermometer - absolutely fantastic - very fast and very accurate. Makes testing for doneness SO much easier. People using my kitchen during holidays have been jealous. Check around for sales and/or free shipping to get it down into your price range.
posted by metahawk at 6:03 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The Wikireader is along the lines of what I'm looking for. Something that I've never even considered before.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:03 PM on December 29, 2009

You may have this.. but I got the Black and Decker Chopper for a present.

You might like an olive wood spoon, a really nice quality sauteƩ pan.

If you're at all crafty (even with a microwave), you can get a helluva lot of stuff from this place to make your own natural aromatherapy products, including shea butter and essential oils, jars with caps and spray bottles (to mix essential oils with say, witch hazel). Just melt a bit of beeswax and shea butter with some liquid oil like almond or olive, splat a bit on waxed paper to test the consistency, then add your desired relaxing EO to the mix and pour in a jar. Instant solid perfume or elbow/heel softening salve. Or lip balm.

You get a spa treatment without the spa, smell others up in your household (in the spirit of experimenting, "just try this"), and everyone is soft and relaxed.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:05 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: we have his and hers slankets in our house and we love them. they are so much nicer than those stupid snuggies. and you can find them pretty cheaply online.
posted by lannanh at 6:11 PM on December 29, 2009

Best answer: This may not be what you had in mind - but I had some Christmas money and went to Anna's Linens and bought myself a whole new comforter set complete with decorative pillows and new matching curtains for about $90. It completely changed the look of my bedroom and I can't help but smile when I walk by. It was by far the cheapest yet most altering thing I've done to my house.
posted by tryniti at 6:12 PM on December 29, 2009

Going along with the kitchen gadget thing, what about a pressure cooker? they're great for quick beans and meals. I also really love my rice cooker - it cooks all the GF grains and also has a steaming basket so you can do a whole meal at once.
posted by smalls at 6:14 PM on December 29, 2009

You can get a decent pocket knife for that. Once you're used to carrying one around, you'll never want to be without one again.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:16 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Levenger Pocket Briefcase is twenty different kinds of awesome. Fits in the coat pocket, is practical, and feels like a million bucks.
posted by jbickers at 6:17 PM on December 29, 2009

Oh, wait. Do you have a tea press already? I find the act of pressing and drinking my to be somehow relaxing.
posted by smalls at 6:18 PM on December 29, 2009

Yoga lessons.
posted by b33j at 6:20 PM on December 29, 2009

If you don't have one already, this Kitchenaid immersion blender is fantastically useful. Plus, if you order through Amazon, you can get free shipping.

This paring knife is also awesome - I can't believe I ever peeled vegetables with one of those easily-dulled parers. It's terrifically sharp, so be careful with the kids.

Non-kitchen, I replaced my office chair with a Stayball and it's been both fun and core strengthening. It's very comfortable and there are a range of sizes (that's the size I have and I'm 5'3").

Nthing the nice pocketknife recommendations as well. It's amazing how many things need slicing when you have a good pocketknife!
posted by bookdragoness at 6:39 PM on December 29, 2009

Response by poster: I like the Slanket idea, and I think I'll do a little research into pressure cookers. Is there a specific brand of pocket knife I should look at? Are Swiss Army and Leatherman the best?
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:04 PM on December 29, 2009

Best answer: I carry a Leatherman Squirt S4 on my keychain and use it every day. Even gave them out as groomsman gifts (personalized). They come in several colors.

There's a similar Leatherman that is about the same size but you have to open them to get to any tools. The squirt has all the blades on the outside for quicker access. You only open them when you need scissors.

(There's a P4 too - has pliers instead of scissors).

About $30 on Amazon, $40 at REI.
posted by kdern at 7:10 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you have a programmable thermostat?
posted by thomas j wise at 7:21 PM on December 29, 2009

What about a touch lamp? I bought that one on a whim when I needed a last minute nightstand light, and I can't believe how much I love it. Construction-wise it could be a bit better, but if I spent a bit more money, that wouldn't be an issue. Being able to brighten, dim, and turn off a light with a quick, thoughtless touch has been incredibly convenient.
posted by katemcd at 7:27 PM on December 29, 2009

I love my electric steamer.

I also love my nonstick electric griddle. Makes pancakes incredibly simple.

It's a little above your price range, but I also love our Roku.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:31 PM on December 29, 2009

Best answer: What about pocket knives, (I use a Swiss Army knife almost every day, but I am going to look at Leatherman stuff after I pay some Christmas bills) rice cookers, spiffy pens, spiffier pens, really serious pens, hipster notebooks, warm silk clothing, or all kinds of art supplies?

I understand you don't drink coffee, but, for everyone else who is reading this thread, I'll mention that I use a French press to make coffee just about every day.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:39 PM on December 29, 2009

Response by poster: I don't think I was clear enough, I have pretty much every kitchen gadget (minus the pressure cooker.) If it isn't super new or totally obscure I probably have it.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:10 PM on December 29, 2009

Roku isn't for the kitchen, just so you know.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:33 PM on December 29, 2009

I bought this awesome watch from thinkgeek.com for my SO's Christmas gift. It has 8GB of memory and plays brilliantly.
posted by honey-barbara at 8:44 PM on December 29, 2009

I was never a big believer in the redemptive power of household organization, but as someone with limited space and several collections of small items to wrangle, I was shocked at how much difference a couple of these have made. I can now easily find all my jewelry and replacement buttons! Mr. Danaos can find his collar stays, innumerable pen refills, and other mysterious male paraphernalia! These have probably eliminated at least one minor crisis a day for us, and we can see the tops of our dressers. Sometimes, anyway.
posted by timeo danaos at 8:50 PM on December 29, 2009

Response by poster: The Roku is also along the lines of what I'm looking for. (I did know that it isn't a kitchen gadget.)

That watch is very cool, but way out of my price range.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:50 PM on December 29, 2009

Best answer: When I have been in your situation, I have gotten the best results by tucking the money away for the moment.

Sounds boring, I know! But trust me, within a few weeks you will suddenly encounter something in that price range that you MUST HAVE IMMEDIATELY. And lo, you can snap it up without a second thought!

This also gives you a great excuse for window-shopping. Which is kind of what this thread is about, obviously! Just saying, don't pressure yourself to buy something right away.

My list of life-changing items, the first things I'd re-buy if I lost everything in a fire:

1. Digital camera (any, really - I bought mine used off eBay for $70 four years ago).

2. Garlic press (I weep to think of all the time I wasted, mincing garlic by hand!)

3. iPod (I listen to podcasts while on long drives or knitting)

4. Lamy Safari with ink cartridge adapter ($25 fountain pen; adapter lets me use whatever ink I like)
posted by ErikaB at 9:28 PM on December 29, 2009

2nding pressure cooker. I was skeptical but we have ended up using ours (which my inlaws got for us last Christmas) a TON. We are lazy cooks and it kind of changed the way we eat by making it possible to make long-cooking stews and soups in a very short time.
posted by crinklebat at 11:22 PM on December 29, 2009

Hand Blender!! I have one and I love love love it. I also love soup, so there is most likely a correlation between the two.

Also, an apple corer/peeler is a great old-timey kitchen tool that is totally rad. It removes the peel in one long skinny peel while coring your apple.
posted by mlo at 6:57 AM on December 30, 2009

A new bra! It makes such a huge difference if you have any chest to speak of.
posted by Jane Austen at 2:47 PM on November 30, 2010

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