It Can Truly Be a "Festivus for the Rest of Us" With This Festivus Celebration Starter Kit

Running Press/Amazon
Running Press/Amazon

For a “show about nothing,” Seinfeld definitely had a huge impact on our culture. It made us think about comedy differently, gave us countless colorful characters to quote, and—most importantly—gave us Festivus in the season nine episode "The Strike" in 1997.

This alternative to Christmas famously started when Frank Costanza was forced to "rain blows upon" another father over the last doll on the shelf during the holiday shopping season. In the scuffle, Costanza thought “there had to be another way!” And thus, a “Festivus for the rest of us” was born. If, like Costanza, you hate all the commercial aspects of the holiday season, you can join the celebration (or revolution?) with the Festivus Celebration Kit, available on Amazon for $12.

Inside the kit, you'll find a nine-inch pole, based on the aluminum rod at the center of this contrarian holiday. The pole in the kit has four buttons, which play some of Frank Costanza’s famous quotes. You’ll also get five Human Fund donation cards (a fake charity created by his son, George) and two magnets. Unfortunately, the kit does not come with anything in keeping with the Festivus tradition of the “Feats of Strength,” but might we suggest a wrestling match in your living room? Oh, and no tinsel—as Costanza says, it’s “distracting.”

While a lot differs from Christmas, some Festivus traditions are pretty similar. For example, the “airing of the grievances” takes place over dinner and those in attendance get to recount all the ways their family disappointed them this year (sound familiar?).

If you can’t get enough of the holiday, Amazon also carries a Festivus board game ($25) where you and three other players can air your grievances and compete in feats of strength.

While the hit series definitely made this holiday popular, it wasn’t just made up for the show. Read more about how Dan O’Keefe, one of the co-writers of the episode, based it on the tradition his father started back in the mid-1960s.

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This Indoor Herb Garden Monitors Your Plants' Health, Sends Alerts to Your Phone, and Even Recommends Recipes

If your plants are low on water, this herb garden from GardenByte will send an alert right to your phone.
If your plants are low on water, this herb garden from GardenByte will send an alert right to your phone.

Having fresh herbs on hand is a great way to liven up just about any meal. But if you’ve ever attempted to grow them yourself, you may find that keeping these potted plants alive is like having a second job.

But GardenByte is looking to take the guesswork and hassle out of growing herbs with a new smart indoor planter that connects to an app on your phone to help you through the entire growing process. And until April 22, you can back the project on Kickstarter.

Using the herb garden is easy: Simply drop one of the 50 pre-seeded pods into the planter’s grid tray, add water, and the planter, which is equipped with built-in computer sensors, will take care of the rest. Throughout the day, the powerful LED lights on the hydroponic planter simulate the sun to help optimize growth, while at night the planter uses softer light to mimic the moon.

Once planted, the indoor garden's sensors help monitor the environment for water levels and other necessities. If there are any issues—like sudden changes in room temperature, a low water supply, or a nutrient imbalance—you’ll get a notification through the app. Up to 39 different plants can be placed in the garden at one time, including greens, vine vegetables, and more.

The GardenByte app also lets you know when it's time to harvest your plants and will even suggest recipes that complement your assortment. If you're out of town, setting the garden to "vacation mode" on the app will automatically slow down the plants' growth and maintain progress while you're gone.

You can head here to get your own indoor garden, starting at $1299. The campaign is open until April 22.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

10 New Skills You Can Learn at Home

Ridofranz/ iStock via Getty Images Plus
Ridofranz/ iStock via Getty Images Plus

Whether you're looking to give your career a boost or simply want to enrich your life a bit, the easiest place to start is by learning a new skill. And with the recent boom in online courses, it's never been easier to add a new line to your resume without even leaving your home. Check out these convenient courses you can take from Rosetta Stone, Udemy, Coursera, and edX.

1. The Science of Well-Being; $49/month

Taught by Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos, this course is all about building up productive habits that can lead to positive changes in life, while pointing out the self-sabotaging thoughts that can sometimes get in the way. By learning about the science behind how we perceive happiness and our own well-being, this course aims to build a better, more informed mindset to help you reach your goals. The individual courses are technically free, but if you want a certificate at the end, you'll have to pay for Coursera's $49-per-month plan.

Buy it: Coursera

2. Writing Short Stories: The Essential Guide; $19-$95

Writing a short story is about more than just coming up with a plot and some characters—if you want to sell it, you need to understand the literary marketplace and how to properly pitch to an editor. The on-demand videos and downloadable resources offered by this course guide you through writing fundamentals like tone, tense, and proper endings, as well as the realities of the business, such as payments and, perhaps most importantly, dealing with rejection.

Buy it: Udemy

3. Complete Guitar System: Beginner to Advanced; $30-$200

This course is led by Erich Andreas, who has over 30 years of experience teaching guitar lessons. The class features over 300 lectures, 34 hours of video, and over 100 downloadable resources to help you learn step-by-step methods for mastering chords, songs, scales, and much more.

Buy it: Udemy

4. Introduction to Python Programming; $396

Python is one of the world's most widely used computer programming languages, and this self-paced certification will teach the basics with no experience required. Estimated to take about five months, these classes cover the fundamentals of the Python world, like code writing and revisions. As the classes grow more complex, you'll learn about advanced control structures, data structures, and algorithms. It's the most intense certificate on this list, but with the robust job market available to computer programmers, these skills may prove to be invaluable.

Buy it: edX

5. Learn a New Language; $79-$300

Rosetta Stone's language-learning software allows you to take classes in Spanish, German, Italian, and plenty more, on your own time and on whatever device you want. With interactive exercises, games, and stories to read, this is a great way to take language classes while still keeping your busy work and social schedule intact. The cost varies based on your subscription preference, and you can check out the updated pricing options here.

Buy it: Rosetta Stone

6. Introduction to Self-Determination Theory; $49/month

Like anything else, self-determination is a skill that you can learn and perfect with the right practice. This course will go into the science of motivation and psychological development and explore how both of those aspects are influenced by those around you. From there, you’ll learn how to practically apply self-determination to your education, work, and much more.

Buy it: Coursera

7. G Suite Administrator Fundamentals; $49/month

Google's cloud technology and digital services are becoming a vital tool in business, and with this course, you'll learn how to manage the complete offerings of the company's G Suite, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Drive, and more. But you'll learn more than just how to use each one; this certificate is all about becoming a G Suite administrator for large groups. So you'll learn how to create and delete accounts on custom domains, how to manage those accounts, how to spot potential security breaches, and the best way to use all of these tools for your particular business or project. The course itself is offered by Google, and you can take it at your own pace on whatever device you wish. With four classes total, as well as a hands-on project, the G Suite Administrator Fundamentals certificate should take around a month or so to complete.

Buy it: Coursera

8. Essential Cooking Skills; $19-$45

Cooking at home helps save money and can lead to better nutritional choices, but first, you'll need the right set of skills. In this series of courses, you'll get instructions on culinary foundations, like blanching vegetables, making stock, perfecting an omelet, and more. Once you've built up this body of basic knowledge, you can combine it all to give your homemade dinners a bit more flair.

Buy it: Udemy

9. Fundamentals of Graphic Design; Free

Taught by Michael Worthington, a founding partner of Counterspace and a graphic design professor at the California Institute of the Arts, this course is a deep dive into the fundamentals of design. Students will cover concepts like patterns, colors, and typography over the four weeks that it typically takes to complete the course. When you’re finished, you’ll walk away with a new set of skills for your own future projects. It’s free to enroll, but if you want to be able to share the certificate at the end, you’ll have to join Coursera’s $49/month plan.

Buy it: Coursera

10. Learning How to Learn; Free

In this course, you'll learn about, well, learning, in order to actually understand how the brain takes in “chunks” of information in a variety of subjects like art, music, math, and many more. It also covers the misconceptions we have about memory, the best practices to master particularly difficult subjects, and even gives you tips for dealing with procrastination. It’s free to enroll, but you’ll need to sign up for the $49/month plan for a shareable certificate.

Buy it: Coursera

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.