People are constantly asking me what they should buy (technology-wise) for their Mom/Dad/Kids/Brother/Sister/Friend… etc for Christmas. You should see the amount of Facebook messages I get in a day during the month of December! I usually do a holiday gift guide of the best tech gifts in November to give people ample time to get their shopping done, but this year has been an incredibly insane one in the Kimmel household. I’ve been a “retail widow” for the last 12 years as my husband has been working at Best Buy (the gift center for our purchasing needs) for exactly that long. Lucky for me I have always been able to just find what I want to purchase, or ask him about it, and tell him to pick it up while he’s working the next day. This doesn’t necessarily help when it’s HIM I need to shop for! So I went to Best Buy on my own during my trip to California to get my husband a little surprise for Christmas. The store in Orange is very close to my office building, so it was super easy to pop on over to the store right after work. Too many people know him at his store, and might tell him what I got! What could I possibly get the guy who WORKS at Best Buy though? So, it’s super late, but here’s your list for the cool gifts you want to get your family and friends this holiday season based on questions I’ve gotten from my friends.
Which Tablet should I buy?
This is probably the most common question I get. Everyone wants to get a tablet, and there are literally a ton of different ones to choose from. The answer will really depend on what you need to use it for though. The one I suggest the most is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. It’s definitely my favorite because of the pen. I love being able to take screen shots and mark them up with the pen and file them away in my Evernote. Also, 8 inches for a tablet is a perfect size for me, and I would say other Moms or kids. An 8 inch tablet will fit nicely into almost any purse. I use my tablet as a day planner, and with the pen that comes with the Note, it feels way more like my old paper planner than anything else on the market.
For incredible battery life though (if you are going to be out running errands all day, or going to a massively long swim meet, or if you travel frequently), nothing is going to give you better battery life than the Lenovo Yoga Tablet.
For a business person I would recommend a Windows based tablet like the Microsoft Surface Tablet. It’s going to run the full Microsoft Office Suite including Outlook for mail, and Powerpoint, and since it runs the full version of Windows 8 you can also install programs that they use in the office, not just apps from the marketplace.
For the Kids I would recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab that is built for kids. People are always asking me if those “toddler” tablets are worth it, or if they should get a Kindle Fire for their kids. My answer is always the same. The toddler tablets like the Leapster or the V-Tech Innotab will be fun for your child for about a few months, and then they will outgrow it and want to use your tablet instead. The best thing to do is to get them a REAL tablet, and let it grow with them. The Samsung tablet has an “adult mode” that will allow you access to it’s full Android operating system. It comes with a fantastic case to keep the tablet safe from bumps and bruises, and it’s got a great “kids interface” to go with it.
Is my kid ready for a phone?
A lot of parents will be purchasing their kids their first cell phone. I can not say enough good things about Zact Mobile, which is available at your local Best Buy! The Zact phones are the best starter phone for your kid. The monthly plans are incredibly cheap, and the parental controls are out of this world awesome.
Gifts for the health minded?
I have a friend who is really into health and fitness! What should I buy for them? First, if they don’t already have a fitness tracker, I would definitely go with that. I love my FitBit! They have several options for you now too. I prefer the FitBit One because it hooks closest to my body and gives me the most accurate step count. The FitBit Force is another great option, as it can double as a watch, since it can display the current time along with the step count. If your friend is a runner though, what I currently want for Christmas this year is a Garmin GPS watch! The Garmin helps track the runner’s pace/distance/heart rate/etc. Like… I REALLY REALLY want this!
Gifts for the Movie Buff?
You can always spot the movie buff. They are the ones turning any conversation into a movie quote. ummm… this may or may not be me, I won’t tell. If they love movies, I’m sure their entertainment system at home is decked out. You can typically purchase a Blu-Ray for them, and they will be pleased as punch (the problem is knowing which movies they already have, easy solution is ask to borrow something, and peruse their collection). If you REALLY want to impress this person though, you’ll get them the newest Harmony Ultimate Smart Remote. I don’t think there has been a single gift guide that I have written that has NOT included a Harmony Remote of some sort. It is seriously the best tech gift on the planet. Especially for someone who has several components to control in their entertainment system.
Gifts for the Cook?
My sister, long ago, stole my Vitamix blender. She needed it for a book she was writing about Juices and Smoothies for Kids. That was a couple years ago. Every once in a while I’ll “borrow” my blender, and then give it back to her. The truth is, she uses it way more than I do. A great gift to give someone like her, or someone who is constantly eating “on the go” like a college student, is the Ninja blender. In fact, I may ask her to buy ME this for Christmas, so she can keep my blender!
Gifts for the Gamer?
And now we get around to my husband. The guy who works at Best Buy, and purchases the games he wants ON release day. What in the world can I get a guy like that? I’m not a huge gamer, so I have no idea which games are actually good. Luckily Best Buy has a “what’s trending” page (not just for games, but all sorts of categories!) where I can check out exactly what games are the most popular right now. Looking at that page though goes a little something like this for me… got it, got it, don’t want it, got it. So I had to rely on the good folks at the Best Buy in Orange, California. My new best buddy Christian recommended I get LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, or Killzone: Shadow Fall for the PS4. This is one of the great things about going into a Best Buy as opposed to trying to shop online. The staff for each department is usually so much more informed than other retail stores, and can offer some great suggestions when you are in a pinch like I was. I settled on LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, because really nothing makes me more happy than seeing my husband play video games with our kids, and this is totally a game they can play together. While I was in the store I also pulled up my ESRB app to make sure the game would be appropriate for our kids as well. Although the computer told Christian that they had 2 in stock, he couldn’t find them in the back. Then he totally went above and beyond searching in several boxes in the back until he came out of the warehouse with my perfect Christmas gift!
Really, no matter what gift you are getting for any type of person, you’ll be able to find something for them at Best Buy, and if you can’t find it, you can just buy them a gift card to Best Buy! Doing this could give you the added bonus of possibly winning a $10,000 gift card for yourself with their Give it to Win it Sweepstakes!! I know we could definitely put THAT to use! I don’t just say this because the Best Buy company pays the bills around this house. Way back 12 years ago when my husband was looking for a new job I said “Why don’t you apply at Best Buy? We are there enough anyway, you might as well be getting paid for it!”. We’ve always been a fan of the company, and as technology is part of EVERYTHING we do these days, you’ll be able to find something for even the least technical person on your list!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.
Sarah Kimmel has spent the last 16 years of her career as an IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com