Reinvented spoon rest Australian TV chef Curtis Stone wanted a spoon rest that would clean his spoon—not just hold it. So when he designed a line of kitchen tools, he created a tall, porcelain dish (pictured) to hold his spoon in water, leaving it clean each time he picks it up. $40 at Williams-Sonoma or $50 online at curtisstone.com

Life-changing sink strainer In a city where dishwashers are a luxury, why do so many cooks use mesh drain strainers that get clogged with scrambled eggs? In comparison, Oxo's sink strainer is truly amazing: The nonstick silicone bowl catches bits of food, but it's supereasy to clean. It's not the sexiest gift, but when's the last time you changed someone's life for $7? $7 at Bed, Bath and Beyond; bedbathandbeyond.com

Paper towel replacements In response to the pollution-heavy production methods of the sponge industry, Colorado-based Twist has created a line of eco-friendly sponges made from sustainable materials. The company's pine-based European Sponge Cloths are as thin as paper towels but durable enough to be used again and again; just pop them in the dishwasher when they get dirty. $4 for 3 at Whole Foods or online at shoporganic.com