These are a few of my favorite things. Things I've used and loved over the course of the year, and now I get to experience the joy of gifting them to family and friends. That's right, these are the actual gifts I'm gifting this year and have gifted over the last few years, and I can't think of any higher recommendation than that.
If you're looking for more, especially higher ticket items, you can check out our main iMore gift guide.
Apple Watch Nike+ LTE
Apple Watch Nike+ is now Series 3, and that means you can take it out hiking, running, and even swimming with LTE cellular networking — and without your iPhone. (Don't want or need LTE? Save $70 and go without.) And, of course, all the Nike+ integration and awesomely cool bands you've come to expect. That makes it a great gift for the athletes in your life.
from $399 Buy Now
AirPods are the ultimate stocking stuffer and, after a year of shortages, they're finally in stock to stuff! Thanks to Apple's W1 chips, they let you effortlessly connect to your iPhone which then relays the connection to your Apple Watch and, with iCloud, syncs it to your iPad, Mac, and Apple TV as well. You can control them with Siri and easily switch between devices. I love them. I ordered a few. You're welcome, fam.
$159 Buy Now
Apple Watch bands
Some people think I have an Apple Watch band problem. I'd argue I have an Apple Watch band solution. A solution for more stocking stuffers! This year, Apple's made it especially easy with the introduction of the Sport Loop. It's incredibly comfortable, incredibly versatile, and it looks terrific.
$49 Buy Now
First I gave some family and friends the Hue Light starter kit. Then I gave them the updated bridge with HomeKit support. Now that things have settled down, I can start giving them more lights. Because that's all they really want. Like for every damn room. It's one of the easiest ways to get into connected home tech, and make all your accessorries answer to Siri... or Alexa.
$159.96 Buy Now
iHome Smart Plug
Relatively inexpensive, smart plugs let you turn any on/off device into a HomeKit device. I've used them for fans and LED panels. A friend of mine asked for two of them so she can use them with her HTC Vive lighthouses. That way Siri can help turn her system on and off. Brilliant.
$24.99 Buy Now
August Smart Lock
Once you go smart you can't go back. It's trite but true. The minute you can open locks with your voice, you never want to do it any other way. Especially when a family member or friend shows up and you're not home yet. If you're the one waiting usually stuck waiting, give them this — as a gift to yourself.
$179.95 Buy Now
I don't have the patience for pour-over — when I want coffee now, I want coffee now — but I don't like the grit in French Press. That's why I switched to AeroPress and why, since I switched, more than a few friends have asked how I was making such good coffee. This year, Santa will be sharing the answer. (Also ludicrously inexpensive for the quality it produces!)
$25.49 Buy Now
Whenever I'm in San Francisco's South Bay I always head straight for Philz Coffee. It's a unique experience but it's also an incredibly tasty cup of coffee. Last year a friend from the area sent me several bags of Philz as a Christmas gift. This year, I'm giving a few bags to my mom. (Don't read that, mom!). It's deep, rich, and delicious — and you can even order it online!
from $12 Buy Now
If you have beans, you have to grind them and, if you have to grind them, you want to grind them with a burr grinder. The Baratza Virtuoso is what I use and, after seeing me use it, what I've since "given" to a couple of family members. I text-quote that because it's really a gift to myself — a way to get really good coffee when I visit them!
$229 Buy Now
Some prefer tea to coffee. I prefer both. I stumbled on this next-gen steeper in Winnipeg of all places, bought one, and now I've ordered them for a couple of friends and family members. I have two myself — a one-cupper and a many-cupper for when I have guests. I have the David's Tea models, but this is the one I'm gifting.
$19.95 Buy Now
The best thing about a Tea Steeper is that it lets you use loose tea, which tastes so much better than tea bags. David's Tea takes that to another level with a plethora of blends, both classic and outlandish. I got their advent calendars — a new tea every day — for several friends and family members this year, but any of their holiday packs make for amazing gifts.
from $8.98 Buy Now
La Creuset Mugs
What good are coffee and tea if you don't have anything decent to drink it out of? If I could, I'd get everyone I know Apple Store mugs from Infinite Loop or Apple Park. But I can't, so they're getting La Creuset instead, and in a rainbow of colors. They look great, they feel great, and they drink great. Enjoy, friends!
$27.95 Buy Now
Because Sphero R2-D2. I had a hard time not buying this feisty little astromech the minute it was announced. My friend as well. So, instead, she demanded it as a gift. Fair enough. The mechanics might not be as impressive as last year's Spehro BB-8, but the nostalgia makes it so much more. And wow did they nail the character.
$129.00 Buy Now
Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar
Every year I get these for my god kids. And every year I get to enjoy them enjoying them. Better for their health and teeth, and more fun in the long run, than traditional advent calendars, every day they get a new piece — a minfig, a mini vehicule. And because they're all Lego, they all go together and with all the other lego they have. Love these. And if Star Wars isn't your theme, there's Lego City and Lego Friends versions as well.
from $49.99 Buy Now
I haven't gotten a Nintendo Switch yet because I know, the moment I do, no one will see me for weeks. Plenty of my friends have them, though, and from Zelda to Mario, they all say it's one of the best gaming experiences they've ever had. So... this might be the gift I give myself this year. Heaven help me.
$651.39 Buy Now
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.