The MIT-developed Copenhagen Wheel turns a bike ride into a “smart” ride.
Photograph by Kevin Sweeney for Fortune
By Kate Flaim and Chloe Lieske
November 13, 2014

It’s the annual struggle: matching your loved ones with gifts that make their hearts sing. This year we have the solution. Pick something they already use all the time—and give them a better version of it. Whether it’s a unique design, meticulously handcrafted details, or an extravagance they would never splurge for on their own, we present to you an array of ideas—with many more on Fortune.com—for the ultimate no-fail gift: the upgrade.


Tonewood maple cubes

Tonewood maple cubes
Photo by Kevin Sweeney for Fortune

Sweeten up holiday guests with this sculptural little block of pure maple sugar. The two-inch cube can be grated onto cereal, into coffee,
or over ice cream.

$17

tonewoodmaple.com


Canada Goose x Wings+Horns Decade Parka

Canada Goose x Wings+Horns Decade Parka
Kevin Sweeney for Fortune

Canadians know cold, and Canada Goose has become the “it” winter wear in the Lower 48. This special-edition designer collaboration features old-school waxed cotton for a totally timeless look.

$1,200

canada-goose.com for stores


Copenhagen Wheel

The MIT-developed Copenhagen Wheel turns a bike ride into a “smart” ride.
Kevin Sweeney for Fortune

A “smart wheel” that fits on just about any bike, the Copenhagen (invented at MIT, naturally) captures energy from braking or riding downhill and then gives the rider a boost when he needs it. An app lets your cyclist adjust the settings, and the wheel learns the user’s habits to optimize the ride.

$799

Preorder at superpedestrian.com


UE Boom speaker

UE Boom speaker
Photo by Kevin Sweeney for Fortune

A big sound, an easy setup, and a durable, colorful, water–resistant design make the UE Boom perfect for music lovers
on the go; it even fits into a bike’s water-bottle holder.

$200

ultimateears.com


Conway Electric Extō extension cord

Conway Electric Extōextension cord
Photo by Kevin Sweeney for Fortune

Why should extension cords be ugly? With gorgeous cloth-wrapped cords and bright powder-coated aluminum housing, all made in the U.S., the Extō can hang on a wall or just make a desk a happier place.

$70

conwaygoods.com


Laguiole ­Origine ­Concorde pocketknife

Laguiole ­Origine ­Concorde pocketknife
Photo by Manfred Koh for Fortune

Two quintessentially French symbols combine in this classic pocketknife crafted from stainless steel salvaged from the Concorde and featuring a row of holes in the blade to represent the jet’s windows.

About $240

laguiole.com


Lytro Illum camera

Lytro Illum camera
Photo by Kevin Sweeney for Fortune

Developed by a Stanford computer-science Ph.D., the Lytro Illum lets photographers change the focus in an image after it’s been shot, opening up a new realm of artistic possibilities.

$1,600

lytro.com


Germain-Robin single barrel brandy

Germain-Robin single barrel brandy
Kevin Sweeney for Fortune

Toast to good health with this smooth, intense Pinot Noir brandy distilled in 2001 from grapes grown at the Roederer Estate in Northern California, then aged in a single barrel of old French oak.

$150

caddellwilliams.com


Parrot Zik 2.0 headphones

Parrot Zik 2.0 headphones
Kevin Sweeney for Fortune

No buttons required: An invisible touch panel lets users control these Philippe Starck–designed headphones (available in a rainbow of colors) with a tap or swipe.

$400

parrot.com


J. Hill’s ­Standard low glass

J. Hill’s ­Standard low glass
Photo by Manfred Koh for Fortune

Make the vessel as special as its contents with thoroughly modern crystal crafted by artisans trained at the famous Waterford factory (where earning master-craftsman standing takes up to a decade).

About $200

jhillsstandard.com


Aldo Bakker pitcher

Aldo Bakker pitcher
Photo bKevin Sweeney for Fortune

Dutch design star Aldo Bakker brings his signature organic flow to a pitcher disguised as pure sculpture for Georg Jensen, metalsmiths to the Queen of Denmark.

$380

georgjensen.com


Twigg’s ­Bindery ­journals

Twigg’s ­Bindery ­journals
Photo by Kevin Sweeney for Fortune

Your loved one’s deepest thoughts deserve an exquisite home. These blank books, hand-sewn in Brooklyn, feature archival materials, construction that lets the pages lie flat, and jolly colored stitching.

From $120

twiggsbindery.com

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