Some reports are indicating that, amid current economic conditions, holiday shopping is poised to happen much earlier this year—well ahead of the usual “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” bonanza in November. It seems that fall shopping has become that much more consequential this year. While the season always ushers in an exciting crop of innovative and otherwise decidedly wallet-worthy solutions, this year our fall product picks are particularly mindful of those that can do double duty—both pleasing the buyer as well as being well-suited for gifting to others. Below are a few great ideas across a range of categories—from décor, technology and style to entertainment, recreation, self-care, palate pleasers and more.
Colsen Portable Fire Pits
Enoy the ambiance of a real fire without the smoke and clean with Colsen Fire Pits—a portable, eco-friendly solution that is easy to light and extinguish. Unlike traditional fire pits, Colsen specializes in bringing the fun inside for year-round pleasure. They are constructed to work in any environment, so customers can enjoy them outdoors, too. The brand recommends using 70 percent or 91 percent Isopropyl alcohol as fuel for a clean burn that won’t leave soot on your ceiling. Made from temperature-resistant concrete, Colsen Fire Pits are crafted with high-quality materials that create an enhanced, safe, smokeless and odor-free experience that is intended to last a lifetime. The modern, portable designs offer an easy way to stage an inviting atmosphere for quiet moments alone, or while celebrating with loved ones. Use it to make the perfect batch of S’mores or to just enjoy 40-plus minutes of cozy fire time. Owners can even use their Colsen Fire Pits for dual purposes by adding essential oils to the top or mixing citronella oil with alcohol to prevent unwanted bugs. All packages include a cork or bamboo extinguishing lid, fire pit and an instruction card that includes guidelines for 100 percent safety when lighting and turning off the item. Buyers can choose from seven shapes, including rectangle, round, square, hex large, hex small, hex tesla and more.
Meet the RYSE SmartShade—the easiest way to motorize your existing window shades and blinds. With an easy, do-it-yourself installation process, you can turn your simple blinds into smart shades in less than 10 minutes. Even more, the RYSE SmartShade is compatible with any window shades that have plastic- or metal-beaded chains, no matter the size or weight. This helps to upgrade the shades you already own and love. Traditional motorized shades often have a price tag well over $1,000, but this cost-effective tech allows customers to control their shades from the bed, couch or wherever you may be using the smartphone RYSE app—all for less than $200. Wouldn’t it be ideal for your shades to automatically open and close as the sun rises and falls throughout the day?
How about giving your air conditioning a much-deserved break by sheltering your indoor space from the sun’s heat at the touch of a button? Get even more from your purchase with the SmartBridge hub add-on, which links up to 10 SmartShades for additional features, including group control, schedule/routines, remote access and voice control for an even more effortless experience. Plus, the SmartBridge integrates with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit to provide a comprehensive smart home lifestyle. The SmartShade is powered by a wall plug, but upgrading to the BatteryPack for an additional cost will give you a clean, wireless aesthetic. These battery packs are charged using the included micro-USB cord. And a single charge will give you up to six months of wire-free control—creating an uncluttered, modern look and feel for your home.
Artisan Indonesian Windchime from World Vision (https://www.worldvision.org/)
A lovely offering from World Vision—a humanitarian organization helping children, families, and their communities—upon donation is this stunning capiz shell and bamboo wind chime. A great gift for yourself or someone you care about, this windchime comes after a donation of $125 or more, which will help people rebuild in the wake of disasters and also empower entire communities to lift themselves out of poverty. Each windchime is handmade by Indonesian artisans earning fair trade wages. World Vision partners with children, families, and their communities to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. In 2021, 90% of World Vision’s total operating expenses were used for programs that benefit children, families, and communities in need. They aim to end world hunger by sponsoring children around the world and providing life-saving resources for children. World Vision has over 70 years of experience working with communities, donors, partners, and governments to create opportunities for better futures for vulnerable children even in the toughest places.
Smart Video Baby Monitor from Pixsee
A great way to keep an eye on the little ones is with Pixsee, the personal smart family photographer that creates exclusive baby albums while also serving as an AI baby monitor. It gives parents peace of mind whether they are near or far from their baby. This great nursery companion device plays music to soothe and console babies when needed, helping them feel comforted in the dark. The Covered Face Detection feature alerts you when something is covering your baby’s face and the Area Detection feature lets you set a safe zone to know when your child’s moving in or out of the designated space.
The picture is great with five megapixels and a six-layer optical lens that provides clear videos. Plus, the camera’s 160-degree ultrawide view allows you to see all corners of a room with zero distortion. You can play back the video in a heartbeat or watch the 24-hour live stream in sharp, high-definition resolution. The Smart Music Box feature automatically detects cries and plays calming sounds, while the Smart Capture feature automatically takes six to 12 quality images a day straight from this “nanny cam.” With it, you can see your baby’s growth and have a visual diary to look back on for years to come.
Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier 4L and Memory Foam Coccyx Seat Cushion from Everlasting Comfort
One easy way to transform your space is with the Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier. The filterless design creates a soft and light mist for rooms up to 300 square feet. It includes an aroma tray where you can add a variety of essential oils to keep the air moist and fresh. It’s handy for stress relief and decompression from a long day. From helping soothe cold symptoms to improving asthma and other illnesses, you can rest knowing your air is clean and safe for you and your loved ones. While you relax, sit in comfort with Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam cushions that mold exceptionally well to your body to best support your body and reduce pain. This seat cushion is made with pure memory foam to help correct bad posture and alleviate the pain caused by sitting for long periods—whether at work, in the baby’s nursery, while watching TV, driving, or anywhere. It’s great for all homes, offices, and your favorite chair to relieve all aches and pains from sitting all day.
Paddle Boards from KOTI Sports
Experience the thrill of paddleboarding in style with KOTI’s Sploosh inflatable paddle boards. Made for paddlers of all levels, these unique boards come with all the matching accessories you’ll need to enjoy a full day of fun on the water, like a double action pump, an adjustable paddle, backpack, removable center fin, safety leash, and repair kit. The shape of this board will bring comfort to your adventures and will please beginners and advanced paddlers. All boards are made to explore all bodies of water, including navigating rivers, lakes, and oceans. Measuring 10 feet and 6 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 6 inches thick, this paddle board can hold up to a maximum weight of 308 pounds. One design I like by multidisciplinary artist Jason “JASNKO” Nankoo is the Altitudes paddle board, which flaunts topographic map contour lines that are reminiscent of fun island vibes and ripples in the water. KOTI was launched by young entrepreneurs who wanted to reinvent the way people perceive their sports equipment. They offer paddleboards with a variety of elaborate designs so that all paddleboard enthusiasts can find a model that matches their personality. You can choose between 10 unique designs made by upcoming artists. Their boards give you the opportunity to stage yourself while practicing an aquatic activity that stands out.
Smart Swimming Goggle with Duo MP3 Player by FINIS (https://www.finisswim.com/)
Powered by Ciye technology, the FINIS’ Smart Goggle was developed to help swimmers improve and meet their fitness goals. The in-goggle display and Smart Coach activity tracker give real-time feedback to help track your distance, calories, stroke type, and time—allowing you to get the most out of your swim. The fitness gear’s comfortable, low-profile design also reduces drag and is leak-proof. Plus, it is equipped with an adjustable strap to make for an easy and enjoyable experience. Swimmers can choose from blue, white/smoke, and blue mirror colors when ordering the Smart Goggle Kit, which includes the Smart Coach module, magnetic USB charging cable, six interchangeable nose bridges, and a protective carrying case. Once you’re out of the water, the app provides an in-depth analysis of your workouts, logs your history and allows you to connect with friends and fitness apps. And, FINIS didn’t forget about your ears. Its Duo MP3 player offers the highest quality sound without the use of earbuds. Its sleek, two-piece design and Bone Conduction audio transmission deliver crystal clear audio through cheekbones to the inner ear. To use, swimmers only need to secure the integrated Duo clip to their goggle straps for a comfortable and streamlined fit. A simplified interface offers four buttons to easily navigate between music, podcasts, audiobooks and other supported audio files. What’s more, the Duo stores up to 1,000 songs or 60 hours of playback of unprotected MP3 and WMA files. Seven hours of battery life will keep you moving and grooving for the duration of your swim as well.
Nautilus Puzzles (https://nautiluspuzzles.com/)
The pandemic reignited a frenzy for a time-honored pastime: Puzzles. In fact, Nautilus Puzzles saw a 300 percent uptick in sales during this period and could barely keep its California-based company’s shelves stocked. Now, it is continuing that momentum by elevating the growing enthusiasm for puzzle-building to new levels. Nautilus Puzzles’ team of artists and puzzle aficionados craft intricate, wooden jigsaws for adults, all uniquely constructed with fun and vibrant pieces that feature different designs to capture a myriad of interests. The singular cuts in every puzzle reflect the imagination of the company’s designers, with each adding funky and whimsical shapes, tricks and teasers to make every puzzle a challenging, yet entertaining, experience. These “whimsy” pieces are inspired by Victorian-era practices where puzzle makers cut the wooden creations by hand—reflecting not only the specific puzzle’s subject matter but also its mood and style. For example, the Asakusa Rice Fields puzzle includes special pieces that are shaped like cats, rice bowls, Japanese temples, and other fun nods to the design that are outside your typically-formed puzzle piece. Nautilus Puzzles offer hundreds of jigsaws, with collections spanning everything from art styles and time periods, to sports, travel, number of pieces, and more. Cut using the latest laser technology, Nautilus Puzzles are fabricated from premium quality woods and inks, guaranteeing a durable heirloom product that can be shared from generation to generation. Nautilus Puzzles are intended for customers ages 13 and up. But all buyers beware: These puzzles may be habit-forming.
BuddyLove Apparel (https://buddylove.com/)
No matter the season, BuddyLove has us covered on all fronts—and then some. What began as a multi-line showroom, this bohemian-inspired southern clothing line speaks to every generation, background and shape of woman. It focuses on affordable, stand out styles with everyday tasks in mind. BuddyLove founder and designer, Grayson DiFonzo, started designing her first collection in 2012 and has helped evolve BuddyLove into a full fashion house, which includes designs for women, men, kids and even accessories. One of its latest staples is the Ivy Henley Button Front Bodysuit. This black, long-sleeved bodysuit is perfect for pairing with leggings, boots or heels. It features button-front detailing to allow for a custom neckline, stretchy material that hugs the wearer in all the right places and a button-closure on the bottom. For an ideal pair of leggings to complete the ensemble, look no further than BuddyLove’s Mila Patent Vegan Leather Leggings. The snug bottoms show off your best assets and their felt-lining helps them glide on. Wear these to showcase a sassy black snake print that is sure to turn heads. Dress them down with a graphic T-shirt and combat boots or up by teaming the leggings with a sweater and booties. And, these days it’s acceptable to wear sweatsuits nearly everywhere you go. I particularly like BuddyLove’s Brooke Sweatsuit Set made from ultra-soft fabric, which is super stylish in marble. The sweatsuit is sold as a two-piece set, but don’t be afraid to mix and match once yours. The top looks cute with distressed jeans and sneakers and the joggers, which feature an elastic drawstring for the waist, can easily complement your favorite bodysuit.
Daily Eight Tote Bag and Eco Knit Sneakers from KOKOLU (https://kokolu.eco/)
KOKOLU is breaking barriers with genuine sustainability that doesn’t sacrifice style. The eco-fashion company’s Daily Eight Tote Bag is made with eight post-consumer plastic bottles. It comes in various colors, all achieved without wasted water … since no bag is worth harming the environment, of course. The tote is ultra-lightweight and never loses its shape. It’s also extremely flexible, so it’s comfortable in hand or over the shoulder. Pair this cute and practical tote with the brand’s equally sustainable Eco-Knit Sneakers made from recycled bottles. Show up in comfort and style in these super cute kicks that bring a whole new meaning to a low-carbon footprint. Made from a unique blend of bloom algae, the BLOOM insoles are antimicrobial and superb at odor control. Advanced technology like 3D knitting and Dope Dying reduce their carbon footprint, while still achieving bold, pigmented color. Despite being a source of joy and creativity for many, the fashion industry is one of the world’s largest contributors to global warming. By working with the world’s leading certified “green” supply chain partners and the most innovative manufacturers, KOKOLU is envisioning a brighter future.
Hand-Woven Artisan Handbag from World Vision
In addition to the chimes mentioned above, another way to support the World Vision Fund with their beautiful seagrass purse design that’s hand-woven by artisans in Thailand. It boasts numerous features: a black linen interior with double pockets, attractive tortoise-pattern handles, a magnetic clasp and a reinforced bottom, making this a bag great to be carried anywhere. By donating $60, you receive this gift, handcrafted by artisans, free of charge. World Vision is a global humanitarian organization that partners with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. In 2021, 90 percent of World Vision’s total operating expenses were used for programs that benefit children, families and communities in need. They aim to end world hunger by sponsoring children around the world and providing life-saving resources for them. World Vision has over 70 years of experience working with communities, donors, partners and governments to create opportunities for better futures in the toughest places for vulnerable children.
STNKY’s Washable Laundry Bags
Say goodbye to stink and hello to STNKY with easy and versatile washable laundry bags. STNKY bags are a great way to sort, store, carry, wash and dry everything from gym clothes, laundry when you travel, scrubs or other work uniforms and just about anything else that gets dirty or sweaty. Widely used by runners, gym buffs, travelers and healthcare workers, STNKY bags lock in those germs and smell from your gear while you go about your day. Then, when it’s laundry time, there’s no need to touch your dirty stuff. Simply open the bottom zipper, turn the bag inside out and your STNKY becomes a wash bag. Throw it in the washer and dryer—bag and all—and you’ll be ready to go again. Since designing its first bag in 2019, STNKY’s international team has been focusing on ways to simplify active lifestyles. The company’s core values keep its environmental impact at the forefront of their entire operation. It works to make as much of the product in-house as possible. Further, it also uses environmentally friendly and recycled materials throughout the manufacturing processes. STNKY hopes that, with its washable and durable bags, it is helping to replace single-use plastics in fitness centers that are commonly used for soiled gear, swimsuits and towels. The STNKY Bag Pro can be purchased in standard and XL sizes. The bags come in four colors to match your lifestyle and preference and even include a two-year warranty.
White Truffle Facial Peeling Skincare from Truffoire
Most facial peelings in the market focus on one thing only: Cleansing—and many just cleanse the surface. While that is definitely essential, it is not enough for a completely refreshed look and feel for the skin. Truffoire’s White Truffle Facial Peeling is specially formulated with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and white truffle extract to provide the skin with complete deep cleansing, moisture and hydration. The powerful facial cleanse gently diminishes the appearance of built-up dry skin caused by pollution, dirt, sun exposure and makeup residue. The result will give you a more supple look and prevent UV damage and free radical formation, all while combating wrinkles and uneven skin tone and texture. This helps leave your skin looking refreshed and new. The company’s award-winning formula is a best-seller with five-star reviews on their website. Key ingredients include white truffle for its anti-aging properties, green tea leaf extract with powerful antioxidants, the bamboo powder that is rich in minerals and proteins that moisturize, Vitamin C that stimulates collagen and retinol (Vitamin A) to protect the skin from UV damage.
Elina Organics’ Baikal Skincare Line
Is your skin in need of some serious TLC? While nature may have pressed pause for the season, that doesn’t mean your skincare routine needs to follow suit. Enter Elina Organics’ Baikal Line which features four products: Baikal Crystal Face Infusion, Baikal Crystal Eye Infusion, Baikal Crystal Lip Infusion, and Baikal Crystal Balm. The line is designed to address key facial areas, offering a micro-needling result without invasive cosmetic procedures. Named for Russia’s freshwater Lakle Baikal, Elina Organics’ Baikal Line features a noteworthy ingredient found in its waters: the Lubomirskia sponge—an ingredient that helps restore, hydrate and nourish the skin. The company underscores that people have taken advantage of Lubomirskia’s unique properties for centuries—developing infusions of the sponge to combat wrinkled, inflamed, and bruised skin by promoting its resiliency and overall appearance. With Elina Organics’ Baikal products, a similar effect is achieved. Each item in the line employs Lubomirskia micro-crystals to penetrate the dermis and create micro-channels that stimulate active repair processes and collagen regeneration while delivering skin-firming micronutrients to support live skin cells. The 24-year-old holistic brand was created by award-winning cosmetic chemist and celebrity esthetician, Elina Fedotova, in an effort to provide consumers with organic, vegan and cruelty-free products that ditch the toxins and focus on nutrient-rich formulas.
Vertiroller Wall-Attachable Massagers from Symbodi
Reportedly as the world’s first mountable massage roller, the Vertiroller from Symbodi helps relieve muscle tension, improve blood flow and contribute to enhanced performance. It can be installed easily and quickly onto any smooth, sturdy surface like painted drywall and wood, plastic, and metal.
The airlock patented mounting system uses industrial-strength suction technology to support up to 100lbs of pressure, fostering user safety and confidence. By simply leaning on the roller you can get a great massage anywhere your body needs relief. It’s useful for chronic back pain, trigger point therapy, and myofascial release. The roller glides smoothly, providing pain relief to sore tight muscles and soft tissue. Symbodi believes “the right tools that seamlessly fit into our everyday lives can increase the efficiency in which a higher level of health and wellness can be attained.” Their mission helps bridge the gap between human limitation and human potential by creating tools that act as natural extensions of the individual using them.
Travel Toiletry Bag 2.0 from NOMATIC
While traveling you can keep all your self-care products in one place with the sleek, yet functional, NOMATIC Toiletry Bag 2.0. An optional hanging strap and dedicated toothbrush pocket are a few of the many features that make this a hugely functional toiletry bag. The adjustable hanging strap allows you to suspend the bag almost anywhere for easy accessibility. It features versatile interior pockets to keep everything organized so you can find what you need quickly. The water-resistant fabric and zippers make cleaning up spills and toothpaste residue very easy.
Durable construction also ensures this bag will last. It comes in two sizes: A larger size to hold everything you need and a slimmer version for shorter trips. With hundreds of reviews, this bag is the go-to packing essential. NOMATIC was started by cousins who wanted to create thoughtful and innovative designs to inspire confidence for life on the move. They create products that adapt to every situation—whether you’re at the boardroom or the beach. NOMATIC has continued to innovate products by listening to what consumers want, prioritizing quality and creating highly functional products.
Tropical and Exotic Fruit and Root Boxes by Tropical Fruit Box
For a healthy sweet treat check out Tropical Fruit Box, a company that sources fresh, tropical, and exotic fruits from all over the world and delivers them directly to customers’ doorsteps. Stocked with some of the most hard-to-find fruits and roots that often cannot be found at local grocery stores (and certainly not with this level of quality and freshness), Tropical Fruit Box transports customers to new or nostalgic destinations through a medley of tastes and scents. This women-powered business partners with family farms in Florida, South America, Central America, the Caribbean and tropical regions of Africa and Asia to provide ripe, non-GMO produce that is at peak freshness.
Buyers can choose from single-fruit boxes and customer-favorite variety options like Taste the Tropics, Taste the Exotics, Tropi Travel, or the exclusive “Create Your Own” boxes that feature unique fruit selections that also provide an immune-boosting experience. Tropical Fruit Box is also among a group of exclusive online retailers of the novel PinkGlow pink pineapple, which comes in its own special gift box. The succulent, sweet, and juicy fruit is sustainably sourced and grown on a carbon-neutral farm in Costa Rica. Here’s a fun fact if chocolate is your thing: it’s made from cacao fruit.
Chocolate lovers can take their passion and culinary prowess one step further with the brand’s newly released The Chocolatier’s Apprentice Box, supplying customers with cacao pods, silicon flower molds, and a step-by-step guide on making your own chocolate. Even more, all Tropical Fruit Box gifts come complete with fruit reference cards and chef-inspired recipes—making these boxes a fruitful gift for health connoisseurs and home chefs, alike.
Created by longtime friends Sondra Baker and Bruce Bozzi, MUJEN is the best spirit you’ve probably never tasted. This new, better-for-you premium spirits line is gluten-free, carb-free and sugar-free. Made from the purest ingredients—water, rice and koji—MUJEN is a type of distilled spirit called shochu, regarded as the number one spirit in Japan with a rich history dating back more than 500 years. Baker and Bozzi’s journey to bring the ancient drink to a modern palate began with the pair traveling to Japan’s most esteemed distilleries. There, they stumbled upon Sengetsu in Kumamoto prefecture—a family-run Japanese distillery that has been making shochu for four-plus generations.
Their partnership spawned the MUJEN brand, a play on the Japanese word for infinity, “Mugen,” that is available in three different varieties—each expertly crafted to serve a discerning audience. The MUJEN Original slips seamlessly into your favorite cocktail as an alternative to vodka, tequila, gin or rum, while MUJEN Ai Lite offers fewer calories and less alcohol. Finally, MUJEN X is a 10-year, barrel-aged reserve that is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks, like a fine whiskey or añejo tequila. Shochu’s profile is smooth, and silky and is often compared to the taste of single-malt scotch or Japanese whiskey. Plus, its drinkers claim to experience fewer hangovers due to the spirit containing less alcohol and additives than traditional competitors. At MUJEN’s core, however, are the special celebrations that Baker and Bozzi’s hope are shared around the beverage. Every pour is intended to be a toast to building connections, having fun, and enjoying life’s little moments.
“The Scheme” Book by Alexis V
Reading is having a renaissance and here’s a pick for thriller fanatics: “The Scheme” authored by Alexis V. In it, London succumbs to disaster as landmarks mysteriously burst into fire and crumble to the ground one by one. Three young work colleagues relax in a pub on a Friday evening whilst their friend, Sage, stays behind to earn some overtime. As their office caves in amid the chaos, and they hear of their friend’s tragic death, the coworkers are questioned by the police about the night’s events—propelling them into action.
Can the trio save the capital, and find out who—or what—killed their friend? Suspenseful and highly original, “The Scheme” engages the reader from the outset as it recounts the devastation of buildings across the city while following its three young protagonists’ search to discover who is responsible for bringing Armageddon to the capital. Offering a well-developed storyline and relatable characters, the author’s wordsmithing skills and creativity are combined with her first-hand experience of teenagers’ vivid imaginations, which she garnered during her substantive career as an educator. This includes Alexis V’s leadership posts across London secondary schools as well as receiving “Teacher of the Year” status in her home country of Barbados. The fast-paced thriller marks her 10th published novel, not including her other inspirational and children-focused works for SEN Books—a specialist bookshop for students with special educational needs. Keeping it a family affair, “The Scheme” features her husband’s artistic skills for the book’s front cover design. Readers can experience this enthralling tale through Kindle or as a paperback.
“Heaven’s Bell” and “Ring to Remember: Grief Journal and Memory Book” by Sherrie Barch
Processing the loss of a loved one is hard enough. Discussing it comfortably through in-person dialogue can often seem nearly impossible. With the book, “Heaven’s Bell,” and its companion “Ring to Remember: Grief Journal and Memory Book,” those who are unsure of what to say or how to support a person who’s grieving can utilize these resources. They are designed to facilitate difficult conversations and provide a safe space to mourn and share memories. Both are authored by Sherrie Barch with our post-pandemic landscape in mind, also understanding the drastic impact the past couple of years have had on the way we grapple with illness and loss. The story of “Heaven’s Bell” creates a private place where pre-teens, teens and adults can digest the story without the pressure of live conversation. The narrative is spiritually impartial, according to Barch and, at its core, is a “whimsical story about unconditional love and friendship and how both of those things can last an eternity—whatever that may mean to you.” Through the text, she aims to create a platform to help more readers heal through their own imaginations, and process death in a natural, productive way. Plus, with the “Ring to Remember: Grief Journal and Memory Book,” Barch goes one step further. This extension of the emotional safe space established with “Heaven’s Bell” is a direct response to the voices of the people she’s touched through her book. The journal acts as a place for readers to document their personal stories, emotions and memories of loved ones who have passed in their own words.
By Merilee A. Kern, MBA