‘Tis the week before Christmas, and still looking for stocking stuffers? In the nick of time, we’ve rounded up a dozen charming and original offerings, sure to delight your hardest-to-please people. There’s something for everyone — fine-art photographs, rugged mobile wifi gear, plenty of world-class, cutting-edge music, games, sweetly satiric tees, a chance to save blue whales, and much more. Happy holidays from the TED Fellows!
1. The gift: Fine-art photographs of faraway ruins
Perfect for: The armchair adventurer
Spanish artist Jorge Manes Rubio seeks out the world’s abandoned places and creates art that memorializes them. His project Buona Fortuna, for example, celebrates the lost churches in the mountains of the Parco Nazionale del Cilento in the south of Italy, abandoned after a series of devastating earthquakes and landslides decades ago. Rubio is working to make these beautiful ruins safe and reopen them to the public in 2015. And to fund the project, he is selling limited edition, large-format color photographic prints of the sites.
Get it: Order directly from the artist (Between €1500 and €3000, depending on size and frame choice)
2. The gift: Sunken Cathedral
Perfect for: The vinyl fetishist
Bora Yoon’s epic sonic odyssey Sunken Cathedral is a multimedia treasure-trove ready to be explored. The album can be experienced as a CD, as a 12-inch, two-disc limited edition blood-red vinyl LP, and as an interactive app. Seven years in the making, Yoon’s project is on the first-round ballot for the Grammys — including best classical solo vocal, and best-engineered classical album of the year.
Get it: Order it from the artist. ($12-$35)
3. The gift: Nikko & the Spark
Perfect for: The kids
Energy-efficiency entrepreneur Jen Indovina moonlights as an app-creator for kids, making engaging with science history and concepts exciting and fun. Her interactive storybook app Nikko & the Spark introduces young people to electrical energy via a story of a child inventor, based on the life of inventor, scientist, and entrepreneur Nikola Tesla. Once the story’s over, you can dive into action with selected labs and interactive games based on Tesla’s work in electrical engineering.
Get it: Download from Play and iTunes ($2 – a steal!)
4. The gift: Existential casual wear
Perfect for: The romantically world-weary
Designer Safwat Saleem’s world is populated by the characters who are fed up with bullshit — but in the funniest and sweetest possible way. “Coupled” is a series of designs depicting somewhat complex relationships between random objects. We love this one of two people floating off into space. And it’s available in a variety of colors and sizes.
Get it: Order through Safwat Saleem’s shop at Society6 ($22), and while you’re at it browse a huge selection of his greeting cards, mugs, prints and pillows!
5. The gift: Animal Madness
Perfect for: Cat people (and dog people, and donkey people, etc.)
Part-memoir, part history, part research adventure, Laurel Braitman’s book delves into the wild world of animal psychology. From depressed and anxious dogs and cats to traumatized elephants, distressed zoo animals and beyond, Braitman not only sheds light on animals’ emotional responses and coping mechanisms, but reflects on what they tell us about human mental health.
Get it: Order from Amazon ($19)
6. The gift: BRCK
Perfect for: The road warrior
When the folks at Ushahidi get fed up with unreliable power and internet infrastructure in Nairobi, they responded by creating BRCK: a rugged, rechargeable, mobile wifi device with a battery that lasts up to 12 hours and can be shared with 20 people. BRCK is currently taking the device to rural schools in Kenya to give kids access to the internet. But the ultraportable BRCK is equally good for anyone who needs to stay connected in remote areas.
Get it: Order from BRCK ($199)
7. The gift: Lonesome Roads
Perfect for: New-school classical music fans
Dan Visconti is breaking new ground as a 21st-century composer who uses classical music as a tool for social justice and community interaction. Lonesome Roads is the first full-length album of his works, a blend of American folk and pop and classical avant-garde — recorded by members of the world-class Berlin Philharmonic and the Horszowski Trio. One reviewer calls it “just plain rapturous.”
Get it: Order from Amazon ($17)
8. The gift: So the Arrow Flies
Perfect for: The politically intrigued
Actor and writer Esther Chae’s So the Arrow Flies is a political thriller about an alleged North Korean spy and the FBI agent who interrogates her. Written and performed as a solo piece by Chae, the play explores complex political and social issues, including America’s national security apparatus, global identity and gender roles. This volume contains both the English language script and its Korean language translation.
Get it: Order it through Amazon ($10)
9. The gift: Ouya
Perfect for: The gamer
Award-winning game creator Kellee Santiago left thatgamecompany to throw her weight behind Ouya, an Android-powered wireless console and controller that you can plug directly into your TV. The huge variety of games available — shooters, RPGs, action games, and so on — are downloaded directly to the console, and are free to try before you buy. You can also use Ouya to stream music and video, and surf the Web.
Get it: Order it from Target ($90)
10. The gift: We Are Alive
Perfect for: World-music lovers
Ethiopian American singer and cultural activist Meklit Hadero’s music is imbued with poetry and multiplicity. Her hybrid sound draws from her Ethiopian heritage, jazz, folk songs, hip-hop and art rock, soulfully and intimately bridging frontiers between language, tribes and disciplines. (Check out the title track on YouTube!)
Get it: Order it from the artist ($10)
11. The gift: Saving blue whales
Perfect for: Animal lovers, conservationists
Sri Lankan marine biologist Asha de Vos is setting sail for her native waters to undertake crucial research to prevent blue whales getting killed by ships. To fund her journey, she has launched a campaign on Fellow David Lang’s new science-funding platform Open Explorer, where supporters can follow her adventures. Fund her research in the name of your recipient, and they may get the chance to name one of these endangered giants!
Get it: Visit de Vos’s page on Open Explorer to donate
12. The charitable contribution: Embrace Baby Warmer
Perfect for: Those with hearts of gold
Every year, millions of infants around the world die due to conditions related to premature birth and low birth weight — including hypothermia. This is especially a problem in developing countries, where families have little access to hospitals and incubators. In response, Jane Chen created the Embrace baby warmer — a low-cost, portable, easy-to-use, sleeping bag–style infant warmer designed to regulate the temperatures of infants, without the need for a power supply. Embrace has already reached 144,000 infants in 105 countries, but needs help to continue rolling out its life-saving work. Bonus: donations received by December 31, 2014, will be matched by the Peery Foundation.
Where to donate: Visit Embrace to read about the program and to make a holiday donation.