After testing over a thousand products this year, you’d think that picking out the perfect holiday gift would be an easy thing for me. Quite the contrary. Being editor of a product review site makes you insanely nit-picky about even the most minor shortcomings.
When it comes to shopping, my personal credo is that if you invest in good stuff and treat it well, it will treat you well in return. So it’s with great care that I present this list of nine gifts that I absolutely love.
1. Technivorm Moccamaster coffee maker
A good cup of coffee isn’t just the best way to start the day. As far as I’m aware it’s the only way. The Moccamaster is our top-rated coffee maker. Hand-made in the Netherlands, it produces a perfect cup every time thanks to a copper heating element. I’ve owned mine for years without a single complaint.
Get it on Amazon for $269
2. Davek Solo Umbrella
There are umbrellas, and then there are compact, wind-resistant, durable as hell umbrellas with lifetime guarantees. I choose the latter. Davek umbrellas won’t necessarily last forever, but if they do break the company will replace them (so long as you've held onto your receipt). They even make losing an umbrella less painful by offering a 50% replacement discount.
Get it from Amazon for $109
3. Sonos Playbar TV Soundbar
No matter how good your TV is, the built-in speakers are pretty lousy. A decent soundbar is an improvement, but a great soundbar turns your home into a theater. Sonos basically invented the easy-to-use connected speaker. The Sonos Beam is a newer, less expensive alternative, but I prefer the richer sounds and deeper bass of the Playbar (plus I already owned it!)
Get it on Amazon for $699
4. Diptyque Feu de Bois candle
Feu de Bois means “wood fire” in French, and damned if this isn’t the best smelling candle I’ve ever smelled in my life. One good Diptyque candle can get you through a whole winter. If you don’t get one for yourself, they make a great gift.
Get it from Nordstrom for $65.00
4. Kindle Paperwhite
As a writer and a lifelong reader, I used to hold with all the old arguments about never abandoning paper books. But two days after I received my first Kindle as Christmas gift, I was hooked. All those books I’d wanted to read but dreaded lugging around for months (looking at you, Tolstoy) suddenly fit in my pocket. The newest Kindle has all the features I love on my circa-2015 edition, plus now it’s waterproof.
Get it on Amazon for $129
5. Nintendo Switch
Nintendo isn’t about specs or processors or bleeding-edge tech. It’s about fun. And the Switch is fuuun! There’s a library of great games for every age, which my son and I have been taking full advantage of. If you’d ever seen a four-year-old’s eyes light up as he solves one on of the temple puzzles in Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you’d buy one too.
Get it on Amazon for $200
6. 8-Piece Tegu Pocket Pouch Magnetic Wooden Block Set
Another one for the kids, or for fidgety adults. These aesthetically pleasing wooden blocks have magnets inside that allow them to be assembled in a variety of patterns. Tegu sells a variety of colors and configurations, but I like the 8-piece set because the pieces are large enough, and few enough in number, that they make the perfect travel toy for kids. When he's finally asleep, I can play with them too.
Get it Amazon $30.50
7. The Bean Boot by L.L.Bean
You can’t beat a classic. With a design that’s endured for over a century, these boots will see you through the wet and muck of the harshest weather. I like the 8” height because it keeps the snow at bay, but they come in a variety of heights, colors, and materials.
Get them from L.L. Bean for $135
8. Harry & David pears
If you’ve eaten one, you know. There is no fruit on earth that tastes as good as a Harry & David pear. When I was a kid I was allowed to have maybe half a pear from my grandparents’ gift basket. Now I’m an adult and I can buy them myself. But it’s still more fun when someone gifts them to me, or when I give them to a newbie and watch their reaction as they dig in.
Get 9 Royal Riviera pears from Harry & David for $29.99
9. Doctors Without Borders
No matter how good the stuff on this list is, or any other gift list, remember that there are always better places to put some of those dollars. Doctors Without Borders (or Médecins Sans Frontières as it's known in much of the world) provides medical humanitarian care in some of the most desperate places on Earth. No politics. Just help. Give a donation in the name of someone you love. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it.
Donate at Doctors Without Borders