Face it, when it comes to gift-giving, one size doesn’t fit all. What do you get for the pragmatic? The fashionista? The romantic? The geek?
Fortunately, the Frolic team doesn’t have one-size-fits-all tastes, either. So to lighten your chores this holiday season, we’ve come up with gift ideas that go beyond the expected — unusual finds fit for any of the above and more (yes, even that crazy rich Asian wannabe friend).
For the drinker
Last year at this time, you couldn’t get your hands on a bottle of Namihana Hawaiian Shochu — not if you knew distiller Ken Hirata personally, not if you tried to bribe him. Hirata and his wife Yumeko hand-craft only two batches a year of Hawaii’s only locally made shochu, and every single bottle that doesn’t go to a high-end restaurant or izakaya sells out at their Haleiwa distillery.
Not so this Christmas season: Hirata has a couple hundred bottles. Made from North Shore sweet potatoes, his fifth batch is well-balanced, round and rich in umami. It ends with a long, glossy finish and caramel aftertaste that hold up to any artisan imo-jochu (sweet potato shochu) made by ancient Japanese methods. Since you can only get Namihana by contacting Hirata-san and going to the distillery (he’ll show you around if he has time), this $40, 60-proof liquor has a cachet that makes it a great gift for a connoisseur.
Where to buy: Email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit Hawaiian Shochu Company on Facebook
— Recommended by Mari Taketa
For the home gastronome
I remember getting all different kinds of kits as a kid — arts and crafts, science, magic and thinking sets all in one box. Molecule-R’s Cuisine R-Evolution kit ($49.95) is the perfect combo upgrade for adults, taking playing with your food to another level. As an introduction to molecular gastronomy, it explores the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients while cooking, including all supplies needed to learn about spherification, emulsification and gelification. It’s a great gift for food lovers who like to experiment in the kitchen. My brain is technical, so I’ve always wondered how to make popping pearls on Taiwanese snow, savory foams on gourmet dishes and fruit-flavored gelatin noodles in fancy desserts. If your family and friends are like mine and would prefer to drink their creations, Molecule-R also offers a molecular mixology kit called Cocktail R-Evolution for the same price.
Where to buy: moleculargastronomy.com
— Recommended by Maka Kahawai
For the fashionista/fashionisto
Thanks to Pharrell Williams and other hip musicians ― even local ones ― the hat as a statement accessory has made quite the comeback. At Truffaux in Waikiki, they will find a men’s or women’s hat that matches your size, coloring and face shape, ranging in price from $145 to $5,000. These are very high-quality, hand-woven Panama hats from Ecuador, some taking several months to finish. You can wear it straight on or (my favorite) tilt it for some extra swagger. It’s not just for adults, either; my nephew and a couple of his preschool friends sport their Frank Sinatra style around town while unknowingly protecting their faces from the sun.
Where to buy: Truffaux Waikiki, 227 Lewers St., 921-8040
— Recommended by Melissa Chang
For the geek
My suggestion is a gift that keeps on giving. The Dungeons and Dragons starter set can be played time after time, with every experience different than the last. It’s a game of imagination where players go on adventures, save princesses, find treasure and slay dragons. Referees present pre-published adventures or missions they create themselves. I’ve spent many Friday nights exploring ruins, wielding magical swords, saving kingdoms, thwarting tyrants, casting magic missiles at the darkness and taking arrows to the knee. If this sounds like your mug of ale, you can join the adventure for just $20.
Where to buy: The Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set can be picked up at local gaming stores like The Armchair Adventurer (650 Iwilei Road; 843-1250) in Dole Cannery or Other Realms on Nimitz Highway. Happy adventuring!
— Recommended by Eric Baranda
For the chocolate fiend
Impress that special someone with a sweet tooth with a six-month membership of decadent dark chocolate truffles from Choco le’a Boutique in Manoa. These handcrafted morsels are made by sourcing the finest chocolate from around the world and creating mouthwatering flavors like caramel with Hawaiian sea salt, macadamia nut coconut honey peanut butter, Italian espresso and amaretto. Choose between the nine-piece membership ($120) and the 20-piece membership ($240). Each month, members get to pick the flavors in their own customized box of truffles.
Where to buy: Choco le’a Boutique, 2909 Lowrey Ave., Manoa, 371-2234, chocolea.com
— Recommended by Grant Shindo
For just about anyone
Local high school students Ethan Townsend, Zadrian Huang and Max Turetsky create one-of-a-kind, colorful glass globes, goblets and paperweights that make beautiful, unique gifts. The shapes and swirls within each piece of Haole Boy Glass ($25-$125) seem to magically move when you turn them in your hand while looking at them in the sunlight.
Where to buy: Kailua Town Farmers’ Market on Sundays, at Kailua Elementary School, 315 Kuulei Rd.
— Recommended by Ed Morita
For the absent-minded
The Tile is a tiny Bluetooth tracker and easy-to-find app that will make life a little easier for me and some lucky friends. Press Tile to make your lost phone ring, even if it’s on silent. It’s also a great way to track tablets, wallets, luggage, purses, backpacks, cameras, remote controls … you get the picture. Fellow blogger Melissa Chang even suggests leaving one in your car so you can track where you park. Maybe you can put one on a pet? Use it as a tracker for items within 100 feet; when out of range, it works within an app.
Where to buy: Locally, it’s available at Best Buy and also online at Amazon.com, both for the same price, $24.99. But Amazon also offers a mini bulk deal of $17.50 per Tile when you buy a four-pack.
— Recommended by Amanda Stevens
For the tender soul
Wise beyond her 27 years, Adele’s latest album “25” is deeply rooted in time, love and moving ballads from the heart. A delightful album to play during a dinner party or even while you clean the house, Adele’s vocals are unmatched when compared to the pop princesses of this generation. I highly recommend sharing this gift with someone who loves music, emotion and soul. I think of Adele as a fine red wine; she keeps getting better as the years go by. You can score this awesome gift for $10.99 on iTunes and while the ladies may identify with the tunes, I know men also appreciate this songbird, too.
Where to buy: iTunes, Amazon.com, wherever music is sold
— Recommended by Olena Heu
For the stagestruck
For Broadwayphiles, how about gifting them seats to “The Book of Mormon”? The National Tour of this award-winning musical (with nine Tony Awards, including for Best Musical), opens April 13, 2016 at Blaisdell Concert Hall and runs through May 1, 2016. The musical features music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. (Parker and Stone created “South Park,” Lopez co-created “Avenue Q.”) Single ticket prices run $37-$150 (service fees may apply), but there are group rates.
Where to buy: Tickets are now available at Blaisdell box office or at Ticketmaster.com, or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
— Recommended by Diane Seo
For the crazy rich Asian
Two of the biggest obsessions among the literary crowd are Kevin Kwan’s “Crazy Rich Asians” and its sequel “China Rich Girlfriend,” which profile Singaporeans with ungodly amounts of wealth. These people actually exist — the book was based a bit on Kwan’s own life, and I’ve encountered a couple of their types. I’ll never have that kind of wealth, but I can at least sport some of the look. Punahou alum Megumi Hosogai, who designed retro-chic, Jackie O-style shades, was looking to provide an extended bridge on hers so it would better fit Asian faces. In the process, her glasses (black frames $250; tortoise shell $300) ended up looking like the cover girl on Kwan’s books.
Where to buy: Through Dec. 26, you can order the sunglasses off Hosogai’s website at megumi0.com and plug in FrolicHI as a code to get 20 percent off. You can also get them at the Halekulani Boutique and the Honolulu Eye Clinic.
— Recommended by Melissa Chang
For the adventurer
Material things are all very well and good, but why not blow someone’s mind and give them memories that’ll last much longer — namely, an exciting experience? You don’t even have to leave Hawaii. A few suggestions: Rent a jetpack and fly over Maunalua Bay. Go skydiving on the North Shore. Ride a helicopter over Oahu. Do a night swim with manta rays on Big Island.
Where to buy: There are a few sites out there where you can book such adventures; one of my favorites is Groupon. Another with a decent selection of experiences to choose from is cloud9living.com
— Recommended by Tracy Chan
We were featured on KHON2’s morning news segment today. Click here to see the video!