Times staffers present their holiday gift guide

We asked our eclectic group of reporters and editors in the newsroom to share items they wouldn't mind seeing in their stocking or under the tree this holiday season, based on their interest and varying price points. Here's what they came up with.

For the tech savvy


ChargeHub charging station, $50. Problem: Nothing is more frustrating than having multiple smart devices to charge and not having enough outlets. Solution: the ChargeHub. With seven USB outlets, large families and even those addicted to buying USB-charged devices will be satisfied. Starting at $49.95, it is reasonably priced and will forever eliminate arguments over who gets to charge their phone.

Striiv Touch, $80. It's easy to get out of sync with your workout regimen during the cold winter months, but Striiv Touch makes it easy to stay in shape. The wristband/watch tracks your activity during the day, measuring steps taken, miles traversed, time spent working out and total calories burned. This is just one half of what it can do. With upgradable smartwatch apps, you can take calls and send texts without the use of your phone. Considering its many functions, $79.95 is a steal.

earHero earphones, $149. Called the safest earphones in the world, they are so light and small they fit snugly in your ear canal without eliminating outside noises. Originally developed for use by the Secret Service and other intelligence agencies, they also perform well for sports enthusiasts and office workers alike. Runners will be able to hear cars approaching and cubicle rats won't miss any important — if not sometimes annoying calls — from their phones or supervisors. A bit pricey, but safety and avoiding the appearance of ignoring your boss is worth it.

—Wiley Hayes

For the comic book fan

"The Secret History of Wonder Woman" by Jill Lepore, $17. Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston is one of the most fascinating comic book writers and artists of the era. Involved in an openly polyamorous relationship in the early 1900s, Marston was a firm believer in women as the superior sex and the importance of bondage in creating a perfect society. This book takes a look at the way in which these views influenced the creation of the character, her homeland of Paradise Island and the Lasso of Truth, as Marston was also the inventor of the modern lie detector.

"Saga Deluxe Edition Hardcover" by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, $50. The hot indie comic of the 2010s, Saga has racked up industry awards and critical acclaim, surpassing writer Brian K. Vaughan's previous work "Y: The Last Man." The book, a unique blend of space opera, fantasy and family drama, follows a married couple of two warring species trying to protect their infant child in a world that wants to kill them. Artist and co-creator Fiona Staples brings a definite warmth to the series in a genre where loving relationships are often lacking.

"Batman: The Complete Television Series," $135 (DVD) or $180 (Blu-ray). Now that the dour Christopher Nolan series has come to a close, enjoy this collection of Batman as he was meant to be — in four-color tights and portrayed by Adam West. This Blu-ray collection hosts all 120 episodes of the '60s series with guest stars like Vincent Price, Eartha Kitt, Frank Gorshin and Burgess Meredith. The show has been unavailable for years due to legal entanglements, and the announcement of this collection has been a holy grail for Batfans. Finally, viewers don't have to wait for the same Bat-time on the same Bat-channel and can watch these pop art masterpieces at their leisure. Editor's note: Holy omission, Batman! Jacob somehow forgot to mention there's a Hot Wheels '60s style Batmobile included in this collection, too.

—Jacob DeNobel

For the crafty types

DIY Sewing Kit in a Jar, $5-$10. The quickest way to a crafter's heart is to make them something yourself. This simple project requires minimal work — though you will need to be comfortable with a glue gun — and then it's just walking down the notions aisle at a craft store to pick up some pins, needles and thread to fill it. The kit can be used for bedside mending or anytime to avoid hauling out a more cumbersome sewing basket. Tutorials: and

Fold-Away Cutting Station, $30. Space can become valuable when a craft project is in full swing and you don't have a dedicated craft room a la Martha Stewart. This cutting station by Omnigrid folds securely for easy storage and has handles to be easily transported. When it's open, it provides a gridded cutting mat on one side and an ironing board on the other. If you have ever been frustrated with dragging the ironing board out just to press a quick seam or stuck looking for a ruler to get edges straight while quilting, this item will make frequent appearances. You can also keep a project in the works folded up inside and things won't slide out easily.

Lullubee Craft of the Month Club Membership, $125-$350. Give the gift of months or even a year of new projects with a subscription to Lullubee's Craft of the Month Club. Each month's box comes with detailed project instructions, the materials for the project, and a bonus crafting tool or extra supplies. It's like having Pinterest delivered to your door each month but without over-spending on supplies and tools that you'll only use for one project.

—Heather Cobun


For the fashionista

Viva Glam Rihanna Lipstick, $16. You can be stunning and generous this Christmas with one or two of Rihanna's Viva Glam lipsticks for MAC. Proceeds from the lipstick purchases benefit women, men and children living with HIV/AIDS. Viva Glam Rihanna 1 is a frosty-red shade and Viva Glam Rihanna 2 is a cool, mauve hue. Get them while they're hot! Rihanna's MAC collaborations usually cause major traffic on the MAC website and quickly sell out in stores.

You and Meow Forever Heel, $65. Cat sweaters and cat eye glasses are so passe. Out with the old and in with the new! A way to make your cat obsession fun and stylish is finally here in the form of the You and Meow Forever Heel. These kitten heels with cat ears, a little cat nose and cat whiskers are sure to exude your "cattitude." They only come in black and run a bit small so be sure to order a size up.

emPowered handbags, $119-$289. Because fashion and functionality couldn't come in a prettier package, now you can charge your devices on the go, right inside of your emPowered wristlet or tote. All you do is plug your USB cable into the back of your bag and plug the micro/USB adapter end into your device. Charging your bag is just as easy. Simply plug the micro/USB adapter into the back of your bag and the USB end into your computer or a wall adapter. It's a gift she's sure to love because nothing's better than a great handbag and a fully charged phone. emPowered handbags work with iPhones, Kindles, Androids and digital cameras.


—Sarah Hainesworth

For the coffee snob

Hario V60 ceramic coffee dripper, $16-$24. There are a lot of ways to brew coffee, from the literal minded Mr. Coffee machine, to the classy French press and even the bike-tire pump meets pneumatic gun of the Aeropress, but a single cup pour over with a ceramic drip cone might be the cheapest and simplest way to make the tastiest possible cup of Joe. Designed to make one and just one cup at a time, ceramic cones give the brewer complete control over the brewing process and the ceramic material won't react to the acids in the coffee — like metal will — or leach possibly toxic chemicals into your brew — like plastic. Options abound, but my favorite is the Hario V60. Inexpensive and vortex-shaped with internal ridges that ensure hot water permeates coffee grounds in an even manner (use unbleached paper filters), the only variables the bleary-eyed coffee snob need worry about are water temperature (not quite boiling) and the rate of pour (between two and three minutes).

Craft Coffee coffee subscription, $30-$300. Have you ever had a cup of coffee you would describe as "intense and juicy, with grapefruit acidity cutting through delicate tangerine flavors and dense shortbread sweetness"? Such coffee exists, and could be shipped straight to the door of the coffee snob lover in your life by Craft Coffee, a single-origin, gourmet coffee subscription company. Each month will see a package of three 4-ounce samplers of freshly roasted beans from roasters such as Blueprint Coffee of St. Louis, whose beans from Kirinyaga, Kenya, yielded the tasting notes above.

Baratza Vario ceramic burr grinder, $450-plus. One of the most important factors in brewing a good cup of coffee is the grind: Espresso, the alchemical essence of coffee, requires a very fine grind, while a French press works best with a very coarse grind. The finer you go, the more important that the grind be uniform so that water moves through the grounds evenly. You can make a better cup of coffee with a good grinder and a bad coffee maker than the other way around. And the best type of grinder? Not the common kind that chops beans with two whirling blades, but a burr grinder, such as the Baratza Vario ceramic burr grinder. This little kitchen beast has 230 grind settings for every possible brewing contingency, but that's a flexibility you'll have to pay for.

—Jon Kelvey

For the craft beer enthusiast

Mix-your-own-six, $10-$15. Variety is the spice of life and the best and most affordable way to offer variety to the craft beer lover in your life is a mix-your-own six-pack. In Carroll County, head to Total Discount Liquors, 1438 Liberty Road, Eldersburg for the opportunity to mix-and-match craft beers. If you aren't a beer person yourself, try to find out what kind of stuff the recipient likes first. In my experience, someone who likes IPAs won't like the dark, heavy stuff like stouts and porters, and vice versa. If you don't know, get a mix of dark and light, or just find holiday seasonals.

Beer mugs, $20-$40. An underappreciated part of drinking good craft beer is making sure you are using the right glass. While most people won't notice a huge difference, the right beer glass can bring out flavor and aroma of your favorite brew. Also, and this is important, it looks cool. My favorite is this $24.99 six-piece set from Libbey glassware, which includes one each of the following glasses: classic pilsner, English pub, Belgian ale, craft pub, porter/stout and wheat beer. It pairs nicely with this companion book, "Craft Brews: The Right Glass For The Right Beer Guidebook," published by Libbey and written by Robert Zollweg, which also has recipes for beer cocktails and food pairings.

Kegerator, $100 to $7,500. Face facts — beer tastes better fresh out of a tap than it does in a can or a bottle. It's how beer was meant to be drunk. Kegerators come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a conversion kit to put a tap on that old fridge in the garage you now use to keep your beer in to standalone devices with room for one or multiple kegs to the holy grail of at-home beer storage, the Brew Cave Walk-In Beer Cooler and Kegerator (with nearly 250 cubic feet, room for 30 cases of beer and four kegs, plus a tap on the outside, this would be like having your very own beer store in your basement). Figure out what makes the most sense for the recipient (Does he or she already have a beer fridge to convert? Do they have a in-law suite they really want to be a liquor store?) and go from there.

—S. Wayne Carter Jr.

For the old-school gamer

Nerdtendo Gamebooze Flask, $20. This stainless-steel flask is the best place to hold your tonic when you're busy playing "Final Fantasy VI," or your protein drink when you're playing "Earthbound." In fact, you can consider it your very own E-Tank, a la "Mega Man 2." With 8 ounces of capacity, this Game Boy doppelganger is the perfect size for a drink — check out the video game-inspired cocktails on for inspiration, and remember to always play responsibly.

Hyperkin Retron 3 Video Game System, $59. Pull out the shoe box with your old "Metroid," "Super Mario World" and "Sonic the Hedgehog" cartridges: There's a way to play all three on the same system. Ideal for the retro game enthusiast who appreciates compactness, the Retron 3 combines the Nintendo, Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis into the Mother (Brain) of all consoles. Still got your original controllers? They're compatible with the Retron — though it also comes with two wireless controllers for those who've misplaced their SNES paddles sometime in the last 20 years.

Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga/Pac-Man arcade machine, $2,995. For the retro gamer who is truly flush with quarters, there's this arcade, a replica of the machines popularized in the 1980s and made by the same manufacturer. No coins needed for this model; simply plug it in and play to your heart's content. The only thing between you and a perfect "Pac-Man" game is time (and, OK, the difficulty of the level 256 split-screen).


—Becki Chiasson