Mikah's 2016 Holiday Wish List
At the end of each year many are greeted with questions from friends and loved ones all asking the same thing: "What do you want for [insert end-of-the-year holiday here]?"
As for me, I hear it twice: Once for my six-days-from-Christmas birthday and again for Christmas, the end-of-the-year holiday I celebrate. This list is a combination of things I've told others I'm interested in and things I've come to enjoy having. Take a peek if you're in need of gift ideas for that techie, coffee-loving, pet-having, home-automation-obsessed, crafty, handyperson in your life!
If you're looking for more ideas, be sure to check out our main iMore holiday gift guide. You'll also want to head over to Rene's gift guide and Serenity's gift guide for loads of other awesome ideas!
Amazon Echo is an awesome addition to any home — particularly if you've got Amazon Prime and some home automation goodies. It streams music, it answers questions, it does calculations, it can help you maintain a shopping list, it tells you the weather, it tells you the news, it tells you about the traffic on your commute, it controls your smart home gadgetry, and it can save you loads of money on Amazon purchases. Whether you're after an always-on digital assistant or just want something fun and futuristic, Amazon Echo is a great gift idea.
$140 Buy Now
Amazon Echo Dot
If you don't need the full-size built-in speakers of the full-grown Amazon Echo, the Echo Dot is a great choice. It does everything the full-size Amazon Echo can do, it just does it in a smaller package. It's still always-on and always-ready — it's meant to be connected to external speakers, so it's a good option for a home office or someone with a home stereo system.
$40 Buy Now
Amazon Prime Subscription
Not even gonna lie — I order a lot of stuff from Amazon. A LOT. Amazon's Prime service saves me loads of money and makes ordering online nearly the same as going to the store (thanks to free two-day delivery, you don't have to wait long). I make use of loads of other Prime benefits, too, like free photo storage, music streaming, and Prime Video (it's a little like Netflix). It might seem weird to give the gift of free fast shipping, but Amazon Prime has proven — to me at least — to be the gift that keeps on giving.
from $33 Buy Now
August Smart Lock
The August Smart Lock is a good choice for anyone interested in home automation. With the touch of a button or the breach of a geofence, you can access your home without ever fiddling with keys. The latest generation of the lock is compatible with Siri, Alexa (hello, Amazon Echo), Nest, and more. It's a fun, demonstration-friendly home automation accessory, too, so it's sure to wow your pals. The August Smart Lock is also a good choice for those who rent — you don't have to change the existing locks in order to add this lock to your door.
$230 Buy Now
August Doorbell Cam
This thing is just doggone awesome. It works like any ol' doorbell in that someone presses it and it rings, but that's where the similarities end. As soon as someone rings your doorbell, you get a notification on your phone letting you know someone's at your door. You can view a live video stream (thanks to the included camera), and have a conversation with the visitor (thanks to the microphone and speaker). My favorite thing about the August Doorbell Cam is motion detection. If someone approaches your door but doesn't ring the doorbell, it'll still alert you to their presence. No more snooping snoopers!
$185 Buy Now
The Nest Cam is an especially great buy for two groups of people: those serious about home security and those who have pets. The internet-connected camera installs in your home and alerts you to motion detected whilst you're away. It works in the dark as well as it works in the light and it features a microphone and speaker. I enjoy communicating with my pets even while I'm out of the home. I've not caught any burglars (thank God), but I'm ready for 'em if the day ever comes!
$175 Buy Now
First thing's first: The ecobee3 thermostat is better than the Nest Learning thermostat. Hands down. Not only does it feature HomeKit compatibility (a must for me), but it also includes up to three room sensors that detect motion and temperature in individual rooms. It's a clever way to make sure the entire house is kept at a temperature most comfortable for you — not just the hallway or living room where your thermostat is located.
$248 Buy Now
If you've got someone on your list who wants to try out home automation accessories for the first time, you can't go wrong with a smart plug. The iDevices Switch is one of my favorites, because it features a smart design and an LED strip that functions separately from the plug. You plug this thing into the wall; plug in a fan, or a light, or any number of things with cords and plugs; and you can control power to the device from your smartphone. The iDevices Switch is HomeKit-enabled, too, so you can use the brand new iOS 10 Home app to control it.
$41.50 Buy Now
Lutron Caseta Lighting Control Kit
This is the first thing on my list I don't already own. The Lutron Caseta lighting control kit is something I've been eyeballing for ages, but I've yet to hit the buy button. Until then, it sits on my Amazon wish list waiting for someone to get the hint. This fancy kit requires a little bit of DIY smarts, but it's a fun project for those who like to do a bit of home improvement. It replaces a couple wall switches with dimmable, HomeKit-controlled switches. It's easily one of the most interior-design-friendly home automation options, because you're not stuck with any weird switch boxes sticking out of your wall.
$160 Buy Now
LG UltraFine 5K Display
Talk about Ultra fiiiiine! I just stare at the LG UltraFine 5K display lovingly for hours, wishing it was sitting on my desk. When Apple announced it was working closely with LG to bring a beautiful 5K display to market, I knew I had to have it … one day. It's no small price, but it's also no small screen! This thing is big, beautiful, and high-resolution. It's got an integrated camera, speakers, a set of ports, ONE wire to connect to your computer … it's everything I could ever want in a display for my computer. If it's in your budget, your friend or family member will be non-stop thanking you if this makes it under the tree (or in the respective holiday location) this season.
$974 Buy Now
Chamberlain myQ Garage Door Opener
I've only just recently moved into a home with a garage, so up to this point I've had no reason for a smart garage door opener. But now my dumb garage door opener is just begging for an upgrade. The Wirecutter says this bad boy is the best smart garage door opener for most people, and I believe it. I haven't purchased it yet, because I'm waiting to see if Chamberlain will release a HomeKit-enabled version. But if they don't announce anything soon, I'm probably just going to have to shrug and make the purchase. I can't go on living in a home with a non-automated garage door, right? It's just not acceptable!
$130 Buy Now
Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus
I recently decided to add a lighstrip to my Hue setup, and I couldn't be more pleased with the purchase if I tried. The Philips Hue Lighstrip Plus is a high-quality, durable, beautiful, bright-as-hell LED light strip and it puts all other LED light strips to shame. When I first saw the price, I thought it was a little expensive, but it's clear Philips is making good use of that extra money — there are a lot of electronics (and LEDs) packed into this thing. Whether you stick 'em behind your entertainment center setup or run them under your kitchen cabinetry, you will definitely be glad you picked this up.
$90 Buy Now
Blue Bottle At Home Coffee Subscription
Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee! I love coffee and I really love Blue Bottle. About a year ago I decided to subscribe to Blue Bottle. They send me a fresh-roasted bag of beans every other week and my-oh-my am I ever glad I chose to spoil myself! For the coffee-loving perfectionist in your life, you seriously can't go wrong with a Blue Bottle gift subscription … the only downside is ruining all other coffee for them. Seriously — you won't be drinking can coffee after you've had the fresh-roasted delight that as Blue Bottle.
from $24 Buy Now
Kalita Wave Dripper
Rene says he can't wait for the pour-over method to complete before he gets his coffee fix, but I'm telling you it's worth it! Give it the few extra minutes it takes to complete the pour-over coffee brewing method and savor the delicious cuppa you can get with the Kalita Wave dripper. If there's someone on your list who's just getting started with the whole fancy, fussy coffee thing, consider gifting the Kalita. The AeroPress is the go-to for fussy coffee drinkers everywhere, but there's a little bit of a learning curve. With the Kalita it's super simple, 'cause it's a lot like an automatic coffee maker — you just do the water dispensing instead of the machine.
$22 Buy Now
Baratza Virtuoso Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
You've not had truly good coffee until you've ground your beans with a conical burr grinder. I know, I know, that sounds incredibly bourgeois, but it's true. Blade grinders chop the coffee bean into tiny pieces — a burr grinder crushes the bean into fine coffee grounds. Burr grinders are way more expensive than their blade-grinding cousins, but it's worth the extra price for a fine cup of coffee. Plus, they're built to last, so it's likely you won't be gifting your uncle Ben a replacement next year.
$230 Buy Now