Not everyone loves a big, splurgey, outrageous tech gift — some of us are happy with practical tech gifts. Especially these days, when those gifts just may help us get through another (deep sigh) long winter.
Colder weather has officially settled in for many of us, and I’m hoping we don’t go back to a winter of quarantining. But say we end up hibernating (i.e. distancing) just a bit more than normal again this winter, I’m sharing some of the gadgets that helped get us through last winter, healthily and happily, and a few more to round out the list.
While we won’t quite need everything from Caroline’s 2020 post on what we need to stock up on this winter, it’s still nice to consider what kinds of practical tech gifts may keep us safe, happy, and cozy at home if we need it.
– Kate, with Liz
– Updated for 2021 –
This post contains affiliate links and some purchases may generate a small commission that helps support our team at no additional cost to you. So, thank you!
A mini space heater that packs a punch
If you’ve got an always-cold relative on your gift list — you know just who I’m talking about — this is the most wonderful, if practical tech gift. The tiny (just 6″ tall) Lasko ceramic mini space heater delivers real warmth in a small space. Liz keeps one on her nightstand in the winter and swears by it. For just $25 it’s a terrific gift — and more affordable than a cashmere sweater.
Though feel free to buy one of those too.
A celebrity personal trainer right on your wrist
Not everyone is going to be up for indoor workout time in a public gym or yoga studio. But that’s okay, you’ve still got the great outdoors for your fitness goals. Or…your own home. The new Apple Watch Series 7 is a good accountability partner, with its gentle reminders to stand up, move around, and fill in those circles. And of course, it’s one incredibly generous tech gift this year.
To sweeten the deal wright now, it comes with 3 free months of Apple Fitness +. Wait until you see who’s leading some of the workouts and guided meditations! ($479.99 for GPS + cellular, with other configurations avail)
An entire year of better days — and more restful nights
Speaking of self-care gifts that do more for you than a manicure, we cannot sing the praises of the Calm app enough — as our readers may well know. Now, they’ve made it easy to gift an annual Calm subscription, or even a whole liftetime subscription. The gift of better sleep and calmer nerves this winter? Now that’s wonderful.
If you’re feeling extra generous, add in a pair of our favorite noise-cancelling headphones. Noise cancellation can be its own self-care when the days feel endless. Take it from parents.
Related: Our favorite self-care apps to help you develop a self-care routine. Because winter is coming.
A portable movie projector, popcorn optional
With so much awesome entertainment on AppleTV, Disney + and Netflix these days, let alone Succession on HBO — there’s surely someone on your list who would be thrilled to upgrade their home entertainment options this winter. One amazing gift: The brand new Anker Nebula Mars II Pro Projector.
It gets phenomenal ratings, and it’s perfect if you want to move movie night from the living room to the basement to a playroom to an outdoor garage wall with the neighbors. I also love the idea of getting the whole family together to play video games together with it.
Tip: If you want to save a bit, opt for a slightly older model — the Anker Nebula Capsule II Smart Mini Projector is still terrific, and now that the Mars II has come out it’s a decent bargain.
A Happy Light because yes, it makes you happy
We all know that the end of Daylight Savings is legit problematic for a lot of us. I need more daylight! An incredibly thoughtful, practical tech gift to make the winter a little easier on anyone is the brand new Verilux Happy Light Lumi Plus therapy lamp. Everyone here loooooves our Happy Lights, and whichever model you have is just fine.
Check Amazon or your favorite tech shop for decent discounts on older models too, but even the new one linked here is affordable at under $40.
A temperature-controlled mug to keep you toasty
This may be a small thing, but I cannot get through this winter with cold coffee. It just isn’t happening. While thermal travel mugs may work, they’re not quite as cozy as this beautiful Ember2 Temperature-Control smart coffee mug. in white or black. I love it! First it keeps your coffee or tea warm. Second, it also works to keep your heirloom family wassail recipe warm. Or a hot toddy. Or a spiked hot chocolate.
Just don’t tell the kids.
A therapy massager because, come on!
Our entire team has been eyeing the Elite Percussive Therapy Massager because…ooh. If you tend to get a little stiff in the winter, or achey from lying on the couch without moving for an entire Saturday (ha, I wish) — or just wish you had a personal masseuse to get you through the winter — then you understand how wonderful a tech gift this could be.
It’s described as a smart, ultra-quiet percussive therapy device that works deep to relieve muscle tension, soreness and pain and speed recovery. Sold.
A light light, a little warmth
If you caught Liz’s recent list of her 10 favorite gifts from Oprah’s favorite things, you may have noticed the fascinating Head Lightz Head Lights Hat. It’s a practical tech gift to get anyone through winter if they hike, bike, camp, rummage around the garage, or just need to walk the dog outside after dark — which is what, 4PM these days? It’s rechargeable, machine-washable, fits men, women, and kids — and comes in tons of colors and styles. All under 25 bucks. Also nice is that it’s made by a small, Black woman-run company.
An e-reader upgrade
It looks like a Happy Light…but it’s the new Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition with wireless charging. Always a thoughtful gift for e-book readers who would prefer a little improvement over the Kindle app on their phone.They can instantly download books from the library with Overdrive or just cash in some Kindle gift cards, which also make nice gifts. And they’ll get a lot of reading in, considering a single charge now lasts up to 10 weeks!
Bonus: Buy the new Paperwhite Signature now and it comes with 4 free months of Kindle unlimited. ($189)
Shiny new kitchen tech for all the comfort food you can handle
Gadgets for the home cook are always a practical gift that’s kind of fun too. We love our Instant Pots around here — can you tell? Seriously, if you are shopping for someone who hasn’t yet invested in an Instant Pot it’s the perfect gift before the dregs of January and February hit. If they already have one, upgrade with a gift of an air fryer lid (show above) or some accessories to up your comfort food game this winter.
A reminder that spring will be here before we know it
If you’re shopping for someone who lives in a colder climate, there’s something indulgent, wonderful, and yet entirely practical about a self-watering indoor garden like the one from Click & Grow. The LED lamp helps grow fresh herbs and veggies right indoors — no trips to the store for overpriced, witty cilantro. The starter pods include basil, mini tomatoes, and green lettuce but have fun with the replacements.