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15 Non-Obvious Holiday Gifts To Buy This Black Friday

Today is Black Friday, a day that has earned a negative reputation as an unnecessary celebration of excess consumerism.

Economists predict consumers will be in a bargain hunting mindset this season, ready to overspend on cheap stuff they don’t really need. Still, this season does bring many once-a-year prices for gifts for yourself and others. In this special edition of my newsletter, I’ll share a few products and experiences that are both non-obvious, and offer some gift ideas that you could use for any loved one in your life.

Why buy cheap useless junk? Instead, seek out non-obvious gifts for the people you love … and use these ideas below to help!

1. Stack Independent Magazine Subscription

If you have been to any of my workshops, you know I’m a huge fan of magazines. They are a beautiful way to build your empathy and take a dive into an unfamiliar topic. Just this week I discovered a very cool subscription service out of the UK where you can get a different independent magazine sent to you every week. The founder was kind enough to even offer a discount code for readers of this newsletter – just use code “NONOBVIOUS” when you check out for an exclusive discount.

Subscribe to Stack Indie Magazines >>

2. Biotech Body Suit To Control A Live Drone Light Show Symphony

For a cool $1m, you can be the conductor of a “light show extravaganza” anywhere in the world with a drone symphony powered by a biotech body suit that allows you to use only feelings and gestures to create a light production that is adapted on the fly through the suit that measures your heart rate, breathing, and pulse.

Read more about this experience >>

3. Yellowstone Bourbon Whiskey

Back in 1872, Yellowstone Bourbon was “crafted to honor the sprawling wonder of America’s first national park.” Since then, the brand has been producing it’s own signature whiskey and giving a portion of their proceeds to help protect and support national parks. If you’re a whiskey fan, this one is worth trying and has a great cause behind it too.

Buy Yellowstone Bourbon >>

4. Magnetic Poetry

Sometimes the best gifts offer a sense of nostalgia, so what better throwback gift to bring back at a time when AI makes it one-button easy to generate meaningless word soup than to give people the gift of the original generative tool for creating fun combinations of words … and proudly displaying them on your fridge.

Buy the Magnetic Poetry Kit >>

5. The 2023 Non-Obvious Book Awards Longlist – 100 Best Books Of The Year

A few weeks ago we announced our picks for the best 100 books of the year and next week I’ll be sharing the books that made our Shortlist. In the meantime, we set up a store on Bookshop.org where you can not only pick up any of the books from the list, but a portion of every purchase will also go to support local bookstores.

Buy Non-Obvious Book Awards Winners >>

6. Future Society Perfumes Made From the DNA of Extinct Flowers

This is not science fiction. This is science possibility. Ok, so their tagline is cringy … but the idea of this perfume from the Future Society is pretty intriguing. Back 2017, scientists extracted samples from extinct flowers from the Harvard Herbarium and used the DNA to grow scent molecules which were then given to “world-renowned perfumers to formulate the fragrances found in our Scent Surrection Collection.”

Buy the Solar Canopy Perfume >>

7. Moft Laptop Sleeve & Stand

It’s not every day a simple laptop sleeve makes it into the curated store collection at the Modern Museum of Art, but this one’s clever design has been a hit with buyers and design judges as well. A great simple and useful gift choice for anyone who lives off their laptop and is always on the go.

Buy the Moft Laptop Sleeve >>

8. The Chai Box

As every Indian knows, Chai means tea … so you never order a chai tea, since that would be redundant. If you love your chai, The Chai Box has some amazing options for flavorful tea leaves blended with other aromatics such as rose petals, lavender and the blends come from across India. It was even featured as one of Oprah’s favorite things a few years ago.

Buy tea from The Chai Box >>

9. The Lion | Novella Artisan Sneaker

This sneaker tells a story. Shared in chapters with each pair inspired by an artist, Novella has a unique approach to selling sneakers by positioning them as if they are works of art. In terms of looks, it’s a fitting comparison. The Lion is a pair inspired by comedian Akaash Singh and is released in a limited quantity of 2020 numbered pairs.

Buy The Lion Novella Artisan Sneakers >>

10. A Kids Book About … Series

There is great power in talking to kids honestly and authentically about difficult topics. That is the philosophy behind this wonderful series of books that advocates for tackling tough issues directly and openly. Topics in the series include racial justice, consent, school shootings and white privilege. Not your usual topics for kids book, but these are great additions to your collection of books for kids and make powerful gifts as well.

Buy A Kids Book About Series >>

11. FOST Explorer’s Club

For years one of my favorite events to attend was the Future of Storytelling. Now the team behind it has pivoted to hosting an Explorer’s Club, which is a membership-only collection of amazing experiences spread out over the entire year. If you can find the time and have the desire to travel to have customized storytelling journies, this is a great opportunity to invest in yourself (or better yet, get your company to sponsor you and pay for it).

Apply to join the FOST Explorer’s Club >>

12. Odd Pieces Mystery Puzzle

Looking at the picture on the puzzle box is totally cheating. There is some disagreement on this point in my house, however the box is part of the game in this unique series of puzzles from Odd Pieces where the box reveals clues about the actual puzzle that you’re making. It’s a fun twist on the usual puzzles and a great option for the puzzle lover in your family and they have some new puzzles on Kickstarter now.

Buy the Odd Pieces Mystery Puzzle >>

13. Repurposed Book Tulips

Flowers are a great gift anytime, but if you’re looking for something a bit more unique that your usual bouquet … how about flowers made from repurposed and upcycled books? These are a great gift for the book lover in your life, as well as a reminder that there really isn’t anything books can’t do.

Buy Repurposed Book Tulips >>

14. Shop the Airbnb Secret OMG Collection

Here’s something you might not know about Airbnb: there’s a tab called “OMG” which features some of the most unique properties on the site. Depending on where you live, some of these options might be quite close to home and offer the perfect chance for a weekend getaway. Or you could do what my team and I did and offer up some of these getaways as an incentive for your best customers (in my case, speaking bureaus and event planners that book me multiple times). 

15. Donate With Purpose

If you made it to the end of this list of gift suggestions, I’m guessing perhaps you might also have some things that you’d love to get rid of too. And some of it could help someone else in need. Whether you’re looking at donating clothes or finding a good home for some of your other excess stuff, this article from the NY Times last year will help …

Learn about how and where to donate stuff >>

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#1 WSJ & USA Today Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 9 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

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