There's a huge difference between certain childrens' toys and the toys the rest of the world plays with. You sense it as soon as you walk into a toy shop in a Bohemian Bourgeois bastion of the country. The packaging is dimmer, the toys themselves are more splintery and everything has an overall ... Scandanavian vibe to it. It was only a matter of time until that corner of the toy world leeched itself online. Want every possible variation on wooden blocks, rocking horses, trains and anything else kids played with before electricity? Done. Want organic toys made free of pesticides and made only in the U.S. or Germany? Done. Want some "plan toys" to make sure your child takes those all-important first steps toward maintaining their upper-middle-class station in life? Much like your child's acceptance to an independent school, it's in the bag. "No Batteries. No Blinking Lights. No Cartoon-Themed Toys. Period," the site's slogan says. Nothing says "well-adjusted child" quite like multiple uses of the word "no." Rent Mother Nature
Keeping with the hippie/crusty yuppie theme for a moment, this Cambridge, Mass.-based consortium will send you fresh maple syrup, honey or even seafood for a clambake, but its greatest gifts come in the form of farm shares. Anyone who's been a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture, for the uninitiated) will get the basic idea: You buy a stake in a farm for a friend or loved one, Rent Mother Nature lets you know how your share is doing and then, once harvest rolls around or goods are collected, they're shipped to your recipient's door. We're not talking about a box full of carrots and turnips that will rot before you can use them, but shares in sheep that are "harvested" as a blanket, shares in coffee trees that yield fresh coffee beans or shares in a cow that pay dividends in brie and cheddar. Take that, crunchy, pedantic pseudo-hippie neighbor with the box full of decaying onions in their compost pile.