Among our favorites you'll also find a duct tape wallet, perfect for that big spender, and a full wardrobe of astronomy apparel for everyone in the family. We've got a passel of nifty iPod accessories, including a waterproof case for disco swimming, plus a robot mop, a professional-grade plant press and a meticulously crafted replica of the HMS Beagle.
So what are you waiting for? The shopping days are counting down and your reputation as the coolest gift-giver in the cyberuniverse is at stake. Happy hunting!--The Editors
Special thanks to Melissa Kirsch for her assistance in producing this section.
$25 and under
Hit Spacemart for all your wearable astronomical wares this holiday season. Little ones will go starry-eyed for the Spirograph nebula infant creeper and the chef gets galaxy-big kisses grilling in a spiral galaxy apron. A Moon from Apollo 11 long-sleeved tee is a fine proxy for space camp, while the Whirlpool galaxy boxer shorts and Saturn thong make out-of-this-world stocking stuffers.
Caf Press Spirograph Nebula Infant Creeper $10.99
Hamsters are so pass. Forget the pet-store rodents and go foraging in the great outdoors for this year's pets! Your little one will thrill to this budding biologist's habitrail, featuring a special bug catcher, goldfish aquarium, a frog rainforest, anthill chamber and lots of interconnecting tubes to design countless varieties of homes for that perfectly curated creepy-crawly collection.
Smithsonian Bio Dome Habitat $24.99
|The Doctor Is In
Psych majors and lifelong analysands will get a kick out of plush Freudian slippers. The professor's bespectacled face listens raptly on each foot--perfect for that colleague with the outsized ego. His mouth is even open in requisite "Aha!" position. In unisex small, medium and large sizes, this is just the footwear for reclining on any couch.
Freudian Slippers $20
Instead of another silver bauble she's sure to let languish in the jewelry chest, surprise her with a full set of beetle bangles. Brightly hued iridescent beetles are encased in lime, amber or clear acrylic for a truly unique fashion statement. In small, medium and large sizes. No Raid required!
Beetle Bracelet $16.75
|Genius at Work
For the relative for whom everything's relative, a desk duo in sleek black and white. Sure to inspire revolutionary thinking, both the ceramic mug and oversized mousepad are emblazoned with Albert Einstein's visage. Who could slack off with a Nobel-prize winning physicist grinning watchfully from every surface?
Einstein Mug and Mousepad Set $24.99
Apothecary shoppes of old may have stored remedies and potions in their tall glass jars, but these attractive replicas offer versatile storage for coffee beans, pastas, sugar, cotton swabs or whatever the pack rat on your list can conceive of from the kitchen, pantry or bathroom. Identifying labels make sure the family chemist doesn't mistake the Deadly Nightshade for flour.
Apothecary Jars $25
|Stick It To Them
Who needs calfskin or faux croc? Described as "one part high fashion, one part weekend warrior another part sheer cool," the duct tape wallet is right on the money for the hippest high roller on your gift list. Made of "super duct tape" so it won't peel or get sticky, the wallet comes in bi- and tri-fold models. What's more, it doesn't smell and it's specially crafted with no sharp corners, so the disaster-prone can carry this silvery conversation piece with confidence.
Duct tape wallet $14.99
$25 to $75
|For the Birds
Certain to elicit squeals of delight from Arctiphiles, this plush emperor penguin and baby will bring back fond memories of this year's smash flick The March of the Penguins. Unquestionably adorable, the parent penguin stands an impressive 16 inches tall, and the pair will play nicely with stuffed Elmos and Barneys.
Plush Emperor Penguin and Baby $31.50
|Fly Me to the Moon
Send your favorite astronomy buff rocketing into outer space with a moon globe. Painstakingly detailed with craters, seas, mountains and plains, and bearing designations of both American and Russian unmanned landing sites and the first Apollo landing location, this lunar delight is based on the official NASA model. It's one small step for gift-giving, but an inspired one!
Moon Globe $49.95
|Jurassic Park Revisited
Dino-crazed youngsters will go wild for Prehistoric Pals, four cute and cuddly mini-dinosaurs made of child-safe bean bag plush with embroidered eyes. Each comes with its own illustrated paperback book with titles like Lead the Way, Velociraptor! and Snack Time,Tyrannosaurus rex that promise scads of adventure. Set includes Velociraptor, T. rex, Triceratops and Stegosaurus. Books are preschool-to-first-grade reading level.
Prehistoric Pals Book and Toy Set $38.6
|Disco Doggy and Deep Sea Digital
The iPod isn't just the world's hottest mp3 player, it's a lifestyle. So it comes as no surprise that a plethora of accessories for the device have hit the market. Herewith, two of our favorite more modestly priced options. The iDog Musical Companion is an adorable desktop speaker caddy for your portable music player that dances to the music, wagging his ears, flashing his LED face and tilting his head along with the beat. The OtterBox case provides durable protection for your treasured iPod--it's waterproof, dust-proof and drop-resistant so you can take it along in the pool or on a desert trek with no fear of damage. Waterproof headphones sold separately.
iDog musical companion for iPod or MP3 $34.95
Otterbox waterproof cases for iPods $29.95 to $49.95
No one can stop time, but with the gear clock, the perennially punctual can get a glimpse into how it ticks. This uniquely post-modern timepiece has had its face removed to expose the oversized working gears that control the hands. Perfect for the hard of sight, it's a giant 10 to 11 inches in diameter and four inches deep. Requires two D batteries (not included).
Gear Clock $64.90
|Give a Little Insect
Dig no further for the perfect gift for your favorite paleontologist. From the venerable prehistory experts at Maxilla and Mandible comes an insect suspended in amber, from the Samland Peninsula along Russia's Baltic Sea. At 35 million years old, this ancient keepsake has been around long enough to ensure that Grandpa will hardly be the oldest critter rattling around the tree this holiday season.
Insect in Amber $48
|Take a Closer Look
As any researcher will tell you, the problem with most microscopes is you have to be at work to use them--they're not exactly tools you can toss in your knapsack. Or so they think. Get that mad scientist out of the lab with the Trekker portable microscope. Boasting 35x magnification and coated glass folded optics, this compact wonder will go wherever inquiring minds can wander. Battery powered; hard case and special Trekker camera optional.
Trekker, portable 35-power microscope $74.95
$75 to $150
Your favorite botany enthusiast will be delighted to preserve precious blossoms and plants in a professional herbarium plant press kit. The press is made of red oak strips studded with brass-coated steel rivets at all joints. The kit also includes cotton press straps and many sheets of ventilators and blotters for excellence in pressing by plant-pickers of all ages.
Red Oak Herbarium Plant Press Kit $81.68
|You'll Fly Away
A far cry from your standard ballpoint, the FLY Pentop Computer is a fully-equipped computer thats the size of a pen. Special software permits young wits to solve math problems, manage busy schedules and record music with accompanying hi-tech FLY paper. Comes with carrying case, earbuds, interactive map, games, 35 sheets of fly paper and a AAA battery to keep this FLY buzzing all day long.
FLY Pentop Computer $99.99
|No Wires! No Electricity! No Problem!
For the beloved family member whose motto is "iPod, therefore I am," a couple of life-changing accessories. Logitech wireless iPod headphones let the pod-obsessed dance hands-free, courtesy of interference-free Bluetooth technology. Includes integrated volume control for traveling up to thirty feet; rechargeable batteries fire up the headphones for eight unplugged hours. For the truly on-the-go, the Soldius 1 solar charger fits in a shirt pocket or purse and generates enough energy to fully charge an mp3 player or cell phone in just two or three hours of direct sunlight.
Logitech wireless headphones for iPod $149.99
Solar Charger for iPods, cell phones $109.99
|Hatch a Feast
Take the egg out of the nest with Design Within Reach's elegant ceramic egg birdfeeder. Handcrafted of ceramic earthenware, it's a work of art as well as an efficient feeder whose glossy surface attracts birds but prevents squirrels from getting a grip. Weatherproof spun aluminum perches permit four or more feathered friends to dine at once. Birders will shelve their binoculars and watch the action from the comfort of the living room, courtesy of this brightly colored feat of form and function.
Egg Bird Feeder $128
Bring the rainforest home--or a close approximation of it--with the "Alive" chimpanzee. A fully animated, life-size bust of a chimp, this technological marvel boasts eyes that track movement using infrared vision, stereoscope sound sensors and skin that reacts to touch, which means this ape not only looks real, it acts real, too. He's got four distinct emotions ranging from fearful to feisty and a 30-foot-range remote to override his natural primate mood swings. Still not convinced? His natural-sounding call of the wild will have you peeling bananas for him in no time.
"Alive" Chimp $149.95
Why put just one picture in a frame when you can capture thousands? Shutterbugs just insert their digital camera's memory card into the frame and snap--all the photos therein are viewable as thumbnails. They can then set up the frame to display a crossfading slide show with accompanying mp3 capabilities and speakers for a soundtrack to life. Compatible with seven different media formats, it works with virtually any digital camera. If a picture says a thousand words, this frame is a veritable Webster's!
Digital Picture Frame with Remote $199.99
That brush with Jaws will be forever commemorated with the SeaLife ReefMaster DC500 underwater digital camera. A five mega-pixel cam lets the deep sea diver capture that school of shimmering fish and wall of fire coral in living color, then move to turf for equally stunning snaps. The waterproof housing allows access to all camera functions, including power, shutter, zoom and menu. Try out the Shark Mode feature, which has virtually no shutter delay. 3X optical zoom and 4x digital zoom; tested to 200 feet.
SeaLife ReefMaster DC500 Underwater Digital Camera $499.95
|A Natural Selection
Gift that sailor or Darwin fan with a beautifully accurate 32-inch model of the ship the granddaddy of evolution took to the Galapagos islands in 1835. Built from scratch and constructed piece by piece, just like the actual vessel, this brig was crafted with meticulous attention to detail from a variety of exotic woods. A brass nameplate and solid wood stand accompany. Anchors aweigh!
Captains Line HMS Beagle Replica $300
A gorgeous greenhouse goody for the family gardener! Budding botanists can create a park right at home with designer Ric Lopez's Terradome Terrarium, a five-pound "garden in a bell" that houses a mini-landscape of orchids, succulents or kitchen herbs. Lopez married the unique aesthetic of bell-shaped glass jars used to exhibit plants as far back as 500 years ago with the 19th-century terrarium to make this modern and portable home dome that conserves heat and bears a vent for exhaling gases. Plants not included.
Terradome Terrarium $108
|The Jetson's Had Rosie
Give the maid her walking papers. The iRobot Scooba floor washing robot goes intrepidly where no mop has gone before. Flip the switch and this intelligent little neatnik goes to work, picking up loose dirt and sand, scrubbing with special Clorox solution and leaving hard floors clean and dry. A single Scooba tank cleans up to 200 square feet and passes an area four times on average. That's one spotless expanse of linoleum, and no back pain, bacteria-laden sponge or filthy bucket to contend with.
iRobot Scooba floor-washing robot $399.99
Blast your loved ones into outer space with this ingenious 16-inch museum-quality acrylic globe detailing more than 1,100 hand-silk-screened stars identified by name, Greek letter, brightness magnitude and distance from earth. Easy maneuvers permit the starstruck to recreate Earth, Sun and star movements for any time, date or location in the world. This home Milky Way comes with its own handy sculptured acrylic stand, guaranteeing that every night is clear enough to see forever.
Starship Earth $369.95