The holidays, as so many Lifetime movies have taught us, have become a time of greed and crass commercialism. But also, as those same Lifetime movies taught us, they can be a time of selflessness and joy. So in the spirit of both of those things, we present The A.V. Club’s two-part Holiday Re-Gifting Guide, which exists in part so that we can ask companies to send us free stuff, and in part so that we can give that free stuff away. (Some of it, anyway.) So please welcome part one into your home, serve it some eggnog, and then see how it can help you either a) become a better person or b) get material possessions. Perhaps it’s both. Oh, and in the spirit of holiday innocence, we also had some adorable children take a look at these products, and you can watch part one of that video here. And the dollar amounts are all list prices—you can probably do a lot better on most of these things.
Breaking Bad: The Complete Series Blu-ray ($300)
“The television event of the year” is a cliché—and a bad one, too—but it pretty well describes this year’s Breaking Bad half-season, and especially the final episode, which at least felt more anticipated than any finale since The Wire’s. The full-series box set does justice to the devotion that Breaking Bad inspired: It includes not only every episode (naturally), but also a bonus Blu-ray disc (the whole thing is Blu-ray-only at this point) with a new two-hour documentary and a ton more special features. If that’s not enough, there’s also a Pollos Hermanos apron, in case you find yourself needing to cook meth or chicken. Oh, and the whole thing is housed in a replica Breaking Bad money barrel, in case you have a million tiny dollars hanging around that might need to be buried in the desert.
Did they send us a free one? Two! One for us, and one for you to win in a contest.
Who will we re-gift it to? This really cool new A.V. Club staffer, Hsoj Lledom—a nice welcome-to-the-office gift!
The Walking Dead season three limited-edition zombie fishtank box ($150)
One of the most striking images of The Walking Dead’s third season was the reveal of the Governor’s horrifying secret room, where he displayed the still-biting heads of walkers in fish tanks. That bit of grotesquerie can now sit on your DVD shelf thanks to this limited-edition set, which provides five detailed severed heads (and, even grosser, bits of viscera) that are mounted inside two clear-plastic tubs that can be filled with water. Push the tiny “3” in “Season 3” on the front, and six LEDs illuminate the heads from below (four AAA batteries not included). The five-disc Blu-ray set slides in behind the tanks.
Did they send us a free one? Yup, when the DVDs came out in late August. It comes in a ludicrously big box.
Who will we re-gift it to? The collector nerd who doesn’t mind clearing some space on his figurine shelf for some handsomely assembled horror.
Fifty Shades Of Grey wine ($18/bottle)
“I hear another clink of ice, and then I can feel it round my right nipple as he tugs the left one with his lips. I moan, struggling not to move. It’s sweet, agonizing torture. ‘If you spill the wine, I won’t let you come.’” This is what your mom has been reading for the past couple of years, and right out in public. Now author—and richer human being than you could ever hope to be, so chew on that for a second—E.L. James has authorized a pair of wines to go along with her Fifty Shades Of Grey series, claiming on the publicity material that “wine plays an important role in Fifty Shades.” The “white silk” blend features lychee, honey, pear, and grapefruit flavors, while “red satin” promises black cherry, cocoa, caramel, leather, and clove. The alcohol content is 13.5% in each, which is hopefully strong enough to help you push the thought of your mom reading ham-handed S&M porn out of your mind. Jesus, I hope she’s not getting any ideas.
Did they send us a free one? Yes, one bottle of each, even though presumably they knew we were going to make fun of it a little bit.
Who will we re-gift it to? Definitely not our moms. Alcohol tends to make people honest, and the last thing we need in one room is Fifty Shades Of Grey and TMI.
Custom socks by CoolSocksBruh ($60-65)
Whether you’ve always wanted to wear a tribute to Aaliyah on your feet or have a weird pepperoni pizza/foot fetish, CoolSocksBruh has you covered with these graphic socks.
Did they send us a free one? We requested a pair of custom socks, but the manufacturer never even returned our note.
Who will we re-gift it to? If we’d gotten the pizza socks, we’d have re-gifted them to our web producer, who loves pizza and needs warm socks for his bike ride in every day.
Star Trek Limited Edition 24k Gold Pizza Cutter ($60)
The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) is an icon of modern science fiction, a defining piece of TV production design, and a testament to the imagination of original Star Trek art director Matt Jeffries. Replicas of the vessel have adorned the bookshelves and desks of Trek fans for decades, but the inspiration for Jeffries’ original design—an electric stove coil—suggests that the Enterprise’s true place is in the kitchen. Previously re-imagining Kirk and Spock’s Enterprise as a spatula (while also offering cookie-cutting and bottle-opening variations), the nerd merch purveyors at ThinkGeek take the starship to its final culinary frontier: the pizzeria. Available in both a zinc alloy and 24k gold (the latter logically limited to 1,701 numbered pieces), the pizza cutter shows that while the United Federation Of Planets has no use for currency, there’s no price tag too high for Trek fandom.
Did they send us a free one? Yes—No. 1596, to be exact.
Who will we re-gift it to? Until real-life replicator technology comes along, this is the present for dads who treat every new cooking challenge like the Kobayashi Maru.
Travel Boy Carry-On Luggage ($70)
In 1989, Nintendo finally made travel bearable with the introduction of the Game Boy. What it lacked in processing power and polychromatic color scheme, the system more than made up for in terms of game selection and portability—the latter of which is reflected in this suitcase made to resemble the ultimate carry on. (Unfortunately, the Travel Boy’s lone title, Terminal Chaos, appears to be an unplayable, static screenshot. As far as launch titles go, it’s no Tetris.) The interior of the case is as much of an attraction as the outside, with a large zippered pouch for the gamer-on-the-go’s various chargers and cables. The flexible plastic shell gives some pause, however—before it receives a full A.V. Club endorsement, perhaps it could undergo the “gorilla test,” American Tourister style? Is Donkey Kong available for such a job?
Did they send us a free one? ThinkGeek was generous enough to provide a pair—so if DK happens to destroy one of them, there’s an “extra life” scenario in play.
Who will we re-gift it to? A retro-gaming-obsessed sibling who just moved out of state and now has greater number of occasions to travel and show off their appreciation of vintage Nintendo design.
Cover Girl’s The Capitol Collection, inspired by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($3-$7)
The Hunger Games series is a marketing juggernaut, so it makes total sense that a cosmetic line—and one that appeals to a lot of young shoppers—would want to be attached to the movie. Unfortunately, Katniss Everdeen’s District 12 is a cold and bleak place, and the only makeup anyone wears there is probably made of coal dust. Fortunately for Cover Girl, though, Panem’s capital is a bright and vibrant place, full of whimsical hairstyles and outrageously made-up citizens. (It’s also full of corruption and disgrace, but whatever. Everyone who lives there looks great!) Thus, just in time for the movie’s release and the holiday season, Cover Girl has produced The Capitol Collection. Items include Flamed Up Mega Curl Mascara, complete with a Curl Igniter Brush; Capitol Collection Glosstini nail polish in colors like Pyro Pink, Sulfur Blaze, and Flamed Out; Capitol Collection Nail Stickers “to create your own Hunger Games-inspired manicure” (so you can look great when you’re trying to murder 23 other kids); and Lipslicks Smoochies Sizzle Gloss, which comes in colors like Tickled Pink and doesn’t really seem to have all that much to do with the actual Hunger Games movie.
Did they send us a free one? Cover Girl did send us a Very Black Blaze mascara, Rogue Red nail polish, and Violet Flare gloss, so we’re all ready for our big interview with Caesar Flickerman.
Who will we re-gift it to? The tween girl cousin that we don’t know that much about. It’s nice to give her something, and the nice-but-not-too-nice Hunger Games makeup set says we care, but not enough to spring for department-store product.
Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga Box Set ($65)
The Twilight Saga spans five films, each filled with sparkly vampires, questionable dialogue, and lots and lots of teen romance. The last of the movies—Breaking Dawn Part 2—came out last November, so Summit Entertainment has just released Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga Box Set on both Blu-ray and DVD, so that fans who have bought every DVD individually can now buy the whole thing again in one big set. The box does include a number of special-features discs, all of which are packaged in a little photo album that’s filled with stills from the movies.
Did they send us a free one? Yes, though we had to request it and swear allegiance to the world of Stephenie Meyer, but that’s no big deal.
Who will we re-gift to? Our 12-year-old niece or the neighbor girl who lives next door. Or her mom who read 50 Shades Of Grey when it was still Twilight fan fiction.
Litographs T-shirt ($34)
The “entire book on one item” trend has yielded plenty of posters featuring the full text of Shakespeare’s plays and other literary classics, but Litographs takes things a step further. The company boasts a catalog of more than 100 classic books from antiquity through the modern age in fiction, non-fiction, and drama. The presentation is elegant, portable, and wearable, with designs produced on custom prints, tote bags, and shirts, and printed by a process called dye sublimation (meaning the dye is transferred into the fibers instead of merely printed onto the shirt). In simple black and white or saturated multicolored designs, all Litographs highlight inventive uses of negative space to create a striking piece of art. To the literary enthusiast, it’s a favorite book made wearable. To the cynic, it’s yet another way to project snobbish taste without reading.
Did they send us a free one? Yes, we received shirts for J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, both of which look great.
Who will we re-gift it to? Definitely not to the uncle trying to recapture his youth (too creepy). Perhaps to the literary niece or nephew on the verge of high school, who’s just starting to get into theater; or the fan of My Little Pony and Tinkerbell.
Clark Griswold hockey jersey and Christmas Vacation moose mug ($45/$50)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation squeezes plenty of laughs out of its characters’ wardrobes, like the lady’s finery Chevy Chase dons to fight the cold of the Griswold family attic and the sweater-and-dickey combo that’s a few sizes too small for Randy Quaid. But no item of clothing sums up the failure of Clark Griswold’s perfect Christmas like the number on his personalized Chicago Blackhawks jersey: 00. This recreation is just shy of authentic—alterations to the crest keep the jersey from stepping on the Hawks’ intellectual-property toes—but pair it with a replica of Clark’s preferred eggnog mug/callback to the first Vacation film and you’re ready to have your own slapstick holiday from hell.
Did they send us a free one? One complete Griswold ensemble arrived courtesy of My Party Shirt, the web’s No. 1 destination for fans of fictional people and fictional sports teams. Among the site’s other offerings for boosters of jocks who never were: Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, Happy Gilmore, and the original starting lineup of The Mighty Ducks.
Who will we re-gift it to: The overextended Clark Griswold in our own lives—once he recovers from slipping off the roof, that is.
Weeds: The Complete Collection Blu-ray ($120)
All eight seasons of Showtime’s popular Weeds are now available together in one collection, a year after the show concluded. All 2,700 minutes of Mary-Louise Parker’s growing marijuana business, from the suffocating and satirical suburban confines of Agrestic, California, to locations around the world. It’s all here: the promising first three seasons that literally ended with the show going up in flames, three more convoluted seasons as Weeds meandered downwards, and then a final two-season stretch that didn’t redeem all the flaws, but brought the series to a satisfying close—contained in one hell of a bright neon clear plastic case. In case you weren’t aware that the show was about pot, the packaging practically screams, “This is a show about drugs!”
Did they send us a free one? Yes, it currently makes whichever desk it rests on feel a little more like a Vegas nightclub.
Who will we re-gift it to? That one aunt and uncle who still drive a VW conversion van to every family function, if they have a Blu-ray player fixed up. Otherwise maybe an early teenager, since it’ll get so boring in the middle that they’ll be disillusioned with the very idea of getting involved in marijuana distribution.
Gotham City Ring ($215)
As Grant Morrison wrote, “It’s the kind of town that whispers ‘baby’ while it’s picking your pockets, that promises the world and delivers the gutter, or vice versa, and puts out your lights with a kiss, or a bullet, then forgets your name before dawn.” And now you can fit all the seediness of Gotham City right on your finger. The bonus: This extravagant accessory could easily double as a weapon if you find yourself in a city as sinister as Gotham. Just gouge out an eyeball or two and watch your assailant’s blood run across a skyline of brass-plated gunmetal and cubic zirconium.
Did they send us a free one? Yes, and Noir Jewelry even let us choose from black, gold, or silver, but we all know there’s only one color that epitomizes Gotham’s darkness.
Who will we re-gift it to? Our trendy city-slicker cousin who’s into brass knuckles, but can’t wear them in public, because, you know, it’s illegal.
Hot Wheels Car Maker ($50)
While actually going out to buy a Hot Wheels car is easy enough, what about those times when you want to own a new, specially customized mini-car without having to put on pants or walk out the front door? The Hot Wheels Car Maker allows kids (or, more likely, patient parents) to create a fully functioning hot rod just by using the machine to melt some wax into a mold. While making an actual car takes about 15 minutes, the wax models are surprisingly sturdy, perfect for smashing into each other or running off ramps made of old books.
Did they send us a free one? Yes. We’re personally vouching for that “ramps of books” thing. The cars we made even survived multiple high-impact crashes into our conference room wall.
Who will we re-gift it to? While, in theory, it’s okay for kids 8 and older, we have a hard time believing any kid would be patient enough to wait for their fresh little car to come out of the machine. Instead, we think we’ll gift it to someone our age that’s going to a big family Christmas party. They’ll be the star of the party—or at least the first 15 minutes of the party.
iRobot Ava 500 Video Collaboration Robot ($2,500/month)
Built ostensibly for use in global manufacturing, the iRobot Ava 500 is a man-sized rolling robot, complete with video screen that allows, say, the American holding a patent on a part used on an oil rig to “walk” through the rig in the Persian Gulf and let the people actually working there know why said part might be broken. It’s also a really creepy way to make it so your long-distance best friend is always around.
Did they send us a free one? Hell no. It’s not even out until 2014. We also didn’t even ask because, seriously? $2,500 a month?
Who will we re-gift it to? If The A.V. Club had one, we’d send it straight to Todd VanDerWerff out in Los Angeles. He’s the only editor not working in Chicago, but with the Ava 500, he could be right next to us all the time. Viva ToddBot 500!
The Clash Sound System box set ($200)
Sound System is clearly one of the best-looking box sets of 2013. The life-size, pressed cardboard boom box from Sony Legacy contains CD copies of every Clash album, as well as a DVD of live material, three CDs of rarities, and a number of neat little bonus items, like buttons, dog tags, a poster that’s wrapped up in a tube meant to look like a lit cigarette, and a folder containing all three of the band’s old Armageddon Times fanzines, as well as a new one curated by Paul Simonon. It’s an extremely well thought-out package; all the small items in the box are packed in cardboard replicas of Clash road cases, and each CD is in a thick, sturdy case. The CDs inside even look like little LPs.
Did they send us a free one? Indeed they did. God bless ’em.
Who will we re-gift it to? Ideally, no one; if we had to choose, maybe our punk best friend. It’s a little pricey, though. We wouldn’t want to make the receiver feel like they had to gift us something this nice right back.
Gigantic Beach Ball ($150)
Online merchant Vat 19 specializes in items of ludicrous dimensions—you may remember its 26-pound Edible Gummy Party Python from last year’s gift guide. But you could probably fit dozens of those massive coiled sweets inside the Gigantic Beach Ball, an inflatable toy that’s 9 feet in diameter and a reported 659,000 cubic inches in volume. It might seem like something to keep around strictly out of novelty value, but when spring hits, you might want to have some sporting goods around to proportionately represent your winter-thaw enthusiasm.
Did they send us a free one? According to Beth Dalpini at Vat 19, the sample of the ball received by The A.V. Club is the one featured in the site’s own product photos. No word on whether or not we’ll have as much fun with it as this guy appeared to.
Who will we re-gift it to: The 13-and-a-half-foot-tall kid down the street.
Tie-dyed T-shirt emblazoned with Krumm from Nickelodeon’s Aaahh!!! Real Monsters ($63.00)
Searching for Nickelodeon items in Etsy’s handmade arena can produce some pretty weird stuff, from all manner of 1-inch buttons to this incredibly detailed tie-dyed shirt with Krumm from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters somehow worked into the design. What makes it even better is that this is just one shirt in a set; seller GratefullyDyedDamen will make a set of three different shirts, each one featuring one of the three monsters from the show for those who ask nicely. This one’s a good place to start in the tie-dyed Nickelodeon apparel realm, though. And for those who aren’t Nickelodeon fans, check out GratefullyDyedDamen’s other pop-culture related shirts. We’re especially partial to the one featuring the floating head of Dr. Steve Brule.
Did they send us a free one? Indeed. GratefullyDyedDamen sent one right over, though we’re regretting not also requesting the aforementioned Brule shirt as well.
Who will we re-gift it to? Someone that’s both obsessed with nostalgia and not at all ashamed to wear tie-dyed shirts outside the house—so, a 25-year-old coming out of next year’s Electric Daisy Carnival?
Satanic Knit Baphomet Sweater ($80)
Shredders knit apparel first blipped onto our radar with the discovery of a Wu-Tang Clan Christmas sweater, a design that was long gone before we could get in touch. Thankfully, Shredders offers up a variety of sweaters that should be the talk of any holiday event. The satanic Baphomet sweater delivers just that, with pentagrams aplenty, and the goat-like icon synonymous with the dark arts. It’s also a surefire way to keep warm during those late-night sacrifices, not that we’d condone that sort of thing…
Did they send us a free one? Thanks to the blood oath we made with the post office, we were able to ensure delivery just in time for the holiday season. They also sent one with a King Diamond-inspired snowman standing in front of a burning church.
Who will we re-gift it to? Give it to a younger sibling who’s just discovering Slayer or throw it in a white elephant exchange among friends. Either way, it’ll end up being a conversation piece.
The Art Of Rube Goldberg: (A) Inventive (B) Cartoon (C) Genius book ($60)
Anyone who can legitimately claim to have influenced Robert Crumb and the game Mousetrap should be fascinating enough to most good people. But Rube Goldberg doesn’t even need those calling cards; his work not only stands on its own, it’s long been iconic. The legendary artist and inventor is best known for what became tagged Rube Goldberg devices—intricate, seemingly impractical machines made of dozens of moving parts, which came to symbolize both the heroism and absurdity of American ingenuity in the early 20th century. Beside his place in cultural history, though, he was a virtuoso cartoonist—and that’s what The Art Of Rube Goldberg: (A) Inventive (B) Cartoon (C) Genius celebrates. From his lively commercial work to his serious portraiture to those teeming-with-nonsense schematics, it’s all here. And the extensive annotation helps bring Goldberg’s work and life to vibrant, kinetic life.
Did they send us a free one? Yes, and thank God they did. Not only is the book itself a stunning piece of book production, it comes with an elaborate, interactive, Goldberg-esque cover that’s worthy of the man’s own inventive contraptions.
Who will we re-gift it to? That cute, eccentric, crafty person we’ve had our eye on all year. You know, the one who wears suspenders and probably listens to old-timey music.
Beverly Hills, 90210: The Complete Series DVD ($349)
For those who have only scattered, taped-from-air VHS copies of their favorite Beverly Hills, 90210 episodes laying around, and whose Trapper Keepers are practically worn out, there now exists this behemoth—possibly the heaviest (by weight, but possibly emotionally as well) item in this year’s gift guide. Every episode of the original series—293 of them, from 10 seasons—is gathered here on a whopping 72 discs, which are gathered into “yearbooks.” These are essentially photo collages with notes and trivia scattered throughout, so if you’re looking for a cheesecake shot of Ian Ziering alongside a handwritten Post-It reading, “Ian Ziering auditioned for The Price Is Right when Bob Barker retired,” you’re in luck. (It’s a bit like an episode of Pop-Up Video came to life and exploded into a box set.) Still, if you’ve got a couple hundred hours to spare (not to mention $300+), there are worse ways to gain some insight into ’90s pop culture. Also: That Dylan is a hunk.
Did they send us a free one? Shockingly, yes. That’s how we know it’s the heaviest.
Who will we re-gift it to? There have been a couple of wandering eyes lingering a little too long over this box. Maybe whoever will actually admit to a deep love of 90210 can get it.
Gamebooze flask ($20)
Available from Athena’s Wink, a clever Etsy store that produces flasks emblazoned with pop-culture art. Their store contains flasks referencing Pokemon, Adventure Time, Mega Man, BioShock, and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. This particular option is a stainless steel flask wrapped in a vinyl image that cleverly costumes eight ounces of a beverage as the original grey, brick-shaped Nintendo Gameboy.
Did they send us a free one? Yes, and now it's holding some delicious, delicious whiskey. If your flask doesn’t carry whiskey, you’re doing flasks wrong.
Who will we re-gift it to? Our video-game-obsessed younger brother who just turned 21.
Marshmallow Out USB Foot Warmers ($35)
First, you take the graham. You stick the chocolate on the graham. Then, you roast the ’mallow. When the ’mallow’s flamin’, you stick it on the chocolate. Then, you cover it with the other end. Then, you stick your feet in. Wait, what? With these s’more slippers, your tootsies can be just as toasty as a campfire. Simply plug the USB cord into your computer and slide your feet in to kick the cold, while working—ahem, surfing the Internet for cupcake hats and doughnut earrings. And if you get hungry for a real treat, just unplug them at the heel and stroll to the kitchen slip free, since the bottoms are covered in traction dots.
Did they send us a free one? Yes, and our feet couldn’t be happier, or toastier.
Who will we re-gift it to? To the person with the Twitter handle smorelier. Oh, wait that’s me, and I’m keeping these.
Knock Down Barns game ($40)
There’s a burgeoning industry of small, handcrafted board games out there, and The A.V. Club would be absolutely remiss if we didn’t mention at least one. This year, it’s Knock Down Barns, a game that’s kind of a mix between Battleship, Jenga, and paper football. Players each take half of a bamboo board, set a screen up, and then build their own “barn” out of wood. When the screen comes down, players take turns flicking a “demolition barrel,” (or marshmallow) at each other’s barns. The goal is to clear the other person’s barn off the board before they do the same to you. It’s all strategy and hand-eye coordination, and it’s the perfect game for a nice, intense night at home with friends.
Did they send us a free one? The manufacturer is actually in Chicago, so we had one delivered the same day we made the request. Now that’s service.
Who will we re-gift it to? Our most competitive brother, but only after we use the game to destroy his self-confidence over the holidays.
Breaking Bad ornament ($10) and mini “Treat Yo’ Self” banner ($12)
Pop-culture-related Christmas ornaments are nothing new, but what better way to say hello to old St. Nick than by reminding him that you’re down with quality television? Etsy seller Made By Gwen hawks both these felt items, which could go either on a tree or, in the case of the banner, just on your desk, if you need some swaggy motivation. They’re felt, lovingly handmade, and say “I cared enough to give you something related to the very best shows on television this year.”
Did they send us a free one? She did, and even included a funny Christmas card that we could re-gift to someone else in the package.
Who will we re-gift it to? Someone else on The A.V. Club staff. No one would appreciate it more.
The Giver 20th Anniversary box set ($72)
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Newbery-winning novel The Giver—and to capitalize on the fact that the final installment of the series, Son, was published just last year—Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has released a box set featuring all four novels, a.k.a. The Giver Quartet.
Did they send us a free one? Yes indeed.
Who will we re-gift it to? Our preteen nephew (or niece) who wants his dystopian YA to be a little more challenging, needs to get inspired, looks to question authority, and takes any opportunity to object to hypocrisy. There are kids like that, right?
Vaya Bags record bag ($125)
Tianna Mellinger (formerly of the band Bridge & Tunnel, and currently in Fellow Project) started Vaya Bags when a bag she crafted for herself started attracting the attention of other cyclists. Since then, Vaya Bags has gotten attention for its use of all-recycled materials and Mellinger’s dedication to stitching each one by hand. (And with its line of specialty bags aimed at photographers and record collectors, it offers solutions for those who know that standard messenger bags aren’t the best for transporting vinyl.) The bag’s main feature is a body that can house up to 25 LPs and 15 7-inches in separate pockets, and a small compartment for miscellaneous personal effects as well. Though it’s built for cyclists, its functions extend to aspiring DJs or obsessive crate diggers, though it doesn’t help prevent the poor posture or inevitable arthritis inherent with either discipline.
Did they send us a free one? Yes, with a design similar to this year’s Fest exclusive version. Its aesthetics differ from the one on Vaya’s site, but it’s no less functional.
Who will we re-gift it to? Probably a cool uncle or cousin with a penchant for both records and cycling, but until then it’s something we’re more than happy to hold on to.