By Antonio G. Di Benedetto / @SuperAntonio64
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Whether someone you know lives in a small apartment, an average size condo, or a spacious house, a gift for the home can be a very endearing one — especially when it matches their personal style and needs. That said, we’re not talking campy “live, laugh, love” decorations but, rather, a range of useful tech, gadgets, and other items that go beyond mere wall decor.
The items we choose to live alongside us should be worthwhile or they risk becoming clutter. So we’ve come up with an extensive list to help inspire you this holiday season, even if you’re shopping for yourself. Gifts like the Click and Grow Smart Garden 3 ($79) can help you grow herbs indoors where there isn’t even sunlight, while items like the iRobot Roomba i3 Evo robot vacuum ($299) can provide hassle-free cleaning on your schedule. Other presents, specifically the Philips Hue Smart Bulb Starter Kit ($199.99), are great for getting into smart home tech and can help you illuminate your space when the gray days of winter try to bring you down.
We’ve gathered all sorts of great gifts for the home, so let us help you find something that’s better than a lavish punch bowl that — sooner or later — is destined for the back of the cupboard.
There are plenty of smart alarm clocks out there, but sometimes it’s preferable to go with something simple. The Jall Digital Alarm Clock has a sleek wooden look and lights up to display the temperature and humidity in addition to the time. It’s “simple,” but its minimalist aesthetic is nothing to scoff at.
If you want your floor lamp to operate on a timer or your aging coffee maker to automatically brew a cup of joe as soon as you wake up, the right smart plug can do the trick. Thankfully, Kasa’s four-pack of smart plugs has you covered even if you don’t own a hub and works with Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant.
Help the obsessed Star Wars fan in your life level up to adulthood with something that still excites them. These machine-washable Star Wars rugs feature subtle enough designs that many people might not even notice they’re adorned with X-wings, beskar helmets, and all sorts of geekiness. That’s because each rug looks sleek and tasteful, regardless of the pattern.
Nothing helps set the mood or get you into the holiday spirit quite like a set of color-changing light bulbs. For those unfamiliar, the Philips Hue Smart Bulb Starter Kit remains one of the easiest ways to outfit your home with smart lighting, especially since the included A19 bulbs offer helpful timers and automation options on tap. It even comes with a Hue Bridge, giving you access to a range of additional features.
Price: $162 to $199.99
The ultimate whole home cleaning machine combines the trusted powerful cleaning performance and exclusive Matrix Clean Navigation which enables the robot to clean in multiple passes, leaving no spots missed. Innovative cleaning technologies like CleanEdge technology, removes debris out of corners and edges, and Sonic Mopping, scrubs 100x per minute, ensure confidence and convenience in a deeper, smarter clean every time.
“Have you tried turning it off and turning it on again?” No matter how advanced your home network is, it’s bound to unexpectedly drop from time to time. The Rebooter does it for you automatically, though, making it an especially helpful gift for family members who usually just call on you for free tech support.
Price: $49.95 to $54.95
Apple’s base iPad from 2021 remains a multifaceted tool that’s worth having in the household, even if there is a newer model available. The affordable last-gen slate is great for streaming content and sharing control of various smart home tech as well as entertaining kids and taking notes with optional accessories like the first-gen Apple Pencil.
A backup battery with surge protection may not be a particularly exciting gift, but your giftee will thank you for it when their power goes out and their router and desktop keep humming. APC’s chonky 450W offering features nine outlets in total as well as two USB ports for charging various electronics.
With Furbo’s latest interactive pet camera, you can keep an eye on the dog when you’re not at home (and play with him, too). The little device can fully rotate, packs night vision and a wide-angle lens, and can toss your pup a treat to keep them entertained when nobody’s home. The best part is that you don’t even need to own a dog — it works for cats, too.
The latest Ikea Symfonisk is as cheap as connected Sonos speakers come. Yet, despite its affordable price tag, it still sounds quite good for the money. The clever bookshelf speaker also comes in both a white and black finish, allowing it to match most home decor, and can be positioned either horizontally or vertically (no assembly required).
Reliable Wi-Fi is a must-have these days, whether for work or pleasure, and a mesh router setup makes it easy to blanket your home with a speedy internet connection. The Eero 6 Plus allows you to cover a 3,000-square-foot home and achieve gigabit speeds without spending big money for Wi-Fi 6E support and cutting-edge features that may go unused by most.
Amazon and Google are always slugging it out for smart thermostat supremacy, but Ecobee is a great choice if you’re looking to monitor the temperature in rooms with problematic insulation and keep things comfy. The premium version comes with a remote temperature sensor and a sleeker design than previous models, not to mention an easy-to-use interface.
It’s 2022, meaning you no longer have to leave the comfort of your windowless apartment just to touch grass. The Grow Smart Garden 3 has everything you need to get started growing your own veggies and herbs indoors, including a handy LED light, a self-watering tank, and an expansive selection of pre-seeded pods that let you skip the nursery.
Google’s Nest Hub Max is a terrific smart display for taking video calls, filling a room with music, and displaying shared photos in a never-ending slideshow. The 10-inch display also features a wealth of smart home controls and, thanks to a recent software update, allows you to call up Google Assistant just by looking at it. So much for the whole “Hey Google” thing, huh?
The Ninja Fit is perfect for blending up some healthy, protein-rich shakes for pre- or post-workout nutrition — or you can use it to make your own version of a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. No judgments here, especially since the 16-ounce blender is the perfect size for just one person and can take on frozen fruit, ice, nuts, and pretty much anything you want to throw at the 700-watt motor.
Good coffee shouldn’t require you to spend a fortune on some advanced contraption, but there’s something to be said about ponying up a little cash for a brewing method that looks attractive on your kitchen counter. Thankfully, Bodum’s minimalist French press is simple to use, relatively affordable, and looks stylish as hell in its all-black finish.
An instant-read thermometer is a handy tool to have in the kitchen, one that’s as helpful for grilling burgers in the summer as it is for baking a holiday ham in the winter. This simple one from Marsno lists a range of target temps alongside the current one, lest you forget, and it has a bottle opener, so whoever is tasked with cooking this year can keep bright and cheery.
Stepping up your coffee game starts with a good grinder. The Baratza Virtuoso Plus might be pricey, but it can perfectly grind beans for a slow drip, cold brew, or even an espresso. The luxe workhouse also features a straightforward digital timer and, best of all, is built using sturdy, commercial-grade components, rendering it as apt for a small office as a household of coffee fiends.
The dry months can be murder on your nasal passages, skin, and overall quality of life. This adorable USB-C humidifier features the adventurous Dutch cartoon rabbit Miffy and a built-in night light — a handy feature given the ungodly hour at which the sun now sets. And you’d be wrong if you think it’s just for kids. I mean… it’s also for, like, kids at heart.
The Roomba i3 Evo — or i3 Evo Plus, if you can afford the robovac’s auto-emptying station — is our favorite robot vacuum that doesn’t break the bank. It does a great job of cleaning and receives frequent software updates, which allow for new features like auto-mapping. The robot vacuum can map out your floors as well, so you can send it to specific rooms in your home using either the app or a voice assistant like Alexa.
Apple’s latest 4K streaming box is its best yet, with a much-improved remote, more base storage, and support for HDR10 Plus and Dolby Vision. The exceptional set-top box can also act as a hub for Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem and touts the same speedy processor that powers last year’s iPhone 13, ensuring it will work great for years to come.
A Nixplay frame is the ideal smart photo frame if you’re someone who prioritizes clean lines and subtlety over something more flexible, like an Amazon Echo Show or Google Nest display. They come in a variety of sizes and styles, helping them to blend in with any regular frames in your home, and they allow you to cycle through both personal and shared photo albums.
Meross’ garage door remote is easy to set up and allows you to control an existing garage door opener from wherever you may be using either your voice or the Meross app. The basic device is compatible with more than 1,600 different models, too, and this premium HomeKit-compatible version integrates nicely with iPhones for speedier operation.
Of all the models in Amazon’s current smart display lineup, the Echo Show 8 is the one that’s “just right” in terms of sizing. It’s big enough for comfortable viewing during video calls yet small enough that it should still fit most places in your home. It delivers robust sound, too, and features a built-in privacy shutter if you ever want to block the 13MP camera.
DrinkMate’s no-fuss OmniFizz is a great alternative to a SodaStream, as it allows you to use more options for CO2 and fizz up water, iced tea, juice, and just about any drink you might want to consume with a hint of bubbles. Just don’t do milk. Don’t ever do milk.
If you enjoy seeing exploded views of tech and classic gadgets, then you may love having your walls decorated with some elevated artwork made from the real thing. Grid Studio deconstructs and frames all kinds of cool devices, from the original iPhone and Nokia 3310 to the classic Game Boy Color of the late 1990s.
Look, we know an air fryer is just a small convection oven on your counter, but they’re still super handy for cooking small meals in little time. Cosori’s jet-black Pro model features a wide, shallow basket and easy presets for all kinds of foods, not to mention a more compact footprint than similar models from other brands.
Nobody likes peeling vegetables, but everyone can appreciate making the process faster and easier, especially around the holidays. Like most OXO stuff, the company’s twin-bladed Swivel Peeler represents a quality kitchen upgrade — even if for very specific, limited tasks.
Sometimes form over function is totally okay. The Tidbyt smart light board is part weather updates, part stock ticker, part clock, and all vibes. The attractive Kickstarter-fueled desk accessory doesn’t offer a ton of functionality, but if your giftee is prone to doomscrolling, perhaps the lack thereof could be just what they need.
Amazon-owned Blink makes one of the most affordable video doorbells you can buy. Its battery-powered doorbell packs all the basics — motion-activated alerts, night vision, two-way audio, etc. — which is perfect for anyone looking to be more cognizant of the goings-on in front of their door without spending a ton of money.
An Ikea speaker is nice and inexpensive, but the Sonos One is still the ideal starting point if you’re looking to build out a multiroom sound system. The terrific smart speaker features formidable sound and seamless integration with the rest of the Sonos lineup, along with Spotify support and great mics for interacting with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
Most of us at The Verge are hooked on coffee, and the winter months are a terrible time to be surprised by a cold cup of the black stuff. Thankfully, Ember’s ceramic Smart Mug keeps your beverage heated to your preferred temperature for up to 80 minutes (or indefinitely when it’s resting on the included charging coaster).
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By Antonio G. Di Benedetto / @SuperAntonio64