In fact, the catalog includes an "Inventors Showcase" section, and CEO Aguilera says ideas pour in from would-be Edisons and Rube Goldbergs. Some of these brainstorms don't work out so well (and some are rejected because they're not "family-friendly"), but a few, like the Save-a-Phone drying bag ("evacuates water hundreds of times faster than rice") actually make it into the catalog and do well.
Naturally, there have been flops: Ms. Aguilera murmurs something about an "Egyptian-themed toilet seat" but prefers to note successes and her personal faves, such as the Giant 8-inch Cupcake baking pans and the GelPro kitchen mat ("give your poor, tired feet a break").
Not into SkyMall? Consider buying gifts with your airline miles.
At United, for example, you can use miles to purchase anything from a Burberry bag to a Swarovski crystal ornament or FTD flowers. American Airlines lets you buy identity theft protection, magazine subscriptions and more. Delta has Mrs. Field's Cookies and DVD players for sale with miles. See your airline's miles program for details.
Don't forget airline gift cards: Does anyone on your list deserve a getaway flight? Most airlines provide gift cards for any amount you choose. You can also purchase airline souvenirs; for example, Southwest offers amusing airplane-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers for just $9.99.
Hey, Christmas is coming. I already found good deals on holiday airfare, but I've still got gifts to buy. Hmm, perhaps my wife would enjoy a Southwest cookie jar (just $26.99) or SkyMall's $9.95 Yeti Holiday Ornament ("Our legendary yeti decked out with all the trimmings!").
On second thought, maybe I better check with her first.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and does not reflect the opinion of ABC News.
Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations that include ABC News, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Associated Press and Bloomberg. His website, FareCompare.com, offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deals.