We've always known that the UNT community is full of creative thinkers and entrepreneurs. Our #12GiftsofUNT, just in time for the holidays, highlight some of the outstanding ideas they've brought to life. Included are items you may already know, such as the Alexa virtual assistant and Urban Decay cosmetics, as well as local food and art. There's a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, music from Grammy-winning alumni and something for everyone -- from children as young as 7, who can make their own computer with the Piper Computer Kit, to adults 50 and better, who would enjoy a membership in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Happy holidays and happy giving!
A good meal can please even the biggest Scrooge. Match up the foodies on your list with favorite cuisine from restaurants owned by alumni in Denton and other Texas cities, Denton Independent Hamburger, Komodo Loco, Barley & Board, LSA Burger Co., GreenHouse Restaurant & Bar, Hula Hut and The Laurel Tree.
The One O'Clock Lab Band is the pride of UNT, having been nominated for seven Grammy Awards and producing alumni such as Jeff Coffin ('90), Lou Marini and Lyle Mays. Its latest CD, The Rhythm of the Road, makes a perfect stocking stuffer. If you need more music ideas, check out this UNT alumni playlist.
Books always make a special present, and UNT alumni offer a variety of choices. Larry McMurtry's ('58) Lonesome Dove, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is a classic American novel. The ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition (right) features art from College of Visual Arts and Design graduate Dana Tanamachi ('07). For younger readers, check out novels written by Claire Legrand ('08, '10 M.S.), Michelle Schusterman ('03), Farrah Penn ('10) and Kayla Olson('04).
Looking for a handmade gift for the holidays? You can find prints, cards and other artwork from many UNT alumni, including Allie Biddle ('15), Emily Holt ('11), Savannah Kurka ('14), Shawna Smyth ('13) and Anna Tovar ('08) on sale at The DIME Store in Denton. The store just moved to its new location at 118 E. McKinney St., near the downtown square. (At right, Tovar's artwork at the store). Or visit the eclectic Denton gift shop Sleeping Lizzards for handmade jewelry and soap by artists and co-owners Beth Klein ('87) and Roxane Clark ('95).
What is a gift that could make the children on your list smarter? Mark Pavlyukovskyy (TAMS '09) created the Piper Computer Kit that teaches youngsters 7 and older to build their own computer and learn coding to make a game. Pavlyukovskyy, who is CEO of Piper Inc., was named to Forbes' "30 Under 30" in education list for 2018.
If you need a gift with some sparkle, give Urban Decay cosmetics, one of the most popular brands in the country and created by Wende Zomnir ('89). Obia Ewah ('04) used her chemistry and biology degree to create Obia Naturals hair products, which use non-toxic and vegan ingredients. And Jonna Hopewell Payne Davis ('02) created Nuluv Goat Milk Products, a goat-milk-based skin-care product line especially good for people with allergies or sensitivities to traditional milk.
Craft beer and other drinks
Share in the holiday spirit with your friends and loved ones with some craft beer made by alumni, or check out other beverages. Try Armadillo Ale Works, created by Yianni Arestis ('08, '11 M.B.A.) and Bobby Mullins ('07); The Bearded Monk bottle shop and growler from Ben Esely ('08); Oak St. Drafthouse and Cocktail Parlor and East Side Denton owned by John Williams ('05) (right); Times Ten Cellars from Dustin Walker ('06); Denton County Brewing Co. from Seth Morgan ('93); and WineSquared from George Ferrie. And don't forget Spec's Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods, located in Denton and all over the state and owned by Lindy ('72) and John ('72) Rydman.
Want to give a fashionable gift for the holidays? Buy a garment from College of Visual Arts and Design alumni such as Michael Faircloth ('83); Finley Moll ('85); Khanh Nguyen ('08), founder of Nha Khanh; Shirin Askari ('08) (pictured on the left); and Stephanie Montes ('09). Or take a class in sewing or couture techniques at Petit Atelier, co-owned by Michael Crigger ('11). You also can shop at The Paisley Heart, owned by Brooke Howerton ('04). Or keep your loved one warm this season with a recycled wool hat or accessory made by Denton artist Leslie Kregel ('80).
How about a gift for the whole family? Aaron Powell's ('11) Bunch Bikes (right) boasts a box that allows children to sit up front while an adult is riding. For bicycle-related presents, check out Sprockets, which is owned by Brandon Dupre ('11) and was founded by Sipo Thao ('08), and Denton Bicycle Center, owned by Joe Holland ('74).
Help others get more things done with Alexa, the popular virtual assistant from Amazon, whose development was overseen by UNT anthropology major Toni Reid ('95). Reid has worked her way up from a recruiter for Amazon in the 1990s to her present position of vice president of the Alexa and Echo devices.
UNT's Laboratory for Recreational Computing (LARC) is a leader in video game design, with alumni helping to create and design some of the hottest video games on the market. Make the gamers on your list happy with a purchase from Ghostbusters, The Last of Us and Uncharted, designed by Emilia Schatz ('01), and Star Wars for Xbox 360 Kinect and Def Jam Rapstar, overseen by Chris Bream ('00).
Want to share an experience to remember for a gift? Give family members ages 50 and up a membership to UNT's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which offers classes, trips and events. Many of the instructors are current or retired UNT professors or UNT alumni. Friends and family members who need a break can literally break stuff at The BreakRoom in Denton, co-owned by West White ('11). Or give them lessons at iFly Dallas, a Frisco indoor skydiving venue, where Ryan Hooks ('16) is in charge of international business development. And if you want your office to have a fun time, your staff can learn to perform a cover song and record its own video in fewer than two hours at the team building experience at Creative Soul Music School, run by Casey Thomas (' 01) in Keller, Southlake and Watauga.