Holiday Gift Guide: For the Designer Types

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It is a tough year for gift-giving, but if there is one thing we always say, it's that the key to living with less is good design. So here is our roundup of thoughtfully designed gifts that range in price from Free to Cheap to Almost Cheap. In the Free category, we love downloadable designs, where you can get neat things from all over the world that you print out and assemble. Some are great to do beforehand as completed gifts; others challenge the traditional model kit, delivering in paper what you used to pay Revelle for plastic. Who wouldn't smile at the Hal 9000 kit shown above; as DVice says, "Can't you just see him dancing in slo-mo to his rousing rendition of 'Daisy'?" Instructions in Japanese, but self-explanatory here; via BoingBoing.

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Make Your Own Droidel

Don't lets forget that it's Chrismukkah too; May the Force be with you win your game of dreidel with your special Star Wars R2-D2 droidel. The Star Wars website explains:

The Yiddish word dreidel is derived from the German word drehen meaning "turn." The Hebrew word for dreidel is s'vivon. A dreidel is a four-sided top with a symbol on each side. Each symbol represents a word which put together say in Hebrew "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham" it translates as "A Great Miracle Happened There."

(Star Wars, via BoingBoing, free)

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Make Your Own Ball Ornaments

So you carefully saved your scraps of gift wrap last year, but don't have as many presents to wrap this year? Use it up making cute paper decorations for your tree, or as gifts for others. (Full instructions at Designsponge, free)

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Scenic Switzerland

SwissMiss offers an Alpenglow scene that you can cut out and insert tea lights for this lovely diorama. (SwissMiss, free)

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iPhone Adoration Pod

Does someone you know have an iPhone? Are they one of those types who can't help but wave it in everyone's face to say "Hey, I have an iPhone!"? Now you can give them this iPhone stand so they can look at it lovingly every waking moment. Check out the instructional video below. ( Geeky Gadgets, free)



DIY Cat Toys

We can't forget our furry feline friends at this time of year either; that's why Marmalade pets offers these downloadable designs for cardboard mice, jacks, and balls that you can cut out of cardboard. Sure, they look like they might only last 12 seconds, but it is the thought that counts. (Marmalade Pets, free)

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Foldschool Furniture

Enough with the models: Nicola Enrico Stäubli provides the plans to build a full-sized set of cardboard furniture. "Mass culture is run by superficiality and ecological absurdity," says the website. "Foldschool supports craftsmanship as a face-to-face approach to design and brings together product and user the closest possible." (Foldschool, free)

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Good gifts for model builders

As a (still free) parting gift, here are easy kits that one can give to younger children, like this Japanese Bullet Train set from Paper Forest.

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Mad Max's Interceptor, before its unfortunate circumstance, via Paper Inside.

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We also like these really complicated airplane models, also from Paper Inside.




Don't be shy about trying your hand at Make-a-Flake. It lets you test out designs for paper cutout snowflakes online and then print out the ones you like to cut out yourself. All of the fun, a lot less paper waste! (Make-a-Flake via Ponoko, free)

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GreenPrint software

Tip: Downloadable designs are a great way to reduce resource use, have fun, and generally be efficient. But if you're going to be making some of these designs yourself (or you create a new downloadable-design addict in your gift-giving frenzy), you'll want to make sure that you don't waste paper in the process. Software such as GreenPrint helps you check in advance what is going to print out of computer, and gets rid of the useless pages. It really saves paper! (Greenprint, free, now for both Macs and PCs)

Next: Inexpensive gifts

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