If you really want to make an impression on your gift recipients this holiday season, there’s some awesome merchandise out there. I’m partial to the Star Trek captain’s chair ($6,500), and I don’t know how I’ve lived so long without a monogrammed meat brander ($40) that lets my dinner guests carve into my initials as they enjoy a steak from my grill. If I were younger, I’m sure I would crave a customized Instagram calendar ($40) that I could pin to my Snapbook, or whatever you do with it.
But in some corners of retail America, I’m sorry to report, merchandisers have gone a wee bit overboard, as I explain in the video above. Here are some of the gifts you might want to stay away from:
The Bluetooth-enabled “Hapifork.” Before long, everything will be smarter than you—even your silverware. The Hapifork ($100), you’ll be happy to know, monitors your eating habits to help you shovel less food into your mouth. The idea is that you’ll eat less if your fork reminds you to take more time between bites. Of course, you could always outsmart it by putting bigger portions on your fork, having more meals, or eating with your hands. But who would ever do that!
Smart balls. Like I said, everything is smart these days, including sports equipment. For a mere $249, you can now have a smart basketball that sends data on your hoop skills straight to your smartphone, which is very convenient because most basketball players are checking their phones anyway when they go for a layup or hit the boards for a rebound.
Dog disguises. You can have two animals in one with this duckbill-shaped dog muzzle ($35), which is sure to generate chuckles as you parade Fido around the neighborhood. I’m just not sure Fido himself will go for it. If he needed a muzzle in the first place, he might need to be caged and sedated once you humiliate him like this in front of other dogs.
Check out the video for a couple other examples. Meanwhile, there are a few other trends shoppers may want to be wary of. As usual this year, there are plenty of head-scratching innovations that somebody seems to have produced just because they could. You can buy a solar-powered keyboard ($48), for instance, even if you don’t have a solar-powered computer. And if you’ve been wondering when somebody will offer scratch ‘n sniff jeans ($150), wonder no more. They’re finally here.
Artisanal craftspeople working from log cabins deep in the backwoods must have been putting in lots of overtime this year, because homemade foods and handcrafted goods are bigger than ever. A proper iPhone dock must be made of kiln-dried hardwood and coated with Jacobean Oak Beeswax. And true foodies don’t buy Greek yogurt any more: They make their own .
Finally, lavish bling is back, after going into stealth mode during the recent recession. For the well-heeled golf lover: the golf-cart hovercraft ($58,000). For self-pamperers who love the feel of fish eggs smeared on their bodies: caviar skin cream ($150). And for the society woman who loves to stomp on street urchins with her stilettos: an evening dress festooned with 100 carats worth of diamonds ($5.7 million). Shipping and handling extra.
Rick Newman’s latest book is Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback To Success . Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.