Apple EarPods with USB-C
Here’s a fun fact: Apple’s wired earbuds still feature some of the best-sounding mics you can get for taking phone calls outside of a professional microphone. What’s more, they’re now available with one of three connectors — 3.5mm, Lightning, or USB-C — meaning your giftee will never have to worry about them dying midway through an important conversation.
Baboon to the Moon Fannypack
You don’t need to lug around a full-on backpack if all you plan to carry with you is ChapStick, a phone, and a few other everyday essentials. Thankfully, there are space-saving alternatives like the Baboon to the Moon Fannypack, which offers three liters of space and comes in a colorful, spill-proof design that’s as unmistakable as it is durable.
GuliKit KingKong 2 Pro Controller
GuliKit’s KingKong 2 Pro Controller looks a lot like Nintendo’s Pro controller, but its Hall effect sticks are drift-proof for better long-term reliability — something that’s especially handy for those that play their Nintendo Switch while docked. The gamepad offers a rubberized grip as well, and you can even rearrange the face buttons into an Xbox layout for playing on PC.
Although you can pick up a magnetic iPhone charger on Amazon for as little as $10, chances are it won’t be anywhere near as slick as Nomad’s latest MagSafe-compatible offering. The blacked-out charging stand offers slower 7.5W charging speeds, but it also features a glass panel and a sleek metal chassis that allows it to easily level up any desk setup.
REI Co-op Wallace Lake Flannel Shirt
The dream of the ’90s is alive at REI, apparently. The co-op’s handsome Wallace Lake Flannel is a hardy button-up that’s available in an assortment of retro-inspired patterns for both men and women, all of which exude lumberjack chic without ever requiring you to pick up a splitting maul and put in the actual work.
Amazfit Band 7
The number of premium features the Amazfit Band 7 offers for the price is kind of mind-boggling. For less than $50, you get a quality fitness tracker that nails the essentials while boasting abnormal heart rate notifications, stress tracking, and a nice OLED display. Add in 18 days of battery life, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a steal.
Tekton Everybit Tech Rescue Kit
For a paltry $25, Tekton’s versatile Everybit Tech Rescue Kit provides you with everything you need to tune up your PC, iPhone, controllers, and most other gadgets. The 46-piece screwdriver kit is chock-full of tools — including a tweezer, a metal spudger, a suction cup, and a smorgasbord of quality bits — all of which lower the threshold for at-home tinkering.
Echo Show 5 (third-gen)
Amazon’s third-gen Echo Show 5 is the ultimate bedside alarm clock. The 5.5-inch smart display is small enough that it won’t commandeer your entire nightstand, yet it still lets you easily catch up on the news, check the weather, and tap into whatever white noise lulls you to sleep best. Coqui frog sounds, anyone?
Epomaker TH80 Pro
The Epomaker TH80 is one of our favorite 75 percent mechanical keyboards. It’s fantastic to type on, it supports simultaneous Bluetooth connections, and it comes with hot-swappable switches that let you nail that perfect typing feel. The step-up Pro model is just as great, too, only it offers a slightly bigger battery and a few welcome functionality improvements.
Black & Decker Furbuster
High-end robovacs with auto-empty docks and AI obstacle avoidance are great and all, but sometimes a classic handheld is all you need. Black & Decker’s rechargeable Furbuster is a great option for picking up fur, dirt, and other debris, especially since it offers a surprising amount of suction and an extra-long crevice tool for hitting those hard-to-reach areas.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Sony’s latest PlayStation 5 exclusive is all about dizzying cityscapes, emo angst, and the kind of web-slinging antics only Insomniac can conjure up. That is to say, it’s an excellent sequel, one that places you in control of not one but two spider-men as you take on Kraven, Venom, and a who’s who of classic Spider-Man villains. It’s superhero wish fulfillment at its finest.
Jabra Elite 4
It’s easy to overlook the Jabra Elite 4 given their sub-$100 competition — which is unfortunate given the wireless earbuds offer quite a lot for the money, including both ANC and multipoint. They’re just as reliable as the last-gen model, too, and unlike other Bluetooth buds, they aren’t locked into a single ecosystem.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 12
There’s something magical about holding a photo seconds after capturing it, which is why Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 12 rules. The terrific instant camera is incredibly easy to use — just point and shoot — making it a great option for capturing card-size photos of family, friends, and anyone else your giftee wants to unwillingly subject to their artistic pursuits.
UE Wonderboom 3
Nobody should be without a solid Bluetooth speaker, and the UE Wonderboom 3 remains an excellent option. The waterproof orb-shaped speaker is remarkably loud for its size, can last up to 14 hours on a single charge, and can pair with two Bluetooth devices simultaneously. The fact that it actually floats is just a plus.
Lego Piranha Plant
Over the last few years, Lego has launched a slew of clever botanical sets for adults that can add a touch of color to any room with absolutely no maintenance. The Lego Super Mario Piranha Plant is kind of like that, only it’s a posable 540-piece replica of one of Mario’s iconic baddies instead of a Welsh poppy or your run-of-the-mill larkspur.
Govee LED Strip Light M1 Matter
If you’re hoping to brighten a drab staircase to liven up your holiday party with some colorful lighting that can sync to the latest Bad Bunny track, Govee’s LED Strip Light M1 can provide. The tunable, ultrabright LED lights are also Matter-ready, so you can use them with Amazon Alexa, Apple Home, and any other Matter-compatible platform.
L.L.Bean Wicked Good Moccasins
Frigid days call for more than a decent pair of wool socks and a warm beverage. L.L.Bean’s sheepskin-lined moccasins live up to their name, though, providing something supremely cozy to slip into when the temperatures start to dip. The treaded mocs also come in several cuts and colors, ensuring they won’t look out of touch with the rest of your giftee’s wardrobe.
Apple’s AirTags are becoming as ubiquitous as a set of keys — and for good reason. The handy ultra wideband item trackers are our go-to recommendation for Apple users thanks to their user-replaceable batteries and ability to tap into Apple’s extensive Find My network, which lets you and up to five others keep tabs on whatever belongings you can’t afford to live without.
Secretly Society subscription
Assuming your loved one owns a turntable, a Secretly Society subscription is a more tangible way to give the gift of music. Each month they’ll receive a limited edition LP from one Secretly’s superb collection of labels (Dead Oceans, JagJaguwar, etc.), providing them with a new Angel Olsen, Slowdive, or Jason Molina LP to spin when they get tired of the ol’ Spotify algorithm.
Amazon Kindle (2022)
If your giftee is a big reader, Amazon’s newest entry-level Kindle is the e-reader to buy. It has USB-C charging and a screen that’s as sharp as the display on the latest Kindle Paperwhite, yet it comes in a smaller, more affordable package. It even comes standard with 16GB of storage, which is more than enough for the average person’s reading collection.
Keith Haring Colorful Chess Set
When a board game has been around for as long as chess, style updates aren’t just inevitable, they’re welcome. MoMA’s gorgeous Keith Haring-inspired set features colorful humans, barking dogs, and other iconographic pieces adapted from some of the artist’s most famous works, all lacquered and offset by Haring’s trademark black outlines.
Backbone One mobile controller (USB-C)
The PlayStation Portal may be the hot new PS5 accessory, but the Backbone One remains a more versatile gadget for playing mobile games and tapping into Xbox Game Pass and Remote Play. Not only does the mobile controller accommodate both Android and Apple devices, depending on the model, but it also features a 3.5mm audio jack, dual analog sticks, and its own software for capturing screenshots.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built
BookTok recs can be hit or miss, but the first book in Becky Chambers’ cozy Monk & Robot series is a certified hit if there ever was one. It’s a surprisingly philosophical and optimistic sci-fi novella as told through a series of quiet conversations between a wandering monk and a sentient robot who can’t help but ponder life’s biggest questions.
Ring Pet Tag
The Ring Pet Tag doesn’t feature GPS tracking, Bluetooth, or any newfangled features. What it does offer is a simple QR code, which lets any good Samaritan who happens upon your pet start a two-way conversation with you or look up any relevant health info you want to provide on your furry friend. It even shields your personal info in the process, something traditional dog tags don’t allow.
There’s something special about gifting an analog game like Kendama in the age of Fortnite — even more so when you consider that the Japanese toy has changed little since it was first developed hundreds of years ago. The cup-and-ball game remains easy to learn but difficult to master, too, making it a good fit for anyone looking to hone a skill over time.
EWA The New MagOne
There are plenty of PopSockets alternatives out there, but we’ve found EWA’s The New MagOne to offer the perfect blend of form and function. It’s a relatively thin accessory with a built-in kickstand and a loop for your finger, yet it’s also compatible with Apple’s MagSafe tech so you don’t have to worry about tossing it on an iPhone charger.
Red/White Verge Waffle Beanie
It’s time we all admit that we’re living in the golden age of honeycomb weaves. These days, nearly every piece of clothing you can imagine is available in some sort of waffle fabric, including The Verge’s latest beanie. It’s a great little skullcap, if we do say so ourselves, with an excellent logo and a solid warmth-to-weight ratio.
Mpowerd Luci Solar String Lights: Color
Mpowerd’s solar-powered string lights are perfect if your giftee is brave enough to camp in the fall or host a backyard shindig (weather permitting). Not only can the 18-foot string dish out six different colors and last up to 15 hours on a single charge but it also doubles as a portable charger that will let your loved one top off their phone as needed.
The Diversity of Life
It’s hard to scoff at a proper collector’s edition. The Folio take on The Diversity of Life is a great case in point, one that adds an extra level of gravitas to E.O. Wilson’s thoughtful examination of the origins of biodiversity and the dangers humans pose to it. It’s loaded with stunning illustrations and blocked in iridescent foil, rendering it a great fit for any budding naturalist.
Pinecil portable soldering iron
If someone you know still uses a basic soldering iron that looks like it was bought at RadioShack to repair their electronics, it’s time for an upgrade. Luckily, the Pinecil is a fairly inexpensive gadget that heats up in seconds, has a tiny OLED display for dialing in your exact temperature, and can be powered using either a DC adapter or USB-C.
No one has time for Monopoly. Fortunately, the fast-paced Monopoly Deal takes the best parts of everyone’s favorite capitalist-driven board game and distills the mechanics down to the bare fundamentals. There are still properties to be bought and plenty of backstabbing to be had, though, this time around, the entire thing takes 15 minutes.
Le Creuset London Mugs (six-pack)
Le Creuset’s Dutch oven has been a cast iron icon for so long that it’s easy to dismiss everything else the French cookware giant has done since. That’s a shame considering the company’s hefty stoneware mugs are just as classic and far more affordable, which is probably why they’ve made the wish list of several Verge staffers this year.