🎁 The 2023 Gift Guide!

When you have to buy something, and don't want it to suck

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Welcome to the 3rd annual INI Gift Guide!

It’s that time again. You’re obligated to buy stuff for people you love, and we’re going to caveat everything below by saying 1) it feels good to give, 2) buying second-hand, sustainably, from small businesses, women, and/or people of color is always the best move. So we’ve tried to accomplish that below. These are things I love to have and give.

Last thing: our annual charitable giving guide drops next week, and we’ll have tons of legit places where you can donate in someone’s name and skip the stuff altogether.

Happy Holidays!

— Quinn

I’m Quinn Emmett, and this is science for people who give a shit.

Every week, I help 25,000+ humans understand and unfuck the rapidly changing world around us. It feels great, and we’d love for you to join us.

Together With Search Party

Search Party: Chaos at the Park

Your search for the perfect family game is over. Search Party: Chaos at the Park is an epic 3-D pop-up search-and-find adventure. 

The people of Chaos City amusement park are in trouble and it's up to you to follow the characters around the park to help answer questions and solve mysteries! 

Over the course of 15 missions, you'll sabotage mad scientists, help parkgoers find love, and more. With fun pop-up structures and a highly intricate board packed with hidden objects and kooky characters, including 300 hidden items, the whole family will have a blast. 

The game is perfect for players 8+, so parents, siblings, cousins, and friends can all get searching together. Find it at Walmart, Target, Amazon, and Relatable.com. 

Brought to you by What Do You Meme? Family, a Relatable brand.

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🎁 2023 GIFT GUIDE 🎁

Disclaimer: Every year I try really hard to skip Amazon links. I really do. But there’s a few in the list below, and it is what it is. If you can find the exact same product elsewhere, go for it (also, let me know, and I’ll give you a gold star and change the link in the web version).

🥑 🎣 Food

The Mill bin. Changed my kitchen forever. It’s not compost, btw. It turns nearly all of your kitchen scraps into delicious smelling (!) chicken feed, which the nice postman then takes away from you?

The Farmstand. Grow a mix of 24 fruits, veggies, herbs, greens, and edible flowers with the self-watering and self-fertilizing hydroponic system that would look great in your friend’s tiny $5000 studio apartment in the far reaches of Brooklyn.

Rancho Gordo beans. There is absolutely no reason why heirloom beans can’t be stocking stuffers, especially when legumes are 1) delicious and 2) an answer to climate change with like six co-benefits?

Rancho Meladuco Medjool dates. Ok so you probably can’t send these to school, but what I do is cut them open, remove the pit, stuff each with a serving of crunchy peanut butter, and then keep them in the fridge as delicious snacks.

This waffle maker. I am, at best, a 4-6 out of 10 dad in the morning, but on the weekends, I get bonus points for being chief waffle maker. This one is great. My kids aren’t going to wake up early looking forward to seeing me and my waffles for very much longer, so I’ll use whatever tool I can to buy their adoration. With waffles.

Saba jams. So, yeah, waffles, but also my kids are swimmers (and other things) so we eat a lot of stuff that requires a light coating of jam. These are so so so good. Apricot lemon verbena? Yep. Mulberry plum? Inject it into my veins.

Van Van Vietnamese spices. These are obscenely good and you can use them in almost anything. An immigrant and woman-led business sourced from small farmers.

Shared Culture miso. This stuff is a problem. Mushroom miso? Check. Split pea miso? Check. Black garlic miso? Check check check.

Jacobsen Salt. In past years, I think I linked to Maldon’s bucket of sea salt. Which you should still absolutely buy for someone. Otherwise this little collection of flavored salt tins can be packaged as one gift or scattered throughout Hanukkah or stockings.

Brightland olive oil. Still the best and it’s not even close.

The Dona Rosa tortilla press. You really just can’t make them well enough without one of these and this thing is substantial. (this is the masa you want, you’re welcome)

Diaspora Co spices, teas and other delightful items. For the third year in a row, I’m proud to feature these heirloom and single-origin South Asian products. The best of the best.

A kid safe knife. Do your kids want to help you cook? Are they also, like mine, completely untrustworthy? Get them this knife and, you know, still keep an eye on them, but it could be worse.

Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat. Also a DELIGHTFUL Netflix show, I am ashamed to admit to how little acid I used to to add to my cooking — particularly at the end, just before serving — before this book.

Seed and Mill halva and tahini. My (amazing) mom (hi, Mom!) got me these for Christmas a few years ago and I am telling you it is hands down some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. I’m actually going to buy some more halva right now while I have the link open.

Cafecita coffee club. Women-owned, roasted, packaged, and marketed coffee delivered to your face. A portion of proceeds go to women’s nonprofits around the world (here’s your reminder why supporting the coffee industry is vitally important in the climate era).

Hedley & Bennett aprons. I have the Pride one (and the Cookie Monster one…), but they’re all great, and like most things, I was very late to life in understanding what oil does to your clothes, so just do it.

Any spices from Burlap & Barrel. Their’s is the most dangerous email I get every week.

Katfish Salmon Co smoked canned salmon. Gillnet caught in Southeast Alaska by small crews and then canned locally. Outrageously good.

A whole new induction cooktop. Not interested in being poisoned inside the comfort of your own home? Treat yourself and your loved ones to an induction cooktop. Renter? Check out the 10 best portable induction burners here. Need some induction-ready cookware to go with it? Here you go (also Le Creuset works great, you’re welcome).

🧻 🍑 Personal Care/Health Products

The Package Free Laundry Essentials Kit. So I love doing laundry, mostly because it is a tangible job I can start and finish (even if it’s never finished) AND because I get to hold my children’s little outfits, so dear to me, before they grow out of them, AND I can listen to my high fantasy or space-pew-pew audiobooks at the same time. But for whatever reason, my family seems to believe all of the dryer balls I got are fun and games and can just be absconded with, to throw against the wall or at each other? Does this look like a game to you?

Who Gives A Crap toilet paper. Some of you know this story, but in December 2019, I gifted all of my most cherished business partners a huge box of sustainable toilet paper. Most of them worked in big offices at the time, so I got a lot of “Thank you but WTF?” emails as the boxes were delivered to their cubicles. But let me tell you what — when the world shut down three months later and all those people suddenly had 48 extra rolls of soft AND sustainable toilet paper — I looked like a goddamn genius.

The Guppyfriend Washing Bag. To wash your synthetic clothes in, so as to 1) protect your clothes and 2) stop microplastics from getting into our bloodstreams.

The Adyn birth control test. Per Adyn, "trial and error should not be the norm." Amen. (get the backstory with founder Dr. Elizabeth Ruzzo here).

Maude sex wellness stuff. Woman-owned and inclusive as hell, we’re big fans of basically everything here (I am not allowed to use the bubble bath without asking).

Avocado mattresses. No one’s saying you have to do it on a bed, but sometimes it’s the best option, so it would be great if you rolled around alone or with a partner on something non-toxic. Either way, sleep is more or less my number one priority and Avocado’s certified organic mattresses are where it’s at.

👟👚 Clothing And Such

INI Merch! From right now through New Year’s Eve, everything in our store is 50% off. People love the t-shirts and hoodies and coffee things, in particular, but don’t sleep on the stickers. Every dollar you spend helps us grow this thing and unfuck the world.

Actually-sustainable athleisure wear. Most stretchy clothes are made out of fossil fuels. That’s not ideal for you or me. Our friends at Good On You put together this list of brands that aren’t a nightmare and I’m sure someone would appreciate them.

Hank’s cancer socks. Hank Green got cancer and designed some socks for the Good.Store while he got treatment. All of the profits go towards helping people get access to cancer treatment.

soleRebels. Super cool sneakers and slip-ons handcrafted with sustainable and upcycled materials in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The only thing my kids think is relatively cool about me is my pink Allbirds and I dare to say a pair of these might elevate me even further?

My Outerknown shorts and Blanket shirt. I really don’t buy any new clothes ever, but my wife occasionally buys me nice sustainable things that will last forever to replace my precious and tattered 5K participation t-shirts. These shorts are awesome really anytime, and the Blanket Shirt is pretty classy (and I just happen to be wearing it in the YouTube video from my new convo with Jen Caltrider).

Thunderpants USA. A small, woman-owned company dedicated to ethical labor practices, sustainable manufacturing, quality over quantity, and really just delightful organic cotton undies.

Organic Basics. Pretty straight-forward here — it’s kind of hard to find secondhand basics like bras and underwear. These cats use “recycled, recyclable, plant-based, and organic materials, and ethical means of production”, and “only collaborate with people, factories, and companies that are as passionate as we are about making good basics without harming the planet in the process.”

Bird Collective apparel. Ok so if you’re my wife and you’re reading this, understand that you’re definitely getting a glow in the dark loon shirt for Christmas. They’ve donated more than $100,000 to bird conservation and advocacy groups.

🤖 🚴‍♀️ Tech, Gadgets, Apps & Machines

👉 Before we go any further:

This week we released my conversation with Jen Caltrider, lead researcher for Mozilla's “Privacy Not Included” program, their annual “is this tech creepy?” Consumer Tech Buyer's Guide.

If you’re considering buying anything remotely connected to the internet this year, you should give it a 🎧 listen (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, everywhere else)!

House of Marley speakers and headphones. Sustainably crafted, socially responsible with materials that are FSC, REWIND, and REGRIND certified.

My electric leaf blower. Holy shit do I love this thing. And yes, I know you should actually leave the…leaves…in your yard. But it’s great for everything else, or making leaf piles for kids.

An e-bike. Or just a bike? I love my e-bike so very much but my friend Liz mocked me for it because “I don’t need one yet”, which, jokes on her, everything on my body hurts every day. Pair the bike with a script for your new bike owner to go yell at your city council for more bike infrastructure.

Aranet 4 indoor air monitors. Because it’s ridiculous this isn’t a national emergency.

Readwise. The app that helps me collect all of my highlights in one place and resurfaces them so I can actually do my job. Essential.

Yogasleep travel mini white noise machine. A godsend when traveling with or without kids. Pro hack: Buy a couple extra ones and leave them in a dedicated travel bag with an attached cord so you’re always good to go.

Fujifilm Instax Mini. A really really great tool to teach the concept of finite resources.

Copilot money tracker. Got a young person just starting out? Mint’s dead, thank god, so gift them Copilot (Mac and iPhone only, for now). As beautiful and intuitive as it gets.

Libro.fm gift bundles. The indie alternative to Audible. It’s great.

This hammock. I don’t really know which section to put a hammock under, so it’s here, and what kid wouldn’t love their own damn hammock? (alternatively, here is one you can share)

Adult Books and Other Stuff (not those adult books)

Emily Wilson’s incredible translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey. Among my favorite reads of the past decade. I cannot imagine the time required to do this.

I’m not going to list a ton of different books here (like God, Human, Animal, Machine), because all of my all-time book recommendations, and our podcast guest’s recommendations are here on Bookshop. PS: I haven’t finished my list for this year because I’m too busy writing this manifesto and driving to swim meets, but soon! It’ll be at the link above.

This incredible sticker that really sums up my nighttime habits perfectly.

Bird trivia. Is there a birder in your life? (trick question, everyone’s a secret birder) Get this and do something together that’s not doom-scrolling.

Kerry Cassill quilts. Are they very expensive? Yes. If my house was on fire and I could only take one thing with me, would I take my quilt? Also yes, because (I think) I can use it as a parachute, too, question mark?

Aura digital picture frames. We have a few of these and it’s a really great way to unlock the bazillion pictures you have on your phone at home, the office, or whatever. We give them as gifts too and then we can send pics to the gift-recipients in two seconds. I wish these existed when my grandparents were around.

These customized wool beanies. My wife said these were the best thing I’d ever done (I tried not to read too much into it). Got them for the whole family and this seller was an absolute dream to work with.

These customized hidden-storage-books. My wife’s idea (you may be noticing a trend). Hides all of our TV room electronics. A delight.

These bird pun coasters. It’s just funny.

PS again: This section is shorter because I barely qualify as an adult. I also go to bed at 8:30 and my extracurriculars are necessarily limited. I mostly read, and/or watch Victorian-era shows next to my wife while we scroll through pictures of our kids who just went to bed, because it makes her happy and that’s all I need.

📚 🎨 Educational & Kids

👉 First things first:

This will go into our charitable giving guide, too, but please support teachers by picking up some classroom supplies via DonorsChoose. You can get gift cards, too, so your recipient can choose their own projects to support.

The INI Book Club for Kids. Well, it’s not an actual book club, but maybe we should do that? Anyways here’s our favorite recommendations for younger kids to learn about climate, tech, health, the ocean, history, philosophy, and more — all on Bookshop. I’m pretty proud of this list — and it grows every single week.

Color Pop Books. 91% of these kid-affirming books feature a BIMPOC protagonist and 73% come from BIMPOC creators. Powered by DonorsChoose!

These customized library bags. We go every weekend, and my kids can’t carry all their shit in their little T-rex arms, so I finally got them bags with their names on them. They turned out great.

These customized lunch box notes. I make their lunches every morning and while I suspect they only eat a percentage of what I make them, it sparks joy, as does writing unhinged love letters for them to open in front of all of their friends.

These customized routine charts are really a gift for you, but if you have kids (or adults) that struggle with focus in the mornings, or literally whenever, they’re really helpful.

Illustoria magazine. We LOVE this magazine. “For creative kids and their grownups” is a pretty fitting description, but also I don’t like to put labels on my kids (except maybe “Wakes up every morning like it’s Memento, aghast at the perfectly reasonable number of tasks required to simply get on the school bus”) so if you don’t feel like your kid is “creative”, one, you’re probably wrong, two, don’t tell them that, three, get this anyways.

Other subscriptions you’ll both not regret piling up, unlike The New Yorker: Aquila and Kazoo, which is billed as being for girls aged 5-12, but my boys and girl and I all adore it and fight over it, so.

Toycycle sustainable new and thrift shop toys. Buy secondhand whenever you can, and support the circular economy directly by buying from stores trying to do the thing.

Jiggy puzzles. We love to puzzle. Can’t start early enough with these.

Wooden periodic table blocks. For the small child who watched Oppenheimer and can’t get enough.

The Writer Emergency Pack. We need more people, and more young people, telling more original stories about their lived experiences — and imagined ones in far-off worlds or solarpunk futures. Enter my friend John’s Writer Emergency Pack, containing 52 illustrated cards featuring a different idea for getting your story unstuck.

Kanoodle Pyramid. This multiplayer geometric puzzle game is fun for the whole fam.

Understanding Comics. Maybe the best book on art and storytelling I’ve ever read.

Litogami solar-powered toys. Lightweight, flat packed, and easy-to-assemble, these absolutely delightful DIY kits are made from eco-friendly materials. Choose from a range of designs, create your miniature solar powered village or experience the thrill of a 1.5mph solar race in the living room!

Turing Tumble. Marble powered computers but honestly whether you understand how or why you’re solving logic puzzles doesn’t really matter because it’s just super fun to play with. My kids love this thing. I already got them the follow-up, Spintronics.

Friendly Loom loom kits. All of my children’s clothes have holes in the knees and while I am now realizing fixing those is probably not what these loom kits are for — it appears to be for making adorable potholders and hats and scarves? — there really is never a bad time to learn to weave.

Spiro Voice Recorded Sound Toy with Loop Switch is probably a sentence I will regret typing, but I’m all for kids making music any which way they’re inspired to do so.

The Goodnewspaper. Gift some good news — in print!

The Odin science starter kits. Want that special person to get a leg up in bacterial gene engineering? Pick up some glowing jellyfish bacteria while you’re there!

Handy Famm tape measure. You know what kids love to do? Help you with projects. But also, to just wander around the house measuring shit. Help them help you with this bird tape measure and level.

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