The Best Gift Ever!
Updated: Nov 20
Oh, what to give them this year? It has to be something really special this time. In the past you’ve given a full menu of Edible Bouquets, Weed-of-the-Month Club subscriptions, the Uber Eats eCard, and even made those cute “one (1) breakfast in bed” and "free dog walking" gift coupons. So that's out.
And gifting a MasterClass in wine appreciation or a makeover appointment at your favorite salon feels a bit judgmental, and like something you’d rather receive yourself. What to do?
Check out this list of unique gift opportunities designed to surprise – and hopefully delight -- your best friend, boss, or family member.
There are billions of stars in our galaxy, why not have one officially named for your loved one?
Choose from standard, extra bright, and binary stars (perfect for couples) at $19.95-69.95. Purchase includes entry of the named star into the official star registry, confirmation letter, deed, and map. Upgrade to a presentation boxed Gift Set that comes with a choice of constellations, framed certificate, and access to the star map app so your named star can be easily viewed anytime, 24/7.
And in the rare event of a supernova, you get to name a new star, free of charge.
Though you may not be able to snag an invitation to a weekend at Downton Abbey (or Sandringham House, for that matter), you can expect to be treated like landed gentry everywhere else you go in life if you have an aristocratic title.
You’re in luck! Now you can just buy a real title for yourself or anyone on your gift list from EstablishedTitles.com. The purchase of as little as 1 square foot of land in Ardallie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland ($49.95) authorizes the landowner to use the title of ”Laird” or "Lord," or the female equivalent of "Lady," according to historic Scottish land ownership custom. Five- and 10-square-foot lots are also available at additional cost.
Your real estate holding is tax free, but unbuildable, alas. These land sales help preserve and protect the woodland areas in Scotland. Each Lord or Lady title pack comes with a frameable certificate of ownership, with plot number, location, and owner’s handbook.
The Lord and Lady Couple Title Pack ($89.95 and up) is the perfect gift for parents or in-laws who crave adulation and respect.
The world’s oceans are dark, deep, and mysterious habitats for many as-yet-unknown species. The field scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography regularly discover new marine creatures floating or wriggling about in the briny depths. They found the world’s smallest fish, Schindleria brevipinguis, in 2004!
Usually, the discoverer gets to name a newly found species of plant or animal, but now Scripps is offering exclusive naming opportunities for the sea life it turns up each year. A selection of exotic new seaworms can be named for $5,000-10,000. A new snail and bivalve that each thrive near Pacific methane seeps are available for $15,000, and an unusual new sea daisy and spaghetti worm go for $25,000 each.
Revenues from sales of new species naming rights support the Institution’s ongoing operations.
Recipients who have a new marine species named for them will receive a framed print of their named organism, as well as a copy of the scientific publication in which it is first described using their name (latinized) as the species following the genus in the binomial nomenclature.
A great gift for fishing enthusiasts or biology teachers!
Surprise a cinephile or TV fan by getting their name in the credit roll! You don’t have to be a millionaire or well-connected in “the industry.” All you need is a few bucks.
Just head over to the Film & Video section of the crowdfunding dream factory, Kickstarter. Choose from scads of indy film and video productions begging for backers. Most offer social media shoutouts, swag, and special access interviews and trailers in the $5-50 donation levels. Higher amounts usually get your (or your gift recipient) some type of on-screen recognition.
A pledge of $15, for instance, gets your name added to the virtual wall of the Gizmoplex for “Mystery Science Theater 3000”’s crowdfunded 13th season, and $150 gets your name added in the Special Thanks section of the end credits of one episode. (Sorry, the $20K Executive Producer slot is no longer available).
Give $75 to help Surf Monkey Films produce “The Donn of Tiki,” a biopic about Donn Beach, father of America’s postwar tiki culture craze and founder of Don the Beachcomber restaurants, and receive listing in the credits -- plus six collectible cocktail pins!
A mere $500 gets you Producer credit in Kameron Knight’s animated series “The Side Hu$tle,” the misadventures of a music making ride share driver.
There are 77,779 other productions looking for backers, so you’re sure to find one that tickles any movie buff or TV binger’s fancy.
There are are 16.7 million colors in the 24-bit color space online and only 2,735,091 have been named so far. It will take Benjamin Moore and Crayola years to get to all of them. Colornames.org now gives you the chance to “officially” name any of the remaining colors in the RGB spectrum.
If more than one name for a color is submitted, the name with the most upvotes reigns.
Best part? It’s free.
Take a Seat
For the culture mavens on your list, you can dedicate a plush theater seat in their name in the Family Circle section at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center or a traditional oak study chair in the beautiful Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library – both go for $5K, and that includes the brass plaque engraved with your recipient’s name.
Finally, our friends at Ironwood Pig Sanctuary in Marana, Arizona, have dedicated their lives to rescuing abandoned and mistreated pet pigs and providing them a life of comfort and loving care.
You can make a donation in honor of a pig lover on your gift list in any amount. For that, you’ll receive a colorful holiday thank-you letter with a picture on one of the sanctuary’s residents.
You can also sponsor a pig for $30 a month and receive photos and regular updates about your porcine pal. And if you ever visit the sanctuary, you get to spend quality time communing with your special pig.
Birdie, Elvis (pictured above), Lady MacBeth, and others are currently looking for sponsors!
Video and photos (from top): Video by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels; Hubble photo, NASA; painting, Sir William Erskine, 1st Baronet and his family, 1788, by David Allan; Wikimedia Commons; video, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; cast of MST3K.com; colorful couple by Yan Krukov from Pexels; Rose Room chair, NYPL.org; Elvis, Ironwoodpigs.org.