2015 Holiday Gift Guide Part Two

2015 Holiday Gift Guide Part Two

Friday, 11 December 2015
ARTIST: 2015 Holiday Gift Guide Part Two
All the most marvellous gift ideas that Ground Control’s favorite Santa’s helper Ollie Mikse could imagine.
DATE: 12-11-15
WRITER: Ollie Ottoman

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Now Playing: ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas’ by the Eels

Hello there!??

It’s the holiday season and time to completely buy into the capitalist society we pretend not to live in. While Bill Adams will keep you covered with the music related-items we think will tickle your gift-giving fancy this year, I will be sticking to the more non-musical side of things. Now, to be clear, t’is the season of giving and you’re better off giving something thoughtful to your loved ones or those in need. We’ve even been recommending the best music all year long on our site to help you give the gift of sound so, get something for those who need and even treat yourself while you’re at it. Ready? OK!

/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/donations.jpgDonations and subscriptions
You have the internet and you have disposable income. As such, you are better off than most of the Earth’s population. What better way to celebrate the holidays than by donating to several great charities? We can at least all agree that our local food banks are a great place to start, so head over to yours and give generously. And if you’re tired of the same old tripe churned out by what we call “journalism” here in America, might I recommend a subscription to some very excellent publications like The Nation, The Progressive and Mother Jones or, if politics is not your thing,Razorcake Magazine – in my opinion, the best music zine out there. All these publications offer honest and interesting journalism that is actually informative, so don’t be a jive turkey this holiday season and give the gift of giving.

And if (somehow) these charities don’t float your boat, check out this list by The Nation if you want to give to a cause that’s more your style (www.thenation.com/article/177456/progressives-guide-holiday-giving ).


The Nation: www.thenation.com/
The Progressive: www.theprogressive.org
Mother Jones: www.motherjones.com/
Razorcake: www.razorcake.org

Brothers Artisan Oil
I’d like to start this shopping guide with a magical story. Being a bearded man myself and loving my local Trader Joe’s, I found myself confronted by another bearded man who handed me a small vial one evening. Was it drugs? No, it was a sample of what some of the local folks have to offer. And that is quality beard-care products.

Brothers Artisan Oil are a Massachusetts-based company who focus on taking care of your beard for you. You put in a lot of work into growing that beard, but now you have to maintain it, right? Luckily for you, these guys have you covered. It’s not just that Brothers Artisan Oil are a local group (and much like music you’re supposed to support local), but that they make such a fine product makes their products an easy sell. With them, you have your choice of several fragrances of beard oil (just a couple drops will do!) which have an earthy smell to them like sage & mint and orange & grapefruit. Also available are their excellent shaving oils and beard balms which focus more on keeping your hair and pores in shape. Sure, the presentation of their products is top notch and classy (great for stuffing stockings!), but the brothers also make a product that helps WITH your presentation. And of course, they also offer combs and grooming kits which are wonderful standalone gifts which will make any man happy.

I never used beard-care products before and it took a product like Brothers Artisan Oil to change that. Try them, and you’ll wonder how you ever did without them.



Descendent of Thieves
One of the great things about doing these guides is that we get to meet new people and work with old friends. At the top of the list are the guys at Descendant of Thieves.

If you haven’t heard of them, that’s a shame because they make the best damn shirt on the market. With them, you don’t just get a wide variety of colors, patterns and products (seriously, it’s hard not to find a dozen must-have items in their catalog) but you get something that’s thoughtful as well. Their shirts are just one example; they are comfortable and are form fitting of course, but the devil is in the details because they all have double reinforced collars with stitching to hold them in place, hidden buttons to keep your sleeves folded back and your neck collar down, and hidden pockets where you least expect them. Although I’ve always loved their shirts and jackets, Descendant of Thieves had to up the ante and make a killer set of pants as well.

Comfortable yet snug and extra-lined, their pants come with foldable legs and, as is their trademark, hidden pockets galore. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everyone should have Descendant of Thieves products. As for me? If I could, I’d be dressed by them from head to toe until the day I die.



Grayers Clothing
It’s good to know there are companies like Grayers who are going to keep you warm and comfortable even in the harshest New England winters. It’s an added bonus that they’re going to make you look good while they’re at it. How is it that Grayers clothing looks so casual and formal at the same time?

Call me crazy, but I’ve never really gotten the hang of flannel shirts. Maybe it’s because I haven’t tried Grayers flannels in the past. Thick and sturdy yet incredibly comfortable, I never knew a shirt could also double as a jacket and that I could wear one of these things from morning till night, and never look out of place. I finally found a shirt that can be my buddy throughout winter.

In addition to great shifts, Grayer’s also has you covered with a plethora of accessories from jackets, to hoodies, to scarves (ones that don’t overwhelm your neck, but look sleek), ties and pants. Just basically the entire package. Even when you think your wardrobe is great, it takes Grayers to make it complete.



American Giant
So we’ve covered some of the more formal and dressy guys, but how about casual wear? How about casual wear which looks so good that it’s almost dressy looking? American Giant has the reputation of making the greatest hoodies in the world, and after wearing one, I find it hard to argue against it. Sure, they have sweats and shirts, but the hoodie is what takes the cake.??I’m picky when it comes to my hoodies, especially because most hoodies are clunky looking and made to be taken off. American Giant made it their goal to actually put time and effort and actually made a hoodie that looks good. Shocking, right? And when you feel an American Giant hoodie, you know this going to last you a long long time.

Why are their hoodies so great? Well because they’re form-fitting and actually compliment your torso. That makes it a winner right there, but also their hoodies are the most resilient piece of clothing I’ve ever encountered. They are made out of breathable yet sturdy and thick material. The outcome is that their hoodies keep you perfectly snug and warm in 40-degree weather, but are incredibly comfortable even in 60-degree weather. Hands down, I’ve never felt a hoodie like this. Put one on, and you’ll see what I mean. I dare you to take it off, though.



Teepublic Shirts
If you didn’t know, there are about three companies out there who make pop culture shirts available for only 24 hours for their customers to snag up.When the time’s up, the shirts are gone forever. We’re talking a massive output of about 1000 unique shirt designs that are only available to those who religiously check their websites on a daily basis. I am certainly guilty of being one of those people. I wouldn’t want to miss out on an awesome shirt that only I would have, you know?

But then Teepublic came along with their genius idea: collect all those designs and have them all permanently available on their site. And of course, they had to take things to another level by letting their customers customize shirt style and color. So yes, I had ordered several shirts varying in style, colors, fit (men’s and women) and complexity. I didn’t know what to expect but, to be honest, I was completely blown away. Not only are the shirts all professionally screened (which means Teepublic has to do some major work to own the actual screens used), but the colors match perfectly, the designs are highly detailed and the shirts they use are actually softer and fit better than what the daily sites used.??So really, you should do yourself a favor and check out Teepublic.com and browse their massive massive collection of shirts. Just try and stump their search engine. You won’t just find great shirts for yourself and others, you’ll find the perfect shirt.



The Tiebar
Of course, we love being able to work with friends in our guides and Tiebar is another one of the good ones. We’re focused on some casual and formal wear here, but what about the accessories? Well, what about the perfect accessories? That’s what Tiebar is all about because they don’t just have a massive selection of ties, belts, pocket squares, socks, cuff links and more if you’re already a seasoned dresser, they have the genius robot tailor which matches the style and colors with the shirts you’re looking for and helps you find just what you need. Look, I want to be as causal as the next guy, but every now and then we have some serious business to take care of and a tie and accessories are needed to get the job done. Don’t worry, because Tiebar has you covered!

New this year are their fantastic Foolproof gift boxes which collects a set of ties, pocket squares, lapel pins, and clips so basically your job is finished. Just pair these up with a suit and shirt of your choice and you’re off to the races. My only regret is that these gift boxes look so cool (and let me tell you, nothing makes a guy happier than owning one of these boxes) that it’s almost a shame to use them. That’s what a great package Tiebar has put together. You’ll buy these for your loved ones but you know you’re keeping them for yourself.


Baxter of California
Let’s talk men’s grooming. It’s a thing now, you know? Men are putting more care than ever into how they look and, for the whole kit and caboodle, look no further than Baxter of California. Let me tell you what they’re all about.

Baxter of California has got just about the prime specimen of men’s grooming products. Soapy and thick shaving creams, thick pomades for men, sleek and sexy straight razors, thick and elegant shaving brushes (and it weighs such a nice weight) and all kinds of accessories that you’ll be dying to use and show off. The lather you get from their soap is so thick and resourceful that every shower session feels like Paris France. But of course, once you’ve taken care of your body, there’s the rest of your life to think about, and that’s where their candles come in: rustic and woodsy in scent (like the Sweet Ash), made for both men and women, and lasting you for longer than you can imagine. They even put together these kits that are will get you started and are worth every penny.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Baxter of California makes products that you won’t just be dying to use, but that look good in your home. Products like that are hard to come by.



Dr. Squatch Soaps and Shaving products
Oh, yes. The fine, fine folks over at Dr. Squatch. It’s one of these companies we treasure. Not only are they a friend of the site and our guides, but they also make a damn fine product.??Let me break it down for you. Dr. Squatch likes to pretend that they make a product built for men. But I’ll be damned if I can’t keep my wife off of them as well. For the uninitiated, Dr. Squatch makes a damn fine bar of soap. They fragrances are inspired by the woods and campfires, so you end up with  Bay Rum, Spearmint Basil, Gold Moss, and the winner of them all the Pine Tar: a scrubby and tarry mix that actually builds a black lather when you use it. How cool is that!

And what’s that? Dr. Squatch also carries shaving soap now; the only shaving soap I’ve ever opened up and gotten engulfed in its fragrance of Clay Mint. I’m not much of a shaving man but, after checking out Dr. Squatch shaving soap, that might all change. Folks these products are handmade in the USA by some fine young cannibals who will earn your respect.

I could bathe with Dr. Squatch soaps for the rest of my life and be happy doing it.



Duke Cannon Supply Company
Whoa, whoa, whoa – just hold your horses there. We’re talking some serious kind of clean with Duke Cannon. Browsing the internet for some of the greatest soaps around, I came across the fine folks at Duke Cannon because, apparently, they make a fine robust product. And guess what? They most definitely do.

With a minimalist military motif, it’s clear that Duke Cannon cares about one thing and one thing only: getting you clean. They don’t care how they do it. Their bars of soap are large, rugged and get the job done and then some. Their Tea Tree shampoo is some of the best I have ever tried, especially because I suffer from some pretty greasy foliage and need just about industrial strength products to get me clean. Their facewash? Equally effective and dependable; it’s the kind of stuff you can use in the morning which will leave you with that feeling on your face which gets you ready for your day.

When clean and cool is your priority, there’s Duke Cannon. The pacifist in me might have to take a breather, because this this is some serious business. Get it!



Anthony Soaps
There’s one thing that definitely stands out about Anthony soaps – other than the fact that they’re a perfect go-to spot for just about everything which has to do with cleanliness, and that’s that they know how to put together a gift basket, my friend. Their facewash is a thin line between lotion and just plain soap and goes on thick. That feeling you’ll get afterwards? That’s actually moisturized skin. Living in New England, I can’t tell you how dry the air gets here and how brutal the winters can be – but with some of Anthony’s Glycolic Facial Cleanser, you can have a clean face that will actually hold against harsh conditions.

And speaking of moisturizers, I think I found the holy grail here with their all-purpose moisturizer. Unlike other moisturizers which go on thick and clumpy, their moisturizer goes on sleek and thin and you can actually work with it.

The good thing about Anthony is that you don’t have to pick, because they put together their awesome products in great kits (which would make great gifts, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you) or my favorite, the travel kit which includes their moisturizer, face cleanser, lip balm, face cream and body wash all in sizes that you can carry in your carry-on. So you don’t have to enjoy Anthony products just at home, you can also take them on the road.



Classic Shaving
Okay, you know about the shaving cream, the razors, the balms, the oils, the pomades, the cups and just about everything that’s out there to make yourself into a decent looking man. But, did you know that Classic Shaving is the perfect stop for the most exhaustive collection of men’s products? Their deceitful name really does no justice to the range of goods they carry on their site. And they don’t just have a huge collection, but a highly customizable one too. Yes of course, you want a shaving cup to lather your foam, but did you know you can get it in a cherry mahogany? They carry products from all kinds of vendors and make some themselves as well, and boy do they know how to make a good affordable safety razor!

Things are so customizable with Classic Shaving that their price ranges go from those practical folks (myself included) to those who only appreciate the Ferrari of products.

They even have a guide to get you started on what you need, and you can learn a thing or two about what it takes to be a well groomed man. Once you’re a pro, you can graduate to the sleek hardware these guys provide and even sharpen your own straight razor. It’s hard not to go into a fantasy world when looking at Classic Shaving products.

For beginners and pros alike, Classicshaving.com is a great place to browse, find what you need, get a few ideas and even be surprised from time to time.



Fellow Barber
I know we live in the decade of the beard, but let’s be completely honest: if shaving was easier and more fun, maybe we’d be doing it more often. Also, most of us can’t look like mountain men at work. There are two things that come to mind when we think of Fellow Barber, and that’s ‘dependable’ and ‘sturdy.’ I just love the look of their products! You actually feel like you’re in a barber shop when you’re using their stuff, and they make containers that feel good in your hands. Also, these things can take a beating; so if you live in cramped spaces (like I do) you know you’re going to be using their products for along time.

The Fellow Barber shaving regime is everything you need for nice smooth close shave. It has their shaving cream which will give you a little tingle as soon as it goes on your hands and a warm feeling down your spine when you put it in. But I don’t have to tell you, there’s always an aftermath involved and aftershave tonic and lotions are you what you need to know you got the job done. Afterwards, light one of their awesome barstow candles as a sign of victory. In life when you do things right, you only have to do it once. With Fellow Barber, you’re already halfway there.



Puresouth Naturals beard brushes
Folks, we’ve talked your ear off about beard cleaning, and cleansing, oils and balms, and shaving products. Did you know that all those things are only half the battle? I wear a pretty hefty beard myself, so I would know. The thing that most people won’t tell you is that you also need a good beard brush to get the job done. Scratch that, as a guy you just need a good brush in general that you can use for both your hair AND your beard. I used to think all brushes were created equal, but that’s not the case.

I used to delve in combs and the like, but it’s only when I got my hands one of these Puresouth Naturals brushes that I realized what a mistake I had been making. Because these brushes don’t just feel incredibly nice in your hand (with a firm bamboo handle) and on your face (that thick boar brush is just what you need to get the job done), but the results are like night and day, because after a thorough brushing with one of these boar hair brushes, your beard will look clean, sleek, and actually presentable for once. So you’ll go from a wayward sailor to an elderly statesman. The trick is in the thick dense bristles used in their brushes which work to not just organize your beard (and head) hair better, but also distribute beard oils and balms more smoothly and evenly. And speaking of oils and balms, did you know Puresouth Naturals also makes a killer beard oil and balm? Yes, you will have a frizzy beard no longer with these high quality additions that actually make your beard smooth to the touch and not sticky and gross.

No beard is complete without a brush from Puresouth Naturals.




Okay, now just wait a minute and hold your horses. It’s time to class up this column, and the people to do it are Penhaligon’s. We all have moms that we don’t know how to shop for. And one way to make them really happy is to go over the top. Yes, the card and the occasional phone call is fine but, for Christmas, you want to bring out the big guns. How big? Well, how about a Penhaligon candle. These things are giant and come in a variety of scents. Ones that are actually not overwhelming and just smell nice, you know? And with the size of these things (they come in bucket-like large containers and smaller more portable sizes) you also have a candle that’s actually going to last you a long time, not like those crappy things you get at your local budget store.

But now that the special lady in your life has something nice, how about focusing on your dad a bit and how about getting him some perfume? Penhaligan’s has you covered there too with a wide variety of scents that are bound to please any man. Like the Endymion which has hints of sage, lavender, and coffee. Now that’s what I’m talking about.



/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/totes.jpgTotes Raingear
Did you remember your umbrella? No? Do you know why? None of us do! Yes, it’s the thing we all need but can never remember – our umbrellas. And, to be honest, you don’t want to end up as that person paying $9 at a drug store for a piece of crap that’s going to fall apart after one use. For a well-made, good-looking umbrella, you need to get a Totes umbrella.

Look – Totes isn’t interested in selling you overpriced junk, they’re interested in selling you a good reliable umbrella at a price that’s affordable. And I know you’re saying to yourself, “but, there’s a certain kind of umbrella I’ve been eyeing.” Well, guess what – Totes carries it. Whether it’s the old fashioned rounded handles or the new domes or the practical portable kinds, Totes has them all in the color you need them at a very affordable price. But why stop there? Totes also has rainjackets, rainboots, and all the stuff you need to get you through a rainy day.

For once, you won’t be bummed about the rain, because you get to use your Totes swag!



Buck Knives
Buck knives are another company which totally caught us by surprise this time around. Guys, whether you’re in college making new friends or trying to keep the ones you have, you’re going to find yourself outdoors at one point or another. When that happens, you need to be prepared with a tool that’s going to help you manipulate your surroundings to your needs. I’m talking about preparing a campsite, cutting some wood, hunting, getting into your foodstuffs and picking edibles. For that, you’re going to need a good knife. And what’s more, Buck Knives make the kind of knives that will serve any need or aesthetic preference.

Buck knives have every kind of knife you can think of from the rugged specific kinds of knives that mean business, to the sleeker and more compact knives which look as good on your shelf as they do doing what they do best. They even have a great collection of cooking and eating knives which are a must-have in any home. A friend of mine once told me that you never know how much you like cutting things until you a have a good knife. He then proceeded to cut the rubber bands off the claws of a lobster. Then we ate that lobster and his advice has stuck in my head for over ten years. Since that day, I’ve been wanting a knife for everyday use around the house or one I can travel with on casual trips like a nice apple-picking. Buck had what I was looking for, and they probably will for you too.



Field Notes Stationary
This has been quite a year for me. Not just because because I’m making some relatively major life changes, but also because I finally got a smart phone. Kicking and screaming, I’m being brought into the new millennium and although it’s quite the convenient and complex device, it just doesn’t have the same practicality as having a soft reliable notebook in which you can write down your thoughts.. For starters, I just don’t have my writing doc constantly open on my phone so I can’t access it as easily as I would want when a thought pops into my head. My Field Notes notebook is always ready to go and I can easily find the page I need to write on next. Second, writing efficiently on a smartphone is basically a nightmare, either trying to work the keyboard or fighting off spellcheck. With Field Notes notebooks, you can rely or your elbow grease and wrestle with your mind instead of your smartphone device. And third, there is nothing that compares to putting pen on paper, looking at your notebook get a bit of wear, reading through old notes and the appreciating the sheer personality that comes with using Field Notes products.

And for those classy guys, Field Notes also has a wonderful leather case that you can use for travel to protect your notebook, carry your valuables like your passport, your pens, and your extra notebooks full of your stories and ideas. With a digital device, it’s just storage space – with Field Notes, it’s actually inviting you to read.

It’s strange to think, but after having a smart phone, it doesn’t make writing and journaling obsolete. It makes it more essential than ever.



Baron Fig notebooks
So we know about the soft portable notebooks, but what about something nice and thick and heavy that you know is going to be with you for a long time. With this, you need something that’s reliable and inviting. Baron Fig seems to have figured it all out. Their Confidant basically has it all. It’s built tough, it has paper that’s smooth to the touch, it uses material that doesn’t bleed easily, and just about looks great. Put this in your bag, drag it through the woods, or just keep it at home, and your Baron Fig confidant will always be ready for you, when you get that genius idea, when you need to get something off your chest, or as I use it, to sketch and draw my comics. These Confidants sit flat and actually stimulate your mind to write. Whatever your need or use may be, Baron Fig worked out the perfect notebook. Way to keep it classy, guys.

But, these guys are not satisfied with just paper products and are currently in the middle of a campaign to design the perfect pen which has been funded through Kickstarter. Knowing what they can do, I’m confident this Squire pen is going to be pen you won’t want to put down.



Karas Kustoms pens?

So you have your writing papers, your notebooks and notepads, but what are going to write with? What about something that’s carefully handcrafted and feels great? Something that everyone wants but doesn’t know they want? You need to check out these pens by Karas Kustoms. They are handcrafted and cut from aluminum, brass or copper and are built heavy and comfortably in a way that when you use them you’re not just writing, you’re Writing (that’s a capital letter there, folks).

Karas Kustom pens come in various colors and designs; no matter what you’re interested in (ballpoint or fountain pen), Karas has it and it’s classy looking. It’s the kind of gift you give that writer in your family, the one that does it creatively or more for finances, or that one person who needs to do a lot of writing but doesn’t want to. These are the kinds of pens that make you think, “Maybe I’ll just keep these to myself this time around.” They look and feel that good.



Just Coffee Coop
I love Marc Maron. And I love a good cup of coffee. I’m more of an espresso guy, but that has started to change since I got a French press. And honestly, I love making trips to my local coffee shop but it’s a bit of a hassle to go there all the time and also a bit too expensive. And with so many choices out there, who knows where to even start finding the right kind of coffee company that doesn’t just make the kind of coffee we love, but also that makes coffee with a conscience? That’s what the guys at Just Coffee Coop are all about.

Listening to Marc Maron’s podcast, you can’t escape the pluggings for Just Coffee Coop. Marc Maron is a good man and Just Coffee knows what it takes to make a good cup of coffee. Set up in Wisconsin but now with more locations around the US, Just Coffee partners with socially conscientious growers (like in Chiapas Mexico) to bring you some coffee that doesn’t just taste good but also makes a difference. These guys want to tickle your taste buds and take on the system while they’re at it. I don’t mind that one bit, because Just Coffee has every kind of coffee for every kind of palate and delivers it right to your door ready to be enjoyed. I of course opted to try their WTF dark roast and their espresso roast and was blown away by the robust flavors. “Pow! I just shit my pants.”

I know I’ll quickly run out of my Just Coffee but, never fear, my next order with them is just around the corner. Do yourself a favor and taste some real coffee!



Barrington Coffee Roasting Company
Here’s the thing about coffee. We live in a wonderful time to be a coffee drinker and we should be doing everything in our power to take advantage of that. Coffee roasters are a dime a dozen and there truly are few good ones out there. Honestly though, anyone who takes the time to roast their own coffee can be trusted with providing you with some great beans for your joe. New England’s pride and joy most definitely is Barrington’s Coffee roasters, and lucky for you, they are a company that you can enjoy from everywhere in the US.

Nevermind the fact that they make some of the smoothest coffee around. Their dark roast most definitely has that kick of a dark roast but goes down so easy that one wonders why you shouldn’t be drinking it in the morning or all day long – a very dangerous proposition. But the same applies to their mediums and light roast which differ in their origin and blend. Another thing Barrington has gotten right is to provide some of their coffee in these wonderful sampler kits which are a perfect gift for the Holidays. For example the Coffee Review sampler which is an absolute winner and sure to impress. However with Barrington you get a little bit more like their Bittersweet Boost kit which comes with a delicious chocolate and coffee bitters pairing, or their Bro Brew kit which has a wonderfully adorable self-powered manual grinder which can be used at home or outdoors.

Get some coffee for your friends this Christmas, and treat yourself while you’re at it. You won’t be able to keep your hands off them.



/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/audiotechnica.jpgAudio Technica Headphones?
As many directions as we’re given to going on Ground Control, we’re a music site first, right? So of course we aim to not just expose you to the best music out there, but also to make sure you have the best way to listen to your music. I have been a fan of Audio Technica for a while now not just because they make some of the best microphones around (one of these days we’ll have their podcast mics highlighted on this guide, I hope), but also because they make a killer headphone. Let’s be honest, these Beats headphones and many other boutique manufacturers like them are total shit. Why is that? Because they’re not made by a company who knows audio, they’re made by companies who know marketing.

Audio Technica doesn’t just make some of the best and most reliable headphones around (I myself proudly own one of their noise-cancelling headphones), but they also make some of the coolest looking. And for coolness and performance, look no further than the complicatedly named ATH M50x-DG (ATH stands for Audio Technica Headphones, I’m sure), because these headphones deliver some true noise, whether you’re using them for some techno beats or some Coltrane (which is more my style) and the kind of audio you get is highly nuanced and actually pretty large in nature. And being a big fan of bass (where it’s supposed to be), I was happy to find out that these headphones deliver on that front as well. To top it all off the M50x-DG have great noise isolation features which work remarkably well to keep that noise focused in your ears, which is what good headphones should do in the first place.

We are so proud to have these guys on the guide. Everyone should own a pair of AT audio gear.



Jlab Audio
Here’s the deal. I have looked my entire life for a perfect pair of inner earphones which are as versatile as they are sleek looking. I want to wear headphones, sure, but my work allows me the freedom to listen to music all day, and I don’t want to be that asshole wearing large headphones signalling to other people that I don’t want to talk to them. I looked high and low at several companies for that sort of good, affordable earphones, and those people for years and years have been Jlab audio. I don’t know how I found out about them (probably word of mouth because they make such a great product), but Jlab has, for the money, the best ear buds in the business and I’m talking about their J5s which are small, incredibly comfortable and deliver the best audio in particular; certainly worth much more than what they cost on their sites. I’ve used them for years, have passed on the tradition to my wife, and make sure to buy them for my friends.

The best part also is that I use my ear buds so much that I use them up more quickly than I should (every pair of ear buds has a lifespan, folks). JLab has a killer warranty: just fill out a claim on their website, mail in your ear buds (an envelope and a stamp should do), and you’ll get a brand new pair in a week or so.

I was pleasantly surprised that Jlab has been expanding their business over the years and now offers some pretty great headphones as well, such as the Flex Over-Ear headphones. Perfect for your DJ session or your active lifestyle (these guys work pretty well on the subway, which is where I spend most of my commute), and flexible and fit very comfortably, have a detachable cables (which are way more important than you would think), and deliver the kind of audio I’ve come to expect and appreciate from Jlab. So there you have it: a company I love just got better!



Sennheiser Momentum In Ear phones
There are two kinds of people in this world: those that care about their headphones and those that don’t. Or to say that more precisely: those that can tell the difference between good and bad headphones. For the ones that can tell the difference, there are always favorites that we know we can always rely on. And I cannot stress enough how important it is to have good headphones: think about them like you think about the tires on your car. it’s the only part that actually makes contact and delivers the mechanics of your audio device to your ears. It’s incredibly important not just for the sake of the music you’re listening to, but also to your ears. But how do you get earphones fr both the aficionados and the amateurs?

Sennheiser has made the mother of all earphones with the Momentums. Why? Well, first off, because they deliver and incredibly large and bassy sound that helps those tunes penetrate and kick you in the skull. Second because these are the sleekest headphones I’ve ever seen in my life. The first impression is how heavy they are, and the second is how great they feel in your finders. When you put them on, it’s like a docking into a spaceship. These Momentums also have a hand controlled dial for those unexpected interruptions when you need to cut the music or when you just need to crank it up without looking into your bag for your iPhone.

Want the earbuds that will impress both the snob or the clueless? Here they are.



Native Union Electronics
We’ve got you covered with earphones and headphones, but how about some cool speakers? How about speakers which are perfect not just for the home, but for the outdoors? How about speakers which deliver a great sound with at a reasonable space? Here is the Native Union Switch.

This speaker delivers incredible sound yes, but it’s also perfect for people who live in smaller spaces like smaller apartments as I do? You can connect to it either by hardwiring or through bluetooth, and you can either leave it plugged in or charge it and bring it outdoors or carry it around with you around the house (if you’re a crazy, I guess). So think about that BBQ or that camping trip, this thing is going to last for fourteen hours! You’re gonna want tunes that sound great and are easily accessible. What’s more, Native Union makes this nifty little gadget in all kinds of colors and design (we prefer the black and bronze, and you should too) sure to please just about everyone. Highly recommended.

But once you’ve got your music taken care of, you need to also remember that you need accessories for your handhelds. Native Union also has you covered there with a wide range of cables, chargers and batteries that are sturdy and dependable and just look good too. That’s the Native Union style!



Nest Security Cam
You’ve seen the ads all over town! This is by far the item we’re most excited about in this year’s holiday guide, because opening up a Nest product feels like opening up an iPhone or an Xbox or something. But of course, the nest security cam is much more than that.

Look, we all want our homes to be as safe as possible, and we’re all a bit confused regarding how we should accomplish that. Do we spend thousands of dollars proofing and monitoring every inch of our home? I don’t know. But I do know that the Nest Surveillance Camera is just about the best damn security camera that money can buy. Think about it; a well-placed Nest cam at home could provide you with the peace of mind you need if you’re a person that wants a little more home security or just travels a lot. Nest cams are not just good for daytime but also offer night vision so you’ll be protected after dark too. They even have the option of providing you with weeks’ worth of storage so you have a record of all your daily events which you can revisit later. Honestly, I can’t really say how glad I am we have one in our home.

And for the lighter side of things, since we have cats at home, we have a round-the-clock cat cam monitoring these little hellians and all the little adventures they get into while we’re away. Wonder who threw up on your jacket while you were gone? Now you’ll know.??This holiday season, get a Nest cam for your loved one. But you know you’re just keeping this to yourself, right?



/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/toms.jpgToms Shoes?
We are so glad to have another shoe company to feature on this year’s holiday guide, and Tom’s shoes are the ubiquitous company I’ve been hesitant to try out, but it’s my own fault. It’s really too bad because I’ve been a hardcore supporter of those “other” companies. All it took was for me to stick my foot into one of these slip-ons (and I AM a slip-on guy, folks!) and now I just don’t want to take them out. Being quite the commuter, having a comfortable pair of shoes is essential to me. That, and they have to be easy to get on and off. When we’re not dealing with snow conditions here in New England I want to be able to get in and out of my shoes with ease.

I don’t know how exactly they pulled it off, but these Toms shoes are incredibly comfortable and versatile. I say versatile because even though slip-ons have garnered a reputation with the skate crowd, they just haven’t been the kinds of shoes you wear to the office. Toms figured it out with their wide range of shoes that are casual or business-like and vary in every pattern and color imaginable. They even have the black leather slip-ons which are my personal favorite. ??What’s more, Toms has been expanding to the bag business and now makes some pretty spiffy backpacks and satchels that are either classy or will look perfect with your hippie friend. Who knows what else is around the corner.??More importantly, as this is the season for giving, with the purchase of Toms products you help get some shoes to those in need. Now that’s the spirit!



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