November 29, 2011

Gift-Buying Input Exchange

I have a couple of things I want to buy as gifts for other people, but it's things I have no expertise in. I keep going to the store, looking despondently at the choices, and thinking, "I don't even KNOW what to choose! If only I knew someone who was an expert at this!"

...Or as Paul often says: "If only we had access to some sort of global information network."

Here's what I was thinking: I will tell you the things I'm looking for (I'm sure there are lots, but I can only think of two of them off the top of my head), and if you know something about those things, perhaps you can advise me. If you instead have your OWN things you want to buy as gifts for other people but don't know which one to choose, you can leave that in the comments section, and then another commenter might be able to advise YOU!

I don't know if this will work, now that I think about it a little more. But I suggest we go with the spontaneity and then if it doesn't work, it doesn't work, and that would be fine too.

SO. I will go first. Here are the two things I want to buy as gifts, but I don't know what would be good.

1. Paul wants measuring cups, and his only requirement is that they "not suck." He's sick of the pretty ones I buy, which he claims are sucky because the handles keep breaking off. Well, whatever, if he's going to be PICKY about it. I'd like to get him some strong, unbreakable, MANLY measuring cups, but I don't know which those would be. The metal ones? A particular brand of plastic? So that's what I want from you, if you know something about it: Which strong, not-suck measuring cups should I buy Paul?

2. Rob wants a book that will teach him how to draw manga/anime, and he wants sketching pencils and colored pencils. I want to find him a book that emphasizes how to draw the non-porny manga/anime, and I want pencils that are more artist-quality than Crayola, but not the kind that cost $30 for six of them: we are at this stage of the game talking about a 12-year-old boy drawing cartoons in his math notebook.

********

Leave your suggestions in the comments, or leave a comment about your own shopping decisions and maybe someone else here will know ALL ABOUT that kind of item and can point you to just the right thing! And maybe THEY will in turn be looking for input on something YOU know all about! Oh, this could be so exciting!

101 comments:

Lisa @ Trapped In North Jersey said...

I can't speak to their manliness, but after years of searching, I bought a $4 set of measuring cups at Target, the no-name brand ones, because the measure was MOLDED INTO the plastic, and thus would NEVER rub off and make me guess if it were a 1/4 cup or a 1/3 cup. This, to me, makes them the best "don't suck" measuring cups.

Laura K. said...

Williams Sonoma has a house brand set of measuring cups/spoons that are very heavy duty and have lasted me five years and through four moves and have nary a scratch. They also have a VERY nice set of All Clad steel measuring cups, if you are inclined to spend that much.

Additionally, they have a Manga Drawing book set that comes with some nice pencils and other drawing accessories that I see from time to time at Michael's or Hobby Lobby. Someone got it for my sister years ago and she still uses it.

Alisonsd said...

I love pampered chef's measure up or whatever it is. I've had mine for years!

Anonymous said...

I love Tupperware's measuring cups. They last forever (that's the only thing that my mom likes of Tupperware) and they come in '3/4' cup and '2/3' cups which are surprisingly useful.

Today Wendy said...

Measuring cups:
I like these ones by Tupperware:
http://order.tupperware.com/pls/htprod_www/tup_show_item.show_item_detail?fv_item_category_code=5000HUS&fv_item_number=P10068227000

They nest together nicely, each cup is one solid piece (I've never had a handle break off), and they've got pouring spouts on either side. Although I'm a bit puzzled, because my set has 6 cups (1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 1cup), but the description says "Includes 1/3, 2/3 and 1-cup capacities"...although higher up it says you get 6...are 1/3 & 2/3 not generally included in sets of measuring cups?

I also have a set of these measuring spoons...and am seriously tempted to buy another (our 1/2 tsp has gone missing).

Angie said...

I don't know how about the how to draw part of the question, but Prismacolor makes great colored pencils. You can buy the scholar version if you want to go a bit cheaper, but the regular ones aren't that super expensive, either.

Jillian said...

Okay, I have asked for pretty measuring cups for Christmas, so I feel unqualified to answer that one, but I majored in drawing in college and was poor at the time, so I couldn't afford the fancy pencils. You know what worked super well for me? Graphite "sticks" that you can get cheap in Amazon (less than $5 for 3). They feel super artsy and serious because they don't have any wood part and they make your hand messy. Also you can get a lot of different values out of them, so they're actually great to use. Those and one of those gummy erasers would be a great gift, I think.

Jenni said...

I've had these Vibe collapsable measuring cups for 2 or 3 years. They are durable and space savers (I have a small kitchen), and I really love them.
http://www.target.com/p/Vibe-Collapsible-Measuring-Cup-Set/-/A-10483696

Lindsey said...

I am slightly obsessed with the All-Clad stainless steel measuring cups. They have a nice weight to them, they are a nice size/design for scooping out of canisters, AND what makes me love them the most is that they have the markings for smaller measurements on the inside. So for example, if you've used the 1 cup measure and then need 1/2 cup of something else, you don't have to get a second cup dirty. They are a little pricey for measuring cups, but since they get used just about every day, the cost per use is really very low. Maybe "slightly obsessed" is an understatement...

Suzanne said...

I wanted to ditto what Lisa said above about getting measuring cups with the measures MOLDED INTO THE HANDLE because even thought I have extremely nice pink ones, the numbers have rubbed off and it makes me ragey.

Jenni said...

Collapsible, duh.

Slauditory said...

I am fond of my dollar store plastic measuring cups with the sizes molded into the plastic. Also, I recently got a metal set at Marshalls. (I have three sets.) I'd check there or TJ Maxx!

Jenni said...

Oh, and they are sold in stores, even though the link says they are not.

Kelsey said...

Prismacolor colored pencils (I JUST looked) are good quality. Right now 16.99 for 24 on Amazon.com, marked down from almost $40. Don't know about the how-to-draw books...

I have a set of metal kitchen aid measuring cups that I really like, I've had them 3+ and the interior markings having worn off, the handle markings can't wear off, they are IN the handle. My mom has a set of OXO metal ones that I really like as well.

Annie Pazoo said...

mine are a metal set of four from Williams-Sonoma and they are GREAT. sound like the all-clad ones above, maybe ? but don't have the other markings inside them (now I'm jealous). These are indestructible, nice and straight-sided, and easy to clean. Oh, and they stay stacked in when I put them away in the drawer (the plastic ones flop all over my drawer). well. okay.

Kelsey said...

I lied, THESE are the measuring cups I have:

http://www.amazon.com/All-Clad-Stainless-Measuring-Cup-Set/dp/B0001ACKWU/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1322623312&sr=1-1

Yikes! They were a gift, I had no idea how expensive, but they are wonderful.

Magpie said...

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/measuring-cups-set-of-7

Tina said...

I also have (and love) the All-Clad measuring cups. I bake A LOT, and I think those measuring cups are worth every penny. I have the All-Clad measuring spoons, too - I registered for all of it when I got married, and I am so glad I did!

Renèe said...

1. I have metal measuring cups with the sizes engraved in the handles. I got them at Walmart. The only thing I don't like about them is I only have 1 set.
2. My husband has degrees in graphic design & illustration. I asked him about the colored pencils and he immediately said prismacolor.
3. I have a question of my own: I need to buy Christmas gifts for my god-children-a 12 year old girl and her 1 year old brother. 12 year old girls are hard. I have no clue. And do you have any ideas for a 1 year old who already has plenty of toys and clothes?

Kelsey said...

I meant to say, earlier, that the interior markings had NOT worn off my measuring cups. Arg! And I promise that is my last comment on this post...

Julia said...

I love my mom's set of metal measuring cups. At my house, I have a Kitchenaid set (either from Target or Home Goods) that have held up very well with lots of use and being sent through the dishwasher many times.

Tiffany said...

The Prang colored pencils are nice, better quality than Crayola but not as expensive as Prismacolor. And as far as manga, there's a book by Christopher Hart called Kids Draw Big Book of Everything Manga. It's huge, 250-something pages, and around $15 on Amazon. Hope this helps!

-R- said...

Ooo, Renee, I have two nieces. Does your goddaughter have an iPod? Both nieces love music and would love gift cards to iTunes. They also like "nice" jewelry from Kohls. Or a gift card to Gap.

Enniferjay said...

I have nesting metal cups and like them after having thrown out the plastic ones whose measures had worn off.

I need advice on remote control car/toys that will work well and last more than a week's worth of play. Is there such a thing that is priced less than $50?

Anyone?

Elizabeth said...

I love prisma colors!

http://www.amazon.com/Prismacolor-Premier-Soft-Colored-Pencils/dp/B000E23RSQ/ref=pd_sbs_op_1

I think you could find a smaller set, or a more afforable set. They last a really long time. I first got addicted to them in high school art class a million years ago.

Mrs. Commoner said...

I like the metal nesting cups. My favorite ones can be found at Bed Bath and Beyond. They come in the same package as two sets of measuring spoons. What I liked about the measuring spoon is that it had one for 'pinch' and one for 'dash'. So cute!

Melissa Haworth said...

I have sturdy (manly?) metal measuring cups my hubby bought me nearly 10 years ago and they are still going strong. I just checked and they are Cooks Club (why no apostrophe? I don't know). According to amazon this does not exist but if you see Cooks Club silver cups they are good.

My mom has a set of Tupperware ones (with the 2/3 and 3/4 cups!) that I know she has had since my youth so 30 years of infrequent use but they still look great. Maybe you know a Tupperware dealer?

Anonymous said...

I third (fourth?) the metal cups from Williams-Sonoma. Mine are not the fancy All-Clad ones (although I'm sure they're great) and don't indicate brand at all. I've had them for 8 years and 4 moves. They are fabulous. So fabulous I specifically got them in my divorce.

Ruthie said...

I had cheap measuring cups for years and finally asked for the All Clad ones for Christmas a few years ago. LOVE them. They're beautiful and have a nice weight to them, and just are a pleasure to use. I have the All Clad measuring spoons too, and even though I don't need them at all, I'm a little tempted to ask for the "odd-measure" spoons that come in 2 tsp, 1.5 T and 2 T sizes.

Not too sound all evangelistic about measuring cups, but I am glad I have these every time I use them - which is pretty much the exact reaction I'm going for when I splurge on a gift for someone.

kaliajer said...

I wish they made them in glass, but glass distorts so that is probably why I can't find them in glass, BUT I really like the angled measuring cups. These come in a variety of sizes:
http://www.epinions.com/reviews/OXO_GOOD_GRIPS_Angled_Measuring_Cup_One_Cup

You already have a ton of great suggestions for the other .

marilyn c. cole said...

I just got the All-Clad measuring cups as a wedding present! And I love their weight, but the slightly bug me because they don't fit perfectly into each other! Maybe I'm crazy, or my set is just slightly... off, but the 1/4 cup measure kind of sticks in the 1/3 c measure! Minor gripe, but still, not what I'd expect of the IDEAL measuring cups.

They're $40 on WS (vs. $48.95 on Amazon), but of course, the shipping on Amazon is free, and on WS it is... YES, $8.50! But if you could get them in a WS maybe if one is near you at all!

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/all-clad-stainless-steel-measuring-cups-and-spoons/

I'd still recommend them despite the complaint! They look just NICER than the WS brand ones, which are almost as expensive! And maybe someone here in the comments can tell me what I'm doing wrong with my nesting technique. Hm.

Karly said...

I'm pretty sure that there are 30 comments above me with different measuring cup options, but I FEEL VERY STRONGLY ABOUT SUCKY MEASURING CUPS. I have the 3 piece OXO angled set and I love it. It nests together so it saves space and they just work. They don't break, the numbers don't rub off, and the price is right.

Really, I like OXO for pretty much any kitchen gadget. Just in case you had any other gift dilemmas. :)

Doing My Best said...

Renee--My 1-year olds have always liked board books, especially the touch-and-feel kind, peek a boo with flaps, or books that feature baby faces (If you search "Baby Faces" on Amazon it brings up a few; my babies were FASCINATED by the babies in the books!)

Enniferjay--We have had good luck with the "Morphibian" remote control cars; some are sharks or gators...Amazon has a couple for under $20 right now: do a search for "Kid galaxy morphibians" and they will come up. They aren't super-speedy racecars, but they are pretty sturdy and they go =)!

Swistle--when my 12-year old suddenly became interested in drawing, I went to a craft store, (Mich@els, if you have one, or Jo@nns would have worked too) and looked there. They have a nice range of quality/prices AND they often have sales or coupons; I believe the pencils and drawing pads I ended up buying were 50% off when I got them. They also have the gummy erasers and different charcoal pencils too.

Ahem. Not that I do a lot of shopping or anything ;-).

Heather said...

I fourth or fifth the all-clad measuring cups from Williams Sonoma. Now that I've looked them up online, I'm shocked that they're $40, but they are "forever" measuring cups. Nothing to break or wear off, sturdy, and possibly even manly. I especially like that the 1-cup measure has 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 etched on the inside, so I can choose whether I want to use just the 1-cup measure or be extra-precise and use the separate 1/2 and 1/4 cups (and have more to wash).

MrsDragon said...

We bought a metal set of measuring cups from Target that I LOVE. My only complaint is that it is only a set of 5 (1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 3/4, 1). No odd sizes, but they have a flat lip around the edge which makes them not only pretty looking but super functional as it's easy to level off. Dishwasher friendly too!

I think they retail for $15 or so? Our set was mismarked so we got them for like $3. : )

Superjules said...

Renee- My older nieces are all really excited about... long socks, for some reason. I bought out the Target selection of fancy patterned knee-highs.

Mama Bub said...

Sometimes I wonder if it's worth commenting when so much has already been said, but I've already got the link from Amazon, so here goes. I have a set almost identical to these, and they're my favorites. I have others, but these are the ones that get the most use:

http://www.amazon.com/8-Piece-Deluxe-Stainless-Measureing-Measuring/dp/B004WMP03E/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1322634361&sr=8-7

For measuring wet or sticky things (yogurt, peanut butter, honey, etc.) I've heard great things about these, although I don't own them myself:

http://www.amazon.com/KitchenArt-55210-Adjust--2-Cup-Measuring/dp/B000ATVOH4/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1322634361&sr=8-12

Elsha said...

I'll throw in my vote with the tupperware measuring cups. My mom has a set that have lasted like forever and they're my favorite.

Bratling said...

Prismacolor, if you can find them on sale, are the best artist-quality color pencils. They're pricey, though, which is why you want to find them on sale. as for the book, well, the art in anime stinks, so I'm afraid I can't provide any suggestions for anime in particular, but I will say that my textbook for figure drawing (and I kid you not) was "How to draw comics the Marvel way".

Lucy said...

I love these measuring cups: http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-Stainless-Steel-Piece-Measuring/dp/B00004RDEA

They are definitely more pricey, but I got so tired of the specific measurement washing off of the other measuring cups I had and trying to guess whether i was using 1/2 or 1/3 cup. I kind of want another set so that way if some are dirty I don't have to wash them first :)

bluedaisy said...

Tupperware measuring cups= awesome.

Donna said...

Unintended consequence: I am feeling bereft that my perfectly serviceable set of measuring cups have only four choices. I suddenly have an overwhelming NEED for two or three more. Why should my kitchen be the home of only very basic cups? I cook. I bake. I need to adjust my wish list right away.

My most satisfying purchase so far has been for an 11 year old boy with the entire world stock of Legos in his possession. It's this book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0756686067/ref=oh_o02_s00_i01_details which has more than 500 *other* things you can build with the Legos you already have. $14 on sale at Amazon and worth every penny.

Swistle said...

Renèe- Oooo, for the one-year-old who has everything, I like books (for current age or next age up), wall art, DVDs, furniture (chair or stool for sitting on, stepstool). A sentimental book is also nice: get a hardcover classic, maybe one you liked in your own childhood, and write an inscription on the inside cover.

For godchildren, I think you can also go "practical for the future" and get a savings bond. And if they're GODchildren-godchildren, I think a religious gift is nice: a nice Bible with her name printed on the leather, a little cross necklace, a My First Bible Storybook for the little guy, etc.

Nowheymama said...

I have to agree with Mama Bub and others who recommend the Alton Brown-esque adjustable measuring cup for Paul. I HATE IT, but Scott loves it. This is why we have two kinds of measuring cups in the house. Pretty rainbow ones from Swistle, and that one. His brothers use it when they cook at our house, too. It is definitely manly.

And Super Jules is SO right about super-long knee socks being in with preteen girls. Especially if you have a few pairs to mix and match. I don't know why.

Swistle said...

Enniferjay- They're not sturdy per se, but they haven't broken yet either: last year a big hit at our house was the Syma Helicopters (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004A8ZRB0/ref=nosim/?tag=88K18-20) my parents bought for our 10-year-old and 12-year-old. Paul was totally into them too. They're about $30 each and come in a few colors.

d e v a n said...

1 - definitely metal with the measurements stamped in instead of written on. I like these: http://www.amazon.com/Oggi-Stainless-Measuring-Santoprene-Handles/dp/B000ZHB4KS/ref=pd_sim_k_1

and these spoons:
http://www.amazon.com/Progressive-International-Stainless-Steel-Magnetic-Measuring/dp/B001GAQKKW%3FSubscriptionId%3D15HRV3AZSMPK0GXTY102%26tag%3Dabba-serp-ff-us-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB001GAQKKW


2 - No idea. Man, having little kids makes gift buying so much easier!

StephLove said...

We bought Prismacolor colored pencils for my son last year because his 4th grade teacher was big on illustrations for homework. He won't let his little sister touch them, which is a sure sign he likes them.

Sally said...

Williams Sonoma has two sets of stainless steel measuring cups. One is All-Clad, the other is not. The cheaper, non-name brand ones are fantastic. Stackable, pretty, measurements engraved into the handle, indestructible. No need to spend the extra 10 bucks for all clad. The ones we have are here (http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/williams-sonoma-stainless-steel-measuring-cups-and-spoons/?pkey=cmixing-bowls)

Betsy said...

I cook and bake A LOT, and agree with many peeps above...Williams Sonoma metal measuring cups are awesome! I use mine all the time and they are still perfect.

Jen said...

Now I want the WS measuring cups. But really, mine are metal ones, not any brand that I know of, from when I was married 8 years ago from BB&Beyond and they have not worn at all. I think metal is the way to go. My only complaint is they don't have 2/3 and 3/4 cups. Yes, I realize that's not precisely necessary but for me it would make them perfect. So I'd spring for a 6 or 7 piece set, if I could do it again.

Misty said...

I think your questions have been sufficiently answered. :)

What I want to know is this: Is a Nintendo DSI different enough from the DS to warrant buying it, even if it completely blows my Christmas budget out of the water? Because, I don't really see a huge difference and I can't figure out what it can do that is worth spending $150 over what he already has.

But I am not a video game person...

Meg said...

joseph and joseph measuring cups rock!
we now have most of there kitchen wear its so good.

I have a ds and my partner has a dsi, his dsi has a camera which is oodles of fun! as it has inbuilt games and things to do with the camera, it also has the inbuilt games which the ds doesn't it comes in different colours (assuming that matter :) )
It plays the same games and is pretty much the same weight and size, the dsi is matte and the ds is gloss but im not sure if thats just ours or they are all like that, so the dsi which is white tends to stain from jeans and thing and the gloss ds is wipey clean.

I prefer the dsi now but thats probs as its not mine :P the voice changer and camera sway it ... but it depends who its for... hth :)

Saly said...

Misty- I think the main difference between DS and DSI is the capability to download games from the internet. My big kids have DSI XLs which have a bigger screen. We...do not let them connect it to the internet. My concern would be buying the DSI now, and then having him want the 3DS next.

nicole said...

@Renee--because the 1 year old will not have any idea what Christmas is or what you give him, ask his parents what they need/want. Maybe they would love it if you just gave them diapers, as boring as that seems.

As for the 12 yo girl, no idea other than what has already been suggested. Good luck!

I had no idea there were measuring cup sets that included 2/3 or 3/4. I just have the basic four cups.

Saly said...

Oh, and Lucy gets hours of amusement from the voice changer and the drawing capabilities on the DSI

Laura Lou said...

Swistle's questions seem to be answered, so on to some others! I got my 4yo son the Morphibian Remote control car and he loves it. After some trial and error, he can operate it himself and it's held up beautifully to 7 months of hard play, including outside.

For the 1yo Godchild, books are always great. Some cute outfits, like the kind from Gymboree that all match and are adorable but you'd never buy yourself, are great. On the GOD front, the Fisher Price Nativity Set has been a big hit for 3 years running now and keeps the little ones away from my breakable one. His Godparents got him The Christmas Story and The story of Jesus by Patricia Pingry and they do a great job of telling the basic tale but not overwhelming them with details.

My MIL wants to get him a kid PC kind of thing, but I'm overwhelmed by all the Leapfrog/Vtech options. Any recs?

Swistle said...

Laura Lou- The Leapfrog Leapster is our favorite, despite the fact that setting it up (it has to be connected to the computer) made me feel like TAKING MY OWN LIFE. (If she sends him that and she sends it ahead of time, I suggest unwrapping it, drinking wine, setting it up, and rewrapping it.)

Mary said...

What about a sister in law who recently got her nursing degree and is working 80 hour weeks? In the past I've gotten her smelly stuff for baths, and pajamas, which she liked, but I'd like to do something special for her this year. Our limit is $50.

pseudostoops said...

Ooh, great idea, I need gift-buying help for my nieces and nephew (3 and 7 yo girls, 10 yo boy). My request is a bit different: their parents are very strict about religion and gender roles, so many things are not allowed: magic, fairies, sports for girls, books in which characters are too sassy, etc. I have a hard time anticipating what's going to be problematic about the gifts I select. (Last year, for example, I thought I'd nailed it when I gave the girls tutus and wands for dress up -- yay imaginative play!-- and the wands were confiscated for being magic and thus anti-God.) Any suggestions for FUN age-appropriate toys that are also very conservative and safe in this regard? I could give them books, again, which is great, but I would love to get them something that they see as FUN.

(And Amco makes a nice set of stainless steel measuring cups- not quite as nice as the WS ones, but substantially cheaper.)

DawnA said...

P*mpered Ch*f has really nice measuring cups-although a bit pricey they are worth it. Also, most of their stuff comes with lifetime warranty.

kakaty said...

For measuring cups/spoons look for something made of 18/10 stainless-steel. They are dishwasher safe and last a lifetime. My mom has some that are easly over 30 years old. They will cost more but are worth it.

Love the comments on things like the Leapfrog Leapster because that's a contender for my daughter's "big gift" this year~

Lucy said...

Renee -- For the one year old, we love these name stools: http://www.amazon.com/Personalized-Name-Stool-Letters-Finish/dp/B003J6BXCQ We don't have this exact one, but we have a family friend who always give my kids one when they are born.

Josefina said...

I've had my Williams-Sonoma measuring cups and spoons for almost twelve years, and they are still in perfect condition. They really are the way to go. Also, everything at Williams-Sonoma is guaranteed forever, so you can just take them back for an exchange if they break. At least, that's the guarantee they still had when I worked there a few years ago. One more thing: all stainless steel SHOULD be created equal, but it isn't. I've found that some will pit, and some will not. That's why I like the guarantee.

Has anyone mentioned misterart.com? Sorry, I didn't read all the comments. Anyway, love that website and have had good experiences ordering from them.

I'd love some suggestions for some of those action-I don't know...crime-fighter?-mystery kinds of novels. There is a man who likes such things, and I am utterly clueless.

cindy kay said...

I like Prismacolor colored pencils. And when I went to find a link for you; oh look, Prismacolor Manga pencils!:
http://www.amazon.com/Prismacolor-Premier-Colored-Pencils-1774800/dp/B003YDYO8E

Magic27 said...

pseudostoops - how about construction games for the 10yo boy (Lego, Meccano, Kapla...), and stuff like PlayDoh (or other arts and crafts stuff) or PlayMobil (the "girly" sets, like the house/family, or animals (zoo, vet, stables) or something) for the two girls? Shame about the fairy stuff, but other dressing up things could be fun for the little girls - we have many costumes and they're still popular with my two girls (almost 10, almost 8): we have a cat, a rabbit, a nurse, a mermaid (hmm, guess that wouldn't work), a pumpkin, a ladybird, plus others that wouldn't work (angel, witch, pirate, hippy, bat, Zorro...).
HTH!

Nikki said...

Prismacolor pencils (as everyone has chimed in) are wonderful, but I find the lead to be kind of soft and easy to break. Which is not ideal for someone just starting out with pencils. If the lead breaks in the shaft of the pencil then you are kind of screwed. Bicks (http://www.dickblick.com/) has their own brand of pencils (and markers) that are similar to Prismacolor, but not as soft therefore not as easy to break. I love them. (Wow, that was incredibly long winded.)

Carmen said...

I haven't time right now to read the 66 comments above me so I'm sorry if this is mentioned already, but here are the manly measuring cups that I bought: Lifetime Measuring Cups from Lee Valley
http://www.leevalley.com/US/garden/page.aspx?p=47392&cat=2,40733,44734,47392

They have been amazing in our house so far. They even have internal marking so you can use the 1 cup measure to measure out 1/2 cup if you so desire (less dishes is always good, right?) AND they have the often elusive 2/3 and 3/4 cup measures.

kakaty said...

@pseudostoops for the 3 year old how about a plastic tea set, a musical instrument or a small doll house (there are some cute, portable ones out there like this http://www.amazon.com/Neat-Oh-ZipBin-Bring-Along-Backpack-Colors/dp/B003DQFB52/ref=sr_1_9?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1322673461&sr=1-9)
7 year old: puzzles or games, maybe… What about something like dominos (the kind you set up and knock down) or Lincoln Logs or a marble race game. Maybe that’s seen as too masculine? Connectagons are kind of cool and they make “girly” sets. What about an art set – they sell kids pottery wheels at craft stores. Ed Emberley art books are good for that age, too.
For the 10 year old boy: those Syma Helicopters Swistle mentioned above are awesome. Science or building kids are fun. Oh, or a rock tumbler/polisher. I always wanted one of those as a kid!

Julie said...

I have some adjustable measuring cups and spoons that are pretty fun and easy to store because one gadget works for several different measures. Like this: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=12971893&RN=106&

There are also scoops for teaspoon and cup measurements. I see similar ones at Marshall's, Ross, and Home Goods all the time.

Alice said...

for psuedostoops - i'll second any arts/crafts ideas. especially the crappy ones that look cheap and tacky - like those "make a friendship bracelet!" or "decorate a crappy jewelry box!" kits in michaels - were coveted by my sister and me.

another help request: what would you suggest for someone whose favorite pasttime is WoW-type computer games?? my bf actually quit WoW and is now super-into League of Legends, and i have no idea if a) there is anything i can get to "go with" LoL, or b) if it's wise to try and give him another game entirely (and if so, what?).

beyond said...

The glass pyrex measuring cups last forever. I don't know if the quality is still the same now, I haven't bought one recently, because I've had mine for ...ever. (12 years? 15?)
Caran d'Ache! The best colored pencils (and water soluble pastels, and sketching pens / pencils) EVER. I think the 18 color set is about $20 on amazon, which is cheaper than I thought it would be. (The 120 color set is over $200)

Farrell said...

Renee:
For your godchildren:
12-year old girl: jewlery, jewlery box, itunes gift card, amazon gift card, clothes, or gift card to target

1 year old boy: you can never go wrong with books.

Farrell said...

Swistle: I love this idea.

Does anybody want to help me? What to get a new boyfriend? 3mo. relationship? He golfs and likes to smoke cigars occasionally; he's social, um....? He's 44 and has a 7 year old son, our football team SUCKS this year or maybe I could like get us all tickets. Maybe tickets to a hockey game? He loves sports.

Maureen said...

pseudotroops-for the girls (well, mainly the older) what about Polly Pockets? My daughter was crazy about them at about 7 or 8, and played with them all the time.

bunnyslippers said...

I have a stainless steel set of measuring cups that are awesome, if a little manly. I got them at my favourite kitchen shop and they were not cheap. They have stood up well (dishwasher, dropping from great heights, no scratches). For some reason my Paul also has a thing for measuring spoons (because they are clearly more trustworthy than normal spoons when measuring things by the scoop). You should get your Paul a matching set too.

I advise against buying metal cups with a non-stick or enamel coating as mine have peeled and/or bubbled and rusted. They were likely not cheap either but were not worth it.

As for advice, how often do you replace your pillows? I think it may be time for a new pillow for my Paul (which, by the way, stands as one of my all-time best gifts given) but I'm still not sure. It's one of those things that you know when you need a new one right away, but sometimes getting a new one unexpectedly you realize you did need a new one but just didn't know it.

Swistle said...

Josefina- If he likes suspenseful "detectives in pursuit of a serial killer"-type mystery books with lots of twists, I recommend The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver.

Swistle said...

Pseudostoops- The older two might like Sticky Mosaics sets. A lot are on problematic themes (fairies, dinosaurs), but I think there are some that are more like butterflies and jungle animals. There's also a variety that's for younger kids, if you want to get all three kids the same sort of thing.

Caroline said...

Can't help on the drawing part, but for measuring cups how about a robot? I debated getting them for my engineer/sci-fi loving dad...
http://www.kikkerland.com/products/robot-measuring-cups-in-white-or-red/#

One Ring to Rule Them All said...

@Swistle - I run Outblush.com and I couldn't resist sending your request to one of my Outblush editors (we do a personal shopper feature on our site for situations just like this.) Marion the Contrarian is well-versed in the manga arena and came up with this book for Rob: http://www.rightstuf.com/cgi-bin/catalogmgr/8FEIvANtOAkyMZ09Rs/browse/item/80726/4/0/0. She says that there is a second book for when he becomes more advanced, so you have a built-in present for laters. (Also, she comments that not TEACHING Rob how to draw dirty pictures isn't gonna stop him...but we agree there's no need to give him a STEP-BY-STEP tutorial on drawing naughtiness.)

You seem to have the measuring cups and colored pencils covered. ;)

If anyone else wants us to suggest gifts or holiday outfits or other elusive solutions, they can email us at staff@outblush.com.

P.S. I've read your blog forever and this is my first comment. I hope it helps!

Renèe said...

OK-I just have to say that all of you are AMAZING! Thanks for the recommendations--gives me a jumping-off point. Good idea, Swistle!

Renèe said...

@pseudostoops-what about a season pass to local museums, zoos, amusement parks, etc?

Brigid Keely said...

The "Good Cook" brand, I think it is, that you can buy either at Albertson or Safeway stores (and others) in the cooking supplies aisle (where you can get whisks and graters and foil pans) are really really accurate and durable and nice in the hand. For anything over a 1 cup measure, get PYREX. MR WIZARD used Pyrex measuring cups. Are you going to fly in the face of that? No. Also you can heat up stuff in the microwave in them.

JCF said...

I have both metal measuring cups and spoons, and they're great. Mine were from Crate and Barrel, and they were not nearly as expensive as the All Clad ones (which are gorgeous), but they're still really solid quality. I have a feeling they'll be the kind of item I'll still have when I'm 80, and my kids will fondly remember baking with them.

Marilyn said...

Okay, I know the VERY BEST measuring cups. The trouble with the all-clad or Williams Sonoma ones, to me, (besides expense) is that they are so heavy and sort of unwieldy. You're always clanking them around or dropping them or whatever. So these:
http://www.shoplindys.com/measuring-tools/4-pc-stainless-steel-measure-scoop-set.html
Are my absolute favorite. They are metal and sturdy but much lighter, and the oval shape with rounded bottom just works for me somehow. It's easier to get shortening or honey or peanut butter out of, for example (a spatula slides in to empty out the scoop perfectly), and it slips nicely into the bag of flour instead of catching on the top of the bag like the more traditional cup shape does. And the long handle is easy to hold as you're reaching way down into the bag of brown sugar or whatever. I know it's weird to not have a one-cup in the set, but I swear I find myself reaching for these every time, even if it means I have to fill the half-cup twice. Oh--and--my husband loves them and made me buy a second set because they were always being washed and he refused to use any of our other sets. :). I think I bought mine at KMart, by the way--I just found that link above by doing an image search.

Peyton said...

Alice: I don't know if you want to get him another game (I'm the anti-gamer in my family; only you can determine what your tolerance threshold is), but my husband was telling me yesterday that a coworker and his wife are both completely obsessed with Skyrim. So much so that after a couple of days of them trying to take turns playing on the X-Box, Jeff just went out and bought a copy for the PC so that they could both play at the same time. The majority of their Thanksgiving break on the sofa, Mari playing the X-box version and Jeff on the laptop.

Swistle: I know they've been recommended, but most of my artist friends and my husband are Prismacolor devotees. They are GREAT pencils.

Peyton said...

*They spent the majority of their Thanksgiving break. Blech.

Jen said...

The Tupperware ones are great. I have a set in red for sale, but the current color is a really fun green and it's on sale if you spend $20. You can contact me for details. Anyone who mentions Swistle will get free shipping on any order
www.my.tupperware.com/mugsysgirl jenminson@gmail.com

Christina said...

For Swistle: I 2nd the Tupperware measuring cup suggestion. I got my dad an OXO (?) set from Target and the labels rubbed off in a few months, so they're useless. Tupperware is really sturdy, dishwasher safe, and the labels are raised molded right into the plastic.

For the 12 year old girl present:
I would suggest something crafty. When my cousin was that age I got her one of those tie pillow/blanket craft sets. She was old enough to actually finish it herself, but it was "cool" enough to not be like a little girl's plastic bead set.
When I was that age I also enjoyed light sewing projects. Little kits that had you sew the edge of something, or a small animal. I'd suggest looking at Michael's or Joann's, as they both have some really terrific craft kits that have all the necessary components for great prices.

Girlie said...

Farrell, If he doesn't already have it, I would suggest a Travel Humidor. Maybe have a cigar cutter engraved? A humidifying tube to go in the travel humidor.

Lucy said...

My boyfriend says that you need to get silicone coated measuring cups because silicone lasts forever, and you can put anything you want into it without damaging it, and it won't scratch your non-stick surfaces of whatever pots and pans you are using. Downside: he doesn't know if they make them. :o)

Enniferjay said...

Thanks Doing My Best and Swistle for the remote control rec's. I'll look those up tonight. A word of warning to whoever was considering a rock polisher, though. Those things take days of polishing and ours was really loud. We had to put it in the garage so it could do it's noisy tumbling for the 21 days straight it needed.

Jenny (Bring A. Torch) said...

Re metal measuring cups: I agree completely w/ Renèe above (you end up wanting multiple sets).

For Mary, if you want to go with extra-spiffy natural bath-and-body stuff, Bella Lucce is an awesome woman-owned indie business with an amazing story. They have prettily packaged gift sets and a half-off deal going on their "Rainforest Restoration" line, which includes things like Coconut Mango Bath Bliss. When I ordered a gift this weekend, they were throwing in a free product with any $40 order.

For Alice, my husband recently broke it off with WoW as well. RIFT is a game that, at least to my nonplayer eyes, looks a lot like WoW. Hubby says it's much more fun than WoW and that it feels like it was written by actual gamers. It's a $30 startup cost and then $15/month after that. There's a link for a free weeklong trial on that page.

Hubby spent his Thanksgiving playing Fallout: New Vegas. He was hesitant for me to mention it b/c it's not the same type of game as WoW. I gather you'd want to confirm your guy is into that before buying. I'm mentioning it anyway because he's having a positively grand time, and because over my shoulder, I caught a glimpse of a game character named Snuffles, and I'll just say she was a hoot. Also if you or he are into sci-fi, you'll recognize some of the voice talent. It's also $30.

See also: MineCraft, if he's not already playing it, in the same price range. Or look around at ThinkGeek.

Jenny (Bring A. Torch) said...

Crud, my linkage was faulty. Here's Bella Lucce and here's RIFT. Good luck!

Doing My Best said...

Mary--If she's working such long hours, what about gift cards to her favorite eating places so she can get something on the way home and not have to cook?

changelivlife said...

WOW! People are really passionate about measuring cups.

Me, not at all, I barely cook. However, I'm a librarian by trade, so I will answer the book question that everyone is avoiding.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0823030830/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

That's a basic art book on how to draw Manga, broken up pretty simply. It will show how to draw a girl by face shape, details, eyes, nose, hair and break down each piece. Courtesy of Amazon's "look inside" feature, you can see it is very non-porny.

There is also a drawing series by Hikaru Hiyashi which is like 40 volumes or something, this may be what you're seeing that is so overwhelming you. I would steer clear of it, it only teaches a single aspect. If Rob were super interested in drawing Manga dogs or something, then this might be the series to turn to.

The other one I might recommend is the following:

http://www.amazon.com/Draw-Manga-Your-Unique-Style/dp/1843401886/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322779494&sr=1-14

This is a more in depth look at the art as a "style" showing how to do characters, etc. but also how to create a background and layout a story animation. There is a lot of history and information available in this book. For a 12-year-old, it could be a little too much, you would know that best.

I guess to decide between them, it would be helpful to know what Rob's interest is. Does he want to know how to create his own Manga works? If so, book#2. If he has favorite Manga books and is looking to be able to recreate some of his favorite characters, book#1.

The other items I'll leave to your other experts.

Good idea for a post!

Joanne said...

LORD I have been meaning to post about our measuring cups forever, I don't know if it's too late or what. Target doesn't sell the ones we have anymore, they're made by Michael Whathisname, the designer? I don't think he has stuff at Target anymore. ANYWAYS, they are closest to these: http://www.target.com/p/OXO-Stainless-Steel-Measuring-Cups-Set-of-4/-/A-10314428
And what I like about them is that they are stainless steel so they look nice and wash well. Also I like that they are all on that ring because I have screwed in a little hook under the cabinet and I just hang them there. I also just put them, all hooked together, on the top shelf of the dishwasher and poof! they're done. Finished. Whatever.

mcdaniellaurie said...

Renee- Ball Poppers are always a hit for little ones. Most come with 3-6 plastic balls and it pops them in the air. It is mesmerizing! There are several kinds of ball poppers on amazon, at Target, ect. Hope this helps!

Swistle said...

Renèe- The ball popper things are indeed an astonishing hit. But they are also THE MOST ANNOYING TOYS IN THE WORLD. Extremely loud, and it's a motor sound that made me want to break something. And the balls roll everywhere and get lost. And yet the children wanted to play with it constantly.

yasmara said...

OK, I haven't scanned all the links, but I saw these this week online & thought they were a MUST have!

http://marketplace.apartmenttherapy.com/daily_finds/lifetime-measuring-cups

Spouts! US & Metric! Metal!

Nik-Nak said...

http://www.pamperedchef.com/our_products/catalog/product.jsp?productId=11000&categoryCode=KW

These measuring cups rock. They rest inside of one another and you set them on the counter and can see the measure from above. This eliminates pour a little, bend down and look, pour a little more.
So worth it.

Linda said...

This is from Canada, but I wonder if you can find the same thing in the US.

http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/toys/Pitt-Artist-Pen-Manga-Starter-Set/4005401671367-item.html?ref=item_page:richrel