One of my favorite things to do this time of year is secretly turn everyone I know (and love) on to the wonders of living in a smart home — via beautifully wrapped gifts.
Here’s the thing: At this point in time, everyone is pretty much on board with managing schedules, work, communication, and dating via technology, but when it comes to home goods, many people resist tech.
I totally understand why. One, home is where you want to disconnect from devices and connect with your family in a real, offline way. And there’s a perception that tech at home is ugly: think big, bulky electronics everywhere.
But that’s why giving smart home gifts is so exciting—you can change minds while making lives easier. This year, for instance, I’m finding that smart home goods are getting even sleeker. As tech advances, devices are smaller and wireless, and there’s more freedom to apply minimalist design that fits seamlessly into your aesthetic. And of course, the more advanced things get the more useful products are.
These picks, below, are some of my favorites for helping everyone on your list streamline their home lives—by eliminating worries about safety, for example, or cutting down cleaning time—so they can focus even more on things like family dinners.
Imagine never having to worry about where you left your keys, again? You can give that feeling to someone this year. The Yale Assure Lock is a digital deadbolt that works via iPhone (and other Apple devices) or keypad, which means you can also share the code with visitors when you need to, instead of heading to the hardware store for copies.
THE SLEEKEST SPEAKER
The Sonos Beam Soundbar barely registers as a device it’s so sleek. It’s built to play music easily via Wifi connection and is Alexa-enabled. TV, movies and music, it plays them all. Get it for the friend that has an encyclopedic knowledge of rock and needs to have access to a music library at all times, in every room.
THE DOORBELL THAT ACTS LIKE A DOORMAN
24/7 security and guaranteed package delivery is usually reserved for apartment buildings with a doorman. Nest Hello basically plays that role. The video doorbell streams a head-to-toe play-by-play of who’s at the door, which you can see on your phone even when you’re out. You can talk to visitors, too (to tell the UPS person to leave the package, for instance), and it even recognizes family and friends and can send a special alert when they arrive. Okay, I’m not sure if that feature is awesome or creepy.
THE VOICE-ACTIVATED MIRROR
For those who tend to stumble into the dark bathroom a lot at night, Kohler’s Verdera Lighted Mirrors are the perfect gift. You can activate and control the lighting with your voice, and they’re Alexa-enabled, too. If you give it to a friend, obviously don’t forget to ask it “Who’s the fairest of them all?” when you visit. Someone’s gotta do it.
THE MOST THOROUGH (DIGITAL) CLEANING SERVICE
For someone who struggles to find time to keep the house neat 24-7, the Neato Botvac D7 Connected is a definite household home run. It vacuums so you don’t have to, and it uses upgraded tech so floors really get clean, AKA lasers that scan and map your house and create a route for your helpful robot to follow.
THE SIMPLE MOOD LIGHTING FIX
C by GE makes dimmable smart LED C-Life light bulbs, and it recently gave them an upgrade. They now sync with Google Home so you can dim or brighten them using voice commands. If your giftee could use some better quality sleep, throw in a few C-Sleep bulbs, too; they’re designed with color settings that support the sleep-wake cycle.
THE CLIMATE CONTROLLER
With the Ecobee 4 smart thermostat, adjusting the temperature (or getting the latest news) is as easy as a voice command. On top of that, the sensor can detect hot or cold spots in a room and adjust accordingly, which is good for comfort and utility bills.
THE POWERFUL PLUG
For someone who’s just warming up to the idea of a smart home, get them started with a Wemo Mini Smart Plug. It’s a tiny device with powerful benefits—once it’s plugged in, you can control devices like lamps, heaters, fans, and curling irons (umm…who else is always leaving theirs on?) from your phone or tablet, wherever you are.
THE (TINY) DIGITAL DO-IT-ALL
And for a mini gadget with multi-faceted powers, the Amazon Echo Spot is a mini device of many hats. Its small stature means it doesn’t take up space while carrying out a million tasks, like playing you videos and music, reporting the weather, turning your lights on, showing you who’s at the door, and calling you an Uber so you can get to work on time. If you give this one as a gift, you’re basically doing all of that for the person using it, right?
Which smart gifts are you loving this season? Add your picks to the comments, below!