I know a lot of people do gift guides for women or men separately but this just doesn’t fit into my lifestyle, honestly. The biggest problem with associating gender with items is that it leaves a ton of space for those of us who don’t fit into gender norms. For instance, I asked for a tool belt for Christmas this year. I’m a woman and, unless it has sequins or comes in pink (in which case: HARD PASS), that’s probably not showing up on any gift lists for women.
So I’m breaking my Gift Guides down into interests. Today, I’m exploring some great gifts for the technically-inclined loved one in your life. These are all items I’ve either purchased or own and I highly recommend them!
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I bought this portable record player for Christine a couple years ago as a birthday gift and she LOVES it. She still has a ton of her old vinyls from her teenage years (original Michael Jackson Thriller album? Yep. Madonna? Check.) and a ton of these are from artists who no longer produce music, so she couldn’t get them on CDs or digitally. So this was the perfect solution until we have more space for a dedicated music room. That’s right. Give the mouse a cracker, and she’ll ask for a whole room dedicated to 1980s goth and industrial music.
The portability is what I love most about this record player. When not in use, it closes and stores away, looking like an old brief case. It’s pretty chic and fits right into our decor. But then she can take it anywhere in the house and play her music. The speakers are surprisingly good. They even make her industrial punk bands sound less.. what’s the word? … terrifying??? She can play both 45s and LPs on this machine.
If you’re married to an old with a fetish for those giant black discs with teeny groves, this is a definite must-have. It comes in 3 color options and each is uniquely adorable and chic.
On the subject of music, here’s something I own and love! I actually bought one of these for a friend’s birthday a few years ago. It happened to be that we were staying at his house the night we gave it to him. That next morning, he came out of his bedroom and exclaimed, That’s the best shower I’ve ever had! He loved this speaker so much that I gained a case of FOMO and bought one for myself. I’m so glad I did.
Before that, I’d been considering a whole home built-in speaker system. But after purchasing this, I realized I didn’t need one. I just move it around the house with me. It’s got great sound (Hello, BOSE), is WATERPROOF (so I can literally put it on the shelf inside the shower and listen to podcasts), and connects wirelessly to my phone. I even take it outside with me while I’m gardening and have no concern about it getting dirty because I can wipe it down so easily. As long as my phone is within range (I’ve discovered it needs to be on the same floor but not necessarily in the same room), it connects beautifully. FIVE STARS!
Oh! And I’m just going to mention this briefly because I was actually surprised by it – the price is really good. I thought a BOSE speaker would set me back hundreds of dollars but this one comes in under $150!
These are fancy. I received them as a gift for Christmas last year from Christine’s best friend and I was astonished by the call clarity and noise reduction. I like to run, mow the lawn, work around the house, etc while listening to music and these make those tasks so much easier. I used to wear my wired headphones and get literally stuck on every knob and corner in the house. And if you’re a runner, you’re likely familiar with the ridiculous tangle of wires dance you end up doing right as a school bus full of mean teenagers or that one hot dad in your neighborhood passes.
They’re pricier than I would’ve spent on headphones for myself, but because they’re now an older generation, you can get them for half the price of the newer generation (around $100 vs $200). They also come in some pretty cute colors. I have silver, (pictured), but Christine would probably prefer black and I kind of dig the rose gold.
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This is, hands down, my favorite purchase of all time. And, you guys, I had to buy stuff to create my offspring. So.. yeah. I use it every single day and I’ve literally NEVER WATCHED TV ON IT. Calling it Apple TV is such a misnomer because it truly does so much more than that.
Let’s get this out of the way upfront – it’s $149 and then you have to pay for TV shows you can watch on it. So if all you want is a TV streaming device, get yourself a $50 ROKU Stick (we have one of those too and love it) and save yourself the money. But if you listen to podcasts, audio books, and music, have an iPhone, and regularly browse the Zillow, Pinterest, or Instagram apps, or literally any website on your phone for fun, KEEP READING CUZ I’M BOUT TO BLOW YOUR MIND.
The Apple TV has a feature called “screen mirroring” which allows you to broadcast whatever is on your phone to your television. Think of everything you look at on that tiny screen. Now imagine it on your TV. You’re welcome.
Also, pair the Apple TV with Apple Music – we pay around $16 /month for a family plan which allows the two of us to have unlimited access – and your world just got instantly better.
If you ever watch my Wine Downs and hear me saying “Play Spa Radio” or whatever at the beginning, I’m talking to my Apple TV. Apple Music has free radio stations that are so good. Even for people like me, who haven’t listened to pop music since the 90s, they have music I love!
Here’s the best feature of Apple Music (and why I love the Apple TV so much) – you can listen to almost every single song ever recorded any time FOR FREE. If it’s in the Apple library, you get instant access and you can download it to your library and devices so that you have access to it even when there’s no wifi connection. Unlimited albums. Unlimited songs. Everything you want to hear. All for $16 a month.
Listen, if you have an Apple device (iPhone included), you want Apple Music. Even if you don’t buy the Apple TV just yet, at least spend $16 to try out Apple Music. Trust me.
I was a late adopter, am not even particularly technically inclined, and now I wish I’d known about it a decade ago. If you buy the $25 gift card (above) for a friend, you can get a free 3 month subscription to Apple Music. Don’t say I never gave you anything. This will change your life.
I feel so weird recommending expensive products to you guys because I am such a tightwad with my own money. So let’s throw in something super cheap that makes my technical life a bajillion times better.
I am a neurotic about my computer and phone screens. I’ve tried every product and tip and tutorial and this is the best on the market, I swear. Throw it in a stocking and watch as your loved one is slightly disappointed and then thanks you three weeks later.
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As I was finalizing my list, Christine said, You’re not including Sirius???, in shock. I actually wasn’t going to. Not because I don’t love it but because it’s almost like an arm by this point. I forget that it’s not something people don’t just inherently have.
So if you don’t, it’s time to get with the program. The old radio stations suck. I’m sorry. They do. Even my old favorite here in Nashville – Lightening 100, is a mess now. I’d been completely dedicated to that station since 14 years old and then one day the musical director died, (RIP David Hall), and the next week the shows were garbage and the same 8 songs played over and over again until my ears bled.
But who can sit in a car without music? Especially on road trips. Of course, we play Apple Music and our old standby radio stations but there’s something about the 80s / 90s stations’ random mixes that makes me happy. Plus, Channel 33 – First Wave on Sirius – plays Saturday Night Safety Dance on Saturday nights (shocked!), which is this fantastic mix of 80s electronic music that’s uplifting and nostalgic. On Sunday nights, the same station plays Dark Wave, which is a mix of 80s goth and industrial music and Christine’s been known to just go sit in the driveway for an hour, listening in.
The package we have is normally $16/month but is currently on sale for $5 a month, which is a HECK OF A DEAL, so jump on it.
How much do you love this techie? Is it love or is it LOVE? Because this one is pricey.
But hear me out – this is the best purchase I made this year and it has completely transformed my life and everything about how I do business and literally my entire future and career.
I’m prone to buying the bargain items. I don’t buy the cheapest but I’ll buy the second cheapest. The refurbs. The slightly off-brand. The “has almost all the features I wanted and who needed a non-cracked screen anyway?” computers. This is the very first brand new computer I’ve ever owned. No joke. Every computer I’ve ever had has either been a refurbished model or was a hand-me-down. That’s how little I care about computers.
But when my refurb Dell went belly-up, just before I was slated to start taking a course I really needed for my business, I knew what I had to do. So I got out a credit card and I cringed so hard when I signed the receipt but I sucked it up and I bought it and the rest is history. Three months later, I launched a design service that turned my business from sinking ship to suddenly moderately profitable and this past Fall, I paid off the laptop.
The designs I create, and the ease with which I am able to create them, would not be possible without this machine. It’s a beast. I’m on my laptop at least 11 hours every single day and almost never have a slow down or freeze. I have 5,000+ high resolution photos on this machine and not an issue with storage. I take at least 50 screenshots a day, on average. Write 1200 word posts. Ask Siri to do math like 500 times. This baby gets it all done.
Looking for a gift under $20? This phone case is brilliant! Every single time I’m out in public, I get comments about how amazing it is. I agree. I can’t believe I’ve only had it for 3 months. It feels like I should’ve known this existed a long time ago.
I’m not prone to carrying giant purses or pocketbooks full of change. I like to have my debit card and my ID on me. That’s it. With this case, both tuck right into the back of my phone and I’m never without all three. I have the rose gold one because, I have a rose gold phone and I really wish I could just use it without a case, but alas.. whatever. Also, I drop this all the time and she’s fine. No breaks. The phone is fine. The case is fine. We’re all good.
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Portable DVD players still exist. My kid has this one. It stays in the car, strapped to the back of the passenger headrest. Daniel Tiger is raising her and now road trips are 90% more enjoyable and unless you’re a parent of a three-year-old, you’re not allowed to comment nor pass judgment.
Why not an iPad or a streaming device? you ask. Two simple words: Red Box. There are a million in every city and your kids never run out of movie options. When she’s losing her mind because she wants to watch something else and you’re still six hours from the beach, RED BOX, homies.
I’ve told you that Christine works in television. She actually works on televisions. It’s kind of a long story and I don’t really think I’m supposed to get into it, but let’s just leave it at she has an Electronics Engineering degree and she knows a lot about TVs.
She will not buy a TV that isn’t Samsung. We have five TVs and they’re all Samsung. This is her favorite. We paid $1,000 more than its current sale price for it last year and I’m not even mad about it because I really do love this TV. The picture is beyond gorgeous. Hook your Apple TV to it and get lost in those aerial screensavers for hours. We do.
I want a Frame TV like, super bad. But I can’t justify the price. So I’ll just stick to my regular old TV that looks like a TV and deal with it.
For under $100, this Blu Ray player is solid and helpful. She’s our old standby, connecting us to apps like Netflix and Hulu and allowing us to play our daughter’s Blu Rays and DVDs on repeat.
Can’t go wrong with a basic and well-made machine!
I almost didn’t include these two in our list because they seem so uncool. But if you’ve got a person on your list who likes to automate your home, this is a good gift!
The first is a programmable light switch. It installs in the place of your regular light switch, requires no wifi or bluetooth connection (no additional apps on your phone hooray!), and can be programmed to turn the light on and off automatically every day. We have this installed on our front porch (exterior) lights and it’s so helpful! I love that it keeps our lights coming on even when we’re away, so the front of our home is never dark at night.
The second is my favorite. It’s a motion sensing light switch. You’ve probably seen these in public bathrooms. When you enter the room, the light comes on and it stays on for a set number of seconds after you leave. We have two of these installed in our home; one in the garage and one in the laundry/mudroom. Both of these rooms are most likely to be entered when our hands are full (groceries, laundry baskets, etc). So these switched automatically light our paths and then shut off to save electricity automatically. Brilliant! It’s the original Smart Home device!
The best part? Both of these genius products are under $35!
This is, hands down, the fastest printer I’ve ever owned. It’s fully wireless, so I can print from my laptop in the garage while it sits in my office. I can print from my phone, my iPad, Christine’s laptop – anything connected to our wifi. And the quality is amazing.
Plus, here’s my favorite part, it prints up to 13×19”! I’ve sold my own prints that were printed off this machine and received amazing compliments. Looking to make your own artwork for your home? This is your machine. Want to sell your prints? This is your machine. You can even print full calendars from this baby because she’s the freakin bomb.
The quality of the photos printed from this machine is unparalleled. Trust the reviews. It’s that good.
YOU’VE GOT QUESTIONS + I’VE GOT ANSWERS
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