What will they like? What will they use? What gift will make me look like a cool friend/parent/cousin/uncle/grandma? How do I choose a good gift?!?! It's okay, we've all been in a gift-shopping panic before. Balancing functionality with fashion, balancing ease with edgy, it's not for the faint of heart — and let's not forget, when you buy them a top-tier tech gift and they have any issues, you are gifting them yourself as tech support. With all this in mind, I present to you a collection of presents that are useful, accessible, affordable, and — if I do say so myself — amazingly cool.
Display your Assistant
Putting the best of Google Assistant front and center with a vivid 7-inch smart display, Google Home Hub is perfect for just about any room in your home. It's compact footprint helps the Home Hub avoid crowding whatever nightstand or counter it resides on, and Home View gives you quick control of your entire Assistant-enabled smart home.
Assistant for any room
You can't quite beat Google for an affordable, stylish Google Assistant speaker. The Google Home Mini is a little donut of sound, smarts, and style, and its color choices help it blend in or stand out with just about any decor in your home. It's not waterproof, but it is a popular speaker with dozens of wall and ceiling mounts available for it.
Better value & bigger speaker
For $5 less than the Google Home Mini, you can get a larger Google Assistant speaker with a frosted LED display and five hours of portable playback. This is the speaker I currently use for my daily alarm, bringing it from the bedroom to the bathroom without interrupting my morning music, and while it's not as sexy as the Google Home Mini, it is great Google alarm clock.
Portable, stylish Assistant
Want a Google Assistant speaker that's portable, water-resistant, and about the size and adorability of the Google Home Mini? Mobvoi has you covered with the TicHome Mini, which is IPX6 splashproof, boasts a 6-hour battery life, and powered by Google Assistant, just like the Google Home Mini.
Echo with extras
Amazon's updated Echo Plus boasts a bigger sound, a plusher look, and a Zigbee smart home hub built right into this tall drink of awesome. This speaker can blend in with most home decor, but it's beautiful enough to display front and center as you use it to play music, control your smart home, and interact with Alexa's thousands of skills.
Easiest smart plug around
Want to introduce a less tech-savvy aunt or grandpa to smart plugs? Amazon's branded Smart Plug is drop-dead easy to set up — it'll set itself up once you plug it in within range of a newer Echo device — but only if you're an Alexa user. Google Assistant users, you'll need to use something else.
Make dumb appliances smart
Most of Leviton's smart home tech is geared towards homeowners looking to upgrade the outlets/light switches and other tech in the home, but their Mini Plug-in Outlet is compact enough to fit two on a wall outlet, and it works with Nest, so it can turn on a plugged-in light automatically when Nest's motion sensors are tripped.
Flexible and reliable doorbell
Few smart home devices can provide quite the peace of mind as a good video doorbell, which can watch for intruders, ring you even if you're not home to receive a visitor, and stream video wirelessly to your devices at any time. Don't wait till December 25th to open; video doorbells are also a great way to catch holiday porch pirates!
Let there be light!
Ease your friend or family member into the wonderful world of smart lights with the most trusted and expansive system on the market. Philips Hue lights are easy to set up, easy to control via Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, and this kit includes a Hue Bridge and two A19 color bulbs to use in any standard socket.
Best on the block
Bose is synonymous with quality, and its QC line of headphones are what users trust the most to help them tune out the world and listen in quiet comfort (hence the name). These headphones are very expensive, very good, and are optimized for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant — including its newly-expanded real-time translation feature.
Comfortable & USB-C charged
OnePlus has always made great phones for less than its competitors, but did you know the same is true of its accessories? OnePlus Bullets Wireless headphones are a fantastic-sounding, well-designed pair of wireless earbuds. Technically they're neckbuds, which mean the cord wraps comfortably around the neck taking stress (and gravity) off the headphones itself, so they're easily worn for hours at a time.
Headphones can be cute!
Most of the headphones that charge over USB-C are over $250, but the Bluedio A2 headphones are just over $50, have great grip that helps blocks out a lot of noise passively, sound decent for their price, and look cute doing it! These have been my daily drive headphones for over 6 months, and I want another pair for Christmas just as a back-up.
UE makes some of the best portable speakers money can buy, and the WONDERBOOM packs a big sound inside a compact, even cute IPX7 waterproof shell that can party for 10 hours on a single charge. There's almost a dozen color schemes available, and at least one of them is bound to match your recipient's style.
Type faster everywhere
We can lie to ourselves all we want about being just as fast on an on-screen keyboard, but nothing beats a physical keyboard. Switch between up to 3 paired devices with a quick turn of a dial, and the groove at the top is perfect for propping up phones and tablets for live-tweeting from the couch or kitchen table.
Multiplayer Nintendo nostalgia
This retro homage may not be able to play your old SNES cartridge games, but it comes with 2 controllers and 21 games — including Star Fox 2, Earthbound, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. This console also sports a Rewind feature, allowing players to rewind a full minute or more from a game's last suspend point.
Does your loved one like long days at fan conventions or weekend hikes through the mountains? Get them a pocket full of power with AUKEY's futureproof power bank. It can both charge itself and charge other devices through its 18W USB-C port, and the two USB-A ports — including a QuickCharge 3.0 port — allow you to charge just about anything else.
Charging in style
This stylish Qi charger sports a charging zone compatible with the 10W fast wireless charging used by Samsung and the 7.5W used by iPhones. Available in 4 lovely hues — including a delicious Ruby red — iOttie's iON looks great whether it's on an office desk, night stand, or coffee table.
Snap perfect grams
This kits includes Fisheye, Super-Wide, and Macro lenses and a clip-on bracket that should work with most major phone models that aren't buried inside thick cases. Whether your recipient is an Instagram fiend or just someone who wants their next vacation photos to turn out a little bit better, this kit can elevate their photography capabilities.
Super stocking stuffer!
Phone grips give you extra reach and prevent joint pain from pinky-propping, so give your phone-loving friend or family member a tech accessory that looks good and is good for them! The new PopTops can be swapped without having to pull off and re-apply the adhesive PopGrip every time, and they come in dozens of styles, finishes, and licensed designs!
Magnetic grip multi-tasker
The new Style Ring POP lets the phone lay flat, works with magnetic car mounts, and can be used as a kickstand in both portrait and landscape as you reference notes on your phone while typing that term paper. As fashionable as it is functional, this grip can bring a POP of color and stability to phones big and small.
Wrap your tech in style
What do you get for the nerd who has everything? A cool skin for the tech they already have! From phones and tablets to the Amazon Echo Dot 3rd gen and Beats headphones, there are hundreds of skin styles to choose from — or create a custom design for a one of a kind gift. Parents, give your kid a custom laptop sleeve for their school-issued Chromebook!
That's a whole lot of tech to give to family and friends, but remember that you don't have to break the bank to get a thoughtful gift. Phone grips like the Spigen Style Ring (opens in new tab) and Swappable PopGrips (opens in new tab) save my fingers from pain and strain everyday, they are compatible with just about every phone and phone case on the market, and they look cute AF doing it. Smart plugs like the Leviton Decora (opens in new tab) can give the recipient an addictive taste of how useful a smart home can be, even when used for something as easy as turrning on the coffeemaker before you get out of bed, especially when paired with a new smart speaker like the Amazon Echo Plus (opens in new tab) or the perfect-for-nightstands, perfectly affordable Insignia Voice Google Assistant Speaker and Alarm Clock (opens in new tab).