Rene's 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

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 personally gifting this year, 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 holiday gift guide or my page and, if you're looking for variety, don't miss Serenity's gift guide.)

Apple Watch Nike+

For the athlete in your life, Apple Watch Nike+ brings together all the GPS, swim-proofing, battery life, and double brightness of Apple Watch Series 2, and adds Nike+ integration and awesomely cool bands. I'm getting the 42mm Volt model for a friend.

from $369 Buy Now

Apple Watch Series 1

If you don't think they'll need the GPS and be fine with regular water-resistance, battery, and brightness, you pick them up an Apple Watch Series 1 and save enough for a few stocking stuffers. I picked up a 38mm rose gold for a friend and she's already counting the days until Christmas.

from $269 Buy Now

Apple Watch Bands

Shopping for someone who already has an Apple Watch? Then Apple Watch bands are the ultimate gift. Depending on your relationship — and budget! — you can spend a tidy sum on Hermès leather or Apple steel link, or a very reasonable amount on a Woven Nylon. One of my family members is getting the new Toasted Coffee color. (Hopefully they're not reading this!)

from $49 Buy Now


Apple's new AirPods are the ultimate stocking stuffer — AND THEY'RE FINALLY HERE. 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 and Mac as well. You can control them with Siri and switch between devices. I love them. I ordered two. You're welcome, impending recipients!

$159 Buy Now

Smart Battery Case

Know someone with an iPhone 7, iPhone 6s, or iPhone 6 who loves the size but wishes they had the Plus sized battery life? If so, the Smart Battery Case is the perfect gift. If and when they need it, they can slap it on and get twice the battery life in a super-svelte, super smart package. Yup, it's all about efficiency. I'm giving the hot new Product (RED) version to a friend with a black iPhone 7.

$99 Buy Now

iPhone Dock

Speaking of stocking stuffers, I have a couple friends who haven't gotten the memo about 3.5mm headphone jacks being over. So, I'm getting them Apple's iPhone Dock — one black, one rose gold. It has a Lightning Charger but also a 3.5mm jack. So, they can keep it beside their bed or at their desk and listen and charge to their hearts' content.

$39 Buy Now

Hue Lights

A couple of years ago I gave my father the Hue Light starter kit. This year I'm getting him the updated HomeKit bridge, because security. It lets you control the color, intensity, and automation of all the connected lights in your house, with the Home app or Siri. I'm probably also going to give a few friends some extra bulbs, because there are never enough. Not ever.

$200 Buy Now

iHome Smart Plug

Relatively inexpensive, they let you turn any on/off device into a HomeKit device. I've used them for fans and LED panels. Georgia 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.

$42 Buy Now

August Smart Lock

Confession: When a family member was looking for a gift for me, I ordered this on their behalf. Then, they found me something else. Instead of canceling the order, though, I decided to keep it and give it to myself. Nothing at all to do with losing my keys or locking myself out. I swear. It's just the cool iPhone and Apple Watch door lock and unlock that I'm buying it for. Pinky swear.

$217.95 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!)

$29.95 Buy Now

Philz Coffee

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

Baratza Virtuoso

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

Tea Steeper

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 one 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

David's Tea

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. 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