It’s days until Christmas—do you know where your holiday shopping list is?
Maybe you got caught up in the frenzy of preparing for Thanksgiving, or you had too much fun at your office holiday party and missed the mark on finishing your shopping early. Sure, you promised yourself last year that this wouldn’t happen again, and that you’d have everything bought and wrapped by October.
Sadly, that didn’t happen.
Get started with a free financial assessment.
Get started with a free financial assessment.
You know what they say about the best-laid plans, but at this moment all you can think is that time has slipped by, your list is long and your close family and friends deserve nice presents. Never fear! We did the research and came up with nine smart gift ideas that will fit the bill for most everyone left on your list.
Sure, some of these items may seem a bit pricey, but if you are planning to splurge anyway, these are gifts that keep on giving as they will save the giftee time or money in the long haul.
1. For the Pop Culture Encyclopedia
The Splurge: Sling TV, $240 per year ($20 monthly subscription fee)
The Perks: This video streaming service is great for the person who can recite the plot of every movie or is up to date on all the new shows out this season—and the next—and likes to consume their content on the go.
Sling TV’s basic Best of Live TV package offers the ability to watch channels like ESPN, AMC, Food Network, Disney Channel, TBS, CNN, ABC Family and more. Stream the latest shows and movies via the Sling TV app on your laptop, iOS and Android devices, Xbox One and media streaming players like Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku or Nexus Player. With so many supported platforms, you can access all the channels you want using the device you already have—no time-consuming installation required. (Note: Sling TV has no relation to the Slingbox device that allows you to access your home cable TV when you’re on the road.)
If that variety isn’t enough, you can tack on extra packages, like HBO or special kid’s programming, for an added $5 to $15 each per month.
The Savings: Money. Since the average basic cable bill can run more than $1,000 a year, this $240 option for 12 months can offer a dramatic cut to your giftee’s monthly expenses.
2. For the Athlete in Training
The Perks: These options are a no-brainer for that friend who lives for her biweekly kickboxing fix or that relative who stands by his morning Pilates routine—but may be spending more time or cash on gym memberships than they can afford.
DailyBurn, led by elite trainers like Bob Harper of “The Biggest Loser” fame, offers a variety of classes from dance aerobics to kettlebells and yoga to challenge all skill levels from the beginner to the athlete. Its latest program, DailyBurn365, allows users to refresh their workout by offering live 30-minute routines every day at 9 a.m. ET from its New York City studio. After that initial airing, new videos are available for on-demand viewing for 24 hours, so there’s no excuse to be bored with your daily sweat.
If you’re more familiar with the Crunch Gym model, Crunch Live is a good way to work out wherever you are. The program offers upward of 75 videos based on exercise interests, updated throughout the week, in addition to the option to customize a fitness regimen for yourself depending on your goals. Get in a full workout or pull up a 15-minute “Quickie” video when you’re crunched for time.
The Savings: Time and money. Both of these personalized streaming options are a fraction of the cost of run-of-the-mill gym memberships, which average about $40 a month, or meeting with with a personal trainer, which averages about $50 per session. Plus, being able to access fitness classes from a computer, TV or mobile device saves time by doing away with lengthy commutes to the gym.
3. For the Pet Parent
The Splurge: Whistle GPS Pet Tracker, $79.95 plus a GPS tracking service plan starting at $6.95 monthly
The Perks: Skip the treats or holiday dog sweater—this item provides value in the form of peace of mind for pet owners. After all, research shows that one in three pets gets lost in their lifetime. And while Fido or Kitty might have been microchipped, there’s no guarantee they will find their way to a vet’s office or shelter that’s equipped to scan them.
Whistle brings a much-needed update to pet safety by using GPS tracking technology to locate your pet in real-time. Attach the device to your pet’s collar, use Whistle’s free mobile app to see where they are at all times—even if it’s just to confirm that they’re in the backyard—and receive alerts if they ever leave their designated home zone.
The Savings: Time. For a pet parent, eliminating the hours spent stressing about your pet’s whereabouts is enormous. Bonus: The location tracker can also be used as a health and activity monitor. With in-app abilities to log meals and medication reminders, and to check that your pet is getting enough activity based on breed, weight and age, you’ll even save time gathering valuable health updates for your next vet appointment.
4. For the Green Thumb
The Splurge: AeroGarden Sprout, from $89.95
The Perks: You no longer need a backyard space to grow your own fresh veggies. This starter kit allows gardeners in even the most urban environments to practice their cultivating skills.
The no-soil planter supports up to three plants at a time with a maximum 10-inch growing height. Its control panel allows users to customize conditions for growth using optimal lighting and watering reminders. Get planting with the complimentary Gourmet Herbs Seed Kit (including Genovese basil, curly parsley and dill) or start out with your own seeds.
Plus, with studies showing how gardening can alleviate stress, you’re giving the gift of healthy well-being on multiple fronts.
The Savings: Time and money. With the cost of fresh produce on the rise—tomato prices went up 11% in the last year alone—this gift can offset grocery prices with homegrown herbs, vegetables, salad greens and even flowers. Not to mention saved trips to the store.
5. For the Beauty Queen
The Splurge: CHI Touch 2 Hair Dryer, $169.99
The Perks: Sometimes bigger is better—at least when it comes to beauty trends. Case in point: The rising popularity of the blowout. But at $35 to $80 per salon visit, keeping strands well coiffed can also mean a dwindling pocketbook.
Keep the heat off your friend’s or relative’s wallet with the latest CHI hair dryer, a tech-enhanced product that utilizes a touch screen to customize temperature setting, ion output and speed to best work with any hair type. For example, a higher ion output means less frizz for coarse hair, while a lower temperature setting saves fine hair from frying. Vying for a particularly elaborate style? The back of the dryer can be used as a stand, leaving your hands free to style your do.
The Savings: Money. While the price tag may be a little steep, if your giftee trades in salon visits for home styling, the dryer can easily pay for itself after a handful of uses.
6. For the Family Fisher
The Splurge: iBobber, $99.99
The Perks: This little device uses Bluetooth Smart sonar technology to help find the next big catch. The iBobber—which is attached to the fishing line—activates after hitting water. It syncs with iOS and Android devices to gather information about fish location and size and water temperature in the area. Fishers can also use the Waterbed Mapping mode to get a better sense of their watery surroundings, or use the app to keep a Trip Log with details about the time and location of their day’s catch, the type of fishing, lures used and more.
The Savings: Time. The iBobber can be cast up to 100 feet away with sonar pings 135 feet deep, meaning an easier time knowing where to venture for a successful day of fishing. No more endless hours spent casting a rod and hoping for a bite.
7. For the Cleaning Obsessed
The Splurge: Dyson V6 Cordless Absolute, $479
The Perks: It can be time consuming to drag out a full-size vac every time Cheerios get spilled on the kitchen floor, dirt gets tracked onto the living room carpet or Fifi leaves a trail of fur on the furniture. That’s where a cordless vac can come in handy. Being able to grab the machine off its charger and do a fast vacuum can cut cleaning time in half. But until recently cordless vacuums weren’t powerful enough to really tackle all kinds of dirt and all kinds of floor surfaces. Dyson has fixed that problem by creating the V6 Cordless Absolute, which offers 75% more brush power and can easily gather everything from broken potato chips off carpeting to dust off hardwood floors.
The easy-to-push machine has two cleaner heads (not bristles) to better capture debris and HEPA filtration that removes 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. It runs 20 minutes on a single charge and easily converts to a handheld vac with a variety of attachments to quickly clean furniture, stairs and curtains. Emptying the bin (which does fill up quickly) is also fast, and you can just hold it over the trash and press a button to release the dirt.
The Savings: Time. The time your giftee could save is directly related to how much they like to clean—so the more they vacuum, the more efficient they are. And if you don’t want to splurge for the top-of-the-line model, there are five more in the cordless range with powerful Dyson cyclone technology. These include the basic V6 at $284 and the V6 Animal (with fur-fighting accessories) at $399.
8. For the Globe-trotter
The Splurge: Bluesmart Carry-on Suitcase, $399
The Perks: For those who spend more time in the air than on the ground, this splurge-worthy carry-on offers travel convenience, device recharging and security.
The technologically advanced suitcase comes equipped with Bluetooth, 3G and GPS capabilities, so the giftee can use its corresponding iOS or Android app to track the bag and be alerted if it ever gets lost in transit. The carry-on also contains a USB rechargeable battery with two USB ports and enough power to charge a phone up to six times. And of course, the most basic suitcase security function—the lock—gets a high-tech update: It can be set to automatically lock when the the owner steps out of Bluetooth range and to unlock when they return.
Not bad for something meant to stash your clothes.
The Savings: Time and money. Avoid the frustration of not knowing where your luggage has ended up or the time lost with a dead phone battery and no place to charge. Plus, a built-in scale tells you the approximate weight of the packed case, meaning less time rearranging your things at the last minute and less fees for an overweight item.
9. For the Frostbitten Techie
The Splurge: Nanotips, $12.99
The Perks: The weather outside is frightful, and there’s no better evidence than your friend’s or relative’s nearly frostbitten fingers when they refuse to put their smartphone away. Be a pal to the tech junkie in your life and get them Nanotips, the liquid remedy that can turn any pair of ordinary gloves, whether leather or fabric, into touch-screen-enabled gloves. The conductive liquid polyamide solution dries to mimic the touch of human skin and enables the user to continue using all the touch-screen devices they need. One application can last several weeks to months, and each bottle treats up to 20 fingers.
Apply, dry and be out the door with gloves and tech devices in tow in 5 minutes.
The Savings: Money. With a couple swabs, the gift receiver can use Nanotips on all the gloves they currently own instead of having to buy new ones that allow them texting capabilities. This is especially great for people who frequently use different pairs of gloves (or are constantly losing them), or for families to share without doing a glove-stash overhaul.