25 Hot Ideas

The best of M&C’s daily tips to make you shine

Always on the lookout for great tips, gifts, products and more, M&C publishes more than 250 Hot Ideas of the Day annually (to receive it in your inbox, go to mcmag.com/subscribe). Following are the most-read 25 Hot Ideas of 2013, which range from travel tips to personalized piñatas. (To submit ideas for our future consideration, email [email protected].)

1. Eat the spoon! Edibles by Jack creates cracker-like spoon utensils for sweet or savory items in unique flavors like coconut curry, chocolate and wasabi sesame. Cost: $0.85 per spoon, for a minimum order of 36 spoons. ediblesbyjack.com

2. Bandwidth calculator. Quickly estimate the amount of bandwidth your event will require with this handy calculator from the Convention Industry Council. bit.ly/1abIIBi

3. Warm-up exercise. At the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, director of guest experiences Heather Barnes starts morning meetings with "Shakes," a fun interactive game. Here's how it works: Have everyone in the group stand in a circle, put their left arm in and shake it vigorously while counting to eight. Repeat with the right arm, then left leg, then the right leg. Continue the exercise with seven shakes, then six, etc. Get progressively louder and faster with each set to increase the group's energy. msichicago.org

4. Foldable flats. Crafted from butter-soft Italian leather and non-skid rubber soles, Tieks foldable ballet flats by Gavrieli look professional and fashionable when you have to be on your feet for hours. The flats are available in a variety of colors and textures. Cost: $175 and up. tieks.com

5. Event organizer app. The Super Planner app, compatible with Android and Apple devices, includes a number of handy calculators to help you figure out staffing, F&B, audiovisual needs and seating configurations. Cost: $9.99. howardgivner.com/super-planner-iphone-app

6. Crumb sucker. Zopid's battery-powered mini desktop vacuum cleaner is perfectly sized to suck up crumbs and dust hiding between keyboard keys. Cost: $14.99. zopid.com

 7. Cute carryall. Lo & Sons' sleek T.T. (Travel Tote) has a large padded pocket for laptops and tablets of up to 13 inches and a front pocket for necessities. Cost: $260. loandsons.com

8. Grilled cheese cart. The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, N.C., offers a grilled cheese cart meeting break featuring heirloom tomato soup and a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, like pimento cheese on oat bread. Cost: $13 per guest. theumstead.com

9. Personalized piñatas. Highland Park, N.J.-based artist Jing Yu creates custom papier-mâché piñatas designed to look like anyone from a guest of honor to a favorite celebrity. Cost: from $250, plus the cost of candy filler. bunnycorpse.org/pinatas

 10. Portable chargers. Boostcase's Hybrid Battery ($99.95; boostcase.com) has a slim-fit, snap-on design with detachable battery that injects 150 percent more juice into an iPhone 5 (similar models are available for iPhone 4 and 4s). Powerocks' Magicstick ($49.95; powerocks.com, left) provides enough power for two full emergency charges of any smartphone, tablet or mobile device.

11. Portable photo booth. Motorbooth, a souped-up photo booth on wheels, offers a number of creative customization options, including exterior branding on the booth and photos automatically printed with logos. Contact the company for price details. motorbooth.com

12. Bottle and phone holder. Plum Gift Co.'s Beat Bottle is a silicone water bottle complete with a pocket to store a smartphone. The 20-oz. bottle comes in red, blue and green. Cost: $14.25; customization is available. (416) 916-8645; plumgiftco.com

13. Passport protection. Before traveling abroad, scan, email and archive a copy of your passport to your inbox. This can help expedite the process of replacing your passport if you lose it while out of the country.

14. Shoe packing tip.
 If you don't have a separate section in your bag for footwear, try this: Use disposable shower caps as shoe covers, to keep them from muddying up garments in your suitcase.

15. Layover helper. Submit your airport and travel dates, and Smartlayover.com will list nearby tours and deals on everything from hotels to spas to restaurants. The site also offers a free mobile app that works with Android, BlackBerry and iOS devices. smartlayover.com

16. A tricked-out tool belt. Cre­ated by a planner for planners, the Totty Belt is ultra-convenient and can hold everything from walkie-talkies to scissors. The belt is available in six sizes. Cost: $119 for canvas belt, $179 for leather. tottybelt.com

17. Clothes keepers. Flight 001's Go Clean line of heavyweight nylon bags store sweaty gym clothes, wet bathing suits, muddy shoes and dirty laundry. Cost: $52 for the F1 Go Clean Set, which includes a total of four bags. flight001.com

 18. Travel shawl. The generously sized Chilly Jilly Wrap keeps travelers warm on planes and packs up neatly into a lightweight silk bag that fits into a purse or carry-on bag. Available in a range of colors. Cost: $35; bulk discounts available. chillyjilly.com

19. Perfect pen holder.
 Bandoliers - stretchy, tight-fitting straps that fit around books and tablets -- contain loops for holding pens and other tools. Emily Oinen sells her handmade invention in her Cleverhands shop on Etsy in various sizes and colors. Cost: from $16.95. etsy.com/shop/cleverhands




 20. Portable washer. If you have a few items to wash while on the road, just add water 

and detergent or liquid soap to the Scrubba Wash Bag, which holds up to two days' worth of laundry. Clothes get clean when users shake the bag and rub them against the interior washboard for a minute or so, followed by a clean-water rinse. Cost: $65, including shipping. thescrubba.com 

21. Versatile vases. CB2's mini bud vases feature a handy slot that will hold anything from place cards to photos and buffet labels. Cost: $5.95 each. cb2.com/vases/accessories/1

22. Edible centerpieces. The culinary team at the Virginia Beach (Va.) Convention Center crafts colorful, tasty centerpieces from garden-grown skewered and sculpted vegetables and fruits. Ask your F&B contact to try the idea for your events. visitvirginiabeach.com/conventioncenter

23. Creative cards. These singular business cards from JukeBox, available in five types of 100 percent biodegradable wood, can be customized with rounded corners, textured/colored backings, embossing and more. Cost: from $195 for 250 cards. jukeboxprint.com/wooden_business_cards.php

24. Good read.Heads in Beds (Doubleday) is a hilarious book by Jacob Tomsky, a former hotelier who recounts his experiences working in nearly every department of a New Orleans luxury hotel. Cost: from $7.99. amazon.com

25. Surface cleaner. AM's line of nontoxic, alcohol-free cleaning products for laptops, mobile devices and other electronic necessities claim to kill 99.9 percent of common household bacteria without damaging the goods. Cost: from $12.95. getclean.am/collection  

For hundreds more ideas, go to mcmag.com/hot-ideas.