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, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.
This holiday season promises to be unlike any other. Under the constraints ofprotocols and restrictions, it may be tough to access our favorite traditional in-person shopping venues — and celebrating itself will feel quite different. That said, millions of us will still exchange gifts with the people we love, and a thoughtful gift can make an impact — whether it’s delivered in person or virtually. This year, we’re focused on gifts to help people navigate 2021 in comfort, in shape and in style. To that end, we’ve rounded up a heap of mom-specific holiday gifts, ranging from the practical to the extravagant, that are guaranteed to spark joy.
There are certainly cheaper smart light options, but the Glow — a highly portable, rechargeable battery-operated bedtime lamp — is undeniably beautiful, easy to set up and pleasing to use. My family has two of them, and they’ve become an instrumental part of the bedtime routine for all four of us (the adults steal from the kids after they fall asleep).
You simply flip it over to turn it on and off, twist it to dim it up or down or shake it to trigger a low nightlight setting. The lamp produces a pleasant ambient glow — hence the name — which dims gradually over 15 to 60 minutes. You can control the span (in 15-minute intervals) using Casper’s minimalist app. And you can also set the light to come on in the morning — a reverse nightlight, of sorts — for a waking scenario that we love.
I’ve been using this beautiful Victorinox chef’s knife for the past year and it’s become one of my indispensable kitchen tools. The blade is fluted, so it won’t stick to what you’re cutting, and the elegant wooden handle gives it the perfect amount of heft. It’s sharp enough to make cutting meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and cheeses an absolute pleasure.
Now selling at a more reasonable $199, the ultracompact, lightweight AirPods Pro feature a noise-isolating design that fits most ears securely and delivers top-notch performance for making calls. (Moms toting Androids may prefer the Jabra Elite 75t instead.)
A lot of folks see a self-heating mug, and think it’s the silliest thing you could possibly own. In fact, nearly everyone at CNET who’s tried an Ember Mug refuses to have anyone pry if from their hands. It’s a great gift because it’s pricey and something that people generally wouldn’t buy for themselves — and that goes double if Mom loves coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET
Mom deserves a great smartwatch, and — if she’s an iPhone owner — the Apple Watch Series 6 is at the top of the heap. The new model isn’t a quantum leap forward from 2019’s Series 5, but it’s a nice upgrade with anyone who’s got a Series 4 or older. Android owners should check out a Galaxy Watch 3 or Fitbit Sense instead.
I’ve been a committed disciple of Les Mills for years, and can’t recommend this membership highly enough. I used to take part in group classes at my gym, but the coronavirus put a stop to that. This spring, we signed up for a home membership, which costs just $15 per month — or less, if you commit to longer terms — and gives you on-demand access to hundreds of classes that range from spinning to HIIT to yoga. BodyPump — my person favorite — works all of the major muscle groups using (relatively light) weights and high reps, all choreographed to music.
Note that after being sold out for much of the spring and summer, the excellent and pricey BodyPump equipment bundle is now back in stock, and includes everything you need.
Smart speakers like the new Echo are great companions in the kitchen or bedroom, but the Show 8 adds a healthy 8-inch screen which can display everything from weather forecasts to streaming videos. It’s got a full-fledged Echo smart speaker built-in, too. And yes, the camera has a manual shutter, so Mom never has to worry about being surreptitiously photographed. This model lists for $130, but it’s been selling (off and on) for $65 since Prime Day.
Backyard fire pits have been a keystone for social activity during the COVID-19 era — and this is the best of them, hands-down. Built from durable stainless steel, and with a vented design that promotes air flow, the Solo Stove produces a beautiful and deeply warming fire with very little smoke or airborne ash. (Perhaps best of all, your clothes do not reek of smoke the morning after.) Available in three sizes and prices, this is a slam dunk holiday gift if Mom likes hanging out in the backyard when the temperatures dip.
Does Mom need a bit of white noise to help lull her to sleep? The Homedics Sound Spa is our current overall favorite white noise machine, and it only costs a bit over $20.
Mom needs to sit down in front of the TV and zone out like everyone else during these stressful days. And that’s why she’ll appreciate the TCL Series 6 as a gift: It delivers the best picture quality for the money, and the built-in Roku smart TV system means that she’ll be able to stream almost any channel or service (with the exception of HBO Max, for now), so long as she’s got a good broadband connection and the requisite subscriptions.
In an era of toilet paper shortages, a bidet is a sound investment. It’s also a healthier and potentially more sustainable alternative to paper goods. There’s much to recommend about the Omigo. Importantly, it’s dead simple to install; I’m not much of a plumber and it took me under 45 minutes to get it up and running, with zero issues.
It has everything one could want in a bidet — rear and front wash nozzles, a seat heater, multiple temperature and position settings and an appealing blue nightlight. That noted, at $551, the flagship model is far too expensive and the features that are exclusive to it aren’t essential. Instead, I’d recommend the OmigoSL, which includes the most vital bells and whistles, and which will be on sale for $337 from Nov. 21 to 30.
If you’re working with a smaller budget, there’s also the more affordable Tushy, which serves the same underlying purpose but lacks the warmth and high-tech adjustability of the Omigo.
Many mattresses may expose you to nasty chemicals, flame retardants and potentially toxic foams. As such, the Environmental Working Group recommends mattresses that are at least 95% cotton, wool or natural latex — like the Avocado Green, which is made from a combination of all three. Even better: It’s comfortable, especially when covered by the optional plush pillow top. Sleep well, live well.
I’ve ridden my share of exercise bikes and this one is pretty good: You get a fully adjustable seat and handlebars, pedals compatible with shoe-clips and flats, and a good range of wheel tension. You also get a Polar heart monitor, which makes it possible for you to calibrate your personal effort to each session; it’s a standout feature. And the 21.5-inch touchscreen tilts and rotate, so you can use it for a variety of other on-demand Myx classes, ranging from kettlebells to yoga.
It’s not as sleek as a Peloton bike, and the classes aren’t as intense, but the Myx is significantly less expensive — both the bike and the monthly subscription. It’s a solid choice for any mom looking to remain active throughout the coming winter.
Now that nearly every meal is home cooked, an Instant Pot can open up all kinds of new possibilities. This beloved pressure cooker has cultivated an obsessive, cult-like fanbase of chefs who proclaim their undying love and have all but abandoned their slow cookers. It’s like a pressure cooker on steroids that can quickly whip up a delicious meal. It’s the perfect gift for the busy mom who likes to cook. And this model, the 6-quart Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 V3, is versatile: It can cook slow or fast, at a low or high temperature, and it has steam and saute settings.
No, Mom is not your maid. That’s why she’ll appreciate this gift, which outsources the vacuuming to this capable robot. The $600 Neato D7 vacuums up dirt, dust and messes better than any other robot vacuum in its price range. It navigates efficiently around furniture and comprehensively covers your floor plan thanks to built-in lidar laser navigation mapping. The simple, intuitive Neato app works as a remote control and can be linked to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Use code NEATOAFFILIATE5 through Dec. 31 for a 5% discount.
I have a small, simple one-zone home, where the thermostat controls only the furnace. Last winter, I bought several different top-rated smart thermostats and installed and tested them one at a time. The Nest was the one I kept. It’s a snap to set up and it delivers on the features I wanted: Scheduled temperature adjustment, appealing aesthetics, an intuitive interface and absolute control via iPhone. Add in smart speaker support, and Mom can adjust the temperature from bed during those cold winter nights.
The newest iPad does it all even better than the previous model. The 2020 model, announced in September, delivers get blazing fast performance, a beautiful display and all of the elegance of Apple’s operating system. True, it’s not the “value” option — that would be the Amazon Fire — but it remains the gold standard. Try to find it on sale, though: Last year’s version frequently dropped to between $250 and $280 for the 32GB model or $330 for 128GB version, but we haven’t seen the 2020 model dip below $300 yet.
Moms deserve wine. This subscription box to the Wine of the Month Club includes two bottles delivered right to her doorstep every month. Every shipment includes the club’s 24-page newsletter. You can choose from among 10 different subscriptions, starting at $133, that feature varietals from different regions of France and California.