A useful gift in cute clothing
November 9, 2022 3:58 PM   Subscribe

I think I've cracked the code for my office White Elephant, coming up in a month: people really love a useful household item that is much, much more adorable than the version of that item they already own. In particular they like when that item is made to look like something cute (vs. just decorated cutely). How should I dominate the game this year?

Popular gifts last year included snail-shaped soap dispensers and a Loch Ness Monster-shaped tea infuser. (I don't think any of my coworkers are Mefites but if those sound familiar to you please stop reading to avoid spoilers.) Under consideration: a set of measuring spoons that looks like a potted cactus, mouse-shaped cheese knives, bat-shaped wine opener. What else? There's a particular love in the office for cryptids and trash animals (like possums). We have overlapping but occasionally wildly divergent pop culture tastes so I'd rather stick with things everyone enjoys like plants, animals, and monsters. The official limit is $20 but for purposes of this question I'd go to $35 or so, especially since it would be a nice bonus if the gift was decent quality.
posted by babelfish to Shopping (36 answers total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
I love having a pair of Toucan shears on my fridge. Unfortunately the eyes fall off after a year or two.
posted by matildaben at 4:00 PM on November 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ototo is the motherlode for this sort of thing!
posted by corvine at 4:06 PM on November 9, 2022 [20 favorites]

I ordered these fish designed measuring spoons for my office gift exchange in 2020 - cost is right on target at $18.61. Here are some more from the same company.
posted by metahawk at 4:09 PM on November 9, 2022

Dino-shaped ladle!
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:09 PM on November 9, 2022 [7 favorites]

I love my cow sponge holder because I need all the reasons to smile I can think of when I’m doing dishes. if your preference is to buy in person/local you can get it, or a bunch of other animal choices, at the Kitchen Kapers location in Center City.
posted by ActionPopulated at 4:12 PM on November 9, 2022

Nthing Ototo—my household is OBSESSED with this funnel, which is cute and also really well designed and works great!
posted by branca at 4:18 PM on November 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Ravioli spoon rest. Check out Fred—it’s great for this stuff.
posted by dianeF at 4:19 PM on November 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

There are also Loch Ness Ladles if you'd like to continue the theme.
posted by hydra77 at 4:34 PM on November 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Cryptid drinking glasses?
posted by gingerbeer at 4:52 PM on November 9, 2022

Angry Microwave Cleaner Lady?
posted by atomicstone at 5:04 PM on November 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Maybe this is a bit more highbrow than you're seeking, but we have one of these cast iron crow bottle openers and it always makes me smile when I see it on our windowsill.
posted by DrGail at 5:10 PM on November 9, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I love my hedgehog tape dispenser
posted by Mchelly at 5:37 PM on November 9, 2022 [5 favorites]

Also Nthing Otato. We have this monster strainer and it is the best thing ever - It’s a colander! It’s a hat!
posted by Mchelly at 5:40 PM on November 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

The squirrel rice paddle is the perfect fusion of form and function - the feet hold the paddle off the counter even.

Just in case the price ever drops on a holiday, the ultimate answer would be the Hello Kitty Toaster. I have an older, rounder version and it is a fantastic appliance that just happens to leave Hello Kitty's face as an inverse imprint on every slice.
posted by past unusual at 6:42 PM on November 9, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You can buy things like the toucan shears directly from Kikkerland!
posted by wintersweet at 6:47 PM on November 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Tricerataco holders
posted by LizardBreath at 7:09 PM on November 9, 2022

True makes corkscrews in animal shapes. We have the fox.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:16 PM on November 9, 2022

Best answer: Nth Ototo, and also, the Corkatoo. (Amazon link, but you can find it elsewhere).
posted by sillysally at 7:22 PM on November 9, 2022

Metal bird scissors
posted by nouvelle-personne at 9:48 PM on November 9, 2022

posted by snaw at 2:11 AM on November 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Leaf-shaped serving spoon.
posted by terretu at 2:15 AM on November 10, 2022

Ototo, absolutely. I can't believe nobody has yet highlighted their Spaghetti Monster range.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:33 AM on November 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Pylones has some pretty adorable kitchen things in your price range.
posted by pangolin party at 3:48 AM on November 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Calamityware has nice dishes; whenever I buy stuff through them I add on little gift exchange things as long as I’m ordering.
posted by tilde at 5:34 AM on November 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

You probably don't need a utility knife that looks like a whale, but it'll look cute in your kitchen.
posted by box at 5:41 AM on November 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

I came in to suggest the Cockatoo shaped wine opener linked above, but see it with the foil cutter out for full effect.
posted by gueneverey at 5:54 AM on November 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

I have the vampire garlic crusher; it's hella cute.
posted by theora55 at 5:55 AM on November 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Bird-shaped dish sponges, complete with a little stick that you suction-cup to the inside of your sink so they can "perch" and dry out. (I saw this in a gift shop a year ago and was THISCLOSE to getting them.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:22 AM on November 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

I like the cat shaped kitchen sink scrub thing. There are other fun shaped scrubbies on the jetz-scrub website...
posted by mightshould at 10:14 AM on November 10, 2022

egg whisk

another egg whisk
posted by ewok_academy at 10:43 AM on November 10, 2022

Sheep or reindeer shaped coasters. (Looks like the reindeer also come with alternate ears that make them into sheep, but they're more reindeer-y to me with the snowflake coasters...)

Linking to AliExpress even though I'm sure they've yoinked the design off somewhere else, because I couldn't trace the original source of the design, alas. Searching only found me resellers of the AliExpress version.
posted by sailoreagle at 11:53 AM on November 10, 2022

I own this brass chameleon tape measure, which I think is seriously the cutest thing ever. I will say that it was originally made by coppertist.wu which is where I got it, and which has other cool , but they don't seem to make it anymore, and so the Amazon ones are knockoffs of unknown quality. But it is an awesome tape measure.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 3:17 PM on November 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Not quite the same area, but I love these rainbow pencils and always rather wanted the planet push pins (though they’re over budget).

This pirate corkscrew remains one of my favourite kitchen gadgets, and there are an awful lot of other cool things on the Suck UK site.
posted by breakfast burrito at 3:38 PM on November 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

I have and love this nesting set of Matryoshka measuring cups, which are handy as a space-saver and something you can leave out on a shelf to access easily.
posted by taz at 5:10 AM on November 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

Seconding stuff made by Fred; their items are practical, well-made, and whimsical.

(By the way, I also love their matryoshka measuring cups.)
posted by May Kasahara at 6:55 AM on November 14, 2022

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