Mother's Day is fast approaching, but there's still time to get a special gift. We've found gadgets and gizmos that are practical, sweet, silly and a bit absurd. And you don't have to be a super techie mom to enjoy them.
I like this necklace ($16.50) because it has a bit of whimsy, but not too much. The creator is a technical writer who goes by Capitola Girl on the e-commerce craft site Etsy. Her Silicon Gallies collection combines glass tiles with recycled computer keys to create clever earrings, rings, necklaces, cuff links and more. I'm a big fan.
Fashion designer Vivienne Tam teamed with consumer electronics maker Monster Cable to design these gold in-ear headphones ($200). You might recognize the butterfly motif from Tam's collaboration with HP on a similarly themed netbook.
All the inconveniences of working with a typewriter have long since faded from my memory, and today I find images of vintage typewriters endearing. Thomas Paul's Luddite line of laptop sleeves ($50), phone cases ($24) and other totes captures the nostalgia perfectly.
I'm very particular about color, bordering on obsessive. And no brand epitomizes exacting color standards better than Pantone. These Pantone-licensed espresso cups are beautifully rendered and proportioned. They come in sets of four ($50) from London's Whitbread Wilkinson. Individual coffee mugs are also available.
What better way to brighten your favorite mom's day than a jar of sunlight? Designer Tobias Wong combined a solar cell, rechargeable battery and LED lamps in a frosted mason jar to create his whimsical SunJar ($55 at MoMA). It's watertight, so you can use it indoors or out.
The Hello Kitty universe seems to have an unquenchable appetite for new stuff. Jewelry maker Zales takes things up a notch with crystal earbuds ($75), an iPhone case ($195), compact ($125), and USB drive ($125). If the mom in your life is a Hello Kitty fan, check out these funky accessories.
I didn't think I wanted an iPad (starting at $500) until I saw one. Now I want one.
No sense having an iPad without a gorgeous accessory to go with it. This clutch (in red or blue, $65) from Happy Owl Studio makes it easy to tote an iPad and other essentials like cash, credit cards, keys and a mobile phone, at the same time.
I look forward to Project Runway every season, and I like keeping tabs on former contestants. Like Diana Eng, whose new book, Fashion Geek, ($23) is on my wish list. It features all kinds of electronically-charged clothes and accessories, plus instructions on how to make them.
When a mom wants to tune out the world and tune into a favorite artist, these colorful Triqii headphones from Sony ($30) let her do it with flair.
The Orbit MP3 speaker ($40) from Altec Lansing is just the right size for my tastes. Small and portable, it's designed for use with CD and MP3 players, music-enabled phones, laptops and other audio devices, including the iPod and iPhone. It's easy to take to the park, the backyard, or anywhere you don't feel like plugging in headphones.
If you're running short on time and ideas, a gift card is always a safe play. You can't go wrong with Zappos (shoes and bags galore, plus free shipping). Another personal favorite is Title Nine (women's sports and fitness apparel). And for my favorite online flower source, check out Calyx & Corolla. Their Bougainvillea Bonsai (pictured, $55) is stunning.
Fujifilm's Instax instant cameras are a nod to the good old days -- in this case the pre-digital camera days. They offer the fun reward of instant photo gratification. I've got my eye on the Instax mini 7 (about $67), which makes credit card-sized instant color photos.
This USB aromatherapy oil burner is ridiculous enough that it would make me laugh if I got it from one of my kids. Just plug it into a USB drive, add a bit of lavender oil and prepare for a sensory experience. It's techie and tacky all at once -- a classic Mother's Day combination ($6, via ThinkGeek).
These 3-D looking switchplate and outlet covers fall into the silly category. Still, there's something appealing about Design Glut's Escher-esque accessories, which look like they're projecting from the wall but are really just 3 mm thick ($8).
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