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The Verge Holiday Gift Guide 2018

The end of the year is fast approaching, bringing with it the yearly anxiety of what the lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne” are, and what gifts you should be getting for the wonderful people in your life. Whether that’s for friends, family, co-workers, pets, they, them, him, her, secret Santa, or white elephant, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out what to get people.

So to make your lives a little easier in 2018, we’ve tapped into the collective knowledge of The Verge to put together a list of great gifts for all manner of ages, sizes, and budgets. Or at least you might get a good present idea for a loved one from our recommendations.

Category

audio home board games books camera laptop/tablet misc outdoor phone power/cables toy video games wearable

Price

over $100 $20 to $50 $50 to $100 under $20

Apple Airpods

I live in constant fear that my AirPods will fly out in the wind, but they never do. They sound crisp and make life a lot more hands-free, especially when you're carrying multiple bags. Once you get them, you'll sort of wonder what you did without them. Price: ~$150

Google Home Hub

The screen in the Google Home Hub has a gorgeous display that doubles as the best digital photo frame, ever (it connects to Google Photos!) — but it’s also a comprehensive smart home control center, with voice controls or touch. Price: ~$150

Pocket Operator

If you're looking for a fun gadget to start playing around with electronic music, the Pocket Operators from uber-cool synth maker Teenage Engineering are a great place to start. It's a drum machine that's loaded with beats and patterns, and even lets you record voice samples. Price: ~$50

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds

Sennheiser wasn't first to the "true wireless" game, but the wait was worth it. Great sound quality aside, these offer USB-C charging and beat out the AirPods with better noise isolation. Price: ~$300

Sonos One

Smart speakers and great sound quality aren't usually mentioned in the same sentence, but the Sonos One is a smart speaker with punch. Use the One to ask Alexa to play some tunes and then turn up the volume to listen to this remarkably powerful speaker do its thing. It's the best smart speaker you can get right now. Price: ~$200

Sony 1000X M3

Sony's updated 1000X M3s might just be the best noise-canceling headphones around. This year's refresh adds a more comfortable design, better noise cancellation, and even USB-C charging — perfect for your daily commute or next flight. Price: ~$350

Status Audio CB-1

Headphones that offer good sound and adequate noise isolation are usually expensive. That's why at $79, Status Audio's CB-1 over-ear wired headphones impress. They achieve a lot for a lot less. Price: ~$80

Get 30 percent off on Status Audio's site with code VERGE30

UE Boom 3

Ultimate Ears has refreshed its UE Boom speaker for the first time in years. This new model offers better sound, a gorgeous new design, and the same near indestructibility that's made these speakers the go-to option for bringing your music on the go. Price: ~$150

Decrypto

In Decrypto, you make up codes to transmit to your teammates in hopes that they'll get your message while your enemies won't. It can get pretty intense. Price: ~$20

Dude

As Dude proudly says on the box, "It's a game where you say Dude." It's by no means the deepest game around, but if you're looking for a fun icebreaker at your next game night, there's nothing like having a bunch of friends get their best Lebowski on by shouting DUDE at each other for a few minutes. Price: ~$11

Fog of Love

If you love board games and are looking for a different kind of experience, Fog of Love just might be your cup of tea. You make up stories about a romantic couple and play through the scenes, while pondering what sort of things are deal-breakers in a relationship and just what it takes to make an ideal match. It's both well-made and intricately written. Price: ~$45

Metal polyhedral dice

D&D (and other tabletop RPGs) are cool now. Impress the rest of your party with these fancy metal dice and make your rolls for initiative in style. Price: ~$30

Sequence

With this classic board game, you work in teams to complete five sequences in a row. As you get more familiar with the rules, you can start blocking your opponents and relying more on lucky wild cards. Price: ~$17

The Mind

The Mind is a silent card game that relies on nonverbal communication. You're literally supposed to stare into each other's eyes and attempt to read each other's minds and work together to overcome several levels of play. Price: ~$30

500 Years Later: An Oral History of Final Fantasy 7 by Matt Leone

An expanded version of Matt Leone’s making of the Final Fantasy VII story, which intertwined interviews with 30 different members of the development team into a 27,000-word oral history. This print version includes eight new standalone interviews, and a foreward by the game’s producer and Final Fantasy series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. Price: ~$39

Check, Please! #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Check, Please! is a webcomic by Ngozi Ukazu, telling the story of Bitty, the world's most adorable gay pie baker / hockey player. The new print book collects the first two years of the comic, making it the perfect place to start out. Price: ~$16

Delicious in Dungeon by Ryoko Kui

This fantasy comedy manga series follows a group of poorly supplied adventurers forced to venture deep into a dungeon to rescue one of their party members. Along the way, they encounter a Dwarf who shows them how to prepare and cook the monsters and plants they find throughout the dungeon in order to keep their attempted rescue going. Price: ~$10

Megahex by Simon Hanselmann

Megg is a witch, Mogg is a cat (and her boyfriend), and Owl is, well, an owl. Together with their completely unhinged pal Werewolf Jones, the group of stoners stumble from one disaster to the next in Simon Hanselmann’s surprisingly sweet, yet incredibly disturbing comic series about depression, drug use, sexuality, poverty, lack of ambition, and (occasionally) love. Price: ~$20

Miyazakiworld by Susan Napier

A great biography of legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki, (Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away) that not only discusses his life, but also delves into each of his films. It provides an interesting perspective on the things from his life, and happenings in Japan, that may have inspired his various works and how they were recieved in their time. Price: ~$24

Semiosis by Sue Burke

In this tale of first contact, a human expedition works to survive alongside a hostile planet's native lifeforms: intelligent vegetation that may or may not be on their side. Price: ~$15

The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Clint, Griffin, Justin and Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch

This graphic novel adapts the first arc of the Adventure Zone podcast into beautiful comic form without losing any of the charm, humor, or heart of the podcast. It’s a great gift not only for fans of the show, but anyone interested in fantasy adventure stories or role playing games. Price: ~$15

The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea novels are beloved classics of fantasy literature, and for the first time, the entire series of novels and short stories is collected into one massive volume, complete with original illustrations by Charles Vess. Price: ~$40

The Calculating Stars & The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal's two-book series imagines an alternate history in which the space race has a more desperate focus: escaping from Earth after a devastating asteroid impact. The series follows Dr. York as she works to ensure that her women and non-white colleagues are permitted into the space program, first to reach the Moon, and then Mars. Price: ~$13 each

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild — Creating a Champion

This companion book to Nintendo's Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a beautiful and comprehensive look into the making of the blockbuster game, with a history of Hyrule, interviews with the game's developers, and hundreds of pages of artwork. Price: ~$90

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte

Steve Brusatte's new history looks at dinosaurs in a new way: from their humble origins alongside reptiles, their rise to dominate the planet, and their sudden disappearance. The book incorporates the latest research into the field to understand how climate, biodiversity, and plate tectonics shaped their time on Earth. Price: ~$20

Fujifilm Instax Mini 9

The Instax line is the new ubiquitous instant camera for this generation, and now they come in even more colors that are fun for everyone. Price: ~$56

A Bird's Nest Fern

The Bird's Nest fern is one of the easier houseplants to maintain, so it's a good choice for the budding indoor gardener. Even if you forget to water it occasionally, it'll still bounce back once you do, as if to say, "I forgive you." Price: ~$10

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon's new Echo Dot is louder, better-looking, and nicer to use than ever before. If you're going to give someone an always-listening voice assistant to put in their home, this is the one to get. Price: ~$40

Google Chromecast

While short on upgrades for current Chromecast owners, the new model boasts slightly faster speeds, and its signature Cast function remains novel as ever, no matter what phone you're using. Price: ~$35

LapGear deluxe laptop lap desk

It’s big enough for even a gaming laptop, there is a built-in mouse pad, a slot to hold your cellphone, and there are two strips of a bean bag material underneath that not only make it sit comfortably on your lap, but also mold around your legs to secure it in place. What more could you want? Price: ~$40

Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven

The lid doubles as a skillet pan, so you can fry up some eggs while you get a stew going. Cast irons are super versatile, and can handle enough heat to be popped into the oven right from the stove. It's an essential tool for any kitchen. Price: ~$40

Monoprice Sous Vide

Sous vide is the cooking sentation that's sweeping the internet — fill a pot with water, dunk your sous vide circulator, and you'll get perfectly cooked steak, salmon, veggies, and more. And it's tough to beat Monoprice's sous vide circulator when it comes to price for anyone looking to experiment with the cooking technique. Price: ~$62

OXO Cold Brew coffee maker

Cold brew coffee requires one key ingredient: time. So if you're going to have something on your counter steeping coffee for 12-14 hours, the OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker looks good and doesn't take up too much room. It's also easy to clean and produces a delicious cold brew concentrate that can last up to two weeks in the fridge. Price: ~$50

Waterpik Aquarius Water Flosser

Flossing is sometimes hard! It can be tough to reach the very back of your mouth, and that's usually where the cavities come in. Thankfully, a water flosser makes things a lot easier to reach and, at the end of a weary day, having your teeth feel squeaky clean is a relief. Price: ~$70

Wemo Smart Plug

So you'd like to start making your home a little smarter, but you don’t want to replace all your lights and electronics. This smart plug lets you turn on or off any of your electronics as though they were smart by connecting through your home Wi-Fi to your phone, Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Nest devices. Price: ~$28

Get 10 percent off all Wemo products on Belkin's site thru 11/30/2018 with code VERGE10

Apple iPad

It's an iPad, and if you like iPads and need a new one then this iPad will give you everything you need. The only difference is that this is the first non-Pro model to support the Apple pencil, making it a lot better (if not exactly perfect) for sketching on the go. Price: ~$329

Apple Macbook Pro

People like MacBooks, and the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is probably the best MacBook Pro Apple has ever made. It has Intel's latest processors and even a fix for last year's pesky keyboard issue. Price: ~$1,799

Microsoft Surface Laptop 2

The Surface Laptop 2 does everything you'd expect a laptop to do without any weird compromises or gotchas, and looks nice, too. It’s easy to see this being the default laptop choice for Windows customers. Price: ~$999

365 Studio Hinrichs Typography Calendar

Design appreciators will love working their way through the year with 12 lively fonts that bring different energy to each month. Price: ~$50

Asakuki oil diffuser

The winter months can be extremely dry, so use this humidifier / oil diffuser combo to bring some humidity to your home or office while making it smell like a spa. Price: ~$26

Bee's Wrap Reusable Food Wraps

Every tiny decision can help lower our overall carbon footprint, and this reuseable food wrap is a great way to save leftovers, bread, ingredients, and more without resorting to plastic. Price: ~$18

Hobonichi planner and cover

When you need a physical day planner it’s hard to go wrong with the versatility of the Hobonichi Techo. Giving you the option to plan things by the month, week, or day. Its pages are grid patterned, which makes it useful not only for writing, but also doodling, or whatever else you might want to fill its pages with. Price: ~$40

Lamicall S1 Stand

It’s just a really simple stand that is a good solution for holding a phone while it’s charging, and is also great for holding a Nintendo Switch or a tablet on a table. Price: ~$10

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 gets a fresh new look with the matte black finish, and has remarkably reliable quad-core performance in a tablet. Price: starting at ~$900

Laptop webcam cover

Some might see it as being paranoid, but in this climate? It's a small price to pay for peace of mind. Price: ~$10

Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multitool

Multitools are some of the most useful things you can keep in your bag, and the Leatherman Squirt is a great option. It has just enough tools — plyers, screwdrivers, and even a small pair of scissors — to be helpful in day-to-day life while still small enough that it'll fit on your keys. Price: ~$35

Nomad Mousepad

You probably don't think of a mouse pad as a great gift, but Nomad's Leather mouse pad is a luxurious slab of Horween leather for your mouse to glide over. And since it's real leather, it will look good new, and look even better after a few years of use. Price: ~$60

Get 10 percent off orders on Nomad's site with code VERGE10

Stainless Steel Drinking Straws

As more cities jump on the plastic straw ban, you might start to see cafes offering flimsy paper straws that disintegrate after 30 minutes of half-hearted sipping. These stainless steel straws will keep you and the Earth happy. Price: ~$8

Travelrest Ultimate Memory Foam Travel Pillow

Most rounded travel pillows may be soft and comfy, but this model is designed to give actual support to your neck so you don't roll around too often during your long flight, train, or car ride. Price: 40

Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug

There are a bunch of really good insulated mugs out there, but nothing really compares to Zojirushi's. They're lightweight, easy to clean, and keep things cold or hot for hours longer than you'd expect. Price: ~$35

DJI Spark

DJI is the king of drones, and the Spark is still the best option around for anyone looking to get started with a serious drone. It's easy to fly for beginners, folds down to be nearly pocketable, but it's still a full-fledged drone — a toy, this isn't. Price: ~$399

REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus Tent

This tent is roomy enough for two people, but cozy enough to keep you warm at night. It's constructed with an easy-to-remove fly so you can stare up through the tent's mesh at the sky — and still keep the mosquitoes out. Price: ~$229

Apple iPhone XR

If you don't rely heavily on your smartphone for watching high-res videos and you're also in the market for a new iPhone, then the XR is your best bet. It comes in a variety of colors, unlike its more expensive counterparts, and has the new A12 Bionic processor. Price: ~$749

Google Pixel 3 XL

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL are the best Android experience and the best camera you can get on a phone right now, with a lot of big improvements, including a better display and wireless charging. Price: ~$799

Samsung Galaxy S9+

Samsung's early-2018 flagship phone is still among the best smartphones around, with a great camera and fast hardware. Its price has dropped throughout the year, making it an even better value. Price: ~$719

Accell Home or Away Surge Protector

Become the most popular person at the airport with this little surge protector. It turns one outlet into three, plus two USB ports! The plug even folds in, making it easy to pack. Price: ~$20

Anker PowerCore Slim 5000

If Time Well Spent isn't quite working out, at least be prepared to have your phone or any other mobile gadget last through your busy day so there's enough power left when you really need it. Price: ~$30

Anker Powerline braided cables (USB-C & Lightning)

Charging your phone is nice, but you know what's even nicer? Charging your phone with a braided cord. It is both more durable and far nicer-looking than the cheap one that came with your phone. So no need to worry about the wires suddenly becoming exposed. Price: ~$18

Get 15 percent off these cables on Amazon with code VERGEPRL

Anker PowerPort Speed PD 5

This is the must-have device for that person who feels like there are never enough USB ports and wall outlets to charge every gadget in their toolbox. Price: ~$50

Get 20 percent off on Amazon with code ANKER056

Dongle dangler

Apple doesn't sell phones with headphone jacks anymore! If you know someone that is like me and also lost three separate smartphone dongles all while traveling, this might be a perfect stocking stuffer. Price: ~$7

RavPower Fast Charge Wireless Charging Pad

Wireless chargers are great: why plug in your phone when you can just leave it on a charging pad? And RavPower's charger is the best around, with a solid case that looks great, along with plenty of power to charge your phone as fast as wireless charging allows. Price: ~$25

Get $10 off the charging pad on Amazon with code VERGE034

Satechi Aluminum Multi-Port Adapter V2

Someday everything will use USB-C. But until then, if you've got a USB-C laptop, you're gonna need a dongle. And Satechi's Multi-Port Adapter will get you all the ports you need in a slim, portable, and well-made package. Price: ~$80

Get 15 percent off the adapter on Amazon or Satechi with code VERGEHGG15

Anki Vector

This robot toy is a friend and an educational device for those who want their digital companions to make them smile, not frustrate. Price: ~$250

Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle

There have been tons of Harry Potter LEGO sets before, but none like this: a 6,020-piece set that offers the best-looking version of the famed wizarding school ever. The set is also packed to the brim with tons of little details, making it the perfect gift for the Potter fan in your life. Price: ~$400

Dead Cells

This roguelike sidescroller will test your patience, and reward you with satisfaction like few games are able to. Its clever abilities and unlockable weapons make playing through the same levels feel new each playthrough. Price: ~$30

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Despite its inviting aesthetic, Tropical Freeze upholds the series’ unforgiving, yet fair difficulty that will challenge even the most seasoned DK veterans. The fun soundtrack and excellent level design make this a journey worth experiencing, either alone or via couch co-op. Price: ~$50

Marvel's Spider-Man

It's rare to find one feature that single-handedly justifies the price of a game, but Spider-Man's web-slinging does exactly that. There's a sizable story here, and a lot of depth to the combat if you hunt for it, but nothing will match the sense of momentum and flow of zipping along New York's skyline. Price: ~$60

Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller

Microsoft's accessibility-focused controller kicks open the door for custom control schemes, at long last. No matter your setup of triggers, pads, or switches, the Adaptive Controller will help you get in the game. Price: ~$100

Nintendo Labo

The Labo is an incredible educational tool that's school curriculum-approved, so you can rest assured your kids are learning something while having fun, too. Price: ~$70

Nintendo Switch

Originally it was a must-have console for playing Nintendo's own titles, but now the Switch is just as likely to play host to the best third-party games. Big publishers and indie developers alike have embraced the console, and maybe this holiday you should, too. Price: ~$300

Sony Playstation Classic

This tiny version of the original Sony Playstation lets you play twenty different classic games on your modern HD television. Included on the system are games like: Final Fantasy VII, Grand Theft Auto, Resident Evil: Director's Cut, and Metal Gear Solid. Price: ~$100

Apple Watch Series 4

The new Apple Watch Series 4 is a significant upgrade to the Series 3. It's got battery life and now will inform emergency services if you've taken a fall. The screen is also 30 percent bigger, which is great for those of us with thick fingers or poor eyesight. Price: ~$400

Citizen Eco-Drive Stainless Steel Watches

Smartwatches may be all the rage these days, but there's still nothing like a good, old-fashioned wristwatch. Citizen's Eco Drive not only looks great with a stainless steel case and clean face design, but it's solar-powered, too, so you'll never need to remember to get the battery changed. Price: ~$100

Darn Tough socks

The name might be a pun, but these socks are anything but funny. They're durable, made in the US, and are incredibly comfortable to wear. Price: ~$20

Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit's Charge 3 might be the best fitness tracker the company has ever released, with a week-long battery life, an improved design, and added waterproofing. Plus, Fitbit's automatic workout tracking means that all you have to do is remember to wear it, and it'll do the rest. Price: ~$150

Glider Gloves Touchscreen Gloves

Sometimes the best "wearable devices" help people use electronics they already own. Glider Gloves are shot through with conductive copper thread, and their palms have a non-slip texture, so you can keep a friend or relative from dropping their phone in the snow. Price: ~$20

LL Bean fleece slipper scuffs

Look, slippers may be the most stereotypical holiday gift for dads, but LL Bean's fleece slippers are so good you'll wish you were giving them to yourself. Not only will they last for years, they'll keep your feet warm without getting sweaty, which makes them worth every penny. Price: ~$80

Peak Design Travel Bag

Peak Design's latest bag takes everything the company has developed for its other bags and scales it up to a 45L capacity. Like other Peak Design bags, the Travel Backpack has a ton of convenient features like side-access pockets, multiple strap anchor points, and a customizable interior to adapt to whatever you need to carry. Price: ~$300

Tie Mags Magnetic Tie Clip

Chances are you'll need to wear a tie at some point, and these magnetic tie clips are a good way to spice up a boring old look with some magnets. When have magnets ever made anything less cool? Price: ~$30

Timbuk2 Smith Briefcase

Timbuk2 is best known for its messenger bags designed to last forever and be comfortable while riding a bike, but lately its ventured into more stylish bags for everyday commuters. The new Smith Briefcase is sharp-looking, carries a ton of stuff, doesn't weigh a lot, and is comfortable to wear while running to catch the subway. Price: ~$230

Get 10 percent off on Timbuk2's site with code VERGE10

Verge merch

If you’re reading this, then you probably read The Verge, which means you probably know someone else who also reads The Verge. So they’d probably like a Verge shirt or hoodie as a gift — or maybe you would. Here is a discount code either way: HGG2018 Price: ~$30

Credits

Editorial lead: Michael Moore
Art direction: James Bareham
Photography: Amelia Holowaty Krales
Retouching and stop-motion animation: Michele Doying
Sponsored Photography & Retouching: Alex Ulreich

Contributors

Mariya Abdulkaf, Rachel Becker, Stefan Etienne, Cameron Faulkner, Chaim Gartenberg, Natt Garun, Andrew Hawkins, Dami Lee, Shannon Liao, Andrew Liptak, Liz Lopatto, Andrew Marino, Jon Porter, Adi Robertson, Dan Seifert, Kara Verlaney, and Adia Watts.

Special Thanks

Esther Cohen, Sophie Erickson, Natt Garun, Loren Grush, Andrew Hawkins, Dilpreet Kainth, Shannon Liao, and Meg Toth.

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