Insights that Echo Beyond the Echo Chamber

Shopping Product Reviews

25 Products That’ll Teach You New Things

Popular items from this list:

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A beginner’s guide to calligraphy that’s thorough and specific about technique and ink types

Promising review: “I’ve tried several instructional books on hand lettering. This book is the best by far. I won’t say the names of the other books but suffice it to say they are all at the top of the list when you search for hand lettering. It is the only book that gives practice for the base strokes and also discusses posture and how to hold the pen and at what angle to the paper. It is also a lovely book to work with; nice art work/illustrations. I recommend this book to other beginners out there!” — Karen Rorick

A beginner’s sushi-making kit for hours of delicious sushi experimentation

Each kit comes with two sushi rolling mats, five pairs of chopsticks, a paddle, a spreader and a PDF of instructions, including recipes for six popular rolls.

Promising review: “The entire Bamboo Sushi Kit is absolutely well made, easy to use, easy to clean, high-end restaurant quality, and durable. it was very nicely packaged, and instructions clear, in-depth and very easy to follow. No one (myself included) in my household has ever made sushi before but (thanks to the enclosed instructions), there were no issues making it. My daughter did an awesome job utilizing these products to make ‘FISH-FREE SUSHI’ with Pickled Ginger on top, was delectable! Loooooove it!” — Liza


The Reverse Coloring Book

Instead of adding the color to these, you add the lines. Each book includes 50 pages of watercolor art for you to add lines, along with suggestions for what to add if you want a jumping off point. Bonus: the pages are perforated so you can easily tear them out and frame them!

Check out these cult-fave black fine point pens for $9.99 on Amazon for a good doodling option.

Promising review: “Changed my life. So I get anxious doing the adult coloring books. This was so much fun and made me really think outside of the box. I’m not the best at drawing but I felt like I was when I was a kid doodling in my textbooks in school.” — Carley C.


“Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan

It’s a classic cookbook so trusted and time-honored that it’s now in its 30th anniversary edition. This features beloved standard and unique twists to Italian recipes designed for any reader to enjoy, whether they’re a cooking newbie living alone or a seasoned chef feeding a full family. This book is truly an investment both in learning new cooking skills and delighting your palate for years to come.

Promising review
: “Twenty-six years ago I bought a tiny paperback for my mother called Classic Italian Cooking. I thought to replace it with a new copy, only to learn it is out of print. So I looked a little further and discovered Essentials Of Classic Italian Cooking. This book has only been with me a couple of weeks, but already I have made six of the recipes and have dozens of others I want to try.Hazan doesn’t just give you recipes — she gives us the spirit of Italian cooking. She shows us how to love the ingredients we are using and teaches us how to understand that putting them together as she does, we don’t create a ‘dish,’ but rather, something we have put a bit of ourselves into, to share with those we care about. This is probably the best book we will ever have on Italian cooking. It sits on my shelf right next to The Joy Of Cooking. Don’t buy this book, treasure it. It’s that good.” — Laura Anne Scaife

Or an unofficial Disney Parks cookbook so you can learn to live your best Mickey Pretzel life

Promising review: “Beautiful hardcover cookbook with so many yummy Disney recipes from the parks! There is lots of Disney foodie history in it, plus recipes that look easy to follow with high quality ingredients. There are fun maps of each of the parks inside where the food is located from, which makes it fun. As an avid Disney fan I have never seen a cookbook like this.” — Nicole

Plus a magnetic air fryer cheat sheet to give you the confidence and know-how to experiment

Promising review: “Bought an air fryer several months ago which I haven’t used a whole lot because it came with only a few recipes but not enough info on other items to cook. The Lotteli cheat sheet gives you cooking times and temperatures for a lot of your common everyday foods in a magnetized easy-to-read, two-sheet combo that fills in where air fryer pamphlet that came with the unit leaves out. I also bought an air fryer cook book but this only comes with specific recipes, whereas the cheat sheet fills in the void for quick basic needs. Very happy with this purchase! 😁” — B. Frank Smith

A set of cat-themed tarot cards for first-timers

It comes with a guide on how to pull the cards and how to interpret them.

Promising review:
“I’m new to tarot, so I grabbed some cute looking cards that promised a guidebook. I love the artwork that the artist has done and I like their take on some of the cards. Helps the meaning stick a bit more (at least in my semi cat obsessed mind). All the cards have a lot of detail to them. I’ve shown three major arcana and four minor arcana cards that have come up in my readings and the cards made it easy to ‘get it’ when I read the meanings and have studied the card meanings outside of this guide book. Would definitely recommend for the artwork alone and as a good starter deck for anyone interested in learning tarot.” — Averey


A mushroom growing kit for beginners

It teaches you how to grow right there in the packaging, so you can add some sweet umami flavors to new dishes by sautéing, roasting or air frying them up. This growing kit also comes with some recipes to get you started.

Promising review: “This product has been so much fun to watch! I followed the directions, exactly as written, and the mushrooms began growing within 3–4 days. I will say that I did soak them for close to 10 hours before putting them back in the box to grow and I believe this helped a ton. I also kept the box inside by a window with the blinds closed in order for them to get indirect sunlight. The mushrooms grew tremendously for almost a week before they started to shrink so I clipped them to cook with and they were DELICIOUS!” — Steph A

Or a beginner-friendly Click & Grow indoor herb garden kit

It’s basically a smart garden you can grow right in your kitchen window, thanks to the handy LED grow lights that keep your plants thriving no matter how gloomy outside gets. Plus, this is truly a choose-your-own-adventure — you can select grow pods for cilantro, basil, lavender, wild strawberries, thyme, chili peppers and more.

Each Click & Grow kit comes with three basil pods to start you off, and you can check out the full selection of grow pods for more options.

Promising review: “The Click & Grow Smart Garden is very easy to set up and has fairly minimal upkeep. Place pods in, fill up with water and turn on light. The lettuce has grown exceptionally well. My grandkids love to check it out when they come to visit. I am considering gifting Click and Grow Smart Gardens to them. It is straightforward and sets you up to be a successful gardener no matter your experience level. I wanted to grow some herbs and vegetables in the winter. I love the Click & Grow!” — Kbaumg


Plus a bonsai starter kit to help you grow not one, but four bonsai trees

Each kit includes four types of organic seeds (Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine, Black Poui, Norway Spruce and Flame Tree), four biodegradable growing pots, four expanding-soil discs, four bamboo plant markers, one bonsai clipper and an instruction booklet.

Promising review: “I love this. My bonsai has already sprouted and it’s coming along nicely. The best thing about this product is the customer service. They actually take an interest in how things are going and are willing to help you through anything. They respond personally, no form letters, and they give heartfelt responses to your questions and comments. This is definitely one of my best purchases.” — G Eckberg

“Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions”

It’s a bartender-beloved book for beginner- to intermediate-level cocktail enthusiasts that breaks down six iconic “root” cocktails — the old-fashioned, martini, daiquiri, sidecar, whisky highball and flip — to show you how to improvise and riff your own creations based on what combinations work with the ingredients you have.

Check out a TikTok of the cocktail book in action.

Promising review: “This book has easily become one of my favorites. Great base knowledge and would recommend to anyone seeking to further educate themselves on spirits and cocktails. Even the first few pages is full of useful information. Purchase this for yourself or even as a gift. I cannot say enough good things about this book.” — Adriana


Or an at-home alcohol infusion kit

It comes with everything you need to become a cocktail wizard from the comfort of your own couch.

Each kit comes with one 16-ounce infuser bottle and a set of dehydrated fruits and spices to infuse, depending on what flavor you choose. Once you’ve done the kit’s infusion, you can use the bottle over and over for creative infusions of your own design. It’s available in five flavors: Navel Gazer, Blue Sunday, Parrot Head, Island Time and Rose Ceremony.

Promising review: “We really love these infusion kits. We have purchased them for our bar cart at home and have also used them alongside other bourbon-related items to make gift baskets for friends around the holidays. This is an awesome, unique gift whether you’re buying for a friend, family member, or yourself!” — Alanna

“We’re Not Really Strangers,” a revolutionary card game to strengthen your bond with those in your life

It’s designed to help you open up and learn more about your friends, family or significant others and form stronger bonds with them. It involves three levels of cards with questions you use to get to know each other, with each level a little deeper than the last, plus “wild cards” and “dig deeper” cards to really break the surface. There are also two modes — “play safe” and “play to grow” — depending on how deep you want to dig with certain people or groups.

Check out all the other editions of the game on their Amazon storefront, and check out a TikTok of “We’re Not Really Strangers” in action.

Promising review: “If you want a stronger bond with someone please play this game with them. You will get to know them on another level. I love how there’s levels to how deep you want to get with one another. Mostly every question is really interesting and can bring out one hell of a conversation, laughter, or even tears.” — Khoa Tran

Urban Cheesecraft/Etsy

A DIY cheese kit with everything you need to make four batches of farmer’s cheese in a half hour

It comes with a cheesecloth, citric acid, flake salt, instructions and “email support for life” — all you need is milk.

Promising review: “These kits are great gifts for the cheese lover and the person ‘who’s already got it all.’ The packaging looks nice and gift-worthy and it’s a perfect price range. I love that the recipient gets an experience as well as a tangible product and I can personally attest that the actual process is easy.” — amyleannbohner


A shea butter lip balm DIY kit

Each kit includes materials to make ten lip balms, including beeswax, shea butter, grapeseed oil, peach flavor oil, vitamin E capsule, eight lip balm tubes, two aluminum tins, filling pipettes, stirring sticks, 48 stickers and instructions.

Promising review: “I was interested because of the clean ingredients. My daughter and I have very sensitive skin so most lip balm doesn’t work or is unreasonably expensive. This seemed like a good way to control the ingredients at a great price. The product exceeded my expectations for sure and the kids had fun doing the parts they could do (ages 7 and 9). Probably better for kids over 10 or who have long attention spans and good fine motor skills. Lip balm turned out smooth and silky. Love it!.” — UKjane


A “nanofoamer” milk frother for artistically inclined caffeine lovers

Each frother includes a guide and an access code to a master latte art class. This creates a velvety, soft “nanofoam” as opposed to the stiffer, thicker foams of other handheld frothers on the market. It’s available in rechargeable or battery style.

A Gaiam starter set for yoga complete with all the basics

It includes a yoga mat, a yoga block and a stretching strap, plus you can tune into free yoga classes you gain access to with the set.

Promising review:
“I am not very limber and I have chronic spine issues, so having a block and strap was essential for me to do yoga. Before using this, I always ended up hurting myself or feeling bad about myself because I couldn’t complete the stretches and would just give up. This kit made everything go so smoothly; I can adjust the block or the strap to help me stretch without hurting myself (or falling over). And I highly recommend the sitting techniques in the DVD as well as the meditation.” — blightheavy


A unicorn slime making kit

Each kit comes with clear written instructions and access to video tutorials to make over 100 different kinds of slime, from unicorn slime to glitter slime to fluffy cloud slime to floam putty. You can personalize the colors, textures, add-ins and the smell — the box comes with beads, scents, glitter, ink, foam balls, the ingredients needed to make the slime and containers to keep it in.

Promising review: “Purchased for daughter’s birthday. She loves it. I was very apprehensive about letting her use slime but it has everything a parent could dream of to keep it all in one place and organized without the mess!” — Jay


A string art kit so you can create art with genuine dimension

The kit comes with a crafting board, small hammer, a holder, nails, glue, screws, cotton string, a frame, a pattern and a detailed instruction manual, so there’s no need to buy other supplies. It’s available in ten styles.

Promising review: “These instructions are easy to follow — I finished it in two hours. This was so much fun and I love my finished results! It looks so beautiful. It was a gift for my friend. I would buy it again and recommend it to others.” — yuyantan


A DIY hot sauce making kit with guided instructions

Each kit comes with ingredients and instructions to make six different hot sauces based on guided recipes, and includes the bottles and cute little stickers to put on them when you’re done.

Promising review: “Lifetime of hot sauce. The very informative instructions not only guide you through making a few (very delicious!) hot sauces for now, they also teach you how to make them with your own ingredients in the future.” — Gigi

A friendship bracelet making kit

Each set comes with the holder mount and 20 pre-cut threads in 10 colors as well as access to an online instruction manual for all kinds of different designs.

Promising review: “I bought this for my daughter for a craft night. I made friendship bracelets when I was a kid but could not remember how to make them. This helped so much! I had to buy another one for me so we can work on them at the same time. Love this product!” — hollyhock


A kombucha starter kit that comes with everything you need for a basic version of the brew

Each set includes instructions, sugar, a tea blend, pH test strips, a kombucha culture starter, a dropper, a gallon jar and a cloth covering for it. Plus, you can customize flavors like orange, ginger, strawberry and more.

Promising review: “Bought this for my daughter for Christmas and she finally had time to get started during the quarantine and she LOVES it! The instructions were clear, everything was included, and she had success from the very first try.” — Amazon Customer

A beginner-friendly fermenting kit for pickling

Each kit comes with instructions along with three fermenting lids with airlock valves, date setters and an easy release tab, as well as an oxygen extractor. The lids are compatible with most wide mouth mason jars (you can snag two Ball mason jars on Amazon for $9.54).

Promising review: “I have now been using my Easy Fermenter for several months. I continue to be delighted with the results. My favorite recipes are a cabbage/carrot sauerkraut, and a blend of fermented peppers (some sweet, some hot). I have recommended these fermenting lids to many of my friends because they make fermenting foods so incredibly easy! You will NOT be disappointed.” — K. Dixon

Wool Couture Company

A starter’s weaving kit to make gorgeous pastel tapestries

You can get one of three kinds of kits: a Basic Kit, which comes with a loom and instructions; a Starter Kit, which comes with a loom, two weaving needles, instructions, a mounting bar for hanging and a cotton ball of warp to hold your work; and a Quintessential Kit, which comes with everything in the Starter Kit, plus the merino wool for weaving.

Promising review: “It’s simple to use, the wool I received in the set is of a high quality and the service was smooth and communicative. Can not recommend this highly enough from a first-time weaver.” — DivineDerbyshire


A beeswax candle kit

Each set comes with materials to make six candles, including a melting pot, four bags of beeswax, six candle tins with lids, six scents, 10 cotton wicks, six dye blocks, 10 glue dots, six labels, six stirring sticks, two wick clips, a storage bag, a thermometer and a user manual.

Promising review: “I purchased this kit because I always wanted to make my own candles. This candle making kit looked like it had everything I needed and it definitely does. I am so pleased with it that I will be buying more scented oils and wax so that I can make candles as gifts this holiday season. It’s a very nice kit.” — Tracie Craig


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