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Twelve cool gifts for the hard to shop for

Philips Wake-up Light, $99.99

Would you rather be jolted out of bed by a belligerent alarm clock or gently woken by a gradually increasing light inspired by nature’s sunrise? The Wake-up Light also has an alarm with increasing beeps, which include two nature sounds or FM radio. Here’s a bright idea: Smash your old alarm clock and start waking up the way nature intended.

Maple Wood Knife Set, $129

Created by the Federal Inc., an Ottawa design agency founded by two former Research in Motion designers, these 20-centimetre chef’s and butcher’s knives, made from Canadian maple and German stainless steel, won the prestigious Red Dot award for best design concept in 2013. The wood is sealed and food safe, and even though they may look light, their weight is balanced to guarantee they can be used by beginners and pros alike.

Rivsalt, $42

Thank Swedish designer Jens Sandringer for what’s sure to be a conversation starter at dinner parties, not to mention one that will make the meal taste even better. With its Japanese stainless-steel grater, desk stand made from untreated oak and small chunk of Himalaya rock salt (that weighs up to 60 grams), expect a few reactions, ranging from “Grated salt?” to “Grated salt!” once they’ve had a taste.

Makerbot Replicator Mini 3-D Printer, $1,600

Blow your kid’s mind with this nifty bit of tech – a toy that can make brand new toys. Tiny toys, but still. And so much more. Make jewellery or household items. Make gifts for friends. Make something no one has ever even seen before. As Makerbot’s slogan goes, “If you can imagine it, you can make it.” How cool is that?

Pulcina Espresso Coffee Maker, from $88

The eye-catching shape, made from aluminum casting, is just the beginning. Alessi, the Italian design company, worked with Illy’s research and development laboratory to create a specially shaped internal heater that automatically stops filtering coffee at the ideal moment, preventing any burnt or bitter aftertaste. As well, the pronounced spout is designed to eliminate drips when pouring. Now that’s the way to get your caffeine fix.

Areaware Drink Rocks, $50 (U.S.)

Pour yourself a drink on the rocks – literally. This set of “platonically” shaped stones, including a sphere, a cylinder, a block and a pyramid replace ice cubes in your refreshment of choice. Chill the rocks in the freezer and then plunk one into your libation. Do it carfully, though. The rocks are soapstone and marble, and the only thing you want them shattering is convention.

Vitriini boxes, $50 - $200 (U.S.)

If you love something, why put it out of sight? Whether it’s a watch, rings or even paper clips, these boxes are a transparently playful way of both storing and displaying small items that deserve a little extra attention. Made from glass, wood and aluminum, the collection by Finnish designer Anu Penttinen won the prestigious iF design award in 2012. Thinking inside the box rarely looks this good.

Molecule-R Food Styling Kit, $49.95

Are you a serious foodie who just doesn’t have the right tools at hand? Then this is what you’ve been waiting for. The kit includes a pair of precision tweezers, a scalpel, a culinary syringe, one pair of fine scissors, one oil mister and two spatulas, all designed with a sleek, minimalist aesthetic. Like the best molecular gastronomy, they’re the perfect blend of science and art.

The New York Times 36 Hours World, $125 (U.S.)

Wishing you could travel the world? Satisfy your wanderlust with this gorgeous three-volume collection of the best “36-Hours” columns from The New York Times. Organized from A to Z, the set includes 365 destinations detailing how to explore them in a weekend. With more than 1,500 restaurants and 1,000 hotel recommendations, you’ll be dreaming of your next trip – assuming you want to put down the books and leave the coffee table, that is.

Fluxmob Bolt Battery Pack, $60

The world’s smallest portable battery backup and wall charger combined is an ideal piece of two-in-one tech. Plug it into the wall and charge both it and your phone, or use it on the road to charge your phone or other gadgets when there’s no wall plug to be found. Give the gift of never having to complain again about lousy battery life.

Copycat Lamp, $890

Designed this year by London-based Michael Anastassiades, the Copycat consists of two spheres. The smaller aluminum sphere, which comes finished in 24 karat gold, copper, black or polished aluminum, illuminates the larger sphere made of hand-blown glass, casting a warm glow of diffused light.

Leather Touchscreen Gloves, $120 (€82.60)

The Dutch designer label Mujjo deserves a slow clap for its new leather touchscreen gloves. They’re as gorgeous as they are functional: the gloves mimic the conductive properties of your skin offering an unrestricted touchscreen experience. You can use every finger, or even the palm of your hand to work your device. A cashmere lining keeps your hands warm and the fold-over closure stays snug thanks to a magnetic snap. How many selfies are you going to take of you in these gloves? A lot.

Market editor Alanna Davey

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