This is not your typical gift-giving guide. Those tend to be centered around specific holidays or events. Instead, I wanted a date-agnostic version that people could use throughout the year. Also, keep in mind that these prices may fluctuate during the year. In other words, when I bought the gift, it might have been at a different price.
My Gift Selection Criteria
For these ideas, I was looking for items that met these criteria:
- I’ve tried the product. This isn’t to say I’m an expert on gift-giving. Instead, I just thought it important to have bought and used the item.
- The gift has to enhance your life in some way. It either makes you more productive, organized, healthier, or removes some pain points.
- It shouldn’t have a big learning curve.
- It can be easily purchased online. However, if an item is carried by a local retailer in your neighborhood, I’d go there first. Local businesses need our support.
I also wanted to mix things up a bit by breaking the recommendations into categories. I also explain what type of person might appreciate the gift.
And don’t forget that if you can’t find the perfect gift for someone or it won’t arrive in time, you can always make gift certificates with Word and Excel.
Why I’m Using Amazon
You’ll notice below that the link to the items goes to the Amazon website, but sometimes you can find these products elsewhere. There were multiple reasons I chose Amazon.
- Because I’m an “affiliate,” I can get access to the Amazon API. This allows me to pull in prices, review counts, and images. This makes for a more standard format across products.
- The API should dynamically update info, so I don’t have to check and change prices.
- You can read other peoples reviews and questions.
- I find it very easy to return items to Amazon.
- They offer gift receipts and gift wrapping on most items.
- The readers here are from different countries and Amazon usually has a presence.
If you’re not familiar with the term “affiliate,” it means that I may make a small commission if you purchase from a link on this page. This doesn’t impact your price. It helps offset the cost of running this site. Trust me, I’m not going to get Jeff Bezos type rich off of the commission.
If you’re not familiar with Amazon, I did an article that has some of my favorite Amazon shopping tips.
Use Caution with Amazon Lockers
In some areas, Amazon has something called “Amazon lockers.” These are storage lockers in various locations where you can have your packages delivered. For example, your local supermarket. While this might be great for gift delivery, it can pose a problem.
On several occasions, Amazon hasn’t been able to deliver to the lockers because they were full. Other users didn’t always pick up their packages in a timely fashion so no new package deliveries could get in.
The problem is that you don’t know when your package will get back into a locker. I’ve had to cancel my orders and place new ones at my home address. Pain in the butt. Just something to consider if time is an issue or you’re a last-minute shopper.
Subscriptions & Online Options
Anyone who has been shopping lately has noticed that some items are unavailable or have long shipping delays. So, I decided to add some gifts you can buy that won’t have these issues.
Best for: Book and podcast lovers
Audible is a service that offers narrated books and original content ranging from bestsellers to the Wall St. Journal. You can access the content via an app or through the web. Gift subscriptions are available in various durations even as short as a month.
Why I like it
I’ve been a fan of Audible long before Amazon bought them. It was at a time when they had a dedicated audio player. Yes, that was before iPods and MP3 players too. Since then, the catalog has grown immensely and includes original material. And if you don’t like your book selection, the company has a generous return policy.
Inspiration & Creativity
Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck
Best for: Creative thinkers, tinkerers, & lifelong learners
Like the Creative Whack Pack from previous years, this card deck also spawns ideas. The idea is to take an existing idea and change it to make a new one. Each of the 56 cards has a specific strategy based on one of the nine themes.
Why I like It
It’s too easy to get stuck in our thinking and not see other possibilities and perspectives. This may happen as we get older and lose our sense of creativity that we had as kids. I love to stick this deck into a travel bag and get away for “idea” days. Or, if I’m in a rut, I’ll pull random cards out and see what pops to mind. These cards are also a good tool for engaging others.
The author of this deck, Michael Michaolko, has written several books on creativity. My favorite is called Thinkertoys. The book and card deck work well together.
- Michalko, Michael (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 64 Pages – 06/01/2006 (Publication Date) – Ten Speed Press (Publisher)
Rocketbook Beacons – Reusable Whiteboard Stickers
Best for: Brainstormers, Teachers, Meeting Leaders
These are a small set of 4 reusable plastic stickers that you apply to the corners of a whiteboard. Using your smartphone and the Rocketbook app, you convert the whiteboard content to searchable PDFs. You can direct where you want the content to go, such as Google Drive, DropBox, Slack, Email, and so on.
Why I like It
Whiteboards are a great tool for capturing ideas. But what if you need to share those ideas with a colleague or wish to save them? It’s not like you can put a “Do Not Erase” sign and hope it’s honored. And simple photos rarely work. Instead, you can use this app and be assured that your notes and images are retained. There is also a feature where you can “cast” your notes. It’s not a streaming service, but you do get a shareable URL that periodically updates.
- Convert your standard whiteboard into a smart board with four reusable beacons
- Micro suction technology makes the beacons portable, Washable, and endlessly reusable
- Download the free Rocketbook app to connect and organize your notes with popular cloud services
- Share your whiteboard with your team in real-time with snapcast mode
- Includes one set of four Rocketbook beacons, carrying case, and easy-to-use instructions
I should also mention that I don’t have a typical whiteboard. Instead of being hard, it’s a 6′ x 4′ vinyl sheet that clings to my wall. These are less expensive than the ones you secure to a wall. However, they take patience to apply, so you get the air bubbles out without tearing. This is especially true of large ones like mine.
Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil
Best for: People who have iPads
Basically, this is an electronic or digital pencil you can easily pair with your iPad. And it’s less expensive than the Apple Pencil.
Why I like It
Sorry, but doing mindmaps, process flows, or drawings with your fingers is not fun. And then you end up with smudges on the screen. The pencil adds another layer of precision especially if you use Paperlike screen protectors.
Just remember that with all iPad accessories, you need to make sure you get the correct one for your device.
- No limits to what you can do. Works seamlessly with iPad Pro 12.9 Inch (5th and 6th gen) , iPad Pro 11 inch, iPad (6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Gen), iPad Air (3rd, 4th, 5th Gen), iPad Mini 5, iOS 12.2 and above, delivering precise and fast Pencil input across hundreds of Apple Pencil supported apps.
- Write and draw naturally without fear of missing a single line or detail.
- Go right ahead and rest your palm on the screen while you write. Palm Rejection Technology lets you enjoy natural hand placement while using Logitech Crayon.
- Need a thicker or thinner line? Just tilt — the smart tip adjusts line weight automatically.
- Logitech Crayon connects to iPad instantly — just turn on and draw. No complex device pairing or other delays required.
Paperlike Screen Protectors – iPad
Best for: iPad owners who don’t like the glass feel & digital pencil users
These are high-end screen protectors for your iPad that have a textured background with a paper-like feel.
Why I like it
Yes, I get it. Screen protectors don’t sound like a wonderful gift. I bought these after I bought my Logitech Crayon and the difference is amazing. The protectors take away that glass feel, that I don’t like. It makes using the digital pencil and swiping more enjoyable. These will make you use your iPad more.
Just remember that with all iPad accessories, you need to make sure you get the correct ones for your device.
- Unleash your creativity: Professional artists and designers use our Paperlike screen protector to improve precision and detail when drawing, writing, and painting on their iPad; Our iPad screen protector brings the natural feel and resistance of paper to your iPad display for long drawing sessions, smooth lines, and perfect accuracy
- Take notes like a pro: Join the thousands of college students, business professionals, and productivity experts who use Paperlike to take notes with unparalleled precision; By adding friction and resistance to the iPad glass, Paperlike delivers a true paper feel that makes note-taking a breeze
- Compatible with Apple Pencil and Stylus: Paperlike is designed for Apple Pencil 1 and 2 but can be used just as well with other Stylus Pens; Our expertly engineered surface texture reduces natural erosion and minimizes the wear and tear on your pencil tips; This iPad screen protector is thin enough to ensure that stroke recognition between your Apple Pencil and iPad is always accurate
- Nanodots surface: Enjoy reduced reflections and an anti-glare experience without spoiling your view; Paperlike’s Nanodots technology scatters incoming and outgoing light so that your screen colors are always pixel perfect; In addition to reducing scratches and fingerprints, Paperlike doesn’t affect your Face ID authorization
- Package contents: This package includes two (2) Paperlike display protection films for the iPad 10.2 Inch (2019, 2020 and 2021), along with application stickers (2), wet wipes (2), dust absorbers (2), dry wipes (1), and detailed instructions for easy installation
OXO Good Grips Sweep & Swipe Laptop Cleaner
Best for: Laptop owners
This is a combination device that has just 2 purposes. The first is to get crumbs and debris out of your keyboard. The second is to clean your screen.
Why I Like It
For starters, I’m an OXO fan and have used many of their kitchen gadgets. These tend to be well designed and long lasting. Secondly, I eat way too often in from of my keyboard which results in lots of crumbs. And on one occasion, I couldn’t use my k key until I figured out the crumbs were stopping the key from depressing.
The sweep works best on laptops. While you could use it on a desktop keyboard, it won’t be as effective. However, OXO does have a deep clean keyboard kit.
- Double-sided tool deep cleans laptops, tablets and smartphones
- Microfiber pad removes fingerprints and smudges from screens and surfaces
- Soft brush sweeps away dust and dirt
- Retractable brush and storage cover keep both ends protected when not in use
Tile Sticker or Tile Mate
Best for: People who lose things, people with valuables
Tiles are small tracking devices that allow you to locate items. The items can be anything from keys to bikes. You attach the item to your device and link it via an app for your smartphone. It works with either iPhones or Android phones, but you’ll want to check for compatibility. Most newer phones should work fine. And these devices can also be used to find your phone. What’s appealing is that even if the lost item isn’t near you, the tracker leverages the other Tile users’ signal to find your device.
Why I like It
I’ve been a Tile user for a long time and did a product review on the first & second generations. During this time, Tile has continually improved the hardware and software. Last year I bought a combo pack that included a slim Tile I put in my wallet.
Over the years, they’ve introduced models with replaceable batteries and louder tones. They’ve also managed to maintain a huge user base that can help you locate your lost article. Even though I have a routine where I hang up my keys, I’ve still misplaced them. On occasion, I’ve put my keys in a fleece vest only to open the door and realize I should add another layer as it’s cold. Upon coming home, I realize my keys aren’t in the outer pocket and the Tile clues me in that they are one layer underneath in the vest.
I also remember being at my bank ATM, and someone left their keys on the top ledge. Because I’m a Tile user, my app reported to the owner the keys had been seen. The nice part is this is transparent as I don’t know the owner and vice versa.
There are many Tiles, but I like the two below. My preference is the Tile Mate as it’s smaller and has a replaceable battery. Sometimes there are bundle sales, too, on Tile’s site. And that bundle I bought, was a discontinued design for a very good discount from their site.
Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger
Best For: People who need a large, but compact portable power bank
This isn’t your typical battery pack. It’s a beast both in terms of build and capacity. For starters, its capacity is 26800 mAh, probably a multiple of the small portable ones you own. This also means the size is bigger (about “7”) and heavier (1.1 lbs) than most portable chargers.
Why I like It
When it comes to accessories and gadgets, I’m an Anker fan. I’ve owned everything from their braided USB cables to diffusers. I have to say they excel in the power category. This device has 2 inputs for charging the battery and 3 outlets to charge your devices. In other words, you can recharge this external battery twice as fast.
I think I’ve mentioned my power situation has been a bit unstable lately. When the power goes out, it’s nice to know I have enough juice to keep my devices running. I always have this charged and ready to go. Instead of recharging one device, I can hook up multiple ones.
Things to Consider
This is a battery pack, so you will need to get your own cables and wall plug. It does include 2 USB micro cables. I’m guessing most people already have cables. Also, this unit doesn’t do pass-through charging, which would allow you to charge the unit and charge another device simultaneously.
- The Anker Advantage: Join the 50 million+ powered by our leading technology.
- Colossal cell capacity: 2,6800 mAh of power charges most phones over 6 times, tablets at least 2 times and any other USB device multiple times.
- High-Speed Charging: 3 USB output ports equipped with Anker’s PowerIQ and Voltage Boost technology ensure high-speed charging for three devices—simultaneously (Not compatible with Qualcomm Quick Charge).
- Recharge 2X Faster: Dual Micro USB (20W) input offers recharge speeds up to twice as fast as standard portable chargers—a full recharge takes just over 6 hours while using both input ports (wall charger not included).
- What you get: Power core 26800, 2X Micro USB cable, Travel Pouch, welcome guide, our worry-free 18-month and friendly customer service. Usb-c cable and Lightning cable for iPhone/ iPad sold separately. Input: 5V ⎓ 4A (5V ⎓ 2A Max Per Port) Output: 5V ⎓ 6A (5V ⎓ 3A Max Per Port)
The High Performance Planner
Best For: Goal setters, planners
This planner was developed by Brendon Burchard and is based on science and his testing. Each journal lasts 60 days or 2 months. You can also buy a yearly bundle with 6 books. The planner comes in multiple colors, so be careful when making your selection. I thought I ordered green. Oops.
The product image below reminds me of those boring black yearly planners. The good news is the inside is radically different. Each day has two sections: “Morning Mindset” and the other “Evening Journal.” Within each section, you have a list of prompts or questions that help you structure and evaluate your day. It’s unique.
Matein Electronics Organizer Case
Best for: Everyone, but more so for travelers
This is a black zippered soft case that offers an easy way to organize your power cables, battery packs, cords, and more.
Why I like It
I’ll be the first to admit this might be a boring gift. However, what it lacks in style, it makes up for in practicality. Recently, I had to do some house-sitting and in my haste, I forgot to pack a needed USB-C cable. It wasn’t until I got to the destination and started working did I realize, I missed one. Nor did the owners who had 10x more lightning cables than kitchen knives. Fortunately, Amazon was able to deliver a replacement cable the next day since I’m an Amazon Prime customer.
My problem was I had plenty of cables, but I didn’t have them organized in a way I could easily find what I needed. When I got back, I got one of these bags. It has plenty of storage space which is good as many of us have more cables than we need. Maybe I can trade my extras for kitchen knives.
Vornado 460 – Whole Room Fan
Best for: Home Office and people who don’t like air-conditioning
This is a compact 3-speed fan that can cool your home office in no time. The design pushes more air than any other fan I’ve bought. It’s also extremely light and relatively quiet.
Why I like It
I realize a fan doesn’t sound like an exciting gift. But when you’re sitting in a home office or bedroom with one, you’ll consider it a luxury item. I’ve bought 3 of these in the past year for friends and family. They are extremely efficient and well made. There is also a slider that allows you to adjust the angle.
- POWERFUL VORTEX ACTION — Utilizes Vornado’s signature Vortex air circulation to more effectively move air throughout the entire room.
- SIMPLE CONTROLS — The 3-speed manual control is easy to use and allows you to dial in your comfort.
- MULTI-DIRECTIONAL AIRFLOW — Equipped with a stylish chrome glide bar that allows you to direct the air where you need it.
- OPTIMUM PERFORMANCE — Deep-pitched blades paired with an inlet guide cone, enclosed air duct, and spiral grill help move air up to 70 ft.
- SUPERIOR SUPPORT — When you choose a Vornado Fan, you’re investing in superior performance and design that will deliver total satisfaction. If not, we’ll replace it, for 5 years.
Philips Wake-Up Light
Best For: People who don’t like to wake up to alarms.
This is a popular “go-to” gift for friends and family. I have a previous model. At first, I’m greeted with the usual skepticism because people don’t think they can wake up to a gradual light queue. You can see their gears spinning and thinking, “who can I regift this gizmo to”? They’ve been conditioned to use artificial sound. However, in all but one case, people have raved about the gift and how it has helped their sleep.
Why I like It
Well, because I’m not fond of alarm clocks or watches that vibrate. This is much more civilized because the light gradually gets brighter as it simulates a sunrise. And you can do the reverse and have it simulate dusk as you go to bed.
- YOUR OWN PERSONAL SUNRISE: Choose from 10 different brightness levels to stimulate your body so you can rise easier
- NATURAL WAKE-UP: Simulated sunrise combined with gradual sound gently prepares your body for waking up while you are still asleep
- SMART FEATURES: Tap to snooze and bedside lamp
- MOOD AND ENERGY: Proven to give you an easy and energetic wake-up and improve your mood in the morning***
- MONEY BACK GUARANTEE: 90 Day No Hassle Money Back Guarantee from Philips
Anova Sous Vide Cookers
Best For: People who like to cook, perfectionists, and people who believe they can multi-task.
Sous vide is a French term for “under vacuum,” but that doesn’t fully explain this kitchen tool. It’s basically a cylindrical water circulator that controls the temperature of a water bath. The device lets you cook food in a precise and consistent manner. The food is sealed in a container, like a Ziploc bag, or maybe a mason jar. You don’t need a vacuum sealer. And because the water is at a constant temperature, it’s difficult to ruin the food.
Why I like It
I could make an economic argument for buying this device. I have overcooked items throughout the years through poor planning (multi-tasking) or gotten interrupted at the wrong time. The results were inedible and wasted food. When I first saw these devices, they were in the $300 range, which was cheap compared to commercial ones. All the same, I waited until the prices dropped to the $100 range.
Since buying one, I’ve experimented more with recipes. There are countless ones out there, and even YouTube has channels dedicated to sous-vide. Regardless of your cooking skills, there are plenty of things you can cook with these devices ranging from proteins to liquifying honey.
And while I didn’t buy the Joule (works only with an app), I do love the videos the folks at ChefSteps produce. They are as informative as they are entertaining.
- Perfect results every time: Never over or under cook your food again. The Anova Precision Cooker Nano circulates water at the exact temperature required for perfectly cooked meals, no matter what’s on your menu.
- What to cook: Sous vide (pronounced “sue-veed”) cooking offers the perfect level of doneness for chicken, fish, vegetables, eggs, beef, lamb, pork, and more. The ability to lock in flavor and moisture during the cooking process results in texture and taste that is second to none.
- Small but mighty: The 12.8″ Anova Precision Cooker Nano stows away in any kitchen drawer next to the whisk and ladle, so your counters stay uncluttered and your favorite new cooking tool stays within reach. Nano easily attaches to any stock pot or container with a fixed clamp, and is constructed of super durable plastic that’s easy to clean.
- Customer experience: Designed in San Francisco, CA. Anova delivers thousands of sous vide recipes for free in the Anova app, created for cooks of every skill level by award-winning chefs and home cooks alike. Usability: Manual time and temperature controls
Best For: Readers
This is NOT the latest edition of the Kindle Paperwhite, but I think it’s fine. It is also slightly smaller than the latest generation, but it’s a size I prefer.
I like the form factor. I also have a Kindle Fire HDX, but there is something about this one that makes reading easier (especially when the power goes out). The only issue I’ve encountered so far was a Kindle Unlimited book that was a “print replica.” That book worked fine on the Kindle Fire HDX, but not on this device. It shows in my library, but it fails when downloading. However, I think this is a rare format caused by someone who self-published their book. After calling support, they pointed me to an area to see if the book would work on a specific device.
Another tip is that your local library may have Kindle books. I subscribe to a free newsletter at https://www.wowbrary.org/ that alerts me to new books, movies, and music.
Even though I own a Kindle, there are some books I prefer to read on the Kindle for PC. This is the free reader for PC, Mac, or phones.
- Kindle Paperwhite – Now with a 6.8” display and thinner borders, adjustable warm light, up to 10 weeks of battery life, and 20% faster page turns.
- Purpose-built for reading – With a flush-front design and 300 ppi glare-free display that reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight.
- More books in more places – Store thousands of titles, then take them all with you. A single charge via USB-C last weeks, not hours.
- Easy on the eyes – Now with adjustable warm light to shift screen shade from white to amber.
- Waterproof reading – Built to withstand accidental immersion in water, so you’re good from the beach to the bath.
Office & Home
Anti Fatigue Floor Mat
Best For: People standing in front of PC for long periods
I know this sounds like something for yoga or exercise sessions. Instead, it complements my standing desk. While I like my standing desk, I did find my feet getting tired even though I was on carpet. My upstairs neighbor said his company bought these mats for everyone.
These mats come in many colors, thicknesses, and lengths. I opted for the largest size. I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’m contemplating getting a smaller one for the kitchen.
- Anti Fatigue Mat: The ComfiLife anti-fatigue floor mat enhances comfort while standing. It is professionally engineered and can be used as padded kitchen mat or for your standup desk that is guaranteed not to lose support over time
- High Quality Materials: Manufactured from superior materials, the ComfiLife cushioned mat core is made of 3/4″ thick, high-density foam that reduce discomfort on feet, knees, legs, and back while standing for an extended period
- Multi-use Floor Mat: The ComfiLife standing pad is exceptional for your office while standing at your desk, the kitchen while doing dishes, the laundry room while folding clothes and while working at your workbench
- Stain Resistant Surface: This ergonomic mat is durable, stain resistant, and easy to clean. Its non-slip bottom enhances safety
- Lifetime Satisfaction: ComfiLife is trusted by hundreds of thousands happy customers around the world. Your complete satisfaction is our top priority. If you’re not 100% satisfied, we offer a Lifetime Money Back or Replacement Guarantee with no questions asked
Portable Power Station
Best For: Everyone including campers, drone enthusiasts
This is a compact power station that has multiple ways to charge as well as plenty of USB ports and 2 AC ports. You can use this station for times when your power goes out, or you wish to go outside.
Why I like It
Power outages are rarely predictable and tend to arrive at inconvenient times. It’s nice to be able to tuck this into my closet until I need it. And, this particular unit is light. It’s just over 8 pounds and has a great handle. Mine arrived precharged at the 30% level so make sure you top it off before you need it. You can also charge this unit with portable solar panels. If you do get solar panels, make sure you get the correct barrel connector.
- Extremely Durable and Long-Lasting: The portable power station is equipped with premium LiFePO4 batteries that offer 6 times longer lifespan, a drop-proof unibody structure, and industry-standard electric components for enhanced durability.
- Unprecedented 10-Year Lifespan: Instead of 2 years, 521 Portable Power Station lets you power your devices everyday for 10 years. It also comes with an exclusive 5-year full device warranty for a guaranteed, worry-free experience.
- Extra USB-C Port: Time to get rid of bulky adapters because charging your laptop at fast speeds only requires a single cable. See the power station recharge itself and give a high-speed charge to a wide range of devices.
- Huge 256Wh Capacity: The high capacity portable power station pumps out 256Wh of power—the perfect companion to charge your devices and small appliances during a weekend trip.
- 6 Ports for All: The power station has all the ports you need to charge your devices and appliances over the weekend, including 2 AC ports, 2 USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and a car outlet.
NETGEAR Orbi Whole Home Mesh WiFi System
Best For: People with wi-fi weak spots
Let’s start by indicating this is a Mesh system and not a wi-fi extender because there are big differences. Wi-Fi extenders are pretty cheap and split and repeat your signal. It can be like “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” They also create a new SSID. Mesh networks can use the same SSID as your existing router and work with satellite units that efficiently distribute the signal and reduce weak areas.
Why I like It
My wi-fi setup was fine in my home office until we installed some security cameras. Long story short, I had to upgrade my plan to accommodate the cameras and move my router. The result was my bandwidth dropped in the office a lot. I first tried a Wi-Fi extender, but that made things worse.
I bought the Orbi system with 2 satellites and have been very pleased. The throughput is significantly better and almost gets the advertised carrier speeds just about everywhere. The system comes with a phone app that makes the setup very easy. I decided to create a new SSID and split my traffic. Now, I have security cameras and “Internet of Things” devices like Alexa that go through the original network. I then put the computers on a separate SSID. The phone app also gives you options for controlling specific devices or setting up parental controls.
- Tri-band backhaul a dedicated band between your Orbi router and satellite frees up the other two bands for maximum speed to your devices
- Works with all internet providers replace your existing wi-fi router and extender separate modem or gateway required compatible with any internet provider including cable satellite fiber DSL and more
- Wired Ethernet port & fast wireless speed 1 Gigabit Ethernet port and AC2200 Wi-Fi powers up to 22 Gbps of streaming HD video gaming or Internet surfing and downloads
- NETGEAR Armor protects your family’s WiFi with an automatic shield of security across all your connected devices with a 30-day free trial
- NETGEAR Smart Parental Controls promotes healthy Internet habits, fosters responsibility and builds trust with your kids (30-day free trial included)
Disclaimer: Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. I may receive an affiliate commission on these products if you buy. Updated: 2022-11-18