Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Goofy gifts & peculiar presents

Detour's annual guide to the year's most out-there offerings

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The holiday season is upon us and that means it's time to gather 'round the computer and find the perfect last-minute gifts for the folks on your list who obviously don't deserve more thought and consideration.

Surely we jest.

What we really mean to say is that some people are difficult, if not impossible, to shop for because they are such unique and discriminating individuals. Or else they don't seem to want or need anything.

In such cases, it's often better to go with something that's just plain strange or confusing.

With that in mind, it's time for Detour's yearly roundup of bizarre-is-better, betcha-can't-find-this-at-Walmart Christmas gift ideas.

Enjoy. And all the best of the festive season!


Bird's-eye view

A bird in the hand may be worth two in the bush, but a hummingbird between the eyes... priceless.

The Wearable Hummingbird Feeder, also known as "eye 2 eye," is a helmet and full face shield with a feeding tube built into the forehead of the mask so you can watch the wee birdies hover and sip nectar mere inches from your face.

It has an inlay with images of red rhododendrons to further attract nature's little helicopters -- who won't mind that you look like Darth Vader's flower-child cousin.

Sells for $79.95 at, where you can also view a video taken from inside the mask.


Track your yackety-yack

Whoever said talk is cheap obviously never heard of the Blabber Meter.

It's a "fun yet useful desk clock that tallies the dollars spent in a long meeting, useless conversations, marital sermons and even never-ending phone calls," according to the website.

The meter tracks excess yapping at an hourly rate of $5 and plugs in the number of blabbermouths (up to 99) involved in the discussion.

The gadget's creator apparently drew his inspiration from working at a company that regularly held four-hour (egad) staff meetings.

Sells for $24.99 at, but there may be additional costs in the form of divorce lawyers and resumé services.


Zappy days

Know any stressed-out, burned-out, or just plain bored corporate drones for whom caffeine, sugar and other forms of self-medication no longer deliver a distracting buzz?

Maybe it's time for some "in-office shock therapy." At just nine centimetres long, the Pocket Shocker can deliver an "instantaneous jolt of vigour" that, according to the former Sprint employee who invented it, can help the user "defuse whatever oncoming flood of emotion" might be inappropriate to express at any given moment.

Unfortunately, the shock therapy can only be self-administered.

On sale for $6.95 at


A little Face time

Do you have a friend (no quotes) who collects "friends" the way your grandma used to collect spoons?

Help him or her show off the collection with a 50-by-100-cm Facebook Friend Poster, printed on professional-grade photo paper.

The poster pictured here features about 620 profile photos, but "the code is written such that your poster will look fantastic whether you have 200 friends, or up to 5,000 friends," creator/artist Benjamin Lotan promises on the website.

Of course, if the recipient has made no effort to super-size his or her social circle, there's going to be an awful lot of white space.

Capture a superficial moment in time for $25 at


Cover your eyes, kid

You'd never put your purse on the floor of a public washroom (ick), so hanging your baby on a hook while you take care of business seems like a no-brainer.

The BabyKeeper Basic, designed for infants ages six months to 18 months who can hold their heads up, can also be used in many public fitting rooms.

Junior won't always be so willing to hang out with his mommy or daddy.

Sells for $39.99 at


Silent (but deadly) night

The Better Marriage Blanket is designed to make bed-sharing a breeze by absorbing odours emitted by sleeping spouses.

According to the official website, the blanket "contains the same type of fabric used by the military to protect against chemical weapons" and "makes a great wedding or anniversary gift, too."

The name is a bit misleading, though, since love can stink for unmarried people as well.

$29.95 to $59.95 at


The drowsy chaperone

This pillow/blindfold/earmuff combo shuts out the world so the wearer can tend to the serious business of spontaneous snoozing.

Wrap-a-Nap was invented by a sleep-deprived university student who knows all too well about the importance of comfort and support when passing out in public places.

You'll look like a dork wearing this "plush, minky fleece" crown, but it's a small price to pay for 40 refreshing winks.

$14.99 at


Pull the wool over their eyes

Like its woolly, puff-paint and appliqué-adorned namesake, the Ugly Christmas Sweater T-shirt is just the right blend of festive and tacky -- without the bulk and itch.

It's also the perfect gay apparel to don for the trendy holiday mixer known as the "ugly Christmas sweater party."

At just $20 each (, you'll be able to afford the deer, moose and the snowman.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 18, 2010 F1

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