11 Unusual Gifts for the Person You’re Sleeping With

Pin it

The Nerve Gift Guide returns with pet rats, designer bikes, and more picks from the Nerve editors.

Obscura Antiques and Oddities

Obscura Antiques and Oddities
Virginia Smith, writer

Call me old-fashioned, but to me, if a gift doesn’t say “creepy” it doesn’t say “Christmas.” Which is why I plan on doing basically all of my holiday shopping this year at Obscura Antiques and Oddities. Whether it’s a taxidermied squirrel, a gas mask, or a globe that can help you find Prussia, just about everything in this tiny East Village outpost will help you further the (obviously worthy) goal of transforming your and your friends’ apartments into a nineteenth-century study… or an opium den. Plus, the last time I went, the guy there explained in perfect detail how a shrunken head gets made. What could possibly be more festive?


11 Unusual Gifts for the Person You’re Sleeping WIth

Old School Sesame Street DVD

Old School Sesame Street DVDs
Cait Robinson, Advice Columnist

Do you ever wonder why you can count to ten so well, but don’t know how to say the words “I love you”? Why you can’t sit still for longer than a minute and a half? Why you still have a nebulous mistrust of birds and the number seven? Ho ho ho, child of the postmodern era! Give the gift that says, “It’s not our fault!”

Old School Sesame Street is a drugged-out utopia/dystopia that is best enjoyed as it was probably made: less-than-sober. It is also our collective childhood. As a litmus test, watch this. It’s a frog, and he’s falling off a tree, and there’s a whole country song about it. If you think this is great, you’re in for a treat. Parts of it are inspired. Parts of it are profoundly creepy. Parts of it bring back memories that feel like LSD flashbacks. In short, Old School Sesame Street is the warmest way to tell your special someone, “Let’s put that drug problem of yours to work!”

11 Unusual Gifts for the Person You’re Sleeping WIth


A pet rat
Kelly Bourdet, writer

Give a gift that keeps on giving, at least for two-to-five years: a small, brown rat in a cage. I received one as a gift when I was sixteen and I loved her with all my heart until her poor life was cut short by the family dog. Rats make perfect gifts: they take little money and effort to care for, and they’re very sociable and actually quite intelligent. New York can be a lonely place, but you know you don't have time to take care of a real pet! That’s why this year, I’m getting the one I like a rat for Christmas. Even though he’s scared of them. And a Muslim.


11 Unusual Gifts for the Person You’re Sleeping WIth

Test Tube Spice Rack

Test-tube spice rack
Ben Reininga, editor

Three words: Home Chemistry Tools (.com). Why? Because you could go to Sur La Table (which is frightening, even if you can pronounce it) and spend thirty dollars on a salt shaker. Or, you could buy your girlfriend a fetching little set of test tubes for all her spices — with a nice wooden stand — for a ten-spot. Acquaintances will describe her kitchen as “design-driven” and “fresh,” and she'll get to feel like a secret wizard when she cooks. Throw in another tenner, and you can buy her a mortar and pestle, and a few graduated beakers. If she's worthy of your love, she’ll figure out something to do with them.


11 Unusual Gifts for the Person You’re Sleeping WIth

Lost In Sofa

Lost in Sofa
Lindsay Cutler, writer

Let's face it: You live in a pile of garbage. Why not live in a pile of utilitarian garbage? This sofa design from Japanese studio Daisuke Motogi will make your clutter look deliberate, chic. Right now it’s only a prototype, but I’m hoping to God some manufacturer picks up this crazy design which — in all fairness — only appeals to people with lofty ideas and not a ton of common sense. Fair. (Would you really keep your coffee wedged in between cushions? Would you?) But the second this baby comes out, I’m making all of my friends pool resources for what will likely be the priciest concept sofa you’ve seen in a Brooklyn sublet.


11 Unusual Gifts for the Person You’re Sleeping WIth

Half-Size Nylon String Guitar

Adorably pint-sized guitar
Peter Smith, editor

You can get a half-size nylon-string guitar for less than $100. It's a great gift for a guitarist who's tired of hauling a heavy instrument around, but it's also a great gift for anyone, really. There are few things more rewarding than playing music, guitar has lower barriers to entry than almost any popular instrument save piano, and nylon strings are gentler on your fingers than steel strings. Plus, a half-size guitar will make fretting chords a lot easier for your weirdly tiny hands. (Yes, I noticed.) Combine with a few lessons from a local player and you've got an inspired gift.


11 Unusual Gifts for the Person You’re Sleeping WIth


The Write a Bike
Amanda Green, writer

The Write a Bike from Swiss designer Juri Zaech is the perfect gift for active city-dwellers. It's quirky and personal without being as tacky as a nameplate necklace, and I know all the hipsters don't have them yet. (It's still just a design concept for now, but I'm first on the list when these things are produced and sold in the U.S.) One of my friends once posted a Craigslist Missed Connection for some cute guy he saw while he was riding his bike. If his bike had had his name on it, that story could have ended differently.


11 Unusual Gifts for the Person You’re Sleeping WIth

Whiskey Aftershave

Whiskey aftershave
Nick Stefanovich, writer

Portland General Store has an old-timey feeling. If you're there in person, and you ask the clerk how much something costs, you almost expect him to say, "Two bits." My favorite of their all-natural no-additive line is a whiskey aftershave. It has a pretty powerful kick to it, but what else would you expect from a hygiene product that highlights its alcohol content?


11 Unusual Gifts for the Person You’re Sleeping WIth

Shoe Shine Kit

Shoe-shine kit
Ray Rahman, writer

It's hard to put your best foot forward if your foot looks like crap. So buy your boyfriend a shoe-shine kit. It's more than the transference of a wooden box and some polish — you're giving the gift of confidence. Besides, there’s something kind of awkward about having an adult stranger kneel at your boyfriend's feet to clean his footwear. Who does he think he is, the King of goddamn England?

Well, he’s not, and this gift will gently remind him of that. It will also remind him that his father and his father’s father wore adult shoes, not brightly colored sneakers with funky patterns, and that maybe he should finally graduate to manhood by buying a nice pair of leather shoes. After all, he does have this random shoe-shine kit, right?


11 Unusual Gifts for the Person You’re Sleeping WIth

Sherlock Holmes Blu-Ray

Sherlock mini-series
James Brady Ryan, writer

A modern-day reimagining of Sherlock Holmes sounds like a dicey enterprise, but believe me: the BBC’s new, three-part miniseries Sherlock is as witty and quick-paced as the legendary detective’s original adventures. Benedict Cumberbatch (most British name ever?) as Holmes and Martin Freeman (soon to be Bilbo Baggins) as Watson have more than the necessary chemistry. The cast is rounded out by those respectable British actors that keep Masterpiece Theater afloat. And, as a plus, if your current fling should come to an end, you can sit around and debate which cast member you'd like to, um, marry. (Hands off Freeman, everyone. He’s mine.)

Of course, no one should go into this version unprepared — so along with the DVD, gift this handsome two-volume set of the annotated original stories, with all the historical facts and literary criticism you need to feel like you’re a Holmes scholar. They’ll love it, especially if they like a good footnote or forty every now and then.


11 Unusual Gifts for the Person You’re Sleeping WIth

Tea-boy Penguin Timer

Tea-Boy Penguin Timer
Jessica Gentile, writer

If you're dating someone who is too lazy to lift a finger, or, you know, a tea bag, then this might be the perfect gift. The Tea-Boy Penguin Timer dangles the teabag from his beak into your cup. Set the timer from one to twenty minutes, and once the time is up he automatically (and adorably) lifts it out. Just like that, he can make you a perfect cup of tea. Insert tea-bagging jokes here.