2008 Gift Giving Guide: What we want, but can’t yet have

This installment of the Unclutterer Gift Giving Guide explores the not-yet-invented or completely outrageous gifts that would make our readers’ lives more organized. We asked our Twitter followers what they would put on their dream holiday wishlists, and these were some of the fun responses:

Universal power cord
This cord would work with every electrical object. Need to power your laptop, cell phone, television, sewing machine, dryer, iPod, or oven? All you need to do is grab the universal power cord!

The perfect laptop bag
The perfect laptop bag has a pocket for everything you need to carry with you, has a comfortable shoulder strap, is made to last, is professional in appearance, and doesn’t scream I’M CARRYING A LAPTOP FOR YOU TO STEAL. This bag is so perfect that you want to name your pets after it. We have found many bags that come close to meeting these requirements, but none that are perfect.

A magic wand
The magic wand empowers its user to clean and organize his or her home and office by simply waving it near disorder. If it actually existed, I would also want for it to make a pleasant chime when in use.

A full-time cleaning staff
The benefit of having someone clean up after you make a mess was at the top of many Unclutterer readers’ lists. Unfortunately, a full-time cleaning staff comes with a very hefty price tag. A cleaning robot might be more affordable.

Food tracking software
As far as we know, this exact product does not yet exist. The reader who mentioned it said that the software should have a bar scanner that reads use by/expiration information off a product, enters that data into a database, cross-references the food item to recipes in your collection, and then tells you when to use the food. I think this software should also notify you when to preheat your oven and how long any leftovers might be good for using.

What not-yet-invented or completely outrageous organizing gift is at the top of your wishlist? Tell us about it in the comments!

P.S. If you are an inventor/programmer/industrial designer and would like to create any of the items listed above, we would really appreciate your efforts.

34 Comments for “2008 Gift Giving Guide: What we want, but can’t yet have”

  1. posted by Another Deb on

    I would pay big bucks for an actual memory chip- in my brain. That would eliminate a hefty chunk of time spent making lists and writing post-its. No more hard copies. No more food journaling.

    Of course with my luck I would get a 256K chip in a 16 gig world.

    On my wish list is a Christmas Un-decorating machine. I hate undecorating so much that I don’t decorate much anymore. Random ornaments have been known to sit around in drawers for the rest of the year because I forgot to put them away until the rest of the boxes are back in the garage overhead storage area.

    Also, woud someone PLEASE invent a homework grading machine (that doesn’t look like a trash can)?

  2. posted by Tabitha (From Single to Married) on

    I would really love a planner that does it all – one that is a cross between a digital planner and a paper one. I’ve had every thing from the Palm planners to the Iphone to Franklin Covey day planners and I can never stick with one because I like some elements of each. But who wants to carry around more than one planner? Maybe I’m just completely inept, but it’s hard to whip out an electronic planner and quickly write in a lunch date or appointment, it’s so much easier to do it on paper. But I love the other options that an electronic planner provides. So yes, if you could figure out a solution to that – I would pay big money for it!

  3. posted by Justin on

    I love my Timbuj2 bag… I just use their standard messenger bag with a BUILT laptop sleeve, but I think that their “Commute Messenger” bag fits your description of the “perfect laptop bag.”

  4. posted by Amy Sisson on

    I would love a complete nutritional analysis software package — maybe something sort of open source, like Library Thing for books. Basically, it would already have a database of both raw ingredients (in every possible way of meausring) and ALL store products (such as a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup). So I tell it what I ate all day, and it gives me the complete breakdown of calories, sugars, fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, etc. I would also want to be able to upload recipes and have it figure out the nutritional values.

  5. posted by drdrew on

    If you have the Magic Wand, why clutter your house up with a full time cleaning staff? lol

  6. posted by CowboyBob on

    I’ve searched for the laptop bag over the years, up to and including buying an outrageously expensive rollabout from Briggs and Reilly. But…my favorite, is the Metro Padded Laptop Briefcase from Redoxx.

    Perfect for a MacBook and its umpteen adapters and peripherals.

  7. posted by enigma on

    Could I please have

    wireless/batteryless electricty e.g. through the air? (I hate cables)?

    packages/wrappings that do not need special tools to open them and a degree in engineering to operate them?

    game consoles that allow to play different games without having to change the DVD or whatever the game comes on?

    a software that allows me to remotely control my TV, VCR, sat dish, stereo, room temperature, garage door and basically any electronic device inside the house via an ipod without having to pay a fortune?

    teleportation at least for my luggage?

    I am sure I will think of some more …

    (So far “I” have “invented” the CD/DVD, the little sound recorder that records the latest traffic news on your car radio and remote controls for lamps, heh.)

  8. posted by Shalin on

    haha! those are awesome! 🙂

    I know that there’s this thing called a “green plug” universal charger – sorta like the universal power cord…

    Also, the food tracker is a great idea. 🙂


  9. posted by timgray on

    Universal cord. Will never happen. Electronic and electrical makers pride themselves in making sure you have to have yet another wierd cord lying around. Cellphone makers do it out of pure spite and hatred of their customers.

    Laptop bag. If you carry a LOT I use the swiss army laptop backpack. I can carry 2 laptops in it if I need to, A ton of files, books, even my lunch and 2 bottles of water as well as important stuff in the bottom. It fits over my shoulder well and protects the gear inside perfectly. I just wish it had a spot to cradle a big SLR and lens so I can carry only 1 bag everywhere I go.

  10. posted by momofthree on

    As a mom of 3, how about self cleaning children??
    Is that too much to ask for?? My knees would have thanked me when they were all little and I would spend so much tim leaning over the bathtub, trying to scrub behind the ears, and shamooing the summer time hot sweaty heads??

    But, that might fall under the MAGIC WAND–just a swish and everything is clean, including the kids!! I just would forget the sound while in use, unless it’s a tune I can groove to when using it!!

  11. posted by Lynette on

    It may sound childish of me, but I wish magic existed as a real and tangeable art. This way wand or no wand, *poof* and it is done.

    For now, however, I would love a thing that really works well to remove pet hair from clothes with little effort. Or better yet, pet hair and stain repelling clothes and fabrics! No matter how much tape I use I still look like the nesting material of my cat and dog.

  12. posted by Jessica on

    As far as the food tracker goes, here’s a story about something similar (Treehugger is pretty critical of it though…):


  13. posted by Susan on

    I don’t know about the full-time cleaning staff. When my Mom was older, she had a woman that would come in for one day every two weeks and Mom would wear herself out rushing around cleaning and straightening just before the “cleaning lady” came. And she wouldn’t let the woman do things that Mom thought were “too hard,” in other words the very things Mom needed someone else to do for her. I imagine Mom would have died five years sooner from trying to keep things clean and tidy if she had to have outsiders in her home 24/7. Be careful what you wish for! LOL

  14. posted by pam on

    I’ve always wanted a car that would collapse into a lightweight attaché case when you clicked a button on the key ring so you wouldn’t need to find parking. You could carry it with you easily instead. (There’d be a safety device so you couldn’t click the button when someone’s inside the car.) Or, I’d like a car that warms itself up, cleans itself of ice or snow, and comes to pick you up when you click the key clicker. Maybe a combination of both.

    The other thing I’d really like is to be able to rent a portable room that you could attach to you house or apt. on any floor, kind of like a portable storage pod but you could walk into it from inside your house, even on an upper floor. When you’re reorganizing, you could move everything into the temporary room and only move the things that make sense back into the permanent room. Then you’d know that everything in the temporary room can go out.

  15. posted by Monkey's Momma on

    These are all really good ideas!

  16. posted by EllisG on

    That software should be easy. I’ve wanted it for years. It would be in a device embedded in the fridge door, and read either UPC codes or RFID tags as I unload the groceries. It would inventory all that we have, keep a running list of things we’ve run out of, and should even be intelligent enough to know that we’re alMOST out of something!

    “Mr. Godard, there are only 3 more servings of milk and you have two meals to serve before your vacation. Please buy one quart. I will print a coupon you can use at the convenience store at these directions -_-_-. While you’re there, you may want to refill your gas tank, as you don’t currently have enough to get to the airport and back. And on the drive, you should call your mother. It’s been 6 days since you’ve spoken, and 4 days since your father’s surgery, and you can ask why your brother has not replied to the last 7 emails you sent.”

  17. posted by freecia on

    @EllisG – That kind of reminds me of the difference between a spouse navigating while the other is driving and a GPS unit. Similar functionality with different levels of courtesy and interaction.

    Magic Wand – I’d also want the anime effect. After I wave it, I want to suddenly be wearing a more awesome outfit.

  18. posted by Karen on

    I would please like carpet that never, ever stains, no matter what three boys under the age of 8 can throw at it (or dribble on it).

    Also, I would like a permanent life sentence for all house designers who put carpet in either a kitchen, bathroom, OR dining area.

    Also, if anyone knows of anything like this: dishcloths and dishtowels that do not get mildewy after one use. And that hold up and look nice.

    Thank you!

  19. posted by Amy on

    I got an Eastpak messenger bag which fits my (not so small) laptop perfectly. Get a protective sleeve to put around your laptop and you’re pretty much all set.

    I don’t take it with me that often, so whenever I take my laptop with me I have to reorganise the compartments to comfortably fit the cords somewhere…. if only there were affordable laptops with a way longer battery life!

  20. posted by Jenn on

    There’s a company called iGo that makes an almost-universal power cord. One cord, with various tips to fit all your different electronic devices. I don’t have one, but it looks pretty neat, especially for travel.

  21. posted by Kayla on

    Awesome ideas! The food tracker would be a dream come true, as I somehow never use all the food before its best before date. Re: cloths that do not get mildewy after one use, I use microfiber cloths and towels for dishes as well as general cleaning. They have a nice texture, clean really well, and I have not yet had any get mildewy on me even after a week or so.

  22. posted by Cynthia Friedlob, The Thoughtful Consumer on

    I want all of these things plus a Jetsons-like device that would (1) pull me away from my computer after I’ve been staring at it for too long, then, depending on the time, either (2) push me out the door for some exercise or (3) toss me into bed so I could get some sleep!

  23. posted by julia1060 on

    I have the iGo and it’s great – it comes with various conversion tips, but for smaller electronics, you have to buy additional adaptors. Still, great for the car and the house. Wraps nicely into a convenient pouch and is great for travel!

  24. posted by eryka on

    How about shrink wrap that actually makes the things you wrap, well, SHRINK? Just think of the storage advantages – your boat in the wintertime, shrinkwrap it and put it in your pocket, no need to pay expensive storage fees. Or on a smaller scale, off-season clothing, your college textbooks, the possibilities are endless.

  25. posted by Michele on

    I agree with enigma: wireless everything! No more fussing with outlets or cords, no rewiring hassle for upgrades or home renovations. Of course, we’d all have brain tumors galore.

  26. posted by Annie on

    I would just be happy to be able to watch TV or play a DVD without needing 3 remote controls!!

  27. posted by Tracy on

    How about a self-filling gas tank for the car?
    Seems like I always notice that I’m almost out when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere.

  28. posted by Kathryn on

    I want a dishba. A mobile robotic dishwasher that scurries about the house gathering up all the dirty dishes and eventually returns returns them, spic and span, to the kitchen.

  29. posted by jenG on

    I would like a Brushba…a hands-free toothbrush that gets all the nooks and crannies better than I can do manually.

    I expect it will take nanotechnology. 😉 If it could floss while it’s in there, so much the better.

    I would also like a teleporter. I will never trust the idea of flying cars because we’re already careless drivers when we have a road to cling to, but I think a teleporter would do nicely. (As charmed as I was by the broomless travel methods in the Harry Potter series, they’re all a bit messy…or dangerous.)

    I would like a single digital conversion tool that will create electronic versions of all cassette tapes, VHS movies, and old photographs.

    On behalf of my boyfriend, I will put in the perennial request for the Food Pill.

    Of all of these, I would most prefer the teleporter.

  30. posted by Melissa (oddharmonic) on

    The Intelliscanner Kitchen Companion comes close for being able to scan barcodes and matching what you have to recipes, but I haven’t played with one yet to get an accurate grasp of its usefulness in my household.

    I found it when ThinkGeek added the Intelliscanner Mini (the same handheld unit, but with a different mix of software for groceries, media, and other things) but the $300 price tag for the Mini package puts trying it a good way into my future.

  31. posted by Alexis on

    A teleporter.

  32. posted by Caytlin on

    A friend’s boyfriend is converting a tablet PC to EXACTLY WHAT YOU DESCRIBE in the last bit. The way she described it was crazy. D:

  33. posted by The perfect laptop bag for business travel « Later On on

    […] (and detailed) endorsement of Bihn’s top-of-the-line laptop bag. It begins: In the post What we want but can’t yet have, I bemoaned how I had yet to find a decent laptop bag for business travel: The perfect laptop bag […]

  34. posted by WilliamB on

    Amy Sisson, there are a bunch on online & disk programs that are in the direction that you want. All have shortcomings. For example, Fitday.com doesn’t let you build a custom food, so you have to enter the ingredients for your favorite sandwich each time instead of saying “half an Amy Special.”

    Lois McMaster Bujold wrote an SF short story that involved a special on/off remote. It worked on people. The protagonist used the “off button” on her kids and the “on button” on her unemployed slacker husband. By god I want one of those.

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